Central Asia Travel - 4 "stans" and Iran - Silk Road Tour

Duration: 22 days.

Season: April - October

Description: Travel to Chinese Turkestan, Central Asian Stans and Iran: China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. Historical and cultural tour

Tour description:

An unforgettable journey through the regions those were once remote and inaccessible. You may have a tailor made tour and select cities that wish to visit. We customize an itinerary for your comfort and enjoyment. This unique tour along Great Silk Road introduces you to one of the wildest places of our planet. There are only few regions in the world where car roads are laid through the mountains on above 4 000 m height. Follow the ancient Silk Road by Pamir and Pamir-Alai route. From the Mediterranean Sea, crossing Iran, the caravans coming to the big city of Merv, where the paths are forks. Some caravans were in the town of Termez, crossed the Amu Darya River and the Pamir highway and for future to continue their path lay along Alai valley climbing to the Irkeshtam Pass – one of comfortable passage and downstream Kuk-Soo River, for going to the borders of East Turkestan. Tour begins from Chinese Turkestan and goes through the three Central Asian republics: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and will finish in Iran

The Silk Road ... How fascinating, mysterious, with a slight whiff of oriental spices, camel caravans and glitter brocade associations evoke these words. And, it seems that it is somewhere far away, far away, which was said in the Chronicle. Coming to the unknowing country, everyone is interested to get acquainted not only with historical monuments, but also with national cuisine, lifestyle, character and traditions of local residents. 

Are you ready for this exciting and unforgettable journey? Well then, welcome, through our company!

Our experienced tour operators will help your dreams come true.

Itinerary: Urumqi Turpan Hotan Yarkent Kashgar Urumqi Almaty Tashkent Samarkand Bukhara Merv Ashgabat Mashhad Shiraz Persepolis Isfahan Kashan Tehran.

Pax quantity in group

Price of the tour per pax in USD, 3-4* star option

2

5180

3-4

4817

5-6

4470

7-9

4360

10-12

3718

13-15

3642

16-18

3553

19-20

3488

Additional payment for sgl supp.

665

This price includes: 

  • Visa support letters
  • Hotel accommodation (double room sharing)
  • Full Board Meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) 
  • Bottled water (1 lt per person per day) 
  • All Land Transfers with A/C 
  • Internal Flights (Urumqi Hotan, Kashgar Urumqi - Almaty, Almaty - Tashkent, Mary Ashgabat, Mashhad - Shiraz
  • Guided sightseeings 
  • Entrance Fees 

Short program:

Day 1- Tuesday. Urumqi - Turfan 

Day 2 - Wednesday. Turfan Urumqi Hotan

Day 3 - Thursday. Hotan

Day 4 - Friday. Hotan Yarkent

Day 5 - Saturday. Yarkent - Kashgar 

Day 6 - Sunday. Kashgar Urumqi Almaty (Kazakhstan)

Day 7 - Monday. Almaty Tashkent (Uzbekistan).

Day 8 - Tuesday. Tashkent Samarkand.

Day 9 - Wednesday. Samarkand.

Day 10 - Thursday. Samarkand Bukhara.

Day 11 - Friday. Bukhara.

Day 12 - Saturday. Bukhara Mary (Turkmenistan).

Day 13 - Sunday. Mary Ashgabat

Day 14 - Monday. Ashgabat.

Day 15 - Tuesday. Ashgabat Mashhad

Day 16 -  Wednesday. Mashhad Shiraz

Day 17 - Thursday. Shiraz

Day 18 - Friday. Persepolis Shiraz Isfahan

Day 19 - Saturday. Isfahan

Day 20 - Sunday. Isfahan 

Day 21 - Monday. Abyaneh Kashan Tehran 

Day 22 - Tuesday. Tehran 

Day 23 - Wednesday. Tehran. Departure. 

Tour program Day-by-Day: 

Day 1/Tuesday. Urumqi - Turfan 

Arrival to Urumqi - the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Urumqi is a growing metropolis inhabited mainly by Han Chinese and serves as a transport hub for those crossing to Tibet, Pakistan and Central Asia. Meeting at airport and transfer to Turfan (184 km). Turfan Basin not only sits in the second largest depression in the world, but it is one of the hottest places of China. Despite its desert location, Turfan boasts fertile land producing cotton and grapes, thanks to the karez, an ancient irrigation system. Upon your arrival you will visit the Ruins of Gaochang – is also called Karakhoja, served as an important commercial and cultural center of the Silk Road. Legend has it that a group of soldiers stopped here in the 1st century BC on their way to Afghanistan, found that water was plentiful, and decided to stay. By the 7th century the city was flourishing capital of the Kingdom of Gaochang that ruled over 21 other towns, and by the 9th century the Uighurs had moved into the area from Mongolia, establishing the Kingdom of Kharakoja. In the 14th century Mongols conquered and destroyed the kingdom, leaving only the ruins of walls and buildings that are here today. Visit the Bezeklik .Thousand Buddha Caves, located in Mutou Valley, at the north-east of the Taklamakan Desert and in the middle section of Flaming Mountain, have a history of over 1500 years. The oldest caves were chiseled in the 5th century A.D. and the newest were carved in the 14th century, giving the complex a construction history of one thousand years. Currently, a total of 57 caves exist. Among them, over 40 have murals. The high quality murals are considered to be masterpieces of religious art and provide valuable information for researching the history, Buddhist background, culture and art of this area as well as the relationship between the West and ancient China. Than you will go to admire the Grape valley and to take beautiful pictures of the Flaming Mountain – which located in the middle of the Turfan Depression, that is also named Red Mountain. Return to Turfan

Day 2/ Wednesday. Turfan – Urumqi – Hotan

After breakfast visit of the Jiaohe Gucheng (Old City by Two Rivers), was established as a garrison during the Han Dynasty. It was built on a high plateau on a sharp curve of a river-a natural fortification. Civil was and lack of water at the time of Yuan Dynasty in the early 13th century brought the town to ruins. The central sacred site and the remnants of Buddhist monasteries and stupas in the northwest, which are most prominent among the ruins, are still well preserved. The remains of underground dwellings, which offered protection from the summer heat and the freezing winter, are of special interest. Than you will visit the Karez - ancient and fantastic underground irrigation system, which is still greatly in practice today. To provide enough water to the oasis, the ancient residents invented the Karez. After lunch visit of Emin Minaret (Sugong Temple), which was built with clay bricks in 1777 and finished in 1788, and the sparsely furnished mosque next to it are the symbols of the town, and have been designated a historical monument. Route to Urumqi airport. Flight to Hotan. Hotan was one of the important places on the ancient Silk Road. From early years up till now Hotan was the economical and cultural center for the exchanges between China and the western countries. Hotel accommodation upon your arrival. 

Day 3/Thursday. Hotan

Breakfast.

All-day desert excursion to Yurturgan, site of a pre Islamic kingdom dating from the 8th century and visit the ruins of Malik Abad, this site is at the fringe of the Taklimakan Desert, on the west bank of the Jade Dragon Kashgar River. This city, formerly an important regional capital on the Silk Road, was abandoned well over a thousand years ago. Also visit this region's jade and precious gem mines. Hotan is the main jade production center of the world for 2, 000 years. The Hotan white jade is in big demand among the jade products of the world. Since early years the Hotan jade has been transported to mainland China and Eurasian markets in a steady stream. It has become a rare treasure for the nobles in authority. All the seven counties and one city of Hotan district can naturally produce jade, but it is mostly produced from the Yorungkash and Karakash rivers. We visit also the Hotan carpets factory, known by the oriental style. 

Day 4/ Friday. Hotan – Yarkent

Breakfast.

Drive to Yarkend (328 km) through beautiful views of high mountains and desert via oasis cities and villages. Accommodation at hotel upon arrival. Visit of Amani Sahan Mausoleum (1526-1560) – the Kings Tomb and Altun Mosquethe Golden Mosque (XVI s) in Yarkent. Lunch at local restaurant in Yarkent. Overnight in hotel.

Day 5/ Saturday. Yarkent - Kashgar 

Breakfast.

Route to Kashgar (190 km) and before arriving to Yengisar you will have the magnificent views of the highest summit of Pamir Mountains, the Muztagh Ata (7546 m) and Konur (7729 m) Peaks. Visit of the knife market of Yengisar. Arrival in the afternoon in Kashgar. Accommodation at hotel. In the afternoon we visit historic Eidkah Mosque, built in 1442 and still China's largest mosque. Mausoleum of Abakhoja, a venerated Sufi leader lived in 17th century. We take lunch in the old city in a local family compound in order to experience contemporary Uyghur culture and have dinner at a fruit orchard restaurant.Overnight in hotel. 

Day 6/ Sunday. Kashgar – Urumqi – Almaty (Kazakhstan)

Breakfast. 

Sunday Bazaar - Today our main objective is the legendary Kashgar Sunday Bazaar where each Sunday the country comes to town at the colorful covered Bazaar as villagers and towns people mix to trade, barter and buy. It is said locally that "you can find everything at Kashgar Bazaar but not rooster's milk". This lively tradition is a carry over from ancient times when Silk Road trade goods flooded into Kashgar from the four corners of central Asia. In the afternoon flight to Urumqi and then flight CZ 6011 to Almaty at 21:00 and arrival at 20:40. Meet by Kazakh guide and driver.Transfer to the hotel and check in. Dinner. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 7/ Monday. Almaty – Tashkent (Uzbekistan).

Breakfast.

Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan situated in the south-east of Kazakhstan; Almaty was founded in 1854 as a Russian frontier fort and today is Central Asia's most cosmopolitan city with a population of approximately 2,000,000 people, having a wealth of shops, restaurants, hotels and casinos. Formerly known as Alma Ata, for its abundance of apple orchards, it lies between the Zailiysky Alatau Mountains and the plains. Since independence in 1991, the city has experienced a significant transformation from its sudden exposure to western markets. Almaty, formerly the capital of Kazakhstan, remains the business, financial and cultural center of the country. 

Almaty sightseeing: visit to the 28 Panfilov’s guardsmen park, Cathedral, Museum of national musical instruments, National museum, Medeo gorge and Republic square. During the excursion you will get acquainted with Kazakh people culture and history, with architecture and historical monuments of Almaty. Lunch at local restaurant. Transfer to airport and flight to Tashkent at 20:00, arrival at 20:50. Meeting at the airport by Uzbek guide and transfer to the hotel. Check in. Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 8/Tuesday. Tashkent – Samarkand.

Breafast.

Tashkent - Uzbekistan’s capital, although an ancient settlement of strategic importance was always dominated by whichever ruler held sway over the region and was never a major player in its own right. It came to prominence in the political machinations at the end of the 19th century when the Great Game was being played out between Russia and England as rival powers jostled for strategic advantage, and gradually assumed its present role as a regional hub. You will have a half day tour in Tashkent, with visiting of Hasti Imam complex, Chorsu Bazaar, Mustakillik square, place of Theater of Navoi, Amir Temur square. Afternoon transfer to Samarkand (320 km). Arrival and accommodation at hotel. Dinner and overnight. 

Day 9/Wednesday. Samarkand.

Breakfast.

Beautiful Samarkand. You will have your first glimpse of the extraordinary empire built by Tamerlane – the one man who dominated his epoch and a great swathe of the globe. Visit of most impressive and celebrated sights, including the remarkable Registan, a huge square at the heart of Tamerlane’s capital with the most exquisitely extravagant ensemble of three great madrassas. The unadulterated splendor of the towers, domes and glittering ceramic facades of these Islamic seminaries or universities are guaranteed to quicken the pulse of even the most jaded traveler. Tamerlane now lies buried, with his spiritual leader, two sons, and two grandsons, in unexpectedly modest style in the Gur Emir, the mausoleum originally built for one of his grandsons who died before him. You will visit also the Bibi Khanum mosque. The Shah-i-Zinda, is a hilltop pilgrimage site – a street along which stands a series of royal mausoleums, the row culminating in the “Living King” mosque. Kussam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad is said to rule beyond death from the earth. The oldest site in the city, it contains some of the finest glazed tile work to be seen in Central Asia. Tamerlane’s grandson, Ulugbek, was an educated man with a passion for astronomy. The remains of his observatory stand atop a hill to the north of Samarkand. His detailed observations and calculations show him to be the equal of any other mediaeval star-gazer. Dinner. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 10/Thursday. Samarkand – Bukhara.

Breakfast. Drive to Bukhara - the rich trading city reached its height in the 10th century when, as capital of the first independent Muslim state in Central Asia, its population was larger than its today and its power extended as far afield as Iran and Afghanistan. Relatively little is known about the ruling Samanid dynasty. However, their exquisite mausoleum survives from that era; buried in desert sand it was saved from the wholesale destruction wreaked by Genghis Khan. Accommodation upon your arrival. Sightseeing tour in the ancient part of Bukhara; visit of Labi-Khauz complexmadrasa of Nadir Divan Beghi and Khanaqa (XVII c), madrasa Kukaldash (XVI c) and trade domes (XVI c). Dinner. Overnight in hotel.

Day 11/ Friday. Bukhara.

Breakfast.

Splendors of Bukhara. Sightseeing tour of the city. During your exploration of the city you can visit the Ark Fortress, an entire town containing the residences of the Emir and his wives. Here you will find mosque, a mint with old coins, government buildings, store rooms, a prison and a square for public executions. The decoratively banded Kalyan tower – in its time the tallest minaret, may be even the tallest building in the world – dominates the city skyline. Its nickname – tower of Death – dates from days when criminals were flung to their death from its 47m high lantern, but its beauty is even said to have tamed the fearsome Genghis Khan. Ismail Samani mausoleum, Chashma Ayub mausoleum. Later you may pause for a cup of fragrant tea at the chai-khana beside Lyab-i-Khauz – a perfect peaceful pool flanked with lovely buildings. Dinner. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 12/Saturday. Bukhara – Mary (Turkmenistan).

Breakfast. Transfer to Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan border point “Farab”. Border formalities on both sides. Meeting the Turkmenistan guide on Turkmenistan side of the border. Drive to Mary through the Kara Kum desert. Accommodation in Mary. Dinner. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 13/Sunday. Mary – Ashgabat. 

Breakfast.

Discovery of ancient Merv, the oldest well-preserved heritage city. Known in the past as Margiana, it belonged to the Achaemenian Empire in the VI th century BC, until the invasion by Alexander the Great. Explore the Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar and Gyz-Gala fortress. Sightseeing tour in Gonur Depe, the main site of Zoroastrians. Evening flight to Ashgabat. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 14/Monday. Ashgabat.

Breakfast.

Sightseeing tour of the Blue Mosque, Arch of Neutrality and Independence Park with its rotating gold statue of Turkmenbashi. Drive to Nissa and explore the ancient ruined capital of the Parthians. Discover the unique fortresses, citadel, temples and tombs (III Century BC), the National Museum of History and Ethnography. Overnight in hotel.

Day 15/Tuesday. Ashgabat – Mashhad. 

Breakfast.

Early morning transfer to Iran borders. Border formalities on both sides. Meeting with Iranian guide and driver, route to Mashhad (250 km). Accommodation upon your arrival. City tour of Mashad. Visiting holy shrine of Imam Reza, Reza Museum, bazaar, Nader tomb. Dinner and overnight in hotel. 

Day 16/ Wednesday. Mashhad – Shiraz

After breakfast morning panoramic tour of city and transfer to the airport, than flight to Shiraz via Tehran. Arrival and followed by a transfer to the hotel in Shiraz and en route you will be able to see the Shah-Cheragh (King of the Light) shrine from outside. Dinner. Overnight in hotel.

Day 17/ Thursday. Shiraz

Breakfast.

Shiraz is crowned as the heartland of Persian culture and this city of sophistication will never fail to conjure up images of roses and nightingales, gardens and poetry. This gorgeous city in the province of Fars is home to famous poets such as Hafez and Sa'adi. Also, historical sites from different eras stretching back 6,000 years ago can be found there. Early in the morning, relish in the highlights of Shiraz when it was the capital of Iran during the Zand Dynasty. Be inspired by the glorious Karim Khan palace, the splendid Vakil mosque, Vakil Bazaar and Saray-e-moshir with its splendid architecture and interesting ethnic souvenir shops and Nasir Almolk mosque. Next, we will stop for a mouth-watering Iranian lunch at one of the traditional restaurants of Shiraz. In the evening, we will visit Ali-Ebn-e-Hamzeh and be prepared to marvel at its beauties. Take a stroll through the Jahan Nama Garden and witness its tall and proud cedars. Not forgetting the two famous Persian poets, Hafez and Sa'adi, whose mysterious poems are everlasting in the Persian language, we will get a chance to pay homage to their tombs. Finally visit the Delgosha Garden and Khajoy-e-Kermani tomb from where the perspective of the mysterious city of Shiraz will perpetuate in our mind. At night have dinner in a restaurant with specific atmosphere in the north of Shiraz. Overnight in hotel. 

Day 18/ Friday. Persepolis – Shiraz – Esfahan

Breakfast.

Excursion To Persepolis. Be prepared to be inspired by the magnificence of Persepolis. This gem of ancient Persia which dates back 2530 years ago is the result of the exquisite works of a conglomeration of fine artists and architects from various nations under the Achaemenid Empire

Next, we will visit Koh-e-Rahmat which is sided east of Persepolis and considered as a sacred mountain in ancient Persia. Followed by Necropolis where we will marvel at the massive tombs of Old Persian kings. Necropolis is a collection of a variety of awe-inspiring historical relics from different pre-Islamic eras. In the evening, we will leave our hotel and take pleasure in a tea party along the salt lake of Shiraz amidst its scenic mountainous lakes. Then return to Shiraz airport and fly to Isfahan. Take a walk along the Zayandeh-rood River and be captivated by Esfahan’s unforgettable bridges and interesting banks. Overnight in hotel.

Day 19/ Saturday. Esfahan

Breakfast.

Esfahan, the legendary city which never fails to enchant its visitors, is the pearl of traditional Islamic archeology. This city is revived by the works of contemporary artists. 

Esfahan prides itself in having fascinating historical garden palaces. Legend has it that the city was founded at the time of Tahmoures or Keykavous and because of its glories has been entitled “Half the World”. 

Our full day tour includes the famed Imam Square (Naqsh-e-Jahan), a huge square second in the world to Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Tour the architectural marvels of Sheikh Lotfollah and Imam Mosques, Aliqapu Palace, Chehel Sutoon and Hasht Behesht Palaces, and also visit to Monar Jomban, the tomb of a Sufi with its shaking minarets and some historical bridges. Dinner. Overnight in hotel.

Day 20/Sunday. Esfahan 

Breakfast.

Esfahan’s Jame' mosque holds in itself the passage of several centuries of historical Islamic evolution. This mosque is a gallery of Islamic architecture in which the progress of the architecture from the outset of Islam till recent times is evident. Then we will visit Vank Church which is one of the most beautiful Armenian churches in the world and will undoubtedly capture the attention of every Christian. 

Our day will conclude with a visit one of the most famous bazaars in Iran, where we can purchase the arts & crafts for which Esfahan is so well renowned. Overnight in hotel.

Day 21/Monday. Abyaneh - Kashan 

Breakfast. 

Today, will visit the UNESCO recognized village of Abyaneh, located at the foot of Mount Karkas and in the vicinity of desert. Appreciate the serenity of this quaint village with its splendid archaeology and meet the dwellers who speak, live and dress in the original Persian style. Province and the city of Kashan are among the most prominent producers of the stunning handicraft. The wool for the carpets is usually shorn by local men in spring or autumn and women are mostly in charge of the weaving.

Next, hop on to Kashan and visit Tabatabaiha and Boroojerdiha houses and some other historical places specially chosen by our tour guide and be acquainted with the previous century’s architecture, the Qajar era. Rest in Kashan for few hours and then en route to IKA visit Imam Tomb and Qom where we will pay homage to the holy shrine of Fatima. Overnight in hotel.

Day 22/ Tuesday. Tehran 

Breakfast.

Tehran, a modern megalopolis, prides itself in having unique museums with immense and unrivaled collections and artifacts dating from the earliest onset of history to the present era. Our tour begins with a trip to the Archeological Museum, one of the rare places in the world where we will have the special opportunity of visiting and experiencing the evolution of mankind through the marvelous display of historical relics. Next on the agenda is our very much-awaited chance to savor the distinctive flavor of Iranian cuisine. Lunch will be set in an exquisite traditional Iranian restaurant where we will sample a wide range of delightful Persian dishes and desserts. Afterwards, we will visit a world of jewels in a priceless Crown Jewels Museum one of which is one of the two greatest diamonds, Darya-e-Noor (sea of light). At the end of the day, we will get a chance to see a variety of Persian hand-woven carpets and rugs in the Carpet Museum which houses more than 100 spectacular pieces from all over Iran. On top of that, we will also be given an insight into the history of these carpets. Overnight in hotel.

Day 23/ Wednesday. Tehran.

Transfer to the airport. Departure.

Hotels:

 Turfan (1 night)

 Turpan Grand Hotel 3* or similar

 Khotan (2 nights)

 Muztagh Hotel 3* or similar

 Yarkant (1 night)

 Yarkant Hotel 3* or similar

 Kashgar (1 night)

 Kashgar Seman Hotel 3* or similar

 Almaty (1 night)

 Kazzhol 3* or similar

 Tashkent (1 night)

 Asia Tashkent 3* or similar

 Samarkand (2 nights)

 Malika 3* or similar

 Bukhara (2 nights)

 Asia Bukhara 3* or similar

 Mary (1 night)

 Yrsgal or similar

 Ashgabat (2 nights)

 Ak Altyn  3* or similar

 Mashhad (1 night)

 Pardis hotel 3* or similar

 Sheraz (2 nights)

 Park-e-Saadi 3* or similar

 Esfahan (3 nights)

 Traditional hotel 3* or similar

 Tehran (2 nights)

 Mashad hotel 3* or similar

Price excludes:

 Tips in hotels, to the guides and drivers

 Any extra expenses in hotels

 Video and photo camera charges

 Immigration fee on Turkmenistan border ($12)

 

.