Central Asia on the Silk Road

Classic, Beijing to Tashkent

Image by G Adventures

Tour description provided by G Adventures

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

  • Local Living: Overnight in a Yurt, Tash Rabat Local Living: CBT Homestay, Kochkor Local Living: Plov Cooking Demonstration and Dinner, Samarkand
  • 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

Highlights

  • 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.

Itinerary

Day 1 Beijing There are no activities planned until an evening welcome meeting and optional group dinner of Beijing Duck. Included Activities: Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Beijing (1B) Visit the spectacular Great Wall of China. Opt to take in a kung fu show or a Chinese acrobats show. Included Activities: Great Wall Mutianyu Visit
Day 3 Beijing/Xi'an (1B) Enjoy a guided tour of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. In the afternoon options include shopping, taking a hutong tour or visiting some of the remaining sights in the city like the Lama Temple and the Bell and Drum towers. In the evening board the first overnight train of the journey. Included Activities: Tiananmen Square Forbidden City Tour Transport: Basic overnight train (beds) (12.00-15.00 hours)
Day 4 Xi'an (1L) Arrive to Xi'an and take an orientation walk. Opt to cycle around the city walls, visit the Muslim Quarter or the Big Goose Pagoda. Included Activities: Orientation Walk
Day 5 Xi'an (1B, 1L) Take a guided tour to see the Terracotta Warriors with an included lunch at a local farmer's house. Included Activities: Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour
Day 6 Xi'an/Dunhuang In the morning, hop on an overnight train to Dunhuang. Transport: Basic overnight train (beds) (23.00 hour(s))
Day 7 Dunhuang Enjoy a free afternoon to continue exploring the city or villages in the area. Outdoor tables in the centre of town are a great place to grab a beer and some local eats. The local delicacy here is donkey. Cover it in chilis and garlic – tastes like chicken! Included Activities: Mogao Grottoes Visit
Day 8 Dunhuang/Turpan Opt to climb the massive dunes and watch the sun come up over the "desert". Take a camel ride through the dunes in the early morning sun. In the evening, board a sleeper train to Turpan, the first stop in the Xinjiang province. Here, the culture, food and language changes from "mainland China". The Uyghur minority people speak Uyghur, a Turkic language with an arabic script. Food is more similar to Central Asian cuisine and includes rice, kebabs and handmade noodle dishes – the original spaghetti and meatballs brought to Europe along the Silk Road. Transport: Basic overnight train (beds) (9.50 hour(s))
Day 9 Turpan Arrive to the train station and drive by private van (about 1 hr) to Turpan. Enjoy a city tour with a local guide and learn about this interesting desert city, the ancient Karez water system and the culture of the Uyghur minority people. Included Activities: Turpan City Tour Transport: Private Vehicle (1.00 hour(s))
Day 10 Turpan/Kashgar (1B) Drive to Urumqi and fly to Kashgar. Take an orientation walk of the city and head out for an optional dinner. Included Activities: Orientation Walk Transport: Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s)) Plane (1.75 hour(s))
Day 11 Kashgar (1B) Spend the rest of the day exploring the old town centre or the People's Square. Included Activities: Animal Market Sunday Bazaar Market
Day 12 Kashgar/Tash Rabat (1B, 1D) Settle into this idyllic setting surrounded by bright green rolling hillsides, topped with snow, icy running rivers cut through the area and kids and animals running around. Enjoy a delicious homemade meal with the family. Included Activities: Border Crossing (China - Kyrgyzstan) Overnight in a Yurt Transport: Private Vehicle (2.00-3.00 hours) Private Vehicle (2.00-3.00 hours)
Day 13 Tash Rabat/Kochkor (1B, 1D) Enjoy the morning in the scenic mountains hiking, visiting the ancient stone building called Tash Rabat, playing with the kids or horseback riding. Continue on a typical scenic Kyrgyz drive to Kochkor to visit women at a felt carpet-making workshop. Feel free to chat with the women and learn about their traditional craft. Spend the night at a homestay in the community-based tourism (CBT) houses. CBT is an organization that helps families offer their homes to travellers. Included Activities: Carpet-Making Workshop Visit CBT Homestay Tash Rabat Visit Transport: Private Vehicle (270km)
Day 14 Kochkor/Karakol (1B) Travel to Karakol with a guided village tour. With free time, opt to check out the Przhevalsky Museum, the local market, Dungan Mosque or the Orthodox church. Included Activities: Village Tour Transport: Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 280km)
Day 15 Karakol/Cholpon-Ata (1B, 1D) Head to the resort town of Cholpon-Ata on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul. Hang out on the beach with snow-capped mountains in the distance, visit the Cholpon-Ata petroglyphs or take a boat tour on the lake. This is one of those town best explored by just wandering around. If you're lucky, you might even find a spot for a traditional 'banya' (Russian bathhouse). Transport: Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 200km)
Day 16 Cholpon-Ata/Bishkek (1B) In Bishkek, enjoy some meals and drinks out in the city, wander the local markets and bargain for tasty snacks. Catch a mashrutka (a set-route taxi) and learn how to hop on and off like a local. Visit museums and stock up on souvenirs from the craft stores in the TsUM (mall). Included Activities: Burana Tower Visit Orientation Walk Transport: Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 280km)
Day 17 Bishkek (1B) Explore the city or opt to go further afield for a hike in Ala Archa National Park.
Day 18 Bishkek/Tashkent (1B) Enjoy an optional dinner out tonight and maybe find a place to smoke a sheesha and relax. Included Activities: Orientation Walk Transport: Plane (1.25 hour(s))
Day 19 Tashkent (1B) Take the metro and wander the central markets to savour the local sights, tastes, and aromas. Visit the religious centre and Koran museum to learn about the history of the city in this diverse country. Included Activities: Tashkent Guided City Tour
Day 20 Tashkent/Khiva (1B) Explore the old town surrounded by city walls, bargain with locals at the market and wander through the madrassas, climb up minarets, and explore the dark dungeons Khiva was infamous for back in the 10th century. Included Activities: Khiva Ancient City Tour Transport: Plane (1.75 hour(s)) Private Vehicle (0.50-0.75 hours)
Day 21 Khiva/Bukhara (1B) Spend a full day driving through the desert to Bukhara— it's worth the effort. Spend the evening wandering the city and getting to know the place. Transport: Private Vehicle (6.00 hour(s), 450km)
Day 22 Bukhara (1B) Take an included city tour with a local guide. Use some free time to visit a local hammam (bathhouse) or pick up some souvenirs. Included Activities: Bukhara City Tour
Day 23 Bukhara/Samarkand (1B) In the evening, venture out and go for dinner at one of the many delicious restaurants in the city. Included Activities: Orientation Walk Transport: Private Vehicle (4.00 hour(s), 280km)
Day 24 Samarkand (1B, 1D) With free time, opt to explore more of the Registan or the city itself. Included Activities: Samarkand City Tour Plov Cooking Demonstration and Dinner
Day 25 Samarkand/Tashkent (1B) Travel back to Tashkent for a final evening together. Transport: Train (5.00 hour(s), 300km)
Day 26 Tashkent (1B) Depart at any time.
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