🇷🇺🇲🇳🇨🇳 TRANS-MONGOLIAN

Trans-Mongolian itineraryThis is one of those journeys-of-a-lifetime, where you get to experience the fascinating history of Moscow, the vast expanses of Siberia, the beauty of Lake Baikal, the Mongolian wilderness and the wonders of Beijing. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget.

Here’s your Trans-Mongolian itinerary:

Luxury Moscow, Russia (Trans-Mongolian itinerary)
1 To Moscow
(✈ Book >)
Dep: Morning Arr:
Afternoon
🏨Four Seasons Moscow (Book >) All hotels >
Wander around Red Square and down Ilinka and the Kitai Gorod lanes where you’ll see ancient churches. Continue on to Lubyanka Square, where you’ll see the KGB base, and down to the Russian parliament I recommend the agency Svezhy Veter for booking your Trans-Mongolian itinerary train tickets – they can help with visas too
2 Start with a visit to Lenin’s tomb then stroll along Tverskaya to Pushkin Square. Admire the Tsarist-era interiors of Yeliseyevsky Supermarket and the upscale GUM. Experience the regal metro and take the red line to Sportivnaya where you’ll find the Novodevichy Monastery and be able to see the resting places of famous Russians in the cemetery. Go back two stops on the red line to Park Kultury and pay a visit to Gorky Park Try to get familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet before you visit Russia – it may not be as hard as you think and can help when reading street signs
3-4 🚄Moscow to Yekaterinburg (Info & Book >) Dep: 23:55 (Wed) 🏨Train
On your last day in Moscow visit the Tretyakov galleries and the magnificent Kremlin. Day 4 is your first full day on the train, which you can spend gazing out at the vast landscapes of Russia Make it clear to your agency that you want a private 1st class cabin
5 🚄Moscow to Yekaterinburg Arr: 03:44 (Fri) 🏨Hyatt Regency Ekaterinburg (Book >) All hotels >
A horrible time to arrive, and so I recommend getting two nights in your hotel. When you’re ready to emerge from your room it’s a 30-min walk in one direction to Ganina Yama and a 25-min walk in the other direction to the Church On The Blood Try to learn a few common Russian phrases
6-8 🚄Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk Dep: 12:15 (Sat) 🏨Train
Onwards along the edge of Siberia. Relax, read a book and watch as you glide by endless silver birch forests and rustic rural villages. You’ll pass through Omsk at 02:31, Novosibirsk at 12:53 (worth getting off the train for a few minutes, but don’t linger long (take your passport in case the train leaves without you!) and Krasnoyarsk at 02:06 The train runs on Moscow time, which can get a little disorienting the further east you go
9 🚄Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk Arr: 21:15 (Tue) 🏨Hotel Sayen (Book >) All hotels >
Another day to enjoy the serene life aboard the Trans-Mongolian The Trans-Siberian Handbook offers a great guide to the kilometre posts you see alongside the track
10-11 Set off on a two-day tour to Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal. It takes about 5 hours to get there but the journey is truly worth it Bring clothes for all climates – it can be hot during the day and very cold at night
12 🚄Irkutsk to Ulan Bator Dep: 08:08 (Fri) 🏨Train
Back on the train and more time to gaze at the endless vistas. The tracks go along the edge of Lake Baikal, a real highlight of this trip There are hot water samovars in each carriage, very handy if you bring tea or coffee
13 🚄Irkutsk to Ulan Bator Arr: 06:50 (Sat) 🏨Accom. not included, contact tour company
Begin your 8-day tour of Mongolia (Book here >). Your guide will collect you from the train station and take you to the stunning natural scenery of Terelj National Park. Horse riding tours and tours to other parts of Mongolia are also available. Many roads in Mongolia are gravel and very bumpy. This can get uncomfortable so remember to bring travel sickness pills
14-20 Over the next several days you will visit a mini-Gobi desert, 8 Lakes base camp, an overnight horse riding trip by Shireet Lake and the Buureg Valley (staying in a nomadic family’s ger), see the Tsutgalan volcanic waterfall in the Orkhon Valley, relax in Tsenher hot spring and visit fascinating Kharkorin. You’ll return to Ulan Bator at around 16:00 on day 20 (I recommend the Kempinski Khan Palace for the night of day 20) Being vegan, or even vegetarian, isn’t easy in Mongolia – read this blog for tips
21 🚄Ulan Bator to Beijing Dep: 06:50 (Sun) 🏨Train
The final leg of this Trans-Mongolian itinerary. From the window you’ll see the edge of the Gobi desert and, when you cross the border to China, you can watch as the wheels are changed for the different gauge of tracks Don’t miss the opportunity of going to the very back of the train (to the ‘caboose’) and watching the rails unravelling beneath you
22 🚄Ulan Bator to Beijing Arr: 14:35 (Mon) 🏨Four Seasons (Book >) All hotels >
After the serenity of the train, the busyness of Beijing may come as a shock. There’s a lot to see here so you may want to extend your trip by a day or two Beijing can’t easily be seen on foot – buy a smart card (aka Yikatong card) for the metro
23 Beijing to Home
(✈ Book >)
Dep: Afternoon Arr: Evening Connect this Trans-Mongolian itinerary with the China or Japan itinerary.
A little more time this morning to see the sights of Beijing before transferring to the airport
Mid-range Karakorum, Mongolia (Trans-Mongolian itinerary)
1 To Moscow
(✈ Book >)
Dep: Morning Arr:
Afternoon
🏨PR Myasnitsky BoutiqueHotel (Book >) All hotels >
Wander around Red Square and down Ilinka and the Kitai Gorod lanes where you’ll see ancient churches. Continue on to Lubyanka Square, where you’ll see the KGB base, and down to the Russian parliament I recommend the agency Svezhy Veter for booking your Trans-Mongolian itinerary train tickets – they can help with visas too
2 Start with a visit to Lenin’s tomb then stroll along Tverskaya to Pushkin Square. Admire the Tsarist-era interiors of Yeliseyevsky Supermarket and the upscale GUM. Experience the regal metro and take the red line to Sportivnaya where you’ll find the Novodevichy Monastery and be able to see the resting places of famous Russians in the cemetery. Go back two stops on the red line to Park Kultury and pay a visit to Gorky Park Try to get familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet before you visit Russia – it may not be as hard as you think and can help when reading street signs
3-4 🚄Moscow to Yekaterinburg (Info & Book >) Dep: 23:55 (Wed) 🏨Train
On your last day in Moscow visit the Tretyakov galleries and the magnificent Kremlin. Day 4 is your first full day on the train, which you can spend gazing out at the vast landscapes of Russia I recommend asking for a private 1st class cabin for the longer stretches on the train – you’ll really appreciate having your own space
5 🚄Moscow to Yekaterinburg Arr: 03:44 (Fri) 🏨Renomme Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
A horrible time to arrive, and so I recommend getting two nights in your hotel. When you’re ready to emerge from your room it’s a 30-min walk in one direction to Ganina Yama and a 25-min walk in the other direction to the Church On The Blood Try to learn a few common Russian phrases
6-8 🚄Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk Dep: 12:15 (Sat) 🏨Train
Onwards along the edge of Siberia. Relax, read a book and watch as you glide by endless silver birch forests and rustic rural villages. You’ll pass through Omsk at 02:31, Novosibirsk at 12:53 (worth getting off the train for a few minutes, but don’t linger long (take your passport in case the train leaves without you!) and Krasnoyarsk at 02:06 The train runs on Moscow time, which can get a little disorienting the further east you go
9 🚄Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk Arr: 21:15 (Tue) 🏨Hotel Sayen (Book >) All hotels >
Another day to enjoy the serene life aboard the Trans-Mongolian The Trans-Siberian Handbook offers a great guide to the kilometre posts you see alongside the track
10-11 Set off on a two-day tour to Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal. It takes about 5 hours to get there but the journey is truly worth it Bring clothes for all climates – it can be hot during the day and very cold at night
12 🚄Irkutsk to Ulan Bator Dep: 08:08 (Fri) 🏨Train
Back on the train and more time to gaze at the endless vistas. The tracks go along the edge of Lake Baikal, a real highlight of this trip There are hot water samovars in each carriage, very handy if you bring tea or coffee
13 🚄Irkutsk to Ulan Bator Arr: 06:50 (Sat) 🏨Accom. not included, contact tour company
Begin your 8-day tour of Mongolia (Book here >). Your guide will collect you from the train station and take you to the stunning natural scenery of Terelj National Park. Horse riding tours and tours to other parts of Mongolia are also available. Many roads in Mongolia are gravel and very bumpy. This can get uncomfortable so remember to bring travel sickness pills
14-20 Over the next several days you will visit a mini-Gobi desert, 8 Lakes base camp, an overnight horse riding trip by Shireet Lake and the Buureg Valley (staying in a nomadic family’s ger), see the Tsutgalan volcanic waterfall in the Orkhon Valley, relax in Tsenher hot spring and visit fascinating Kharkorin. You’ll return to Ulan Bator at around 16:00 on day 20 (I recommend the Kempinski Khan Palace for the night of day 20) Being vegan, or even vegetarian, isn’t easy in Mongolia – read this blog for tips
21 🚄Ulan Bator to Beijing Dep: 06:50 (Sun) 🏨Train
The final leg of this Trans-Mongolian itinerary. From the window you’ll see the edge of the Gobi desert and, when you cross the border to China, you can watch as the wheels are changed for the different gauge of tracks Don’t miss the opportunity of going to the very back of the train (to the ‘caboose’) and watching the rails unravelling beneath you
22 🚄Ulan Bator to Beijing Arr: 14:35 (Mon) 🏨Hunan Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
After the serenity of the train, the busyness of Beijing may come as a shock. There’s a lot to see here so you may want to extend your trip by a day or two Beijing can’t easily be seen on foot – buy a smart card (aka Yikatong card) for the metro
23-24 Beijing to Home
(✈ Book >)
Dep: Evening Arr: Morning (next day) Connect this Trans-Mongolian itinerary with the China or Japan itinerary.
A little more time this morning to see the sights of Beijing before transferring to the airport
Budget Beijing, China (Trans-Mongolian itinerary)
1 To Moscow
(✈ Book >)
Dep: Morning Arr:
Afternoon
🏨ART Hostel (Book >) All hostels >
Wander around Red Square and down Ilinka and the Kitai Gorod lanes where you’ll see ancient churches. Continue on to Lubyanka Square, where you’ll see the KGB base, and down to the Russian parliament I recommend the agency Svezhy Veter for booking your Trans-Mongolian itinerary train tickets – they can help with visas too
2 Start with a visit to Lenin’s tomb then stroll along Tverskaya to Pushkin Square. Admire the Tsarist-era interiors of Yeliseyevsky Supermarket and the upscale GUM. Experience the regal metro and take the red line to Sportivnaya where you’ll find the Novodevichy Monastery and be able to see the resting places of famous Russians in the cemetery. Go back two stops on the red line to Park Kultury and pay a visit to Gorky Park Try to get familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet before you visit Russia – it may not be as hard as you think and can help when reading street signs
3-4 🚄Moscow to Yekaterinburg (Info & Book >) Dep: 23:55 (Wed) 🏨Train
On your last day in Moscow visit the Tretyakov galleries and the magnificent Kremlin. Day 4 is your first full day on the train, which you can spend gazing out at the vast landscapes of Russia When booking train tickets ask for 4-berth cabins
5 🚄Moscow to Yekaterinburg Arr: 03:44 (Fri) 🏨RedLine hostel (Book >) All hostels >
A horrible time to arrive, and so I recommend getting two nights in your hotel. When you’re ready to emerge from your room it’s a 30-min walk in one direction to Ganina Yama and a 25-min walk in the other direction to the Church On The Blood Try to learn a few common Russian phrases
6-8 🚄Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk Dep: 12:15 (Sat) 🏨Train
Onwards along the edge of Siberia. Relax, read a book and watch as you glide by endless silver birch forests and rustic rural villages. You’ll pass through Omsk at 02:31, Novosibirsk at 12:53 (worth getting off the train for a few minutes, but don’t linger long (take your passport in case the train leaves without you!) and Krasnoyarsk at 02:06 The train runs on Moscow time, which can get a little disorienting the further east you go
9 🚄Yekaterinburg to Irkutsk Arr: 21:15 (Tue) 🏨Rolling Stones Hostel (Book >) All hostels >
Another day to enjoy the serene life aboard the Trans-Mongolian The Trans-Siberian Handbook offers a great guide to the kilometre posts you see alongside the track
10 🚐Irkutsk to Olkhon Island (Book >) Dep: 08:45 Arr: 14:45 🏨Sunny Hostel (Book >) All hostels >
Take a transfer to Olkhon Island – the perfect place to enjoy stupendous views of Lake Baikal. This afternoon pay a visit to the Khuzhir Museum (usually free) There are no ATMs on the island, so take out cash in Irkutsk before you depart
11 Contact your hostel for help with arranging tours on the island, but don’t miss out on experiencing the Buryat culture, including the Shaman Rocks Bring clothes for all climates – it can be hot during the day and very cold at night
12 🚐Olkhon Island to Irkutsk Dep: 09:00 Arr: 15:00 🏨Rolling Stones Hostel (Book >) All hostels >
Back to Irkutsk where you should have time to squeeze in a visit to the Prince Vladimir Temple You’ll need tram stop Detskaya St (ул. Детская) for the temple
13 🚄Irkutsk to Ulan Bator Dep: 08:08 (Sat) 🏨Train
Back on the train and more time to gaze at the endless vistas. The tracks go along the edge of Lake Baikal, a real highlight of this trip There are hot water samovars in each carriage, very handy if you bring tea or coffee
14 🚄Irkutsk to Ulan Bator Arr: 06:50 (Sun) 🏨Accom. included in tour
Begin your 7-day tour of Mongolia (Book here >). Your guide will collect you from the train station and take you to Genghis Khan’s ancient capital Kharkorin. Many roads in Mongolia are gravel and very bumpy. This can get uncomfortable so remember to bring travel sickness pills
15-20 Over the next several days you will visit the Tsenkher hot springs, Tuvkhun monastery, Orkhon Waterfall, Naiman Nuur lakes, Shireet Lake and the Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes, occasionally staying in traditional gers. You’ll return to Ulan Bator at around 16:00 on day 20 (I recommend the Khuvsgul Lake Hostel for the night of day 20) Being vegan, or even vegetarian, isn’t easy in Mongolia – read this blog for tips
21 🚄Ulan Bator to Beijing Dep: 06:50 (Sun) 🏨Train
The final leg of this Trans-Mongolian itinerary. From the window you’ll see the edge of the Gobi desert and, when you cross the border to China, you can watch as the wheels are changed for the different gauge of tracks Don’t miss the opportunity of going to the very back of the train (to the ‘caboose’) and watching the rails unravelling beneath you
22 🚄Ulan Bator to Beijing Arr: 14:35 (Mon) 🏨Kellys Courtyard (Book >) All hostels >
After the serenity of the train, the busyness of Beijing may come as a shock. There’s a lot to see here so you may want to extend your trip by a day or two Beijing can’t easily be seen on foot – buy a smart card (aka Yikatong card) for the metro
23 Beijing to Home
(✈ Book >)
Dep: Afternoon Arr: Evening Connect this Trans-Mongolian itinerary with the China or Japan itinerary.
A little more time this morning to see the sights of Beijing before transferring to the airport