The Vodkatrain

20 nights from £2700

Start:St Petersburg
Finish:Beijing
Duration:20 Nights
Group size:1 - 15
Suitable for: 18-35
Accommodation:Budget

Overview

Go beyond babushkas and vodka on the ultimate Trans Mongolian journey. Encounter more people, places and tasty flavours on this epic three-week adventure. Marvel at the palaces of St. Pete’s, plunge into the sapphire depths of dazzling Lake Baikal, sleep under a blazing blanket of stars in a Mongolian ger camp, then glide into China to eat oodles of noodles and gawk at ancient sights like the Great Wall.

Itinerary

Location: St. Petersburg

Kick things off in St Petersburg. 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; discover clubs and live music, an experimental art scene, cosy wine bars, great tea houses, and a multicultural food offering. A local punk musician recently summed it up by saying -€œin a city of three revolutions, you-€™re bound to get a fourth-€.
Descend into underground palaces on the metro and find yourself surrounded by marble pillars, ornate chandeliers and classical frescos on the way to the city-€™s extraordinary sights. Perhaps you would like to take in the magnificence of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood; perched canal-side, it stands a vision of immense beauty. Set aside some time to visit the opulent 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.
It-€™s worth noting, there-€™s no avoiding vodka, so embrace it. It accompanies meals to -€˜help digestion-€™ and seems to replace water as the giver of life. Sometimes it-€™s infused with mystery flavours like a bag of Bertie Bott-€™s Every Flavour Beans -€“ horseradish vodka, anyone?

Location: Train - St. Petersburg to Moscow

As you take your first overnight train to Moscow, get to know your fellow adventurers and plan a list of sights you want to hit once you arrive in Russia-€™s capital. Study the Cyrillic alphabet and master a few words of Russian, don-€™t be afraid to try them out on local travellers.

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 Irkutsk

All aboard the renowned Trans Siberian Railway! Settle into life on board as you watch the stunning scenery transform outside your window. Hang with your group in the dining car and try out your language skills on unsuspecting locals; with a little inventive sign language, you-€™ll all 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: Lake Baikal

Welcome to the heartland of Siberia. Irkutsk underwent its own revolution during the 19th century when artists, officers, academics and nobles were exiled here for their part in the Decembrist Revolt against Tsar Nicolas I. The city became a thriving centre for intellectuals and elites; creating a rich cultural heritage, including the signature wooden architecture and ornate latticework. About 50% of the population were exiled, creating a prosperous cultural and educational centre.
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: Train - Irkutsk to Ulan Ude

Enjoy a final day in the city before boarding the train to Ulan Ude. 

Location: Ulan Ude

Welcome to the Republic of Buryatia, the original home of the Buddhist-Shaman Buryats. Cossacks settled here in the 17th Century, and it became a bustling trade centre connecting Russia with China and Mongolia. During Soviet times, Buddhism suffered more than other religions. Many were forced to flee or risked being accusations of being a Japanese spy.
Ask your Honcho about organising a trip to the Old Believers Village. See the wonderful colourful houses, traditional dress and enjoy a hearty meal with your hilarious hosts. The singing, dancing and infectious joy of the people will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Fancy something free? Take in the giant Lenin head in the centre of town; it-€™s a popular meeting place for locals and a great spot to soak up Ulan Ude-€™s different pace of life.

Location: Train - Ulan Ude to Ulaanbaatar

On the rails again and leaving the home of the home of the Buryats we travel to Mongolia. 

Location: Terelj National Park

Head out to a traditional ger camp in a protected nature reserve. See how the nomads live and see that their roving traditions haven-€™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: Ulaanbaatar

Back in the capital you can take the opportunity to 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. Or see the ruby-robed monks at Gandantegchinlen Monastery -€“ a name which translates to -€˜the great place of complete joy-€™,  and perhaps get a taste for the life of a Khan with a visit to the Winter Palace of Bogd Khan -€“ one of the only historical attractions in Mongolia that the Soviets or Mongol communists didn-€™t destroy.
Enjoy your final night in Mongolia with a feast of local cuisine and a tasty brew, like Crazy Shaman IPA at Hop & Rocks Brewery -€“ Mongolia-€™s first ever producer of craft beer. Night owls will find plenty to keep them up; from live music venues, beer gardens and chill bars, to pulsing clubs and luxury lounges.

Location: Train - Ulaanbaatar to Beijing

Back on board, this time on the Trans Mongolian line. Glide across the green grasslands and pass the golden Gobi before launching into China. Use your time to learn a few words of Chinese and plan what you-€™d like to see and eat in Beijing. There are eight national cuisines to try, so that should keep you busy when you-€™re not exploring Imperial Palaces or strolling along the great wall.

Location: Beijing

Welcome to China and congratulations, you-€™ve just completed an 8,515 km journey across the largest country in the world and beyond. Let-€™s celebrate with a visit to one of the many snack markets. Fried scorpion on a stick anyone? Well, maybe some Peking Duck in its hometown then. Here you can explore by bicycle or rickshaw and get acquainted with the patchwork of ancient, imperial and modern life. Or visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the hutong district before heading to the hills for a stroll along the most peaceful part of the Great Wall, Huanghaucheng.
Note: Upon your arrival in Beijing, please meet your Honcho outside the first ticket-checking point, not on the train platform.
Extend your experience: Travel on to Chengdu for Panda magic and Hong Kong for the atmospheric Man Mo Temple and views from Victoria Peak.

Dates

Dates Price Single Availability
23-May-2022
20 Nights
Standard Room View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
18-Jul-2022
20 Nights
Standard Room View live deal
Dates Price Single Availability
05-Sep-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:St Petersburg
Finish:Beijing
Duration:20 Nights
Group size:1 - 15
Suitable for: 18-35
Accommodation:Budget
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