Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan 11-Day Tour

11
Days
Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, Bishkek, Kochkor, Burana, Son-Kul, Issyk-Kul

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan may be neighbors, but they’re as different as night and day. Uzbekistan offers larger-than-life storybook kingdoms in the form of stunningly gorgeous medieval architecture, accentuated by colorful traditional garb, aromatic spices and charming people. Kyrgyzstan flaunts jaw-dropping mountain backdrops against an awe-inspiring nomadic culture, hospitable families and a surprising patchwork of ancient and Soviet-era remnants.
Pack your bags for the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan 11-Day Tour, a seamless blend of city tours and mountain getaways, historical sightseeing and cultural immersion experiences in Central Asia’s two most popular countries. Ride the underground metro in Tashkent, learn carpet-weaving skills in Samarkand, and enjoy nomadic hospitality and therapeutic surroundings in Kochkor, Son-Kul and Issyk-Kul. From Bukhara to Bishkek to Burana Tower, this is a journey full of learning, discovery and relaxation in Central Asia’s heartland.

Arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital. Transfer to the hotel, where check-in begins at noon, and have a rest after your flight. Your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel to begin your Tashkent city tour:
  • Excursion to the Old City, including the Khazret-Imam Architectural Complex, which holds the oldest known Quran in the world.
  • Visit to Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent’s most well-established bazaar that includes a large selection of traditional ceramics, jewelry, handbags, garments and more.
  • Ride on the Tashkent Metro, an immaculate subway system with each station decorated in colored mosaics and ceramics to depict a specific theme.
  • Walk through Amir Temur Square, with a massive statue of none other than Tamerlane himself at the center.
  • Exploration of Independence Square, including the moving Mourning Mother Monument and the Eternal Flame, burning continuously in memory of more than half a million Uzbek soldiers who died during World War II.
  • Drive to the Sacred Heart Cathedral, a 20th-century Roman Catholic Church with beautiful stained-glass windows and Gothic-style architecture.
  • Tour of the Applied Arts Museum, an informative collection of Uzbekistan’s finest handicrafts housed in an ornately decorated villa.
Overnight in Tashkent.
Tour duration: 4-5 hours
Breakfast at the hotel before taking the morning train to Bukhara (580km, 4hrs).
Arrive in Bukhara and transfer to your hotel in the Old City, an area resembling a scene from Arabian Nights. Enjoy a walking tour of the most impressive sights of Bukhara’s Old City:
  • Lyabi-Hauz Ensemble, holding the largest artificial reservoir of medieval Bukhara (14th-17th centuries). This ensemble includes some of the largest madrassahs in the city: the Khanaka Madrassah, Kukeldash Madrassah and Nadir Divan Beghi Madrassah (all 16th century).
  • Magoki-Attori Mosque, the oldest mosque in Bukhara (12th century).
  • Four Trade Domes (15th-16th centuries), which still house local handicrafts for sale.
  • Poi Kalyan Ensemble (12th-16th centuries), consisting of the Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque, Amir-Alimkhan Madrasah and Miri-Arab Madrasah.
  • Ulugbek Madrasah (15th century) and Abdulazizkhan Madrasah (17th century), relatively untouched yet impressive religious schools.
  • Ark Fortress (4th century), the ancient center of Bukharan statehood and currently home to a small museum.
  • Bolo-Khauz Complex, consisting of an artfully decorated 18th century mosque, a minaret and reservoirs that once provided water for the entire city.
  • Samanids Mausoleum (9th-10th centuries), believed to be the most ancient brick building in Central Asia, and the Chashma Ayub Mausoleum.
Overnight in Bukhara.
Tour duration: 6-7 hours
After breakfast, enjoy free time until noon. Check out from the hotel and continue your tour of Bukhara region:
  • Chor Minor (Four Minarets), an unusual madrassah built by Niyazkul in the 18th century, whose four minarets are said to reflect the four major world religions of that period.
  • Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa (19th century), the emir’s summer residence boasting of a blend of Oriental and Russian architecture.
  • Bakhautdin Naqsband Mausoleum, an ensemble dedicated to the founder of the Sufi Order "Naqshbandia"; the site includes a mausoleum, mosque, pond, and museum.
  • Fayzulla Khodjaev House Museum, a replica of a 19th century Bukharan home and tribute to this influential leader’s life.
Transfer to the train station to catch the bullet train to Samarkand (280km, 1.5hrs). Arrive in Samarkand, the capital of Tamerlane's Empire. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Samarkand.
Tour duration: 3-4 hours
Breakfast at the hotel before beginning your Samarkand tour to the following sites:
  • Gur Emir, the imposing burial site of Tamerlane and Mirzo Ulugbek.
  • Registan Square, the commercial center of Samarkand for centuries and Samarkand’s most famous site today. The square includes three madrasahs: Ulugbek Madrasah (15th century), Sher-Dor Madrasah (17th century) and Tilla-Kori Madrasah (17th century).
  • A boulevard lined with workshops, souvenir stores and ice cream stands.
  • Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by Tamerlane for his favorite wife.
  • Siab Bazaar, a multi-level complex where you can shop for souvenirs and sample sweets, fruits and Samarkand’s famous bread.
  • Shakhi-Zinda, a burial complex built between the 9th-14th centuries. Climb the blue-domed path and explore more than 20 small mausoleums that line the broad alleyway.
  • Ulugbek Observatory, where you can see the remains of a 14th-15th century sextant and tour the Ulugbek Museum.
Overnight at the hotel.
Tour duration: 6-7 hours
Breakfast and hotel check-out. Your sightseeing tour of Samarkand will continue with trips to these culturally significant sights:
  • Visit to the excavation site and museum of the ancient city Afrosiab.
  • Tour of Khodja Daniyar Mausoleum, believed to be the tomb of the prophet Daniel, whose remains were brought here by Tamerlane.
  • Drive to Konigil Village to observe the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry leaves.
  • Excursion to the Oriental Silk Carpet Factory to see firsthand how top-quality carpets are created. You can even learn basic skills from the masters and try carpet-weaving yourself!
Transfer to the railway station to catch the afternoon train to Tashkent (330km, 2.5hrs). You’ll be met at the Tashkent station and taken to the hotel. Overnight in Tashkent.
Tour duration: 4-5 hours
In the morning, transfer to Tashkent International Airport for a flight to Bishkek (472km, 1hr,10min).
Upon arrival in Bishkek, your driver will meet you to take you to your hotel. Begin your sightseeing tour of Bishkek, which will take you to the following:
  • Ala Too Square, Bishkek’s large central square that maintains a distinctly Soviet feel. Watch the hourly changing of the guards, take a selfie under the large Kyrgyzstan flag and pay your respects to a Kyrgyz legend at Manas Monument.
  • Old Square with the Parliament House, a regal piece of 20th century architecture supported by 16 grand columns, and Lenin Statue, relegated to its current place after being supplanted by Manas in Ala Too Square.
  • Philharmonic Hall, a stately Bishkek landmark whose courtyard is a popular meeting place for local students and youth.
  • Oak Park, where the beautiful tree lined Erkindik Boulevard will take you to a statue of Kurmanjan Datka, a prominent 19th century Kyrgyz leader known as the “Queen of the Mountains”.
  • Opera and Ballet House, a stylish hall serving as a key center for the arts in the capital.
  • Victory Square, which honors those who lost their lives in World War II with an Eternal Flame burning under a sizable granite half-yurt.
Drive back to the hotel. Overnight in Bishkek.
In the morning your guide and driver will pick you up from your Bishkek hotel and head to Kochkor (200km, 3hrs). After a 1.5-hour drive (80km), stop in the small town of Tokmok for an excursion to Burana Tower and Museum Complex:
  • Burana Tower (11th century), a 25-meter-high minaret that impresses with its intricately chiseled exterior. The only remaining structure from Balasagun city, it affords a memorable climb up its dark and winding stairwell, with a spectacular view at the top to reward you for your efforts.
  • Balbals (6th century), round stone figures used as grave markers and memorial stones of the deceased.
  • Museum containing items found in Balasagun including jewelry, pottery and religious objects.
  • Petroglpyhs (2nd century) and mausoleums (9th century).
Continue driving to Kochkor, a Kyrgyz village whose residents are known for their creation of Shyrdak felt rugs, embroideries and other handicrafts. Plunge into Kyrgyz village culture through the following:
  • Lunch in the home of a local family.
  • Kochkor Regional Museum, including a display of local arts, historical exhibitions and a cluster of yurts.
  • Altyn Kol Workshop, where you’ll have the chance to watch a demonstration on Shyrdak production, try your hand at the classical art and support village artisans by purchasing handmade souvenirs.
Free time afterwards to roam about the village, take photos and observe local ways of life. Dinner and overnight in Kochkor guesthouse.
After breakfast, drive to Son-Kul Lake (110km, 2hrs), which at 3000m above sea level is the highest lake in Kyrgyzstan.
Spend the day living like a true nomad and acquainting yourself with the culture of the mountain Kyrgyz people. Enjoy time with friendly Kyrgyz families and taste their fresh ayran (yogurt) and kumis (horse milk). Go horseback riding and take photos with the camels, yaks and eagles tended by local herdsmen, or take time to sit and reflect by the lake, relaxing in the fresh mountain air.
After dinner, free time to go for a hike or a walk about the yurt camp. Overnight in yurts at Son Kul Lake.
Wake up early to watch the sun rise and enjoy a camp-style breakfast. Depart Son-Kul and drive to Issyk-Kul Lake (250km, 3.5hrs). Arrive to Cholpon-Ata, a small town situated on the northern shores of the mountain lake.
Visit the Museum of Petroglyphs (app. 500BC-100AD), a sprawling open-air museum full of grave markers and ancient drawings. Wander through this stone garden, discovering the balbals and sketches for yourself.
After the tour, transfer to the hotel in Cholpon-Ata. Free time in the evening to enjoy the peaceful environ. Overnight at Cholpon-Ata.
After breakfast, enjoy free time at Lake Issyk-Kul before returning to Bishkek in the afternoon (260km, 4hrs). Upon arrival, check in to your hotel, followed by free time in the evening for rest or an evening stroll around the capital. Overnight in Bishkek.
Free time in the morning for packing or last-minute souvenir shopping. Transfer to Manas International Airport to fly to your next destination. End of Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan 11-Day Tour.

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