Trans Siberian train tour Private Trans Siberian Train Tour

The Trans-Siberian Insider

China, Mongolia & Russia

  • Overland Tours
  • Summer Tours
15 Days
0 Flights
Child friendly

A tour along a railway more than 130 years old is a journey through an era that reshaped civilizations and the course of the history of the old and new worlds. This private trans-Siberian train tour is not your usual tour where the train is the theme and the focal point. Our journey focuses on the cultures and rich history of the people whose lives have been touched by the railroads, the modern ‘Silk Road’ connecting east and west.

Unlike other such tours, which consist of seemingly never-ending train rides, our private trans-Siberian train tour calmly pause at sites and cities along the railway to experience its inhabitants’ everyday lives and take the time to explore the exciting sights along the railroad. Other unique features to this tour are the use of local trains where you get to meet and mingle with everyday people, rather than riding tourist-only trains, and the fact we try to minimize the number of nights aboard trains, accommodating every second night in a comfortable hotel.

This private trans-Siberian train tour was designed for those not seeking to impress others by talking about their journey, but those looking for a first-hand experience with the people and places way too often being seen only through the train’s windows.

Recommended dates for this Trans-Siberian Train tour would be between mid-May and mid-October.

Next Departures

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Itinerary

Note: Final train schedules, nor train tickets, would be available until 45-30 days before the day of travel. We, therefore, cannot guarantee train types, compartment type, or availability until 30 days before each specific train ride. The schedules assumed for this trip as detailed below are based on those known to us when compiling this trip plan. Changes in the schedules might result in changes to the overall program, and as a result, to the overall Trans-Siberian private train tour price.

Day 1. Arrival in Beijing – night train to Datong

  • Dinner

Arrive in Beijing, the fascinating capital city of the world's most populated country. This city mirrors both China's fast-growing economy and the people's struggle to make it through another day. Skyscrapers rise only a few steps away from the ancient hutongs; the latest cars glide past rickshaws, and traditions thousands of years old continue to be observed alongside the new economy and a modern way of life. This coming together of the old and the new makes Beijing one of the world's most impressive cities. From the airport, drive to a hotel to shower and recuperate from the long journey east. Late in the afternoon, drive to one of Beijing's three train stations to board the night train to Datong. Spend the night aboard the train in a Soft Sleeper compartment.

Day 2. Datong

  • Breakfast

Arrive in Datong very early in the morning. At the train station, meet the local guide, and drive to the hotel in the city to complete the night's sleep. After breakfast at the hotel, go to discover Datong and its surroundings. Until recently, Datong was known throughout China as the "City of Coal." However, due to China's goal to reduce air pollution and the decline in real estate development, the city's glory has been dimmed. Local and central governments keep on subsidizing the coal industry to provide for the thousands of families whose livelihood depends on these mines. Back to more glorious times in the city's history, take the hour and a half drive to explore the marvels of the Xuan Kong Hanging Temple. Hanging some 50 meters above the Jinxia Gorge of the Hengshan Mountain, this architectural wonder of over 1400 years is a clear testimony to ancient Chinese craftsmanship. No less exciting is the temple's dedication to three very distinct sets of beliefs that co-exist in the temple's caves. Here, find altars dedicated to Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, and even figures of the main characters in each of these different religions lying side by side, a very uncommon sight. In the evening, drive back to Datong for the night.

Day 3. Datong – Jining – Overnight train to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

  • Breakfast

In the days when the Chinese capital city and center of power were in Nanning in southern China, Datong was one of the most important trade centers throughout northern China, later turning into a significant trade point on the legendary Silk Road. This is where the railway crosses the ancient Silk Road for the first time, with the second time being towards the end of the long train journey. With such a significant role on the ancient trade routes, Datong has been a substantial attraction for traders from the entire region, as can be seen from its splendid cultural and historical relics and monuments. Today, explore two of Datong's most significant and impressive sites. Begin with a visit to the Yungang Grottoes. Like its 'sister' sites of the grottoes at Dunhuang and Bazeklik (among a few others), this site tells the story of the advance of Buddhism to China. The earliest carvings on the walls are of distinct Indian style, describing famous tales and figures from early Buddhist mythology. Later carvings show a developing influence of Chinese art, with precise descriptions of Chinese social and religious events and characters. After exploring the caves, return to Datong and pause, if time permits, at the Nine Dragon Screen. Though built some 600 years ago, the screen, one of very few remaining in China and the largest of them all, has been perfectly preserved and stands as a testimony for the superiority of Chinese attention to detail and unique design. Early in the afternoon, take the two hours' drive to Jining to board the Trans-Mongolian train for the journey into Mongolia. Late at night, arrive at the border crossing between China and Mongolia. Here, all wagons are lifted up in the air in order to change the bogies to fit the different rail gauges between Mongolia and China. Bogies changed, and passports stamped on both ends of the border, journey through the night onboard the train.

Note
: all bathrooms will be locked for the entire process of changing the bogies. Please make sure you are 'prepared' in advance.

Day 4. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

  • Dinner

Wake up to see the vast open Gobi Desert through the train's windows. One might spot a camel caravan crossing the desert or the white dots marking a Mongolian Ger - the felt-made dwelling of the Mongolian nomads. In the afternoon, arrive in Ulaanbaatar, meet the Mongolian guide at the train station, and drive to the hotel in the city center. After checking into the hotel, and if time permits, take an orientation tour of the city through the central square. Right at the heart of the square, see the figure of D. Sukhbaatar, one of the heroes of the communist revolution of the 1920s. He is depicted boldly raising his arm towards the statue of the Chinggis Khan, whose name wasn't allowed to be mentioned during the 70-year communist reign. Then visit the National History Museum, which holds a permanent exhibition on the different civilizations that have inhabited the territory of Mongolia from prehistoric times to the present. This exhibition includes a significant display of objects from the era of the Great Mongol Empire. From here, take a short walk to the drama theater to attend an impressive folk concert featuring some traditional Mongolian art forms. After a welcome dinner, drive back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Day 5. Ulaanbaatar – Terelj National Park

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Check out the hotel, and embark on the one-and-a-half-hour drive to Gorki-Terelj National Park. The park features unique rock formations, scenic valleys, a winding river, and restful groves of trees. Many nomads live in the park itself, where they find good grazing for their animals. Upon arrival in the park, and after checking in the gers (the felt-made dwellings of the steppe nomads), take an easy hike to the famous Turtle Rock, a symbol of wisdom and longevity to the Mongolian people. Then continue hiking to Ariabal Temple. The temple has been recently reconstructed after the original temple had been destroyed during the communist purges of the 1930s. A site of great tranquility, it functions today as a meditation center for Buddhist monks. Return to the camp for a relaxing evening under the Mongolian sky of million stars. Overnight in a ger camp- the cozy yet simple Mongolian version of a lodge, consisting of traditional felt-made dwellings the nomads of Central Asia often refer to as yurt.

Day 6. Terelj National Park - Overnight train to Irkutsk, Russia

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

After breakfast, leave the park and drive to the newly constructed Chinggis Khan Monument. Rising 40 meters in height over the surrounding steppes, this mighty structure plays a significant symbol to the renewing Mongolian nation after more than 300 years of foreign sovereignty over its people and territory. Then head back to Ulaanbaatar train station for yet another overnight train journey. The section of the Trans-Mongolian railway which stretches between Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk is considered one of the most beautiful on the entire trip. It initially crosses the narrow valleys of the northern Khan-Khentii Mountain Range, where fertile grass-steppes attract nomadic families to set up camp. The railway then follows the course of the Selenge, one of Mongolia's mightiest rivers. After the inevitable border formalities on both Mongolian and Russian sides of the border, the train runs beside small Siberian villages that seem as they have frozen in time. The train stops at Ulan Ude, the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Buryatia, before reaching the shores of Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake. Spend the night onboard the train.

Note
: And again, during the few hours' stop at both sides of the border, the bathrooms will be locked. Please keep an eye on the train's timetable, and make sure to be 'prepared' in advance.

Day 7. Arrival in Irkutsk

  • Dinner

Arrive in Irkutsk in the afternoon and explore the city for as long as time permits. With traditions running back to the mid-16th century when it was a mere fortress collecting taxes from the Buryat people, Irkutsk has played a significant role in Russian history and even more so in the history of Siberia. At times, it has been the seat of the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia. Later, it became a magnet for exiles of all walks of life - from noblemen and artists who took part in the Decembrists Revolution against Tsar Nicholas I to Bolsheviks, and then, Counter-Bolsheviks. These political and artistic influences have combined to create a city with a unique fusion of cultures and social classes. Although most of it was destroyed in a massive fire in July 1879, it was quickly restored as a central trade hub between Russia and the emerging Chinese giant to the south. After setting in the hotel, take a first orientation tour of Irkutsk. Begin with a visit to the Memorial Garden, commemorating those who paid the ultimate price for the sake of the nation, and then a walk along the embankment over River Angara, the only river flowing out of Lake Baikal. This is where city dwellers arrive at the end of a working day for some time in leisure. Watch here the sunset as local fishermen in their tiny boats take to the river. From here, take to the hotel for a first night in Russia.

Day 8. Irkutsk – Listviyanka

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

After early breakfast, take the one-hour drive to the pier for a 15-minute ferry ride across the Angara River to Port Baikal. Here, embark on a train journey aboard the Circum-Baikal Railway- a true engineering marvel! It comprises 38 tunnels, 15 stone galleries, and 20 bridges, allowing the railway to travel along the shore of Lake Baikal, providing unparalleled views over the lake and its surroundings. After about a 2-hours ride aboard the Circum-Baikal, disembark the train, and take a two hours' private cruise on the crystal-blue lake. If lucky, one might see from time to time the heads of Nierpas, one of the world's few freshwater seal species. Once back on land, ride a cable car to the top of Chersky Rock for a marvelous view over Lake Baikal and the Angara River from high above. From the vantage point, take a walk down the mountain. Then set in the simple yet cozy hostel in Listviyanka.

Day 9. Listviyanka – Irkutsk

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

This morning, take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets of Listviyanka, which are mostly unpaved and run between high wooden fences. Visit the local church, named after St. Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers, and continue to the bustling market on the lake's shores. Then pay a visit to the Baikal Ecology Museum, with its permanent exhibition on the rich, and primarily endemic, flora and fauna. Leave Listviyanka and head to Taltsy Open-Air Museum of Wooden Architecture, which is considered the best museum in the Irkutsk region. It is a place where one can experience the history and traditions of the peoples of Siberia: Buryats, Evenks, and Russians. Late in the afternoon reach Irkutsk, and spend here the night.

Day 10. Irkutsk sightseeing

  • Breakfast

Spend the day exploring Irkutsk, probably one of the most charming cities all throughout Russia. Visit Bogoyavlenski Cathedral, known for its spectacular interior decoration, and The Saviour's Church, Eastern Siberia's first stone-built church, dating back to 1705. Then take to the lively farmers market before visiting Volkonsky House. It once served as a cultural and social center for the Decembrists - those army officers who conspired to overthrow Tsar Nicholas I back in December 1825. The Tsar supporters suppressed the revolt, and the conspires turned to be some of the first (but by no means last) political prisoners that were exiled to Siberia. Then take to the History of Irkutsk Museum, offering an exciting view into the city's development from a remote trade post to the regional super-power it is today. In the evening, take the time to stroll the lively pedestrian streets of the city center. Join the locals as they hang out in the evening, go shopping, and enjoy some of the best restaurants in town.

Day 11. Flight to Yekaterinburg

  • Breakfast

Early morning transfer to Irkutsk airport for the morning flight to Yekaterinburg, named after Catherine I (Yekaterina in Russian ), the wife of Tsar Peter the Great. Located east of the Ural Mountains range, the city marks the border between Europe and Asia. In common with many other towns in what was then the eastern frontier, the city was established in the early 18th century as an industrial center for metal works. In July 1918, the entire Romanov family - Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their five children - were executed here. In the morning hours, arrive in Yekaterinburg and go to explore the city center. Begin with the church on the Blood, built on the exact spot where the Romanov family was shot. Then take a walking tour along the City Pond and the Weir on the River Iset- a beautiful urban park in the heart of the city. The park is surrounded by chic cafés and restaurants, reflecting the vibrant artsy atmosphere of the city. Overnight in Yekaterinburg.

Day 12. By the Ural Mountains

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Leave Yekaterinburg and drive some 100 km to the town of Nevyansk, where one of the oldest metal factories of the Urals was established under the decree of Peter the Great in 1710. Nevyansk is the cornerstone of Russian settlement in the Urals and eastern Russia. Visit the town's undeniable trademark - the Leaning Tower, which serves as a magnificent testimony to the region's industrious history. Its doors, stairs, and bars, all cast in local iron, forming the framework of the tower. From here, drive to a local village for a traditional Russian country meal before embarking on a light hike through the Ural Mountains and its thick pine forests. In the afternoon, drive to Ganina's Pit. In this place, the remains of the Romanov family were disposed of on the night of their execution. Over the site and its surroundings, a monastery was built, following the canonization of the Tsar's family. Late in the evening, return to Yekaterinburg for a second night.

Day 13. Day train to Kazan

  • Breakfast

This morning drive to Yekaterinburg's train station for a day train to Kazan. Board the train in the morning hours, and spend the good part of the day aboard the train, enjoying the views of the vast Taiga and the occasional remote villages nestled by the railway. Late in the evening, arrive in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. The Tatars are a cluster of Mongol-Turkic tribes. When the Mongol Empire disintegrated, the Tatars remained the region's sovereigns until it fell under Russian occupation following a series of battles in the 16th century. Although today nearly half the population comprises ethnic Russians, in many ways, the city retains its Muslim ambiance as Islam is the main religion practiced by the Tatars. Disembark the train, meet the local guide, and take to the hotel for the night.

​Day 14. Kazan – Night train to Moscow​

  • Breakfast

From the hotel drive to Kazan's Tatar Quarter. This quarter is probably the place at which Tatar culture has been best kept to these very days. It is divided into communities, each centered around a small local mosque. These mosque serve as religious and social centers, where community members meet, spend time together, and take care of its members in need. Walk through the narrow streets and along these neighborhoods, stopping at mosques and talking to members of the communities. In the afternoon, visit Saints Peter and Paul Church, dated back to 1722 when it was built by a local industrialist to commemorate the visit of Peter the Great to Kazan on that year. This church is a fine example of Naryshkin Baroque (often dubbed 'Moscow Baroque'), a unique architectural style combining classic baroque design and traditional Russian architecture. Elaborately decorated in bright colors, this church is unlike any seen on the trip so far. Take the time to explore the ornamented building, with its iconostasis all covered in precious stones and metals. If permitted, climb to the top of the staircase for a view over the entire city. Late in the afternoon, take to Kazan Kremlin in the historical part of the city ('Kremlin' means 'fortified complex' in Russian). The compound is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by Ivan the Terrible on the ruins of the ancient palace of Kazan Khans. Within the Kremlin wall, visit the Qol Sharif Mosque, which was the largest mosque in Europe and Russia outside of Istanbul at the time of its construction. It is, to date, still an awe-inspiring piece of architecture. At dusk, enjoy a romantic evening walk in the compound, which is beautifully lit, before heading to the train station to board the night train to Moscow. Overnight aboard the train.

Day 15. Arrival in Moscow – Departure

  • Breakfast

Arrive early in the morning in Moscow. At the train station, meet the local guide, and enjoy breakfast in a restaurant by the train station. Then drive to the airport to board the departing flight out of Russia, marking the end of this private Trans-Siberian Railway tour.

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Dates & Pricing


7th June, 2022–21st June, 2022

  • $5,061 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
  • $851 Single Room Supplement

2nd August, 2022–16th August, 2022

  • $5,061 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
  • $851 Single Room Supplement

Private Trans-Siberian Train tour rates are quoted in US Dollars.

[email protected] reserves the right to change this private Trans-Siberian Train tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, train tickets fair, and other local circumstances.

Prices are based on twin share occupancy in hotels, and a bed in four berth occupancy aboard trains.

Rates for private groups of 2 travelers and above:
2 travelers- US$6,786/ person
4 travelers- US$5,524/ person


Additional Information


Inclusions
  • Flight Irkutsk / Yeakterinburg
  • Train tickets as per program
  • 8 nights in 4-star hotels
  • 1 night in a 3-star hotel
  • 1 night in Mongolian ger (Yurt)
  • 4 nights aboard trains
  • Meals as per program
  • Private transfers in A/C vehicle at each location (in between train rides)
  • Local English speaking guide at each location (no guiding services on board the train)
  • All entrance fees and transfers as per program

Exclusions
  • International airfare to Beijing and from Moscow
  • Visas (to China, Mongolia, and Russia)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Excess luggage
  • Gratuities to local service providers
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
  • Anything not mentioned in the program

Accomodation
  • Datong: Howard Johnson Jindi Plaza 5-stars
  • Ulaanbaatar: Chinggis Khan Hotel 4-star
  • Terelj National Park: Terelj Lodge Ger Camp
  • Irkutsk: Kupechesky Dvor 4-star
  • Listviyanka: Krest Pad 3-star
  • Yekaterinburg: Hotel Novotel Yekaterinburg Centre 4-star
  • Kazan: Mirage Hotel Kazan 4-star

Note: the above listed hotels are tentative, and shall be confirmed only upon confirmation of the trip.


Testimonials

Bernie Fanny Elias

We just got back from a Trans-Siberian Railway tour from Beijing to Moscow. The trip was spectacular! The endless Taiga, the Baikal and a surprise snow storm just outside of Ulaanbaatar. This trip was special. There is no doubt in our minds we shall take another trip with [email protected]!

Bernie and Fanny Elias, USA

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