Day 1: Irkutsk
First arrive in the town of Irkutsk by Trans Siberian train. I wouldn’t spend more than day and night in Irkutsk. The walk along the Kyrov square by the river bank is really nice in the night time.
Day 2 – 3: Arshan
There is a mini bus to Arshan from Irkutsk at 8:30 in the morning (check the schedule at the main bus station) which takes about 4-5 hours. The ride itself is very scenic. Once you get to Arshan you can find the center is small and easily walkable. Arshan is one of my memorable visits in Russia.
A couple of highlights in Arshan.
- Free Carbonated mineral water – Ask the locals where to find the local mineral springs. It is said that this water is so good it can cure your eyes. I took two big bottles and filled up with natural mineral water. I can’t believe it is free. I hope it stays free.
- Waterfall – there is a nice waterfall from the center. You can walk there easily by foot. Entrance fee is less than $2.
- Mineral Hot spring bath – You can reserve a bath for less than $15.
Day 4: Slyudyanka / Port Baikal
From Arshan village there is supposed to be an early morning bus at 7:30 to Slyudyanka. But the bus I took didn’t go there directly instead I got dropped off in the middle and I had to change to another mini van. Make sure to tell the driver you want to go to Slyudvyanka Train station.
The Circum baikal train ride that goes along Lake Baikal starts from Slyudyanka. The train starts at 14:20 every day. Once you reach Slyudyanka I recommend going to the train station immediately to get your tickets. But please be aware the ticket window is closed until noon. Use the waiting time to buy a sandwich and coffee for the train ride. Once you are on the train there are no options for food. This historic train ride is rather slow (like 20km per hour) but very scenic.
The train passes through a few bridges, beaches and interesting villages. The landscape is changing as the train strolls along Lake Baikal.
The Circum-Baikal is about 102 km of railway.
Once you get to Port Baikal you have to get on a small boat to across the river Angara to Listvyanka. My suggestion is to find others to share the boat ride with you to reduce the cost of the ride. Once you are on the other side of the river catch a taxi to go to the main center of Listvyanka to find your hostel/hotel.
On the Circum Baikal Train
Day 5: Listvyanka
A small town on the shores of Lake Baikal, Listvyanka is a touristy destination and last stop in our journey in the Lake Baikal region. It was hazy and magical in the evening with sights of fishing boats coming back after a long day out in the lake.