Days 1-3: 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 the night markets. 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, whilst an exciting excursion beyond the city to the Great Wall cannot be missed. Join your Tour Leader and fellow travellers on Day 1 at 5:00pm for your Welcome Meeting as detailed on your joining instructions.
Day 4: Beijing to Ulaanbaatar
It's an early start this morning! From Beijing's central station we board the Ulaanbaatar Express for the overnight journey across the Gobi Desert to the Mongolian capital.
Day 5: Welcome to Mongolia!
This quirky city is a clash of the old and new, where modern life comfortably co-exists with traditional culture. A night in Ulaanbaatar will allow you to sample some of the country's most intriguing cuisine and perhaps take in a performance showcasing the traditional Horse and Hair Fiddle.
Day 6: To Kharkhorin
We spend the next two nights beyond the city amongst what was once the homeland of the brilliant, tough, well-drilled horsemen who, for over 500 years in the 13th century, plundered and occupied lands from the Yellow River to the Danube. Here you can enjoy aspects of Mongolian nomadic life whilst staying in traditional gers.
Venture out into the countryside to visit the ancient capital of Kharkhorin. Here you will find the Erdene Zuu Monastery, built in 1586, this was the first Buddhist centre in Mongolia and today is still considered by many to be the country's most significant. Over 100 temples were constructed, but most were destroyed during the Soviet era, nevertheless, Erdene Zuu retains much of its former glory and is a remarkable sight to visit.
Day 7: Khustai National Park
Continue across the wild desolate countryside to Khustai National Park, to see the last remaining breed of wild horse and overnight in a ger camp.
Day 8: Return to Ulaanbaatar
Returning to Ulaanbaatar via the gigantic Genghis Khan statue, there is time to see more of the capital on our City Tour, including the fascinating National History Museum, before we spend our final evening in this quirky city.
Day 9: Ulan Ude
This morning we travel by road into the Buryatia region. Reminiscent of old Siberia, Ulan Ude is a melting pot of Buddhism, native Siberian and European culture, located in the middle of the vast Siberian steppe.
Day 10: Ulan Ude and to Irkutsk
Today, the local open-air Ethnographic Museum tells us an interesting story about the life and traditions of native Siberians, and we will also have the privilege of observing monks going about their daily lives at Ivolginsky Datsan, a centre of Buddhism in Russia. This evening we join the Trans Siberian Railway and continue deeper into Siberia towards Irkutsk.
Days 23: Moscow
Our penultimate stop is Moscow; here you will have ample time to explore the echoing vastness of Red Square, the splendid twirled cupolas of St. Basil's across the cobblestones, and the Kremlin itself visiting the Armoury Chamber with its incredible collection of amazing pieces including over fifty Faberge eggs!
Day 22: Suzdal and on to Moscow via Vladimir
Leaving Suzdal early this morning you transfer for a brief stop in Vladimir before continuing onto Russia's capital. Vladimir's heyday was during the 12th century under the reign of Prince Andrey Bogolubsky who strengthened its defences and welcomed architects, icon painters and jewellers. It was during this time the Golden Gates and the Assumption Cathedral were built to announce Vladimir's claim as the capital of medieval Rus. Today both these historic sites are UNESCO World Heritage Listed.
Days 20-21: Suzdal
Awake to the picturesque ancient city of Murom. Once home to two of Russia's most beloved saints, Prince Peter and his wife Fevronia, as well as the birthplace of Russia's most infamous hero, Ilya Muromets, on this morning's city tour we witness the impressive monuments dedicated to the Russian icons.
We continue to the tranquil, medieval town of Suzdal. At the core of Suzdal is the town's Kremlin, its north and south gates crafted by a unique fire-gold technique, representing some of the best-preserved examples of ancient Russian architecture.
Day 19: To Murom
After a morning to further wander the city, we make our way back to the station to meet our onward train to Murom the gateway to Russia's Golden Ring.
Days 11-12: Arrive Irkutsk and Lake Baikal
Arriving into Irkutsk early this morning we continue our journey out to Lake Baikal, reputedly the world's deepest lake, where you will be amazed by its vastness being over 600kms long and almost 80kms wide. A stay at the local holiday village of Listvyanka, is an ideal way to relax by the lakeshore and take in the local museums.
Days 15-16: Arrive Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg, the city founded by Peter the Great in 1723, is situated outside Siberia and some 40 kilometres on the Asian side of the Ural mountains. By the 20th century Yekaterinburg became one of Russia's largest and most important financial, industrial and cultural centres.
The city is infamous as the brutal murder site of the Romanov family, which brought tsarist rule to an end, and ushered in the Communist era in 1918. We pay our respects at the church recently built on the site, and see the obelisk which marks the spot where Europe and Asia meet.
Day 13-14: Irkutsk and to Yekaterinburg
Irkutsk made its fame as a stopping place on the caravan route from China and for many years was a place of exile. On a walking tour this afternoon you will visit the homes of the Decembrists, the St. Petersburg radicals dispatched here in 1825, before we bid farewell to Siberia and board the Trans Siberian Railway for Yekaterinburg.
Life on board is a great social occasion for our Russian hosts and we have the opportunity to share our experiences with them on our way to Yekaterinburg.
Day 24: Moscow and to St. Petersburg
Late evening on Day 24 we board our final train bound for the stunning 'Venice of the North', St. Petersburg.
Days 17-18: To Kazan
This morning we travel beyond the Urals Mountains by train to the capital of Tatarstan - Kazan.
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.
During our stay, we soak in the history and culture of this wonderful city on a full day tour with a local guide including a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kazan Kremlin.
Days 25-27: St. Petersburg Journey Concludes
Welcome to a treasure trove of wonders for you to take in during the final days of your journey. 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.