Small Group Tour in Central Asia 2023-2024

5 Stans and China ItineraryTurkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China

Silk Road Tour: 5 Stans and ChinaDuring the 19-day Silk Road tour, you will discover six countries of the Great Silk Road. In Turkmenistan, you will visit Ashgabat, Mary, Merv and enjoy the beauty of the Karakum Desert. Uzbekistan will present three gems of the East: Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent. Tajikistan will open up splendid mountain passes and cultural sights. The Charyn Canyon in Kazakhstan and cliffs resembling towers create vivid memories. Kyrgyzstan is famous for its gorges, lakes and other natural beauties, plus take time to explore the ancient traditions of carpet making and eagle hunting. The highlight of the tour is China. Plunge into the multi-ethnic atmosphere and buy some souvenirs at the Sunday market in Kashgar. Leave Central Asia with memories to last a lifetime.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Ashgabat – arrival
Arrival in Ashgabat. Check in to the hotel at noon. Free time.
Meals: -
Day 2: Ashgabat – Darvaza Gas Crater – Ashgabat
Half day city tour with visits of Anau Ruins mosque, Akhalteke horse stables, National Museum of History and Sunday Bazaar.
Afternoon drive to Karakum Desert and the Darvaza gas crater, located in the middle of the Karakum desert Empire. Visit Erbent desert community on the way. Arrive at the crater, set up camp. Enjoy a delicious fire-cooked meal for dinner near the burning gas crater. Return to Ashgabat after dark (slow driving). Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast/Dinner
Day 3: Ashgabat – Mary – Merv – Turkmenabat
Take a morning flight to Mary (370 km, 40 min). Upon arrival drive to Merv (40 km, 30 min.), an ancient city that was a major center of international trade and crafts located on the Silk Road. Discover a historical park with the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, Large and Small Kyz-Kala, Erk-Kala, Gyaur-Kala, Kharam-Keshk Fortress, and others. In the afternoon depart to Turkmenabat (200 km, 4 h 30 min). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Day 4: Turkmenabat – Bukhara
In the morning transfer to Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border point Farab-Alat (45 km, 1 h). Go through border formalities on both checkpoints. Cross the 1.5 km neutral zone (transportation may not be available). Meet your driver and continue to Bukhara (100 km, 1 h 30 min). Arrival in Bukhara, check in to the hotel. Free time in Old City.
Meals: Breakfast
Day 5: Bukhara
Enjoy a walking sightseeing tour with a guide in Old City. Visit Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Chor-Minor Madrasah, trade domes, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque and Miri-Arab Madrasah, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub mausoleums. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Day 6: Bukhara – Samarkand
Continue sightseeing tour with a guide. Drive out of the city to Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa – the summer residence of Bukhara’s last emir. Head to the Mausoleum of Bakhouddin Naqshbandi and Chor-Bakr Necropolis. In the afternoon depart to Samarkand (280 km, 4 h.). Stop on the way at Rabat Malik Caravanserai, which dates back to 11th century. Arrive in Samarkand late in the afternoon, check in to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Day 7: Samarkand – Tashkent
Meet your guide and driver at the hotel lobby and start sightseeing. Visit spectacular Registan Square, remains of Bibi Khanum Mosque, Siab Bazaar, Ulugbek Observatory, Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis and Gur Emir Mausoleum – the mausoleum of Amir Timur. At 16:30 transfer to the railway station to take the high-speed Afrosiyob train departing to Tashkent at 17:30 (300 km). Scheduled arrival time is 19:40. Pick-up and transfer to the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Day 8: Tashkent – Khujand
Early morning transfer to Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border Oybek-Fotekhobod (100 km, 1 h 30 min). Go through border formalities on both checkpoints. Meet Tajik local guide and driver and drive to Khujand (70 km, 1 h). Sightseeing in Khujand: Republican Historical-Ethnographic Museum, Khujand Fortress, Archaeological Museum, Mosque and Madrasah of Shaikh Muslihiddin, Panjshanbe Bazaar. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Day 9: Khujand – Dushanbe
In the morning depart Khujand and drive to Dushanbe (270 km, 5 h). The mountain road goes via picturesque Anzob pass (3300 m above sea level). Arrive in Dushanbe and start a city tour: Mosque of Hoji Yakub, National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan, Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum, Statue of Ismail Somoni, and Rudaki Park. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Day 10: Dushanbe – Almaty
After breakfast transfer to the airport. Flight to Almaty. Meeting at the airport by the driver and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast
Day 11: Almaty
Sightseeing tour in Almaty. Visit Panfilov Park, Zenkov Cathedral, Central State Museum of Kazakhstan and Republic Square. Enjoy panoramic view at Kok-Tobe Hill, visit Medeo Gorge. Check in to the hotel. Free time.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Meals: Breakfast
Day 12: Almaty – Charyn Canyon – Karakol
Your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel lobby early in the morning (at 06:30AM). Depart Almaty and drive to Charyn canyon (220 km, 3-4 h). Charyn Canyon is located in the east of Kazakhstan, with an unforgettable view of a huge gorge with cliffs of various colours and shades. The canyon is a part of the Charyn National Park territory, where you can see old ash-tree groves, and Castle Valley, one part of a 154 m canyon with cliffs resembling towers. After some time for picnic and rest, walk along the canyon and enjoy its beautiful views. Continue transfer to the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border Kegen (116 km). Meet with Kyrgyz driver and guide at the border and transfer to Karakol via Karkara valley (110 km). Dinner in Uigur family with a Kyrgyz folklore show, national music and songs. Overnight at the hotel in Karakol.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Day 13: Karakol – Jety Oguz – Kochkor
In the morning you will visit Wooden Orthodox Church and Dungan mosque in Chinese style.
Transfer to Jety-Oguz gorge. There you will hear a legend about Jety-Oguz (seven bulls) and Broken Heart rock, have short hiking in the gorge. After short hiking, transfer to Kochkor along the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake.
On the way stop in Bokonbaevo, where you will see an eagle hunting show. Continue driving to Kochkor. One of the best views of Lake Issyk-Kul is guaranteed. Dinner and overnight in Kyrgyz family.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch or picnic/Dinner
Day 14: Kochkor – Tash-Rabat
After breakfast transfer to the Tash Rabat Caravanserai on the Great Silk Road (Stone Castle from the 14th century). Tash Rabat is a unique stone caravanserai built into the side of a mountain, 3200 m above sea level. Tash Rabat used to be a place for travelers and merchants to stop as they traversed the Great Silk Road. In total there are 31 rooms in the mountain and the walls are 1 m thick. There are also underground prison cells for ancient thieves. Dinner and overnight in yurts nearby the Tash Rabat caravanserai.
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
Day 15: Tash-Rabat – Torugart pass – Kashgar
Start at 7 a.m. in order to be at the Kyrgyz-Chinese border by 12 o’clock. The road will go along mountain gorges in the most remote areas of Kyrgyzstan. This region is the most famous among shepherds. It has the best grass for cattle and the cleanest air. During the whole way you will enjoy views of Kyrgyzstan’s unbelievable nature. At the border the Chinese guide will meet you and then you will continue your way to discover the country of amazing China! You will drive along a mountain road and by night you will arrive in Kashgar.
Meals: Breakfast
Day 16: Kashgar city tour
Visit Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China and most famous in Xinjiang. The mosque was built starting in the fifteenth century, and has gradually developed to its present size. Id Kah Mosque, with about 16800 square meters in area, consists of Prayer Hall, the Koran teaching Hall, a Corridor, the Arches and other buildings attaching to it. The Prayer Hall of the mosque can hold 4000 worshippers and is supported by 140 carved wooden pillars. The buildings of Id Kah Mosque look magnificent and solemn, and show the artistic styles of Islamic mosque architecture. After this place we will continue to Aba Khoja.
Aba Khoja Tomb is a mazar, or holy burial site. It is the holiest place in Xinjiang and an architectural treasure. Built in 1640, it is reminiscent of the Central Asian artistic style of Samarkand or Isfahan. A handsome blue-and-white tiled gate leads into the compound, which includes a small religious school and the Aba Khoja family tomb. The latter is domed and faced with multi - colored tiles. It is said that it is the most complete Islamic tomb of the Qing Dynasty up-to-now in the whole China.
Afterwards, drive to the Old town. Kashgar is an ancient city, and while walking along the streets of its Old Town, you will get a sense of what this legendary Central Asian hub was like in the days when the Silk Road was at its height. 500-year old remnants of the city wall, narrow lanes and colorful multi-ethnic crowds combine to make Kashgar's historic district a highlight of any visit to the city. After these very interesting and unusual excursions you will go back to the hotel for rest.
Meals: Breakfast
Day 17: Kashgar Sunday market
On the second day in Kashgar, visit the famous Yakshambe Bazaar - the Sunday market. In the morning we will first visit the famous animal market. Here we will spend the morning watching the locals trade everything from woodwork and iron wear to sheep, donkeys, cattle, horses and camels before progressing onto the covered bazaar, believed to be the biggest in Central Asia. The afternoon & evening will be free for you to spend at your leisure. You may want to hire bicycles and head off into nearby fields to explore.
Meals: Breakfast
Day 18: Kashgar – Urumqi
Transfer to the airport. Flight to Urumqi. On arrival sightseeing tour. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast
Day 19: Urumqi – departure
Transfer to the airport. End of the tour.

Important notes for all travelers:

  • Please bring only cash USD for your local expenses in Turkmenistan, no EURO and no credit cards.
  • Please be aware that a member of staff of our agency will need to take your original passport for several hours for registration.
  • There may be various different cars and drivers during your trip through Turkmenistan, depending on the section of the route.
  • Chinese visa should be obtained in advance, in the country of citizenship.
  • Twin room accommodation;
  • Meals – as stated as program;
  • Transportation throughout the whole trip;
  • English speaking guide (except for day 19 – transfer to the airport);
  • Sightseeing tour program in all cities according to the program, including entrance fees to sights, museums. Camera/video fees are not included and must be paid separately;
  • Mineral water;
  • Felt carpet workshop in Kochkor;
  • Eagle hunting show in Bokonbaevo;
  • Economy class air ticket Kashgar-Urumqi;
  • Economy class air ticket Dushanbe-Almaty;
  • Business/Economy-class ticket for train Samarkand-Tashkent as per option (on rare occasions when the high-speed train is unavailable, we will replace this with the most-comfortable class of regular train);
  • Economy class air ticket Ashgabat-Mary;
  • Visa support letter for Uzbekistan visa;
  • Visa support for Turkmenistan visa.
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • A tax of 2 USD per night in Turkmenistan, paid to the hotel upon check out;
  • Single supplement;
  • Visa fees to all countries;
  • Visa support for Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and China;
  • Registration (if required);
  • Payment for early check in and late check out (check in time is at 13-14.00, check out time is at 12.00);
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Horse riding;
  • Turkmenistan visa 85+2 USD per person, when obtained at Ashgabat Airport (subject to change);
  • Turkmenistan migration tax 10+2 USD per person, to be paid at Ashgabat Airport (subject to change);
  • Tourist fee per night, charged in the hotels at departure 2 USD per person per night (obligatory);
  • Full board, alcohol and soft drinks;
  • Tips are not included, but would be appreciated;
  • Personal insurance and items not mentioned above.



Economy Option
Comfort Option
Ashgabat - 2 nights
Sport, Ak-Altyn, Grand TurkmenArchabil
Turkmenabat - 1 night
Bukhara - 2 nights
Minzifa, K.Komil, Bibikhanum, Amulet, As-Salom, Fatima, Kavsar or similarParadise Plaza, Omar Khayam, Minor, Asia Bukhara, Zargaron Plaza or similar
Samarkand - 1 night
Usman, Meros, Asia Samarkand or similarDilimah, Sultan, Grand Samarkand Superior, Grand Samarkand, Platan or similar
Tashkent - 1 night
Ateca, Navruz, Praga, Grand CapitalWyndham Tashkent, Courtyard by Marriot, Hampton by Hilton, Mercure
Khujand - 1 night
Khujand Deluxe (mansard room)Khujand Grand, Khujand Deluxe
Dushanbe - 1 night
Atlas B&B or similarHilton Dushanbe or similar
Almaty - 2 nights
Kazzhol Park, Garden Park, MercureRixos Almaty
Karakol - 1 night
Home stay (B&B)Green Yard or similar
Kochkor - 1 night
Guest houseGuest house
Tash-Rabat - 1 night
Yurts (4-5 people in one yurt)Yurts (4-5 people in one yurt)
Kashgar - 3 nights
Kashgar QinibaghNanjiang Global Harbor International
Urumqi - 1 night
Urumqi Jin GUHoliday Inn Express Urumqi Station

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