Day 1-3: Beijing
Immerse yourself in the bustling metropolis of Beijing, where your first impressions are of the Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square. Mao Zedong's mausoleum is a popular attraction in the center of this vast public square, so too the impressive gate to the Forbidden City (closed Mondays) which carries his image. Beyond the city, take an unforgettable walk on the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.
Day 4: Trans Mongolian Railway
Board an early morning departure on the Trans Mongolian Railway and observe the villages and fields of northern China slip away as you head north. As the sun sets you'll cross the Gobi Desert bound for the Mongolian border, and its quirky yet friendly capital of Ulaanbaatar.
Days 5: Ulaanbaatar
The scenery as you approach Ulaanbaatar is impressive. The train winds around tight bends to provide excellent photo opportunities. Finally the capital appears, set amid endless grassy steppes.
A mid-afternoon arrival allows ample time for you to explore this quirky capital. Mingle with ruby-robed monks at Gandan Khiid Monastery, take in the panoramic views from the Zaisan Memorial or witness the incredible Mongolian throat singing by the Tumen Ekh Ensemble it's quite a unique talent!
Day 6: Terelj National Park
The wide-open spaces beckon and you answer the call by driving into the spectacular Terelj National Park to spend two nights in a traditional ger faithful in design to those still used by the country's nomadic herdsman. The air is fresh and the surrounding mountain scenery is glorious!
Day 7: Return to Ulaanbaatar and depart to Irkutsk
Return to Ulaanbaatar where you have some time to further explore this fascinating city before boarding your overnight train to Iskutsk.
Days 8-9: Arrive Irkutsk and to Lake Baikal
You find Irkutsk after your train trip north. It's a charming city with a history dating from the fur and tea trading days when it began as an isolated Cossack outpost. Aristocratic exiles from the west brought a touch of elegance with their ornately decorated wooden houses, while Asian traders from Mongolia and China introduced a touch of the Orient.
Your train rolls into Irkutsk Station late afternoon from here you will drive to the nearby lakeside village of Listvyanka, where you will spend the next two nights. This is typically rural Russia and a perfect spot to pause and relax.
Days 10-12: Irkutsk and aboard the Tran Siberian Railway
Spend the morning on the shores of Lake Baikal, exploring the lakeside village of Listvyanka with its traditional houses, beautiful wooden church and perhaps the nearby Limnological Museum, before returning to Irkutsk.
Upon your return from Lake Baikal discover the city's wonderful historic sights 18th century churches, bright painted shutters and log houses decorated with intricate wooden lacework.
Late evening on Day 10, you join the Trans Siberian Railway. Head west pausing briefly at stations - Novosibirsk, Omsk and Yekaterinburg among them riding the rails of the world-famous Trans Siberian Railway en route for Kazan.
Day 13: Welcome to Kazan
One of Russia's most progressive cities the capital of the Tatarstan Republic within Russia, where orthodox and Islamic cultures meet.
Day 14: Kazan and onto Moscow
Built on the intersection of two rivers, Kazan has endured a tumultuous history, in 1553 Ivan the Terrible took it from the Golden Horde and the city under went a process of Russification. Today Tatars, the descendants of the Golden Horde, make up about 43% of the population, maintain their own language as well as culture, and are very proud of their history.
Today you can soak in the history and culture of this wonderful city with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kazan Kremlin before boarding your overnight train to Moscow.
Days 15-16: Hello Moscow!
Welcome to Moscow! This city will amaze you, its palaces and public buildings restored to their former glory. The echoing vastness of Red Square, the splendid twirled cupolas of St. Basil's across the cobblestones, and the Kremlin itself where you can go behind it walls to visit the Armoury Chamber with its vast array of treasures.
Day 17: Moscow and to St. Petersburg
The day is yours to further explore the city before boarding your final overnight train to St. Petersburg.
Head underground and gasp at the stunning, chandelier-draped metro stations, partake in some people watching on Arbat Street or make your way to the recently opened Zaryadye Park and enjoy breathtaking views of The Kremlin from the floating bridge or listen to some music at the locals favourite spot, Gorky Park.
Days 18-21: St. Petersburg
It is the city on the water, the 'Venice of the North', standing resplendent on the delta of the Neva River. A luxurious city with richly filled palaces and museums, wide boulevards and canals. The gilded halls of the Hermitage Museum, housed in the Winter Palace, are hung with the works of Da Vinci, Rembrandt and many of the other great masters, an incredible collection to witness and a fitting end to your great overland journey.