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Naadam Festival, Mongolia

Golden Eagle Trans-Mongolian Express: Naadam Festival

14-day luxury rail journey from £14,235 pp


Short description

An iconic train journey paired with an included spread of gourmet dining and unique touring


  • Travel aboard one of the world’s most luxurious trains
  • Enjoy included touring throughout, from private concerts to tours of Soviet towns and remote villages
  • Experience the world’s second-oldest Olympics – Naadam
  • Stay in luxury among Moscow’s fascinating heritage
  • Indulge with full-board gourmet dining, paired with complimentary drinks

In Brief

  • 1 Night Moscow
  • 8 Nights The Golden Eagle
  • 3 Nights Ulaan Baatar


Recommended for:
City | History & culture | Honeymoon | Rail journey

Contrasting Siberian mountains and the endless Mongolian steppe with full-board gourmet dining and complimentary drinks, this is one of the world’s greatest train journeys. Along the way, you’ll pause everywhere from frontier Soviet towns to remote timber villages, enjoying including touring throughout. Think cocktail receptions, private concerts, cooking lessons, lake cruises and visits to nomadic yurts. It’s all bookended by luxury stays among Moscow’s icons and the Mongolian capital’s Buddhist heritage. In the latter, you’ll be among a privileged few non-Mongolians to take in the Naadam Festival – a celebration of colour and unique sporting excellence.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1

After beginning your trip with complimentary airport lounge access, fly out to Moscow where you’ll be met by an included transfer to your luxury hotel. A neoclassical landmark complete with crystal lighting, its opulent rooms and rooftop terrace feature panoramic views over Red Square and the Kremlin. It’s the perfect welcome to Russia, not least for your reception dinner hosted in the hotel – a chance to meet your fellow travellers.

Stay: The Ritz Carlton (Deluxe)

Meals: D

Day 2

You’ll begin your programme of included touring today with a city tour, taking in the Kremlin, the Tsar treasures of the Armoury Chamber and Red Square – an icon of Russian might. You’ll also pause everywhere from Lenin’s Tomb to the onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral. Alternatively, there’s the option of visiting the Space Museum or the State Tretyakov Gallery. Whichever you choose, an included transfer will see you to the Art-Nouveau grandeur of the Kazanskaya Station for champagne and canapés before your embark the Golden Eagle. Once on board, you’ll settle in to your en-suite cabin and full-board gourmet dining. Expect the best in fresh ingredients washed down with complimentary beers and wines.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 3

Your first station stop is Kazan, a riverside city and the capital of Tatarstan. Your touring here will centre on the majestic Kremlin Fortress. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it hides everything from a blue-domed mosque to a postcard-perfect cathedral within its ancient citadel walls. As the birthplace of the great Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, you’ll also be treated to a private concert of his music. In between, there’s plenty of time for you to explore Kazan at your leisure, wandering among minarets and church steeples.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 4

As the capital of the Urals – the mountains that form the natural divide between Europe and Asia – Yekaterinburg is delightful fusion of cultures. But, there’s also a poignant revolutionary history to the place, with your touring bringing you to the site where Tsar Nicholas II was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Today, it’s watched over by a church dedicated to their memory – a powerful reminder of a Russia in turmoil. There’s also the option of visiting the newly opened Museum of Military Machinery. A glimpse into the country’s Soviet past, its collections spans from tanks to armoured trains.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 5

As a modern Soviet city, Novosibirsk is near unique. Spread over both banks of the River Ob, it’s also delightfully situated – something taken full advantage of by a spread of gorgeous architecture. The Opera House is a prime example, its neoclassical colonnades fronted by a great statue of Lenin. Alternatively, there’s the option of visiting the city’s superb railway museum. It’s a must for locomotive fans, hosting rolling stock from the late 1800s that includes Tsar carriages and Soviet-era engines. There’s even the chance to visit Mineralogical Centre and its fine display of Siberian minerals.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 6

Today begins as usual with a cooked-to-order breakfast. But, with a full day on board, you’ll have the chance to relax and watch the Siberian wilds slip by, in between enjoying sumptuous dining in the restaurant car, of course. Think black sturgeon and salmon caviar served alongside a spread of international favourites. Complimentary hot drinks are also available round the clock, served in your cabin by your personal steward. Then, at day’s end, perhaps cap it all off with a piano-accompanied drink in the bar car.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 7

You’ll arrive at Irkutsk into a world of church spires, 19th-century architecture and typical Siberian timber buildings. Today, the classic wooden architecture – all intricate carvings and lacy decorations – hosts fascinating museums and innovative restaurants. However, it’s your visit to the Volkonsky House that will linger longest in the memory. Here, 19th-century Russian nobles – the Decembrists – lived in exile, an experience you’ll recreate with a champagne reception and private concert. There’s also a full spread of touring alternatives available, from a Russian cooking lesson to visit to a traditional summer house or an urban apartment. The latter is an exclusive glimpse into modern Russian life.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 8
Lake Baikal

Your day on Lake Baikal is a true trip highlight, with your route skirting right alongside its shore, sweeping between old-growth forests and the endless blue shimmer. It’s all backdropped by vistas of snow-capped peaks and made that much grander by your engine for the day – a Soviet-era steam locomotive. Along the way, you’ll pause for photography stops, swims and a cruise over to Listvyanka, a charming small village surrounded by hills. You’ll even enjoy a barbecue dinner of freshly smoked omul fish, prepared lakeside. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the lake’s freshwater seals. For the more active, consider a hike up Mt. Chersky for some spectacular lake views.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 9
Ulan Ude

Your last stop in Russia is Ulan Ude. As the capital of the Buryat Republic, it’s got something of the exotic about it, with its Buddhist temples a taste of things to come. Your touring here will bring you out into a river valley for a visit to the Old Believers’ Village. Here, timber houses are resplendent in blue and white and are almost as colourful as your hosts’ traditional dress. And, you’ll be invited into their homes and churches to learn of their unique way of life over lunches and folk performances.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 10
Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia

Waking today to a great green steppe dotted with grazing animals, you’ll know you’ve arrived in Mongolia. You’ll make your introductions in Ulaanbaatar with the Gandan Monastery. Home to 500 monks, its sweeping timber tiers form one of Mongolia’s most sacred sites. It’s then on to Chinggis Square to marvel at the imposing monument to Genghis Khan before you head out to the wild Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Here, you’ll visit a traditional yurt to meet a nomadic family and try your hand at horse riding. Alternatively, stay in the city for a visit to the winter palace of the last Mongolian emperor and a performance of traditional throat singing. End the day in one of the Mongolian capital’s finest hotels.

Stay: Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, Ulaanbaatar (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 11
Ulaan Baatar

Today marks the start of the Naadam Festival – the country’s great UNESCO-listed celebration of its 1921 fight for independence. It all begins with an elaborate opening ceremony, performed by dancers, athletes, horse riders and musicians. You’ll then be brought out of the city to watch the national horse race where the competitors are all children aged between five and 12. It’s a nod to Genghis Khan, whose equestrian skills are said to have won him his empire that stretched from the Sea of Japan to Europe. Today, thousands of spectators line a course that stretches some 20 kilometres over the plains and you’ll have a prime seat on the finish line.

Stay: Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, Ulaanbaatar (Deluxe)

Day 12
Ulaan Baatar

On the second day of the festival, you’ll attend to its other sports – archery and wrestling. The latter is a particular favourite, with competitors lining up in colourful dress and encouraged by their zasuul, who sings a song of praise. Then, for the archery, teams of ten compete with traditional recurve bows before you’ve the chance to attend the ominously named “ankle-bone shooting event”. It’s a traditional Mongolian game where goat ankle bones are flicked at targets.

Stay: Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace, Ulaanbaatar (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Days 13-14
Ulaan Baatar/UK

After breakfast on your final day, an included transfer will see you to the airport for your flight home.

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Deluxe

14-day luxury rail journey
from £14,235 pp

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