Silk Road Explorer

16 Days, from AU $4,547

Big Almaty Lake

Strategically positioned along the Silk Route, the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva in Uzbekistan were famed trading centres for the caravans that passed this way in ancient times. On this trip we follow in their footsteps, discovering magnificent architecture and bustling bazaars that have changed little since the rule of Tamerlane. Along the way we'll stay with a family in the Nuratau Mountains, barter at China's world famous Kashgar Sunday Market and be impressed by the beauty of Kazakhstan’s pretties city – Almaty. This is a spectacular journey to the heart of Central Asia.

Our Discovery itineraries explore a destination in depth, with carefully selected experiences, and ample free time for relaxation. Like all GetAboutAsia trips, Discovery itineraries can be customised to create your perfect holiday. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

 

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Kashgar

Arrive at the Uighur heart of China, the truly exotic Kashgar.

Kashgar is an oasis city on the western extremity of China, near the border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Throughout history the city has often been independent from China and aligned with kingdoms to the west. The city today is still an important trading hub with a fascinating mix of cultures, and probably the least Han Chinese city in China.

Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, built by Saqsiz Mirza in 1442 on the site of an older structure built in 996. Take a walk through the city streets and notice the cultural differences between Kashgar and the eastern cities of China. You may notice that Kashgar feels far more Middle Eastern than what we picture as Chinese.

Day 2: Kashgar

Day 2 of your trip is a Sunday, the day of the most extravagant market in all of China and perhaps anywhere on the Silk Road - the Kashgar Animal Bazaar.

Early in the monring you'll visit the Kashgar Animal Bazaar to experience people bargaining, buying, selling and transporting all different types of animals. Stand aside and observe the frenzied atmosphere while enjoying a samsa - a local speciality. You'll also see plenty of traditional fabrics, nuts, spices and normal household goods being sold in the stalls.

Day 3: Almaty

In the morning fly from Kashgar to Almaty in Kazakhstan. This sprawling city of 2 million people is located in the picturesque foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains and is easily the most cosmopolitan and European city in Central Asia. In the afternoon of day 3 your local guide will show you the sights of this impressive city.

Day 4: Almaty

Today we take part in a full day excursion into the spectacular mountains that surround Almaty. Travel to the Big Almaty Lake which is like a shining mirror, surrounded on all sides by magnificent peaks, changing colour depending on the season, from pale green to turquoise blue.

Day 5: Tashkent

Fly from Almaty to the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent. On arrival your local guide will show you the sights of the old soviet city of Tashkent as well as the colourful markets. Here, you will encounter the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Central Asia.

This afternoon see Tashkent's main sights including the central square Amir Timur or Tamerlane's Square, the Alisher Navoi Opera Theatre, the Chorsu Bazaar and the old town's mosques and madrassahs. The old part of the city is the center of traditional local cuisine. Between Kukeldash Madrassah and the Chorsu Bazaar you will find a great number of chaikhanas cafes and eating houses where you can snack on a kebab, shawrma or an Uzbek somsa.

Day 6: Nuratau Mountains Homestay

Today we depart the capital city and travel to an off-the-beaten-track location for a taste of rural life in Uzbekistan.

Here, we discover the spectacular Nuratau Mountains with its authentic villages and friendly people. Tonight we stay in a rustic mountain homestay owned by friends of the Get About Asia team, relax under a walnut tree while dining on home-cooked traditional fare.

Day 7: Samarkand

After breakfast with our gracious hosts, we depart in a private vehicle to Samarkand. No city is as evocative of the Silk Road as the golden Samarkand. Registan Square is the most spectacular architectural ensemble in all of Central Asia. Made up of three madrasas (places of learning) and a mosque, this beautiful square is simply inspiring.

Day 8: Samarkand

On day 8 we will have a guided tour of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including The Registan, Ulugbek Medressa, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.

Day 9: Samarkand

Our drive into the Zerafshan Mountains provides us with magnificent views as we travel to Shakrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane and where the ruined entrance towers of his Ak-Serai Palace still stand. Shakrisabz is a pretty market town with winding mud lanes of traditional homes. The town has a relaxed atmosphere among its many mosques and teahouses and is a great place to unwind for a few hours.

Return to Samarkand where you will have more time to explore the city. Our stay here is in a traditional boutique hotel.

Day 10: Bukhara

Our destination today is the fascinating city of Bukhara.

A UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, Bukhara is widely regarded as Central Asia’s holiest city. With more than one hundred officially preserved monuments, there is a lot to see and you have an extensive sightseeing program here spread over two days to make the most of your time. With many monuments dating from the 8th to the 18th century AD, there is a vast span of history and architecture to uncover and the meticulous restoration of many of the mosaic and majolica decorations give you a true sense of how these buildings looked in their original glory

Day 11: Bukhara

Today we enjoy a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area. With its narrow alleyways and bustling bazaars, Bukhara is the quintessential Silk Road city. Today enjoy a full day tour through the old streets of Bukhara, some of the highlights include the Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison, Ark Fortress, Kalyan Square with its great minaret and the Ismael Samani Mausoleum dating from the 10th century.

Our two night stay here is in a former merchants home from the 1850s - now a traditional boutique hotel.

Day 12: Khiva

A long drive through the haunting Kyzylkum Desert brings you Khiva. Here, you’ll explore the winding alleyways, tiled madrassa's and beautiful palaces in one of the most iconic and enthralling cities ever to grace the historic Silk Road.

Day 13: Khiva

Today enjoy a full days excursion to medieval Khiva. With your guide you will be able to wander through the maze of twisting alleyways and visit the Kunya Ark or old citadel, the Emir's Palace and the magnificent Juma Mosque with its 200 individually carved wooden pillars. Our stay here is in a traditional boutique hotel.

Day 14: Fergana Valley

Early in the morning transfer from Khiva to the Urgench airport and fly to Tashkent. Upon arrival, transfer in a private vehicle (4 hours) via the magnificent Khan's Palace in Kokand before arriving in the pleasant city of Fergana.

Day 15: Fergana Valley

Today we visit one of the most exotic Sunday markets in all of Central Asia in the nearby city of Margilon. After a few hours in Margilon we travel to Andijan, only a 45 minute drive away. The Sunday market here is just as fascinating. After lunch we visit a pottery factory in Rishton and the Yodgorlik silk making centre in Margilon. After a long day we return to Fergana where we’ll have dinner with a local family.

Day 16: Fergana Valley

Today is departure day. There are no activities planned and you may depart at any time. Hotel check out is at 11am.

Please contact us if you require an optional transfer to the Tashkent airport for your flight home.

Itinerary Option: There is also an option to continue on your Silk Road adventure on our 18 day Wild Kyrgyzstan Adventure.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $4,547

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • Lunch and dinner as indicated on trip notes. We do not include lunch and dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.
Notes:

This trip package includes 2 internal flights (Kashgar-Almaty and Almaty-Tashkent) which retail at about 500 AUD per flight.

Visas for China
Almost all nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. Give yourself at least 3-4 weeks. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be very difficult to obtain outside your country of residence.

Hong Kong and Macau are not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities (please check) do not require a visa.

Visas for Uzbekistan
All nationalities require a visa and a Letter of Invitation for Uzbekistan. Please contact Get About Asia in order to apply.

Money in Uzbekistan
Your ATM, Visa or Mastercard will not work in Uzbekistan.

You need to bring cash in US dollars (100s, 50s, 20s) with you to change into the local currency. You will use this local currency while in the country.

The notes should be crisp and perfect with no folds or marks and should be no older than 2006.

Visas for Kazakhstan
All nationalities require a visa and a Letter of Invitation for Kazakhstan. Please contact Get About Asia in order to apply.

Money in Kazakhstan
Your ATM, Visa or Mastercard will work in Kazakhstan but please bring USD with you just in case.

Some ATMS in Almaty and Astana have been known to not dispense local currency.

Please bring cash in US dollars (100s, 50s, 20s) with you to change into the local currency. You will use this local currency while in the country.

The notes should be crisp and perfect with no folds or marks and should be no older than 2006.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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"Bukhara, Kiva, Samarkand (Uzbekistan) were our favourites, impressive sightseeing, colourful historical buildings and friendly people, we had a great time! Hotels and guides were good." — Family Froidevaux & Berton, Victoria, July 2015

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