UNESCO Sites in Central Asia Tour

Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan

UNESCO Sites in Central Asia Tour is an extraordinary glimpse into the soul of ancient Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Journey to each nation’s most acclaimed sites on this eye-opening tour that winds through sand-strewn Old Nisa and Ancient Merv, the rocky crags of Tamgaly Petroglyphs, the glistening imperial cities of Samarkand and historic Bukhara and beyond!
Central Asia offers curious travelers UNESCO World Heritage Sites at every turn. Kazakhstan’s revered Khoja Ahmed Yasawi Mausoleum in Turkestan, Uzbekistan’s storybook Ichan Kala in Merv, Turkmenistan’s medieval capital Kunya Urgench and Tajikistan’s prehistoric Sarazm all display unrivaled cultural achievements that will leave you in awe.

Arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital. Transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon, and have a rest after your flight. Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Meals provided: none

In the morning, your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel for a Tashkent city tour which includes:

Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Meals provided: breakfast
Transfer in the morning to the local airport for a flight to Urgench (1093 km, 1hr 40min). Upon arrival, a driver will take you to the hotel in Khiva (35 km, 45min).
A guide will meet you to begin your walking tour of Ichan Kala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nicknamed “Museum Under the Open Sky”. The tour includes: Overnight at the hotel in Khiva.
Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, travel with your driver to the Turkmenistan border to pass through customs (transportation may not be available when crossing the border). Your Turkmenistan guide will meet you on the other side and drive to Kunya Urgench, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to visit Tyurabek-Khanym, Sayit Ahmed Mausoleums, Kutlug Timur Minaret, Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum of Khorezmshakh and Kyrk Molla Hill.
Drive to Dashoguz Airport for a late afternoon flight to Ashgabat (390km, 1hr, 50min).
Upon arrival in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan, a driver will transfer you to your hotel. Free time to relax at the hotel and enjoy its amenities. Overnight at the hotel in Ashgabat.
Meals provided: breakfast
After breakfast, take a sightseeing tour of the capital, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having more white marble buildings than any other city in the world. Explore the archaeological site of Old Nisa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Spiritual Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Central Asia. Visit the National Museum of History, Monument of Neutrality, Presidential Square, Ertugrul Gazi Mosque and the recently built Independence Park. Overnight at the hotel in Ashgabat.
Meals provided: breakfast

Take an early morning flight from Ashgabat to Mary (370km, 40min). Upon arrival, drive to Merv (40 km, 40 min), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guided tour of Merv includes:

  • Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum (12th century) – one of Merv’s most majestic monuments which displays amazing architectural craftsmanship for its day;
  • Greater and Lesser Kyz Kala (8th-9th centuries) - unique homes with no archeological equivalents;
  • Askhab Mausoleums (9th-12th centuries) - one of Turkmenistan’s most important pilgrimage sites;
  • Erk Kala (6th century BC) - seat of ancient Merv and its oldest settlement. Climb its walls for a great view!
  • Gyaur Kala (3rd century BC) - Merv’s second oldest settlement famous for its thick, 2-km long walls;
  • Muhammad Ibn Zeid Mausoleum (12th century) - popular Sufi shrine with symmetrical architecture.
After the tour of Old Merv, depart for the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border. Complete border formalities and meet your driver in Uzbekistan to continue to Bukhara (100 km, 1h 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara.
Meals provided: breakfast

Have a leisurely breakfast before your private walking tour of the most impressive sights of Old Bukhara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site:

  • Lyabi-Hauz Ensemble, including the Lyabi-Hauz Pool and the Khanaka, Kukeldash and Nadir Divan Beghi Madrasahs (all 16th century);
  • Magoki-Attori Mosque, the oldest mosque in Bukhara (12th century);
  • Trade Domes (15th-16th centuries), where you can purchase handmade souvenirs;
  • Poi Kalyan Ensemble (12th-16th centuries), including Kalyan Minaret and Mosque and Amir-Allimkhan and Miri-Arab Madrasahs;
  • Ulugbek Madrasah (15th century) and Abdulazizkhan Madrasah (17th century);
  • Ark Fortress (4th century), ancient center of Bukharin statehood now home to a small museum;
  • Bolo Hauz Complex, consisting of an artfully decorated 18th-century mosque, a minaret and reservoirs;
  • Samanids Mausoleum (9th-10th centuries), the oldest brick building in Central Asia;
  • Chashma Ayub Mausoleum (dates vary), otherwise known as Job’s well.
Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara.
Meals provided: breakfast
After breakfast, drive to Gijduvon (50 km, 1hr), whose traditional ceramics have been sought after for centuries due to their fine quality and colorful, decorative style.
Continue driving to Samarkand (240 km, 3.5 hrs). Along the way, stop by the Rabat-i-Malik Caravanserai ruins and Sardoba, an ancient reservoir.
Arrive in Samarkand, capital of Tamerlane's Empire. Check in to the hotel and have a free evening. Overnight at the hotel in Samarkand.
Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, our driver will pick you up from your hotel for transfer to the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border (50km, 1hr). Your Tajik guide and driver will be waiting for you on the other side.
Drive to Penjikent (30km, 40min), stopping on the way at the ancient settlement of Sarazm, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded by 3500BC which holds intact structures of palaces, temples, altars, homes and roads.
Continue to Penjikent to tour the following:
  • Republican Museum of History (Rudaki Museum);
  • Central Mosque and Olim Dodkhoh Madrasah (dates vary), the city’s main mosques;
  • Penjikent Bazaar, a bustling bazaar with standard goods and Tajik souvenirs;
  • Ancient Penjikent (5th century BC), a labyrinth of walls and passages decorated with amazing murals.
Drive back to the border in late afternoon, pass through customs and re-enter Uzbekistan. Return to Samarkand for drop-off at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Samarkand.
Meals provided: breakfast, lunch

Breakfast at the hotel and check-out before your Samarkand tour to the following:

  • Registan Square, Samarkand’s most famous site which includes Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah and Tilla-Kori Madrasah (15th- 17th centuries);
  • A boulevard lined with workshops and souvenir stores;
  • Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by Tamerlane for his favorite wife;
  • Siab Bazaar, where you can shop for souvenirs, fruits, sweets and Samarkand’s famous bread;
  • Shahi-Zinda, an exquisite burial complex built between the 9th-14th centuries;
  • Gur-Emir, the imposing burial site of Tamerlane and Mirzo Ulugbek;
  • Ulugbek Observatory, including Ulugbek Museum and the remains of a 14th-15th century sextant.
After your Samarkand tour, take a train to Tashkent (330 km, 2-3 hrs). Upon arrival, a driver will bring you to your hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, a driver will take you to the Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan border (30 km, 40 min). After border formalities, meet your driver and guide on the Kazakhstan side and drive to Otrar to see:

  • Ancient Otrar (10th - 12th centuries), with excavations of a bathhouse, mosque, homes and a fortress.
  • Arslanbob Mausoleum, the burial place of Ahmed Yasawi’s spiritual teacher.
  • Small museum displaying artefacts from the region.
Transfer to Turkestan (100 km, 1.5 hrs). Visit the Khoja Ahmed Yasawi Complex (dates vary), a UNESCO World Heritage Site which includes Akhmed Yassawi Khanaka Mausoleum, Hazrat Sultan Archeological Center, Fortress Wall, Khilovat Underground Mosque, traditional Turkish baths and more.
Overnight at the hotel in Turkestan.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, drive to Shymkent to catch a flight to Almaty (680km, 1hr 10min). After landing, a driver will take you to your hotel.
Your guide and driver will meet you to begin the Almaty city tour to the following:

  • Panfilov Park, including the World War II Memorial Complex of the same name;
  • Zenkov Cathedral (Ascension Cathedral), one of the oldest and most colorful buildings in Almaty;
  • Republic Square, including the former Presidential Palace and Monument of Independence;
  • Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, including a replica of the Golden Man;
  • Drive from Almaty to Medeo (18km, 30min) to see the world's highest Olympic-sized skating rink;
  • Kok-Tobe Hill, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Almaty and various entertainment options;
  • Short ride from Kok-Tobe to the city center on the famous Almaty Cable Cars.
Overnight at the hotel in Almaty.
Meals provided: breakfast
Meet your guide and driver for a scenic drive to Tamgaly Petroglyphs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tamgaly Gorge (170km, 3hrs). Upon arrival, explore the valley and marvel at the 5000+ petroglyphs as your guide provides further insights into the ancient drawings.
Have a picnic lunch before driving back to Almaty. Overnight at the hotel in Almaty.
Meals provided: breakfast, picnic lunch
Check out of the hotel by noon. Free time until transfer to Almaty International Airport for your departure flight. End of UNESCO Sites in Central Asia Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast
  • Round-trip airport transfers;
  • Private local guide;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Transportation throughout the tour;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room at hotel (13 nights, with breakfast);
  • Bottled mineral water (1 liter per person per day);
  • Lunch on day 9 and picnic lunch on day 13;
  • One-way economy class train ticket from Samarkand to Tashkent;
  • One-way economy class flight tickets from Tashkent-Urgench, Dashoguz-Ashgabat, Ashgabat-Mary and Shymkent-Almaty.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Lunches and dinners not specified under Inclusions;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • All other charges and services not mentioned under Inclusions;
  • Tips are not included but are appreciated.

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