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Silk Road Railway

Departing: Beijing, China - 27 days
Countries visited: China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran & Turkey

Across China’s vast desert and through Dzungaria to the Silk Road’s most famous cities. Visit Samarkand and Bukhara and cross the Kara Kum to ancient Merv and beyond to Isfahan the jewel of Persia and then to Istanbul. A truly wonderful Silk Road Encounter.

  

 

Itinerary

Day 1. Beijing
Beijing is an incredible contrast of sights, sounds and smells. Explore the backstreets (hutongs) of the old town with their food stalls and street vendors for a taste of 'old Beijing'. 

Suggested sightseeing includes The Great Wall, Ming Tombs, Forbidden City, Acrobats, Tiananmen Square, Hutongs, Lama Temple, Summer Palace. 

Days 2-3. Beijing to Xian
Climb aboard your first train that will carry you from the nations capital to the gateway of the Silk Road, Xian. Upon arrival on Day 2, transfer to your hotel (AT).

Suggested sightseeing includes Terracotta Warriors, Big Goose Pagoda, Grand Mosque, Muslim Quarter, Hot Springs.

Days 4-5. Xian to Urumqi by rail
In the evening of Day 4 return to the railway station to rejoin the train to Urumqi.

Days 6-7. Urumqi

Arrive Urumqi and transfer to hotel (AT). Apart from breathtaking scenery Xinjing province is also famous for its food. Sample some fresh naan, spicy kebabs, steaming pilau and famous hand-stretched noodles. 

Suggested sightseeing: Day excursion to Heavenly Lake. 

Day 8. Urumqi to Almaty by rail

Day 9. Almaty
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel (AT). For its short life, Almaty has survived ravaging invasions, earthquakes, mudslides, the revolution, Civil War and forfeiture of its status as a capital. Today, it is a charming city and it is easy to enjoy its wide tree-line boulevards, parks, museums, culture and spectacular scenery.

Suggested sightseeing includes Central State Museum, Zenkov Cathedral, Kok-Tobe cable car, St.Nicholas Cathedral.

Day 10. Almaty to Tashkent by air
Make your way to the airport to meet your onward flight to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. A city that cleverly juggles its cultural and historical past, the Soviet era's impact and modern day lifestyles. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel (AT). 

Suggested sightseeing includes Chorsu Bazaar (Spice market), city metro exploration, Amur Timur Central Square, Kafal Shahi mausoleum, Barak Khana, Kukeldash and Abdul Kassim madrassahs, Museum of Temurids, Fine Arts Museum.

Days 11-12. Samarkand
Today board the train from Tashkent to Samarkand (AT) where you will find the fabulous monuments of Samarkand, Tamerlane's turquoise-spangled capital.

Suggested sightseeing includes Gur Emir, Registan Ensemble, Bibi-Khanum Mosque, Shar-i-Zinda, Ulug Bek Observatory.

Days 13–15. Bukhara
Travel by train from Samarkand to Bukhara (AT). Once known as 'holy' Bukhara, it was historically home to more than 2000 mosques. Today Bukhara's monuments are some of the oldest on the Silk Road. 

Suggested sightseeing includes Samanid Mausoleum, Chor Minor, Poli-Kalon Ensemble, Kalyan Minaret, Ark Fortress, Lyabi-Hauz, Kaylan mosque, Miri Arab, Amir Alim and Ulugbek madrassahs.

Days 16-17. Bukhara to Ashgabat via Turkmenabat 

Leaving Uzbekistan begin your overnight journey into Turkmenistan and its capital Ashgabat, transferring to Turkmenabat and onto Ashgabat via rail.

Suggested sightseeing includes Tolkuchka Bazaar, Turkmenbashi Cableway, Arch of Neutrality, National Museum, Independence monument.

Day 18. Ashgabat to Mashhad by private transfer
Travelling by road we leave Turkmenistan and cross the border into Iran continuing to Mashhad. 
Best known for its incredible shrine complex of Emam Reza, one of the great architectural wonders of the Islamic world. 

Suggested sightseeing includes the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (Astan-e Qods-e Razavi), Azim-e Gohar Shad Mosque, Nader Sha Museum

Day 19. Mashhad to Isfahan by rail

Days 20-21. Isfahan
Welcome to the glittering city of Isfahan!(AT) 

Suggested sightseeing includes Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapou Palace, Jame Mosque, Vank Church.

Days 22 - 23. Isfahan to Tehran via bus

Depart Isfahan to Tehran by local bus arriving into the capital later that day (AT). 

Tehran is a busy, crowded metropolis which boasts some excellent museums, many housed in former palaces. It's vibrant, dynamic culture and fast paced lifestyle makes everyday in Tehran an adventure. 

Suggested sightseeing includes the fascinating Tehran Bazaar, Imam Khomeini Mosque, Golestan Palace, Carpet Museum, National Museum of Iran.

Days 24-25. Tehran to Istanbul by bus

Days 26-27. Istanbul - Journey concludes
Arrive into Istanbul in the early hours of the morning (AT). Adorned with treasures from all periods of human history, Istanbul is not only one of the world's most fascinating places it is also one of its most mesmerising. 

Suggested sightseeing includes wandering the Sultanahmet District, Topkapi Palace, St.Sophia, the Blue & Soleman mosques, Rumeli fortress, Beylerbeyi Palace, Bosphorus Bridge.

 

Essentials

Transfers
(AT) = arrival transfer included

Hotels 
Choose from ‘Classic’ or ‘Traveller’.

Sightseeing
The suggested sightseeing in these itineraries is not included in the prices shown.

Visas
Required for China, Kazakhstan (some exemptions do apply until 31 December 2017), Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran & Turkey. Sundowners Overland will provide all required visa invitation letters and full visa support including detailed visa guidelines. 

From Beijing
Travel & Accommodation 
Hotels - 18 nights. Twin or Single.
Trains - 6 nights. Comfortable 4 berth sleepers (some 6 berth sectors, please see Sundowners Overland for further details). 
Bus - 2 nights