Beijing to Moscow Trip Notes

Beijing to Moscow

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016
Beijing to Moscow
Trip code: CBSU
Validity: 01 Jan 2017 to 31 Dec 2017
Travel across continents and time zones on one of the world's greatest train journeys. Start in busy Beijing before heading to the untamed wilderness of Mongolia to meet its historically nomadic people. Leave Asia behind as we cross into Siberia for some traditional hospitality and stunning natural landscapes in Lake Baikal and then into Russia to arrive in majestic Moscow. This trip will open your eyes to the history, scenery and unique cultures that make up this fascinating region, so climb aboard for the ultimate Trans-Siberian experience.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinishing point instructions
ThemesAccommodation NotesEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionVisas
Why we love itMealsWhat to take
MapMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryGroup leaderHealth
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyTravel insurance
Physical ratingJoining pointA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinish point description
Is this trip right for you?
- Be prepared for some very long travel days on this trip (both on and off the train) – you are crossing the largest country on Earth after all! Settle into the rhythm and enjoy the scenery, your book, or chatting with your fellow travellers or the locals.
- Conditions are simple but comfortable – a truly Intrepid experience and a great way to meet, and travel like, the locals. There is a toilet/bathroom and compartments with bunks/berths. Please note that we travel 2nd class on all overnight trains (4 people per compartment). While we always try to have our groups staying together, there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages.
- Some of the accommodation along the way is basic, staying in ger camps, local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has only cold water. This all adds up to a real and authentic adventure.
- Be prepared for three vastly different countries and experience all the cultural differences they have to offer, both from your home country, and from each other.
Why we love it
- Experience this incredible bucket-list rail adventure through China, Mongolia, and Russia – one of the world’s greatest and most epic journeys
- Stay in the Mongolian wilderness local-style with an overnight in a tourist ger camp
- Immerse yourself in Mongolia's rich cultural heritage, from the country’s original Buddhist temple to the city built by Genghis Khan
- Discover a way of life that has changed very little since the 18th century with a visit to an ‘Old Believers Village’ near Ulan Ude
- Live life on the shores of magnificent Lake Baikal in a Siberian village
- Experience a traditional Russian banya – a refreshing steam, wash, and birch branch ‘massage’
- Encounter fascinating sights over the 6,000 kilometres from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to Moscow’s iconic Red Square

Day 1 Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm today, where your insurance and next of kin details will be collected. This evening maybe seek out some famous Peking Duck.
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Great Wall Experience Urban Adventure - CNY900
  • Beijing - Beijing Insights Urban Adventure - CNY490
  • Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure - CNY360
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Special Information
    As we will depart for Mongolia early morning on Day 2, we highly recommend arriving in Beijing a few days early to experience all this city has to offer. In this extra time an Urban Adventure will give you the perfect insight into the sights and flavours of China's capital.
    Day 2 Overnight Train
    This morning board a train out of China and travel into Mongolia - the first leg of this epic train journey that will take you 6,000 kilometres to Moscow. This is an overnight journey (approximately 30 hours) that includes a long border crossing during the night where your passports are processed. It's here that the bogies (train wheels) have to be changed because of the differing rail gauges used in China and Mongolia. Say goodbye to the built-up modernity of the city and get comfortable as you watch the scenery change from urban to rocky desert, and on to rolling green meadows as you enter the relative time warp of Mongolia.

    Trains on this journey are simple but comfortable. You’ll travel 2nd class on this trip. There's a toilet/bathroom at the end of each carriage with a small sink and cold water. An attendant is assigned to every carriage to look after your comfort and safety (although service standards can vary greatly). Each compartment has four bunks with luggage storage space inside. Bedding is provided, although some travellers still prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. There's hot water available for making drinks or instant meals, tea and coffee. Sometimes snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board and most trains also have a dining car, although with a limited menu. Trains are generally heated but most do not offer air conditioning. The train can become very hot even in winter and the train attendants will not allow the windows to be opened, please pack clothing appropriate for the warmer conditions on these train journeys.
    Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
    Special Information
    A brief word about drinking on the train: Social drinking is common on trains in Russia and can be an enjoyable way to meet local people as well as interact with your fellow Intrepid travellers (in moderation). While alcohol is often available for purchase on the train, spirits (including vodka) should only be consumed in the dining car. While we certainly want all our Intrepid travellers to have a great holiday it's important that you show due respect for your fellow group members, and keep in mind that many of your local companions use the train as a means of transport to get home or to work.
    Day 3 Ulaanbaatar
    Crammed between the superpowers of Russia and China, the independent nation of Mongolia is a true Intrepid destination. The capital, Ulaanbaatar (affectionately known as UB), is a city where you’ll find elderly Mongolians in traditional dress, business suit-clad entrepreneurs and young monks. After checking in to our hotel, venture out into the city, where the close relationship with the USSR is evident in the Soviet style architecture. Perhaps explore one of the city's many museums to learn about the country's turbulent history, including the reign of the most famous of Mongolian historical figures – the feared and respected Genghis Khan.

    For your free time in UB you can explore the city, maybe visiting the Museum of Natural History, which has an excellent dinosaur display, or any other of the city’s fascinating museums. At the Intellectual Museum you can learn about the history and culture of this intriguing country through puzzles, toys and magic tricks. Tonight perhaps experience Mongolia's rich artistic culture at a performance of traditional throat and ‘long song’ singers, musicians, dancers and contortionists.
    Optional Activities
    • Ulaanbaatar - Traditional Cultural Show - MNT20000
    • Ulaanbaatar - Intellectual Museum - MNT8000
    • Ulaanbaatar - Natural History Museum - MNT8000
    • Ulaanbaatar - National History Museum - MNT8000
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Day 4 Terelj National Park - Ger Camp
      Travel to Terelj National Park by private van (approximately 90 minutes). With rolling meadows dotted with munching yaks, forested hills, and imposing rock formations, this is the perfect place to take in Mongolia's natural beauty. A local guide will share some insight into Mongolian customs and culture with you, as well as lead you on a hike to a local Buddhist retreat. In Terelj, you’ll stay in a holiday ger camp (multi-share) with full board. Vegetarians can be catered for, although choices may be limited – please let us know if you have any specific dietary requirements at time of booking. The gers sleep up to four people with comfy beds and plenty of blankets. In the colder months you might want to stoke up the stove in the centre of the ger – you'll be toasty warm in no time! You’ll share meals together in the dining quarters. Bathroom facilities here are basic with no showers, but there are toilets and basins with cold water in a support building outside. Please note in the colder months when plumbing is no longer functional there will be no running water and an outdoor pit toilet will be used. Tonight, get involved in making your own dinner by learning to cook buuz – traditional Mongolian dumplings! Then take in the wonderful views across the gers and rocky escarpment as you experience a memorable Mongolian sunset.
      Included Activities
      • Terelj National Park
      • Terelj National Park - Cooking class
        Ger Camp (1 nt)
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
        Day 5 Ulaanbaatar
        Return to the hotel in Ulaanbaatar today (approximately 1.5 hours). On the way back to UB, stop and visit the huge Chinggis (Genghis) Khan Monument. Chinggis Khan, the legendary horseman who conquered half the known world in the 13th century, can be viewed from miles away. You can climb up the structure and see the view from atop the horse, maybe a little tacky but also pretty amazing. When back in the city, do some shopping to stock up on supplies for tomorrow’s overnight train ride. You can also search out some local handicrafts such as cashmere and felt products. Relax in your hotel or in a local restaurant this evening.
        Included Activities
        • Terelj National Park - Chinggis Khan Monument
          Hotel (1 nt)
          1 breakfast
          Day 6 Ulaanbaatar/Overnight Train
          Today you’ll enjoy a tour of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding area. Look out across the city from the top of Zaisan Hill, and then visit Mongolia’s largest and most important active monastery, the lively Gandan Khiid, to learn about the main religion of Mongolia – Tibetan Buddhism. You will also explore the range of fascinating artefacts housed in the Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan. Later today you will leave Mongolia aboard the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which takes you across the border into Russia and on to Siberia (approximately 26 hours).
          Included Activities
          • Ulaanbaatar - City Tour including Zaisan Hill, Winter Palace & Gandan Monastery
            Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
            1 breakfast
            Day 7 Ulan Ude
            Arrive in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia and homeland of the Buryat people, who are closely related to Mongolians. After years of repression during the Soviet era, Buryat traditions and religions (shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism) are now seeing something of a revival. You’ll notice how the city is an ethnic and spiritual mix of Euro-Russian, Mongolian, and Buryat cultures. The future of Buryatia is directly connected with development of the Lake Baikal area as a tourism zone. By coming here with our groups, respecting environmental issues and with rational use of the area's rich cultural and historic legacy, Intrepid aims to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism in Eastern Siberia. The area is fabulously beautiful, Ulan Ude is surrounded by vast, wild nature, boundless steppes, alpine and taiga forests. You’ll arrive in the town in the evening and settle into your hotel tonight before we head out to the lake tomorrow.
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 8 Ulan Ude/Lake Baikal
            Ulan Ude has a unique cultural mix of local and Russian traditions – it's the site of numerous flourishing Buddhist Datsans and its main square is home to a large and highly unusual head of Lenin, the world's biggest! Today you’ll visit an Old Believers Village. The Old Believers are Orthodox Christians who were exiled or fled from European Russia during the church reforms that took place in the 17th century. This visit will take you to a place that has changed little since the 18th century. Visit the local church and ethnography museum, attend a concert of folk songs and games, and enjoy a meal of timelessly tasty home-cooked dishes. Then you will drive approximately 2.5 hours to Lake Baikal. This is the deepest lake in the world, amazingly holding over 20% of the world's fresh water. There are plenty of optional activities to choose from during your stay in a comfortable local guesthouse here, including hiking, swimming and boat trips. Full board is included here, with plenty of tasty Russian staples like salads, soups, black bread, pancakes and pies. You'll also get a chance to try the local fish from Baikal – omul – which definitely tastes even more delicious when roasted over a camp fire on the lake shore. Accommodation here is on a multishare basis.
            Included Activities
            • Ulan Ude - Old Believers Village
              Guesthouse (1 nt)
              1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
              Day 9 Lake Baikal
              Today is a free day to enjoy your surroundings. This part of the lake has long, beautiful sandy beaches and some smaller and warmer lakes, where you can relax, play games and enjoy the sun and magnificent scenery. Don't miss out on experiencing a banya, the Russian version of a sauna. Locals swear by the cleansing, healing and meditative properties of having a steam and a wash in the banya, and it can also be quite the social occasion! Make sure to avail yourself of some birch twigs and slap yourself (and others!) over the shoulders for a traditional Siberian 'massage' to get the true banya experience. The banya here gives you a chance to cool off from the steam by jumping straight into the lake, before you go back in and do it all again! Make the most of the all the local food today, as tomorrow you will by taking your three-night train and the culinary offerings may not be so great!
              Included Activities
              • Lake Baikal - Banya (Russian sauna)
                Guesthouse (1 nt)
                1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                Day 10 Trans-Siberian Railway
                Return to Ulan Ude (approximately 2.5 hours) and head to the train station. This is the longest journey of the trip, three-nights on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway to Kungur. There are limited trains from Ulan-Ude to Kungur, with two different time schedules. Due to the schedule, you may need to leave Ulan-Ude earlier and arrive during the very early morning in Kungur.
                Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                Special Information
                Major stops (15-40 minutes) are usually at Irkutsk - Angarsk - Zima - Nizhneudinsk - Ilanskaya - Krasnoyarsk - Mariinsk - Tayga - Novosibirsk - Barabinsk - Omsk - Nazyvayevsk - Ishim - Tyumen - Ekaterinburg and finally Kungur, where you’ll disembark. ALWAYS double check with the carriage attendant and your leader if leaving the train during stops, and do not stray too far from the trains. Trains in Russia run on Moscow time even when passing through different time zones, so make sure you and the train are on the same schedule. It would be a very long wait for the next trains and it's unlikely that many people at the station will speak English if you get left behind (it has happened!). Even if you get off the train for a short stop, make sure you have your passport and valuables with you, as well as the itinerary with contact details of your leader and your train ticket. Additional safety issues will be discussed by your leader at the group meeting.
                Day 11-12 Trans-Siberian Railway
                The Trans-Siberian Railway is the world's most famous train line. It's also the longest, extending from Moscow across Siberia to the far-flung town of Vladivostok. You’ll experience part of this celebrated train odyssey from Ulan Ude to the Ural town of Kungur (3 nights total). Travelling through three time zones, you’ll wind your way through forests, small Siberian villages and big industrial Russian cities, to reach the bustling European part of this vast and varied nation. It might seem like a long journey but the majority of travellers are actually surprised how quickly it goes! Life on the train will pretty much consist of eating, drinking, talking, reading, sleeping and gazing out the window. Settle into the rhythm and enjoy the simplicity of having very little to do. Pro tip: buy dill and mint from the station sellers along the way to freshen up your drinks, soups and other meals There's plenty to keep you busy and enjoying this relaxing part of the journey, and you may even be reluctant to get off when you reach the next destination.
                Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nt)
                Day 13 Kungur
                Break up the journey with a stop in tranquil Kungur, a pretty provincial Russian town well known for its traditional architecture. When Siberia first opened up for settlement, a new major road turned Kungur into a trade centre. Foreigners seldom visit here, and an Intrepid aim is that by stopping here, we can have a positive impact on the development of tourism. On a walking tour with a local guide, see the buildings’ interesting mix of architectural styles – architects from all over European Russia were invited to make Kungur into one of the region’s most beautiful towns. Intrepid has the first English-speaking guides in the area, students training to work in tourism in the future. The Kungur area also has a unique karst landscape, with its Ice Caves some of the most extensive in the world. Of the 6 kilometres of passages, 1.5 kilometres are open to the public, and there’s a chance to visit them today. The first two caves contain permanently frozen ice formations, waterfalls and underground lakes. Watch out for the mythical monster mammoth that is said to inhabit the caves! Please note that English speaking guides are not usually available. While here you’ll discover more about the people, their customs, culture and cuisine with a visit to a local family to make traditional gingerbread and enjoy plenty of cups of tea!
                Included Activities
                • Kungur - Family visit
                • Kungur - Guided walking tour
                  Optional Activities
                  • Kungur - Ice Caves - RUB1000
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    1 breakfast
                    Special Information
                    Your accommodation in Kungur tonight is centrally located in twin rooms, with one bathroom shared between two rooms.
                    Day 14 Overnight Train
                    Today is a long day of travelling. Depart Kungur in a private bus and travel to Perm train station (approximately 4 hours with stops). Perm (whose name comes from the term ‘Far-away-land’) is the most Eastern city in Europe, and is a major rail junction connecting Siberia and the Far East with the European part of the country. Depending on arrival time, there may have some free time to explore the city, which is home to two of Russia’s largest art museums. Perm was infamously known as the ‘Gateway to the Gulag’, a closed city that was hidden from Soviet maps and not opened until 1990. 100 kilometres outside of the city is Perm-36, which was once a notorious forced labour camp and wasn’t closed until 1987. In the afternoon, you’ll board your overnight train to Moscow (approximately 25 hours), which departs at approximately 17:20.
                    Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                    Day 15 Moscow
                    The great city of Moscow has survived centuries of revolution and seen Russia through some of its most turbulent years, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to the growing pains of democracy. Beneath its modern veneer, a sign of Russia's recent embrace of capitalism, Moscow is a fascinating, historic city with a wealth of sights to see. You’ll arrive into the capital around 5pm and take the metro to your centrally located hotel. You can celebrate the end of your epic cross-continental journey here in Moscow with a wander around the famous Red Square by night and a final optional dinner with your group.
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Day 16 Moscow
                    There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there is plenty to see and do, staying a few extra days to enjoy everything Moscow has to offer is highly recommended. You could explore the Kremlin and witness its huge collection of imperial riches, walk among the cathedrals and museums, and maybe get a glimpse of Lenin in his eternal resting state. There are endless cultural treasures on offer – perhaps join an Urban Adventure to help you get to grips with this vast city.
                    Optional Activities
                    • Moscow - Moscow Behind the Icons Urban Adventure - EUR38
                    • Moscow - Red October Art Zone - Free
                    • Moscow - River Cruise - RUB700
                    • Moscow - Moscow Underground Urban Adventure - EUR38
                    • Moscow - Entrance Kremlin Grounds - RUB500
                    • Moscow - Modern Moscow Urban Adventure - EUR38
                    • Moscow - Armoury Museum - RUB700
                    • Moscow - Tretyakov Art Gallery - RUB400
                    • Moscow - Bolshoi Theatre - RUB4000
                    • Moscow - St Basils Cathedral - RUB350
                      1 breakfast
                      Itinerary disclaimer
                      ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                      OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                      Physical rating

                      You will be expected to carry your own luggage including up and down stairs, in busy public transport hubs, and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.
                      Included activities
                      Terelj National Park
                      Terelj National Park - Cooking class
                      Terelj National Park - Chinggis Khan Monument
                      Ulaanbaatar - City Tour including Zaisan Hill, Winter Palace & Gandan Monastery
                      Ulan Ude - Old Believers Village
                      Lake Baikal - Banya (Russian sauna)
                      Kungur - Family visit
                      Kungur - Guided walking tour
                      Important notes
                      1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding nights on overnight trains, ger camps and home stays.
                      2. In order for our local operator to book train tickets we require the following information at time of booking or no later than 60 days prior to departure.
                      • Passengers full name
                      • Full Passport Details (number, expiry, issued)
                      • DOB
                      • City of Birth
                      3. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's St Petersburg Office can be reached on Tel: +7 911 7033155
                      4. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster or civil unrest) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                      5. To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance.

                      Group size
                      Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                      Your fellow travellers
                      GROUP TRAVEL
                      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                      SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                      Hotel (6 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (6 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights), Ger Camp (1 night)
                      The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                      TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
                      Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

                      CHECK-IN TIME
                      Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                      PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
                      If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

                      HOTEL ROOMS:
                      Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue.

                      SMOKING ROOMS:
                      Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

                      WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.

                      HOT WATER:
                      In Ulaanbaatar due to the fact that much of the city's infrastructure lacks regular maintenance, we may only have access to cold water at our hotel year round.

                      GER STAY:
                      Our stay in Terelj National Park is in a tourist ger camp rather than with a nomadic family in their home. Most travellers find this a very comfortable and enjoyable experience and the setting in the park is beautiful. Gers usually have 4 beds with a stove at the centre, and all linen and bedding is provided. Toilet and bathroom facilities are in a separate block and there is also a building where we have our meals.

                      Please be aware that Russia requires all foreign nationals to register their passports upon arrival in each city. Since March 25th, 2011 the registration rules for foreigners have been relaxed in Russia. According to these rules, foreign citizens must register themselves within 7 business days of their arrival into Russia (instead of the 3 days required before). This means that if you are arriving in Russia before the trip start date or staying extra days after the trip has finished (less than 7 days), whether at our Intrepid hotels or at accommodation of your choice, you don’t have to be registered and pay any registration fees. Intrepid will take responsibility for registration of passports at our first place of stay in Russia including any associated costs. If you are arriving more than 7 days prior to the start of the trip, or staying more than 7 days post-trip, you will need to be responsible for your own passport registration and any extra charges for this service. Failure to register could lead to problems at immigration when departing the country.

                      HOT WATER:
                      Please note that in many cities in Russia, including Moscow, hot water is turned off for up to one month during summer for routine maintenance. During this time only cold water may be available.

                      HOMESTAYS and GUESTHOUSES:
                      Please note that at our homestays and guesthouses you might be required to share a room with people of the opposite sex or with your leader. When we stay at people's homes, beds might be pull-out couches or mattresses on the floor.

                      DOUBLE BEDS:
                      Please note that rooms with double beds are not always available. Wherever possible we will put couples in rooms with double beds but there may be times when only twin share rooms are available.

                      RUSSIA TRAINS:
                      Overnight trains are simple but comfortable. There is a toilet/bathroom and compartments with bunks/berths. Please note that we travel 2nd class on all overnight trains (4 people per compartment). While we always try to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. If the group number does not divide into 4 then you can also expect that some group members will be sharing a compartment with other travellers including local people. Please note that It is NOT possible to upgrade to a higher class train compartment on any section of this trip. There are generally no power points available in the compartments of the trains. The only power outlet occasionally available is one in the corridor for the whole carriage, and this is not guaranteed to have a steady flow of electricity or to be accessible from the compartment.

                      Trains are generally heated but most do not offer air conditioning. The train can become very hot even in winter and the train attendants will not allow the windows to be opened, please pack clothing appropriate for the warmer conditions on these train journeys.
                      Meals introduction
                      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company however you are also welcome to go and make your own food discoveries!

                      VEGETARIANS & VEGANS
                      Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat free options on menus including vegetable, tofu and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Diary is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine.

                      DIETARY NEEDS
                      Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets.

                      For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic.

                      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

                      VEGETARIANS & VEGANS
                      Vegetarians in Russia certainly won't go hungry as there are usually plenty of meat-free options on menus including salads, certain soups, and cooked dishes such as mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, buckwheat, dumplings with vegetable fillings, savoury pancakes etc. Vegans will need to look for options without mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese which are common in Russian dishes. Moscow, St Petersburg and increasingly other towns have an ever growing number of excellent vegetarian and vegan eateries.

                      DIETARY NEEDS
                      Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets.
                      8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
                      Money matters
                      SPENDING MONEY:
                      When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

                      The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).

                      ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Look for ATMs with your card logo.

                      Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

                      Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

                      The official currency of Mongolia is the Tugrik (MNT).

                      Tugrik may only be obtained within Mongolia. The easiest currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, although it is possible to exchange RUB, CNY and other currencies at some exchange points. Larger denomination notes often attract a better exchange rate.

                      Please be aware that there are no reliable banking or exchange facilities outside of Ulaanbaatar. Major credit cards may be accepted in some shops and restaurants in the capital.

                      In Ulaanbaatar you will be able to find ATMs that accept international cards and use them to withdraw local currency; however these should not be relied on as your sole financial source. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Mongolia must be made in local currency.

                      The official currency of Russia is the Ruble (RUB). 1 ruble = 100 kopeks.

                      ATMs are widespread in Russia so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and note that recent travellers have experienced difficulties in using credit cards without a debit function from US banks for purchases or withdrawals.

                      The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange as what is advertised is sometimes only for transactions above US$500, carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

                      Due to restrictions on changing money in Russia, only US$50 and US$100 notes/bills printed after 1996 and in good condition (no creases, marks, stamps or tears) will be accepted. Avoid bringing US$ notes in smaller denominations. By law, all purchases in Russia must be made in local currency.

                      TRANS MONGOLIAN - TIPPING
                      If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

                      The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                      Restaurants/cafes with table service: In Russia and Mongolia- we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. Tipping is not common practice in China.

                      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest 100-200 RUB/3000-5000MNG/10-15 CNY per person per activity day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for a for a full day.

                      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey, while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however a base of 100-200 RUB/3000-5000MNG/10-15 CNY per person, per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.

                      Please do not tip with coins, notes of and less that 1000 MNG/10 RUB/CNY1or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

                      Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US3-5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used.

                      Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                      EMERGENCY FUNDS:
                      We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
                      Group leader
                      All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                      Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                      Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:


                      PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                      TRAIN TRAVEL
                      Local interaction is certainly big part of travelling experience in Intrepid trip just be careful when it comes to drinking with the locals and playing cards with strangers on the Trans Siberian and Trans Mongolian train journeys. Remember that often vodka sold on platform and by attendants is very low quality and can be dangerous for your health. "Card sharpers" (card sharks) will offer to play cards masked as a local travellers, the ultimate intent is to play for money.

                      China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safety concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, electronic devices, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark.

                      There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint.

                      Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so.

                      Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.

                      Mongolia is relatively safe, but crimes against foreigners sometimes occur. Petty crime is common in Ulaanbaatar, particularly in markets or other crowded public places. Watch out for pickpockets. Be wary of large groups of street children and teenagers, who sometimes harass pedestrians for money when entering and leaving vehicles, pubs and restaurants. Keep passports, money and other valuables in a safe place. Report any theft to the Pick-pocketing Department of the Police (telephone +976-93022480) or to your leader, the police can provide a letter for insurance purposes.

                      The incidence of violent crime in Ulaanbaatar appears to be on the rise. There has been an increase in reports of foreigners being robbed and assaulted, especially when walking at night, and while using public transport and unlicensed taxis. These incidents tends to increase during festive months – New Year, Tsagaan Sar (December – February) and Naadam (July). Take extra safety precautions during these months.

                      In recent years there have been occasional instances of civil and political unrest resulting in demonstrations and in some cases violence. On 16 September 2013 there was a political demonstration in central Ulaanbaatar during which several rifle shots were discharged. No injuries were reported. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

                      Most visits to Russia are trouble-free, but petty crime does happen in cities.

                      In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well-organised gangs. Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses. Bogus police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you are stopped always insist on seeing identification.

                      Avoid openly carrying expensive items. Avoid walking about late at night alone. Incidents of violence in major cities are usually linked to criminal/business activities and are not usually directed against foreign visitors.

                      If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat. Don’t leave your sleeping compartment unoccupied as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. On some trains there may be an additional security device, which can be attached to the fitted handle/lock unit. There may also be a steel switch at head-height on the door panel which, when pulled down, prevents the closed door from being slid open. Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment.
                      Joining point
                      King Parkview Hotel (Huayu Hotel) 北京华育宾馆
                      55 Shatan Hou Street 地址:北京东城区沙滩后街 55号 (近五四 大街,在景山公园东门对面的胡同里)
                      Dong Cheng District
                      Phone: +86 (010)58757888
                      Joining point description
                      King Parkview Hotel is centrally located in Beijing, close to many historical and cultural landmarks, including Jinshan Park, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square and the National Art Museum, and the hutong areaThe hotel offers comfortable rooms including en-suite bathroom, TV & AC. Hotel rooms may include a vanity pack which are not complimentary. You will be charged at checkout if you open or use the vanity pack.

                      For more information, please go to
                      Joining point instructions
                      Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3. For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to

                      An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through your booking agent.

                      If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with us, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with our company logo on it and your name.

                      If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. I
                      f you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk near your exit and ask them to call Ms Qi at (+86) 13671299816.

                      In any case, please take a printed copy of your hotel name and address in Chinese as shown in the joining point hotel section with you.

                      If you are making your own way to the joining hotel:
                      By taxi (the easiest option): Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. You can follow the airport signs to reach to the official taxi stand. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and should cost around CNY120 (include CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI DRIVERS WHO DON'T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE FOR CLIENTS AND APPROACH YOU IN THE QUEUE CLAIMING THEY USE METER**

                      By airport express and taxi:
                      You can follow the airport signs to reach to the airport express station. Take the airport express (CNY25, service time: 06:20 to 22:50) to Dongzhimen station. It is suggested to hail a passing by taxi to go to your hotel. It will cost around CNY30 from Dongzhimen Station to your hotel. Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown in the Joining Point Section. **THERE IS NO TAXI LINE AT THIS STATION. AVOID USING TAXIS THAT ARE WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE STATION EXITS. THEY DON'T USE METER AND TEND TO OVERCHARGE. **
                      Finish point
                      Arbat-House Hotel Отель Арбат Хаус
                      13 Skatetrniy Pereulok Скатертный переулок, дом 13
                      Metro station Arbatskaya м. Арбатская
                      RUSSIAN FEDERATION
                      Phone: +7 (495) 6431910
                      Finish point description
                      Arbat House Hotel is located in Moscow’s centre, 3 minutes walk from New Arbat avenue and only a short distance to Arbatskaya metro station. From here you can easily walk to Red Square and the Kremlin through Moscow's historical and cultural centre. The nearest airport is 30km away. Rooms are equipped with TV, telephone, air-conditioning, hairdryer, Wi-Fi, and some rooms will have a small fridge. Reception staff speak English.

                      Visit the hotel's website here:
                      Finishing point instructions
                      If you have pre booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.

                      If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.
                      Emergency contact
                      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                      For general contact details please use the following page:

                      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:

                      Intrepid's Local St Petersburg Office: +7 911 7033155
                      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                      CHINA VISA:
                      Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong If you have time here before your trip departs. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.

                      Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong.

                      Please make sure if you have a transit anywhere in China before arriving at your destination that you check with your airline to see if the transit will require using your visa.

                      List the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf.
                      Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.

                      Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
                      Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.
                      606 InterChina Commercial Building
                      33 Dengshikou Street
                      Dongcheng District
                      Beijing 100006
                      +86 10 6406 8022

                      * Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.
                      * Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.
                      * Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception - Tibet tours)
                      * Photocopy of your passport
                      * Passport size photos (up to 4 may be required)
                      * Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

                      Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking or at least 30 days prior to travel:
                      *Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
                      (Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip in case it is requested)

                      MONGOLIAN VISAS - TRANS-MONGOLIAN:
                      Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and most EU countries will need a visa to enter Mongolia as a tourist for up to 30 days. Citizens of Canada will not need a visa for visits up to 30 days, and citizens of the USA will not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required.

                      If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance – this will not usually require a Letter of Invitation.

                      LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI):
                      Most embassies do not require a LOI. However, should you be required to present one with your visa application please contact us. There may be a fee for this service. In order for us to provide a LOI through our local partners we will require a clear, colour scan of your passport along with an indication of at which embassy you will be applying for your visa. Please allow up to 2 weeks for your LOI to be processed.

                      VISAS EN-ROUTE:
                      You may be able to apply for your Mongolian visa in Beijing en-route if you have time here before your trip. Please plan carefully and check the current embassy requirements. You will need to organise this yourself and ensure you have all the correct documentation to obtain the Mongolian Visa.

                      You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (J) that covers the duration of your stay in Mongolia. Visas are usually valid for 3 months from the date of issue and enable to you to stay for up to 30 days.

                      Name and address of host person or organization in Mongolia:
                      Monkhutuch Travel Co. Ltd
                      Bayangol district, Building 19-3
                      +976 701 29291

                      Name and address of Hotel in Mongolia:
                      J Hotel
                      Sukhbaatar District, Khoroo I,
                      Street of Auto Zamchid 34
                      Tel: +976 771 15677

                      You may be required to provide a copy of your Intrepid itinerary, indicating the dates of your tour, along with your application.

                      RUSSIAN VISAS
                      Most nationalities require a visa for Russia.

                      LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
                      You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes called a Voucher or Visa Support Letter in order to apply for your visa. You can obtain your LOI online through our local partners in Russia. Instructions and a link to the website will be sent to you at the time of booking. Read the instructions carefully and fill in the online application form. You will then be able to download your LOI instantly. Please note that we will add 3 days to the LOI duration before and after your trip dates for your convenience. If you are planning to stay longer than these dates please let us know as we will need to manually request a LOI to fit your specific travel plans.

                      The LOI included in the cost of your tour is for a Single Entry Tourist Visa. LOIs for other types of visas must be organised directly with our local partners Parallel 60 (

                      Once you have obtained your LOI you can apply for your visa. You must apply for your Russian visa in advance. Visas are not available on arrival or en-route. It is your responsibility to apply for your own visa either directly through a consulate or by using a visa agent. We do not recommend trying to obtain your Russian visa outside of your home country or place of residence as your application may be refused.

                      Use ONLY the information and dates on your LOI when filling in your visa application. There is no need to reference Intrepid Travel or include a copy of your itinerary as Parallel 60, our Russian partners, is the official inviting organisation, not Intrepid. Do not be concerned if the destinations and accommodation listed do not match your Intrepid trip exactly. This information is for the purposes of obtaining the visa only, not an indication of where you must travel and stay once in Russia.

                      * Letter of Invitation (LOI)
                      * Photocopy of your passport
                      * Passport size photos (up to 4)
                      * Flight or other transport details (if requested)
                      * Please check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

                      VISA EXTENSIONS
                      Please be aware that visa extensions are NOT possible in Russia.

                      Train tickets in Russia are booked with passport numbers. Please make sure you provide us with your correct passport number. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip. If we receive changes to passport numbers less than 30 days prior to departure we cannot guarantee purchase of train tickets.

                      We do NOT recommend travelling on multiple passports for trips that involve border crossings by train. This can cause difficulties with train ticket bookings and cause significant issues delays at immigration.

                      MIGRATION CARDS
                      All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card on arrival. The entry portion of the card will be retained by immigration upon arrival. The stamped exit portion of the card must be kept with your passport during your stay in Russia and submitted to immigration upon departure. If you are not given a migration card at immigration on arrival you must request one, even if the immigration official says that you do not need one. Loss or failure to receive the exit portion of the card will result in you not being able to travel on our trip as all hotels require this card for registration and may result in significant delays or fines upon departure.

                      BORDER CROSSINGS:
                      Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. For China & Russia applications please follow the provided visa instructions carefully. For Mongolia the border crossings are as follows:

                      Enter Mongolia - Day 2 at Erenhot
                      Exit Mongolia - Day 6 at Sukhbaatar

                      To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following websites to be very useful:
                      What to take
                      MAIN LUGGAGE
                      What you need to bring will vary according to when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances including up and down stairs and in busy train stations. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

                      Small, wheeled suitcases that can also easily be picked up and carried are the best for travel in this part of the world, although if you prefer, a back pack is also fine. If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks.

                      DAY PACK
                      A day pack for carrying essentials when exploring destinations as well as for short overnight stays will be useful. On overnight trains packing this with the essentials you need to access during the trip will also be very useful.

                      OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO TAKE
                      - reusable shopping bag for buying supplies for long journeys
                      - travel mug, cutlery, plate/bowl for preparing any self catered meals
                      - plastic lunch box for storing food & snacks
                      - slippers or flip flops
                      - torch/flashlight
                      - travel wipes
                      - small towel
                      - ear plugs & eye mask
                      - head scarf for women (for when entering working churches or mosques)

                      OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
                      - check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing
                      - laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash
                      Climate and seasonal information
                      CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
                      Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
                      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

                      AIR POLLUTION IN CHINA:
                      Air pollution is a recognized issue for travelers in China, particularly in Beijing where the geographical location of the city exacerbates its effects. We provide travellers with certified PM (particulate matter) face masks as an option to be worn as protection during times of high levels of pollution. On days where the Air Quality Index (AQI) is above 101, some activities may be altered for the health and safety of our travellers and leaders. The US Embassy in Beijing provides a hourly updated AQI reading and explanation of the levels here:

                      The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions.

                      You can check the pollution index levels for many cities on the following website:

                      Giardia intestinalis, a parasite that causes severe diarrhoea has been reported from time to time in the water supply in Russia. For this reason Intrepid recommends against drinking unboiled tap water in all Russian cites.

                      From June 2016 legislation was introduced requiring travellers bringing prescribed medicines into Russia to carry a prescription in the traveller’s name, plus the name of the drug and prescribed quantity. According to official channels, if this isn’t in Russian, a notarised translation is also required. In practice we are yet to hear of a traveller encountering an issue with bringing medicines into the country, provided they are able to show that they are prescribed to them. Some medicines which you can buy over the counter in your home country may require a prescription in Russia. Please ensure you check with the nearest Russian consulate if you’re unsure whether you need a prescription to bring your medicines into the country.

                      In spring and early summer in rural areas of Russia and Mongolia ticks are prevalent. Please take precautions when walking in these areas by wearing long trousers and covered shoes, and check your clothes and body thoroughly.

                      The diet and hygiene standards on this trip may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc. and bring some medication/rehydration salts etc if you commonly experience stomach problems with a change in diet.
                      Travel insurance
                      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                      When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                      A couple of rules
                      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                      Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                      Responsible Travel
                      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.


                      The Intrepid Foundation
                      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:


                      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in China include:

                      * Beijing Huiling offers innovative services to youths and adults with learning disabilities and teaches people to respect what those with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't. Their activities and training facilitate independence and improve daily living and employability skills in a family-like group home environment.

                      * Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.

                      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Mongolia include:

                      * The Lotus Children's Centre cares for children who are the victims of abandonment, neglect or abuse. Currently housing some 150 children, the centre provides for basic health, shelter and educational needs. Employment and effective life skills are also imparted as the children grow, in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty.

                      For more information, or to make a donation please visit:

                      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Russia include:

                      * Nochlezhka focuses on providing for St Petersburg's homeless community. Its Night Bus project provides a mobile social support point: two specially equipped minivans that are visited by up to 150 disadvantaged people each night. Every visitor receives a hot meal and tea, a nurse is able to provide first aid, specialised social workers can assist street children, and clean, warm clothes are also available.

                      Please advise your leader if you have any unneeded clothing or toiletries you would like to donate, so that they can arrange for them to be passed on to Nochlezhka.

                      After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.