Top 5 Things to See in Siberia (That Isn’t Lake Baikal)
What else to see in Siberia besides Baikal?
One of our senior sales consultants Gregg Hannam reflects on what else there is to recommend a trip to Siberia!
Siberia is one of the highlights of a Trans-Siberian journey and most visitors will undoubtedly have at least one stop in this magnificent region. Lake Baikal is (for obvious reasons) the number one attraction of Siberia but there is much much more to see in the diverse and beautiful area. Here are my top picks of things to see and do in Siberia (that aren’t lake Baikal)
5. A taste of Mongolia (in Russia)
Don’t have time to do a side trip to Mongolia but still want to get a taste of it? Whilst Ulan Ude isn’t quite technicality in Mongolia, it is a mere 250km from its border (and was a part of Mongolia until it was annexed by Russia many years ago) and therefore has a heavily Mongolian influenced culture and incredible Mongolian terrain. From Tibetan monasteries, buddhist temples and Mongolian Yurts its easy to see why culture lovers love to visit Ulan Ude!
4. Banya in Bolshoe Goloustnoe
One of the highlights of the beautiful village of Bolshoe Goloustnoe is to experience a traditional authentic Banya after a hard days walking. Combining a sauna with a wet room, a banya really is a must do whilst in Russia! Each couple or family gets their own slot making it completely private. Sporadically the electric is turned off to the village so you could be lucky enough (like me) to enjoy their Banya by candle light! An evening Banya is extremely invigorating and really does set you up ready for some delicious home cooked food…another reason to stay in Galina’s guesthouse!
3. Experience true Siberia at the Old Believers village
The vast majority of visitors to Russia want to try something authentic but are unsure how to organise it or just how authentic these experiences REALLY are. One of the highlights of my recent trip was a visit to Bolshoy Kunaley (the Old Believers village.) Recently voted “the prettiest village in Russia” this is a must for people seeking an authentic experience! Not only does it boast some of the most stunning scenery but the visit to the village was a highlight in itself. The villagers separated from the Russian Orthodox Church several hundred years ago and were exiled abroad before being allowed to return. This has meant that they have retained a strong culture and are nearly entirely self sufficient. A visit to the village will allow you to find out more about this unique culture whilst enjoying one of the most delicious lunches I’ve ever had! The experience is completely authentic…I didn’t see another tourist for the entire time I was there!
2. Incredible food in Irkutsk
Most people who visit Lake Baikal will have at least 1 night in the bustling and cosmopolitan city of Irkutsk. What a lot of people don’t realise is that Irkutsk is a food lovers dream! Countless coffeeshops, bakeries and the cutest street side cafes. With influences from Europe, Mongolia and China, food in Irkutsk is incredible! From mouthwatering Tsuivan (Mongolian noodles) to the most incredible Buuza (large meat filled dumplings), washed down with locally produced Russian vodka, there is so much to try! With over 800 restaurants there is something for even the fussiest of tastes…
1. Stolby National Park in Krasnoyarsk
One thing that visitors to Siberia always say, is that the scenery is out of this world! One place that is (wrongly) overlooked on the Trans Siberian railway is the city of Krasnoyarsk. Not only is this city worth a visit all on its own, but it boasts the scenic delights of Stolby nature reserve. This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my entire trip. Acres and acres of untouched pristine Siberian forest and only a 30 minute drive out of the city. Offering walks for all abilities there is even a chair lift for those less capable. The reserve also has simple little cabins that are possible for an overnight visit for those wanting to do more then a couple of hours walk.
All photos and text copyright of Gregg Hannam & The Trans-Siberian Travel Company