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Central Asia & the Silk Road

Central Asia and the Silk Road lies at the crossroads of history, an area steeped in antiquity protected by great deserts and awesome mountain ranges and the Silk Road a vital trade route for more than 2000 years. Central Asia is like no other place on earth. Much of its western boundary is lapped by the waters of the Caspian, the largest inland sea in the world. Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan lie to the south. Eastward are China and Mongolia, with Russia to the north.

Locked within the iron embrace of the former Soviet Union, the lands of Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Turkmen, Kazak, Uighur and Tajik were sealed off from the rest of the world. Spend time in Samarkand, whose shady gardens and magnificent architecture are the equal of the mosques and madrasas of Isfahan; Bukhara, once the site of Central Asia's most infamous slave market; and the secretive, walled city of Khiva, one of the many places in the region where the imperial powers of Britain and Russia played out the moves and counter-moves of 'the Great Game'.

Everywhere you go you'll be met with keen interest, because the people of Central Asia spontaneously welcome visitors from other lands and have a special affinity with travellers. It could be no other way, for theirs is the timeless heritage of the fabled Silk Road.

You can search for your Central Asia & the Silk Road journey here, or by selecting 'The Silk Road & India' in the Trip Search.

 

Experience China
China is a country of epic proportions. Its treasures, cuisine and landscapes are as diverse as anywhere in the world have rightly attracted merchants, travellers and conquerors throughout its action packed history. It is a fitting start to many of our Trans Mongolian and Silk Road journeys and the monuments, history and experiences you will have in this intriguing land are sure to be a highlight of your travels.

Travel China
  • Visit the home of the Terracotta Warriors, Wild Goose Pagoda and many other wondrous monuments. Xian is a treasure trove of history waiting to be explored.
  • Marvel at the Mogao Caves in the quiet desert oasis of Dunhuang.
  • Admire the ingenuity of the ancient underground irrigation channels that have carried water to the Silk Road oasis of Turpan for over 2000 years.
  • Witness a famous tradition that is said to have continued for two millennia as local Uyghur herdsmen and traders the haggle and barter at the famous Sunday Markets of Kashgar.

 

Experience Iran

From the relics of ancient Persian civilisation to the modern-day hustle and bustle of this sophisticated country, Iran is keen to show travellers the true hospitality of its people. With its long, powerful history of influence in the region, Iran is full of architectural jewels and a rich and engaging culture. Get off the beaten track and explore this lesser travelled nation.

Travel Iran
  • Admire the grandeur and artistry of the buildings of Isfahan, one of the jewels of ancient Persia.
  • Discover one of the ancient world's most impressive sights with a visit to Persepolis.
  • Contrast the ancient wonders with a visit to Tehran, the heart of modern day Iran.

 

Experience Kazakhstan

The world's biggest landlocked country, Kazakhstan is one of the last of the lands relatively unexplored by western travellers and offers magnificent wide open steppe, snow-capped mountains, taiga forests and canyons to those who venture there.

Travel Kazakhstan
  • Search for the elusive snow leopard in the pristine Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve.
  • Take in the sights and bazaars of Almaty, the country's largest city.


Experience Kyrgyzstan

Renowned for its hospitality to travellers, Kyrgyzstan combines opportunities for exploring the outdoors, experiencing the life of its nomadic people and taking in the history of the Silk Road.

Travel Kyrgyzstan
  • Cross the mountain passes of the impressive Tien Shan mountains at Torugart or Irkeshtam.
  • Stay with local people while you explore the picturesque Lake Issyk Kul at the base of the central Tien Shan mountain range.

 

Experience Tajikistan

This remote and mountainous outpost of the former Soviet empire is awash with stunning high-altitude lakes and valleys, an undiscovered gem for those looking to get a little further off the beaten track.

Travel Tajikistan
  • Enjoy one of the world's great road trips along the Pamir Highway, through Tibetan-style high plateau scenery.
  • Witness the bizarre spectacle of Buzkashi at the Nowruz (Persian New Year) Festival.

 

Experience Turkey
A richly historical land that for centuries has thrived at the confluence of Asia and Europe. An ideal place to start any adventure into Central Asia and along the Silk Road.


  • Wonder at the abundance of impressive monuments and fine cuisine in Istanbul.
  • Travel along the lesser explored Black Sea coast through Trabzon, Samsun and Safranbolu.

 

Experience Turkmenistan
With the impressive Karakum desert making up most of this land, its cities and towns stand out like the oases they once were.

Travel Turkmenistan
  • Wander through the ruins of one of the most important religious and commercial centres of the ancient Silk Road at Merv.

 

Experience Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is surly the jewel in the ornate crown of Central Asia and the Silk Road. The region's cradle of culture for more than two millennia, its abundance of history and impressive sights has attracted travellers for all time.

Travel Uzbekistan
  • Explore the fabled city of 'Golden' Samarkand and witness the impressive Registan.
  • Lose yourself in the covered bazaars, tea houses and back streets of Bukhara.
  • Experience the living museum of mosques, madrassas and caravanserai in Khiva.


Experience the Caucasus
Bordered by Russia to the north, the Black Sea and Turkey to the west, and by Iran on the south, the countries of this region offer a unique combination of Christian and Islamic history, set against the stunning backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains.

Travel the Caucasus
  • Explore the fascinating caves of Goris, Armenia, that were carved into the hillside in the 5th century.
  • Step back in time with a visit to the hilltop town of Khinaliq in Azerbaijan, where many of the local shepherd folk still live much of their lives on horseback.
  • Take a short hike up to the Trinity Church, near the town of Kazbegi in Georgia and be rewarded with a spectacular panorama of the snow-capped Mt Kazbegi (5033m).


Weather and Seasons
The regions of the Silk Road, Central Asia and India incorporate a multitude of climate zones and planning your journey depends on where you would like to travel. Though it can get quite warm, spring (May-June) and autumn (September-October) often present the best option for travel in Central Asia and the Silk Road as access through mountain passes can be limited in the winter months.

Download the Temperature and Climate Charts for the region.


Tailor-Made Journey Inspiration
Our website includes many itineraries for exploring the different areas and routes of the Silk Road & Central Asia, however if you have somewhere specific in this region that you'd like to explore, we'd enjoy working with you to put together an itinerary. Some Tailor-Made Journey suggestions include:


  • Explore the rich culture and history of ancient Persia with a journey around Iran.
  • Discover the rarely visited monasteries and villages in the mountains and valleys of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  • Take a road trip along the Pamir Highway and explore the remote and mountainous republic of Tajikistan.


Search for your Central Asia & the Silk Road journey here, or by selecting 'The Silk Road & India' in the Trip Search.