Urumqi to Ashgabat Silk Road Tour

China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan

On the Urumqi to Ashgabat Silk Road Tour you will step into the shoes of explorers of old to experience the colorful chaos of historic Central Asia. Come embark on a discovery like no other: regal Tamerlane-era empires, bazaars laden with ripe fruits and freshly baked breads, cities shrouded in the authentic atmosphere of the medieval East and diverse peoples heir to long-held traditions.
Central Asia is infused with Silk Road splendor, for the trade artery’s most prominent routes snaked through the present-day nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Urumqi in western China. The memory of ancient merchants is recalled in the bazaars of Kashgar, Tashkent and Samarkand, while echoes of glorious caravan cities remain in places such as Bukhara, Merv and Bishkek.

Arrive in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. 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 traditional Uyghur architecture. See archaeological treasures from the Silk Road and cultural relics from Xinjiang's minority cultures, including 3000-year-old mummies excavated from Loulan in the Taklamakan Desert.
  • Urumqi International Grand Bazaar, a huge oriental market filled with unique crafts, carpets, Chinese silk and traditional Uyghur clothing woven by skilled seamstresses.
Return to the hotel and have a rest. Overnight at the hotel in Urumqi.
Meals provided: none

In the morning, take a flight to Kashgar (1078km, 2hrs). Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel to drop off your luggage. With a local guide, enjoy 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 browse and 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, knives, hats, fresh produce, carpets and jewelry. A horse and livestock bazaar is also located nearby.
Overnight at the hotel in Kashgar.
Meals provided: breakfast
After breakfast, drive to the Irkeshtan border crossing (230km, 4h). Pass through the border to meet your Kyrgyz driver, who will take you to Osh via the village of Sary-Tash (260km, 4h). Bask in the spectacular views along the way. Overnight at the hotel in Osh.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, your guide and driver will meet you to begin a short sightseeing tour to the following:

  • Sulaiman Too National Historical and Archaeological Museum - one of the largest museums in Kyrgyzstan, it’s housed in a mountain cave;
  • Dom Babura (Bobur’s Prayer House, 16th century) - built by Bobur, founder of the Mughal Empire;
  • Silk Road Museum - a collection of artefacts discovered on Sulaiman Too Mountain.

Head to the airport for a flight to Bishkek (300km, 40min). Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel. In late afternoon, take a city tour to the following:

  • Ala Too Square, Bishkek’s large central square with a distinctly Soviet feel. Watch the hourly changing of the guards, take a selfie under the Kyrgyzstan flag and pay respects to a Kyrgyz legend at Manas Monument;
  • Old Square, including Parliament House and Lenin Statue;
  • Philharmonic Hall, a stately Bishkek landmark whose courtyard is a popular meeting place for locals;
  • Oak Park, including the tree-lined Erkindik Boulevard and statue of Kurmanjan Datka, a 19th- century Kyrgyz leader nicknamed “Queen of the Mountains”.
Overnight at the hotel in Bishkek.
Meals provided: breakfast

In the morning, fly to Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital (470km, 1hr 10min). Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon. Your guide and driver will pick you up for your private city tour to the following:

Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, transfer to the train station to take the Tashkent - Samarkand train (330km, 2.5hrs). Arrive in Samarkand, capital of Tamerlane's Empire, and transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon.
Led by an experienced local guide, your private tour of Samarkand will include:

  • Gur-Emir, 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, 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

After breakfast, take the morning train to Bukhara (280km, 1.5hrs). Arrive in Bukhara, one of the most esteemed cities of Islamic civilization, and transfer to your hotel in the Old City.
With your local guide, explore Bukhara on a walking tour to 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).
Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, continue your tour of Bukhara’s famous historical sites:

  • 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, a minaret and reservoirs;
  • Samanids Mausoleum (9th-10th centuries), the oldest brick building in Central Asia;
  • Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, otherwise known as Job’s well;
  • Chor Minor (Four Minarets, 18th century), an unusual madrasah whose minarets are said to reflect the four major world religions of that period;
  • Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa (19th century), the emir’s summer residence which blends Oriental and Russian architecture.
Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara.
Meals provided: breakfast
In the morning, depart for the Turkmenistan border (100km, 1hr, 30min)and pass through border formalities on foot. Meet your Turkmen guide and drive to Mary (300km, 4h), an ancient city that was a major center of international trade and artisanship on the Silk Road.
Arrive in Mary and check in to the hotel before visiting Mary History Museum. Housed in a marble hall, the museum has six main exhibition rooms containing artifacts from ancient and modern times. Overnight at the hotel in Mary.
Meals provided: breakfast

After breakfast, travel to Merv (40km, 40min), an ancient trade center on the Great Silk Road and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guided tour of Merv will include:

  • 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;
  • Beni Makhan Mosque (7th- 9th centuries) - also called Juma Mosque, it’s located in Gyaur Kala, along with a cistern that still functions today;
  • Muhammad Ibn Zeid Mausoleum (12th century) - popular Sufi shrine with symmetrical architecture.
Return to Mary to take a domestic flight to Ashgabat (370km, 40min). Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Ashgabat.
Meals provided: breakfast

Spend the day touring Ashgabat with your private local guide and driver. Meet at the hotel to begin your tour to the following sites:

  • Old Nisa, a spectacular archaeological site 15 kilometers from Ashgabat. Nisa was capital of the Parthian Empire and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, the largest mosque in Central Asia which includes the tombs of former president Turkmenbashy and his immediate family members.
  • Arch of Neutrality, a 95-meter-high tower topped with a gold statue of Turkmenbashy that rotates to face the sun. Ride to the top in a funicular to tour a small museum and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
  • Independence Park, including the yurt-shaped Independence Monument surrounded by lavish fountains and 27 statues of key historical figures.
  • National Museum of History, displaying over half a million items from every region of the country, including many rare artifacts.
Travel to Akhalteke horse stables (app. 1 hour from Ashgabat) to learn about the care and training of these pure-bred horses known for their speed, agility and sleek beauty.
Return to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Ashgabat.
Meals provided: breakfast
Check out of the hotel by noon and transfer to Ashgabat International Airport for departure. End of Urumqi to Ashgabat Silk Road 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 (11 nights, with breakfast);
  • Bottled mineral water (1 liter per person per day);
  • Economy class train tickets for Tashkent-Samarkand and Samarkand-Bukhara routes (on rare occasions when the high-speed train is unavailable, we will replace it with a reservation on the regular train);
  • Economy class flight tickets for Urumqi-Kashgar, Osh-Bishkek, Bishkek-Tashkent and Mary-Ashgabat.
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Lunches and dinners;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • All other charges and services not mentioned under Inclusions;
  • Tips are not included but are appreciated.


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