This epic journey travels from London to Beijing and vice versa. Through Europe, Russia and Mongolia. Visiting Xi'an, Pingyao and Datong before finally finishing in Beijing - all without flying... Cost £3,999
Kicking off in London, this epic adventure hits the ground running as it chalks off three countries in the opening day. Leaving England, we cross the Channel on a ferry to northern France before crossing into Belgium for our first evening in the beautiful, medieval town of Bruges. With its meandering waterways, enticing squares, classic buildings and host of chocolate shops, this is a wonderful place to get the journey underway and get to know your fellow travellers.
Next up is Germany and, after travelling down the Rhine Valley with a stop-off in the fascinating university city of Heidelberg, we cross into the Czech Republic and head for the beautiful city of Prague. We will have plenty of time to explore its ancient castles and stunning palaces - not to mention tasting its famous beers - before we move on to Poland.
Our first stop is the city of Krakow, Poland's second city and cultural capital. As well as experiencing the famous city centre - designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO - you may be able to visit the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz. Not the easiest of days out, but certainly one to remember. Having headed east from London to Krakow, we turn north for the next few days, starting with the intriguing Polish capital Warsaw with its historic old town and vibrant post-communist culture. The trip north then steers through the three Baltic States - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Becoming increasingly popular as alternative destinations to the more traditional Western European tourist sports, we will have plenty of time to explore their historic capitals and relax - or enjoy their varying, increasingly vibrant nightlife.
First up is Lithuanian capital Vilnius - European Capital of Culture in 2009. After sampling its picturesque old town, it is onto Riga, where we will have the opportunity to take a walking tour of its intriguing mix of history and evolving, modern city. You can sample the richest, thickest hot chocolate, view the city from on high over a cocktail or even test your marksmanship at a shooting range. From there it is on to Tallinn, the fascinating capital of Estonia, with the narrow streets, beautiful squares and lively bars and restaurants of its old town.
From Tallinn, we turn east again and the trip takes on a whole new feeling as we cross into the world's largest country - Russia.
First up is the cosmopolitan city of St Petersburg - often called 'The Venice of the North' and founded by Peter the Great to rival the great cities of Western Europe. His legacy, and that of succeeding generations of the ruling Romanovs, is a city crammed full of history and sights, among them St Isaacs Cathedral, the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Church of the Spilt Blood, the Winter Palace and the Hermitage - the world's largest art museum.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, St Petersburg was replaced as Russian capital by Moscow - our next stop. Moscow is awash with history, both recent and ancient. You can explore Izmailovsky Market and the metro system, Red Square (famous for the May Day parades during the Soviet regime and the site - for now - of Lenin's Mausoleum) and The Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage site and centre of Russia's political, religious and historical heritage since the 13th century.
Having reached Moscow by bus, the trip takes on a thrilling new dimension as we let the train take the strain all the way to Beijing - via a series of memorable stop-offs.
First up is the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway, an icon of travel which will carry the trip across the vastness of Russia from Moscow to the heart of Siberia. It is a perfect chance to relax and lose yourself in the intriguing Russian experience.
From Moscow, the train heads east past the golden spires and domes of the Assumption Cathedral and the Bogolyubovo, a 12th century monastery complex, as we head to Nizhny Novgorod. Yekaterinburg marks the border between Europe and Asia and as we pass the rolling foothills of the Ural Mountains, we cross into Siberia (2,102km from Moscow), onto Omsk and over one of the world's longest rivers via the fabulous 870m Ob River bridge.
The first - and longest - leg of the train journey ends with a stay in the city of Irkutsk, which gives us a chance to stretch our legs, recharge and check out the beautiful wooden buildings, the Church of the Saviour and the Znamensky monastery - as well as the well-stocked indoor and outdoor markets.
Irkutsk is also the starting point for our detour to a memorable couple of days at Lake Baikal - the world's oldest and deepest lake, which contains 20% of the planet's freshwater! Our time at the lake will be spent on Olkhon Island which, depending on the weather, can be reached by boat, jeep or a two kilometre walk over the frozen lake!
We will stay with local people in a homestead and there is plenty of opportunity to see the island and the lake with the option of a tour in an ex-Russian military jeep. We can walk through the village to the Cape of Burkhan to see the famous Crag of Shaman (Rock Temple) - regarded as one of the nine sanctuaries of Asia - while the views from the 200m high cliffs of Khoboy Cape at the northern tip of the island are fabulous. And watching the sunset over the lake is not to be missed.
After returning to Irkutsk, we hop back onto the train - turning south into Mongolia and its capital city Ulan Bator. The city itself has plenty of sights to discover, such as Sukhbaatar Square, the Gandantegchinlen Khiid temple, the National Museum of Mongolian History and the views over the city and surrounding mountains from the Friendship Staute. There may also be a chance to see contortionists, dancers, opera singers and the bizarre Mongolian throat singers at the Tumen Ekh Ensemble Palace.
There is much more to Mongolia outside the capital and we will head 50 miles north east to visit the magnificent mountain scenery and cool alpine air of Terelj National Park. Climb the winding mountain paths to Ariyapala Temple - a great place to meditate and soak up the amazing views - head out on horseback and visit the Turtle Rock. And after all that, unwind, relax and savour a night in a traditional Ger and savour wonderful Mongolian hospitality - all in a spectacular setting amid the mountains.
A giant statue of Genghis Khan (and we really mean giant) and a visit to a nomad camp await on the return to Ulan Bator, from where we board another train to cross into the remarkable countryside, culture and sights of China.
*Ask us about the possibility of upgrading to a first-class cabin.
Our travels through China begin with a couple of days in its capital and largest city - Beijing. We will visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, plus have plenty of time to explore the sights, tastes, colours, sounds and smells of this remarkable city. There's also more modern history to be savoured at the Birds Nest Olympic Stadium and we will have the chance to shop in Beijing's side streets and markets - an experience to be savoured.
From Beijing, we hop on the overnight sleeper train south to Xi'an - a former Chinese capital and the third largest city in the country. This intriguing city has plenty to visit - ride a bike or walk around the ancient city walls and savour the historic Big Wild Goose Pagoda - but its most famous sight lies a coach ride away: the renowned Terracotta Warriors.
From the bustling, modern cities of Beijing and Xi'an, we turn north again to the walled, ancient town of Pingyao. From there we head to Datong, stopping at the Hanging Temple and Yungang Grottos en route, before returning to Beijing for a couple of days, via a trip to the Great Wall at Badaling and the Ming Tombs.
That's the itinerary, but every trip is different - climb on board and experience your own, unique adventure.
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