The Silk Road is the story of one of the world's oldest and grandest of the trade routes which cast its shadows on the cultures of China, Central Asia and Western Asia. Whilst the Silk Road started from Xian in China, it was Central Asia that made inroads into different trade routes. We trace this historical route and see the influence of the Silk Road in the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan and Western China.
|Price (From)||:||US$ 5995|
|Includes international air|
Day 01: Arrive Tashkent (UZBEKISTAN)
Khush Kelibsizlar - Welcome to Uzbekistan! As we are driven to our hotel in the city center, we get our first glimpse of Tashkent, a city rebuilt after the 1966 earthquake. Tashkent rightfully claims to be the cultural capital of Central Asia. Balance of the day is free to allow time to get over the jet lag. Check in time starts from 1400 hrs.
Overnight: Hotel Dedeman, Tashkent (2 nights) (D)
Day 02: Tashkent
Morning free to recoup from the flight. Afternoon tour of Tashkent – visit old city, Hast Imam Complex, Barak Khana seminary, Tilla Shaikh archives, Chorsu market, later visit 16th century Kukeldesh madrassah, Akbar’s traditional pottery house and the museum of Applied Arts, Old City of Tashkent, which is one of the oldest cities of Uzbekistan. Its history goes back to the Silk Road days when it was a transit station. There used to exist several settlements in the outskirts with several fire temples as is significant from the excavations, which date back to 2nd to 7th AD. During the course of time it grew with changes and became an important Silk Road town called Chach. It saw the ravages of Mongol armies and later became the governorate of later Mongols by then changing its name to present as Tashkent – the town of stones. By 15th century it had grown as an important commercial stop into a huge walled city. After the great earthquake of 1966 Tashkent grew into a huge metropolis with new buildings, well laid out gardens and fountains. The background of low-lying TienShan ranges give Tashkent a pleasant climatic conditions. (B, D)
Day 03: Tashkent/Urgench/Khiva (Flight - Drive)
A short flight takes us to Urgench, the capital of the Khorezm Province which lies between the Amu-Darys River and Turkmenistan. It is a halting point for tourists on their way to Khiva. Upon arrival we take a brief tour of the town and then proceed top the historical city of Khiva.
Overnight: Hotel Malika, Khiva (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 04: Khiva
The living museum of Central Asia, Khiva is an important World Heritage site – the walled city reminds us of ‘thousand and one night’ feeling while walking through its brick structures. Khiva was the seat of Khiva Khanate that was subdued with great efforts by the Russian army in 1873 after failing in the earlier attempt of 1839. The fortunes and importance of Khiva rose when Amudarya (Amu river) changed its course leaving the capital town of Kunya Urgench in almost oblivion when all the attention was drawn towards Khiva. A walking tour will reveal the mysteries of this legendary town going piece by piece from one corner to another. (B, D)
Day 05: Khiva/Bukhara (Drive)
Our drive to Bukhara is through the arid setting of the Kyzyl Kum Desert. Along the way we stop as oasis like settings where we see how humans have survived over the centuries in this barren landscape. Prior to arrival in Bukhara, a visit will be made to Sitora-i-Mokhikhosa, the Summer Residence of the former Emirs of Bukhara. The setting in Bukhara is best described a revival of the 1001 Arabian Nights. Evening, subject to performance, we will be entertained at a Bukhara folk show.
Overnight: Hotel Zargaron, Bukhara (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 06: 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 07: Bukhara/Shakhrisyabz/Samarkand (Drive)
This morning we head out to visit the World Heritage Site of Shakhrisyabz, home-town of Tamerlane. This historic centre contains a collection of exceptional monuments and ancient quarters, which bear witness to centuries worth of history, and particularly to the period of its climax in the 15th century under the empire of Tamerlane. Samarkand is one of the top centres of Islamic architecture.
Overnight: Hotel Malika Prime, Samarkand (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 08: 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 09: Samarkand/Tashkent (Drive)
Return drive to Tashkent.
Overnight: Hotel Dedeman (1 night) (B, D)
Day 10: Tashkent/Urumqi/Kashgar (Flight) (CHINA)
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for flight to Kashgar via Urumqi. Meet & transfer to the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel International (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 11: Kashgar
If one would like to see a place where time has stood still it is Kashgar (Kashi) and to be in the city to see the Sunday Bazaar is definitely a must. 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/Turpan (Overnight train)
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 this morning includes the Abak Hoja Tomb, the Id Kah Mosque and the old town. Lunch at a local restaurant before dropping off at the train station for an overnight train ride to Turpan.
Overnight: On board the train (L, D)
Day 13: Arrive Turpan
Afternoon arrival in Turpan, which lies in one of the world’s great land depressions at 505 feet below sea level and was the most important city of the Middle Ancient Silk Route. You will be met and immediately set out for a tour of the famous ruined Jiaohe City - capital of the State of South Cheshi. It was one of the 36 kingdoms of the Western region during the Han Dynasty. First settlements appeared there in 2 BC and the city is comparatively well preserved. Later visit the notable Emin Minaret (44 meters high, completed in 1778) and Mosque. Check in at the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Houzhou (1 night) (D)
Day 14: Turpan/Dunhuang (Overnight train)
Early morning visit the picturesque Tuyoq ancient village to see the oldest in Turpan area Buddhist caves dated back to the 4th century. Next stop is the impressive ruins at Gaochang ancient city, built in the 2nd century BC. It became the capital of the Kingdom of Gaochang under the Han dynasty and was destroyed around 14th century, take a donkey cart taxi to venture deep into this famous ancient site. Continue onto the Astana Tombs to see the well-preserved mummies and unique wall paintings dated back to 2AD. Afternoon tour includes a visit to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, which is located on the flanks of the Flaming Mountains and was an important center for Buddhist worship. There are 67 caves dating from 317 to 1368. Last stop will be made at the famous Grape valley, which is a pleasant park with vineyards and fruit trees. Grapes were introduced to Turpan over 2000 years ago. Dinner will be at a local restaurant before transfer to railway station for an overnight train to Dunhuang.
Overnight: On board the train (B, L, D)
Day 15: Arrive Dunhuang
Morning arrival in Dunhuang. The 2000 year old town on the edge of the Gobi Desert. It was once an important caravan stop, also here the Silk Road splits into different routes stretching 7000km all the way to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. You will be met and depart for Mogao Caves – the world’s richest treasure-trove of Buddhist manuscripts, wall paintings and statues dated back to 4th up to 14th century, which were created during nine dynasties and marked the height of Buddhist art. Next stop is Mingsha (Singing) Sand Dunes and Crescent Lake to enjoy the spectacular sunset view. Check in at the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Silk Road (1 night) (L, D)
Day 16: Dunhuang/Beijing (Flight)
Morning excursion to the Western 1000 Buddha caves, although in reality there are only 22. The frescoes are similar to the ones found at Mogao. Later transfer to the airport for flight to Beijing. Meet & transfer to the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Jianguo Hotel (1 night) (B, D)
Day 17: Beijing/Depart
Check out time is by 1100 hrs. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight out. (B)
B=Breakfast, S=Snack, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
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