Day 1. On arrival in Moscow you will be met and transferred to your accommodation.
A three-hour introductory walking tour is provided to orientate you to the transport system and central Moscow.
Time to experience the famed centre of Soviet-era Russia. This is where central control was wielded. It is now a changed city, but its many surviving examples of architecture complement its thriving theatre and arts and for those so disposed has museums to satisfy any interest!
Don’t miss our suggestions for optional sightseeing in Moscow!
Day 2. Moscow free day – or optional sightseeing
Day 3. Moscow free day – or optional sightseeing
Day 4. Make your own way to railway station for train to Tashkent.
Days 5-6. On board train – you know the routine – chess, Lord of the Rings trilogy and watching the cinema of Central Asian and Russian landscapes flow past your private screen – the cabin window.
Following an epic 3-night/4-day train journey, you arrive at Tashkent and will be met and transferred to your hotel.
NOTE: We can add a stopover in Urgench, but experience shows that the classics will be well covered in the following plan.
Day 9. Khiva. Self-sightseeing.
Day 10. Drive to Nukus via Khorezm Castles. Visit Nukus Museum.
Day 11. A private car will transfer you from Khiva to the equally ancient city of Bukhara for two nights.
Day 12. In Bukhara, where you have two nights to explore this celebrated and ancient city. A half-day tour is provided.
Day 13. Bukhara. City tour can include some of the following; Labi-Hauz, statue of Hoja Nasreddin, Nadir Devanbegi Medressa (1630), Nadir Divanbegi Khanaka-17th c., Kukeldash Medressa -16th c., Jewish quarter-12th.c., Covered bazaars, Taji-Sarrafon Area-12th.c., Taqi Telpak Furushon Area, Ulugbek Medressa (1417), Abdul Aziz Khan Medressa (1652), Kalon Minaret (1127), Kalon Mosque-16th c, Mir-i-Arab Medressa-16th.c., Amir Alimkhan Medressa, The Ark (Reception & Coronation Court, Friday Mosque) 5th c., Registan, Zindon, Bolo-haus Mosque, Ismail Samani Mausoleum (completed about 905 AD), Shaibonid town walls, Chashma-Ayub mausoleum 12th c. Buyan Khuli Khan & Saifuddin Bukharzi Mausolea-14th c.
Day 14. Further exploration of Bukhara. Excursion to visit summer residence of the Emir Bukhara Mokhi Xosan, Naksh Band memorial complex. Visiting cemetery at Chor Bakr.
Day 15. You will be transferred to Samarkand, where you have two nights to explore the ancient city whose very name was once celebrated as synonymous with the Silk Road. Half-day city tour is provided.
Day 16. Samarkand. Morning city tour starting at 09:00 am, can include some of the following: Gur Emir Mausoleum, The Registan, State Museum of the Cultural History of Uzbekistan, Samarkand bazaar, Bibi Hanum Mosque. Shakhi Zinda Ensemble from 7-17th centuries. You can see here the mausoleum of Islamic prophet Ibn Abass, plus the Hoja-Nisbaddor Mosque, Ulukbek Observatory, Ancient Samarkand and the Afrasiab Museum. Balance of the day is free.
Day 17. Day trip to Shakhrisabz, a scenic drive 80 km from Samarkand. This excursion includes visits to Timur’s Summer Palace of Ak Saray, dating from 1380 AD, plus the Dorut Tilovat complex which includes the Kok Gumbaz Mosque and Dorus Siadat Mausoleum.
Day 18. Transfer from Samarkand to Tashkent, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 19. Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and offers up modern Uzbek buildings with their Soviet overlay, due to a major earthquake in 1966. Markets abound.
Day 20. Free to explore Tashkent.
Day 21. Make your own way to railway station for train to Almaty.
Arrive in Almaty, the major city of Kazakhstan (although no longer capital) where you will be met by an English speaking guide and transferred to your accommodation. The day and the following morning are free to explore the booming city once known as Alma-Ata. Guided sightseeing is an optional extra.
Day 22. Departure from Almaty by train to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Province in far western China. Arriving in Urumqi on the morning of day four, the rest of the day is free for sightseeing.
Note: Timetables may vary seasonally. Usually there are 2 services a week in the off season and daily in high season. Time taken is usually around 24 hours, but departure time can mean it is over 2 days (this is where variations in the programme may be unavoidable).
Urumqi is the heart of the Uighur region of northwestern China, located in a fertile oasis. Due to these attributes it became an important transit point on the grand route. There is a dedicated Silk Road Museum here.
Day 23. Free day for sightseeing around Urumqi, possibly an excursion to Heaven Lake. Guided sightseeing is optional. NOTE: depending on the season this day could be deleted as during peak period trains are more frequent.
This journey can be broken in Xi’an if desired. Alternatively, you can cut short your train journey from Urumqi by flying to Beijing.
Day 24. Make your own way to station for the train Urumqi to Xi’an, where you are met and transferred to accommodation.
Xi’an was considered the eastern start of the Silk Road and from here the various routes fanned out through the central southern and northern Asian regions towards Europe and Russia. The city was fortified with formidable walls and grew to be a major strategic point.
Day 25. Xi’an. Full day guided visit to the Terracotta Warriors & Horses and the restored city walls.
Day 26. Xi’an. Free day
There were many variations of the route that became known as the ‘Silk Road’. This is one route which is relatively easy and safe to follow.
The assorted routes of the Silk Road didn’t remain static over the course of time – they changed for various reasons. Some gained significance and flourished, while others ceased to exist, causing the decline of the towns and settlements in their path. That cliché phrase, ‘Lost in the Sands of Time’, is a reality when you follow the Silk Road.
This programme covers four countries, travelling from Moscow across Central Asia to Beijing. The direction of this itinerary is Eastbound, with weekly departures, travelling independently.
Here is the Westbound (East to West) itinerary.
After three nights in Moscow, the epic journey departs by train for Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, then runs through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. From Tashkent you travel by bus and private car to visit the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Then it is off to Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan, again by train.
There is time to explore Almaty before travelling to Urumqi in far western China, then finally embarking on a four day/three night train trip to Beijing via Xi’an. Alternatively, you may fly out of Urumqi if you wish.
This is a sample itinerary and is fully customisable to suit your requirements.
The itinerary detailed here uses the standard train and is for more independent travellers. If you prefer different levels of travel comfort, do consider our luxury private train options.