The Great Silk Road Tour

26
Days
Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China

On The Great Silk Road Tour, you’ll cross six nations and over 3600 kilometers as you retrace well-worn Silk Road routes strewn with signposts of ancient archaeological sites, medieval mosques, evocative castles, flamboyant bazaars and venerated tombs. Meanwhile, your encounters with acclaimed craftsmen, jovial shopkeepers, nomads and animated tour guides will bring this slumbering caravan route to life.
Cross mountains, deserts, lakes and present-day borders on this extended grand tour of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and western China. Allow this unique region to defy your expectations and reshape your view of the world as you discover West and Central Asia at their finest!

Arrive in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital. You will be met by our driver for drop-off at the hotel, where check-in begins at noon.
Your guide and driver will pick you up to begin your private city tour to the following:

  • Drive to Tbilisi’s modern quarter, passing the Parliament Building on Rustaveli Avenue before reaching Freedom Square;
  • Metekhi Church (13th century), guarded by a statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali;
  • Bridge of Peace, which leads to the popular Rike Park;
  • Cable car ride to Narikala Fortress (4th century), Georgia’s oldest citadel and the best spot for a panoramic view of the city. Nearby stands the 20-meter-high statue of Kartlis Deda, Mother of Georgia;
  • Old Tbilisi, the city’s largest district, including the famous Jumah Mosque;
  • Bridge of Lovers, found near the cooling waters of the 22-meter-high Legvtakhevi Waterfall;
  • Historic Abanotubani District, including the Tbilisi Sulfur Baths;
  • Sioni Cathedral (7th century), with a jaw-dropping interior of gold and turquoise frescoes;
  • Leaning Clock Tower of Tbilisi, next to the famous Reza Gabriadze Puppet Theater;
  • Anchiskhati Basilica Church (6th century), the oldest house of worship in Tbilisi.
Transfer to the hotel or enjoy free time in Old Tbilisi. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: none

In the morning, drive to Mtskheta (25km, 30min), ancient capital of Iberia and a holy pilgrimage site for most Georgians, to visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Jvari Orthodox Monastery (6th century), a unique remnant of the early Georgian church which amazes with beautiful facades and a panoramic view;
  • Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century), where one of the holiest items of the orthodox Christian world -the robe worn by Jesus at crucifixion - is reportedly buried. Admire its stunning architecture and frescoes;
  • Samtavro Monastery (11th century), former center of the Georgian Orthodox Church and burial site of Queen Nana and King Mirian. The complex includes churches, towers, frescoes and an active convent.

Walk around Mtskheta to admire the homes and balconies or shop for churchkhela, Georgia’s famous snack.
Return to Tbilisi to tour:

  • Kashveti Church of St. George (20th century), known for its classical architecture;
  • Georgian National Opera Theater, one of the oldest opera halls in Eastern Europe;
  • Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba Church), one of the world’s largest churches and the central chapel of the Georgian Orthodox Church;
  • Open-Air Museum of Ethnography, including traditional homes from each region of Georgia;
  • Jan Shardeni Street (Jean Chardin), filled with cozy coffee shops, wine tasting bars and souvenir stores.
Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, drive through picturesque landscapes to Kakheti Region (95km, 1hr 30min), the wine capital in Eastern Georgia.
On the way visit Chailuri Fortress (16th century), a military outpost whose origins remain a mystery.
Continue to Sighnaghi, a Silk Road outpost in east Kakheti known as The City of Love.
Explore Bodbe Monastery Complex (9th century), one of Georgia’s most acclaimed religious sites and purported resting place of St. Nino, who is credited with converting Georgia to Christianity in the 4th century.
Continue to the Azerbaijan border (50km, 1hr). Cross into Azerbaijan and drive to Sheki (110km, 1hr 40min). Overnight at the hotel in Sheki.
Meals provided: breakfast

Your guide and driver will meet you at your hotel in Sheki to tour its finest sites:

  • Sheki Khans’ Palace (18th century), a UNESCO Site built without glue or nails and famed for its stained glass and miniature paintings;
  • Sheki Caravanserai (18th century), an old Silk Road post where you can stop for tea and local sweets;
  • Gelersen-Gerersen Fortress (Come-and-See Fortress, 15th century), a once-impenetrable citadel whose history is closely linked with the city.
Continue driving to ancient Shamakhi (175km, 2hrs 45min), former seat of the Shirvanshah Empire, to visit Juma Mosque (8th century), Azerbaijan’s oldest mosque whose architecture is unparalleled in the country.
Drive to Maraza (40km, 35min) to Diri Baba Mausoleum (15th century), a two-story monument carved into a cliff as a unique display of Shirvan-Absheron architecture.
Complete the drive to Baku (110km, 1hr 35min). Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, meet your guide and driver to begin your private Baku tour to the following:

  • Nizami Ganjavi Avenue, including Nizami Ganjavi Monument, Fountain Square and Rasulzade Street;
  • Icheri Sheher, Baku’s ancient city center which includes several historical monuments:
  • Maiden Tower (date unknown), a city symbol of mysterious origins which offers a great view of Baku;
  • Palace of the Shirvanshahs (15th century), a UNESCO ensemble and Azerbaijan’s finest example of medieval architecture;
  • Multani Caravanserai (15th century), built as a haven for Indian merchants and fire worshipers;
  • Market Square (17th century), a plaza of winding streets and shops selling souvenirs and antiques;
  • Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum, holding the largest collection of Azerbaijani carpets in the world;
  • Martyrs’ Lane, a memorial which overlooks the Caspian Sea and Flame Towers.
Return to the hotel or visit the 60-meter-high Baku Ferris Wheel on your own. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

Depart Baku and drive to Gobustan National Park (60km, 1hr), located on the Caspian Sea, to visit:

  • Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, an open-air gallery dating back to 10000 BC. Enjoy the gorgeous view as you discover nearly 6000 petroglyphs;
  • Petroglyph Museum, which provides a brief introduction to the park’s cultural and ecological history;
  • Mud Volcanoes (10km, 15min), where gases bubble up from the earth in a mix of mud and methane.
Return to Baku via Absheron Peninsula (78km, 75min) On the way, visit Bibi Heybat Mosque (dates vary) a central piece of Azerbaijani Islamic architecture.
In Absheron, visit Yanar Dag (Burning Mountain), a natural gas fire which has been burning for thousands of years.
Drive (20km, 30min) to Ateshgah Fire Temple (dates vary), a historic center of Zoroastrian worship.
Transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, transfer to Heydar Aliyev International Airport for a flight to Tashkent.
Arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital. After transfer to your hotel, your guide and driver will pick you up to begin your private Tashkent tour to see:

Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, transfer to the domestic airport for a flight to Urgench (1093km, 1hr 40min). Upon landing, a driver will take you to your hotel in Khiva (35km, 45min). Your guide will meet you at the hotel to begin your walking tour of Khiva, the “Museum Under the Open Sky”, including:

Overnight at the hotel in Khiva.
Meals provided: breakfast
After breakfast, drive to Bukhara (460km, 7hrs). Your road will take a similar route as that of the Great Silk Road, which also ran through the Kyzylkum Desert between Khiva and Bukhara.
Upon arrival, check in to the hotel. Enjoy free time to explore the streets of Bukhara, which resembles a living depiction of “A Thousand and One Nights”.
Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara.
Optional Activity: Immerse yourself in centuries-old traditions at Bozori Kord Hammam (public bathhouse), which was built in the 14th century and has been in regular use ever since.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, take a private walking tour of the Old City’s most impressive sights:

  • Lyabi-Hauz Ensemble, including 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);
  • Four 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-Khauz Complex, consisting of an artfully decorated 18th- century mosque, minaret and reservoirs;
  • Samanids Mausoleum (9th-10th centuries), the oldest brick building in Central Asia;
  • Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, otherwise known as Job’s well.
Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, continue your tour of greater Bukhara to the following locations:

  • Chor Minor (18th century), whose minarets represent the four major world religions of that period;
  • Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa (19th century), the emir’s summer residence which blends Oriental and Russian architecture;
  • Bakhautdin Naqshband Mausoleum, dedicated to the founder of the Sufi Order "Naqshbandia";
  • Chor-Bakr Necropolis, (10th century), ancient burial grounds developed into a memorial complex.
Return to Bukhara for an afternoon departure by train to Samarkand (280km, 1hr 30min). Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Samarkand, capital of Tamerlane's Empire.
Meals provided: breakfast

Breakfast at the hotel before your private tour of Samarkand, crossroads of the world's cultures:

  • Gur Emir (15th century), the imposing burial site of Tamerlane and Mirzo Ulugbek;
  • Registan Square, Samarkand’s most famous site which includes Ulugbek Madrasah, Sher-Dor Madrasah and Tilla-Kori Madrasah (15th- 17th centuries);
  • Bibi Khanum Mosque (15th century), built by Tamerlane for his favorite wife;
  • Siab Bazaar, where you can shop for souvenirs, fruits, sweets and Samarkand’s famous bread;
  • Shakhi-Zinda, an exquisite burial complex built between the 9th-14th centuries;
  • Ulugbek Observatory, including Ulugbek Museum and the remains of a 14th-15th century sextant.
Overnight at the hotel in Samarkand.
Meals provided: breakfast

Your guide will meet you and drive to Shakhrisabz (90km, 2hrs) via the Tahtakaracha Pass. During your tour you’ll visit:

  • Downtown Shakhrisabz, unique for its layout and architecture;
  • Dorus Saodat Memorial Complex (dates vary) including Jahongir and Omar Sheikh Mausoleum and Khazratiy Imam Mosque;
  • Dor-ut Tilovat Ensemble (14th century), including Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and the tomb of Tamerlane’s father;
  • Ak-Saray Palace (14th century), Tamerlane's acclaimed summer residence.
Return to Samarkand in the afternoon for free time in the evening. Overnight at the hotel in Samarkand.
Meals provided: breakfast

Check out of the hotel before continuing your tour of Samarkand Region:

  • Visit the excavation site and museum of the ancient city Afrasiab;
  • Tour the Khodja Daniyar Mausoleum, believed to be the tomb of the prophet Daniel;
  • Drive to Konigil Village to observe the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry leaves;
  • Take a tour of Oriental Silk Carpet Factory to see how top-quality carpets are created. You can even try carpet weaving yourself!
Take the afternoon train to Tashkent (330km, 2hrs 30min), where you’ll be taken to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, your driver will transfer you to the border crossing with Tajikistan (100km, 1hr 30min). After entering Tajikistan, a local guide and driver will drive to Khujand (70km, 1hr) for a city tour which includes:

  • Khujand Fortress (dates vary), once one of the most impenetrable castles in Central Asia;
  • Historical Museum of Sughd, which houses unusual artefacts from the territory of Sughd;
  • Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin Khujandi (12th century), two-story tomb of a local ruler and poet;
  • Payshanba Bazaar (Thursday Bazaar), a colorful oriental market rumored to be the best in Tajikistan;
  • Somoni Park, where a statue of Ismoil Somoni, fountains and bright mosaics are displayed.
During the tour you will have lunch at a local restaurant.
Drive back to the border in late afternoon and re-enter Uzbekistan. You’ll be driven to Tashkent for drop-off at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Meals provided: breakfast, lunch

In the morning, head to the Tashkent Southern Railway Station to begin your tour of Fergana Valley. Take a train to Kokand (165km, 5hrs), where a local guide will meet you to start your city tour of Kokand, once the capital of the entire Kokand Khanate. Your tour will include:

  • Palace of Khudoyar-Khan (19th century), a mosque and Kokand’s most famous attraction;
  • Jami Mosque (19th century), the iconic centerpiece of Chorsu Square;
  • Norbutabiy Madrasah (18th century), which serves as a functional madrasah even today.
Drive to Rishtan (55km, 1hr) to the house of a well-known ceramic master (Rustam Usmanov or Alisher Nazarov) whose works are exhibited in world exhibitions. Tour the pottery workshop and see the collection of local ceramics.
Continue to Fergana city (50km, 50min) and check in to your hotel upon arrival. Overnight at the hotel in Fergana.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, drive to Margilan (30km, 30min) to tour the following:

  • Said Akhmad-Khoja Madrasah, where craftsmen produce handmade carpets and silk;
  • Yodgorlik Silk Factory, where you can observe silk weaving with traditional Ikat patterns and shop for handmade khan-atlas material (closed Sundays).
Drive to Kuva (35km, 40min) and visit the ancient Buddhist settlement for which Kuva is famous.
Head to the Kyrgyzstan border. After passing through customs, meet your driver and travel to Osh. Overnight at the hotel in Osh.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, your guide and driver will meet you for a city tour, beginning with Sulaiman Too Mountain:

  • Follow pilgrims up the hill for a panoramic view of Osh, passing multiple shrines along the way;
  • Visit Dom Babura (16th century), built by Bobur, founder of the Mughal Empire;
  • Tour Sulaiman Too National Historical and Archaeological Museum, one of the largest museums in Kyrgyzstan which is housed in a mountain cave.

The way up and down the mountain takes around one hour. Continue your discovery of Osh at the following:

  • Silk Road Museum, holding artefacts discovered on the premises of Sulaiman Too Mountain;
  • Jayma Bazaar, where locals have bargained for goods since the Silk Road era;
  • Osh Central Square, home to the largest statue of Lenin in all Central Asia.
Drop-off at your hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Osh.
Meals provided: breakfast
After breakfast, drive to the China border* (260km, 4hrs) via the village of Sary-Tash. Pass through the border to meet your driver, who will take you to Kashgar (230km, 4hrs). Bask in spectacular views along the way. Overnight at the hotel in Kashgar.
Meals provided: breakfast
*Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Chinese holidays

In the morning, a local guide will give you a private tour of Kashgar to the following sights:

  • Kashgar Old Town, a labyrinth of traditional Uyghur home and shops;
  • Handicraft Street, where you can buy a variety of handmade souvenirs;
  • Id Kah Mosque (1442), one of the largest mosques in China which reflects a traditional Uyghur design;
  • Apak Khoja Mausoleum (16th century), regarded as the holiest site in all of Xinjiang;
  • Yekshanbe Bazaar (Sunday Market), whose colorful aisles are filled with fabrics, kitchenware, hats, fresh produce, carpets and jewelry. A horse and livestock bazaar is also located nearby.
Overnight at the hotel in Kashgar.
Meals provided: breakfast
Drive in the morning to Kala Kule Lake (200km, 3hrs), located 3650 meters above sea level. On the way, Red Mountain and White Sand Mountain will loom before you.
Have a picnic at Kala Kule Lake, which is guarded by the snow-capped Muztagh Ata Mountain (7546m) and Kongur Tagh Mountain (7649m). Although the weather is too cold for swimming, you can relax along the shoreline or mingle with local shepherds.
Continue to nearby Kyrgyz yurts to listen to the nomads recount stories of traditional mountain life.
Drive to Tashkurgan via the Karakorum Highway (G314), one of Asia’s most beautiful routes. In Tashkurgan, a small town on the Pamir Plateau which was once crisscrossed by the Silk Road, local Uyghur, Tajik and Han people still live a traditional lifestyle. Overnight at the hotel in Tashkurgan.
Meals provided: breakfast, picnic lunch

In the morning, get acquainted with the area by visiting:

  • Tashkurgan Museum, including historical, archeological and cultural exhibits;
  • A local Tajik family, where you will get an up-close glimpse of their home and lifestyle;
  • Tashkurgan Fort (7th century), a stone castle steeped in history where ancient Silk Roads converged.
Go for a light hike around Tashkurgan, enjoying the mountain scenery.
In the afternoon, return to Kashgar (290km, 5hrs) via the Karakorum Highway. En route, visit Opal, a traditional Uyghur village, to see Mahmud Kashgari Mausoleum (11th century), tomb of the famous Uyghur philologist. Overnight at the hotel in Kashgar.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, take a flight to Urumqi (1078km, 2hrs). Arrive in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, and transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon.
Your guide and driver will meet you at your hotel for a private tour to the following sights:

  • Xinjiang Regional Museum, built to reflect Uyghur architecture. See Silk Road treasures and relics from Xinjiang's minority cultures, including 3000-year-old mummies excavated from the Taklamakan Desert.
  • Urumqi International Grand Bazaar, a huge market filled with unique carpets, silks and traditional Uyghur clothing.
Return to the hotel and have a rest. Overnight at the hotel in Urumqi.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, depart Urumqi and transfer to Turpan (200km, 2hrs 30min) to visit:

  • Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, a Silk Road center of Buddhism. Explore some of the 83 caves and 6th-14th century artwork set against a desert landscape;
  • Astana Tombs, a graveyard used from the Jin to Tang Dynasties (3rd – 10th centuries) and known as an underground museum;
  • Gaochang Ruins, the sprawling remains of a city which flourished during Silk Road times.
Overnight at the hotel in Turpan.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, continue your discovery of Turpan at the following:

  • Ancient City of Jiaohe (2nd century BC - 14th century AD) - Silk Road city ruins including gates, streets, cave houses, wells and an underground temple;
  • Karez Well and Water System - an underground irrigation system which funneled water from the mountains into the desert. The site includes a museum which demonstrates how the system works;
  • Emin Minaret and Mosque (18th century) – the tower measures 44 meters in height and 10 meters in diameter. Built by Emin Khoja, a Uyghur general and governor of Turpan, it is known locally as Sugong;
  • Turpan Museum - a two-story gallery with exhibits on Turpan’s history and its role along the Silk Road, in addition to well-preserved mummies excavated in the region.
Transfer to Urumqi (200km, 2hrs 30min). Overnight at the hotel in Urumqi.
Meals provided: breakfast
Check out of the hotel by noon and transfer to Urumqi Diwopu International Airport for departure. End of The Great Silk Road Tour.
Meals provided: breakfast
  • Round-trip airport and train station transfers;
  • Private local guide;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Transportation throughout the tour;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room at hotel (25 nights, with breakfast);
  • Bottled mineral water (1 liter per person per day);
  • Lunch on days 15 and 21;
  • Economy class flight tickets for Tashkent-Urgench and Kashgar-Urumqi routes;
  • Economy class train tickets for Bukhara-Samarkand, Samarkand-Tashkent and Tashkent-Kokand routes.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Flight tickets for Baku-Tashkent route;
  • 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.

Reviews

No tour reviews have been posted yet.