WINTER CIRCLE & HARBIN

BEIJING ● HARBIN ● IRKUTSK & LAKE BAIKAL ● ULAANBAATAR ● BEIJING

TOUR OVERVIEW

DURATION, PRICE, TOUR TYPE & DEPARTURES

14 nights from UK £ 2,800 / US $ 3,920 per person*

*Price based on 2 people travelling in a shared 4 berth second class cabin. Upgrade to your own cabin from UK £ 510 / US$ 715 per person. These prices are based on 2021 rates and are here to give guidance. Final quotes vary by date, exchange rates and are subject to availability.

PRIVATE TOUR - NOT A GROUP TOUR - CAN BE TAILORED 

SEASON - JANUARY & FEBRUARY WITH WEEKLY DEPARTURES

TOUR CODE : TS-W-B-01

DESTINATIONS & MAP

THE STOPS VISITED ON THIS TOUR

🇨🇳 BEIJING - 2 nights

China’s Capital is an eclectic mix of Imperial splendour & 21st Century Asia.

🇨🇳 HARBIN - 2 nights

Home to the world’s largest snow and ice festival and a staggering sight.

🇷🇺 IRKUTSK & BAIKAL - 3 nights

Forward looking Siberian city and gateway to Lake Baikal.

🇲🇳 ULAANBAATAR - 1 night

Remote capital of Mongolia and the start of a steppe adventure.

🇨🇳 BEIJING - 1 night

Finish the trip off with one further night in this fabulous city.

ON THE TRAINS - total 5 nights

We use the most comfortable and reliable trains possible for each leg.

TSWB01 map

OUR EXCLUSIVE TRIP GUIDEBOOK

This trip includes our exclusive 200+ page guidebook personalised to your trip with sections about the trains, destinations, timetables and emergency contacts and allowing you to be fully prepared for your trip of a lifetime - an invaluable resource!

DAY BY DAY ITINERARY

DAILY DESCRIPTIONS OF ACTIVITIES, MEALS & OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATION

DAY 1 - BEIJING

ARRIVAL BEIJING WITH TIME TO RELAX AT THE HOTEL

Welcome to Beijing, China’s cultural and political capital and a real highlight with its extraordinary blend of ancient and modern sights. Your guide will greet you at the airport with a transfer by private car to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax from the long flight or start to explore the city with the help of your personalised and exclusive Trip Guidebook we send you before the trip. The area around your centrally located hotel is perfect for an introductory walk.

MEALS: None Today

OVERNIGHT: Kapok Hotel  ★ ★ ★ ★ click to view hotel.

DAY 2 - BEIJING

THE GREAT WALL AT STUNNING MUTIANYU & ONE OF BEIJING’S MARKETS OR ICE SKATING ON HO HAI LAKE

Today we will be showing you one of China’s most famous sights - the Great Wall. We visit the dramatic and less crowded Mutianyu section 70 km from Beijing set amongst spectacular mountain scenery. Dating back to the 6th Century and largely rebuilt in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty, it is one of the best preserved sections of the wall largely due to the high standard of construction.

Also today, if you wish, we can take you to one of Beijing’s many markets. Favourites are the Silk Market, Pearl Market and Panjiayuan antique market. If souvenir shopping isn’t for you other options are the Hutong street of Nanluoguxiang, the 798 Dashanzhi contemporary art area or a quick look at the impressive 2008 Olympic Stadium. Alternatively you can see and perhaps participate in the ice skating on Ho Hai Lake. You can discuss which is right for you with us in advance or your guide on the day.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the evening free or just ask us for suggestions of shows or cultural activities.

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

OVERNIGHT: Kapok Hotel  ★ ★ ★ ★ click to view hotel.

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DAY 3 - BEIJING

TEMPLE OF HEAVEN, TIANANMEN SQUARE, FORBIDDEN CITY & SUMMER PALACE BEFORE DEPARTURE

Today you will see the main highlights of Beijing starting with the Temple of Heaven, considered by many to be the most beautiful building in China. On to vast Tiananmen Square, home to the Mao Mausoleum (it may be possible to visit if open) and Monument to the People’s Heroes before walking to the huge palace complex of the Forbidden City. We’ll walk up the middle axis from South to North taking in the splendour of the most important central buildings before finishing in a small and ancient garden by the north gate.

The last stop today is at the Summer Palace to the west of Beijing. Dominated by Kunming lake it is as popular an escape from the city for todays Beijingers as it was for the Imperial court over the centuries.

Transfer to the station for a late evening departure on the overnight train to Harbin.

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

OVERNIGHT: On board a train - click to learn more.

DAY 4 - HARBIN

VISIT BOTH THE SNOW SCULPTURE EXHIBITION & BEAUTIFULLY LIT EVENING ICE FESTIVAL

Morning arrival in Harbin with a transfer to your hotel. Note that check-in time is after 12 noon so there is unlikely to be a room available until then but luggage can be stored and we have booked a breakfast for you.

Wrap up warm to start a full day tour to the Sun Island Snow Sculpture Art Exposition and Ice Festival venues. Here you will see huge sculptures made entirely from snow. Early warming dinner before an evening visit to the spectacularly lit Ice and Snow World, the centre piece of the festival. This time the sculptures are made entirely of ice blocks and are on a vast scale. Return to the hotel to overnight.

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch & Dinner.

OVERNIGHT: Modern Hotel ★ ★ ★ click to view hotel.

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DAY 5 - HARBIN

FREE DAY AT THE ICE & SNOW FESTIVAL TO REVEL IN THIS UNIQUE EVENT

Today is free and we recommend visiting the ice sculptures on the banks of the Songhua river and to spectate and participate in the huge variety of ice related activities the locals and visitors alike enjoy throughout the long winter. If you have time a visit to the smaller but more intricate ice sculptures in Stalin Park is well worth it and give a taste of what the original ice festivals were all about.

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast.

OVERNIGHT: Modern Hotel ★ ★ ★ click to view hotel.

DAY 6 - ON THE TRAIN

FREE TIME TO EXPLORE THE ICE RELATED ACTIVITIES ALONG THE FROZEN RIVERSIDE

A free morning, perhaps to visit the smaller but more intricate ice sculptures in Stalin Park that gives a taste of what the original ice festival was all about. Late morning transfer to the station to join one of Russia’s best trains, the “Vostok”, also known as the Trans-Manchurian, that runs all the way to Moscow.

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast.

OVERNIGHT: On board a train - click to learn more.

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DAY 7 - ON THE TRAIN

CROSS INTO RUSSIA & MUCH WILDER AND REMOTE SCENERY

Reach the border with Russia at Manzhouli. Immigration and customs procedures are quick on the China side but take time on the Russian side of Zabaikalsk as the train’s bogies need to be changed to fit Russia’s wider gauge and you will have to get off the train for some hours. Once underway, the first thing you notice is the lack of people compared to China as the scenery opens up and looks much wilder.

MEALS: None today - however the train does have a dining car.

OVERNIGHT: On board a train - click to learn more.

DAY 8 - IRKUTSK

ULAN UDE, THE SOUTHERN SHORE OF LAKE BAIKAL & IRKUTSK

Today is usually the scenic highlight of the journey, a day of lake, forest and mountain views. Pass Ulan Ude before the train rumbles around the Southern shore of stunning Lake Baikal often passing within a matter of meters of the lake. Irkutsk is reached early evening.

Irkutsk is regarded as the modern day cultural capital of Siberia, famed for its traditional wooden architecture and a vibrant cafe and restaurant culture. Transfer from the station to your hotel to overnight.

MEALS: None today - however the train does have a dining car.

OVERNIGHT: Boutique Marussia Hotel ★ ★ ★ click to view hotel.

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DAY 9 - LAKE BAIKAL

TRANSFER TO LISTVYANKA VILLAGE ON THE SHORES OF BAIKAL

After breakfast transfer from the station the 1 hour drive following the route of the Angara River down to the village of Listvyanka located close to where the river meets beautiful Lake Baikal. The lake is among the deepest in the world at 1,642 meters and has exceptionally clear water - or perhaps ice when you are here!

Once settled into your accommodation your guide will take you on a 4 hour walking tour of the village. You will see the beautiful church and visit the Limnological Museum to learn about the Lake itself and its unique flora and fauna. We will also take chairlift up to a view point for some of the best lake vistas. The afternoon is free or we can arrange snowmobiling or dogsledding or, if the lake is frozen enough, you may want to venture out onto the surface by foot or by hiring a bike.

The village also has a banya (Russian sauna) you can arrange to visit and which we heartily recommend as the quintessential Siberian experience!

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast.

OVERNIGHT: Usabda Demidova Guesthouse ★ ★ click to view hotel.

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DAY 10 - IRKUTSK

RETURN TO IRKUTSK WITH A CITY TOUR AND FREE TIME TO RELAX AT YOUR HOTEL

After breakfast drive the 1 hour back to Irkutsk arriving late morning at your hotel. Once settled in you will have a 2 hour walking tour of the city centre including the park and War Memorial, some of the beautiful churches along the Angara river, the main city centre streets and the statue of Alexander III - the Tzar responsible for the Trans-Siberian railway.

Return to your hotel with free time for the rest of the day.

MEALS: Breakfast at the Guesthouse.

OVERNIGHT: Boutique Marussia Hotel ★ ★ ★ click to view hotel.

DAY 11 - ON THE TRAIN 

JOURNEY ALONG THE SHORE LAKE BAIKAL INTO BURYATIA & MONGOLIA

Early morning transfer to the station to catch your onward train. Today is usually the scenic highlight of the journey - a day of lake, forest and mountain views. After Irkutsk the train rumbles around the Southern shore of the stunning Lake Baikal often passing within a matter of meters of the lake and providing endlessly changing vistas. You will also notice a change in the people with many more Asian faces as you enter Buryatia which has strong cultural ties to Mongolia. 

This is a remote and pretty section of the trip with a hint of an old Asian culture ever present. Eventually you arrive at the Russia-Mongolia border at Naushki passing through the border formalities before continuing into the grasslands of Mongolia.

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast.

OVERNIGHT: On board a train - click to learn more.

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DAY 12 - ULAANBAATAR 

ULAANBAATAR CITY TOUR & COMFORTABLE ELSTEI GER CAMP

Early morning arrival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia and a truly unique destination. Before heading out to Elstei ger camp you have breakfast and a chance to shower as well as a city tour. Mongolia’s capital is home to around a third of the entire population and there is much of cultural interest here and the tour includes Gandan Lama Monastery, impressive Sukhbaatar square and the views and Soviet monuments of Zaisan Hill.

Transfer on to Elstei Ger camp located 55 km outside of the city in the open steppe stopping at the 40 meter high Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue (a further 25 km from Elstei) that sees that most famous of Mongols survey the grasslands. Elstei offers comfortable, spacious and cosy ger accommodation. Click here to learn more about ger camps in Mongolia.

A range of options are available including visits to local nomads to learn about their way of life and hiking the snow covered grasslands. Note that horse riding is not available in the winter months. Of course, you can simply relax in your ger which is kept toasty warm by its own burner.

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner at the Ger Camp.

OVERNIGHT: Elstei Ger Camp - click to view.

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DAY 13 - ON THE TRAIN 

CONTINUE BY TRAIN THROUGH THE GOBI TOWARDS THE CHINESE BORDER

Early morning transfer to the station to catch the train on to Beijing. The day is firstly spent in the steppe but that gradually gives way to the stoney Gobi desert - keep an eye out for camels!

Evening arrival at the Mongolia-China border at Zamyn-Ude. The Mongolian exit formalities are completed on the train before a much longer stop on the Chinese side.

MEALS: None today - however the train does have a dining car.

OVERNIGHT: On board a train - click to learn more.

DAY 14 - BEIJING 

ARRIVE BACK IN BEIJING WITH A FREE AFTERNOON

Wake up in China’s Inner Mongolian grasslands before a series of tunnels and impressive views lead you through the mountains that shield Beijing. Afternoon arrival in China’s capital. Beijing has it all - history, imperial majesty, modern masterpieces, delicious cuisine, and a vibrant local culture. Your guide will meet you at the station exit and transfer to your hotel by private car and English speaking guide.

The rest of the day is free to explore Beijing. Besides the must sees the city offers ample opportunity to shop in markets such as Hongqiao, the Silk Market or our favourite, the vast Panjiayuan antique market. For something a bit more sedate we recommend Ho Hai lake and its ancient residential Hutongs which offer a great opportunity to absorb local culture combined with many small cafes, bars and restaurants. For a more contemporary experience the 798 district to the east of the city offers an impressive array of galleries, cafes and restaurants.

MEALS: None today - however the train does have a dining car.

OVERNIGHT: Kapok Hotel ★ ★ ★ ★ click to view hotel.

DAY 15 - END OF TOUR 

DEPART CHINA WITH A WEALTH OF MEMORIES OF YOUR TRIP

Free time for any final sightseeing or last minute shopping for souvenirs if time. Your local guide will have arranged a time to meet you in the hotel lobby for a transfer to the airport in good time for your flight out of China. We sincerely hope that you have had a fantastic Trans-Siberian experience!

MEALS: Hotel Breakfast.

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INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS

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Train tickets in second class – ask us about upgrades.
All accommodation as specified above.
All private transfers and transport as described.
All meals as specified in the itinerary.
All tours as specified including entrance fees.
24 hour emergency assistance
Visa Paperwork you need in order to obtain the visas.
Financial Peace of Mind as your trip is protected.
Our exclusive 200+ page trip guidebook.
International Airfare to / from the start / finish of your trip – we can book these flights on request.
The Russian, Mongolian and Chinese (double entry) visas – we can advise and partner with VisaCentral.
Travel insurance to cover any medical treatment – we canadvise on options.
Discretionary gratuities to drivers and guides.

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