Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia

Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan: Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through th...

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“Hi, it's u­­­s, Georg­i­n­a, Bri­tt­a, and ­Lee­ Lin­g­”

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Highlights

It is well-known that the historical Silk Road played an important and significant role in the development of civilizations of many nations culturally, politically and economically for many centuries.

Central Asia was an important stopover on the Silk Road. It was one of the most important and influential regions of the world during that time as it was a crossroad for the movement of goods, people and ideas between Asia and Europe.

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanHistory Map of Ancient Silk Road


Now, the region houses many UNESCO listings that for a moment I thought this is the “HQ of UNESCO”. This specially curated Epic 14-day land journey through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is like placing you in the time machine and bringing you back to the silk road days as many of the historical sites are still standing there to greet and welcome you.


You will not only see the vast landscapes and impressive architecture but will also meet the warm-hearted locals who are themselves the descendants of the original silk road traders. Come along with me as we become nomads ourselves and experience this fascinating history first-hand.


On this once-in-lifetime journey, we will:

  • Visit the 4 fascinating “stan” countries in just one trip - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan
  • Walk in the footsteps of Alexander the great and Ghengas Khan as we visit the ancient silk-road cities in these 4 former Soviet Union Republics (USSR)
  • Visit countless UNESCO world heritage sites and see hundreds more ancient and medieval structures
  • Visit pilgrimage sites, centuries old buildings, palaces and see the intricately decorated Mosques, Madrasahs, Mausoleums and Minarets of the region
  • See the spectacular gorges, mountain passes and lakes travelling from one city to another
  • Experience the local Bazaars to immerse into the local’s daily life
  • Sleep overnight in the traditional Yurt like a nomad
  • Meet the locals during a homestay, seeing their way of life first hand instead of hearsay and see other demonstrations of local crafts and cultural customs


A brief glance at some the cities and places we will be visiting in each country:

Kyrgyzstan

  • Ala Archa Natural Park, only V.I.P. people had permission to go for a walk here during the Soviet Time
  • The famous Tien Shan mountains range
  • Burana Tower, an 11th century minaret and is one of the Kyrgyzstan Silk Road sites.
  • An open-air museum of 6th- to 10th-century Balbals (stone warriors)
  • Live like a nomad and stay one night in the yurt along Son Kul Lake, the second largest lake and the largest fresh water lake in Kyrgyzstan
  • Osh, the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan that estimated to be more than 3,000 years old
  • The Sulayman Mountain. According to the UNESCO, the mountain is "the most complete example of a sacred mountain anywhere in Central Asia, worshipped over several millennia

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanOsh Bazaar (Asian Bazaar) is one of the largest bazaars in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanA statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in Dobovy (Oak) Park, photo by Dan Lundberg licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanTian Shan Mountainous in Ala Archa National Park Ala archa by Garth Willis is licensed under CC BY 2.5

Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanBurana tower is one of the Kyrgyzstan Silk Road sites. Burana tower, photo by Ninara from Helsinki, Finland licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at Uzbekistan
Open air museum of Balbals (stone warriors) at Burana Tower, photo by Dan Lundberg licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanSong-Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan, photo By Ninara from Helsinki, Finland licensed under CC BY 2.0,

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanEvening in the Yurt Camp. Photo by Ninara from Helsinki, Finland licensed under CC BY 2.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanCosy corner inside the yurt

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanRiders at the shore of Song Kol, Kyrgyzstan. Photo by Kondephy licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanSulayman Mountain, Osh, photo By Ninara from Helsinki, Finland licensed under CC BY 2.0,

Sulayman Mountain in the background of Osh City. It is considered a place of pilgrimage for local Muslims, because according to the legend, biblical prophet Solomon (Suleiman, in the Koran) was buried at the foot of it.

 

Tajikistan

  • Khujand, one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, dating back about 2,500 years. It was a major city along the ancient northern Silk Road
  • Fann Mountains - one of Central Asia's most popular hiking areas
  • The beautiful Seven Lakes is also known as Marquzor Lakes. Each with different colour
  • The archaeological site of the ruins of old Penjikent which originated in the 5th-8th centuries AD, often referred as The Pompeii of Central Asia. It was once a Sogdian trading city on the Silk Road.

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanKhujand, Marketsquare, photo by Anton Ruiter licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanKhujand Cookies. Central market of Khujand city called Bozori Panjshanbe. Photo by Neu holland licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanFann Mountains. Photo by Oleg Brovko licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0

Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanOne of the Seven Lakes in the Fan Mountains. Tajikistan. Photo by Шухрат Саъдиев  licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanSogdian Ancient Penjikent (5th-8th century AD), Tajikistan. Photo by Stefan Krasowski licensed under the CC BY 2.0

 

Uzbekistan

  • The most famous historical cities of Central Asia: Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva
  • Samarkand: one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia and is of the same age as the city of Babylon or Rome. It's the ancient Silk Road trade route linking China to the Mediterranean. "Everything I've heard about the glories of Samarkand - is true, with the exception of one thing - the city is much more beautiful than I could ever imagine" - these were the words of Alexander the Great about this city
  • Registan Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a complex of three fascinating Madrasahs dating back to 15-17th centuries
  • Mausoleum of St. Daniel (Prophet Daniel). Legend has it that his body grows half an inch each year. Hence, it is said that the coffin is 18 meters (59 feet) long now.
  • Bukhara: a city-museum with more than 100 architectural monuments. It has been one of the main centres of world civilisation from its early days in 6th century BCE. Located on the Silk Road, UNESCO has listed the historic center of Bukhara (which contains numerous mosques and madrasas) as a World Heritage Site
  • The Kyzylkum Desert, the 16th largest desert in the world
  • Khiva: an open air museum-city. Listed in UNESCO World Heritage List. It is similar to Pompeii and Herculanum. Some expressed that this city is like a real fairy tale combining the magic lamps and eastern beauties, an oasis that Silk Road merchants never missed.

Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanRegistan square Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo by Ekrem Canli is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Registan was a public square, where people gathered to hear royal proclamations, heralded by blasts on enormous copper pipes called dzharchis - and a place of public executions too.

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanMausoleum of the Prophet Daniel, Samarkand, Photo by Dan Lundberg licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanArk Citadel Walls, A view of the Ark Fortress in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The Ark Fortress is dating back to the 4th century. Photo by RK licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanChashma-Ayub Mausoleum, Bukhara. Photo by Faqscl licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0
Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum appeared in the 12th century beside the spring that is associated with the biblical Prophet Job. This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on 18 January 2008, in the Cultural category

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanBolo-Hauz Mosque, Bukhara. Photo by Dan Lundberg licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0
Unique architecture built in 1712, it is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanEntrance to Trading dome, Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo by Robert Wilson licensed under the CC BY-ND 2.0
The shopping area on Bukhara is named Trading dome. It is where silk road merchants traded their products

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanLyabi Hauz, Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo by Robert Wilson licensed under the CC BY-ND 2.0
The Lyab-i Hauz was created during the 16th and 17th centuries and it has not been significantly changed since.

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanThe road from Bukhara to Khiva goes through the famous Kyzylkum Desert, Uzbekistan 

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanCity wall of Khiva, Uzbekistan 

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanClose-up of the decorated surfaces (paint and tile) of Kunya-Ark of Kurinysh-Khan, photo by Dan Lundberg licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanKhiva Itchan Kala by Patrickringgenberg is licensed under CC 2.0
Itchan Kala in Khiva was the first site in Uzbekistan to be inscribed in the World Heritage List (1991). The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, dating primarily from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.

 

Turkmenistan

  • Konye-Urgench, ancient capital of Khorezm, a UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • The Il-Arslan Mausoleum, Konye-Urgench’s oldest standing monument
  • Mausoleum of Turabek-Khanym, a Mongolian princess Mausoleum
  • The Darvaza gas crater, known locally as the "Door to Hell" or ''Gates of Hell",
  • Nissa fortress, the Sanctuary of Parthian Kings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanThe Il-Arslan Mausoleum, Turkmenistan. Photo by Dan Lundberg licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0
The Il-Arslan Mausoleum is Konye-Urgench’s oldest standing monument.

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanTurabek-Khanym Mausoleum’s Ornamental Art, XIYc., Turkmenistan
Photo by Npb-aia licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanDarvaza gas crater panorama. Turkmenistan. Photo by Tormod Sandtorv licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0

 Let’s Travel the Ancient Silk Road Through the Four “Stans” of Central Asia starting at UzbekistanNisa Fortress, Turkmenistan. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo by David Stanley licensed under the CC BY 2.0

 

Additional Info

Accommodation condition:
- All accommodations have aircon and attached bathroom with hot bathing water except yurt, homestay, and camping tent.
- All accommodations are twin sharing except yurt is 4 pax per yurt
- Yurt: Toilet and bathroom are outside about 20-30 meters away. Total 3 common for all yurts. Do not provide shower soap, shampoo, bathing towels and no hot bathing water
- Home stay: Toilet and bathroom are outside with no hot bathing water. Do not provide shower soap and shampoo
- Camping tent: Very basic and simple condition. Toilet outside tent and no bathing facility


Things to bring (detail packing list will be given upon trip confirmation):
- Warm clothing as high-altitude places and night time can be very cold between 5-10 degrees
- Light clothing for daytime as can be very hot to 36 degrees
- Sleeping bag lining
- Room slippers
- Personal toiletries such as bathing towel


Note:
- Price is based on USD currency rate exchange at USD 1 = SGD 1.37. If USD appreciates, then would have to top up the difference and if it depreciates, then the balance will be refunded.
- Price is based on 2019 rate and may subject to change in 2020 according to operators
- For 8-9 pax, the price is S$4,386 per pax
- For 10 pax and above, the price is S$3,942 per pax
- Price excludes international air tickets

Itinerary

Day 1: SG – Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek)

Day 2: Bishkek – Ala Archa – Bishkek
- Pick up from Airport
- Tour of Bishkek - visit Pobeda Square (Victory Square), Duboviy Park (Oak Park), Central Ala-Too Square, Old Square, National Philharmonic, and Ala Archa gorge (National Park). The Ala Archa gorge is on a spur of the Tien Shan mountain range.
- Optional activity: You can have a short hiking tour to see a panoramic view of the gorge.
- Overnight in a hotel.

Day 3: Bishkek – Burana – Kochkor – Naryn
- Visit Burana Tower (an 11th century minaret) and an open air museum of Balbals (stone warriors)
- Have a break In Kochkor village, where a local family will show you how our national felt carpets are made. You can even learn the art of felt making and create your own carpet together with them!
- Overnight in a guesthouse in Naryn

Day 4: Naryn – Son Kul
- Drive to the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan – Son Kul Lake after breakfast. This lake is surrounded by mountains and it is the highest alpine lake in Kyrgyzstan, situated at an altitude of 3013 meters above sea level.
- Free and easy to explore and enjoy the virgin nature of the lake and its surroundings.
- Optional activity: horse riding along the lake
- Overnight in the nomadic yurts

Day 5: Son Kul – Suusamyr – Bishkek
- On the way back to Bishkek, enjoy the amazing views of high mountains, fantastic gorges and Suusamyr Valley. You will see the panoramic views of Too Ashuu pass which is more than 3000 meters high! This road is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Kyrgyzstan.
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 6: Bishkek – Osh – Khujand (Tajikistan)
- Morning flight to the city of Osh.
- Visit the famous and special place - Suleiman Mountain
- Travel to Khudjand city in Tajikistan. Visit Cultural Palace of Khujand (the first president of Tajikistan was chosen here) and Central Mosque
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 7: Khujand – Seven Lakes
- Drive to the Fannsky Gory (Fan Mountains) and the Seven Lakes (Marquzor Lakes). We will visit the first 4 lakes. They are situated on different altitudes and have different colors
- Overnight in a home stay

Day 8: Seven Lakes – Penjikent
- Drive to Penjakent via pass Shahriston (3,378 m)
- Visit the ruins of the ancient city of Penjakent ("five villages"). It was named "Central Asian Pompeii". You can see the remains of dwelling houses and office buildings, the citadel with the palace, the house of craftsmen, and fire worshipers church
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 9: Penjikent – Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
- Go to Samarkand in Uzbekistan
- Visit Registan square, Shakhi-Zindeh, Mausoleum Guri Emir and Bibi Khanum Mosque. Architectural complex of Shakhi-Zindeh represents a big collection of mausoleums dating back to 11th-15 centuries being a part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Overnight in a hotel.

Day 10: Samarkand – Buhara
- Morning train to Bukhara
- Visit the most ancient Citadel Ark in Bukhara dating back to the 4th century, Samanids mausoleum - a real masterpiece of architecture of 9th -10th century, Chashma Ayub (Job's well) and Bolo-Hauz mosque
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 11: Buhara
- Visit Bahauddin Naqshbandi complex, a memorial complex of famous Sufi Leader and Philosopher, one of the Muslim pilgrimage places for all people of Islamic world
- Unique experience of shopping in domes
- Also visit Lyabi House Ensemble, Poi Kalon complex - the unique sample of architectural art of Bukhara that consists of three structures built in the 12th - 16th centuries: Kalon minaret, Kalon mosque and Mir Arab Madrasah.
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 12: Bukhara – Khiva
- The road from Bukhara to Khiva goes through famous Kizilkum desert. On the way, enjoy the view of Amu Darya river, the deepest river in Central Asia
- Free time to explore the city of Khiva on our own
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 13: Khiva
- Full day sightseeing tour in Khiva, the oldest city of Uzbekistan.
- Visit Ichan-Qala, the inner city in Khiva rounded with strong walls, Kunya-Ark fortress dating back to 17th century, Kalta Minor minaret and Tash Khouvli palace, an incredible sample of Khorezm architectural mastership of 1830s.
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 14: Khiva – Kunya Urgench – Darvaza Gas Crater (Turkmenistan)
- Into Turkmenistan, drive to Kone Urgench (UNESKO 2005) ancient capital of Khorezm
- Visit mausoleums of II Arslan and Soltan Tekesh, Nejmeddin Kubra, Soltan Ali, Turabek –Khanum (12th c), minaret of Kutlug Timur, Mamun II
- Tour the Darvaza Gas Crater, the locals call it “The Door to Hell”
- Overnight in a tent camp (a very basic and simple camp) near the Darvaza Gas Crater so that we can see the bright Gas Crater in the night

Day 15: Darwaza – Nisa – Ashgabat
- Visti Nissa fortress, horse farm in Gokdepe region, try traditional tea party, see Akhal-Teke horse show programme
- Overnight in a hotel

Day 16: Flight
- Depart for airport early in the morning

Day 17: Arrived SG

Reviews

  • I had a amazing trip with a group of friendly and warm tour mates. Carly was such an assuring tour leader. Excellent and safe Vietnamese driver, Jerry. well spoken English Vietnamese guide Tommy. I enjoyed myself very much and look forward for another trip!

  • Excellent short trip with beautiful verdant countryside and charming local tribal people not corrupted by tourism yet . Be prepared for long drive on narrow winding mountain roads.

  • Best trip ever ! Everyone laughed and enjoyed the hols as if we have known each other all our lives instead of meeting for the first time ! Everyone kept their cool when faced with an unforseen delay . The scenery at Ha Giang is simply superb . There are so many small towns within the mountains with... Read more Best trip ever ! Everyone laughed and enjoyed the hols as if we have known each other all our lives instead of meeting for the first time ! Everyone kept their cool when faced with an unforseen delay . The scenery at Ha Giang is simply superb . There are so many small towns within the mountains with so many minority races living together . Their costumes are so colourful and the ladies' headgears are so lovely to gawk at . If I could , I would love to go again . Highly recommended for gungho people with "throw everything to the wind" attitude . Fantastic local guide and driver (Tom & Jerry) and pats on the back for Carly (Singapore guide) too . Thanks .........rosse and raymond . Read less

  • Georgina was great in: 1) giving reminders so that people can un-RSVP for others on wait list to get a spot. 2) giving clear instructions, photos, links on how to get to the meeting point, 3)explaining why everyone had to be on time and what the program is expected to be and when it might end. ... Read more Georgina was great in: 1) giving reminders so that people can un-RSVP for others on wait list to get a spot. 2) giving clear instructions, photos, links on how to get to the meeting point, 3)explaining why everyone had to be on time and what the program is expected to be and when it might end. Late evening slot was a good idea as we got to see the night installations at The PathFinder portion, but food stalls already closed upon exit. There are toilets inside the exhibit in Fort Canning Center itself. Cleaner than the mobile toilets outside. Thank you for helping to get us tickets when it is so difficult to do so. Read less

  • My wife, son and I never regret of signing up this trip. My 8 year old son enjoyed the walk on the rocky beach. Best moment of the walk was that we came closed to the corals, crabs ???? and ???? shrimps. Thank you threeplaygrounds!