Trans-Mongolian Experience

20 Days from $4,230

START: St Petersburg

FINISH: Beijing

AGES: 15 - 99

THEME: Explorer

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Description

Looking for a journey that combines epic train travel with immersive local experiences? Come on board for an adventure through three nations – Russia, Mongolia and China – via the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Trans-Mongolian Railroad. This 20-day transcontinental odyssey takes you 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 to the vast steppes of Mongolia, discovering classical Russian architecture in Irkutsk and rugged natural beauty in Lake Baikal along the way. With traditional accommodation, authentic local experiences and insider knowledge, this tour showcases overland travel at its best.

Start: St Petersburg

Finish: Beijing

Ages: 15 - 99

Theme: Explorer

Accommodation: Hotel (10 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (6 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Tourist Ger Camp (1 night)

Destination: Beijing

Highlights

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Discover Russia, Mongolia and China on sample two of the world’s greatest overland journeys – the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railroads.
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Visit some of Intrepid’s local friends in St Petersburg and share some afternoon tea in a unique setting – a Soviet-era communal apartment.
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Combine train travel with time to explore cities and villages along the way, including two nights in a homestay with a Russian family near Lake Baikal.
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Immerse yourself in Mongolian wilderness during a night in a ger camp in Terelj National Park, including a locally-guided hike to a Buddhist retreat and a hand-on dumpling dinner.
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Explore Ulaanbaatar on a tour of the Mongolian capital, a city where the outer suburbs are still made up of tented ger camps but the centre is home to modern skyscrapers.

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : St Petersburg

Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Russia. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. 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 mysterious streets and visit its renowned palaces and museums.

icon check Day 2 : St Petersburg

Spend the day exploring St Petersburg using the great public transport, and on foot 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. Otherwise, you could embark on a canal boat tour or take a look around Peterhof Park. Whatever you choose, the city is easy to get around and your leader can help you make the most of your free day. In the evening, visit a local home and have a tea party Russian-style. Not all family members speak English, but with your leader on hand to interpret and their warm hospitality, you'll be feeling like one of the family in no time. These families live in St Petersburg's communal apartments, which date from Soviet times. Such apartments and their way of living have ceased to exist in other Russian cities, but they are still common in St Petersburg. This is a truly unique local experience that you won't find anywhere else.

icon check Day 3 : St Petersburg / Moscow

Take a free morning in St Petersburg to explore what you may have missed in the previous couple of days, then in the early afternoon, take a high-speed train to Moscow (approximately 4 hours). You’ll then get on Moscow’s famed metro system to your hotel and arrive by early evening. Then, the night is all yours. Perhaps check out Red Square flooded in lights, or wander Arbat street – one of the mostly lively, interesting and oldest surviving streets in Moscow. If you missed the ballet or the opera in St Petersburg, why not check out a show here? If this interests you, it is highly recommended to book well in advance to secure a ticket.

icon check Day 4 : Moscow

The great city of Moscow has survived centuries of revolution and seen Russia through some of its most turbulent years, all the way from the days of the tsars. This morning, head to iconic Red Square with a local guide. This beautiful cobbled city square is framed by St Basil’s Cathedral, the opulent GUM Department store, the imposing walls of the Kremlin and the fairy-tale building of the State Historical Museum. You’ll also visit Lenin’s Mausoleum with your group. Lenin was the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution which ushered in the era of communism. The afternoon is free for you to continue to explore Russia’s capital. Perhaps you could step inside the colourful St Basil's Cathedral in Red Square. Legend has it that tsar, Ivan the Terrible, had the two architects blinded so that they couldn't build anything as beautiful. Alternatively, relive the nation's turbulent past at Victory Park, travel back to the beginnings of Russian art at the Tretyakov Gallery or do some souvenir shopping at the Izmailovo Markets. The best part is, it’s all up to you.

icon check Day 5 : Moscow

This morning, continue to explore the city when you embark on a tour of the Kremlin grounds, which houses the oldest and most important churches in the country and where many tsars and tsarinas are laid to rest. You’ll also head inside the Armoury Museum which houses a glittering imperial collection of regalia and items once belonging to the world's richest monarchy, including Faberge eggs and ambassadorial gifts. With your free time this afternoon, you may want to go in search of the ornate metro stations that Moscow is so well known for, or simply head to a café and enjoy a relaxing afternoon over a coffee and a pechen'ye (biscuit).

icon check Day 6 : Pereslavl-Zalessky/Yaroslavl

Take a private vehicle in the morning from Moscow to Pereslavl Zalessky (approximately 3 hours). Visit the colourful Goritsky Monastery, which sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Pleshcheevo. Take a walk in the downtown and visit its local red square and ramparts, which date back to the 12th century. Later in the afternoon, continue your travel towards Siberia to the town of Yaroslavl, situated on the Volga River.

icon check Day 7-10 : Trans-Siberian Railway

Take some free time in Yaroslavl to walk along the Volga River and hop on the riverside tram, visit the Monastery of Transfiguration of the Saviour, the Annunciation Cathedral or the history museum. Spend some time today, also, to stock up on supplies for your mighty Trans-Siberian train journey. There is a dining cart on-board, however if there are specific things that you’d like, it is best to make sure you’ve got snacks and drinks for the long journey. Later in the afternoon, board your train for an adventure of a lifetime. You’ll be passing through vast stretches of Russia’s countryside, and reliving the idea of slow travel – so get ready to sit back and relax on one of the most famous train journeys in the world.

icon check Day 11 : Lake Baikal

Your long rail journey finally brings you to the Siberian city of Irkutsk, and the gateway to Lake Baikal – the deepest and largest lake (by volume) in the world. On arrival, stop for breakfast before driving to your 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 – local Buryat (the ethnic group of the Lake Baikal area) friends in their guesthouse and home. 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.

icon check 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.

icon check Day 13 : Irkutsk

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 Angara Icebreaker Museum – a unique piece of engineering and a key part of the history of the Trans-Siberian Railway. 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 the next train journey tomorrow.

icon check Day 14 : Trans Mongolian Train

Back on the rails early morning today as you travel the Trans-Mongolian Railway for your overnight train trip (approximately 27 hours) into Mongolia. During the journey you’ll cross the border from Russia (Naushki) into Mongolia (Sukhbaatar) at night.

icon check Day 15 : Ulaanbaatar

Crammed between the superpowers of Russia and China, the independent nation of Mongolia is a truly adventurous 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. Arrive early in the morning in Ulaanbaatar and transfer to the hotel. Drop your luggage then venture out into the city. Enjoy a morning tour of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding area. Visit Mongolia’s largest and most important active monastery, the lively Gandan Khiid. Here you'll learn about the main religion of Mongolia – Tibetan Buddhism. Then look out across the city from the top of Zaisan Hill then before exploring the range of fascinating artefacts housed in the Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan. In the afternoon, 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.

icon check Day 16 : Terelj National Park

Travel to Terelj National Park by private van (approximately 1.5 hours). With rolling meadows dotted with munching yaks, forested hills, and jagged 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 traditional lodging at a holiday ger camp. 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! Tonight, get involved in making your own dinner by learning to cook buuz – traditional Mongolian dumplings. Take in the wonderful views across the gers and rocky escarpment as you experience a memorable Mongolian sunset.

icon check 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. For the rest of your free time in UB you can explore the city, perhaps visiting 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. In the evening, you may like to experience Mongolia’s rich artistic culture at a traditional throat and ‘long song’ performance or singers, musicians, dancers and contortionists.

icon check Day 18 : Ulaanbaatar / Overnight Train

Farewell Mongolia today as you travel from Mongolia to Beijing on the next section 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.

icon check Day 19 : Beijing

Arrive in Beijing mid-afternoon 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 Tiananmen Square – 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. Beijing is vast and overflowing with sights – with your hotel located centrally, a walk in any direction will unveil all sorts of wonderful surprises.

icon check 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. In this extra time, you could take a tour to the Great Wall, cycle around the city, visit the park surrounding the Temple of Heaven, or explore the beautiful Tibetan-style monastery of Yonghegong (the Lama Temple). Better yet, there are a range of Urban Adventures tours that take you to more of the sights without the hassle of having to organise yourself. Perhaps take a Beijing Foodie Walk, where you’ll spend the evening strolling through markets and local shops for some local Chinese snacks. See urbanadventures.com/destination/Beijing-tours for more information. If you would like to spend more time in Beijing, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Meals

13 Breakfasts, 3 Dinners
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Transport

Overnight Sleeper Train, Private Bus, Public Bus, Metro, Taxi
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Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (6 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Tourist Ger Camp (1 night)
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Included Activities

  • Ulaanbaatar - Genghis Khan Monument

Availabilityicon readmoreicon minus

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Dec 23, 2019
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$4,655
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Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining 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

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆酒店

81, Meishi Street 地址:北京市西城区煤市街81号

Xicheng district

Beijing

CHINA

Phone: +86 1052171900

icon readmoreicon minusPhysical preparation

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 with and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. And some accommodation may not have lifts. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

1. Please ensure you check the visa requirements for your nationality for Russia, Mongolia & China at time of booking and allow enough time to obtain all necessary visas in advance.

2. A Single Supplement is bookable on this trip, with the exception of overnight trains, ger camp stay and Lake Baikal guesthouse (Days 7-12, 14, 16 & 18), subject to availability.

3. In order for our local operator to book train tickets we require the scan of your passport information page to be provided to your booking agent no later than 45 days before departure.

Below information must be provided at the same time:

• Passengers full name (First/ Middle/ Last)

• Full Passport Details (number, expiry, issued)

• DOB

4. To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance.

icon readmoreicon minusGroup 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.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

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 itinerary, and we make 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.

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 our 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.

RUSSIA 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. When on international trains crossing borders, you should be extra vigilant and pay special attention to your luggage to be sure that no one else has put anything in your luggage.

MONGOLIA 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. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

CHINA 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. A common scam when paying a taxi fare with a RMB100 note occurs when the taxi driver swaps the note for a fake note, and returns the fake note to the passenger, refusing to accept it for payment as it’s counterfeit. 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.

icon readmoreicon minusVisas

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. 

RUSSIA - LETTER 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. Logins and your trip code will be sent to you at the time of booking so that you can obtain your LOI online through our local partners in Russia, Parallel 60, via this link: 

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/russian-letter-invitation-loi-and-visa

You will then be able to download your LOI instantly. Please note that the LOI included in the cost of your tour is for a Single Entry Tourist Visa. We will also add 3 days to the LOI duration before and after your trip dates for your convenience in case you have booked pre or post accommodation. If you require a different visa type or are planning to stay longer than these dates please contact Parallel 60 (www.visain.ru) directly to request a LOI to fit your specific travel plans.

INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN 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 us or include a copy of your itinerary as Parallel 60, our Russian partners, are the official inviting organisation. Do not be concerned if the destinations and accommodation listed do not match your 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 RUSSIAN VISA APPLICATION:

* Letter of Invitation (LOI)

* Photocopy of your passport

* Passport size photos 

* Flight or other transport details (if requested)

* Please check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

VISA EXTENSIONS IN RUSSIA

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

INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS

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

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

RUSSIAN 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. If you travel to Russia from one of the Custom Union countries – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, please ask for one when going through immigrations into one of these countries or make sure to get one when entering into Russia.

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.

MONGOLIA - LETTER 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.

MONGOLIAN VISA 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 MONGOLIAN VISA APPLICATION:

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

Name and address of host person or organization in Mongolia:

Monkhutuch Travel Co. Ltd

Bayangol district, Building 19-3

Ulaanbaatar

+976 701 29291

Name and address of Hotel in Mongolia:

J Hotel

Sukhbaatar District, Khoroo I,

Street of Auto Zamchid 34

Tel: +976 771 15677

Mongolia

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR MONGOLIAN VISA APPLICATION:

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

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

CHINA:

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 there before joining your trip. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for this trip valid for 30 days.

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.

INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION:

You will be provided with a Hotel List and Letter of Invitation to assist you in applying for your visa. These are the primary documents you should use to apply for your visa as they are issued by our local office in China.

Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:

Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.

606 InterChina Commercial Building

33 Dengshikou Street

Dongcheng District

Beijing 100006

+86 10 6406 8022

* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.

* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.

* Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com 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

* Please note that if you are not applying for Chinese visa from your passport country, you may be required to submit further documents, ie. employment letter, immigration card, etc. Please check with your local embassy or consulate for specific requirements.

TIBET:

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. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.

HONG KONG:

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.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:

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 also requested.

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

Climb aboard and discover Russia, Mongolia and China on one of the world’s greatest and most epic overland journeys on the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railways.

Share in traditional tastes with a visit and a meal in the home of one of Intrepid’s local friends in St Petersburg.

Visit the history steeped Golden Ring towns of Pereslavl-Zelessky and wander along the banks of Volga River in Yarolslavl.

In the Mongolian wilderness, enjoy an overnight stay in a tourist ger camp, and in Russia, experience a traditional banya – a refreshing steam, wash, and birch branch ‘massage’.

Discover Mongolia's rich heritage, from the country’s Buddhist temples to the signs of Genghis Khan’s reign, and finish your journey in the historic and cultural hub of Beijing.

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

This trip is based around long train journeys, including a four-night trip from Yaroslavl to Irkutsk, one night from Irkutsk to Ulaanbaatar and one night from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing. Conditions are simple but comfortable – an authentic 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. For some more on what train travel in Russia (and around the world) is like, see our blog article here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/overnight-train-travel-around-the-world/

As well as overnight train travel, you’ll experience a variety of different transport types on this journey including public and private buses, metro and, of course, plenty of exploring on foot.

Some of the accommodation along the way is basic, including your stay in tourist 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.

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

RUSSIA

GIARDIA

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

IMPORTANT - BANNED MEDICATIONS

By law, travellers bringing prescribed medicines into Russia must carry a prescription in the patient's name, that includes the name of the drug and prescribed quantity. According to official channels, if your medication contains "narcotic or psychoactive substances", a notarised translation into Russian is also required. This may include medications containing codeine or opiates, sleeping pills, medication for ADHD, antidepressants and strong painkillers. Some medicines that you can buy over the counter in your home country may require a prescription in Russia. There have been cases of travellers being detained at border crossings when undeclared or banned medications have been discovered by customs sniffer dogs.

If you’re unsure whether you need to provide a prescription and notarised translation to bring your medicines into Russia, check with the Russian Embassy before you travel.

TICKS

In spring and early summer in rural areas of Russia 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.

HYGIENE

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/re-hydration 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: http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/aqirecent3.html

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 in China on the following website: http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/

icon readmoreicon minusFood and dietary requirements

RUSSIA

What is food in Russia really like? See our blog here for some must try foods:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/5-foods-really-need-try-russia/

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.

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.

MONGOLIA

Those with special dietary requirements may choose to supplement included meals with supplies brought from home. Vegetarian lacto-ovo options (while limited) can be offered for all included meals, provided we are notified at time of booking.

FOOD IN CHINA:

What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/

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. Dairy 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. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/

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. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel.

ALLERGIES:

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 and research suitable local foods before travelling.

icon readmoreicon minusMoney 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).

RUSSIA

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 or debit 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. If you are travelling to remote parts of the country you will need to prepare cash exchanged into local currency.

The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. 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.

MONGOLIA

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. 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.

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).

CHINA

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 and look for ATMs with your card logo. You may find that your card does not work in certain ATMs, so we recommend purchasing some CNY in your home country so you have some cash for your first day.

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. 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.

TIPPING IN CHINA:

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

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

- Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.

- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.

- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.

- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

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 of our 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.

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

TIPPING IN RUSSIA:

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: We suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added.

- Local guides: Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest 100- 200 RUB 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 per person, per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.

- 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 do not tip with coins, notes of and less than 10 RUB or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, 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 or up or down a flight of stairs. 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.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles.

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.

A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

Essential:

- Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites.

- Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential.

- Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, fight tickets and trip notes. Photo copies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

- small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice.

- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt

- Sun protection like hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Recommended:

- Refillable water bottle (1.5 litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

- Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug

- Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and small towel

- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)

- Torch or flash light esp. for stay at local guesthouses or home stays

Optional:

- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low.

- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.

- Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers.

- A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives.

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

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

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.

Here are the major holiday periods in China:

Chinese New Year: Feb 4-10 2019, Jan 24-30 2020

Qingming Festival: Apr 5-7 2019, Apr 4-6 2020

May Day: May 1 2019, May 1-3 2020

Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 7-9 2019, Jun 25-27 2020

Mid Autumn Day: Sep 13-15 2019, falls within National Day holidays 2020

National Day: Oct 1-7 2019, Oct 1-8 2020

RUSSIAN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:

New Year's Day: 1 Jan

New Year Holiday Week: 2-8 Jan

Orthodox Christmas Day: 7 Jan

Defenders of the Fatherland Day: 23 Feb (25 Feb 2019, 24 Feb 2020)

International Womens Day: 8 Mar (9 Mar 2020)

Spring & Labour Day: 1 May

Spring & Labour Day Holiday: 2-3 May 2019

Victory Day: 9 May (11 May 2020)

Russia Day: 12 Jun

Unity Day: 4 Nov

OTHER OBSERVED HOLIDAYS:

Old New Year: 14 Jan

Special Operations Forces Day: 27 Feb

Orthodox Easter Sunday: 28 Apr 2019, 19 Apr 2020

Day of Knowledge (First Day of School): 1 Sep

icon readmoreicon minusA couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

icon readmoreicon minusFeedback

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.

icon readmoreicon minusEmergency contact

GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

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

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

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

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +7 918 6151572

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible travel

Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.

Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS

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

CHECK-IN TIME

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

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

RUSSIA

REGISTRATION:

According to Russian law, all foreign citizens must be registered with the immigration authorities within 7 business days of arrival into Russia. If you have made your own independent travel plans in Russia for more than 7 days outside of your trip dates with us, please ensure you are registered through your accommodation in order to avoid any issues at passport control when leaving 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 at some accommodation.

HOMESTAYS & GUESTHOUSES:

Please note that at our homestays and guesthouses rooms may be multishare and open gender. When we stay at people's homes, beds may be sofa beds or mattresses on the floor.

DOUBLE BEDS:

Please note that rooms with double beds are not always available at our accommodation in Russia and two single beds in a twin share room is the default. Wherever possible we will put couples in rooms with double beds if available.

RUSSIA TRAINS:

Trains on this journey are simple but comfortable, with standards and age of the carriages varying from route to route. You’ll travel in 2nd class ("kupe") on this trip. There's a toilet/bathroom at the end of each carriage with a small sink and cold water, but no showers. 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. Clean bedding is provided, although some travellers still prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. There's hot water available for making instant meals, tea and coffee. Sometimes snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board and most trains also have a dining car, although often with a limited menu. Trains are generally heated but do not always offer air conditioning. The train can become very hot even in winter and the train attendants will often not allow the windows to be opened, so please pack clothing appropriate for the warmer conditions on these train journeys.

MONGOLIA

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.

CHINA

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:

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.

icon readmoreicon minusTravel 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.

icon readmoreicon minusYour fellow travellers

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

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 Essential Trip Information. 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.

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ITINERARY CHANGES:

Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:

A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, 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 may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

BOOKING THEATRE TICKETS IN ADVANCE

To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance. Please consider carefully which performances you are going to want attend and make sure that the dates correspond to your trip. If you are unsure about when to book your tickets please get in touch with your booking agent and find out what times and dates are free for you to see a show. As we don't want you to double book yourself! In particular we recommend you see what's playing at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, as it may be difficult to get tickets when you are there especially during White Nights in St Petersburg.

Here are some useful internet sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg: www.mariinsky.ru, www.bolshoi.ru and www.mikhailovsky.ru

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Hotel (10 nights),Overnight Sleeper Train (6 nights),Homestay (2 nights),Tourist Ger Camp (1 night)

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