London - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport for a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to Beijing.
Upon arrival, we transfer to the centrally-located Capital Hotel (4T) for a two-night stay. There is time to settle in and relax before joining an included tour of the city, taking in famous landmarks such as Tian’anmen Square and the Temple of Heaven, as well as more contemporary architecture including the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic stadium. We return to our hotel for dinner.
Today we visit the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China, one of the true highlights of world travel. On the way, we stop at a pearl cultivation farm and the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Approached by a 7km-long ‘Spirit Way’, the complex includes numerous ceremonial buildings and statues as well as the grand imperial tombs. This evening we enjoy a special dinner, sampling the traditional local dish of Peking Duck.
Beijing - Embark train (overnight)
There is more time today to enjoy the sights of Beijing as we explore the magnificent Forbidden City palace complex, once the exclusive preserve of the emperor and his entourage. Our rail adventure begins this evening as we embark a chartered rudimentary train (2T) to Mongolia, travelling overnight to reach the Chinese border.
Erlian - Tsar’s Gold Train - Gobi Desert, Mongolia
We reach the Chinese border city of Erlian around noon today. There is time to browse for bargains in the busy markets and shops before transferring to the Russian Tsar’s Gold Private Train (3T+) for journey across the Gobi Desert and through the vast green steppes of Mongolia. We spend the night on board the train.
This morning our train arrives in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, where we join an included tour taking in city highlights such as Chinggis Khan Square and the Choijin Lama Temple, which is now a museum housing a collection of Buddhist statues, paintings, masks and other religious artefacts. For this evening, we have the chance to book an optional performance of traditional Mongolian music and dance, including the famous throat singing, and we will be spending the night in the Ramada Ulaanbaatar Hotel (3T+). Alternatively, for a small supplement, you may opt to stay overnight in a yurt camp in the Mongolian Alps, a truly unique experience (weather permitting).
Gandan Monastery and the Mongolian Alps
After breakfast, we attend a Buddhist ceremony at Gandan Monastery, home to a thriving community of monks, before we head out of Ulaanbaatar by coach to explore the unspoilt scenery and bizarre rock formations of the Mongolian Alps. After a picnic lunch in a yurt camp, we are treated to a display of horse-riding skills and a traditional wrestling match. We spend the night aboard our train.
Ulan Ude, Russia
We travel through the Selenga River valley today as we leave Mongolia behind us and cross the border into Russia, joining the main route of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Our first stop is the Siberian city of Ulan Ude, where we take a guided tour and learn more about the local history. Closed to foreigners during Soviet times, its main square is still dominated by the colossal bronze head of Lenin, said to be the biggest in the world at 7.7m high.
The Tsar’s Gold Train travels along the shore of Lake Baikal this morning, and there are two photo-stops for us to enjoy the scenic beauty of the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake; formed 25 million years ago, it plunges to a depth of up to 1,700 metres and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Port Baikal, we take a short cruise on the lake and visit a local village. Weather permitting, we will enjoy a lakeside picnic this evening before returning to the train.
Today’s destination is Irkutsk, the capital of Eastern Siberia, where we transfer to our hotel for the night, the Courtyard Marriott Irkutsk (4T). After we’ve settled in, we take a guided tour of the city, including the elegant Okhlopkov Drama Theatre, opened in 1897, the market hall and the statue of Tsar Alexander III (1881-1894), who ordered the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. We will also visit the open-air Taltsy Museum, housing more than 40 reconstructed wooden buildings from the region and displays on Siberian life, work and traditions.
Departing Irkutsk, we have a full day on board our train as it travels through Eastern Siberia. Guest lecturers will be giving talks about the history and culture of Siberia, and we’ll enjoy a tutored vodka tasting, served along with typical Russian snacks.
We arrive in Siberia’s largest city, Novosibirsk, around noon, where we are greeted with the traditional Russian welcome gifts of bread and salt. We join a guided tour of the city, visiting the busy Central Market and the Opera and Ballet Theatre.
This afternoon we arrive in Yekaterinburg, which stands on the border of the Asian and European continents. On our city tour we will visit the impressive Church on the Blood, erected on the site of the house where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. The church also houses a museum offering a fascinating insight into Russia’s turbulent history.
After breakfast, our train arrives in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan. This thriving city on the banks of the River Volga is home to a fascinating blend of Russian and Tatar culture and on our city tour we visit the 18th century Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Tatar mosques. We will also visit Kazan’s Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Lunch today will be at a local restaurant.
The Tsar’s Gold Train reaches its final destination today, arriving in the Russian capital, Moscow. We disembark and transfer to our hotel, the Intercontinental Moscow Tverskaya (4T). After checking in, we head out to visit the Kremlin, the vast fortress at the heart of the city. This evening we enjoy a tour to experience Moscow by night, stopping at Red Square and taking a ride on the city’s underground to visit two of the network’s most beautiful stations.
Day 16 Moscow - London
This morning we take a guided tour to see famous landmarks such as the colourful St Basil’s Cathedral, the Novodevichy Convent, the notorious former KGB headquarters, the Russian White House and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Later we transfer to Moscow Airport for our direct scheduled British Airways flight to London Heathrow Airport, where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle for the journey home.