Operating since 1988 and registered in Hong Kong and Beijing, Monkeyshrine is the most experienced operator specializing solely in Trans-Siberian train trips and tours. We pioneered an online Trans-Siberian Website for travellers in April 1997. We had offices in Beijing and Hong Kong and local partners in Ulaanbaatar, Irkutsk, Ekaterinburg and Moscow, as well as guides and agents in other cities across Russia.
Since 2018, Monkeyshrine is a registered trading name of The Russia Experience Ltd in the UK, cutting transfer costs for our guests and offering the additional insurance of bonded payments.
In the field
We understand it is important for all our staff to know our product, but also to visit the area frequently to keep on top of changes, and find new tours. Some of our fact finding trips: Matt last visited our various partners in Mongolia in September 2016 and travelled to Karakorum and Ugii Lake. The results are reflected in the wide and interesting variety of programs we offer in Mongolia!
Andy explored the north of Lake Baikal and BAM Railway in August 2013. He also made an evaluation trip to Mongolia in June 2013. Matt went to Russia in the cold winter of February 2012 where he visited Lake Baikal during Epiphany, our Siberian destination of Krasnoyarsk and then headed west to Moscow and St Petersburg. His reaction, I love Russia in the snow.
André ‘monkey-chief’ made an in depth tour to Mongolia and Russia in September 2009 and a research trip to Tuva in Siberia in April 2012. He was again several times in Russia in 2014 and 2015, mostly around the amazing Lake Baikal, and in Mongolia in July 2017. Kelvin (Hong Kong office) made the trip for the first time in December 2006.
Our last adventure started the 7th of May 2019. Within the 30 days of a Russian visa, we covered over 11,000km from Vladivostok to Moscow, with stops in Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Kazan, St Petersburg and flew home from Moscow the 5th of June. Me, André, travelled with my wife Lily and friends Hans and Lah. Hans Kemp is a renowned Dutch photographer who’s work will soon improve this website, while Lah kept a blog on her Facebook page.
Despite our prominence in the field, we still remain a small company with just a handful of permanent staff, all of whom have first hand experience of the various Trans-Siberian train trips and local specialist knowledge. In no particular order here are the profiles of our key staff members:
Matt comes from Australia and has spent the last 15 years traveling, working and guiding around the world. He enjoys bringing different places and cultures to others, and sharing his wanderlust for a life on the road or rail. ‘The secret to discovering new places and people is to leave your expectations and preconceptions at home’. With his expertise and first hand knowledge, Matt will create in detail your perfect journey!
Oxford born and bred Andy has a background in tourism. He arrived in China in 1999 and spent his first 9 years in Beijing co-running the Monkey office, before elevating himself to a more flexible role as the webmaster. He has been to Mongolia and Russia on numerous occasions, always on the Trans-Siberian and always in winter – making his favourite place skiing in the little known Baikalsk region. When not working, he enjoys travelling the rest of Asia and the world trying the local food, and photography. In 2015, Andy moved his family to Oxford and is running the family hotel with his mom. www.riverhotel.co.uk/
Andy is still assisting us as a consultant.
André first travelled on the Trans-Siberian in 1988 and started selling tickets for the return journey to Budapest from a backpackers hotel in Beijing. After Mongolia’s Independence in 1989 André helped develop grass roots tourism there with a local partner and sent the first independent tourists to Mongolia at that time. Mongolia is still André’s preferred holiday destination.
Kelvin is our Hong Kong office manager and is the longest serving Monkey, working full-time since 1993. Married to a Chinese wife, who is his third love after drinking red wine and gambling at Happy Valley. He is also our finance director! You know it makes sense.
Looking after you and all our affairs in Beijing, Alice is an indispensable member of our team. She juggles with tickets, hotels, transfers, local guides and all of you while in Beijing!