Wander along the Great Wall, stare down the Terracotta Warriors, bargain at Kashgar's Sunday bazaar, stay in a yurt with a Kyrgyz family, marvel at the sights in Bukhara and Samarkand.
Since opening up to travellers, China and its northwestern neighbours don’t seem quite as out-there a destination to some people – but they’re clearly not looking in the right places. This comprehensive 26-day journey from Beijing to Tashkent is one of those experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Picking up in the Chinese capital, you’ll visit the Uyghur province of Xinjiang, learning about the food, culture and history of this minority group. Then, we’ll leave China behind and venture into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to retrace part of the route that helped build empires: The Silk Road. From stunning snow-capped mountains to arid deserts, experience a side of Asia in a way that you’ll barely believe is real.
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Arrive at any time.
Visit the Great Wall of China. Opt to take in a kung fu show or Chinese acrobats show. Day 3 take a guided tour to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Free afternoon for sightseeing before an overnight train to Xi'an.
Orientation walk. Opt to cycle around the city walls, visit the Muslim Quarter or the Big Goose Pagoda. On Day 5, take a guided tour to see the Terracotta Warriors with an included lunch at a local farmer's house. Overnight train to Dunhuang.
Guided visit to the famous Mogao Grottoes. Free afternoon to wander the town centre or visit sights further afield. On Day 7, opt to visit the unique Mingsha Sand Dunes for sunrise, where you can climb the massive dunes and enjoy a camel ride. Enjoy a free day on Day 8 before the train to Turpan.
City tour with a local guide. Learn about the city and the ancient Karez water system. Other sights in Turpan include the Emin minaret, the city mosque and the Turpan museum; outside the city centre offers Jiaohe ruins, Tuyoq, a traditional village and the Flaming Mountains.
Drive to Urumqi. Fly to Kashgar. On Day 11, visit the Sunday bazaar and animal bazaar.
Drive to the border via the Torugart Pass. Continue to Tash Rabat, a small community of Kyrgyz nomads high in the Tian Shan mountain range. Overnight in a yurt.
Enjoy the scenic mountains in the morning then drive to Kochkor to visit women at a carpet-making workshop. Homestay in the community-based tourism (CBT) houses.
Visit the Prejevalskiy Museum. Free time to visit the Dunhan Mosque, the local market and an Orthodox church.
Stay in Cholpon Ata for the night. Free afternoon to hang out on the beach, visit the petroglyphs or take a boat tour on the lake.
Travel to the capital city– Bishkek. Stop en route at the Burana Tower. Free time to shop, visit the city and enjoy the nightlife. On Day 17, opt to go further afield for a hike in Ala Archa National Park (about 40km away).
Fly to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Orientation walk on arrival. On Day 19, take an included sightseeing tour of the city with a local guide. Free time to explore.
Fly to Urgench and drive to Khiva. Enjoy a half-day tour of this ancient city.
Travel day through the desert to Bukhara, one of the most charming cities in the country. On Day 22 take an included city tour with a local guide. Use some free time to visit a local hammam (bathhouse) or pick up some souvenirs.
Orientation walk. Opt to visit the Amir Timur Mausoleum. On Day 24, enjoy a guided tour of the city with a local guide. In the evening, enjoy a plov-cooking demonstration and dinner with a local family.
Travel back to Tashkent for a final evening together.
Depart at any time.
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