Central Asia on the Silk Road

26 days,Beijing to Tashkent

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.

What's Included

  • Great Wall entrance (Beijing). Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City guided tour. Terracotta Warriors tour (Xi'an). Mogao Grottoes (Dunhuang). Turpan guided sightseeing tour. Sunday bazaar and animal bazaar visit (Kashgar). Torugart Pass (China/Kyrgyzstan border). Yurt stay with local meals. Carpet-making workshop visit. Karakol village tour. Burana Tower visit. Bishkek orientation walk. Tashkent city tour. Khiva ancient city tour (half-day). Bukhara city tour. Samarkand city tour. Plov-making demonstration with dinner. Internal flights. Border crossing and language support. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
  • 22 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners. (Allow USD240-360 for meals not included.)
  • Hotels/guesthouses (19 nts), sleeper trains (3 nts), community-based tourism/homestays (2 nts, shared facilities), yurt (1 nt, multi-share).
  • Train, private van/bus, walking, plane, camel, metro
  • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
  • Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12

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Map of the route for Click to enlarge
Places Visited
Day 1 Beijing

Arrive at any time.

Days 2-3 Beijing (2B)

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.

Days 4-5 Xi'an (1B,1L)

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.

Days 6-8 Dunhuang (2B)

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.

Day 9 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.

Days 10-11 Kashgar (2B)

Drive to Urumqi. Fly to Kashgar. On Day 11, visit the Sunday bazaar and animal bazaar.

Day 12 Torugart Pass/Tash Rabat (1B, 1D)

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.

Days 13 Kochkor (1B, 1D)

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.

Day 14 Karakol (1B)

Visit the Prejevalskiy Museum. Free time to visit the Dunhan Mosque, the local market and an Orthodox church.

Day 15 Cholpon Ata (Lake Issyk-Kul) (1B,1D)

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.

Days 16-17 Bishkek (2B)

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).

Days 18-19 Tashkent (2B)

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.

Day 20 Khiva (1B)

Fly to Urgench and drive to Khiva. Enjoy a half-day tour of this ancient city.

Days 21-22 Bukhara (2B)

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.

Days 23-24 Samarkand (2B, 1D)

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.

Day 25 Tashkent (1B)

Travel back to Tashkent for a final evening together.

Day 26 Tashkent (1B)

Depart at any time.

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