Ulan-Ude, founded in 1666, is the capital of the Buryat Autonomous Republic, which in the 13th - 17th centuries was part of the vast Mongolian Empire. The city is a classic example of the Eastern influence in Russia. Near the station are some kiosks where travelers can buy food.
Trans-Mongolian Route Description
The Trans-Mongolian train and Chinese route leaves the main Trans-Siberian train route at Zaudinskiy, 8 km from Ulan-Ude. The distance between Ulan-Ude and the Russian-Mongolian border is 250 km. The Trans-Mongolian express follows an ancient tea-caravan route from China to Russia through Ulan Bataar and further on to Europe. The railway between Ulan-Ude and the border with Mongolia was built in 1940.
This is a village with beautiful surroundings in a suburb of Ulan-Ude. It has a large bread factory. The train makes only a short stop here.
The train goes through a little station at Sayantuy and then crosses the west bank of a river and heads up through Ubukun. The stop is only 2 minutes.
The village is only 6 km away from the large coal mining town of Gusinoozersk. The air is full of coal fumes and coal dust so watch out. The stop is 1-5 minutes.
Gusinoe ozero (Goose lake)
The train goes along the western shore of Gusinoe Ozero (lots of geese used to live here). The town has a Buddhist temple (datsan) built in 1741 which is one of the main datsan in northern Mongolia (although the town is officially part of Russia). The datsan is opened for viewing but the stop is only 1-5 minutes.
Gusinoe ozero town
This is a picturesque area with valleys surrounded by mountains. The train travels along the Selenga River and makes a short stop in Selendum village.
This is a little village which was originally built for an airbase. The stop is 1-5 minutes.
This is a Russian border post where the train stops for 2 or more hours. The stop is from 1-3 hours depending on which train.
The town was built in 1940 on the banks of the Selenga and Orkhnon rivers. The town was named after the Mongolian military leader Suhbaatar. Nowadays it is the capital of the Selenge Province (aimak) with a total population of 20 thousand. This is the Mongolian side of the border; it can be a tough and rude procedure when crossing. All luggage is always carefully inspected solders. Please do not take any photos at this stop, if you are caught, your film and possibly camera will be confiscated. The stop is approximately 1,5 - 3 hours depending on the train.
It takes about 8 hours to travel from Sukhbaatar to Darkhan (380 km). This is the second largest city in Mongolia with a population of 95,5 thousand. Darkhan is an urban city. The south part of Darkhan is quite picturesque. The stop is 30-50 minutes.
This is the capital of Mongolia which was founded in 1639 and was often moved along the Selenga river through Orhon and Tuul until it gained its present location. The city is strategically located on the great tea route between China, Russia and Europe. The train will stop for half an hour in Ulan-Bataar. The train station has many traders that can change money for you but using a bad exchange rate so watch out!
From this point, the train begins to go uphill. Once at the top, when the train starts its way back down, it heads along a twisting section of track and provides a great opportunity for you to take great pictures of the landscape and train itself.
The Chojr station looks like a cake and has a statue of VVT Ertvuntz, the first Mongolian cosmonaut. The town was an airbase during the Soviet period. Chojr is right in the middle of the Gobi Desert and has a population of approximately13 thousand. The train stop is 15 minutes.
This is the Mongolian border with China and is decorated with lights. Here you will have to show your customs declaration and immigration forms. The luggage of Chinese and Mongolia traders and foreign travelers is checked more carefully than others. The whole procedure takes 1-1,5 hours.
It appears that Mongolia and China are in competition to see who will win a prize for the most annoying border service. At the station, the wheels of the train are changed to fit the Chinese tracks. If you will leave the train, please take warm clothes. The stop is approximately 4 hours.
At this point, the train crosses the Great Wall of China for the first time.
This is a large industrial city with a population of over 2 million. The city is known as an industrial center and is home to numerous coal mines. One of the main attractions is a group of Buddhist cave temples – Yungang Grottoes. However, the stop is short - 8 minutes.
At this point, the train travels along the Great Wall. The best view is around the 284 km mark.
Beijing is the capital of China, one of the earliest centers of human civilization. This is the end of your journey or perhaps, just the beginning!