Upon your arrival at Beijing, you will be welcomed at the airport by a Rahhalah representative, and you will be transferred to your hotel.
Note: It is recommended that you arrive early in the morning, so that you do not miss the first day’s exploration of Beijing.
Depending on your arrival time, you will dedicate the morning to visiting Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City. If you arrive late, you can explore Beijing at your own pace, perhaps visiting theGugun museum (the former Emperor’s Palace), or any of the other exciting landmarks of the Chinese capital city, before meeting the rest of the group for dinner.
Accommodation: Regent Beijing 5* or similar.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will head outside Beijing to visit a section of the Great Wall of China, learn its role in the Chinese history, and climb some of its daunting stairs.
In the afternoon, you will explore the stunning Summer Palace: a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces. It was an imperial garden in the Qing Dynasty. Mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, it covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three-quarters of which is water.
You will end the day dining on traditional Beijing duck.
Accommodation: Regent Beijing 5* or similar.
Today, you will depart from Beijing, taking the Chinese train to Erlian: a city located on the Sino-Mongolian borders. The ride lasts for 15-20 hours and it usually takes place during the night as, most frequently, the train leaves from Beijing in the evening. If this is the case, the morning will be dedicated to further exploration of Beijing, including important sites that were missed on the previous two days.
The Chinese train is a chartered basic train with 4-bed compartments, but the distribution of the guests will be the same asin “Imperial Russia”(that is, only one or two people per compartment). There are no showers on this train and toilets are shared.
You are expected to arrive at Erlian at around mid-day, just in time for lunch in one of the town’s restaurants. You will then return to the station to board the “Imperial Russia” train (your luggage will have already been moved there during lunch time). Half an hour after your departure towards Ulaanbaatar, you will cross the Mongolian borders (the immigration officers come inside the train).
After breakfast on the train, you are expected to arrive at Ulaanbaatar at around 9-10 am.
Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia: a city that changed numerous times not only its name but its location as well. Two groups of people are living there– the nomads and the modern Mongolians – and this diversity offers a unique color to the city. The streets are crowded with people, some in traditional costumes, others in business suits from the best designers, and you can see a carriage next to a Mercedes or a market selling livestock near fashionable, boutique stores.
From the train station, you will be transferred to the Terelj National Park and a camp settlement, where you will have lunch (a 2-hour drive).
In the afternoon, you will visit the turtle rock and hike to the Buddhist monastery from where you will be able to enjoy the surrounding landscape and beautiful views of the Terelj National Park.
Finally, you will visit a nomadic family and you will get introduced to the authentic lifestyle and culture of Mongolian nomads, while sampling their famous dairy food.
Dinner in the camp and accommodation in yurts with private shower, proper beds, and toilet facilities.
After breakfast at the camp, you will head back to Ulaanbaatar to visit the Sukhabaatar Square (the central square of the capital with a large colonnade monument) and the Gandantegchinlen (Gandan) Monastery, a Mongolian Buddhist monastery hosting a 26.5-meter-high statue of Avalokiteśvara.
You will then lunch on traditional Mongolian BBQ, before heading to the Museum of National History for a tour through the country’s glorious past, and climbing the Zaisan hill for panoramic views of the city.
In the evening you will enjoy a traditional folk show followed by dinner, and you will board the train again (at around 9-10 pm), this time towards Ulan-Ude.
After an overnight journey, you are expected to arrive at Ulan-Ude at around 3 pm, and you will spend the rest of the day exploring this beautiful city.
Ulan-Ude was founded by the Russian Cossacks as a winter hut but received the status of a city by decree from Ekaterina the Great, while it has been included in the list of Russia’s Cities of Historical Heritage based on its unique cultural background. The city is full of museums and theaters, scientific centers, laboratories and spiritual culture, having managed to preserve its traditions throughout the centuries. Its coat of arms displays the soyombu: a traditional Mongolian symbol of eternal life that includes the sun, the moon, and the family hearth.
The day will include a visit to a Datsan (a Buddhist university monastery), a traditional local welcome, tour of the city, reception in a traditional Buryat village and a folklore program. The hospitable Buryats will teach you how to cook their traditional dish “pozy”, how to play dice, use a bow, wear a traditional Buryat costume, or assemble and disassemble a felt yurt.
Traditional dinner in the village, before boarding the train to head to Baikal.
In the morning you will wake up traveling on the Circum-Baikal Railway, one of the most beautiful and unique parts of the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is not in use anymore by commercial or cargo trains;only tourists can still enjoy it. On top of that, the wagons will be pulled by a real steam train to make you travel back in time and help you envision how it was to be a traveler in the beginning of the 20th century.
You will enjoy breakfast admiring the landscapes from your windows until you arrive at Port Baikal station. Lake Baikal – the deepest in the world, containing one fifth of Earth’s surface, fresh water – will dazzle you the moment you set eyes on its magnificent expanse.
Upon your arrival, you will take a ferry to Listvyanka village, retracing the itinerary followed a bit more than a century ago by Crown Prince Nicholas who later became the last Russian Emperor.Like you, he came ashore visiting small villages, meeting the locals and tasting the traditional cuisine. However, his tour was not limited to entertainment. Instead, he explored how to further enhance the regular shipping traffic through the lake.
Your further exploration of Baikal includes a visit to the Baikal Museum to learn more on the flora and fauna of the lake,sightseeing around Listvyanka, a visit to a local fish and souvenir market and lunch in a local restaurant.
After the tour you will take the ferry back to the train. Dinner will be served a few hours later in a picnic form on the shore of the lake.
After enjoying breakfast onboard, you will arrive at the Irkutsk railway station, and you will debark to explore the historical city center, including a visit to the Decembrist House.
Irkutsk is a pleasant, tree-lined Siberian city of near 600,000 people, perched on the banks of the Angara River. Before the Trans-Siberian Railroad, czarist political exiles and prisoners who had served their terms in the labor camps settled here, as they were denied permission to return to their homes in Western Russia. Some of them were Decembrists: young officers who had become advocates of political reform. The House Museum of the Decembrists belonged to one of these officers and his wife.
After lunch at a city restaurant, you will visit the Ethnographical museum Taltsy which on the right bank of the Angara River, and you will enjoy some free time in the “130 quarter” (“Irkutskaya Sloboda”): a district filled with restored buildings dating to the 19th and 20th centuries.
Dinner at a city restaurant.
At about9 pm you will embark the Imperial Russia Train again, heading to Novosibirsk from Irkutsk.
Today, you will enjoy the “Imperial Russia” Train non-stop. Life on the train has its own magic and, if you fear you will be bored, think again: there are many activities on board to keep you engaged, turning this perhaps into one of the most special days of the trip. For example, after breakfast, there will be a lecture about the history of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and after lunch there will be a live violin concert.
After breakfast onboard, you will arrive (at round 9 am) at Novosibirsk: another Russian city with an interesting history.
In 1903, Nicholas II issued a decree, assigning the status of a city to Novonikolayevsk (the future Novosibirsk), planning to move there the capital of Russia. However, these plans did not finally work out, so Novosibirsk never attained the status of a capital. In the soviet period, the city acquired a dark reputation as a symbol of Stalin’s terror, with an average of 74 death sentences per day.Today, though, Novosibirsk is a city of academic science that maintains the charm of its past. Your tour will include the Railway Museum, the Ballet and Opera House, the old streets, the Ob River esplanade, and lunch in a local restaurant.
Late in the afternoon, you will depart from Novosibirsk, heading to Yekaterinburg, enjoying dinner on board.
After breakfast onboard, you will reach Yekaterinburg, where you will debark the train to explore the city.
Yekaterinburg was named in 1723 after the spouse of Peter the Great, the future Empress Ekaterina I. In this city, you will be able to stand with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. The Great Siberian Route that once connected the two continents, crosses Yekaterinburg as well. It is here that the bloody event that put an end to the line of Russian monarchy in July 1918 took place: Emperor Nicholas II and his family were shot in the house of the merchant Ipatieff. Nowadays,the Church on Blood in Honor of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land stands in that place. Besides this church, you will visit the Ganina-Yama, another church constructed at the place of the secret burial of the executed royal family.
Today, Yekaterinburg is the city of steelworkers: the iron produced here was used once to cover the roof of the British Parliament,or for the frame of the Statue of Liberty, the symbol of USA.
Your morning city tour will be dedicated to the last days of Last Russian Tsar.
After lunch, you will visit the memorial built on the line that separates the two continents: Europe and Asia.
Late in the afternoon, you will depart from Yekaterinburg, heading to Kazan.
Dinner on board.
Kazan is an ancient city, situated on the picturesque banks of the Volga. It was the capital of the great Khanate of Kazan that was merged into the State of Russia in the 17thcentury as a result of a series of wars that lasted over a hundred years. After a long siege, the conqueror of Kazan, Ivan IV the Terrible, ordered the full destruction of the stubborn city, and the erection a White Stone Kremlin in its center as a symbol of might of the Duchy of Moscow.
The central part of Kazan has been recently included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The travelers are welcomed by dozens of historical and architectural monuments: a medieval caravansary, the Söyembikä Tower (probably the most iconic landmark of the city), the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross with the icon of Our Lady of Kazan, the Peter and Paul Cathedral built in commemoration of Peter I, the Qolshar if Mosque, and many others.
In the morning, you will enjoy a grand city tour in «Old Kazan», a Tartar epic within the context of the folklore program “Tugan Avalim”, and the Kremlin.
Lunch will include a master class revealing the secrets of Tartar Cuisine.
In the afternoon, you will depart from Kazan, heading to Moscow.
Dinner on board.
With your arrival at the Moscow Railway Station, your Imperial Russia Train journey will have come to its end. You will disembark for the last time and you will head to Moscow to explore the Russian capital.
Over the centuries, Moscovia has been the capital of five states: the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Tsardom of Russia, the Russian Empire, USSR and, finally, modern Russia.The Red Square, the symbol of the city, will welcome you with the unique architecture of the Pokrovsky Cathedral, and, if you are lucky,with the Kremlin clock chime, used by the whole country to measure time. Moscow Kremlin is like a Fairy World hidden behind
the castellation walls. Inside its premises, there are the Kremlin cathedrals. Dormition Cathedral is the most ancient one in Moscow, where all Tsars and Emperors of Russia were coronated. The Cathedral of the Archangel is the tomb of Tsars who ruled before Peter I. Another widely known site is the tower of Ivan the Great.
So, in the morning you will explore the Moscow Kremlin, and, after lunch, you will walk along the Arbat Street, you will visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and you will marvel inside the Moscow metro stations: the most beautiful subway in the world. Dinner in a city restaurant.
Accommodation: Baltschug Kempinski 5* or similar.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back home.