Explore the best of Russia, Mongolia and China on the Trans Siberian Railway

18 July 2018

Writers, artists and adventurers alike have hailed it as the world’s greatest train journey. It’s certainly the longest, covering 9,289 kilometres from Moscow to Vladivostok connecting opulent cities, charming towns, and endearing cultures over mountains, rivers and time zones.

Experience the romance of the rails as you traverse earth’s largest continent, sitting side by side with local travellers.

There’s ample opportunity to relax as the cinematic scenery flickers past your window. Dachas glow under a silvery Siberian light. Birch trees show off nature’s architectural might. And despite the language differences, you’ll be welcomed by native hosts to share provisions and stories, albeit it with interpretive hand signals.

One of the best things about the Trans Siberian Railway is that the tracks were not laid for tourists. Whether you travel on the original route, or swing southeast across Mongolia and China, there is not a more authentic way to explore these fascinating countries.

China

Australian travellers usually begin the journey in Beijing. Emerging as one of the earliest civilisations, it’s no surprise you’ll face an electrifying melting pot of culture, cuisine and customs that will tease, test and tantalise every sense.

Discover a culture that’s flourished across eons, decorative imperial palaces, enduring temples, vibrant alleys, tempting markets, 8 national cuisines, and the almighty Great Wall. All this before you even board your first train.

Mongolia

Chat with your onboard comrades and watch the scenery change from green to gold as you enter the wild steppes of Mongolia.

Known as ‘the land of the blue sky’, Mongolia is a landlocked country steeped in tradition. About 45% of the population are nomads, roving across the vast steppe with their gers (portable homes) and herds in search of greener pastures.

Encounter the capital Ulaanbaatar, a pulsating knot of contrasts from Buddhist monasteries to craft breweries. The city is ringed by ger suburbs and then nothing but wilderness in every direction.

Hear the whisper of history blow across the once largest land empire in history. Unlock the feats of the country’s great Khans, see wild horses cavort in dreamy landscapes, explore the rich biodiversity of the Gobi Desert, and stay in a ger camp for a true taste of nomadic life. 

 

Russia

Travelling north to Ulan Ude and Lake Baikal, the first culture you’ll encounter is the indigenous Buryats. Practicing Buddhists and Shamans, they hold a deep-rooted connection to the land.

Visiting is a surprising delight on the senses. A refreshing dip in Lake Baikal will quite literally take your breath away. The UNESCO site holds four titles as the world’s oldest, largest, deepest and clearest freshwater lake – and a clear contender for the coldest. In winter, you can walk right over the top of it.

Travel on to Yekaterinburg and feel the soul of the nation as you visit the site of the last Tsar’s murder. In Kazan, you’ll meet the Tatars; a Turkic culture whose glorious mosques sit side by side with intricate wooden architecture. In Suzdal, enjoy a new architectural style dressed in white, turquoise and gold. Crossing the boundary of Asia into Europe, you are reaching the journey’s crescendo. 

Arrive in Moscow and head to Red Square for the immediate wow factor. Gaze at the ice-cream domes of St. Basils dripping in history. Go beyond the red fortress walls of the Kremlin to see the Armory Chamber’s exquisite artefacts. Enjoy an evening of world-class dining and entertainment – such as the revered Bolshoi Ballet.

There is no better place to complete your Trans Siberian journey than in St. Petersburg. You’ve encountered a revolving door of cultures on a track that leads to the home of revolution. 

An opulent treasure trove of 18th century architecture and classical art awaits your arrival. Split by the picturesque Neva River delta, you’ll discover enough exquisite palaces, cosy cafes and art collections to warrant a return trip.

Top tips for an unforgettable Trans Siberian experience

Happy adventuring. If you want to learn more about Trans Siberian rail journeys, speak to your Travel Counsellor about Sundowners Overland today.

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