One of the main symbols of the Lake Baikal is nerpa (freshwater small seal founded only in the Lake Baikal). That’s why the most popular local souvenir is plush nerpa. You can find plush nerpa at each of numerous souvenir shops in Irkutsk and Listvianka. Another very popular Baikal souvenir (especially at the East coast of the Lake Baikal) if small Buddha figurines made of wood, stone, ceramics. Great authentic souvenirs are also traditional Buryat and Old Believers wooden dolls.
If you stay at the Lake Baikal area this is absolutely necessary to taste the Baikal omul, fish inhabiting at the Lake Baikal only. All local restaurants and cafe offer a lot of original dishes made of omul. If you want to purchase omul as souvenir we kindly recommend you to buy smoked omul in factory package at large groceries and to abstain from purchasing of this delight at markets. Caviar is one of the main gastronomic brands of Russia. Everybody knows sturgeon (black) and salmon (red) caviar. Some gourmets know about pike (white) caviar served for Tsar’s table only in pre-Petrin Russia but practically nobody knows about omul caviar, the main delight of the Baikal area.
Cedar nuts, cedar oil and the roasting of the cedar nuts in chocolate are also very good edible souvenirs from the Lake Baikal area. Unusual and very delicious varenye (traditional whole-fruit preserve widespread in East Europe and in the Orient) made of young cedar cones or cones of other taiga conifers is also recommended. Other great authentic, natural and ecologic gastronomic souvenirs from Siberia are herbal teas and balms infused with local medicinal herbs. Very popular in Baikal region is tea with sagan dayla plant (Adams’s rhododendron).
And, of-course, we recommend you to taste authentic Buryat national cuisine. The most popular Mongolian and Buryat dish is Buuz – steamed dumplings filled with meat (beef with pork or beef with mutton) or its fried version — Khuushuur. Following dishes of Buryat national cuisine are also recommended: Buukhelyor (soup with large pieces of meat), soup with fine noodles, sausages made of offal, blood sausages, Urme (grated bird-cherry grades with sugar and sour cream), Boove (sweet fried buns), traditional green tea with milk.
Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude are situated at the Transsiberian Rail Road and usually the both cities (or one of them) are included to the Great Transsiberian Journeys Moscow – Vladivostok, Moscow – Ulan-Bator, Moscow – Beijing by regular or special chartered trains. Many travelers arrive to the Lake Baikal to take part in active tours (trekking, rafting etc.), Lake Baikal cruises or to stay some days at numerous recreation places at the both coasts of the lake and at the Olkhon Island. But if you decide just to visit this area using flights to Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude from Moscow and other Russian cities or to Irkutsk from Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Tashkent, a lot of great impressions are guaranteed at any season round the year.