26 DAYS ●
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Immerse Yourself Tour
Take a journey along 2,000-plus-years of Central Asian Silk Road
history. Discover Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, through stunning scenery in the footsteps of great explorers and conquerors.
Our Ancient Lands of Central Asia itinerary has been intricately designed for those who wish to see iconic sites and magnificent treasures. You'll travel with the assurance that all your arrangements are taken care of, with international flights, accommodation and all the touring listed below. You will be accompanied by our industry-leading National Escorts whose unparalleled knowledge and talent will turn your tour into an unforgettable experience.
Fly today to Dubai. Upon arrival you will make your way to your hotel where a day use room has been booked. This is located in Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport where you can freshen up and relax before your connecting flight to Ashgabat late this evening. You will board your flight with your tour manager, who will accompany you throughout your whole land itinerary and travel overnight to Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.
Upon arrival early this morning and after collection of your luggage, you will be met in the arrival hall by your local National Escort from Wendy Wu tours. Together with all other group members, transfer approximately 30 minutes to your hotel. Your room will be ready for check in at this early hour. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to rest before dinner tonight at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Today explore both ancient and modern Ashgabat. Visit the Fortress of Nisa, once a former capital of the Parthian Empire. Stop at the Monument of Independence to admire the gardens, foundations, statues and Ertugrul Gazi Mosque. Learn about Ashgabat’s unique history with time spent at the National Museum of History and Ethnography. Sightseeing today will be for approximately four hours and at a leisurely pace. (B,L,D)
Begin your second day of sightseeing in the city with a visit to the National Carpet Museum to admire the collection of handmade Turkmen carpets. Stop at the colourful Russian Bazaar before travelling outside of Ashgabat to visit a stud farm and learn about the “winged” Akhal Tekkes horses. En route back to Ashgabat stop at the Kipchak complex where the largest mosque in Turkmenistan is located and the family mausoleum of the countries first president.
This morning is free at leisure in Ashgabat. After lunch, drive three hours north to the border between south and north Turkmenistan. At this border we will drive a further eight kilometres through the Karakum desert before arriving at the Darvaza Crater. After unpacking the vehicle, enjoy a walk around this crater, measuring 69 meters wide and 30 meters deep as dusk approaches. Enjoy a nomadic inspired dinner under the stars, with a spectacular view of the crater and its glowing flames. (B,L,D)
Drive to Kunya-Urgench , the former capital of the Khorezm Empire in the 12-13th centuries. Enjoy sightseeing exploring the mausoleums of Turabek Khanum, II-Arslan, and Sultan Tekesh, the Kutlug Timur minaret and the fabled al Mamun’s Academy of Sciences. Continue driving two and a half hours and complete boarder formalities at Shavat before crossing into Uzbekistan. After a one hour drive you will arrive into Khiva, where you will stay the next three nights.(B,L,D)
Khiva is made for walking. It is compact, well maintained, lived in and basks in beautiful desert light. Explore this ancient city today with leisurely sightseeing for four to five hours on foot. Visit Kukhna Ark Fortress, the turquoise-tiled Islom-Khodja, the mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud. These are all located within the walled inner town called the Itchan Kala, which was the first site in Uzbekistan to achieve recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 1990. Later visit Madrassah Rakhimkhon where studies in religion, astronomy, geography and mathematics took place and the 19th century Tash Hauli Palace decorated in fine china blue tile work.. (B,L,D)
Drive into the Kyzylkum desert today and visit numerous desert fortresses located on the western side of the Sultan Uiz Dagh Mountains. Dating from as far back as the 2nd century explore Toprak Kala Fortress and Ayaz Kala. Sightseeing at these various fortresses involves a total of two to three hours on foot over rough and eroded ground.
In the evening, enjoy a traditional folklore performance whilst you enjoy dinner. (B,L,D)
This morning checkout of your hotel and drive approximately nine hours (480km) to Bukhara. Driving through the desert, view the changing scenery from saksaul trees to the Amudarya riverbank as you travel. Upon arrival check into your hotel for a two-night stay.(B,L,D)
Today explore the many interesting sites within this incredible city, one of the most famous names of medieval Islam. Gaze at the unique and legend filled Kalon Minaret. After exploring the Ark of Bukhara, visit the Bolo Hauz Mosque. Later this afternoon visit the mausoleum of Ismail Samanid and the ornate Aziz Khan and Ulugbek Madrassahs. Sightseeing around the central city, will be for approximately five hours with leisurely walking around these sites. (B,L,D)
This morning drive to Gijduvan, located approximately 60km from Bukhara. Explore the city for one and a half hour and visit a ceramic centre. Continue your drive for approximately four hours (260km) to Samarkand. Upon arrival check into your hotel for a two-night stay. (B,L,D)
Today explore some of the most significant sites in Samarkand and its city centre, involving approximately six hours of leisurely walking. Visit Timur’s Guri Amir Mausoleum and Registan Square, the most spectacular architectural ensemble in Central Asia and heart of the city. See the three stunning madrassas: Ulug Bek, Tillya Kori and Sher Dor. Later, visit Shah-I-Zinda and Bibi-Khanum Mosque before returning to your hotel. (B,L,D)
Ulugh Bek was more famous as an astronomer than a ruler and this morning visit the Ulugh Bek Observatory to see the 'stars above Samarkand'. Next, explore the ancient ruins of Afrosiab, a settlement of early Samarkand left abandoned to the elements. Stop at a papermaking workshop located in Konigil village before arriving at Samarkand Railway Station and boarding the Afrosiyob train for a 2 ½ hour journey to Tashkent. On arrival, transfer to your hotel and enjoy dinner. (B,L,D)
Spend a full day touring the famous sights of Uzbekistan’s capital. Journey back in time exploring the old town’s sights; Barak Khan Madrassah and Kukeldash Madrassah and Tila Shaikh mosque and their archives – known for rare copies of the Koran. Stop at Chorsu Bazaar – the oldest market in Tashkent. This afternoon visit the Museum of Applied Arts; wander through the 1966 earthquake memorial, Independence Square and Amir Timur Maydoni. Your last stop will be to the Tashkent Metro, with its opulently decorated marble, granite and chandeliers. (B,L,D)
Set out today overland as we drive from Tashkent to Khujand, Tajikistan via the Oybek border where immigration formalities will take place. The total journey will be approximately three hours of driving. On arrival into Khujand and after checking into the hotel your city tour will commence. Walk through Pushkin Square to Kamoli Khujandi Theatre and visit Timur Malik’s Fortress before viewing the exhibits of the Sughd Museum. Stroll through Panjshanbe Bazaar – one of the oldest bazaars in Tajikistan. End your day at Arbob Palace, a building that has historical significance to modern day Tajikistan. (B,L,D)
This morning travel to Istaravshan, located in the northern foothills of the Tajik mountain range. Spend time visiting Mug Teppe Fortress, Kok Gumbaz Mosque built in 1436 and the Sar I Mazor complex. Continue driving through beautiful Shakhristan Gorge and have lunch in a local restaurant before driving five hours to Panjikent. On arrival check into your hotel and enjoy dinner. (B,L,D)
Panjikent was a major city established in the 5th Century by the Sogdians. Visit Rudaki Historic ethnographic Museum and its historical artefacts followed by exploring a replica of an Ancient Panjikent Settlement. After walking through the local bazaar and viewing the cities mosque, enjoy lunch at a traditional Chaikhana (teahouse). Journey approximately five hours to the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe. En route stop at the breathtaking Lake Iskanderkul, surrounded by mountains and spend time here taking in the memorable view. (B,L,D)
A full day tour of the capital will include walking through the cities Botanical gardens, Rudaki Park and stopping at the Ismoili Somoni monument. Continue to Kohi Navruz a cultural palace, which demonstrates traditional Tajik architecture.
After lunch visit the Fortress of Hissor, though a majority of which is reconstructed it is reflective of a once a powerful presence the fortress held in Tajik history. Whilst here visit the Medrassah Kuhna and the Museum of Tajik Way of life. (B,L,D)
Spend the morning viewing the exhibits at the Museum of National Antiquities, showcasing Tajikistan and its prominence throughout Central Asian history. Transfer to the airport and board your flight to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Once at your hotel the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Start today with a visit to the Central State Museum, where the history of Kazakhstan is represented through 120,000 exhibits. Later visit Republic Square and its Independence Monument, Abai Opera Theatre, Central Mosque and the Presidential Residence. Marvel at the Zenkov Cathedral, made only of wood. This afternoon drive 15 kilometres to Medeo and see the famous ice skating rink set in the picturesque valleys surrounded by mountains. (B,L,D)
Travel to Karakol via Charyn. Visit the magnificent Charyn Canyon. Descend into the canyon, to the Valley of Castles for a light hike. Continue to Karakol. (B,L,D)
Visit a Chinese mosque and the striking Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral. In the afternoon, travel to the Valley of the Flowers and Jety-Oguz for a light hike through the magnificent canyon. (B,L,D)
Travel to Chon Kemin valley. En route explore the unique Museum of Nikolai Przhevalskii. Visit the Semenov Gorge and drive along the shore of Issyk Kul. In Cholpon-ata, explore the petroglyphs that date back to the 8th century. Chon- Kemin is a unique, pristine nature reserve. (B,L,D)
Take a peaceful walk through the foothills and village. After lunch, continue to Bishkek. En route, stop by the Burana Tower. In Bishkek, tour the Manas Monument and Ala Too Square. (B,L,D)
Today transfer early this morning to Bishkek Airport and board your flight to Dubai. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel for a day use room. Your room will be ready upon check in. The rest of the day is yours at leisure before boarding your overnight flight to Australia. Due to flight schedules you may have a connecting flight and therefore do not require a day use room in Dubai. (B,L,D))
All of our tour departures include international flights and taxes in the price. Our tour prices are from prices based on per person, twin share and are subject to the availability of specific economy class fare levels. If the dates we have available for this tour don't suit your needs, or you are not sure travelling as part of a group is for you, maybe a Private Tour would be more ideal.
Wendy Wu Tours inspects all hotels to ensure they meet the high levels of service, which we require for our guests. We pick the right hotel for the specific destination, meaning your accommodation can range from a smart business hotel in one city to a family-run guesthouse in a smaller town. Chosen hotels are also chosen for ease of navigation around tourist sights.
When travelling in Central Asia embrace the local cuisine where possible, as western and exclusively vegetarian options are often not available.
Food derives from what is in season and has influences from the Middle East and Turkic countries. Commonly seen foods are mutton, chicken, yoghurts, legumes, mild spices, noodles, kebabs, naan and rice. Please ensure you specify dietary requirements at the time of booking. We suggest mentioning them to the National Escort/Local Guides on arrival. They will do their utmost to cater to any special requests, such as vegetarian meals or foods to avoid in the case of allergies.
Shopping is a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure. In keeping with most people’s interests while on holiday, your tour includes a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs. Included are visits to establishments that provide locally produced goods, unique to your destination. Witness the creation of these products, and see first-hand how their production supports the local economy. As most travellers like to take home souvenirs, we ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity.
Tipping is not commonplace in Australia. In Asia however, it is anticipated that a tip be given to reward good service. With that in mind, we have a tipping system for our group tours. Each passenger ‘tips’ a set amount to the National Escort at the start of the tour or on arrival in each country. They then distribute this as appropriate. We advise tipping amounts in your final documentation.
Tipping is appreciated for Private and Tailor-Made travel. In your final documents, we include guidelines for tipping when travelling independently.
While travelling overseas, the Wendy Wu Tours contact number during business hours is +61 2 9224 8888.
Emergency Assistance (24-hours) is 0044 1888 288 288.
You will find mobile phone coverage to be quite high throughout Asia. We recommend contacting your mobile carrier if you intend to use international roaming during your holiday and ensure you investigate all associated call and data costs before you leave Australia. Some hotels may have Wi-Fi, which usually comes at a cost.
All nationalities require a visa when travelling to countries in Central Asia. Travellers should arrange visas well in advance of departure. Unlike many other tour operators, we include your visas in the price of your tour. We handle the entire application process – all you need to do is complete the paperwork and send your passport to us eight weeks prior to departure. We are always on hand to help you with any queries you may have while completing the application form.
At Wendy Wu Tours we are all avid adventurers, constantly seeking out the best ways for you to experience Asia. That's why we are Asia experts and Australia's leading Asia tour operator - our customer reviews and numerous awards say it all. This website is all about showcasing both Asia's top sights and its magnificent hidden gems; about the plethora of different types of authentic and exciting experiences that we can offer you; and about giving you the very best holiday, whether it's your first visit or your 10th.
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