Book Now
Exploring Uzbekistan

The Classic Silk Road Tour – Beijing to Tashkent

Travel through China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on this epic journey tracing the route of the legendary Silk Road.  Visit desert oases and Tibetan monasteries on the way to Dunhuang where you will see the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas and fabled Kashgar before crossing the border into Kyrgyzstan at the 3752m Torugart Pass. In Kyrgyzstan visit Nayrn, Bishkek and Ala-Archa National Park as you continue your journey.  Flying to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, travel on to the world famous cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, undisputed gems of Islamic architecture.

Your Itinerary

DAY 1 - WELCOME TO BEIJING

On arrival in the Chinese capital  you will be greeted by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon enjoy a short orientation tour of Beijing and visit the Summer Palace and enjoy a walk in the delightful gardens by Kunming Lake. This palace, in the north of the city, was used as the official summer residence by the Qing Dynasty and has beautiful landscaped gardens, hills and lakes.  In the evening dine on the city’s culinary speciality – Beijing Roast Duck.

DAY 2 - FLY TO LANZHOU & DRIVE TO XIAHE

After breakfast this morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Lanzhou, the largest city and the capital of Gansu Province in north western China. Continue our journey and drive to the city of Xiahe that is home to Labrang Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Founded in 1709, this is one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. On arrival check into your hotel for two nights.

DAY 3 - REMOTE MONASTERY & BUDDHIST CULTURE

Xiahe is a remote and wild land that lies along the Daxia and Zhao rivers at an average elevation of 3000m on the northeast edge of the Tibetan Plateau. This area gives visitors a chance to experience Tibetan Buddhism outside without travelling into Tibet itself. In the morning visit Labrang Monastery, one of the six great monasteries of the Yellow Hat sect. Your guide will show you round the Assembly hall and other temples. This afternoon it is only a short drive away to another highlight – scenic Sangke Grassland.  This area is bordered by the Daxia River and is famous for its excellent pasture and regular Buddhist ceremonies.  Admire the lush plains where herds of yak roam and visit a local family to learn more about the way of life  in this remote part of the world.

DAY 4 - EXPLORE BUDDHA CAVES & TRAIN TO DUNHUANG

Today drive back to Lanzhou, visiting en route the famous Binglingshi caves. The Thousand Buddha caves of Binglinshi were carved over a period of 1,500 years and culminate at a large natural cavern where walkways wind up the rock face to hidden cliff caves and the giant Maitreya Buddha which is over 27 metres tall. Later continue onwards to Lanzhou and head to the station to take the overnight train to Dunhuang. Your tickets are booked in soft-sleeper class.

DAY 5 - VISIT DUNHUANG’S FAMOUS MOAGO CAVES

You will be met at the station by your local guide who will check you into your hotel.  Dunhuang is a fascinating city full of historical and cultural riches.  After checking in, visit Moago caves – known as the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas – which are home to fantastic Buddhist murals and art.  Begun in 366AD by a monk travelling along the Silk Road they were rediscovered in 1907 and are now world famous.  There are nearly 500 caves and over 2000 coloured statues. After visiting the caves it is a short drive south to Crescent Lake, a beautiful clear water lake set in a desert oasis.  Also see Crescent Moon Spring, another nearby oasis.

DAY 6 - JOURNEY WEST TO XINJINAG

There is a huge amount to see in the  Mogoa Cave complex and it rewards a second visit so today return to the caves and also visit the Wesern Caves which has similar frescoes to the ones at Mogoa but are thought to be even older. After exploring these caves which were excavated from the cliff that runs along the north bank of the Dang River, drive to Liuyuan and board the overnight train to Turpan where you will be booked into a soft-sleeper cabin.

DAY 7 - TURPAN & FLAMING MOUNTAINS

Turpan is located in the Turpan Basin at the depth of 154 m below sea level and known sometimes as “Fire Land”, because it is the hottest city in China and one of the driest places in the world.  After checking into your hotel go with your guide and visit Tuyaq.  Then go and see the ruins of Gaochang which became the capital of the Kingdom of Gaochang under the Han dynasty. Visit the Astana tombs and the Bezeklik Buddha caves which are decorated with wonderful murals

DAY 8 - OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO KASHGAR

Today you will take the train to Kashgar but first have a look at one of China’s great water projects – the Karez water system.  This network of irrigation channels dates back 2000 years and you can learn about its history at the Karez museum.  Also see the 44m Emin Minaret before transferring to the station for the overnight train to Kashgar.

DAY 9 - GUIDED TOUR OF KASHGAR

Located between the Taklamakan Desert and the Karakoram Mountains on the western edge of Xinjiang Province, Kashgar was once where three main routes of the Silk Road crossed and to this day takes advantage of its geographical position and has become a modern, developed city.  Go with your guide on a sightseeing tour, visiting the Abajo Mausoleum which holds five generations of this family were once rulers of the city.  Wander the narrow streets of the old town and see Id Kah Mosque – the largest in China.  It was built in 1442 and 20,000 worshippers can pray together

DAY 10 - KASHGAR’S SUNDAY MARKET

Spend the day in this historic city exploring the streets and discovering local life.  You will see farmers and merchants who have travelled from the surrounding areas trading and arcades full of metal workers and craftsmen making and selling every conceivable item from golden pots to exotic musical instruments.  After you have spent the day among the bustling throngs, have a meal with a family in their house.

DAY 11 - DRIVE ALONG THE KARAKORUM HIGHWAY

Today you will be driving along another famous route – the Karakoram Highway south to Lake Karakul.  Along the way you will have fantastic views of the Pamir mountains and you will stop at Opal Village, a summer resort of the Karakhanid Khanate, visit the  bazaar in the ancient town. Karakul Lake is an alpine lake 3600m above sea level and the surrounding peaks are snow-capped year round.  Have a picnic near the lake and either hike or take a camel or horse ride (optional) in this beautiful area before returning to Kashgar in the late afternoon.

DAY 12 - CROSS THE TOURUGART PASS TO NARYN (KYRGYZSTAN)

Leaving China head over the 3752m Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains into Kyrgyzstan. Once over the border drive to Nayrn, stopping en route at the Tash Rabat which is famous for its Silk Road caravanserais, an extensive network of traveler’s inns along old caravan roads. These were either located at cities along the way or as outposts of civilization in isolated regions, providing shelter from the hostile natural environment and from bandits. Naryn lies on the banks of a river overlooked by mountains and after checking into your hotel have a home cooked dinner.

DAY 13 - JOURNEY TO BISHKEK

This morning drive to Bishkek stopping at the south shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, Tokmok and visiting the restored 11th century Burana Tower and ancient stone memorials. Continue to
Bishkek where you say overnight.

DAY 14 - GUIDED TOUR OF BISHKEK

After breakfast enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Bishkek including the main square called Ala Too (formerly Lenin Square) where you can watch the guard changing ceremony, the State History Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and Frunze House Museum. Frunze was the famous Bolshevik general after whom the city was named until Kygyz independence in 1991. Stroll around Bishkek’s Osh Bazaar. Later head to Ala-Archa National park for a excursion into the mountains, with a mountain picnic. This is an area of incomparable scenic beauty with green valleys, fir forests and high glaciers. Your guide will take you on walks along pristine trails by streams and waterfalls with magnificent views over Ala Archa Canyon. Return to Bishkek where you stay overnight.

DAY 15 - FLY TO TASHKENT (UZBEKISTAN)

Fly to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Upon arrival you will be met by your private driver and guide who will then drive you through the bustling capital to your centrally located hotel where you can relax after your flight. Today with your guide you will explore the Old Quarter of Tashkent with the impressive Khast Imam Complex and see Barak Khan Madrasah, Till Sheikh Mosque and mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi. There is also time to wander around Chorsu Bazaar, before taking the Metro to the city centre and walk around Tamerlanes’s central square, Independence Square and visit the Museum of Applied Arts.

DAY 16 - TRAIN TO BUKHARA & EXPLORE THE MEDIEVAL CITY

This morning transfer to Tashkent north train station for the Afrosiyob passenger train to Bukhara. After checking into your accommodation and lunch, enjoy a guided city tour walking through the narrow streets of the old Bukhara. One of the great trading cities along the Silk Road, Bukhara’s layout and architecture bring its past to life and make for a truly fascinating visit. Visit the stunning Chor Minor Madrassa, the Ark Citadel, residence of the Emirs of Bukhara and the Zindan prison in which two 19th century British officers were kept before being executed in the Registan Square. Continue to Bolo-Khauz Mosque, the Ismael Samani Mausoleum dating from the 10 th century and Chashmai Ayub. Finish the day with a traditional Uzbek dinner in a family-run restaurant where you will experience welcoming local culture and have the opportunity to try unleavened bread and rich mutton dishes.

DAY 17 - CONTINUE DISCOVERING BUKHARA

Spend the morning continuing your exploration of Bukhara. Discover the Poi Kaslyan complex featuring the Kalyan mosque, the 17th Century Kalyan minaret and Miri Arab madrassah. The minaret was used as a ‘lighthouse in the desert’ for camel caravans arriving from the sands of the Kyzyl Kum. Also visit Ulugbeg and Abdulazizkhan madrassahs, Trade Domes, ancient Silk Market, and Magokki Attori mosque. Return to the Lyabi-Khauz Square surrounded by madrassahs and crowded tea houses, where the remainder of the day is at leisure to wander around the old town.

DAY 18 - TRAIN TO THE SILK ROAD CITY OF SAMARKAND

This morning head to the last Emir’s Summer Palace, known by the poetic name Sitora-I Mokhi -Khossa, which dates from the beginning of the 20th century. Mid-morning transfer to the train station and board the Sharq fast train to Samarkand and on arrival transfer to your hotel.

DAY 19 - FULL DAY TOUR OF SAMARKAND

Samarkand is one of the Silk Road’s most evocative cities, at one time Tamerlaine’s capital and full of architectural masterpieces. Today’s full day tour includes the ancient  settlement of Afrosiab and museum which is situated on the spurs of Chupan-Ata hills to the north-east of present-day Samarkand. According to the legend, it was here, on the banks of the river Siab, that the Turanian king and hero Afrosiab, a character of the folk epic ‘Shahnama’, founded the town that became the capital of Sogdiana. Then continue to Ulugbek’s observatory, Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by Tamerlaine for his favourite wife. Gur Amir the mausoleum of Great Tamerlaine and the famous Registan Square, with gleaming mosaics, detailed minarets, and with blue tiled madrassas on three sides. There will also be time to make a stop at the noisy and colourful Oriental Bazaar-Siya.

DAY 20 - RETURN TO TASHKENT

Your second day of excursions include the Shah-i-Zinda mausoleum complex, where a medieval street is lined with sparkling blue coloured tombs and mausoleums on each side that were built in the 14 th and 15 th century. Later drive out of the city to Konigil village to experience a paper-making workshop. For many years, Samarkand has been widely revered as the centre of high-quality paper manufacture. The workshop is run by a talented master, who will demonstrate how the rind of the mulberry tree is transformed into crisp sheets of paper. Later head back to Samarkand and catch the late afternoon Afrosiab train to Tashkent. On arrival you will be met at the station and driven to your hotel.

DAY 21 - DEPART TASHKENT

After breakfast your Silk Road tour ends and this morning you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home.

-

DETAILS:

This itinerary costs from £4990 per person B&B based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers but not international flights.

You can get flights from as little as £790 per person return and do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

What's included?

INCLUDED:
  • Prices start from £4990 per person
  • 17 nights accommodation on B&B basis
  • 3 nights overnight soft sleeper train
  • Accompanied by an English speaking guide throughout.
  • Private vehicle and transfers
  • Internal flights (three)
  • All entrance fees for excursions
  • Lunch on Day 11
  • Dinner on Days 12, 15 & 17
  • Local taxes
  • Meals for guides and drivers
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are financially protected
Make a booking

Travel through China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on this epic journey tracing the route of the legendary Silk Road.  Visit desert oases and Tibetan monasteries on the way to Dunhuang where you will see the Cave of a Thousand Buddhas and fabled Kashgar before crossing the border into Kyrgyzstan at the 3752m Torugart Pass. In Kyrgyzstan visit Nayrn, Bishkek and Ala-Archa National Park as you continue your journey.  Flying to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, travel on to the world famous cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, undisputed gems of Islamic architecture.

Tashkent
Tashkent is one of the oldest cities on the Great Silk Road between China and Europe and the capital of Uzbekistan. You will be able to explore the Old Quarter of Tashkent with its impressive Khast Imam Complex, wander around Chorsu Bazaar and take the metro to the city centre.

Nukus
The remote town of Nukus is only a short flight away from Tashkent and is surrounded by three deserts - the Kara Kum, Kyzyl Kum and Ustyurt. It is home to the famous Savitsky Art Museum, boasting a huge collection of Russian avant-garde paintings.
Khiva
Khiva, a delightful, small, walled city, is often overlooked on tours through the region but its labyrinth of side streets and small squares have a very particular charm that evokes the centuries of history the city has witnessed.
Nurata
The Nurata Mountains, home to the Nurata Nature Reserve with lush green river valleys, is becoming the main eco-tourism destination in Uzbekistan, and you can stay in homestays and immerse yourself with the local culture. Our handpicked guesthouses are situated in Khayot and Yahshigul villages.
Bukhara
One of the great trading cities along the Silk Road, Bukhara’s layout and architecture bring its past to life and make for a truly fascinating visit. During your visit you can stay in stunning boutique hotels that are perfectly located in the old town of medieval Bukhara.
Samarkand
The historic town of Samarkand lies at an ancient caravan crossroads and is a melting pot of world cultures. It was Tamerlaine’s capital and contains some of Asia’s most stunning architecture. There are plenty of traditional hotels to choose from, featuring classic Uzbek décor, that are close to Registan Square.
Shakhrisabz
Shakhrisabz, Tamerlaine’s birthplace, is a pleasant provincial town located in a small valley surrounded by the Pamir Mountains. You can enjoy fantastic views from the portal of Tamerlaine’s Arksarai Palace and visit his mausoleum, a unique architectural structure.

Fergana Valley
Lying a day’s drive south-east of Tashkent and encircled by the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan range, the Ferghana Valley is a lush, fertile area where many generations of artisans have continued to make silk, ceramics and wood carvings in the traditional way.


Termez
Termez, a remote city in the south of Uzbekistan, is an ancient centre of Buddhism and a fascinating, little-visited destination - in fact during the Soviet era travel to this area was forbidden for foreigners. Highlights include the Fortress Kyrk-Kyz and the Mausoleum of Al-Hakim at-Termezi.

Your adventure starts here!

Do you fancy having a chat about The Classic Silk Road Tour – Beijing to Tashkent? Personally, it's one of our favourite things to talk about.

Award-winning and fully-protected holidays
Itineraries & Destinations