The Best of Siberia by Trans-Siberian Railway: Novosibirsk to Ulan-Ude

Duration
12 days / 11 nights
Price Per Person
From $9,200
Interests
Luxury Trains
Destinations
Siberia
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Discover the highlights of Siberia on a journey along the iconic Trans-Siberian Railway. You'll start in Novosibirsk, Siberia's unofficial capital city and the third largest city in Russia, then wind your way through breathtaking panoramas at Krasnoyarsk's Stolby National Park, the charming log houses and intricate woodcarvings of Irkutsk, the natural wonders of Lake Baikal and Olkhon Island, ending in the Republic of Buryatia, known for its unique Buryat culture and ancient traditions. This is the best of Siberia, explored in the best the way.

Highlights

• Train Journeys: Chug along the Trans-Siberian Railway on day and overnight journeys, discovering epic landscapes of Siberia from the comfort of your cabin window.

• Lake Baikal: Ethereal Lake Baikal is the world's oldest and deepest lake.

• Food & Culture: Buryats, Old Believers and rural Siberians welcome you into their homes to share their cuisines and cultures.

Day-to-Day

Day 1 Novosibirsk

Arrive into Novosibirsk, where you'll meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. Take a rest before heading out for the evening for a welcome dinner in the countryside, hosted by an English-speaking local family. This experience is sure to give you an enriching introduction to Siberian culture, cuisine and hospitality.

Day 2 Overnight Train

Start your day exploring Novosibirsk, the unofficial capital of Siberia and the third-largest city in Russia. You'll cover all the main attractions in the region, starting with the nearby science-focused town of Akademgorodok (or "Academy City," nicknamed the "Science Vatican"). This fascinating place was created for scientific research at the height of the Cold War and today is home to Novosibirsk State University, several academies and 35 research centers. There's plenty of choice when it comes to museums and we recommend spending an hour or two at the Archeological Museum at the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, the Geological Museum at the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, or the Open-Air Railway Museum with its huge collection of Soviet locomotives and railway carriages, depending on your interests.

Returning to Novosibirsk proper, you'll tuck into a spread of Siberian specialties for lunch before continuing your discovery with a city tour. The Novosibirsk Railway Station is the largest and most impressive on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Krasny Prospekt Avenue is one of the longest straight streets in the world, Lenin Square boasts the world's second-largest opera house, while the historic wooden houses on Gorky Street and the vibrant Siberian farm-market make for great photo opportunities.

In the evening, get better acquainted with the railway station when you board the overnight train for Krasnoyark - a journey that takes around 12 hours.

Day 3 Krasnoyarsk

Pulling in early at Krasnoyarsk, you'll meet with your guide and head to Stolby Nature Reserve, known for its dramatic rock formations and excellent hiking routes. Your guide knows which paths to take for the best views and you'll hike around three kilometers (two miles) to reach epic panoramas, listening to facts and stories about the reserve, which is described as Krasnoyarsk's "lungs and soul." 

Take a picnic lunch in the outdoors (or a restaurant, depending on the weather), then drive down forested roads to the famous "Tsar Fish" observation point, which showcases gorgeous views of the Yenisei River and surrounding hillside, as well as a large sculpture of the tsar fish, a character from a local folk tale.

On your return to Krasnoyarsk for the night, stop by the Divnogorsk quay, near the Krasnoyarsk Hydro Power Station - one of the largest in Russia.

Day 4 Overnight Train

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll take a city tour of Krasnoyarsk. Notable attractions include Mira Square and its lovely view of the river, a monument dedicated to Krasnoyarsk founder Andrew Dubenskoy, the picturesque Karaulnaya Hill, the Russian Orthodox Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Chapel, and the city's historic streets.

In the afternoon, you'll head to the train station for your next overnight journey to Irkutsk. The journey time is around 17 hours.

Day 5 Listvyanka

You'll arrive into Irkutsk early in the morning and meet with your guide for breakfast before heading out to Lake Baikal. En route, you'll visit the open-air Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture, which was created in the 1980s to preserve historic houses under threat from the Bratsk Reservoir. The 166-acre collection showcases authentic Russian and native Tafalar, Evenki and Buryat dwellings, some of which date back to the 17th century.

Next, you'll come to the village of Listvyanka, starting with a stop at Shaman Rock - the subject of many local legends. Tuck into a fresh fish lunch before learning about more of the flora and fauna of the area at the Museum of Lake Baikal, including a "video excursion" to the mysterious lakebed - the deepest in the world.

The rest of the afternoon is for exploring the outdoors: photographing from the best shorefront viewpoints of the scenic lake, taking a boat trip over Baikal's waters, meandering the vibrant fish market, then taking a chair-lift up to Stone of Chersky observation point for a panorama over the lake and the beginning of the Angara River.

Day 6 Irkutsk

You have your morning at leisure before transferring back to the city of Irkutsk. Discover more about this place with a city tour. Landmarks include the Znamensky Orthodox Cathedral, the historic Quarter 130 with its reconstructed 19th and 20th century buildings, charming log houses with handcarved detailing, a monument dedicated to the pioneers of Siberia (topped with a bronze statue of Emperor Alexander III), as well as the Decembrists' Museum. The latter is devoted to the failed revolt of December 14th 1825, the leaders of that rebellion and their subsequent exile to Siberia.

Day 7 Olkhon Island

Today, you'll leave Irkutsk and head further north and east along the rim of Lake Baikal until you reach Olkhon Island. The journey takes around six or seven hours and includes buses and ferries. Once you're on the island and checked into your hotel, spend the evening at leisure.

Day 8 Olkhon Island

Spend the day exploring the sights of Olkhon Island, which is known for its amazing landscapes as much for its places of spiritual significance. Sights of note include Cape Khoboy, Cape Three Brothers, the Rock Virgin and the village of Kharantsy - all are rich in culture and history, and have their own stories to tell.

Day 9 Irkutsk

After breakfast, you'll return to Irkutsk the same way, which takes between six and seven hours. Spend the evening relaxing after a long journey.

Day 10 Ulan Ude

Today, you'll take the morning train from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude, which takes around seven hours. This is one of the most picturesque stretches of the Trans-Siberian Railway, as it winds around Lake Baikal. You'll arrive into Ulan-Ude in the afternoon and check into your hotel. Then, in the evening, you'll be invited to share dinner with an English-speaking Buryat family, where you'll learn how to prepare boozy meat dumplings, then enjoy a traditional Buryat dinner together.

Day 11 Ulan Ude

Start your full day tour of Ulan-Ude with a visit to the Ivolginsky datsan, a Buddhist temple where lamas (monks) reside, considered to be the center of Buddhism in Russia. The temple dates back to 1945 and is the residence of Pandito Khambo Lama, the Head of the Russian Buddhists. Explore the Buddhist university attached to the datsan, as well as examples of historic Buryat art and ritual objects.

Next, you'll enjoy lunch with an Old Believers family. The UNESCO-protected Old Believers are a colorful branch of Orthodox Russians who were exiled to Siberia in the 16th century. Their culture, including their beautiful polyphonic singing and funny folk games, have been well preserved. 

After lunch, you'll return to Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia. The city was established in 1666 by the Russian Cossacks, but before conquest of Siberia it was already known as a historic northern capital of the Hunnic Empire. Today, significant sights to see include the giant monument of Vladimir Lenin's head (a superbly bizarre example of Soviet art), downtown and the mountaintop observation point.

Day 12 Departure

As your trip comes to an end, you'll take breakfast at your hotel before checking out and transfering to the airport for your onward flight, or to the train station for an onward Trans-Siberian expedition to Mongolia.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, train tickets (1st or 2nd class) and some meals as per the program (meals on the Trans-Siberian can be paid for on the spot). Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.

Why Remote Lands?

Exclusively Asia

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

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