The Silk Road was probably the most important development in human history, which brought close trading and subsequently cultural contacts between the east and the west. Silk Road to Bukhara traces the Silk Road from the place where it started in Xian and the follows its caravan routes across the Gobi Desert, Xingjian into Central Asia. This journey relives the epoch of the historical Silk Road.
|Price (From)||:||US$ 8880|
|Includes international air|
Day 01: Arrive Beijing (CHINA)
Nihao! We are warmly greeted as we arrive at Beijing International and transferred to our hotel. Every visit to Beijing makes it evident that this city is fast growing and, like in it’s hey day, is once again becoming the capital of the world. For optional early arrivals to include the Great Wall and other attractions of Beijing please contact us. Check in time starts from 1400 hrs.
Overnight: Jianguo Hotel, Beijing (1 night)
Day 02: Beijing/Xian (by air)
We commence our journey at the point of origin of the Silk Route by taking a short flight to Xian, a town that was visited by Marco Polo in the medieval times. The Silk Road started from Xian - flowing east, west north and south from this magical city. Our afternoon tour includes the Big & Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Bell and Drum Tower, the Muslim Quarter, the 12th century mosque and the Shanxi Museum.
Overnight: Garden Hotel, Xian (1 night) (B, D)
Day 03: Xian/Lanzhou (by air)
The capital of Shaanxi Province, Xian was amongst the largest cities in the world at one time. It was also the capital for 11 dynasties. It was the starting point of the Silk Road and is now, with the exception of Beijing, the most popular tourist attraction in China. Today we tour the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi and its terracotta figures, (over 6000 life-size warriors and horses buried along with the Qin Dynasty emperor responsible for the unification of China in 200 BC). Next stop is the traditional Banpo Neolithic Village where we visit the remains of a village inhabited between 4500 BC and 3750 BC. Evening we are transferred to the airport for a short flight to Lanzhou.
Overnight: Feitan Hotel, Lanzhou (1 night) (B, D)
Day 04: Lanzhou/Xiahe/Labrang (by road)
Morning we take a countryside drive to Xiahe enroute visiting the Bilingsi Caves. We transfer by a yacht on the artificial lake of the Yellow River to reach the Thousand Buddha Caves carved over a period of 1500 years. After visiting this unique site we continue for Labrang.
Overnight: Hotel Wang Fu, Labrang (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 05: Labrang
Full day visit to the Labrang Monastery – one of the six great monasteries of the Yellow Hat Sect. It was founded in 1709. Here we get a wonderful opportunity to see the Tibetan culture and way of life. The Labrang Monastery boasts tens of thousands of statues of Buddha made of gold, silver, copper, and aluminum. There are statues with ivory, sandalwood, jade, crystal and clay as the basic materials. These Buddha statues are all lifelike with kind-looking faces, which give you a real enjoyment of beauty. In addition, the monastery possesses many Buddha hats and many Buddhist treasures adorned with pearls, jadeite, agate and diamonds. (B, D)
Day 06: Labrang/Lanzhou (by road)/Dunhuang (by air)
We drive to Lanzhou for an evening flight to Dunhuang the 2000 years old Silk Road town at the edge of the Gobi Desert. It was once an important caravan stop on the Silk Road and it is here that the Silk Road branches split up with one going all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
Overnight: Silk Road Hotel, Dunhuang (1 night) (B, D)
Day 07: Dunhuang/Turpan (by train)
Morning is free. Our afternoon touring includes the amazing sand dunes & the Magao Caves, the oldest Buddhist shrines in China. These ancient hand-carved shrines are a World Heritage Site and represent a thousand years of devotion to Buddha between the 2nd and12th Centuries. We then take an overnight train to the oasis of Turpan, which lies in one of the world’s great land depressions, 505 feet below sea level. Turpan was the most important city of the Middle Ancient Silk Route.
Overnight: Overnight train (1 night) (B, D)
Day 08: Arrive Turpan
A very interesting day ahead as we take a full day tour to include Gaochang, the Flaming Mountain and the Bezkilik Thousand Buddha caves followed by Jiaohe and the famous Karez System. In the evening we get time to visit the oasis town and meet the local folks.
Overnight: Hotel Houzhou, Turpan (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 09: Turpan
We start the day with a visit of the Tuyugou Caves considered to be the earliest hewn caves in the Turpan area. This group of caves, hewn in the Gaochang Prefecture period between the Jin and the Earlier Liang dynasties, has a history of 1,600 years. There are 46 caves in the group, 9 of which have Buddhist murals still visible in them. This is then followed by a visit to awesome Emin Minaret - the largest extant old tower in Xinjiang and the only Islamic tower among the hundred famous towers in China. The Minaret was built in 1777 in honor of the heroic Turpan general, Emin Khoja. He was an outstanding patriot who defended the unification of China throughout his life. (B, D)
Day 10: Turpan/Urumqi (by road)/Kashgar (by air)
Morning we depart for Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, situated at the northern foot of the Tianshan Mountains. Our tour of Urumqi includes the Ardaoqiao Market, a covered street of food & textile stalls. Later we take our short flight to Kashgar, where we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel International, Kashgar (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 11: Kashgar Sunday Bazaar
If one would like to see a place where time has stood still it is Kashghar (Kashi). Walking through the narrow lanes of this old town evokes a scene from the Arabian Nights. Kashgar has remained sheltered from outside influences with locals who are very friendly. Amongst the most popular professions are coppersmiths, carpenters, jewelers and cobblers, all using tools of bygone days. Our tour of Kashgar also includes the Abak Hoja Tomb, the Id Koh Mosque and the old town where we might even take a ride on the donkey cart taxi. One of the most popular events in the town is the weekly Sunday Bazaar that draws a variety of ethnic groups like the Uyghur, Tajik, Kyrgyz and Kazakh to the streets of Kashgar. They come on foot, bikes, horsebacks, modern motorcycles and donkey carts, all with the hope of selling merchandise that ranges form scissors to camels. (B, D)
Day 12: Kashgar/Torogart Pass (by road)/Naryn (by road) (KYRGYZSTAN)
We cross the majestic Torogoart Pass (3752 meters) from China into Krgyzstan. Border formalities completed we enter the Central Asian country of Kyrghyzstan. The 197 Kms drive to Naryn is a panorama of wide open valley surrounded by the Tien Shan ranges. The steppes are dotted with Kyrgyz nomadic huts (Yurts) with their cattle grazing in the nearby slopes with horses going wild during the season. We visit a yurt and meet the warm hearted Kyrgyz nomads with an offer of ‘koumis’ mare’s fermented milk. Late afternoon we arrive at the first settlement of Naryn.
Overnight: Celestial Mountain Inn or Yurts (1 night) (B, Snack, D)
Day 13: Naryn/Dolon Pass/Tamga (by road)
After a visit of the one street town, we depart for Issikul region with various stops to get the enchanting scenery. This is a long and an interesting day. The Tienshan scenery becomes more verdant with small farmlands hamlets with immense poplar trees lining along the route near the villages. At Kochkorka village we see the felt makers house and their collections of nomadic embroidery is a good insight into the nomadic culture. Continue with lengthening shadows of the trees we arrive on the southern side of the great lake Issikul(warm waters) we shall transfer to a private home with a nice garden awaiting us for a BBQ dinner.
Overnight: Lyuda & Sasha’s Guest House (1 night) (B, D)
Day 14: Tamga/Barskoon/Karakol (by road)
Our destination today is Karakol. An interesting and breathtaking scenery with several stops gets us to the Barskoon Valley – the gold mine of Kyrgyzstan. It is a scenic spot which was a popular resort site of the Soviet Cosmonauts who used to come here for rest and recreation. Yuri Gagarin is known to have spent his leisure hours walking the alpine valley and the valley still maintains his monument at his favorite spot. We then continue on the track to Karakol with a visit of Djeti Oghuz the Kyrgyz nomad’s meadows.
Overnight: Hotel Amir, Karakol (1 night) (B, D)
Day 15: Karakol/Cholpan Ata (by road)
Morning we tour Karakol and visit the Russian Orthodox Church with its beautiful wooden structure and rare icons that survived the worst periods of communist purges. Visit Dungan mosque with chaste Chinese architecture – Dungans were a Han Muslim Chinese community who escaped the civil wars of 50’s now are an ethnically assimilated population. Next we visit the famous Preshevalsky Museum and monument before reaching Cholpan Ata and visit the mountain town including seeing the local museum and the rock drawings dating back to 1st BC.
Overnight: Caprice Resort Hotel (1 night) (B, D)
Day 16: Cholpan Ata/Bishkek (by road)/Tashkent (by air) (UZBEKISTAN)
Early morning we visit the Silk Road Burana caravan town ruins dating to the 11th/12th AD including the tower, the ruins of the complex mosque, the Turkic tombstones and the small archaeological museum nearby. Later we continue to Bishkek with an orientation tour of the town before we drive to the airport for our flight to Tashkent. Upon arrival at Tashkent we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Dedeman Silk Road (1 night) (B, D)
Day 17: Tashkent/Samarkand (by road)
Morning tour of the capital city famous for its gardens and fountains. We commence our sightseeing with a visit of the Old city, see the new Hast Imam complex that rises on the secular buildings 16th to 20th AD is the neo Islamic architecture reviving the old Central Asian styles. We visit Barak Khana seminary – the seat of the Grand Mufti of Tashkent and Tilla Shaikh archives to see the famous 7th AD copy of Othman Quran. We continue to explore the traditional part of Tashkent including the famous Chosu Bazar where people are always dressed in colorful attire. We visit Kukeldesh which in true Central Asian style used to offer solace to the caravans. We continue our drive to the most renowned city in Islamic architecture. Upon arrival at Samarkand we are transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Grand Samarkand (3 nights) (B, D)
Day 18: Samarkand
Sunday is the market day in the whole of Central Asia but we choose Urgut as one of the few Central Asian Sunday markets still retaining its olden spirit of bazaars. We shall see a culmination of countryside folks thronging into the market with their produce, selling and bargaining the Central Asia way! You may have a best buy of famous suzzanne embroidery from the village folks, wooden carved pieces or local rugs are all here. Afternoon we head for Shakhrisyabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. We shall be traveling over the beautiful pass – the route always taken by Tamerlane for his travel between Shakhrisyabz and Samarkand. Tamerlane started building his cities and Shakhrisyabz being his native town never was forgotten where he built a grand palace, as was recorded by ‘Don Clavijo’ the Spanish minister at the court of Tamerlane. Ak-Saray – the white palace surpassed in Persian architecture, which Tamerlane was keen in employing in his favorite buildings. After seeing some interesting Timurid period monuments we shall return to Samarkand. (B, D)
Day 19: Samarkand
The Jewel city of the Silk Road – Samarkand has always been praised for its beautiful gardens and richness. Samarkand was admired and prized by the invaders who always wanted this city as part of their empire. The important town of a once prosperous Sogdiana served as the major halting station for caravans of the Great Silk Road whose impacts could be seen in the great archaeological finds – the murals, the statues and other objects. Everyone who passed by the city talks of its greatness – Alexander the Great fought with the last of its ruler and the legend says that he got his beautiful wife ‘Roxane’ from Samarkand. Marco Polo talks of its booming trade and gardens, Tamerlane made Samarkand as his capital and called it as the “capital of the world”. The changed life of Tamerlane found solace in his beautiful gardens in the company of his favorite granddaughter and poetess - Zebunnisa Begum. Our tour of Samarkand ravels the beautiful monuments – The madrassah complex of Registan a fascinating square with three madrassahs. We continue visiting other monuments of Timurid period and should never miss the old site of Afrosiab, which goes back in our historic times. (B, D)
Day 20: Samarkand/Shakhrisyabz/Bukhara (by road)
An interesting drive gets us to Kesh (Shakhrisyabz) the birthplace of Tamerlane – a UNESCO World Heritage site. We visit Ak-Saray Palace ruins of Tamerlane’s lovely palace once described by Don Calvijo as the palace of grandest of architecture while in attendance at the court of Tamerlane. We shall then visit the secular buildings of Dorus Tilavat seminary, the Kok Gumbaz mosque, Dorus Saidat, the crypt of Tamerlane that was never used and The Friday mosque before continuinbg on for Bukhara – another World Heritage Site.
Overnight: Hotel Zargaron (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 21: Bukhara
Today we shall be touring the powerful seat of Bukhara Khanate which swayed her control in all the neighboring states. Bukhara was the first oasis, which caught the eyes of invading Arab armies to explore and expand into the heartland of Central Asia. The ancient town of Bukhara goes back in the history to more than 2500 years and kept exchanging hands from one ruler to another. It was one of the important towns of the caravan countries and was the richest of the Transoxiana countries. It kept changing its seat from the early Persians down to the Turkic heathen tribes and remained as the master of the lands. The last of the powerful Turkic ruler, Bukhara Khudat was killed by the Arab invaders thereby replacing its rulers and converting the locals to Islamic faith. Bukhara continued to flourish as an important trading center before the caravans continued to the Persian empire’s mainland where the rich commodity was sold out. Bukhara remained in the hands of Sheybanid rulers and later into the hands of their splinter groups till the annexation of its territories by the expanding Russian rule. With changing of fortunes in the imperial Russia, Bukhara too was effected and the last ruler had to escape to Afghanistan leaving the state into the hands of Bolsheviks. The last Emir of Bukhara suffered humility at the hands of the Great Game players ho saw these enemies vying for power at his court till the imperial Russians succeeded in reducing the emir to a mere pawn in their hands. Buildings, madrassahs, the mosques and the covered bazaars keep Bukhara as an oldest living city of the caravan days. (B, D)
Day 22: Bukhara/Khiva (by road)
Today we shall leave for Khiva and this will be a long drive through the heart of Kizilkum desert (the red sands). This wasteland was the route of the invaders coming form the north as nomadic hordes or armies of the Persians or Alexander the Great marching his troops through the heart of desert to cities of his Persian enemy. Genghiz Khan’s devastating troops crossed these deserts to enter the mainland of his enemy. You will notice the expanse of Amudarya as it spreads its branches to a network of canals serving as a watering base for the huge cotton economy of the whole region our arrival will mark a quiet late afternoon entry into Khiva.
Overnight: Hotel Asia, Khiva (B, Snack, D)
Day 23: Khiva
A walk into the past – the walled city (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) has not changed its character from the khanate days with its fortress walls still surviving – Khiva is described as the living museumof Central Asia with its still surviving living quarters. We visit the Ichan Kala – the inner city, Kalta Minor that was never finished, Kuya Arg – the ruling quarters, madrassah Rakhimkhon, the UNDP workshops forthe development of local handicrafts, the mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud is a wonderful example of tile work which was though very little used but exquisite. The minaret of Islam Khodja and the Friday Mosque with its old pillars still surviving. Later we visit Tashauli harem and the Caravan Sarai. (B, D)
Day 24: Khiva/Urgench (by road)/Tashkent (by air)
Morning depart for Urgench airport for flight to Tashkent. Transfer to the hotel. Balance of the day is free for shopping. Evening an optional, subject to availability visit to the theatre for an opera. We visit the famous Tashkent underground station followed by a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Hotel Dedeman (1 night) (B, D)
Day 25: Depart Tashkent
After traveling on the Silk Road caravan route from China all the way to Central Asia, we bid farewell as we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight. Check out time is 1100 hrs. (B)
B=Breakfast, S=Snack, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
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