Trans-Siberian & Mongolia Trip Notes

    • 16
    • CBSU
    • 4.66 out of 5
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $3,323
      CAD $3,366
      AUD $3,387
      EUR €2,435
      GBP £2,091
      NZD $4,016
      ZAR R31,836
      CHF FR3,000
      *
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    • Explorer
    • Original
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Trans-Siberian & Mongolia.
Print Version
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2014
Trans-Siberian & Mongolia
Trip code: CBSU
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
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.
TRIP CHANGE FOR 2014:
From 1st January 2014 this trip is a 16 day itinerary from Beijing to Moscow. Travellers who wish to continue their journey to St Petersburg should book the 22 day Beijing to St Petersburg (CBSQC).
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesFinish point instructions
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency contact
MapYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
ItinerarySingle travellersVisas
We also recommendAccommodationIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Physical preparationGroup leaderTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point Carbon offset
Departure taxFinish point descriptionFeedback
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Trans-Siberian & Mongolia
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Beijing/Train
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1.
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 to go that will give you a great insight into the nation's ancient past as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture.
As we will depart for Mongolia early morning on Day 2 we highly recommend arriving in Beijing a few days earlier to experience all this city has to offer, including the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Lama Temple, markets, hutongs, opera and acrobats. These activities are not included on this trip. Travellers wishing to visit the Great Wall or other sites should arrive a few days prior to the trip. We recommend Urban Adventures for Great Wall and other activities in Beijing.
Preparing to leave China we take the subway from our hotel to the central train station (3 stops and a line change) Although we will be travelling outside of peak hour be prepared to carry your own bags.
Board our train out of China and travel into Mongolia - the first leg of this epic train journey that will take us the 9,000 km to St Petersburg. This is an overnight journey (approx 30 hrs) that includes a long border crossing during the night where our 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.
Trains on this journey are simple but comfortable. 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 our comfort and safety although service standards can vary greatly. As toilet paper isn't always available it's advised to carry some of your own, keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. 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. We recommend bringing a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins) Sometimes snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board and most trains also have a dining car, although with a limited menu. You may wish to purchase extra snacks of your choice before the journey to supplement food available on the train. With the exception of the Moscow to St Petersburg journey, where we travel in open-plan 3rd class carriages with triple bunks, all our journeys are in 2nd class (four berths per compartment) on this trip.
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.
Please note that in many cases, particularly in peak travel season, due to high demand for tickets on the Trans-Mongolian route we aren't always able to get all of our tickets together. It is likely that at least some members of the group will be sharing compartments with other travellers, either foreign or local, particularly if your group does not divide evenly into four.
Optional Activities
  • Lama Temple - CNY30
  • Beijing Art & Architecture Urban Adventure - CNY590
  • Kung Fu show - CNY180
  • Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY250
  • Beijing Opera - CNY200
  • Temple of Heaven - CNY40
  • Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY510
  • Summer Palace - CNY40
  • Real Beijing Gourmet Urban Adventure - CNY360
  • Beijing Insight Urban Adventure - CNY470
  • Great Wall Experience Urban Adventure - CNY900
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 3-6 Ulaanbaatar/Ger Camp
Crammed between superpowers Russia and China, the independent nation of Mongolia is a true Intrepid destination. The capital, Ulaanbaatar (affectionately known as UB), is a city where new meets old as elderly Mongolians in traditional dress mingle with the nation's young business elite. Mongolia's past close relationship with the USSR is evident in the Soviet-style architecture and city layout. Explore the city's many museums to learn about the country's turbulent history, including the reign of history's most famous Mongolian - the feared and respected Genghis Khan.
There are lots of great experiences to be had in UB including:
Go to the Museum of Natural History, which has an excellent dinosaur display.
One of the city's most fascinating museums is the Intellectual Museum where you can learn about the history and culture of this intriguing country through puzzles, toys and magic tricks.
Visit Mongolia's largest and most important active monastery, the lively Gandan Khiid, to learn about the main religion of Mongolia which is now experiencing a great revival - Tibetan Buddhism.
Experience Mongolia's rich artistic culture at a performance of traditional throat and "long song" singers, musicians, dancers and contortionists.
Travel to Terelj National Park by private van (approx 90 mins). With rolling meadows, forested hills and imposing rock formations this is the perfect place to take in Mongolia's natural beauty. We have a local guide with us to share some insight into Mongolian customs and culture, as well as lead us on a hike to a local Buddhist retreat.
In Terelj, we stay in a holiday ger camp 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 at our holiday camp 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 and you'll be toasty warm in no time! We share our meals together in the dining quarters. Bathroom facilities here are basic with no showers but do have 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 we'll use the outdoor pit toilet.
Get involved in making your own dinner by learning to cook buuz - traditional Mongolian dumplings.
Our private vehicle will return us to UB.
Leave Mongolia aboard the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which takes us across the border into Russia and on to Siberia (approx 20 hrs).
A brief word about drinking on the train: Social drinking is common on trains in Russia and Mongolia and can be an enjoyable way to meet local people as well as interact with your fellow Intrepid travellers. In order to make sure that your experience of train travel with us is a positive and safe one there are a few things we'd like you to keep in mind before setting out on your train journey.
While alcohol is often available for purchase on the train, spirits (including vodka) should only be consumed in the dining car. Train security guards keep a very close eye on drunken behaviour and have the legal right to fine or have any passengers who are intoxicated removed from the train without warning. Should this happen there's very little we can do to assist you in continuing your journey with the rest of the group.
Alcoholism is also a serious social problem in Russia and Mongolia so travellers should take care not to encourage or take part in drinking to excess. Fake alcohol is common and the motives for being invited to drink with locals may not always be honest. The locals' tolerance for alcohol is likely to be much higher than your own. You may be putting yourself and other members of your group at risk by getting involved in heavy drinking while on the train.
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. It's most appreciated if foreign travellers are respectful of this, particularly in the mornings and evenings or when other passengers are sleeping.
Included Activities
  • Informal Mongolian Language Lesson
  • Ger Camp - Terelj National Park
  • Ger Camp - Cooking class
  • Ulaanbaatar - Intellectual Museum
  • Ulaanbaatar - Zaisan Hill
  • Ulaanbaatar - Family visit
Optional Activities
  • Traditional Cultural Show - MNT12000
  • Natural History Museum - MNT5000
  • Ulaanbaatar - Gandan Monastery - MNT4000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts), Ger (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 7-10 Ulan Ude & Lake Baikal
Ulan-Ude is the capital of the Republic of Buryatia and homeland of the Buryat people who are related closely to Mongolians. After years of repression during the Soviet era, Buryat traditions and religions (shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism) are now seeing something of a revival. 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 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 city 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!
Make a visit to 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 us 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.
Travel to Enhaluk Village on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal by private van (approx 3 hrs).
Lake Baikal is the world's deepest, amazingly holding over 20% of the world's fresh water. There are plenty of optional activities to choose from during our stay here in a comfortable local guesthouse including hiking, swimming and boat trips.
This part of the lake has long, beautiful sandy beaches and some smaller and warmer lakes, where visitors can relax, play games and enjoy the sun and magnificent scenery.
Full board is included in Enhaluk with plenty of tasty Russian staples like salads, soups, black bread, pancakes and pies. We'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!
Don't miss out on experiencing a banya - the Russian saunas that locals say get you cleaner than any other form of bathing. The banya here gives us a chance to cool off from our steam right into the lake, before you go back in and do it all again!
Return to Ulan Ude and head to the train station.
Board the train for our longest journey of the trip - the three-night journey on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway which takes us all the way to Kungur.
Please note there are a limited number of trains from Ulan-Ude to Kungur with two different time schedules. Due to late schedule changes we may need to leave Ulan-Ude earlier and arrive during the very early morning in Kungur.
Included Activities
  • Ulan Ude - Old Believers Village
Optional Activities
  • Ivolginsk Monastery - RUB700
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts), Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 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. We experience part of this celebrated train odyssey from Ulan Ude to the Ural town of Kungur (3 nights total). Travelling through five time zones, we wind our way through forests, small Siberian villages and big industrial Russian cities, to reach the bustling European part of this vast and varied nation.
The train stops roughly every 4-5 hours at major cities in Siberia, and some smaller ones as well. A list of stations where we'll stop is available, along with the time spent at each one. Major stops (15-40 mins) are usually at Irkutsk - Angarsk - Zima - Nizhneudinsk - Ilanskaya - Krasnoyarsk - Mariinsk - Tayga - Novosibirsk - Barabinsk - Omsk - Nazyvayevsk - Ishim - Tyumen - Sverdlovsk and finally Kungur where we disembark.
The duration of each stop ranges from 2-40 minutes but ALWAYS double check with the carriage attendant and your leader and do not stray too far from the train if you get off for a walk on the platform. Trains in Russia run on Moscow time even as we pass through different time zones so make sure you and the train are on the same schedule. It may be a very long wait for the next train to come through 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.
It might seem like a long journey but the majority of our travellers are actually surprised how quickly it goes! Spend the days learning some Russian, chatting with your fellow travellers, having some meals in the dining car or taking a chance on finding some babushkas hawking local produce or baked goods on the platforms. Watch the landscape roll by, read up on the upcoming destinations or play cards. There's actually plenty to keep us busy and enjoying this relaxing part of our journey and you may even be reluctant to get off when we reach our next destination.
Accommodation
Overnight sleeper train (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Kungur
A pretty provincial Russian town, Kungur is well known for its traditional architecture. When Siberia was first opening up for settlement, a major road passed through here, turning it into a centre for trade.
Kungur is seldom visited by foreign tourists and we hope that through regular visits by our groups, Intrepid can have a positive impact on the development of tourism here.
Architects were invited from all over European Russia to make Kungur into one of the most beautiful towns in the region, something which we see in the mix of architectural styles in the original buildings we pass on our walking tour with a local guide. . Since Intrepid started visiting Kungur, we have acquired the first English speaking guide in the area, a student training to work in tourism in the future. Please take this into account during our walking tour.
The Kungur area is interesting for its unique karst landscape. The Kungur Ice Caves are some of the most extensive in the world. Of the 6 km of passages, currently 1.5 km are open to the public. 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! It is possible to visit the caves as an optional activity, although please note that English speaking guides are not usually available.
In the evening, we visit a local family for a local Russian dinner experience.
Our accommodation in Kungur is centrally located in twin rooms, one bathroom is shared between two rooms.
En-route to the nearest major train station we make a visit to the Perm-36 Memorial Complex.
Unique in Russia, this open air museum is situated on the site of one of the USSR's most notorious GULAGs. Forced labour camps such as this one interned millions of Soviet citizens during the darkest days of the regime. Perm-36 serves as a potent reminder of the political oppression that the region endured for so long and as a memorial to those who suffered here.
We have a tour with a local guide (Russian only, so our leader will translate) of the barracks and the site to hear of its history and ensure that its stories are not forgotten.
Board the overnight train to Moscow (approximately 25 hrs).
Included Activities
  • Kungur - Family visit
  • Kungur - Guided walking tour
  • Perm - Perm-36 Memorial Complex tour
Optional Activities
  • Kungur Ice Caves - RUB1000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 15-16 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.
We arrive in Moscow mid morning and take the busy metro to our centrally located hotel.
Intrepid's aims when researching and contracting accommodation is to find properties that are well maintained, clean and as centrally located as possible. In an expensive destination such as Moscow there is a balance to be reached in choosing a centrally located, clean property and still maintaining a value priced trip.
The hotel we stay in is simple and is located centrally in the embassy sector of Moscow. It will only take 20 minutes walking to get to Red Square.
We can celebrate the end of our journey here in Moscow with an evening visit to Red Square.
TRIP CHANGE FOR 2014:
From 1st January 2014 this trip concludes in Moscow on Day 16. As such it no longer includes any activities in Moscow. Travellers who wish to continue their journey to St Petersburg should book the 22 day Beijing to St Petersburg (CBSQC).
As there is plenty to see and do, we highly recommend staying a few extra days to enjoy experiences such as:
Visit Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution which ushered in the era of communism, at his austere mausoleum on Red Square.
Please note that on occasion Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening hours without prior warning.
Relive the nation's turbulent past at Victory Park.
Travel back to the beginnings of Russian art at the Tretyakov Gallery.
The Izmailovo Markets are considered the best place for souvenir shopping.
Step inside the colourful St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. Legend has it that tsar, Ivan the Terrible, had the two architects blinded so that they couldn't build anything as beautiful.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Optional Activities
  • Victory Park Museum - RUB200
  • Izmailovo Vernisazh Markets - RUB10
  • Tretyakov Gallery - RUB400
  • Moscow Bunker & Underground Urban Adventure - RUB4000
  • Moscow Up Close & Personal Urban Adventure - RUB2340
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
  • CBSU Trans Mongolian - Single Supplement (CBSU)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Trans-Mongolian Experience (WBSB)
  • Beijing to St Petersburg (CBSQC)
Itinerary disclaimer
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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
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.
Culture shock rating

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
This is an epic train journey that covers almost half of the world. You will be travelling through countries that speak little or no English, where transport often runs only when it is full (and often overflowing), where hotels and restaurants have very different ideas of service and amenities, where the plumbing can sometimes be temperamental and the power will often just vanish. Many of the places we visit are not used to people travelling outside of large coach tours so they will be uncertain of how to deal with us. Bureaucracy is rife and border crossings sometimes seem never-ending. This is a very challenging trip covering a wide range of peoples, cultures, religious and political beliefs and is a trip that involves a lot of long travel days and nights. Some passengers will experience increased fatigue due to these challenges. If you are able to bring with you a lot of patience and a huge sense of humour, then your experience will be greatly enhanced.
Physical rating

This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Physical preparation
You will be expected to carry your own luggage including stairs, move about 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 plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.
There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
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.
BOOKING THEATRE TICKETS IN ADVANCE:
To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance. Please consider carefully which performances you are going to want attend and make sure that the dates correspond to your trip. Here are some useful internet sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg when you are there: www.mariinsky.ru, www.bolshoi.ru and www.ticketsofrussia.ru. In particular we recommend you see what's playing at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, as it may be difficult to get tickets when you are there especially during White Nights in St Petersburg.
Money Exchange
The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
ATMs are widespread, 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. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
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 safest way to carry your money is as traveller's cheques which can be exchanged at most banks and currency exchange points in Ulaanbaatar. 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. Some banks will allow cash advances against a credit card but cash withdrawals are subject to a 5% or more service charge.
In Ulaanbaatar you may 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.
We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in Russia they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
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. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
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.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
TRANS MONGOLIAN
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: Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest 50-100 RUB/2000-3000MNG/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 50-100 RUB/2000-3000MNG/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.
China Tipping
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's 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. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
In China specifically, tipping is not compulsory, but is expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.
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 we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 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 is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
NAADAM FESTIVAL:
In 2014 the trip departing on 8th July will be in Mongolia for the Naadam Festival. This is the biggest festival of the year in Mongolia and involves elaborate parades and concerts, wresting and archery competitions and spectacular horseback events and races. Your leader will inform you at the group meeting about the possibility and prices of attending events as optional activities so that we can book with our local Mongolian partners.
RUSSIA:
Please note in order for our local operator to book train tickets in Russia, we require the following information at time of booking or no later than 60 days prior to departure.
• Passengers full names
• Full Passport Details
• DOB
• City of Birth
Please note we cannot guarantee a visit to Museum Perm-36 at the moment due to electricity blackouts. Please speak to your Leader on Day 1 for an update on the situation. If you are unable to visit Museum Perm-36 on your trip, we will replace this with an equal activity.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
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.
Please note, if you have purchased a single supplement, it will not be applicable on overnight train sectors or at home stays.
Accommodation
Hotel (6 nts), Overnight sleeper train (6 nts), Guesthouse (2 nts), Ger (1 nt)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
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.
HOMESTAYS:
Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only.
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.
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. 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.
REGISTRATION:
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.
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. 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.
Meals
7 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners
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.
Budget for meals not included:
USD 420.00
Transport
Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Minibus, Train, Taxi
LONG TRAVEL DAYS
There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.
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.
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
Beijing
100009
CHINA
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 http://pephotel.com/en
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 http://en.bcia.com.cn/
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. **
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Finish point
Arbat-House Hotel Отель Арбат Хаус
13 Skatetrniy Pereulok Скатертный переулок, дом 13
Metro station Arbatskaya м. Арбатская
Moscow
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 minibar. Reception staff speak English.
Visit the hotel's website here: www.arbat-house.com
Finish 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
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's St Petersburg Office can be reached on Tel: +7 911 7033155. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
CHINA:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
MAINLAND CHINA & HONG KONG:
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.
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 use your Chinese Visa. You need to make sure your China visa will cover you for any transits made.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
Itinerary:
Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Kashgar, Turpan or Tibet anywhere on your application form. While these areas are not off limits to travellers, they are considered politically sensitive, so including these on your visa application could lead to significant delays or your visa being denied.
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
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this please email us with your booking number and trip details. Please tick the hotels in all destinations that your trip visits
* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the embassy or not
* Itinerary – please print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS
Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking, at least 30 days prior to travel:
*Clear, colour 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 as well.
MONGOLIA - TRANS-MONGOLIAN:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required
Nationals most countries can now travel for tourist purposes visa free for 30 days. US passport holders can travel in Mongolia for up to 90 days visa free.
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 indicating at which embassy you will be applying for your visa. Please allow up to 2 weeks for your LOI to be processed.
VISA ON ARRIVAL:
Visas are not available on arrival at any land borders into Mongolia. You must have a Mongolian visa before beginning your trip.
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.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
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
Ulaanbaatar
+976 11 364 708
Name and address of Hotel in Mongolia:
San Hotel
Baga-toiruu 64
Chingeltei duureg, 6-r khoroo
Ulaanbaatar
MONGOLIA
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You may be required to provide a copy of your Intrepid itinerary, indicating the dates of your tour, along with your application.
RUSSIA:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
Most nationalities require a visa for Russia. 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 may be organised at your own expense and paid directly to our local partners, Parallel 60 (www.parallelsixty.com)
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You must apply for your Russian visa in advance. Visas are not available on arrival or en-route. Once you have received your LOI it is your responsibility to apply for your own visa either directly at an embassy 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 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 in Russia.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Letter of Invitation (LOI)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Flight or other transport details - if required
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
VISA EXTENSIONS
Please be aware that visa extensions are NOT possible in Russia.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:
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.
WARNING – MIGRATION CARDS
All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card. 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 website to be very useful : www.timeanddate.com
Issues on your trip
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.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
The climate in this region is extremely varied. From October until May you can expect temperatures close to and below zero, while from June until September temperatures can reach well above 30 C. For departures October to May you'll need to bring a warm windproof jacket, scarf, gloves, warm hat and waterproof footwear. On all other departures it can still get quite cool at night especially when in the countryside, so we recommend that you bring a warm jacket or fleece.
WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
Health
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 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.
POTENTIAL HEALTH ISSUES:
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.
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 boots and check your clothes and body thoroughly.
The diet and hygiene standards of Russia, Mongolia and Central Asia 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. should you experience stomach problems.
BIRD FLU:
There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:
• Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
• Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
• Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
• Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
• Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
• Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing
For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/index.html
Safety
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. 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 group 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 group 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:
BIKE HELMETS:
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.
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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
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!
Pay attention on all roads, even small streets and alleyways. Vehicles find their ways into impossibly small passages leaving no room for both you and the traffic. Traffic can be very noisy and horns are used to signal turning, overtaking and to announce going through intersections.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
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.
SCAMS IN CHINA
While China is generally very safe to travel around, there are a couple of scams to avoid, especially in major tourist cities. If any young people (usually in couples) around tourist sites claim to be Art Students and want to take you to their "special exhibition", they may end up aggressively selling overpriced prints in their 'showroom'. Also, if you find you are approached by young people who say they want to practice their English, be wary if they suggest going to a Chinese tea ceremony or go for a drink, where a few small cups of tea/coffee/beer may end up costing you several hundred US$. Always ask the prices before agreeing to any service. And if you are to refuse, just say no gently and firmly, avoid eye contact and walk away.
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 group 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.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
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:
LOCAL DRESS:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.
Women are advised to cover their heads when entering functioning churches in Russia, while men should remove their hats.
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.
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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
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.
Lotus is always happy to receive donations of a wide range of items: clothing of all sizes, shoes, underwear, socks, coats and scarves; arts and craft supplies for school activities; child-care goods and toiletries such as nappies/diapers, nappy rash, anti-fungal and scabies creams, soap, shampoo, sunblock, insect repellent etc. Please advise your leader if you have brought something to donate, so that they can arrange for it to be passed on to Lotus.
Financial donations will be doubled by Intrepid Travel. Donations can also be made via your leader or via The Intrepid Foundation donation box at the Lotus Hostel. More information about Lotus can be found on their website here: www.lotuschild.org
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.
Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisation:
*Upsala Circus shows children and teenagers from social risk groups with the method of circus pedagogy an alternative from the street and to integrate them into the society.
As the only organization of its kind in Russia, Upsala Circus directly connects the professional circus and theatre art, with social work. By the everyday training in the circus and attendance at circus festivals, the children and teenagers from social risk groups experience exciting and difficult challenges. The circus is referring to "high risk" nearly like the life on the street. It appeals to them with magic, lets them explore their individual skills, makes them stronger and motivates them to create their lives in society in an active way.
More information about Upsala Circus can be found at their web-site www.upsala-zirk.org.
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 861.00 kgs per pax.
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