AUD 5845 / pp

DATES & RATES

Naadam and Trans-Mongolian

China

Mongolia

Russia

World-famous Trans Mongolian train journey

This special Trans Mongolian train tour has been designed to attend Naadam, the most important national festival held in Mongolia. Every year, this colourful joyful event attracts thousands from all around the world! Wrestling, horse-riding and archery competitions are the main events but of course, there is much more than this. It is your chance to experience Mongolian culture at its best. The journey continues as the classic Trans Siberian train route reaching Moscow after 15 days of fun and discoveries. Nature, history, culture, food - you've got everything covered.

Itinerary

Beijing → Ulaanbaatar → Terelj National Park → Irkutsk → Lake Baikal → Yekaterinburg → Kazan → Moscow

Day 1: Arrival at Beijing, China

Meet & greet at Beijing airport/train station. Transfer to the hotel in downtown and check-in. For the first time visitors, we offer optional guided tours in Beijing, on request. Train tickets for the journey will be delivered to the hotel in advance. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 2: Beijing

After breakfast, start Beijing guided city tour. Visit Tiananmen Square with the National Flag Pole and Forbidden City. Then join the tour to the Great Wall, the cable car is available and optional. In the evening, enjoy the Chinese tea ceremony. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3: The adventure begins

After breakfast, check-out and transfer to the train station. The first leg of your journey will last just about one day. This weekly Trans-Siberian Train N3 leaves Beijing every Wednesday morning. The 7,621 km (4,735 miles) journey takes 6 days. This train cuts across the Gobi desert and Mongolia. Then it crosses Siberia. The train has deluxe soft sleeper (2-berth compartment, 1st class) and soft sleeper (4-berth compartment, 2nd class).

Day 4: Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Arrival at Ulaanbaatar. Transfer to Terelj National Park, one of the most scenic areas in Mongolia. We shall see Turtle Rock, have lunch with a nomadic family, visit Temple of Aryavalokiteshvara and Aryabal Monastery. Other Rock Formation such as Praying Lama Rock/Old Man reading a Book we shall pass by. Dinner and overnight at the Ger camp at Terelj National Park.

Day 5: Discover Mongolia

After breakfast, we will take a transfer to Ulaanbaatar. En route, we shall stop at Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex and Bronze age/13th Century Museum on the way. In the evening, enjoy 6 pm-Tumen Ekh-traditional folklore concert. Dinner at the hotel restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 6: Naadam Festival

Today is the opening day of the Naadam Festival. After having breakfast, we will drive to the central stadium of Ulaanbaatar to see the delightful opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival. The Festival starts with a transferring ceremony of the nine white banners from the government house to the Naadam stadium followed by a horse parade. At 11 am, the magnificent opening ceremony takes place. Today we will see wrestling followed by anklebone shooting and archery competitions, which will be held just outside of the main stadium. After lunch at Naadam Stadium (traditional Naadam Khuushuur: fried dumplings followed by test famous Airag), we will drive to Khui Doloo Khudag to attend horse racing. In the evening, we will come back to Ulaanbaatar. Transfer to your hotel. Dinner. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 7: Train to Russia

After breakfast, take a guided tour to Gandan Monastery, National History Museum and Sukhbaatar Square. Most Buddhist Monasteries in Mongolia were destroyed during the communist regime, which lasted until 1990. One of the only to survive was Gandan Monastery, being used as a showcase for visitors. After lunch, transfer to the railway station and departure for Irkutsk, Russia.

Day 8: Lake Baikal, Russia

Arrival at Irkutsk. Transfer to Listvyanka village located near Lake Baikal. Stop for lunch and try local Buryat cuisine. Upon arrival in Listvyanka, visit Baikal Museum of Limnology and Shaman Rock. Then, take a tour to Chersky Stone observation point and the cable car. This day you can take part in optional activities like Russian banya or Lake Baikal boat cruise. Check-in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 9: Irkutsk & Taltsy Museum

Breakfast and check-out. Transfer to Irkutsk. En route, we shall visit Taltsy Museum. The open-air museum Taltsy is located 20 kilometres away from Listvyanka. The exposition features wooden buildings brought from all over Siberia. Right now, 40 landmarked buildings and 8000 artefacts dated by XVII-XIX centuries are presented as part of the exhibition. Russian lunch in Taltsy with tea and honey degustation. Arrival in Irkutsk. Guided tour in Irkutsk: St. Epiphany Cathedral, Kirov Square. Transfer to the train station. Boarding the train to Yekaterinburg.

Day 10: On board

Train ride continues 2 days and 5 hours on the train. There is, in fact, no one train called the ‘Trans-Siberian Express’, rather there are many trains going eastbound and westbound. One of a few things, that actually works perfectly well in Russia. You will be surprised by the scale of the system connecting together the world's largest country, thus being a bridge between Asia and Europe. In fact, you can even continue to Hong Kong, Vietnam or even Japan by a ferry. The entire system works like a Swiss watch!

Day 11: Yekaterinburg

Arrival at Yekaterinburg. Meet & greet at the train station. We take off for a guided city tour and drive outside of the city to visit one of its most remarkable attractions: the Europe-Asia border, where you can put your feet on two different continents at once. Drive back to the city and check-in at the hotel. The evening is free at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 12: On board

After breakfast, transfer to the railway station to board the train to Kazan. Arrival at Kazan in the evening. Meet & greet at the railway station. Transfer to the hotel check-in. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 13: Kazan

After breakfast, enjoy the tour to UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kremlin of Kazan, under the professional English-speaking guide. Built by Ivan the Terrible on the ruins of the palace of the Kazan Khanate that he destroyed, the Kremlin of Kazan reflects the ethnic mix of Tatars and Russians, Muslims and Christians, that merged into one nation centuries ago. Visit the Kul Sharif Mosque that is known as the largest worship place for Muslims in Europe along with the wide collection of ancient books. One more place to see is the Annunciation Cathedral in Kazan that is an equally important place of Orthodox worship and an architectural masterpiece that took 9 years to complete after it was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. As Kazan is the centre of Tatar culture, we will visit the old Tatar village to try a local Tatar tea. Later, have a master cooking class of Tatar dishes at a traditional restaurant. During our city tour, you will also see Kazan Arena, Millennium Bridge, Mardzhani Mosque, Kaban Lake, Bogoroditsky Monastery, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Bauman Street, Freedom Square. In the evening, transfer to the train station to board the train to Moscow.

Day 14: Moscow

Arrival at Moscow in the morning, meet & greet at the train station, transfer to your hotel in downtown and check-in. Drop off your bags and enjoy a guided visit to the Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin, see all the treasures of the famous museums including the Armoury. A must-see in Russia, St Basil's Cathedral, is a construction of outstanding beauty. Take a walking tour in the city centre: GUM department store (we strongly recommend their Soviet-style bistro for those interested in the Soviet history), Lenin Mausoleum, Bolshoi theatre, Nikolskaya street which surprisingly became "people's FAN zone" during FIFA World Cup 2018, make a photo in front of always-on-duty KGB building. Get to know the city by taking a metro ride to our next stop, the Novodevichy Convent. It was founded in 1524 to celebrate the victory over Lithuania. The ancient building is the white cathedral with 16th-century frescoes. Please be dressed accordingly. We continue to Sparrow Hills observation point and visit the famous Arbat area. In the evening, join your fellow travellers for the farewell dinner. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 15: Departure

After breakfast, meet the driver and take a transfer to the airport.

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National Naadam

The biggest festival (National Naadam) is held in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, during the National Holiday, in the National Sports Stadium. It begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin. The competitions are mainly horseback riding. Naadam is also celebrated in different regions of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia in July and August. In the Tuva Republic, Naadam is on 15 August.

Three games

Naadam is a traditional festival in Mongolia. The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery, and are held throughout the country during midsummer. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling.

Wrestling

Mongolian traditional wrestling is an untimed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hands. When picking pairs, the wrestler with the greatest fame has the privilege to choose his opponent. Wrestlers wear two-piece costumes consisting of a tight shoulder vest (zodog) and shorts (shuudag). Only men are allowed to participate.

Horse racing

Unlike Western horse racing, which consists of short sprints generally not much longer than 2 km, Mongolian horse racing as featured in Naadam is a cross-country event, with races 15–30 km long. The length of each race is determined by age class. For example, two-year-old horses race for ten miles and seven-year-olds for seventeen miles. Up to 1000 horses from any part of Mongolia can be chosen to participate. Racehorses are fed a special diet. Children from 5 to 13 are chosen as jockeys and train in the months preceding the races. While jockeys are an important component, the main purpose of the races is to test the skill of the horses.

Archery

In archery competition, both men and women may participate. It is played by teams of ten. Each archer is given four arrows; the team must hit 33 "surs".Men shoot their arrows from 75 meters away while women shoot theirs from 65 meters away. Traditionally the archers wear their national clothing (Deel) during the competition. All the archers wear leather bracers up to the elbow on their outstretched arm, so that the deel’s cuff does not interfere with shooting.

Cultural Heritage

In 2010, Naadam was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.

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China

Citizens of the UK should apply for a visa personally (85 GBP for a visa, issued in 4 days). Сitizens of New Zealand can apply for a visa by mail (140 $ for a visa, issued in 5 days). Citizens of Australia should apply for a visa through Chinese Visa Application Service Centers (109,5 $ AUD, issued in 4-5 days). Citizens of the USA and Canada should apply for visa personally (140 USD for the USA citizens and 100 USD for the citizens of Canada).

Mongolia

Citizens of the UK should apply for a visa personally through an authorized company (40 GBP for a standard visa, issued in 5 days). Сitizens of New Zealand should apply for a visa only by mail (160 $ NZ for a standard visa, issued in 2-5 days). Citizens of Australia can apply for a visa by mail (230 AUD, issued in 4-5 days). Citizens of the USA and Canada can travel to Mongolia without a visa in case a travel period is less than 90 days.

Russia

Citizens of the UK should apply for a visa only personally (63 GBP for a visa, issued in 20 days). Сitizens of New Zealand can apply for a visa by mail (120 $ NZ for a visa, issued in 10 days). Citizens of Australia can apply for a visa through Visa Application Service Centers (120 AUD, issued in 4-10 days). Citizens of the USA and Canada can apply for visa personally or through Visa Application Service Centers (160 USD for the USA citizens and 112 CAD for the citizens of Canada).

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Accommodation

Beijing - Moscow Train

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What's included

Accommodation

Centrally located hand-picked hotels

2 nights Beijing // 2 nights Ulaanbaatar // 1 night Listvyanka village at Lake Baikal shores // 1 night Yekaterinburg // 1 night Kazan // 1 night Moscow

1 night at Terelj National Park in ger camp (yurt)

5 nights on board

Meals

Full breakfast in the hotels // Full board in Mongolia

2 lunches: Lunch after master class on cooking the national Tatar food // Buryat lunch at Lake Baikal

Tea degustation in Taltsy Open Air Siberian Museum

Farewell dinner

Guided tours

Dedicated local English-speaking guide in all places as per program

Beijing full-day guided tour

Terelj National Park full-day guided tour

Ulaanbaatar half-day guided tour

Listvyanka half-day guided tour

Irkutsk full-day guided tour

Yekaterinburg half-day guided tour

Kazan full-day guided tour

Moscow full-day guided tour

Transportation

Train tickets

Full metro/public transport passes in Moscow

Meet & greet at every location

Return airport/train station transfers

Transportation on tours as per program in a comfortable a/c car/minivan/bus

Support

The group tour is fully escorted by a bilingual tour director

Entrance tickets

Entrance tickets to all listed attractions

Russian local sim card with data

Not Included

Visa fees

International flights

Meals not mentioned

Optional tours and activities

Personal expenditures

Highlights

The Moscow Kremlin - all the highlights including the Armory

The Great Wall of China

Naadam festival - nomad culture at its best

Real Gear Camp Experience

Amazing Terelj National Park

Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in the world

Book

Our reviews

Alison Danesh

Iran / USA

We just returned from the World Cup in Russia where we followed Team Iran. This involved travel to three different stadiums many miles apart. Thank goodness we booked through World of Discoveries (Discovery Russia branch)! They arranged our lodging and transport. They even set us up with local English speaking guides to take us to see the interesting and historical sights of this beautiful land. We had a blast. We met new friends, ate great food, drank great vodka and cheered our team on. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Mark Dawson

Australia

This has been an incredible trip. The service has been exceptional and the guides provided were knowledgeable about their cities and gave us an experience we will never forget. If I do this trip again I would take even longer to see this amazing country.

Andrew Weifler

Australia

I decided to use the Tour Service of the World Cup after some extensive research into the tour alternatives. These guys seemed to differentiate its tour Service by providing a more culturally based service with a healthy dose of Football and Fun. My experience was that it as well run ie they delivered on their promises. They have a health mix of local staff and Australian staff. The Russian staff had a great empathy for the challenges for us Aussies traveling in a country where you had no language skills they bridged that gap with there wonderful help. I know there are many alternative tours but this one certainly lived up to its name. I felt I discovered part of Russia but there’s plenty more to go!’ Overall just a great experience

Michael Morcos

Australia

The team at World of Discoveries were awesome. Didn’t put a foot wrong at all, the tours great, the people even better. Alex who followed us around everywhere was fantastic and the organisation by Varya was exceptional. Everything was made easy and extremely helpful 24/7, I don’t think they slept the whole time. Thank you, my dad and myself loved it

Peter Gay & Andrew Carroll-Keays

Australia

Travelled on the TransMongolian Railway in Feb/Mar. Not too cold. Just take usual ski gear. Great scenery. Organisation was absolutely excellent. Every transfer and every guide were on time. The hotels were all very good. The Russian Sim (provided by the company) was great for keeping in contact with each other and the support line.

Coco Bermudez

Australia

I was extremely satisfied with my trip. Everyone at the agency have been courteous and helpful from the very beginning, trying to organize our 17 day World Cup experience. The guides and drivers are very professional and friendly, and the accommodations were simply superb. I highly recommend World of Discoveries as I know they will turn your trip into an unforgettable experience.

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