Date: 19/2/2018- 28/2/2018 (10 days)
Fee: RM 4,950
Register before: 15/11/2017
Travel style: Backpacking
Tour status: Recruiting
Terms & Conditions
- Fee includes:
• Accommodation (in cities, stay at hostel dormitory; homestay on Olkhon Island)
• Local transportation in Russia (long distance train in third class coach; within a city, a combination of public bus, tram, taxi)
• 3D2N Olkhon Island (Lake Baikal) excursion: chattered transport, local guide, and covered 2 breakfasts, 2 dinners, and 1 picnic lunch
• Visa-support document (invitation letter)
• Travel insurance (only for Malaysia-based tour members, the point of embarkation and return must be Malaysia. Overseas based members, please acquire own policy, the charges included in Levart’s costing shall be deducted from tour fee)
- Fee excludes:
• Flights (multi-city flights Kuala Lumpur – Russian cities, estimated cost RM2,300-2,600, suggested airlines is S7 and its code-share flights. Once the trip is confirmed ON, LevArt shall provide flight details for members to buy own tickets online)
• Russian tourist visa fee (single entry cost RM396)
• Meals (except during Olkhon excursion; estimated F&B cost for entire trip RM800)
• Entrance fee for tourist sites (selective visit; cost within RM 50)
• All cost incurred during free & easy sessions; optional activities and entertainment
• Additional cost due to unforeseen calamity (acts of god).
- Group size: minimum 10 pax, maximum 15 pax.
- Booking fee: a non-refundable deposit of RM1,900 is payable to secure tour booking. The deposit can be returned if the tour is cancelled due to insufficient number of participants, or unforeseen calamity (acts of god).
- Balance tour fee settlement: full payment upfront upon registration deadline or when the tour is fully booked.
- Tour Cancellation: Fully paid tour members who pull-out due to unavoidable circumstances with valid reasons, may get partial refund based on a case-to-case review. A minimum of RM200 administrative charges applied.
- LevArt reserves the right to alter the fee in the event of a significant spike in fuel prices, airfares, and foreign exchange rates.
- Itineraries are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances beyond LevArt control. Every effort will be made to operate tours as planned, but alterations in accommodation arrangement and itinerary may occur when deem necessary.
- Siberian winter is bitterly cold, the temperature could drop below -20. Must wear clothing suitable for extreme winter, comfortable snow boots and thick socks are essential, the boots should have good grip on the ground, to prevent slipping when taking a walk on the frozen Lake Baikal.
- This tour involves a long-haul train ride lasting some 70 hours, here are a few suggestions and tips to make the train journey more enjoyable:
In the third class coaches, it’s open compartment, 54 berths are arranged in upper and lower berth in rows. Passengers usually spend all day eating, chatting, and playing games, sleeping, or enjoying views of the changing landscape. The train has a dining wagon (and each wagon has hot water dispenser), it's advisable to bring your own food and snacks.
Essential on board:
- Heat proof mug; coffee, creamer, tea, sugar
- mini first aid kit
- Fork and spoon (or chopsticks)
- Swiss army knife (packed in main luggage for the flight)
- Flip flops, wet wipes, toilet roll, paper towels
- Cards, board games, books, entertainment programs stored in mobile devices
- This is a backpacking trip, requires independent spirit from tour members.
- Rely heavily on public transportations. Apart from taking the long-haul train ride, other mode of transports includes crowded bus and tram.
- In major cities like Vladivostok and Irkutsk, lots of walking tour to explore major sights of interest.
- During the long-haul train ride, no shower/ bathing facilities for some 70 hours.
- Siberian winter is harsh, the temperature is subzero, and the day and night temperature gap is huge, must bring warm gear.
- Language barrier. Most Russians do not speak foreign languages, and tend to ignore people who don’t speak their language. It is advisable to learn some basic practical Russian and Cyrillic alphabets before departure.
Lam Yuet is an avid traveler, leaving her trails in four continents of the world. She had once spent two years making an Asia-Europe overland journey. Her tales from the road have been published under three titles – The Grand Overland Voyage, A State Called Home, and My Private Map.
She was a feature journalist, specialized in travel writing. As her former job involved lots of oversea assignments, she had experienced luxurious business tour as well as travel on a shoestring. Backpacking is still her preferred choice.
Siberia is known for its bitterly cold and frosty winter; but it is also the best season to discover the surreal ice kingdom of Russia’s Far East. In winter, Lake Baikal – the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake – is sleeping under ice; it turns into a vast ice-rink so solid that cars could travel on its surface. Some parts of the frozen lake are smooth as a polished mirror; some parts have giant icicles that rise up like gothic castles; while some parts are jagged ice fields, as if waves stiffened in its tracks. Winter is also a great time to explore Olkhon Island cliffs’ bottom unreachable in other seasons; explore hidden caves covered in icicles, like ice-sculptured palace fit for Snow Queen.
DAY 01 : Kuala Lumpur – Hong Kong – Vladivostok
Morning depart from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, transit in Hong Kong, catch a connecting flight in late afternoon to Vladivostok, the biggest port city of Russia’s Far East. Arrive at destination post-midnight the following day.
DAY 02 : Vladivostok – Irkutsk (70h 36m train)
Post-midnight arrival, transfer to hotel. Sleep in till late morning, then a walking tour to explore the downtown. Vladivostok is Russia’s most important port in the Far East, and home to Russian Pacific Navy Fleet. Back in the Soviet days, the city was off-limit to foreigners. Morning hike to Eagle’s Nest Hill for panoramic view of Golden Horn Bay. After lunch, visit Revolution Square, the harbour, and Trans-Siberia monument (Vladivostok is the end-terminal of the world’s longest railway). Later, do grocery shopping for the 3 days train ride’s food supplies. Board the Irkutsk-bound train in evening.
DAY 03 : On Board Trans-Siberia Railway
Traveling on the world’s longest railway, heading to the heart of Siberia, it will take about 3 days to reach our destination Irkutsk. Today, the tracks run parallel along the Russian-Sino border. In winter, the landscape en-route is snow covered. The train makes numerous stopovers ranging from 3 to 30 minutes at stations along the way, outdoor temperature could drop to below -20°C. However the train coach is heated, and provides hot drinking water, one could prepare own food on board the train.
DAY 04 : On Board Trans-Siberia Railway
During the long train journey, one could have a good rest; catch up with reading, or write some postcards, play board games, or interact with local fellow passengers. The train continues through the mineral-rich Yablonoi Mountain ranges, which is sparsely inhabited and most settlements are based around mines. The railway goes through tunnel to bypass the heights.
DAY 05 : Irkutsk
The train continues westward, running along the border to the north of Mongolia, sceneries include rows of silver birch along the tracks (the trees shield wind sweeping in from the Siberian plains), the vast and isolated Siberian steppe, and traditional villages with wooden gingerbread houses. As the train approaching Irkutsk, the track runs along the shore of Lake Baikal, view of the vast lake sleeping beneath ice. Late afternoon arrive in Irkutsk, transfer to hostel, then explore downtown on foot, and visit the island-park set in the middle of Angara River.
DAY 06 : Irkutsk
Irkutsk was founded some 350 years ago, first prospered from Gold Rush, then a place for the political exiles (the Decembrists). In 1970, Irkutsk was listed as a protected Russian city to preserve its ancient town planning and wooden architectures. The wooden gingerbread houses are adorned with ornate hand-carved decorations. A walking tour to admire the city architecture wonders. Other attractions include colourful Orthodox churches, and the bustling Central Market. In addition, enjoy tram rides to explore the city.
DAY 07 : Irkutsk – Olkhon Island (Baikal Lake, 6h drive)
Transfer by hired car to Olkhon Island located on Lake Baikal. The drive passes arid Siberian steppe and traditional villages. After lunch, arrive at a pier by Baikal’s lake shore, in winter, the world’s deepest lake is sealed by thick ice. Drive directly across the lake for some 10km on “ice road” to reach the island, upon landing the other shore, another 45 minutes to the island’s biggest village Khuzhir. Late afternoon a walking tour around the village, and take a stroll on the frozen lake.
DAY 08 : Olkhon Island
Take a drive on the frozen Baikal Lake to explore the island’s coastline dotted with towering cliffs, such as the “Three Brothers” and Khoboi Cliffs. Visit the cliffs’ foothill and explore hidden caves full of icicles and interesting ice formations; the caves appear like an ice-sculptured palace of Snow Queen. At the Island’s northern tip, emerges enormous ice plate cracks, translucent ice bricks piled on top of each other on the lake surface. Evening return to Khuzhir, after dinner, one could have a traditional Russian Sauna bath (optional activity).
DAY 09 : Olkhon Island – Irkutsk (6h drive)
After breakfast drive back to Irkutsk, upon arrival check into hostel. Late afternoon, stroll around the city historic district or do some last minute souvenir shopping. At night, suggest to visiting a traditional Russian restaurant for dinner, and enjoy folk cultural show while dining.
DAY 10 : Irkutsk – Hong Kong – Kuala Lumpur
After breakfast, transfer to airport, take a morning flight to Hong Kong for transit, and late afternoon connect to a Kuala Lumpur-bound flight. Arrival at night, end of tour.