Minibuses and normal buses play. The trip is 2 hours, through wonderful scenery. If there is a group of you (6 or more), consider chartering a minibus, sometimes can be cheaper. The buses leave from the bus station, take tram 1 or 2 from the train station and change for tram 4 at the city center.
Price: 50-120 Rubels
Twice a week in summertime a tourist train travel from Sludyanka up till Port Baikal, coming back next day. The 94 km on the Circumbaikal is 8 hours:) Sometimes the train take passangers till Irkutsk. It is possible to flag down the train, but to play it safe, wait it at one of the stations (from Baikal: Ulanovo 26 km, Maritui 47 km, Sharyjalgai 66 km, Kultuk 84 km). The wagon number 4 used to be “local tarif”, so sit down there. I paid nothing, but I travelled on the engine. :) Check my photo travelouge (under construction), and Circumbaikal related Things To Do tips.
Catch the trains traveling daytime; otherwise you miss all the beauty of the Circumbaikal!
Sludyanka – Irkutsk:
Dozens of trains every day. Every Trans-Siberian train stops in Sludyanka. These are much more expensive but faster then the local elektricka trains
Price: Normal trains, third class: 280 RUR, elektricka 30 RUR
Travel time: 2.5 hours on normal trains, 4-5 hours on elektricka
Irkutsk – Olkhon Island by bus
Minibuses (usually new SsangYongs) departs Irkutsk and Khuzir from 7 AM till 17.00 every hour or so in summer. Off-peak season: there are slightly less buses, but at least two per day. The ferry price (between Olkhon and the mainland) is included in the ticket. In Khuzir you can buy tickets at Nikita’s place. In Irkutsk, at the bus station.
Prices: 300 rubels (2007. Augustus)
Travel time: 6-7 hours
The no 071 train leaves Irkutsk on odd days at night arriving two days later in the morning to Severobaikalsk. Not too scenic journey, only the Bratsk Dam on the Angara River worth mentioning.
Backways: train no 071, departes from Severobaikalsk also at early night three times a week.
Timetables: Irkutsk-Severobaikalsk ; Severobaikalsk-Irkutsk
Price: 1800 Rubels (2007, Augustus, 3rd class)
Travel time: 34-35 hours
From Irkutsk to Severobaikalsk: ride an old soviet hydrofoil. There is a hydrofoil service running on the warmer months (from April till September/November, depending on ice conditions) between Irkutsk and Nizhengarsk on the northern shore stopping in various places (Listvyanka, Okhlon Island, Severobaikalsk), twice a week on each directions. In Severobaikalsk, the hydrofoil station is way out of the city (4 km), behind a military harbour. The receptionist in upmarket hotels can give you the exact timetable, but cancellations or lags happen often. Don’t buy your ticket at the hotels only be at the port early in the morning, and pay when you get on to the ship. In Irkustk it is very easy to find the station and get correct information about the departures.
Scenic journey, really worth the extra money instead of the night train. If you are heading to the Olkhon Island from the northern shore, then its just perfect. Beware: the departure point in Olkhon Island is quite far away from Khuzir, so you either pay a 4WD taxi (1000 rubels for the whole car), or you try to hitchike. It can be time-consuming, as the trafic is really sparse.
Price: 1400 rubels all way, 1000 till Olkhon
Travel time: 12 hours
From Tynda (1200 km east from Lake Baikal) to Severeobaikalsk the timetable is much sparser sometimes you have to wait two days for a train. Most trains leave Tynda in the early morning, so they save you one night of accommodation. In summertime sometimes it is quite though to get one of the cheaper platzkcart (third class) tickets. The journey is really scenic, cuts through the wild taiga, you see lakes, rivers and swamps everywhere.
Use this search engine: (Tynda – Severobaikalsk)
Prices: 1200 rubels (2007. Augustus, 3rd class)
Travel time: bit more then 26 hours
Getting to the northern shore, you have couple of options. The cheapest way is definitely by train. At Tayshet (couple of hundred kilometers west from Irkutsk) the Trans-Siberian rails diverge. The Baikal Amur Railway starts its 3400 km squirming till the Pacific Ocean here. There are at least two trains every day from Taishet to Severobaikalsk.
Use this search engine (Taishet – Severobaikalsk):
Price: 1400 Rubels (2007. August, 3rd class)
Travel time: varies between 21hours (fast trains) to 24-30 hours (passenger trains)
You can get to Irkutsk by Trans-Siberian. Dozens of trains serve Irkutsk from every part of Russia. Heading or coming from west is easier, only half of the trains continue its journey east way. For fares and travel times, check my Trans-Siberian VT pages (under construction, coming soon).
The transport hub for Lake Baikal is Irkutsk. You can fly there from various Russian destinations. My friend paid 650$ for a Budapest – Irkutsk fly (Rossiya Airlines). You pay quite the same for every continental European destinaton. Aeroflot tend to be a bit more expensive.
Airlines fly to Irkutsk from Moscow/ St. Petersburgh
KrasAir (and other carriers of AirUnion)
The cheapest way to get to Olkhon island is to take the public bus from Irkutsk. The journey takes between 6 and 8 hours and the ferry is included in the fare. In September 2004 the fare was a bit over 300 Roubles.