Trans-Mongolian Experience Trip Notes

Trans-Mongolian Experience

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016
Trans-Mongolian Experience
Trip code: WBSB
Validity: 01 Jan 2017 to 31 Dec 2017
Come along on an awe-inspiring adventure traversing three great nations - Russia, Mongolia and China. From the opulence of Moscow and St Petersburg to the grace of imperial Beijing, travel along the most famous railway in the world through the heartland of Siberia and the vast grassy steppe of Mongolia - this trip showcases rail travel at its finest.
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?
- This trip is based around long train journeys, including a 4 night trip from Moscow to Irkutsk and 2 nights from Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar. 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.
- As well as overnight train travel, we experience a variety of different transport types on this journey including public & private bus, metro and of course plenty of exploring on foot.
- 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.
Why we love it
- Climb aboard and discover Russia, Mongolia and China on one of the world’s greatest and most epic journeys
- Share in traditional tastes with a visit to the home of one of our local friends – indulge in a meal of hearty regional flavours and assist the family in baking pastries
- 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’
- Stay in the Mongolian wilderness local-style with an overnight in a tourist ger camp
- Discover Mongolia's rich cultural heritage, from the country’s original Buddhist temple to the city built by Genghis Khan
- Cross 8,000 kilometres to end in buzzing Beijing and discover China’s ancient past and contemporary culture

Day 1 St Petersburg
Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Russia. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm today, where your insurance and next of kin details will be collected. Please also have two copies of your passport, visa and migration cards ready. Your leader will collect one; the other is for you to keep on you at all times whilst on the trip. Truly one of Europe's finest cities – baroque European architecture combined with the opulent palaces of Russian royalty – St Petersburg was built by the Russian tsar Peter the Great and his legacy will clearly be felt as you explore its enigmatic streets and visit its showcase palaces and museums.
Optional Activities
  • St Petersburg - St Petersburg like a Local Urban Adventure - USD63
  • St Petersburg - St Petersburg Discovery Urban Adventure - USD52
  • St Petersburg - Mariinsky Theatre Perfomance - RUB4000
  • St Petersburg - Matryoshka Painting Workshop - RUB1200
  • St Petersburg - Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood - RUB250
  • St Petersburg - Saint Isaac’s Cathedral - RUB400
  • St Petersburg - Boat Trip - RUB600
  • St Petersburg - Hermitage Museum - RUB600
  • St Petersburg - Kazan Cathedral - Free
  • St Petersburg - Russian Art Museum - RUB450
  • St Petersburg - Saint Isaac’s Cathedral Colonnade - RUB400
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 St Petersburg
    Built on 42 islands, St Petersburg is also known as the ‘Venice of the North’. Spend the day exploring the city on foot and using the great public transport, crossing its many rivers and canals. Perhaps enjoy incredible views across the city from the colonnade at St Isaac’s Cathedral, or walk along Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg’s main street. Head down to Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra where Russia's great musicians and writers like Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky are laid to rest in the cemetery or visit Peter the Great’s ghoulish collection of curiosities at the Kunstamera. The Hermitage Museum is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world with one of the world's premier art collections housed in this former imperial Winter Palace. A whole day could easily be spent wandering its halls. Whatever you choose, the city is easy to get around and your leader can help you make the most of your free day.
    Hotel (1 nt)
    1 breakfast
    Special Information
    The Hermitage is closed on Mondays, and in the high season (May-Sep) there can be very long queues. In order to avoid waiting and to make the most of your free day it's possible to book tickets online in advance:
    Day 3 St Petersburg
    Before the overnight train this evening, perhaps try your hand at a Matryoshka Doll painting workshop or catch a matinee show at the famous Mariinsky Theatre. This evening, head to the railway station by public transport to take your first overnight train to Vladimir (approximately 11 hours). It’s recommended to bring some food with you for dinner in your compartment, before getting an early night. This is the only daily direct train to Vladimir and you’ll arrive at your destination at the crack of dawn.
    Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
    1 breakfast
    Special Information
    Here are some useful sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg when you are there:, and In particular, it’s recommended to see what's playing at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, as it may be difficult to get tickets when you are there. If you are really keen on seeing a show, please check with your booking agent first and they can confirm the free times available for shows so you don't miss out on any included activities.
    Day 4 Suzdal
    Arrive in Vladimir very early this morning and transfer by private minivan to Suzdal (approximately 30 minutes).

    The town is a main stop on Russia’s legendary Golden Ring, the circle of ancient and former capitals that played an important part in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church and that hold the memories of significant events in Russian history. The fairytale-feel historic small town of Suzdal is filled with contrasting examples of early Russian architecture, where onion-domed monasteries stand next to lovingly decorated wooden cottages. Take in the sights – the grandeur of the Kremlin, the carved stonework of the Cathedral of the Nativity, the trading square, market and monasteries (approximately 3 hours total). Today you’ll also have a chance to try hearty home cooking at the home at one of our local friends for lunch or dinner.
    Included Activities
    • Suzdal - Russian Dinner & Traditional Pastry Baking
    • Suzdal - Guided Walking Tour
      Optional Activities
      • Suzdal - Mead Tasting - RUB270
      • Suzdal - River Cruise (Commentary in Russian only) - RUB350
      • Suzdal - Belfry Climb - RUB100
        Hotel (1 nt)
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch
        Day 5 Moscow
        Transfer back to Moscow by private van (approximately 4 hours). 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. In your free time in today you could 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 again build anything as beautiful. Otherwise you might travel back to the beginnings of Russian art at the Tretyakov Gallery or join on of our Urban Adventure tours.
        Optional Activities
        • Moscow - Bolshoi Theatre - RUB4000
        • Moscow - Victory Park Museum - RUB250
        • Moscow - Izmailovo Vernisazh Markets - RUB10
        • Moscow - Tretyakov Art Gallery - RUB400
        • Moscow - River Cruise - RUB700
        • Moscow - Gorky Park - Free
        • Moscow - Modern Moscow Urban Adventure - EUR38
        • Moscow - Red October Art Zone - Free
        • Moscow - Moscow Underground Urban Adventure - EUR38
        • Moscow - Moscow Behind the Icons Urban Adventure - EUR38
        • Moscow - St Basils Cathedral - RUB350
          Hotel (1 nt)
          1 breakfast
          Day 6 Moscow
          Visit the mausoleum of Russia’s most famous revolutionary – Lenin. He was the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution that ushered in the era of communism, and you will join the sometimes long queue lining up to visit his austere eternal resting place on Red Square. Then enter the Kremlin grounds with a local guide, home to the oldest and most important churches in the country, and where many Tsars and Tsarinas are laid to rest. Walk through the soaring towers and cathedrals of the political and spiritual heart of Russia before entering the Armoury Museum, home to an eye-bulging former royal collection of ambassadorial gifts, Faberge eggs, coronation robes and glittering jewels. Afterwards perhaps take the metro to see elaborately decorated stations unlike any other. From sculptures depicting the glory of the soviet days to ornate chandeliers and stained glass windows, these are the 'Palaces of the People'.

          Included Activities
          • Moscow - Kremlin & Armoury Guided Tour
          • Moscow - Lenin's Mausoleum
            Hotel (1 nt)
            1 breakfast
            Special Information
            On occasion Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening hours without prior warning. As Moscow's premier tourist attractions, tickets for the Kremlin and Armoury are in high demand, and the Moscow Tourism Administration sets strict quotas to control visitor numbers. Time in each area is also limited to 90 minutes, with any exceptions possibly resulting in the guide losing their license. While we appreciate that some travellers would like to spend longer in the Armoury Museum, we ask for your understanding that the guide is under pressure to keep to the schedule.

            The Diamond Fund isn't included in your tour, but after the Kremlin and Armoury there may be time to visit. Entrance tickets can be purchased in the ticket office at the Armoury. The Diamond Fund is open for visitors from 10am-1pm and from 2pm-4pm. On Thursday it is closed.
            Day 7-10 Moscow/Trans-Siberian Railway
            Take the metro to Yaroslavsky Station, the starting point of your epic journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway. It’s a 3-day, 4-night trip to Irkutsk (approximately 90 hours). There is only one daily train between Moscow and Irkutsk that has a total travel time of less than 100 hours and departs at a convenient time from Moscow. Some foreign travel companies that have less regular departures than Intrepid may take the train that departs late evening, however this train only departs every second day. In order to ensure that this trip can always run on the same itinerary, we take the daily train that leaves during the day. The downside of this is that we only have a limited time in Moscow, so you will need to plan carefully to fit as much in as possible. The upside is that this train has fewer foreign tourists on board and gives you much more of a chance to interact with regular Russian travellers. 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 parsley from the station sellers along the way to freshen up your drinks, soups and other meals!
            Overnight Sleeper Train (4 nt)
            1 breakfast
            Special Information
            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. 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 11 Lake Baikal
            Your long rail journey finally brings you to the Siberian city of Irkutsk, gateway to Lake Baikal – the largest freshwater lake in the world. Drive direct from the train station to a lakeside village by private minivan (approximately 2 hours). Bolshoye Goloustnoye sits in the delta of the Goloustnoye River on the western edge of Lake Baikal. Here you’ll be hosted by some of the kindest and most hospitable people around – our lovely local Buryat (the ethnic group of the Lake Baikal area) friends in their guest house and home. Accommodation is basic and multi share, with no running water and outside toilets, but cosy and comfortable. Situated right in the centre of the village, you'll certainly get to experience typical Russian rural life here. Slough away the grit of your long train journey in the family's backyard 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.
            Included Activities
            • Bolshoye Goloustnoye - Banya (Russian sauna)
              Optional Activities
              • Lake Baikal - Bike Hire (per hour) - RUB250
              • Lake Baikal - Boat trip - RUB6000
                Homestay (1 nt)
                1 lunch, 1 dinner
                Day 12 Lake Baikal
                Enjoy your surroundings today explore the beautiful Baikal nature. There are options for swimming in the lake or river, or taking a boat trip along the shore. You can take a short hike up a nearby mountain for epic views of the lake and the village, then hire some bikes to explore further afield. The lake is so flat that you may hardly be able to make out the horizon in the distance. In the village cows roam freely, contained only by the fences keeping them out of the village's produce gardens. The houses themselves are bright examples of 'Siberian Lace' – decorative carved wooden window fixtures that keep evil spirits from entering homes. Each day you’ll be treated to delicious, hearty Siberian home cooking, all made from fresh local produce.
                Included Activities
                • Bolshoye Goloustnoye - Banya (Russian sauna)
                  Optional Activities
                  • Lake Baikal - Bike Hire (per hour) - RUB250
                  • Lake Baikal - Boat trip - RUB6000
                    Homestay (1 nt)
                    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                    Day 13-14 Irkutsk/Trans-Mongolian Railway
                    Return to Irkutsk today (approximately 2 hours). Once a boom town of exiles and gold merchants, Irkutsk suffered under a regime that brought Soviet architecture and communist propaganda to its streets. Fortunately, the sophisticated atmosphere it once offered is not totally lost, and Irkutsk remains a fascinating city. Some parts of town are still lined with traditional houses and the old homes of liberal aristocrats exiled from Moscow early in the 19th century. Visit the House Museum of Maria Volkonskaya. Sometimes called the Princess of Siberia, Maria was one of the many Decembrist revolutionaries' wives who voluntarily accompanied their husbands into exile. The house is still filled with many of her personal items and visitors can get a sense of how she must have felt, a young aristocratic woman banished to depths of Siberia. Walking through the city, see some of the original wooden residences and stop off at the Central Market to taste some of the amazing range of local produce for sale and to stock up on supplies for our next journey. Then it is back on the rails as we travel the Trans-Mongolian Railway for a two-night train trip (approximately 40 hours) into Mongolia. During the journey you’ll cross the border from Russia (Naushki) into Mongolia (Sukhbaatar). There's a long wait at the border towns while passports are processed, customs does their checks and we wait for the engine to rejoin the train. It can sometimes be a long, hot and frustrating day, so a healthy dose of patience and understanding is recommended. After everything is finally completed, you’ll be rewarded with the magical landscapes of Mongolia.
                    Included Activities
                    • Irkutsk - Decembrists Museum
                    • Irkutsk - Central Market
                      Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nt)
                      1 breakfast
                      Special Information
                      This train is the most basic on our journey and a restaurant car is not always provided, so we recommend bringing some supplies with you for your meals. There's only one train from Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar that departs daily – other, faster trains only depart once a week. We take the daily train to ensure we're able to offer this trip at regular, set departures without the need to change the itinerary each time.
                      Day 15 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. As more and more traditionally nomadic Mongolians are moving to the city in hope of a better life, they bring with them their traditional lifestyle of living in gers, and so UB is surrounded by a growing number of such ‘ger districts’. Life here is hard, with high unemployment and little access to facilities such as electricity and running water. Together with local guide you'll visit one such district located in Northern outskirts of the city, where you’ll meet some of the residents, have a cup of traditional Mongolian tea and a chat about life in an urban ger community.
                      Included Activities
                      • Ulaanbaatar - Ger district walking tour
                        Optional Activities
                        • Ulaanbaatar - Zaisan Hill Memorial - Free
                        • Ulaanbaatar - Gandan Monastery - MNT4000
                        • Ulaanbaatar - Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan - MNT5000
                        • Ulaanbaatar - Traditional Cultural Show - MNT20000
                        • Ulaanbaatar - Natural History Museum - MNT8000
                        • Ulaanbaatar - National History Museum - MNT8000
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Day 16 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 17 Ulaanbaatar
                            Return to the hotel in Ulaanbaatar today (approximately 1.5 hours). On the way back to UB, stop and visit the huge Genghis Khan Monument. Genghis 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. For the rest of your free time in UB you can explore the city, perhaps experience Mongolia's rich artistic culture at a performance of traditional throat and ‘long song’ singers, musicians, dancers and contortionists. Maybe visit Mongolia’s largest and most important active monastery, the lively Gandan Khiid, to learn about the main religion of Mongolia – Tibetan Buddhism. Perhaps look out over Ulaanbaatar from the top of Zaisan Hill, or visit one 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.
                            Included Activities
                            • Terelj National Park - Chinggis Khan Monument
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              1 breakfast
                              Day 18 Ulaanbaatar/Overnight Train
                              Farewell Mongolia today as you travel from Mongolia to Beijing, the next part of your epic train ride. The overnight journey (approximately 30 hours) leaves early in the morning and includes a long stop at the Mongolia-China border where the train changes bogies (wheels) due to the different rail gauges. The train may have a basic restaurant car but it's advisable to stock up at the supermarket before leaving Ulaanbaatar. Say goodbye to the relative time warp of Mongolia, get comfortable and watch the scenery change from rolling green meadows to rocky desert, to the built-up modernity of the city.
                              Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                              1 breakfast
                              Special Information
                              Due to the high demand for train tickets from June-October, and the fact that the train only runs once a week, some groups may need to depart Ulaanbaatar a day later and stay the extra night in Mongolia at the ger camp. The itinerary will be amended to fit in all the included activities. For this reason we recommend either booking a late night flight on departure day, or planning to stay a few extra days in Beijing.
                              Day 19 Beijing
                              Arrive in Beijing and transfer to your hotel. 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. After a quick freshen up at the hotel, get out onto the streets of Beijing. Perhaps head to Tian'anmen Square – most famous outside of the country for the 1989 massacre – this is the symbolic centre of Chinese power. Framed by the Gate of Heavenly Peace with its Mao portrait, Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People, and the National Museum, it's a place of pilgrimage for the Chinese tourists who consider it the heart of their nation. Here you can enter the imposing Forbidden City, former home to China's imperial rulers and filled with palaces, gardens and seemingly never-ending grand courtyards. There's so much to see and do in Beijing that staying an extra few days is highly recommended. In this extra time you could take an Urban Adventure to the incredible Great Wall, visit the 798 Art District on a Beijing Art and Architecture tour, cycle around the city, visit the park surrounding the Temple of Heaven, or explore the beautiful Tibetan-style monastery of Yonghegong (the Lama Temple). Beijing is vast and overflowing with sights – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises.
                              Optional Activities
                              • Beijing - Opera Perfomance - CNY200
                              • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY30
                              • Beijing - Acrobat Show - CNY250
                              • Beijing - Temple of Heaven - CNY40
                              • Beijing - Kung Fu Show - CNY180
                              • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
                              • Beijing - Tiananmen Square - Free
                              • Beijing - Beijing Insights Urban Adventure - CNY490
                              • Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure - CNY360
                              • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY40
                              • Beijing - Great Wall Experience Urban Adventure - CNY900
                              • Beijing - Forbidden City - CNY60
                                Hotel (1 nt)
                                Day 20 Beijing
                                There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There's so much to see and do in Beijing that we highly recommend staying an extra few days.
                                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
                                Suzdal - Russian Dinner & Traditional Pastry Baking
                                Suzdal - Guided Walking Tour
                                Moscow - Kremlin & Armoury Guided Tour
                                Moscow - Lenin's Mausoleum
                                Bolshoye Goloustnoye - Banya (Russian sauna)
                                Irkutsk - Decembrists Museum
                                Irkutsk - Central Market
                                Ulaanbaatar - Ger district walking tour
                                Terelj National Park
                                Terelj National Park - Cooking class
                                Terelj National Park - Chinggis Khan Monument
                                Important notes
                                1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding nights on the train, homestays and ger camp.
                                2. 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 name (First and Last)
                                • 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 also 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 (8 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (8 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Ger Camp (1 night)
                                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.

                                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.

                                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.
                                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.

                                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.

                                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.
                                11 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).

                                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.

                                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 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.

                                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.

                                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.

                                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 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. We endeavour 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. 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:

                                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.

                                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!

                                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.

                                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.

                                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.

                                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.

                                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.
                                Joining point
                                M-Hotel М-Отель
                                Sadovaya street #22/2 Садовая улица, 22/2
                                Metro Gostinniy Dvor M. Гостиный двор
                                St Petersburg
                                RUSSIAN FEDERATION
                                Phone: +7 (812)4488383
                                Joining point description
                                M-Hotel is situated in the 'Golden Triangle' of St Petersburg in close vicinity to world-famous museums such as the Hermitage, Kazan Cathedral, Church of the Savior on Blood, Russian museum and Alexandrinsky theatre where ballet performances staged by famous choreographer Boris Eyfman take place during the summer. Next to the hotel, guests will find a great variety of cafes and restaurants catering to different tastes, as well as plenty of boutiques, art galleries and antique shops.

                                The hotel provides a full range of services including laundry and dry cleaning as well as tour and airline bookings. There is a cafe (breakfast is included), room service, bar and conference hall, 24-hour security and elevator. There is also free Wi-Fi in the rooms and lobby bar.
                                Joining point instructions
                                Please be aware that Russia requires all foreign nationals to register their passports upon arrival in each city. Please see ACCOMMODATION for the most recent information about registration.

                                ARRIVAL TRANSFERS
                                Arrival transfers are available - if you have pre-booked a transfer with us your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals section near where you clear customs. The driver will arrive according to arrival time indicated at time of booking and wait for an hour after your scheduled arrival time. If your flight arrives before the scheduled arrival time please wait in the arrivals hall. If you are delayed beyond one hour after your scheduled arrival time, please make your own way to the hotel.

                                If you have pre-purchased an arrival transfer our local operator will await you holding a sign with your name when you exit the baggage claim area of the arrivals hall.

                                In the unlikely event that your transfer is not waiting for you - please call Slava on +7 812 9280739 (for calls) or +7 911 9280739 (for calls and sms).

                                St Petersburg has an International airport. You will need to get a taxi or use public transport from the airport to the joining point hotel.

                                BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
                                Airports have public transport links that allow you to get to our starting point hotel cheaply.
                                From Pulkovo airport take a public bus or mini-bus to 'Moskovskaya' (МОСКОВСКАЯ) metro station stop.

                                Go inside the subway station - entrance to the Metro is marked by an 'M'. Tickets cost 31 RUB and there is no extra charge for changing lines once you are inside the Metro. There is direct blue line from 'Moskovskaya' metro station to 'Nevsky prospect'. Travel on the blue line to Nevsky Prospect station, get off on 7th stop. From there change to the green line to 'Gostiny dvor'. This is where you leave the Metro and head outside.

                                Please be aware that there is very little English signage within the St Petersburg Metro and at peak times can be very crowded. If you choose to travel by public transport allow plenty of time and make sure you have a bilingual map with you to plan your route.

                                If you arrive to Moskovsky railway station by train take subway from the nearest 'Ploshad' Vosstaniya' (ПЛОЩАДЬ ВОССТАНИЯ) metro station, change to green line 'Mayakovskaya' (МАЯКОВСКАЯ) metro station, travel one station and get off on 'Gostiny Dvor'.

                                Outside of Metro station cross the road (Sadovaya street) through the underpass. There is Krylova lane between Sadovaya street and Plosha'd Ostrovskovo (Ostrovskovo square). M-Hotel located on Krylova lane, it's marked with the letter 'M' and is situated inside of the yard.

                                For more information, GPS coordinates and a detailed map go to:

                                BY TAXI:

                                The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotel takes around 1 hour and costs around US$30-35. Avoid taxi touts. From all airports we recommend you use the services of one of the official taxi desks located on the ground floor inside the arrival terminal.

                                Check-in time is 2 pm.

                                Please note Russian (Cyrillic) wording for M Hotel below which is useful to show to a taxi driver or to ask for directionsL

                                Гостиница «М-отель»
                                ул. Садовая, 22/2
                                191023, Санкт-Петербург
                                Станция метро — «Гостиный двор»
                                Finish 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
                                Finish 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
                                Finishing 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 take off from Terminal 3.

                                For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to
                                A departure transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your departure flight details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid/Peregrine/Geckos.
                                If you plan to make your own way to the airport:
                                Your tour leader can advise you when is the best time to leave for your flight depending on local traffic condition. It is suggested to leave from your hotel at least 3 hours before your flight time. Taxi is the easiest way to go to the airport. It should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour to Beijing Capital Airport at about CNY120 under normal condition.
                                Alternatively, you can take metro or taxi to Dongzhimen airport express station, which should cost around CNY30 (taxi). Then take the airport express from Dongzhimen (CNY25, service time: 06:00 – 22:30) to Beijing Capital Airport.
                                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.

                                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 (

                                INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
                                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.

                                DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
                                * 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.

                                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.

                                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
                                +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

                                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.

                                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

                                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, 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)

                                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 and once your visa support documents are issued please ensure that they have the correct dates for entry and exit. The border crossings on this trip are as follows:

                                Exit Russia - Day 14 at Naushki
                                Enter Mongolia - Day 14 at Sukhbaatar
                                Exit Mongolia - Day 18 at Erenhot
                                Enter China - Day 18 at Erlian
                                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.
                                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.

                                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:
                                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 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.

                                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 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.

                                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.