Digitally-guided Irkutsk

During these days everybody has a powerful tool in their hand. And it comes in very handy when you travel. How can you travel without it now?

Now its the new level. We have apps which become guides to the cities we visit. And this is great!

All these products are still kind of raw, and time will pass when they will be full of content, or other powerful players will enter the market.

Here is an example 1

And here is an example 2

Check out two different approaches. Both projects have apps both for Android and Apple.

I like the idea that anybody can create his own tour. It is like the youtube for local guides. Let’s see how it is developing.

Omul fish

Omul is the type of fish that lives in Lake Baikal. It is an endemic species. And this is the most popular and the tastiest fish from the Lake.

Grilled Omul

On this image, you see the grilled Omul. A very fast and delicious way to cook fish from Lake Baikal.

Russian Spicy Mustard

There is not much spicy food in Russia. Usually, people just add fresh garlic or onions to their meals. But be careful, homemade spicy mustard is as spicy as Japanese wasabi. Usually spicy mustard is served as a sauce for lard or meat jelly. Some people who like a lot of spicy put mustard on a piece of bread.

Try just a little bit in the beginning. Because if used too much it may hurt a lot. Sometimes people even cry and become and have a red face.

A spoonful of spicy mustard

Usually, 1 tablespoon is enough for several people. The potency of mustard is defined by its freshness. If mustard is purchased in the shop it will never be as spicy as fresh homemade.

Taxi in Russia

How to use taxi services in Russia? Is there Uber in Russia?

There is a very simple solution. Using the application on your smartphone you can easily call for a taxi in almost every city in Russia. It is very similar to Uber, it is called Yandex Taxi. Application is available for Android and iOS.

Yandex is one of Russia’s top IT companies, they develop services similar to Google. It is a trustworthy application which is very popular right now in all Russia.

Don’t worry, it is well translated into English. Prepare small change to pay for your rides without extra, because often drivers don’t have enough change. Or simply use the card to pay online in the application. Payment happens when you finish your ride, and you can even tip the driver with one tap on the screen if you like.

Enjoy your rides in Russia.

Baikal Jet Fest

On August 2 and 3, 2019, an international aquabike festival will be held.

The second international Baikal Jet Fest aquabike festival will be held on August 2 and 3 in Irkutsk, in the water area near the Angara icebreaker. Amateurs, athletes, reigning champions and freestyle stars will come to Baikal from 15 countries to show their skills and exciting stunts on jet skis and flyboards.

Russia will be represented by more than 40 athletes from all over the country, including Primorye. And the festival will end with a unique night flyboard show with flamethrowers and concerts of stars.

Their participation in the event was confirmed by the world stars of a jetski: Rashid Ali Al-Mulla (UAE), Alessander Lenzi (Brazil), Tanner Thomas (USA), Niels Willems (Belgium), Abraham Hochstrasser (Mexico), and world champion Lee Stone ( Great Britain).

Competitions will be held in three spectacular disciplines:

  • Circuit racing (race with a common start),
  • Slalom (time trial with two athletes),
  • Freestyle (demonstration of tricks).

On the official website of the festival you can still have time to apply for participation. For the audience there are many entertainment areas that will operate on both days of the festival. Active fans are waiting for the SUP RACE BJF support race. You can participate alone, as a couple, as a company or as a family. Register online at A series of workshops awaits professional athletes from Nikita Martyanov, 13-time champion of Russia, European champion and bronze medalist of the World Wakeboard Championship, as well as the current world champion in aquabike Lee Stone. Anyone can attend the event as a spectator for free from 11:00 in the morning until the evening. See you on August 2 and 3!

Lake Baikal Quick Start


Traveling to Russia it is necessary to visit Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal trips usually start in Irkutsk city which is 70 kilometers away from the Lake. Irkutsk is located in the middle of Russia, almost equally remote from West and East ends.

Moscow to Irkutsk

It is very popular to take Transsiberian Railroad from West of Russia to Asia. Usually from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia or even Beijing in China, with various stops along the way. And Irkutsk is the most popular because of Lake Baikal.

Irkutsk to Asia

The same route but backward from China and Mongolia to Europe is also very popular.

Irkutsk is accessible by airplane from Moscow, Bangkok, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. Also from other major cities in Russia.

Lake Baikal

There are several most popular destinations on Lake Baikal available from Irkutsk city:

  1. Listvyanka settlement
  2. Olkhon Island
  3. Circumbaikal Railroad
  4. Arshan (Tunka valley)
Most popular destinations on Lake Baikal

Listvyanka is an only 1-hour drive from Irkutsk. Located right on the shore of Lake Baikal. Very popular village especially on weekend. Irkutsk Free Tour offers 1-day tour to Lake Baikal, that includes a visit to Listvyanka.

Olkhon Island is a very beautiful location that gives a presentation of all Lake Baikal nature and types of landscapes. about 6-hour drive from Irkutsk. Check out itineraries of 1 and more days tours to the island. As well as there is a self-guided tour to Olkhon Island. Olkhon Island is the number one location in this area. Extremely popular in summer and winter season.

Circumbaikal Railroad is a small railroad along the shore of the lake, it is one of the most beautiful railroad rides in the world. There is a nice 2-day tour to this railroad with an overnight in a village on the shore of Lake Baikal.

Arshan and Tunka valley are popular among local people due to the clear nature, mountain air, and clean waters. The abundance of mineral hot and cold water springs. Irkutsk Free Tour offers 1- and 2-day tour to Arshan, and it looks like it is the most popular during recent years.

This is it for the most popular locations on Lake Baikal. Feel free to ask questions. We will talk about less popular but also great locations in future posts.

Irkutsk to Lake Baikal

Irkutsk city is only 70 km away from Listvyanka, a small settlement on the shore of Lake Baikal. Listvyanka is the most popular destination, because of the distance, the most crowded in summer. Don’t be scared, there are still moments when a traveler can enjoy a quiet moment with nature.

Ship near Listvyanka

Usually, it is a day trip to Listvyanka from Irkutsk. Guided in a private car or solo trip on a public minibus. Both can be fun and exciting if this is the first time for you to meet with Baikal.

It is even possible to go to cape Khoboy on Olkhon Island in 1 day and see the widest place of Baikal. It will be a tough trip, about 15 hours, but it is worth it if you are ok with a lot of car time.

The road to Olkhon Island itself is an adventure. Steppes and mountains, rivers and small lakes on the way. 2-kilometer ferry ride across Olkhon Gates straight and then an offroad adventure on the Island.

Cape Khoboy

Outdoor picnic lunch in a beautiful location makes the day. 360 degrees panoramic views are mindblowing.

Another one-day destination is Arshan settlement 120 km away from the south shore of Lake Baikal. Arshan is located at the feet of the mountains that form part of Sayan mountain range.

Road to the south from Irkutsk to Kultuk village is also called Kultuk road, one of the hardest part of the federal road from Moscow to Vladivostok. It is the beginning of the federal road Baikal, from Irkutsk to Chita city with Ulan-Ude city in the middle.

Road to Arshan

Road to Arshan from Kultuk goes through Tunka valley, surrounded by mountains it connects Baikal and Mongolian Lake Khuvsugul. The Sayan Mountains in the north and Khamar Daban Mountain range in the south. Mountains surround the valley of the sleeping volcanoes, mountain rivers, and healing water springs, this makes the location popular among Russian people.

Evening Irkutsk Free Tour

Good news, everyone. Now we have additional time for Irkutsk Free Tour. You can book the tour or join one that starts at PM 6:00 Explore the city during the end of the day. It is a rush hour in Irkutsk and it gets quiet on the streets after 2 hours. Enjoy an interesting walk through the city with a local guide following morning Irkutsk Free Tour itinerary with a little change. Book now online.

Great Baikal Trail

One of the best things to do at Lake Baikal is to go for a hike. In this case, everyone must know about the Great Baikal Trail. Result of this organization is the system of trails around the Lake. Specially created for eco-tourists, this provides a great opportunity for people who like to discover nature on foot.

Here is the list to trails and description:

Arshan Holy Waters

Arshan is a small town, south of Irkutsk. The road to Arshan goes through Kultuk town, the most southern part of Lake Baikal. Remains of Circum Baikal railroad go from here to Baikal village by the very shore of the lake. From Kultuk we turn right and using the road that leads to Western Mongolia we reach Arshan village in the foundation of Sayan Mountains. Only 150 kilometers is left to reach Russian-Mongolian border, which is so tiny in terms of Russia.

Kultuk town

Arshan is a place in the Buryatiya Republic, it is another region next to the Irkutsk region. Local people are called Buryat People. Buryats are relatives to Mongolian people, but they have their own language, customs, and way of life. The abundance of rivers, lakes, and forests made these people different from the nomads of the Mongolian steppe. Also here is the northern territories of Tibetan Buddhism culture. Local faith is based on the teachings and wisdom of Buddha mixed with shamanism. Russian population in majority refer to the Christian religion. Russian Orthodox tradition is dominating with magnificent churches and rich temples.

Arriving to Arshan

On arrival to Arshan, we usually have lunch in the local Buryat cafe. The meals are very simple but fresh and well cooked. Food, in general, is mild and not spicy, but hot and soy sauce usually present on the table. Simple lamb soup with little bits of vegetables. ‘Pozy’ which look like big dumplings with a mix of pork and beef meat inside are steam cooked and are eaten with hands. Also different kind of pastry with meat or other stuffings. Regular salads can be easily found anywhere. Also side dishes like potato, pasta or rice. Berry juice with water and sugar is very popular, also tea, coffee, beer…

Kyngarga river waterfall

After lunch, we head to visit holy waters of Kyngarga river with mineral springs all over the place. Roaring river with high rocks and forest on both shores. There is also a nice trekking opportunity to go and see the waterfalls up in the mountain. 2 kilometers total there and back. It is a great walk after a long ride in a car.

Then our road leads to the buddhist temple of Bodhidharma. Very beautiful location, calm and peaceful place. Small shop with Buddhist souvenirs and ritual items. It is possible to meet Lamas — locals who take care of the temple, some of them are from Mongolia and Tibet.

The next big thing on this trip is to swim in the hot mineral water pool. Zhemchug village is the location near Arshan where Hot water baths were built in Soviet Union times and now it is a popular place for local people and travelers from all over the world to go and experience a hot mineral water bath. The water is not extremely hot. It is recommended to take a bath there not more than 15 minutes. There are no public showers at the spot. Everything is organized in a very poor manner, but it is manageable and actually is a lot of fun. Entrance fee is 250 RUB per person. It is possible to take a swim at any time of the year. Swimming in winter is much better: fewer people and more exciting. After swimming, you will feel like you went to a sauna. It is a very relaxing effect.

There is more to explore

There is a Space observation facility, beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes and vast endless valley which leads to Mongolia. Spots with mind-blowing panoramic views. Wild nature with rich healthy air. Street market with local and Mongolian goods.

The recommended time span is 2 days total and 1 night in Arshan. But it is possible to go there and back in one day. The tour is available all year on any day.