Why travel to Irkutsk?

First

People care about how the city looks and feels.

It is really one of the most beautiful cities in Russia. Maybe because it is a well-traveled location for the last 100 years since Transsiberian Railroad was finished. Even before it had more attention from the government, church, and people because everybody understood that this place is unique. Travelers stopped here more than anywhere in Russia to visit Lake Baikal shore, except the two capital cities.

It feels like local people always wanted their city to look pleasant and in some way decorated. It is the tradition of Irkutsk.

Even when you see these destroyed wooden houses you can imagine easily how beautiful they once were and how skilled and creative were the builders.

The details of the churches are so interesting and some of them are almost ancient.

Second

Beautiful nature right in the city.

Angara River is one of the cleanest rivers in Russia. Enjoy a boat ride around the island and learn about the city from the water. Very nice solution on a hot summer day. There are several islands in the center of the city. Some of them are connected by the excursion railroad. Some of them have restaurants. One has an observation weel.

Third

Meet interesting people and have unique experiences.

People from all over the world travel to see Lake Baikal. All types of transportation. Starting from people who just like to walk finishing with exotic ways like hot air balloon to travel across Baikal, or submarine to go to Lake’s depths.

All year round Baikal is well-traveled and different travel-related events happen all the time organized by companies and individuals. Scientists, schoolchildren, bikers, hikers, runners, religious groups, sportsmen, artists, name any, there is always a chance to meet interesting people around this magical Northern Sacred Sea of Russian Siberia.

And of course, it is great to learn how local people live in this hard climate.

The main reason is that Irkutsk is near Lake Baikal. From Irkutsk, it is just a 1-hour car ride to the shore of the lake to the most popular Listvyanka settlement.

But Irkutsk is also worth of visit on its own. A good example of Siberian city.

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Best Train Food Ever

Tasty, healthy and super easy to prepare. Get it as soon as you reach Irkutsk city. Great for all kinds of travel. Fall in love with your Trans-Siberian Train even more.

The following information significantly improves the quality of your train travel and other trips in Russia, Mongolia, and China.

Made in Irkutsk, here space technologies meet the best culinary traditions.

Made in the downtown of Irkutsk. Factory’s high tech kitchen is inside a traditional Siberian mansion. Design of the 19th century.

Factory of Healthy Food (Irkutsk)

The Product

It is a soft container 15 x 20 cm (6 x 7 in) made of hard metal-plastic material. Designed to keep the meal inside for 1 year.

The meal that is inside is ready to eat.

Menu

Soups

300 grams per pack

  • Borscht
  • Pea soup with smoked meat
  • Mushroom cream-soup
  • Chichen soup
  • Kharcho
  • Lentil soup
  • French cream-soup
  • Spinach cream-soup

Main meal

300 grams per pack

  • Pilaf with beef
  • Chicken with vegetables
  • Salmon in cream sauce
  • Pork stew
  • Buckwheat with vegetables and liver
  • Buckwheat with vegetables and mushrooms
  • Korean chicken stomachs
  • Thai chicken wings
  • Sweet-and-sour chicken and pineapple
  • Chakhokhbili
  • Lobio

Pasta

250 grams per pack

  • Carbonara
  • Bolognese
  • Mushrooms
  • Teriyaki

Preparation

Just warm up the container. It is super easy, but don’t use a microwave oven, the packing material contains metal.

Boiling in water is a good option

Tip: On the train, use a hot water boiler which is in every wagon and is free for all. Just put packs on top of the boiler, 3 minutes should be enough, 4 packs usually fit just perfect. Keep them up there for more time, if you like your soup to be hot. Be careful, in some trains the top of the boiler is very hot!

It tastes really good

More information

A unique product, cooked from natural ingredients. No chemical preservatives are used. It is the technology of cooking and packing that keeps food good for 1 year.

The package will keep your food safe in a wide range of temperatures from -30 to +50 Celcius. The material is hard to break and it can be transported in very difficult conditions.

Where to get

In Irkutsk, this product is sold in Slata (Слата) supermarkets. They are located all over the city and usually work 24 hours every day. Angara Hotel, Karl Marx Steet, 130-th District all these and many other locations have Slata supermarket where Factory’s products can be found.

Factory’s stand in Slata supermarket

Welcome to visit Factory of Healthy Food, doors are open from AM 10:00 to PM 6:00 every working day, closed on Saturday and Sunday. Availability is usually much better at the Factory and the price is lower.

Russian name: Фабрика Здоровой Еды
Pronunciation: Fábrika Zdoróvoi Yedí
Meaning: Factory of Healthy Food

Address: Тимирязева, 5Б (Timiryazeva 5B)

Enjoy your meal.

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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.

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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.

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Lake Baikal Quick Start

Irkutsk

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 tours 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.

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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.

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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:

https://greatbaikaltrail.org/en/tropi/

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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.

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Frozen Lake Baikal 2019 Photos

Small collection of photos, taken during the winter season on Lake Baikal, that can give a quick peek on what we are talking about here.

Why we love winter more than summer in Siberia? Life starts in Siberia when winter comes every year, it opens opportunities that summer cannot provide. Ice roads, fresh air, spirit of true adventure. Historiacally hard and terrible, and nowadays easy and fun.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/PQnN7mt7UY7ZdFhM6

This is a shared google album with 455 Photos inside

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