Days 1-3: Beijing
We'll be counting down to Christmas in Beijing at the start of the tour. Visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Hutongs all without the maddening crowds. We then venture beyond the city to see the remarkable Great Wall at Mutianyu to climb its snow covered turrets.
Join your Tour Leader and fellow travellers on Day 1 at 5:00pm for your Welcome Meeting as detailed on your joining instructions.
Days 4: Beijing to Ulaanbaatar
Very early this morning we transfer to Beijing Station and board the first of the trains that will carry us across Asia.
Through the northern plains of China we journey beyond the border via the Gobi Desert into Ulaanbaatar arriving mid afternoon the following day.
Day 5: Arrive Ulaanbaatar
Arriving into Ulaanbaatar mid-afternoon, we explore the city then in the evening we have the opportunity to listen to the unique Mongolian Throat singing and enjoy a cultural performance.
Days 6 - 7: Terelj National Park & 13th Century National Park
From Ulaanbaatar we head to the countryside to spend time in warm traditional Mongolian gers, set among spectacular rock formations and wild rolling snow-covered hills in the Terelj National Park, pausing en route at the Gandaan Khiid Monastery where we are privileged to gain an insight into the daily lives of monks young and old.
The following day we visit 13th Century National Park, a living museum that provides a glimpse of life as an ancient Mongol during the time of Genghis Khan. We warm ourselves by the pot belly stoves as we learn about the fascinating nomadic culture.
Day 8: Return to Ulaanbaatar
We return to the bright lights of the city, stopping at the National History Museum to walk through Mongolia's rich history before we spend our last night in Mongolia's capital.
Day 9: Aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway
Leaving Mongolia at Sukhbaatar and continuing beyond the Russian border town of Ulan Ude, you will soon find yourself skirting along the shores of breathtaking Lake Baikal before following the well-worn ancient tea and trade route onto Irkutsk.
Days 10-11: Christmas in Lake Baikal
From Irkutsk Station we will drive to the picturesque village of Listvyanka, right in the heart of a Siberian winter wonderland. Here, beside the shores of the vast Lake Baikal which is probably frozen thick to almost two metres by this time, we prepare to celebrate Christmas with traditional Russian dishes, a shot or two of vodka to warm the cockles of the heart, and a traditional troika ride (horse sleigh).
Days 12-14: Irkutsk to Moscow
We bid farewell to our wonderful hosts in Lake Baikal and return to Irkutsk.
Almost in the geographical centre of Asia, Irkutsk made its fame as a stopping place on the caravan route from China. Today we see its historic buildings and time-worn mansions from the days when Russian and Polish exiles were banished here, far from Moscow.
Leaving Irkutsk late in the afternoon on Day 12, we will travel via great Siberian cities through the Ural Mountains and onto Europe, the train travels until it reaches the end of the line in Moscow. Our train compartments are as warm as toast, and the windows offer magical views of a frozen terrain for as far as the eye can see.
Days 15-18: Moscow and New Year's Eve
At this time of year Moscow is like a page straight out of a fairytale - the famous Red Square ablaze with bright festive lights and the splendid twirled cupolas of St. Basil's covered in a soft layer of snow, while the imposing face of the Kremlin looks on. Inside the Kremlin walls we will see the Armoury Chamber and two beautiful cathedrals. We'll be in Red Square as the Kremlin clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve. This is sure to be a New Year celebration to remember for a long time to come!After our time exploring this great city we board our final train, the overnight express to St. Petersburg.
Days 19: Moscow and on to St. Petersburg
After our time exploring this great city we board our final train, the overnight express to St. Petersburg.
Days 20-24: St. Petersburg
In the clear winter days the pastel palaces and frozen canals convey a special charm with their white frosting. St. Petersburg is indeed a unique treasure house of 18th century architecture and the city that best displays the Russian genius for museums.
We visit St. Isaac's Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress and the magnificent Hermitage Museum; and Catherine's Palace and Park on our Pushkin tour. Our journey concludes with a gala dinner and show. What a way to celebrate Christmas and New Year!