Moscow to Ulaanbaatar Aboard the Golden Eagle
This journey starts in Moscow, home to Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral, Russia’s most iconic landmarks. From there it glides east along the Trans-Siberian railway, visiting parts of the country that are much less famous but just as captivating, before crossing the border to reach Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. Traveling in the luxury Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express private train, you’ll discover Russia’s exceptional natural beauty, including gorgeous, gigantic Lake Baikal, and explore the under-visited cities of Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and Ulan Ude – places that reveal a remarkably diverse Russian culture little known to outsiders.
Photos and details: Discover what life is like aboard the Golden Eagle.
Days 1-2: Moscow (Russia)
After arrival and an overnight stay in a five-star hotel, start the day with a visit to Moscow’s Red Square, taking in iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral and the massive Kremlin, where you can tour the Armory Museum, a storehouse of national treasures. If you’re more intrigued by art, you can opt instead to tour the Tretyakov Gallery, which has a collection spanning a millennium of Russian artwork. In the afternoon, depart Moscow aboard the luxury Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express private train.
- Moscow’s 870-year-old Kremlin and Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The treasures of the Armory Museum, from Faberge eggs to the ivory throne of Ivan the Terrible
- The Tretyakov Gallery, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Russian art
Days 3-4: Kazan, Ekaterinburg
First stop is along the Volga in Kazan, the beautiful capital of Tatarstan, a Russian autonomous region. The city is noted for its centuries of religious harmony – here mosques, minarets, and Orthodox church domes share the skyline. The next stop marks the transition from Europe into Asia, on the eastern side of the Ural mountains in Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city. Visit the Church on the Blood, built on the spot where the last czar, Nicholas II, and his family met their demise in July of 1918.
- The UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin, considered the only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia
- Ekaterinburg’s Church on the Blood, consecrated in 2003 on the site where Bolsheviks executed Czar Nicholas II and his family
Day 5: Novosibirsk
Pull into Novosibirsk, which thanks to the Trans-Siberian railway is Siberia’s biggest city, with Russia’s largest opera house on its central Lenin Square. The town sits on the Ob River, 2,300 miles from the river’s mouth in the Arctic.
- The daunting scale of Lenin Square, with its domed opera house – nicknamed the Siberian Colosseum – and giant Soviet-era statues
Days 6-7: Aboard Train, Irkutsk
After a day spent rolling through the Sayan Mountains, arrive in Irkutsk, the cultural capital of eastern Siberia. A tour of this surprisingly sophisticated little city includes examples of the area’s classic wooden architecture and a visit to the Decembrist House Museum, the preserved home of one family from a group of failed 19th century pro-democracy revolutionaries who settled here following their terms in Siberian labor camps.
- A relaxing day aboard the Golden Eagle as it passes through the isolated Sayan Mountains, where residents have been herding reindeer for more than a millennium
- Irkutsk’s ornate 19th century wooden buildings, many decorated with lacy wooden fretwork
- A private classical music concert at Decembrist House Museum, one of the best maintained historic homes in Irkutsk
Day 8: Lake Baikal
Today the Golden Eagle hits a spectacular stretch of track, winding through tunnels and along cliffs above UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. Stop en route for a barbecue along the shore before continuing on to the lakeside village of Listvyanka, where you can dip your toes in the water and learn about the lake’s unique ecosystem at the Baikal Museum.
- The rail line along the water, one of the most scenic stretch of the Trans-Siberian trip
- Little Listvyanka village and its Baikal Museum, which includes aquariums displaying the lake’s unique marine life
Day 9: Ulan Ude
A stop in Ulan Ude, capital of Russia’s Buryat Republic, provides the opportunity to visit a village of Old Believers – a religious group that rebelled against changes to the Orthodox liturgy in 1652 and as a result were exiled to Siberia. In their isolated enclaves, they’ve preserved 17th century styles of clothing, architecture, and music. UNESCO includes this unique community on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
- A home-cooked lunch with a group of Old Believers, followed by a performance of traditional choral music – chants, lyric songs, and folk prayers passed down over hundreds of years
Day 10-11: Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)
In Mongolia the trip makes its final stop in Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital. Here you’ll learn about nomadic life at the National History Museum, tour the Gandan Monastery, and experience Mongolian cuisine in a nomadic ger (a traditional yurt). In the evening attend a farewell dinner before spending the night in a city-center hotel.
- The National History Museum’s extensive collection, ranging from petroglyphs to traditional costumes to correspondence between the pope and Genghis Khan
- The main temple of the Gandan Monastery, which houses an 85-foot-tall, 20-ton, gold-gilded statue of Migjid Janraisig, a Buddhist bodhisattva
- A Mongolian-style lunch served in a ger
Dates & Prices
Minimum group size: Minimums vary – call for confirmation status
Land Tour Price, Per Person.
Apr 30 - May 10Silver Class, double occupancy$15,995Silver Class, single occupancy$23,995Gold Class, double occupancy$19,995Gold Class, single occupancy$32,995July 23 - Aug 2Aug 20 - 30Silver Class, double occupancy$16,995Silver Class, single occupancy$25,495Gold Class, double occupancy$21,195Gold Class, single occupancy$34,995
- Accommodations, as noted in the itinerary.
- All meals, from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on final tour day, including a generous allowance of wine, local beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner.
- Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
- All guided off-train tours, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Services of an experienced Train Tour Manager as well as local guides for scheduled off-train tours.
- Complimentary tea, coffee, and mineral water from your car attendant at all times while on board the train.
- All gratuities.
- Baggage handling.
- Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost.)
- International airfare, including taxes/fuel surcharges, and surface transport to the point of joining/leaving the tour. MIR is able to assist with arrangements, as detailed in the itinerary.
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement (difference between double rate and single occupancy rate) if requested or required.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Visa fees, excess baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
- Travel insurance, including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Items of a personal nature, such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
Level 2: Moderate
This rail journey by private train features significant touring on foot, throughout which travelers are expected to keep up with other group members. Walking during touring days will be on a variety of surfaces, with many streets and sidewalks being uneven and elevators generally not available during touring excursions, leading to some stair climbing. Challenges on board the train include long onboard distances with heavy doors, as well as steep steps and gaps to navigate while embarking and disembarking. Only those willing to accept local standards of amenities and services should consider joining this program.
Travelers must be able to walk a mile per day keeping up with other group members. Streets and sidewalks can be uneven or unexpected surfaces, and handrails are not always present. Steps, which may be required due to lack of elevators, may be steep and/or uneven, and may also lack handrails. The distance on board the train between sleeping and dining carriages may be significant, and there are many heavy doors to navigate when moving throughout the train. Getting on and off the train involves navigating steep steps, low platforms, and possible gaps between the train and the platform. Navigating rail stations may also involve traveling up and over steep steps/footbridges to cross tracks, or steep steps and dark tunnels to cross under to/from the train station. Although porterage is provided where possible, you may have to carry your baggage for short distances.
General shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure may include problems with bureaucratic service, and availability and quality of public restrooms when not on board the train.