29 days
Duration
Asia and the Orient
Destination
Level 3 - Moderate
Activity

Silk Road specialist small group history tours for mature travellers

Silk Road specialist small group history tours for mature travellers. The Silk Road is an ancient trade route linking China and Imperial Rome through Central Asia. Join us on Odyssey Traveller Australia's  29 day fully escorted small group to this exotic region.  Few areas in the world remain as unexplored. And few offer such richness in terms of ancient and modern history, culture and scenic diversity, as Central Asia.

On this small group tour, we visit China, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, on an epic journey along the ancient Silk Road. Our tour begins in Beijing and concludes, after 29 memorable days, in Tashkent.

Silk road small group tour Itinerary:

Xi'an, Lanzhou and Xiahe

Xi’an was the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and China's earliest capital. So, it is the perfect place from which to commence our tour.  It possesses the longest history of any of China's cities. Our tour then takes us to Lanzhou, the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. We venture further west, into the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. Xiahe is an ethnically Tibetan town home to sprawling monasteries and the verdant Sangke Grassland.

Heading north-west

As we continue north-west, we take in the western termination point of the Great Wall at Jiayuguan, where sections have recently been restored. Jiayuguan is the site of the largest and most intact pass of the Great Wall of China. We will visit the Overhanging Great Wall, an important part of this region's defence. The nearby area of Dunhuang is the location of the Mogao Caves, within which Buddhist treasures and artefacts continue to be discovered.

Turfan and Kashgar

After crossing the spectacular landscape of the southern Gobi Desert, we travel along the northern arm of the Silk Road to the region of Turfan. Here, we explored several archaeological sites. We then move south-west: in this arid far-western part of China, we visit the oasis centre of Kashgar. This city is famous for its multicultural communities and interesting landscapes.

Afterward, we journey to Uzbekistan, where we stay in the fascinating Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. Our final stop is Tashkent, where the tour concludes.

A Fully Escorted Adventure on the Silk road with local guides:

The Silk Road specialist small group history tours for mature travellers explores how cultural influences from both east and west, north and south have shaped this region for over 2,000 years. As one of the world's last travel frontiers, the Silk Road has great appeal to lovers of history and adventure.

We will be accompanied throughout the tour by an Odyssey Traveller Australia Tour Leader. Moreover, in both China and Uzbekistan, there will be English-speaking National Guides throughout. In addition, local guides will be present along the way to assist in the interpretation and presentation of information. This tour is suited to the active senior, looking for something a little different.

For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

Tour Notes
  • Shared compartments only available on the train.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
Visit the World Heritage listed Mogao Grottoes with their spectacular frescoes and fascinating history.
2
Stroll in Kashgar Sunday Grand Bazaar Markets to experience the local life.
3
Experience the Tien Shan range and Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan.
4
Explore the tomb of Emperor Quin and the Terracotta Army, famed as one of the world’s most remarkable archaeological finds.
5
Spend time in the fabled ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, centres of religion, trade, and scholarship, with their wonderful domes.

Overview: On  arrival in Beijing, make your own way to our hotel. We start our tour with an introductory meeting in the late afternoon, followed by a welcome dinner.

Our itinerary reveals all of the wonders of the great city of Xian.

Accommodation: Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we will visit the 6,000 Terracotta Warriors who guard the tomb of Emperor Qin, famed as one of the world’s most remarkable archaeological finds. We also visit the Neolithic archaeological site of Banpo Village. This evening, we enjoy a Tang Dynasty Show with a dumpling dinner.

Accommodation: Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel or similar

Overview: We have a full-day tour to Big Wild Goose Pagoda, one of the loveliest and most photogenic temples in China, and walk the original City Wall which still surrounds the entire city. After this we will be taken on a walk in the artesian street.

The walk will finish at the Forest of Steles Museum. We visit the Great Mosque – one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved Islamic mosques, and walk through the Old City Quarter outside the mosque, then visit the Drum Tower. Today’s sightseeing is concluded by visiting the Provincial Museum which is one of best museums displaying China’s ancient civilisation.

Accommodation: Grand Dynasty Culture Hotel or similar.

Overview: This morning, we enjoy some free time in Xian before we take a high speed train to Lanzhou.

Accommodation: Changxin International Hotel or similar

Overview: We take a coach to Xiahe and visit Sangke Grassland. These grassy plains span around 70km, and have an average altitude of 3000 metres above sea level. Home to Tibetan nomads, the Grassland is a peaceful, and beautiful, place to behold.

Accommodation: Aviation Hotel or similar

Overview: We are in the heart of ethnically Tibetan China, and will today visit Labrang Lamastery. Located on the Daxia River, this monastery is home to largest population of monks outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It was founded in 1709, and strategically positioned at the intersection of Mongolian and Tibetan cultures.

The remainder of our day will be at leisure.

Accommodation: Aviation Hotel or similar

Overview: We take a morning coach back to Lanzhou, and have the afternoon at leisure on arrival.

Accommodation: Changxin International Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we explore Lanzhou, capital of China’s Gansu Province. We visit the Gansu Provincial Museum and the spectacular White Pagoda, secluded within the mountains. We take a walk along the Yellow River and view an Ancient Water Mill, a unique, circular structure made of wood that originated in the Ming dynasty.

Accommodation: Changxin International Hotel or similar

Overview: We take high speed train to Jiayuguan. On arrival, we explore this important town. Jiayuguan is a remote desert town famed as the site of the last Imperial fort on the Great Wall. Remarkably, the entire fortress is intact and its mighty walls soar up as if defying nature and the stark desert surroundings. As huge as the fort is, it is dwarfed by the snow-capped peaks of the Qilian Shan mountain range, which reaches a height of 5,547 metres.

We visit the Great Wall Jiayuguan Pass, Overhanging Great Wall, and the Great Wall Museum.

Accommodation: Great Wall Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we travel by coach to the Dunhuang region, one of the most remote parts of China. It is in this region that the Great Wall finally peters out and vanishes into the dust of the Gansu Desert.

This afternoon, we visit the local grape-growing region. There is a very long history of grape cultivation here, stretching back to the Han dynasty.

Accommodation: Tianrun International Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we cross the Gansu desert to the Mogao Grottoes. Begun in the 4th century, the 492 decorated caves contain 2,000 statues and 45,000 murals. They are the finest example of Buddhist cave art ever discovered. Afterwards, we will have a tour to Crescent Spring & Singing Sands Mountain.

Accommodation: Tianrun International Hotel or similar

Overview: Today, we make our way by high-speed train north-west to Turpan. But first, we visit Dunhuang’s Museum and Silk Factory.

Accommodation: Huozhou Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we have a full-day sightseeing tour including Flaming Mountain, Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Gaochang ancient City, and Ancient Astana Tombs. Then after lunch we will visit Aydingkol Lake. This evening we will be treated to a Singing and Dancing Show.

Accommodation: Houzhou Hotel or similar

Overview: This morning we visit Grape Valley, the Sugong Minaret, and view the Karez Well ancient irrigation system. After lunch we transfer to Urumqi by coach, en route passing a large wind-powered power plant. Urumqi is the capital city of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, set within the Tian Shan Mountains.

Accommodation: Bingtuan Grand Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we have an early-morning start for our full-day tour to Heavenly Lake where we experience a boat ride. Our coach travels 50 kilometres through the grazing lands of the Uighurs and Kazakhs. Their sheep, cattle, and horses never stray far from the yurts of these nomadic folk. We will see the impressive “Peak of God,” which soars 5,445 metres from the desert floor. Halfway up the mountain is the most beautiful of alpine lakes, the “Lake of Heaven,” fed by Mt. Bogda glacier and surrounded by pine and fir trees.

Accommodation: Bingtuan Grand Hotel or similar

Overview: This morning is free to further explore Urumqi at leisure. This afternoon we will visit the Southern Mountain pastureland and take a horse and cart ride to the waterfall.

Accommodation: Bingtuan Grand Hotel or similar

Overview: We transfer this morning to the airport for our flight to Kashgar.

On arrival into Kashgar we will be taken on a sightseeing tour, which includes the beautiful minaretted Abakhoja Romb, the Grand Idagh Mosque and Arts and Crafts street. We also visit the Old Russian embassy and the British embassy.

Kashgar is a fabled city which, until recent years, was closed to Westerners. This exotic oasis town is steeped in mystery and intrigue, and reminds one more of Casablanca or Marrakesh than any other Chinese town. The standard form of taxi is a donkey cart and as you lose yourself in the dusty, backstreet markets of the Old Quarter you will stumble across many a rare treasure for which you will have to bargain fiercely.

Accommodation: Tianyuan International Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we enjoy further sight-seeing, including the unforgettable Sunday Grand Bazaar. We will lunch with a local family, and later stroll through the old city quarter where we will have dinner.

Accommodation: Tianyuan International Hotel or similar

Overview: Today we have a long ride as we drive through the Torugart Pass and into Kyrgyzstan. We first travel in to Torugart Pass by coach and undertake Chinese border formalities. We then travel another 7 kilometres to the Kyrgyzstan border formalities point, before continuing along the uneven and bumpy road to Naryn. Please note that due to the poor conditions of this road we shall be using smaller vehicles for this section.

During this trip we will pass many fields full of wild horses and have fantastic views of the Tian Shan Mountains. En route we will pause to view an old caravanserai, Tash Rabat. Tash Rabat is described as a 16th-century caravanserai, but many believe it may date back to the 9th or 10th centuries when Arabs penetrated into China via this route. Due to the nature of the terrain, there are no restrooms available en route to Naryn. However, when needed, our vehicles will pull over for toilet stops. A pre-packed lunch will be provided for us.

On arrival in Naryn we will transfer to our hotel, and spend the remainder of the day at leisure.

Accommodation: Celestial Mountain Inn Naryn or similar.

Overview: This morning we drive via the picturesque Dolan Pass to Issyk Kul. Issyk Kul was a significant resting point on the northern branch of the Silk Road and Lake Issyk Kul is quite stunning. This afternoon we visit the Cholpan Ata bazaar and view rock drawings dating from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD. Later, we have an excursion to the Petroglyphs’ Museum which contains a number of prehistoric monumental structures and petroglyphs dating from the 2nd millennium BC up to the Middle Ages up to the 6th century.

Accommodation: Royal Beach Resort or similar.

Overview: Today we have an early morning departure for Bishkek, the capital of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, located 200 kilometres to the west of Issyk Kul. En route, we pause at Burana, the ruins of a 9th – 11th century caravan town from the Karakhanid period. We will view the surviving Burana tower and the nearby archaeological museum. We arrive at Bishkek in time for a late lunch.

After lunch, we have a short orientation to Bishkek – a modern city with vast squares, crowded bazaars, impressive administrative centres, and educational institutions. As the major industrial centre of the republic, Bishkek’s factories produce leather goods, agricultural machinery, and a variety of textiles. We will visit the History Museum and the Tsum (Soviet-period supermarket). Dinner will be at a local restaurant, accompanied by traditional music.

Accommodation: Silk Road Lodge or similar.

Overview: We transfer to the airport for the flight to Tashkent. On arrival in Tashkent we will be taken on a city tour including the Underground Railway. After sightseeing we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Bukhara. On arrival in Bukhara we will be transferred to our hotel. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Nodir Devo Begim or similar.

Overview: Our morning tour includes Lyabikhauz, Madrassah Nadirkhon Devanbegi, The Bazaar, Khanaga, Poi Kalon minaret and Mosque, and Madrassah Miri Arab. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we will visit the Mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, Ark Fortress, Balakhauz mosque, Chasma Ayub, and the local bazaar. Outdoor dinner with light classical music will be at Modari Khan Madrassah.

Accommodation: Nodir Devo Begim or similar.

Overview: Today we will be transferred by bus to Samarkand. En route we will visit Sitora-i-Mokhikhosa, the Summer Palace of the Former Emir of Bukhara. We will then proceed to Gijduvan to see the traditional pottery works of Alisher. Lunch will be with Alisher’s family. On arrival in Samarkand we will be transferred to our hotel.

Accommodation: Registan Plaza Hotel or similar.

Overview: We have a morning tour including a visit to Registan Square to see the 3 beautiful Madrassahas, Bibi Khanum Mosque, the Silk Road Bazaar, and Shahi Zinda Necropolis. Lunch will be at the hotel and we have an afternoon visit to Afrosiab Museum and site, Ulugbek’s Observatory, and Gur Emir & the Mausoleum of Tamerlane. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Registan Plaza Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we will enjoy an excursion to Shakre Sabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. We will see the ruins of Ak Saray Palace, Dorus Tilavat Seminary, Kok Gumbaz Mosque, Dorus Saidat, and the Friday Mosque. Lunch will be at a local restaurant and later in the afternoon we return to Samarkand. Dinner will be at the hotel.

Accommodation: Registan Plaza Hotel or similar.

Overview: We have a free morning in Samarkand for personal sightseeing or shopping. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. This afternoon we will be transferred by bus to Tashkent. En route we will visit some village markets. On arrival in Tashkent we will be transferred to our hotel.

Accommodation: International Hotel or similar.

Overview: This morning we visit Hast Imam complex, Barak Khana, and the Tila Shaikh Mosque and archives. Later we proceed to Chorsu Bazaar, Kukeldesh Madrassah, and Akbar’s pottery museum and workshop. Then we visit the Friendship Square and Museum of Applied Arts. Lunch will be at the hotel. In the afternoon we will be taken to the Navoi Theatre and shall see the day’s performance. Tonight we will be treated to a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: International Hotel or similar.

Overview: We have a free morning in Tashkent before checking out of our hotel at noon. After checkout, we will be taken to lunch before an afternoon sightseeing tour of the Fine Arts Museum, Amir Timur Museum, and Amir Timur Park. Dinner will be at a local restaurant before our transfer to the airport.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 27 nights of hotel accommodation.
  • Rail travel in 4 berth compartments with shared facilities (1 night).
  • 27 breakfasts, 27 lunches, and 28 dinners.
  • Internal flight sectors are included as per itinerary.
  • Touring in best available air-conditioned coaches.
  • All transfers and porterage (1 bag per person) except in local airports where porterage is usually not available.
  • Comprehensive sightseeing tours with English speaking guides, including all entrances fees throughout.
  • Visa assistance with letters of invitation to Uzbekistan.
  • Services of a Tour Leader.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • International airfares and departure taxes.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Visas.
  • Meals on the trains (but available for purchase).
  • Items of a personal nature eg. Drinks, telephone calls.

Silk Road specialist small group history tours for mature travellers
The Registran in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

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