Days 1-2: Beijing
Arrive in Beijing and meet your fellow travellers. Check out the Forbidden City for a window into Imperial times, sink your teeth into Chinese culture with a visit to Tiananmen Square and an exploration of the hutong neighbourhoods. Hutongs were first established during the Yuan Dynasty; many of these alleys are protected today to preserve traditional culture. Once your fingers have frozen, warm up over a steaming bowl bursting with exotic spices in one of the many colourful markets or neon-lit laneways.
Day 3: Trans Mongolian Railway
Your first taste of the world-renowned Trans Mongolian Railway. Sit back, relax and watch the magical landscapes from your window. Look out for Bactrian camels and yaks, their winter coats visible against the snowy steppe. Keep your eyes peeled for nomadic settlements, smoke rising from each tent as families stay warm inside.
Days 4-5: Ulaanbaatar and to Terelj National Park
Arrive in the capital and transfer to the nature reserve. Once in the domain of the nomads, settle into ger life. The roaring pot belly stove will keep the tent cosy, a wonderful place to return to after a walk in the wilderness or an afternoon tobogganing across the sparkling terrain.
It's here you can try cooking traditional Buuz a meaty dumpling, or sample some fermented mare's milk a great way to beat the winter chill.
Day 6: Trans Mongolian Railway
We leave the white expanse for the glow of the Trans Siberian Railway. We'll take a detour on the way to the train to visit the man himself the mighty Genghis Khan! An artistic masterpiece, his silvery enormity shimmering in the white light of winter.
On board, get to know your group over a tasty meal from the dining car and plan what activities you'd like to do once in the heartland of Siberia.
Days 7-9: Irkutsk and Lake Baikal
Welcome to Russia and the pearl of Siberia. Settle into your shore-side home at Lake Baikal and take a stroll over its frozen surface as you soak up the beauty of this icy delight. The lake stretches on to an infinite horizon, no wonder ancient Chinese travellers called it 'the North Sea'. The crystalline ice-sheet is filled with interesting patterns of bubbles and waves as the water froze in time. Walk, drive and hover over the ice, try ice fishing, dog-sledding or snowmobiling before getting blood back into your extremities in a traditional banya (a steamy sauna with an optional birch branch bashing).
Days 10-13: Trans Siberian Railway
The cultural capital of Siberia, Irkutsk began life as a winter outpost for tea and fur traders. It expanded during Russia's revolutions as opposing elites and intellectuals were exiled here. During this time a signature style of architecture decorated the city in wooden latticework. Today, Irkutsk is a bustling university town with plenty to explore before boarding the train to Moscow.
Back on the cosy train, choose your own pace. Relax and contemplate what you've discovered so far and plan what you want to do next. Push yourself to communicate with Russian travellers, learn some new words and get inventive with sign language; you'll find yourself laughing with locals over shared snacks in no time. Hop off at stations along the way to sample food from Babushkas, we can't promise healthy fare, but it will be a welcome break from your 2-minute noodles. Check how long the train is stopping first, you don't want to be left behind on an icy platform in a blizzard.
Days 14-15: Moscow
See the candy coloured domes of St Basil's sugar-coated under a dusting of snow it'll make you feel like you've wandered into a fairytale. Ask your Honcho about visiting the markets; there are lots on over the festive period in Gorky Park, Red Square, and Sokolniki. Whizz around Red Square on ice skates if the Christmas rink is there or take the palatial metro to VDNH Park for a bigger rink with ice sculptures and light shows. If the cold gets a bit bitey, head to Tverskaya street and hunker down in one of the cosy cafes and restaurants that line the street. Sample some hearty local food with a synonymous accompaniment, vodka.
Day 16: Moscow and to St. Petersburg
Wave goodbye to Moscow as you board your final Russian train. Take a moment to relax before hitting the cultural capital of Russia.
Days 17-19: St. Petersburg
Congratulations, you've just completed 8,515 km over icy tundra and three diverse snow-covered countries. That's worth celebrating, and there's plenty of places to do so in St. Petes.
Perhaps begin with a wander along the frozen Neva river or canals parents will be teaching their little ones to skate on the picturesque canals that weave through the city. Descend into underground palaces on the metro and find yourself surrounded by marble pillars, ornate chandeliers and classical frescos. Stroll down Nevsky Prospect, and take in the magnificence of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Visit the Hermitage Museum, in the suitably named Winter Palace, for a taste of Tsar life.
Discover an experimental art scene, cosy wine bars, great tea houses and a multicultural food offering, then get to grips with local nightlife in live music venues and pulsating clubs. A local punk musician recently summed up the thriving creative scene by saying "in a city of three revolutions, you're bound to get a fourth".
Extend your experience: Now that you're in Europe, continue your journey east to other winter delights like Prague, Budapest and Vienna.