The Russian Express

20 nights from £2760

Start:Beijing
Finish:St Petersburg
Duration:20 Nights
Group size:1 - 12
Suitable for: 18-35

Overview

The adventure of a lifetime awaits. Explore further, dive deeper and experience more on this epic adventure. You’ll have time to cruise the canals of St. Pete’s, wander the streets of Moscow, ride across the steppe in Mongolia and climb the Great Wall in China with plenty of time to relax and rest on the rails.   

Itinerary

Location: Beijing

Join us in the ever-changing metropolis of Beijing. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the ancient laneways of the Hutongs or sample a rare delicacy at Donghuamen Night Market. Old meets new in the fashionable shopping district of Wangfujing or you may decide to take in a performance at one of the many Chinese Opera Houses. The Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and Mao’s Mausoleum all provide a fascinating insight into China’s history that you have the opportunity to discover, whilst an exciting excursion beyond the city to the Great Wall should not be missed. Join your Honcho and fellow travellers on Day 1 at 5:00pm for your Welcome Meeting as detailed on your joining instructions.

Location: Train - Beijing to Ulaanbaatar

Climb aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway line and get ready for a cultural switcheroo. Settle into the rhythm of life aboard the train, and people watch as you decipher your Mongolian phrasebook. Mingle in the dining car and try a few words on unsuspecting locals. Plan what activities you want to do once you reach the wide-open steppe. Peek out the window as the Gobi Desert becomes the grasslands of the nomads, look out for wildlife and the gers of roving herders.

Location: Terelj National Park

We arrive in Mongolia and transfer out to the land of the nomads. Experience life in a ger camp cradled in a protected nature reserve. Learn about the nomad’s roving traditions, a culture that hasn’t changed much for hundreds of years. Enjoy a hike in the wilderness and soak up the serenity of your surroundings. Your Honcho can organise horse riding or archery to help you feel like a real Khan. Enjoy a peaceful sunset before getting cosy around the campfire. After a few airags (fermented mare’s milk), head outside to witness the Milky Way blaze across the night sky.

Location: Train - Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk

You have the day to explore the capital before reboarding the train. There are lots of great options so choose wisely. Visit the Zaisan Memorial to get a great view over the sprawling capital; a skyline of Soviet blocks, Buddhist temples and ger suburbs ringed by empty grasslands for hundreds of miles in every direction. See the ruby-robed monks at Gandantegchinlen Monastery – a name which translates to ‘the great place of complete joy’. Wander around town and encounter plenty of places to feast on local cuisine and enjoy a tasty brew, like Crazy Shaman IPA at Hop & Rocks Brewery – Mongolia’s first ever producer of craft beer.

Location: Lake Baikal

Welcome to Russia and onto Siberia’s natural wonder. Settle into your shore-side home at Lake Baikal, and soak up the scenery as you take a stroll around the water’s edge. As the largest freshwater lake in the world, it holds 20% of the planet’s freshwater and seems to stretch on to an infinite horizon. Take a ‘refreshing’ dip if you’re feeling brave, and taste the local cuisine. Sample the locally caught fish, you can eat it raw, smoked or roasted on a BBQ. Ask your honcho about lake activities; they vary throughout the year from ice driving to kayaking or something more relaxing.

Location: Irkutsk

You’ll feel relaxed and revitalised after two days at the lake, and ready for some city exploring. A town of two tales, Irkutsk began life as a trading outpost and underwent its own revolution when nobility from St. Petersburg were exiled here for their part in the Decembrist Revolt of 1825. The influx of artists, academics and elites created a thriving cultural and educational hub. Today, it’s a bustling uni town with a unique style of wooden architecture, well worth a look before climbing back on board the train.

Location: Train - Irkutsk to Kazan

Late evening departure to Kazan.
Settle into life on board the renowned iron way and watch the world transform outside your window – while onboard you’ll pass over the Urals that mark the end of Asia and the beginning of Europe. Hang with your group in the dining car and plan what you want to do in Kazan. Say hello to locals, with a little inventive sign language; you’ll be sharing laughs and snacks in no time. The train will make minor stops along the way, ask how long it's staying before you hop off, stretch your legs and restock on supplies from the platform kiosk.

Location: Kazan

Step into a different side of Russia. Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, home of the Tatars – a Turkic people native to the region and Russia’s second largest ethnicity. Experience the cultural differences through the architecture, food and faces in this vibrant city. Take a stroll down bustling Bauman Street to sample Tatar cuisine or chill in one of the many cafes and bars. There are coffee houses, live music venues, electro clubs and wild party bars to keep you busy all night.

Location: Train - Kazan to Moscow

Enjoy a final day in Kazan before reboarding the train to Russia’s capital. Plan the hit list of sights you wish to explore once you arrive in Moscow. Enjoy a relaxing time on board before you thrust into city life.

Location: Moscow

Head to Red Square for an immediate WOW factor. You’ll find yourself slack-jawed on the cobbled square (surprisingly not red) staring in awe at the gingerbread masterpiece of St. Basil's. As you start to explore Moscow, you’ll soon discover that this revivalist piece is just one of the architectural wonders scattered across the city. Around the square alone, you’ll find the Kremlin - with its gothic towers watching over the treasures within, Lenin’s Mausoleum displaying the embalmed revolutionary, and the State Museum – well worth a visit if you fancy a history lesson.
You can wander to Zaryadye Park for a great vantage over the striking skyline or chill in Gorky Park, a favourite among locals soaking up their long-lost friend, Vitamin D. Try the local fare, some of the best has Georgian and Asian influence. With a full belly, it’s time to check out the nightlife. Live jazz, underground dance and ping-pong bars to name a few.

Location: Train - Moscow to St. Petersburg

Welcome aboard your final train journey as we travel on to St. Petersburg. It’s worth reading up on what makes this city so unique. Originally constructed as Russia’s ‘eyes into Europe’, the city has been the backdrop to countless catastrophes, but Russian’s are nothing if not resilient. Today, the 21st-century city is a thriving cultural capital.

Location: St. Petersburg

This city is alive with creativity. As you walk down the opulent streets lined with impressive imperial architecture, you’ll discover an experimental art scene, cosy wine bars, great tea houses, a multicultural food offering, and when night time comes around, live music and pulsating clubs. A local punk musician recently summed it up by saying “in a city of three revolutions, you’re bound to get a fourth”.
When you’re not busy immersing yourself in the city’s modern culture, descend into underground palaces on the metro and find yourself surrounded by marble pillars, ornate chandeliers and classical frescos. Stroll down Nevsky Prospect, beside the canals or by the river. Take in the magnificence of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, an immense work of art. Be sure to set aside some time to visit the Hermitage Museum housed in the Winter Palace for a taste of Tsar life, and see if you can spot one of the 70 feline guards that protect the art collection from hungry mice.
Extend your experience: Enjoy a final fling in Finland with a train to Helsinki.

Dates

Dates Price Single Availability
03-Aug-2022
20 Nights
Standard Room View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
12-Oct-2022
20 Nights
Standard Room View live deal

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Touring with Vodkatrain

For over 50 years Vodkatrain has been specialising in small group tours and independent journeys on the Trans-Siberian Railway & Mongolia – Overlanding is in our blood.

Vodkatrain exists for the explorers, the ramblers and the off-the-beaten-trackers. Those who seek something different and grab life by the adventure. Choose an overland odyssey with Vodkatrain for an authentic taste of life on and off the rails.

It’s not every day you get to unfurl the secrets of Russia along the Trans-Siberian Railway or live like a Nomad in Mongolia. For Vodkatrain, that’s our reality every single day.

Why Vodkatrain?

Intriguing destinations  -  Take the road less travelled and discover incredible places off the tourist trail.

Authentic experiences  -  Eat, drink, sleep and travel as the locals do for a genuine taste of life in each region.

Helpful honchos  -  Helpful honchos every step of the way with you for the whole journey, your Honcho is a local legend who will help you hit the highlights and discover the hidden gems.

Freedom to roam  -  With no regimented schedule, travel as a group with the flexibility to explore independently.

Adventurers unite  -  Forge friendships on small group experiences designed for 18-35s.

Small means (Extra) small  - Our group experiences cater to 12 people max. Big enough to form a posse, small enough to give you space.

Your support network  -  Our Travel Advisors are walking encyclopedias – helping you plan, book, and find your way if you get lost while you wander.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Vodkatrain

20 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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View live deal Overland adventures for 18-35 year olds
Start:Beijing
Finish:St Petersburg
Duration:20 Nights
Group size:1 - 12
Suitable for: 18-35
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