28 DAYS ●
Go Beyond Tour
Travel from Bishkek to Ashgabat on this 28 day ‘Five Stan’ cultural experience. This in depth tour will see you visiting the Silk Road gems of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, the quirky Turkmenistan, colourful markets, fascinating villages and Swiss Alps type scenery. Retrace the footsteps of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great on this unforgettable Central Asian journey.
Discover the ancient and pre-Soviet styles of this intriguing city
Explore the ancient city of Khiva
Our Journey Through Central Asia In Reverse 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 to Dubai. Upon arrival a local Wendy Wu representative will meet and escort you to your transit hotel where you can freshen up and relax before your connecting flight to Bishkek late this evening.
Arrive in Bishkek early this morning, the remainder of your day is at leisure before an afternoon lunch and welcome meeting. Later this afternoon, you will take a city tour and visit Ala Too Square and finish in Dubovy Park where you can wander among the open-air cafes before strolling between the century-old oaks along Freedom Avenue.
This morning you will visit the Dordoi Bazaar, the largest wholesale and retail market in Bishkek. Visit the vibrant and colourful Osh Bazaar where you can shop for small souvenirs and many other locally produced items relevant to the traditional and modern culture of Kyrgyzstan and tour and the newly restored Museum of History
This afternoon, you will drive south to Ala Archa National Park where you will stop at the park’s base camp. From here, your guide will take you on a leisurely hike through the National Park whilst you take in the picturesque scenery of snow-capped mountains and freshwater rivers.
This morning, you will visit the 12th Century Burana Tower and enjoy the breath-taking views along the road as you continue another 2 hours to Chong Kemin.
Arrive at the Chong Kemin National Park in the mid-afternoon. Chong Kemin is a quiet valley with small villages surrounded by magnificent mountains and a fir forest. Take in the daily life in Ashu Village and witness horseback games, a nomadic tradition and custom of the Kyrgyz people.
The morning is free to soak up more of the stunning scenery around Chong Kemin National Park. Travel onto the town of Kochkor, visit a local workshop in Kochkor and see the manufacturing of the traditional Kyrgyz wool carpets, called ‘shyrdak’. Explore a small local market in the centre of the village and visit a local co-op that provides training for local women in traditional handicrafts.
After a traditional breakfast, visit the stunning red rock Skazka Canyon, also known as Fairy Tale Canyon.
After a traditional breakfast, visit the stunning red rock Skazka Canyon, also known as Fairy Tale Canyon Travel to Barskoon Gorge to see waterfall named ‘Tears of Leopard’. The gorge is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the Issyk Kul area.
See a yurt installation in Kyzyl-Suu village and arrive in Karakol in the late afternoon.
This morning you will visit the interesting Przhevalskii Museum and examine the region’s diverse religious influences with visits to the striking Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and the Chinese mosque from the outside as visits inside are not always guaranteed. All touring this morning is at a comfortable pace. In the afternoon, travel to the Valley of Flowers and Jety-Oguz Gorge where you can enjoy a light hike through the magnificent canyon of red sandstone. Later, visit Irdyk village to see a local mosque and enjoy a home-cooked dinner with a local Dungan family. Learn the fascinating story of why this Muslim Chinese group immigrated to the region 140 years ago, how they made the area their home, and how families today keep their traditional culture and cuisine alive.
Rise early and travel to the outskirts of town for the unforgettable Karakol Sunday Animal Market, the largest and most colourful in Central Asia.
In the early morning transfer to 2 hours via beautiful scenery to the Kegen border crossing and cross into Kazakhstan. Cross the border with your National Escort who will assist with border formalities and travel a further 2 hours to the Charyn Canyon. Visit magnificent Charyn Canyon and its Valley of the Castles, named due to the pillars and rock formations forming imposing, almost lookalike manmade structures.
This morning take part in an orientation walk visiting Republic Square, Abai Opera Theatre, the Central Mosque, the Green Market and Zenkov Cathedral.
This afternoon visit the turquoise Big Almaty Lake nestled in the Tian Shan mountains and see the Tien Shan Astronomical Observatory. Spend half the day relaxing in the scenic surrounds and return to Almaty in the late afternoon.
This morning fly from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan arriving in the early afternoon.
In the afternoon enjoy a tour of the Tajik capital will include walking through the city’s Botanical gardens, Rudaki Park and stopping at the Ismoili Somoni monument. Continue to Kohi Navruz a cultural palace, which demonstrates traditional Tajik architecture.
In the early evening enjoy dinner and a beer in the outdoor eating area next to the Ayni Opera and Ballet Theatre.
After breakfast 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. Return to Dushanbe where the rest of your day is free.
Tajikistan two national dishes are plov (aka osh), and qurutob. While plov is more famous and is also the national dish of neighbouring Uzbekistan, qurutob, a mix of flaky flatbread and onions in a yogurt sauce (with the occasional extra meat and vegetables), is specifically Tajik and incredibly delicious! You will sample this dish tonight along with other Tajik dishes.
Continue on and stop at the breathtaking Lake Iskander Kul, surrounded by mountains and spend time
here taking in the memorable views.
Travel via Istaravshan, located in the northern foothills of the Tajik mountain range and arrive in Khujand in the late afternoon.
This morning, stroll through the vibrant Panchshanbe Bazaar, visit the city’s top sight, the 10th century citadel, see Lenin’s Statue and the Statue of Komil Khojandi and relax on Pushkin Square, named in honour of the great Russian poet and surrounded by neo classical buildings and fountains.
Travel the 2 hours to the Uzbek border and cross the border with your National Escort.
Continue onto Kokand and enjoy a guided tour of the city seeing the impressive Khan’s Palace and Jami Mosque Museum. Finally, stop off at the Rishton Ceramics Museum to learn about the pottery industry and arrive in Fergana.
This morning you will visit Akhmad Al-Fergani Park and the Fergana town centre
Later, drive to a small village to the house of a local craftsman, to visit a traditional Kyrgyz family who manufacture traditional woollen carpets.
Later visit the dazzling Yodgorlik Silk Factory Centre in Margilon, possibly the finest on the old Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul. Your guide will walk you through traditional methods of silk production from steaming and unravelling the cocoons to the tie-dyeing and weaving of the dazzling khanatlas - handwoven silk fabrics for which Margilon is famous.
Rise early and travel to the unforgettable Kumpeta Sunday Bazaar in the nearby town of Margilon. Immerse yourself in the colours, sounds and smells of Central Asia’s biggest and most colourful bazaar during your 2-hour visit. Have lunch at the market and transfer the 6 hours via the scenic mountain range along the Uzbek/Kyrgyz border to Tashkent.
On arrival, transfer to your hotel, check in and enjoy a meal at a nearby restaurant.
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 Tashkentsee Independence Square and Amir Timur Maydoni. Your last stop will be to the Tashkent Metro, with its opulently decorated marble, granite and chandeliers.
After lunch, travel the 5 hours to Samarkand by private coach. Upon arrival check into your hotel for a three-night stay and transfer to a traditional restaurant for dinner.
Today, explore some of the most significant sites in Samarkand and its city centre, involving approximately six hours of leisurely walking. In the morning, visit Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum and return to Registan Square, which was for many centuries the heart of Samarkand. In the afternoon, wander through a local market, visit Shah-I-Zinda and Bibi-Khanym Friday Mosque.
This morning you will travel the 2 hours to Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of the Great Amir Timur (Tamerlane), located approximately 80km south of Samarkand. Explore the city, visiting sites such as the remnants of Ak-Sarai Palace, Dorus Tilavat cemetery and Kok-Gumbas Mosque.
Return to Samarkand for 2 hours of leisurely walking, visiting the Ulugh Beg Observatory to see the 'stars above Samarkand'.
This morning you will visit the summer residence of the last Emir at Sitora-i Mohi Khosa and drive the 4 hours to the pottery town Gijduvan, located approximately 60km from Bukhara. Explore the city for 1 hours, have lunch and visit a local ceramic centre. Continue your drive to Bukhara, arriving 1 hour later. Upon arrival check into your hotel for a two-night stay. On arrival have dinner in the scenic Lyabi-Haus area close to the old Jewish quarter. After dinner, stroll through the markets and shop for traditional Uzbekistani pottery and colourful local clothing. There are several interesting craft studios hidden in the ancient nearby madrassas and merchant buildings.
Today explore the many interesting sites within this incredible city of Bukhara, one of the most famous names of ancient Islam. Gaze at the unique and legend filled Kalon Minaret, explore the Ark of Bukhara and visit the Bolo Hauz Mosque. Continue onto the ladies’ market and through the beautiful Bukhara oasis to the peaceful 16th century Chor Minor and Chor Bakr necropolis where you will tour the colourful Khonako-Medrassah-Mosque complex. 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 six hours with leisurely walking around these sites.
This morning checkout of your hotel and travel on a fast train to Khiva. Travelling 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.
Khiva is a town 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 4-5 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, the Kalta Minor Minaret and the 19th century Tash Hauli Palace decorated in fine china blue tile work.
Drive 2 hours to Konye-Urgench, the former capital of the Khorezm Empire in the 12-13th centuries. Enjoy sightseeing exploring the Kutlug Timur minaret, the fabled al Mamun’s Academy of Sciences and the mausoleums of Turabek Khanum, II-Arslan and Sultan Tekesh.
Travel a further 4-5 hours 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.
Spend dusk at the crater enjoying this incredible sight.
This morning, travel north along a desert road to visit a monument that pays tribute to the group of socialists that died in the 1931 Basmachi Revolt and arrive in the small desert community of Erbent where you will learn about the Turkmen nomadic way of life.
Arrive in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, the City of White Marble and a city you’ll never forget in the mid-afternoon.
This morning, travel outside of Ashgabat to visit a stud farm and learn about the “winged” Akhal Tekkes horses.
En route back to Ashgabat stop at the Gypjak complex where the largest mosque in Turkmenistan is located and the family mausoleum of the country’s first president.
Have lunch in the Russian Gulistan Bazaar, visit Ertugrul Gazi Mosque and learn about Ashgabat’s unique history with time spent at the National Museum of History and Ethnography. Later, travel to the Fortress of Nisa, once a former capital of the Parthian Empire, close to the border of Iran.
Learn about the Turkmenistan’s important cotton and gas industries before stopping off at ancient Abiverd. This ruined town was one of the major centres of Northern Khurasan and was mentioned in written sources as a city with fertile lands and rich crops, famous for its magnificent market and mosque.
Have lunch explore the ruins of the ancient city of Merv, a major center of international trade and crafts located on the Silk Road, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Return to Ashgabat, via a short flight where you will spend the night. Enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel
Early in the morning transfer to the Ashgabat airport for your flight to Dubai and onto Australia.
On arrival in Dubai you will connect to your flight to Australia returning home on the same or the following day.
Land in Australia where the tour finishes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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