This newly developed Central Asia small group tour offers a guaranteed departure on September 9, 2023, with an optional extension to the fascinating Kazakhstan capital of Astana.
This 18-day journey along the ancient silk road is an incredible adventure, offering an insight into the rich cultural heritage and historic cities of Central Asia's Stan countries. The silk road played a crucial role in the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures between eastern and western civilizations, and this journey offers an opportunity to retrace the steps of the world-famous explorers who traveled along this route. We visit some of the most significant historic cities in Central Asia, such as Samarkand, Khiva, and Bukhara (all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites) known also for their stunning architecture, vibrant markets, and ancient monuments. These cities were once important stops along the silk road, and their historical significance is still felt today.
This tour also promises a small group experience, allowing travelers to get up close and personal with the local culture and people. The optional extension to Astana, the fascinating capital of Kazakhstan, is also a great addition, offering a unique opportunity to see the modern land of the Kazakhs i.e. Kazakhstan.
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour|
|1.||Historic Centre of Bukhara, Uzbekistan||2.||Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures, Uzbekistan|
|3.||Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz, Uzbekistan||4.||Itchan Kala – Khiva, Uzbekistan|
|5.||Silk Roads: Route Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor|
|Price (From)||:||US$ 5590|
|Includes international air|
Day 01: Saturday, September 9, 2023: Arrive Tashkent (UZBEKISTAN)
Arrival at Tashkent Airport and you are welcomed by your guide and transferred to your hotel. The guide will be holding a placard with your name Balance of the day is free to explore the leafy streets of Tashkent or take a break and rest before the journey ahead. Get ready to step into the world of ancient monuments and cultural traditions that testify to the rich history of the Silk Road. Uzbekistan is Central Asia's crowning jewel, and it's full of wonders waiting to be discovered. Our journey commences in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Tashkent is known for its many museums and a mix of modern and Soviet-era architecture that creates a unique cityscape.
Overnight: Hotel Lotte, Tashkent (2 nights)
Day 02: Sunday, September 10, 2023: Tashkent
Our exploration starts in the Old City where we explore the Khast-Imom Complex. This remarkable site is home to the 1,300-year-old Quran of Caliph Uthman, the 3rd Caliph of the early Islamic days. Continue to the 16th C Madrasah of Barak-Khan, Tilla Sheikh Mosque, Mausoleum of the Saint Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi, and the Islamic Institute of Imam al-Bukhari, each boasting incredible architecture with varied cultural experiences. Then at the vibrant Chor-Su Bazaar, we immerse ourselves in the local culture and visit the Amir Timur Museum, which houses manuscripts, weapons, and other relics from the Timurid dynasty. Timur was a Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire in and around modern-day Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia. His empire later had a big role in the founding of the Moghuls in India – the highly acclaimed builders of gardens, forts, mausoleums – the most well-known being the Taj Mahal. Evening, we take a ride on the Tashkent Metro. The metro is one of the best-kept secrets of the city, and we will see stunning architecture at each station. Until recently, there was a ban on photographing the stations, but the ban has now been lifted, so be sure to bring your cameras! Welcome dinner at a local restaurant accompanied by a musical performance. It's the perfect way to start our Central Asian adventure! (B, D)
Day 03: Monday, September 11, 2023: Tashkent/Urgench (Flight) /Khiva
After our flight to Urgench and a short drive and we are in Khiva, the Silk Road Caravan Serai. Check in at our hotel and the balance of the day is free. Khiva is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has retained its culture and traditions for hundreds of years. It was the former capital of Khwarezmia, the Khanate of Khiva, and the Khorezm People's Soviet Republic. The city boasts impressive architecture and is home to numerous madrasahs, mosques, and mausoleums, making it a fascinating place to explore. Take your time wandering through the narrow, maze-like streets and marveling at the intricate tilework and ornate facades of the buildings. Visit the Kalta Minor Minaret, the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum, and the Juma Mosque, each with their own unique history and architecture style. In the evening, relax and enjoy the charming atmosphere of this ancient city with dinner comprising specialities of the cuisine of Khiva.
Overnight: Hotel Grand Vizir/ Zarafshan Boutique Hotel, Khiva (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 04: Tuesday, September 12, 2023: Khiva
A full day has been set aside to explore Khiva's rich history and stunning architecture. The Ichan-Kala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a well-preserved example of the Islamic architecture of Central Asia. Our walking tour takes us through the city's ancient streets, where we visit iconic landmarks such as the Kalta Minor, a towering half-finished minaret, and the Madrassah Rakhimkhon. From Kunya Arg, we take in a panoramic view of Khiva's impressive monuments. Later, we visit the Hunarmand workshops, where skilled artisans create traditional crafts such as textiles, ceramics, and woodcarvings. We then visit the Mausoleum of Pakhalavan Makhmud, which features exquisite tile work and serves as a tribute to the great wrestler and poet.
We will also visit the impressive Islam Khodja Minaret & Museum, as well as the Friday Mosque and the newly-renovated summer residence of the last Khan of Khiva. To top off our day, we have a unique opportunity to experience Khiva hospitality firsthand and connect with locals as we visit a family for tea at their home. (B, D)
Day 05: Wednesday, September 13, 2023: Khiva/Bukhara (Drive)
Our destination today is the world-renowned historical city of Bukhara. The journey to Bukhara passes through scenic views of the Kyzyl Kum desert. We will have some stops enroute to meet the village folks and taste the famous Uzbekistan bread and other edibles.
Welcome to Bukhara, a city that will transport you to the enchanting world of Arabian Nights or as it is also known as 1001 Nights. Bukhara is one of the four UNESCO cultural Heritage Sites in Uzbekistan and its history dates back to over 2,000 years. The city still contains hundreds of well-preserved mosques, madrassas, bazaars and caravanserais, dating from the 9th to the 17th C’s. It was a prominent stop on the Silk Road trade route between the East and the West and remains till today as the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact. During the day, we will have lunch at a local restaurant before reaching Bukhara where We check in to our hotel. Balance of the day is free. Evening, we are treated to an hour-long folk show at Nadir Divan-Begi Madrassah. The evening show takes place in the courtyard of this historical 17thC monument. Uzbek dances from each region: Ferghana, Khorezm, Bukhara, Andijan, as well as dances from Iran and Tajikistan. A fashion show highlighting the work of Uzbek fashion designers takes place between the dances. The clothing featured shows how they combine a modern style and national traditions. Some hujras (cells), exhibiting Uzbek clothes, accessories, ceramics makes it even more interesting. This will be followed by a delicious Bukhari dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Hotel Komil Boutique Hotel/Hotel Minora-i-Kalon, Bukhara (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 06: Thursday, September 14, 2023: Bukhara
Full day tour to admire the wealth of historical and cultural attractions that Bukhara offers. Admire the stunning Poi Kalon minaret and mosque, marvel at the intricate designs of the Aziz Khan and Ulugbek madrassahs. Continue to the unique Tim Abdullah covered market (built 1577) and get the real cultural feel at the Tilpak Frushan Market, Mohgaki Attari mosque, and the architectural complex of Lyabikhauz. Continue to explore the Arg Fortress, Zindan (the prison), Balakhauz mosque, Ismail Samanid mausoleum and Chasma Ayub (Job's spring). These historical sites are sure to captivate you with their fascinating stories and architectural beauty. In the evening, we take a leisurely stroll through the old Jewish quarters of Bukhara. The day ends with a unique experience as we visit miniature master Davlat Toshev, a Sufi painter renowned for his excellent miniatures. You'll have the opportunity to see his workshop and enjoy an intimate dinner with his family, a true highlight of the tour. (B, D)
Day 07: Friday, September 15, 2023: Bukhara/Samarkand (Train or Drive)
Today, Journey back in time to the fabled city of Samarkand, a legendary Silk Road checkpoint and one of the most beautiful cities in Central Asia. Our deluxe bullet train ride will provide a comfortable and leisurely departure as we make our way to this magnificent city, conquered by Alexander the Great in 329 B.C. Samarkand is steeped in history and is home to some of the most breathtaking architectural wonders in the world. In 1366, the city was captured by Timur, also known as Tamerlane. As we wander through the city's streets and marvel at its grand buildings, you'll notice the resemblance in the architectural designs of Samarkand with that of the Moghul monuments in India and Pakistan. The influence of Timur and his descendants is still evident in the city's stunning buildings and rich cultural heritage. Upon arrival at this marvel city, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before checking into our hotel. Balance of the day is free. Evening, visit Samarkand's legendary Registan Square for a riveting backlight & night illumination on the monuments, so all three Madrassahs on Registan are lightened. This is an opportunity to witness the city's grandeur under a different light and learn more about its rich history and cultural significance. It is at this very venue, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the prestigious Aga Khan Architecture Award of 1984 took place.
Overnight: Hotel Grand Samarkand or Hotel Gur Emir Palace, Samarkand (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 08: Saturday, September 16, 2023: Samarkand
Samarkand was, and still is, a crossroad and melting pot of the world's cultures. Founded in the 7th C (B.C.) as ancient Afrasiab, Samarkand had its most significant development in the Timurid period from the 14th and 15th C’s. As we explore the city's magical monuments and winding streets, we'll witness its rich history and cultural heritage.
Our discovery begins with a day time visit of the Registan Square. The stunning architecture and intricate mosaics will take your breath away as you immerse yourself in the city's history and grandeur. Walking through the narrow lanes we'll explore Bibi Khanum's Mosque and Siyob Bazaar, a fascinating market reminiscent of the ancient Silk Road times. The vibrant colors and bustling atmosphere will transport you back in time to the days when traders and travelers from all over the world converged in Samarkand. At the Shahi Zinda royal necropolis, you'll have the opportunity to admire the intricate tile work and ornate tombs of the city's rulers and nobles.
We visit the Ulugbek Observatory, built in 1420 and rediscovered in 1908. This fascinating structure offers insight into the city's scientific achievements and the impressive knowledge of its scholars. At Kunhil, we will see how paper is made from the bark of mulberry trees. This ancient craft has been practiced in Samarkand for centuries and remains an important part of the city's cultural heritage. Our exploration concludes at Gur Emir, the glorious mausoleum of Tamerlane, his grandson Ulugbek, and their courtiers. The stunning architecture and intricate tile work will leave you in awe as you pay tribute to one of the greatest military leaders in history. Truly, we will have discovered the magic and grandeur of one of the most remarkable cities in the world. (B, D)
Day 09: Sunday, September 17, 2023: Samarkand/Penjikent (TAJIKISTAN)
Continue on this unique adventure to the 2nd Stan, Tajikistan – “land of the Tajiks”. Driving through orchards and cotton fields, we reach the road border with Tajikistan. After completing border formalities, we are welcomed by our Tajik guide and we proceed to Penjikent. Check in and rest time at our hotel. Ancient Penjikent was a small but flourishing town of the Sogdians in pre-Islamic Central Asia. It means five towns in Persian. The ethnic and territorial name "Soghd/Soghdian" or Sughd/Sughdian was mentioned in history as early as the Iranian Achaemenid dynasty (6thC BC). Afternoon, we'll set out to explore the city's rich cultural heritage. Our first stop will be the Rudaki Museum, named after the beloved poet. The museum houses an impressive collection of objects and murals from various sites around the Zarafshan Valley, giving us a glimpse into the region's fascinating history and artistic traditions. Later, we'll visit the lively Penjikent bazaar, where we'll have the opportunity to interact with the locals and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling market. Here, you can find everything from local handicrafts and fresh produce to unique souvenirs and traditional clothing. Balance of the evening is free.
Overnight: Hotel Umariyon, Penjikent (1 night) (B, D)
Day 10: Monday, September 18, 2023: Penjikent/Iskanderkul/Dushanbe
Driving alongside the river through the Zarafshan Valley, we visit the enchanting mountain lake, Iskanderkul. “Iskander” is Persian for Alexander (coined after Alexander the Great) and “Kul” in Turkic, is “lake”. Legend has it that Alexander created the lake by damming the river to annihilate a village which had opposed him. The region offers an awe-inspiring panoramic view and is popular for climbing and hiking. After arriving at Dushanbe in the afternoon, we check in to our hotel. Balance of the day is free. Savour the serene feelings of the surrounding mountains as you wander through this small capital city of Tajikistan.
Overnight: Hotel Hilton, Dushanbe (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 11: Tuesday, September 19, 2023: Dushanbe
Today's activities include exploring Dushanbe starting with the Museum of Antiquities, which houses an impressive collection of Greco-Bactrian, Sogdian, and Persian art. This will be followed by visiting the National Museum of Tajikistan, which showcases archaeological treasures from all over the country. These will give us an even deeper understanding of the rich history and diverse cultures of Tajikistan. Then it is at the Hisar fortress, a historic fortification located on a hill overlooking the city. A whole different aspect of like as we visit the Museum of Musical Instruments of Gurmndja, which houses a fascinating collection of traditional instruments from Tajikistan and Central Asia.
After visiting the monument of Ismail Samanid, considered to be the father of modern Tajikistan, we will wander through the Old City and the local bazaar, where we have opportunities to interact with the locals and feel the experience the vibrant atmosphere of the market. Finally, we will see the modern Ismaili Centre from the outside. The building was designed by Farouk Noormohamed, a prominent architect from Vancouver, BC. well known for his works on Islamic Architecture. We end the day with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 12: Wednesday, September 20, 2023: Dushanbe/Tashkent (Flight) (2nd entry into UZBEKISTAN)
Our journey begins with a morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Tashkent, where we are welcomed once again and transferred to our hotel. The balance of the day is yours to enjoy at your leisure.
Tashkent is the perfect destination for those interested in ceramics, silk clothing, tiles, and wine. For the wine enthusiasts, we have an optional tour to Uzumfermer, the first family winery in Uzbekistan that produces varietal wine using European technology from selected grapes. Here we will have the opportunity to explore 21 hectares of vineyards, an exotic garden, a mini-hotel, and wineries. You can witness firsthand the winemaking process and taste some of the best wines Uzbekistan has to offer.
Overnight: Lotte Hotel, Tashkent (1 night) (B, D)
Day 13: Thursday, September 21, 2023: Tashkent/Bishkek (Flight) (KYRGYZSTAN)
After breakfast, we take a short flight to Bishkek (Frunze). Welcome to our 3rd Stan in our 4 stan journey! Known for its natural beauty and traditional yurt-dwelling locals, Kyrgyzstan is the horse country of Central Asia. Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, borders Central Asia's stunning Tian Shan mountain range. It’s a gateway to the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountains and Ala Archa National Park, with glaciers and wildlife trails.
Subject to our arrival time, we start exploring Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan – “land of the Kyrgyz”. We drive pass the White House (Presidential Palace), see the change of guards at the National Monument, visit Alatoo Square and walk down the Oak Park, known for its street painters. We will also see the monument of Mana, father of the Kyrgyz nation. The epic of Manas, an oral trilogy sung by Manaschi with throat singing and boasting of the great feats of their hero Manas, is twenty times longer than Homer’s Iliad.
Overnight: Plaza Hotel, Bishkek (1 night) (B, D)
Day 14: Friday, September 22, 2023: Bishkek/Issykul Lake (Drive 250Kms)
An incredibly scenic day ahead as we take an amazing drive to Cholpan Ata and Issykul Lake. Cholpon-Ata is a town situated on the northern shore of Issyk Kul Lake, known for its ancient rock drawings that date back to the Bronze Age. These petroglyphs are considered a valuable cultural heritage and attract many visitors each year. The local museum is also a great place to learn about the history and culture of the region. Issykul Lake is one of the most stunning attractions in Kyrgyzstan. The lake is surrounded by breathtaking of the Tien Shen mountain ranges, and its crystal-clear waters are perfect for swimming and boating. You'll have plenty of opportunities to take in the natural beauty of the area and enjoy some leisurely activities like walking and boating. We will also visit the nearby village of Kochkor to learn about Kyrgyz traditional handicrafts such as felt-making and carpet-weaving. We may also meet the Kyrgyz nomads dwelling on short period in their yurts. Evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant on the lake.
Overnight: Karaven Hotel, Issykul Lake 1 night) (B, D)
Day 15: Saturday, September 23, 2023: Issykul Lake/ Karakol/Bishkek (Drive 550Kms)
After our day of exploration, we head back to Bishkek. Continue our journey to Karakol, a charming town on the eastern side of Issykul Lake. Karakol, the fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan, lies on the eastern tip of the Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan. Here, we visit the Dungan Mosque, a unique building constructed entirely without the use of a single nail. This is followed by visiting the local colorful bazaar. Continuing on to Bishkek we visit Jeti-Oguz, a stunning red rock formation that is said to resemble the horns of a bull. We will also stop at the Skazka (Fairy Tale) Canyon, where the unusual rock formations look like they have been sculpted by an artist. Time permitting, we visit the Preshevalsky Museum and Monument, located on the eastern edge of the lake. This landmark museum is dedicated to the memory of Nikolai Michailovich Preshevalsky, enthusiastic explorer known for his excellent works on the flora and fauna of the region. Afternoon, we visit the Annanaeva village. Here, we immerse ourselves into local life, hiking through our scenic surroundings, visit local families and get a behind-the-scenes look at their yurt houses. Bid farewell to the Tienshen mountain ranges as we head back to Bishkek.
Overnight: Plaza Hotel, Bishkek (1 night) (B, D)
Day 16: Sunday, September 24, 2023: Bishkek/Almaty (Drive 250Kms) (KAZAKHSTAN)
Today, we head to the land of the Kazakhs. A 45-minute drive from Bishkek and we are at the Korday border. Complete border formalities and meet our local Kazakh guide Embark on an adventure to the beautiful country of Kazakhstan and explore its unique cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes.
Kazakhstan, the largest of the Stan countries, offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers, from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east, bordering China and Russia. Almaty, the former capital city of Kazakhstan and still the largest city in the country, is a bustling trading hub with a rich history and culture. We visit the Green Bazaar is a bustling hub of activity, filled with colorful stalls selling everything from spices and fruits to handmade crafts and textiles. To culminate the day, we visit the Museum of Musical Instruments. After a day filled with exploration and adventure, enjoy some free time to relax and soak up the local atmosphere. Dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Hotel Kazzhol or Hotel Plaza, Almaty (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 17: Monday, September 25, 2023: Almaty
With its peaceful atmosphere and lovely greenery, Panfilov Park is a beautiful place to start our exploration. This will be followed by the Zenkov’s Holy Ascension Cathedral which is an impressive feat of engineering and architecture, with its unique design and use of earthquake-safe techniques. The fact that it was built without using a single nail, is truly remarkable. The Central Mosque is another highlight. It is the largest mosque in Kazakhstan. Designed for 7000 worshippers, it was built on the site of the old mosque that dated to 1890 and caught fire in 1987. After a day of sightseeing, we will have some leisure time to explore Almaty at our own pace. Plenty of opportunities to experience the city's unique blend of colonial and Soviet history, architecture and culture. You might want to take a stroll around the city center or relax in one of the city's many parks. Kazakhstan has a rich culinary tradition, so be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as Beshbarmak and Plov. (B, D)
Day 18: Tuesday, September 26, 2023: Depart Almaty
After a fascinating cultural adventure on our Silk Road tour, we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight. Hotel check out time is by 1100 hrs. Alternatively, enjoy an optional tour extension to Nur Sultan (Astana), Kazakhstan’s elaborate capital. (B)
Optional Extension to Nur-Sultan (Astana), Capital of Kazakhstan
Day 18: Tuesday, September 26, 2023: Almaty/Nur-Sultan (Astana) (KAZAKHSTAN)
At Almaty, we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Astana. Astana, now known as Nur-Sultan, is indeed a very modern and rapidly developing city, with some truly impressive architecture. Astana is the seat of the Government of Kazakhstan, and home to the Parliament, the Supreme Court and the majestic Ak Orda Presidential Palace, along with various government departments and agencies. Balance of the day is free. Astana is a very safe city to take a stroll on your own.
Overnight: King Hotel, Astana (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 19: Wednesday, September 27, 2023: Astana
Astana is known for its modern architecture and impressive landmarks, and we will certainly take advantage of this and see some of the highlights. The Baiterek Tower is a must-see when visiting Astana. Its unique design and stunning views make it a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. The Nur Astana Mosque is also a noteworthy stop, and is one of the largest and beautiful mosques in the region.
The Palace of Peace and Concord is another striking structure, with its futuristic pyramid design and impressive size. And the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Tent is a fun and unique spot, offering a variety of entertainment options under its massive canopy. We will also visit the National Museum followed by the iconic Astana monument a modern looking pyramid known as the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. Originally built to host the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, the pyramid now stands as a testament to religious tolerance and coexistence in the world today. If you’re a math/architecture/conspiracy theory nerd you might love some of the details of this structure. Architecturally, it was designed and built largely using the Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Ratio.
At the very top of the pyramid are paintings of doves, which stand for the many different nationalities living in peace in Kazakhstan. An optional visit to see performance taking place at the state of art, The State Theatre of Opera & Ballet. It is a cultural gem, showcasing some of the country's best artistic talent. After dinner at a local restaurant, we end our tour of Nur-Sultan. (B, D)
Day 20: Thursday, September 28, 2023: Depart Astana
Breakfast at the hotel. Check out time is 1100AM and we are transferred to the airport for our flight. There are many international flights out of Astana Airport. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
We accept payments in US$, CA$ as well as in other convertible currencies like EUR, AUD and GBP. Tour prices have been costed in US$. CA$ price shown below is an indicative amount reached at by using the conversion rate at the time of web posting and will be applicable if there is no change in the conversion rate. Should the currency conversion rate change, the US$ pricing will prevail. Bestway Tours & Safaris offers a conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here
|2023||Per Person on
|Estimated Airfare (FROM)+|
|Departure(s)||East Coast||West Coast|
|Sep 09||US$ 5590||US$ 995||-||-|
|2023||Per Person on
|Estimated Airfare (FROM)+|
|Departure(s)||East Coast||West Coast|
|Sep 09||CA$ 7267||CA$ 1294||-||-|
Optional Extension to Nur-Sultan (Astana), Capital of Kazakhstan
|2023||Per Person on
|Sep 26||US$ 1250||US$ 150|
This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 12 participants
If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.
You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.
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