27 DAYS ●
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Go Beyond Tour
Travel from Ashgabat to Bishkek on this 27 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.
Cruise on beautiful Lake Issyk Kul
Discover the ancient and pre-Soviet styles of this intriguing city
Be mesmerised by this UNESCO city
Explore the ancient city of Khiva
Our Journey Through 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 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 2pm meal and welcome meeting at a local restaurant. After the welcome meeting, 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 countries first president.
Stop at the Turkmenistan Independence Monument to admire the gardens, foundations, statues and see the famous Rukhnama book. This sculpted park is filled with statues of Turkmen heroes, controversial politicians that line paths that lead to a golden dome and a massive minaret. 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.
Depart early for your journey to the city of Mary to tour the ancient city of Merv. Learn about the Turkmenistan cotton and gas industry before stopping off at ancient Abiverd. This ruined town was one of the major centers of Northern Khurasan repeatedly mentioned in written sources as a city with fertile lands and rich crops, famous for its magnificent market and mosque. Have lunch and explore 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.
This morning, travel north to visit a local monument that pays tribute to the group of socialists that died in the Basmachi Revolt in 1931 and arrive in Erbent, a desert community to observe the nomadic way of living. Continue north to the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. 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.
Drive to Konye-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 and cross into Uzbekistan, arriving into Khiva, where you will stay the next two nights.
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 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.
This morning travel on a local train to Bukhara. 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. On arrival have dinner in the scenic Lyabi-Haus area close to the old Jewish quarter. After dinner walk through the markets and shop for decorative clothing and traditional Uzbek crafts. There’s a wealth of small craft studios tucked into the ancient nearby madrassas and trading domes.
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.
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.
This morning visit the summer residence of the last Emir at Sitora-i Mohi Khosa and drive to the pottery town Gijduvan, located approximately 60km from Bukhara. Explore the city and visit a ceramic centre. Continue your drive to Samarkand. Upon arrival check into your hotel for a two-night stay.
Today explore some of the most significant sites in Samarkand and its city centre, involving approximately 2 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.
Today, explore some of the most significant sites in Samarkand and its city centre, involving approximately 7 hours of leisurely walking. In the morning, visit Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum and 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-Khanum Friday Mosque.
This morning, drive to Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of the Great Amir Timur, 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 stop at a papermaking workshop located in Konigil village before arriving at Samarkand Railway Station and boarding the Afrosiyob train to Tashkent. On arrival, transfer to your hotel, check in and tour the city. 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 see Independence Square and Amir Timur Maydoni. Your last stop will be to the Tashkent Metro, with its opulently decorated marble, granite and chandeliers.
In the morning transfer via the scenic mountain range along the Uzbek/Kyrgyz border and Kokand to the pleasant city of Fergana. Enjoy a guided tour of Kokand seeing the impressive Khan’s Palace and Jami Mosque Museum. Drive to Ok Yer village to the house of a local craftsman, Bakhrom-aka to visit a traditional Kyrgyz family who manufacture traditional woollen carpets. Finally, stop off at the Rishton Ceramics Museum to learn about the pottery industry and arrive in Fergana. Afterwards drive to Fergana and visit Akhmad Al-Fergani Park and the town centre. Check in to the hotel.
Rise early and travel to the magnificent Kumpeta Sunday Bazaar in the town of Margilon. Immerse yourself in the colours, sounds and smells of Central Asia’s best market, continue onto the nearby town of Andijon and tour the silk stalls at Jahon Sunday Bazaar, the biggest bazaar on the Uzbek side of the Fergana Valley. Later, visit the dazzling Yodgorlik Silk Factory, possibly the finest on the old Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul. Return to Fergana and visit Akhmad Al-Fergani Park and the town centre.
Depart Fergana in Uzbekistan and cross the border at Zarhok where immigration formalities will take place. Your local National Escort will cross from Uzbekistan into Tajikistan with the group and continue leading the tour in Tajikistan.
Arrive in the city of Khujand in the early afternoon. On arrival 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.
This morning travel to Istaravshan, located in the northern foothills of the Tajik mountain range. Continue on and stop at the breath-taking Lake Iskander Kul, surrounded by mountains and spend time here taking in the memorable views. Arrive in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan in the late afternoon.
A full day tour of the 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. 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.
Transfer to the Dushanbe airport with the National Escort that has guided you in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and board your flight to Almaty, Kazakhstan. He or she will check you at the Dushanbe, Tajikistan airport and wave you off for your flight to Almaty, Kazahkstan. Up on arrival at the Almaty airport, be greeted your Kazakh National Escort who will guide you throughout Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and will wave you off at the Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan airport. Transfer to your hotel and take part in an orientation walk visiting Republic Square, Abai Opera Theatre, the Central Mosque, the Green Market and Zenkov Catheral.
This morning drive 15 kilometres to Medeo and see the famous ice-skating rink set in the picturesque valleys surrounded by mountains. Stop by the turquoise Big Almaty Lake nestled in the Tian Shan mountains and tour the Tien Shan Astronomical Observatory. Spend half the day relaxing in the scenic surrounds and return to Almaty where the rest of your day is free.
Start early this morning and drive to the Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan border stopping en route if time permits at Nura Village to meet with a family that has breed Golden Eagles for hunting purposes throughout generations.
First, visit magnificent Charyn Canyon and its Valley of the Castles, named due to the pillars and rock formations forming imposing, almost lookalike manmade structures. You can choose to hike down towards the valley floor and climb back up again or observe the canyon rim from above. Your visit here will be one and a half to two hours. Continue to the border and cross from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan with your Kazakh National Escort. Travel to Karakol, where you will proceed to your hotel and check in for your 2-night stay.
Rise early and travel to the outskirts of town for the unforgettable Karakol Sunday Animal Market. Return to the city and visit the striking Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, which was completed in 1895 and tour a Chinese mosque. All touring this morning is at a comfortable pace. In the afternoon, travel to the Valley of the Flowers and Jety-Orguz where you can enjoy a light hike through the magnificent canyon of red sandstone. Sightseeing in the canyon involves leisurely walking on a bush track. Although this is a gentle hike, you will need to climb some hills and slopes and will be walking over uneven ground at altitude.
Visit Skazka Canyon, known as Fairy Tale Canyon and Barskoon Gorge to take a light hike to a waterfall named ‘Tears of Leopard'. The gorge is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the Issyk Kul area. Continue around 2 hours to Bokonbayevo Village and watch a demonstration of Eagle Hunting. Transfer to Kochkor, the centre of Kyrgyz national felt handicrafts. Visit a local workshop and see the manufacturing of the traditional Kyrgyz wool carpets, called ‘shyrdak’. Stay overnight in a Yurt Camp and try your hand at baking flatbread in a traditional oven.
Enjoy the breath-taking views along the road as you continue another 2 hours to Ashu Village. Arrive at the Chong Kemin National Park prior to lunch. 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. Your National Escort will brief you on these horseback games. Continue onto the capital city of Bishkek. En route, visit the 12th Century Burana Tower.
This morning, take a city tour and visit Ala Too Square, Oak Park and the newly restored Museum of History. This afternoon, 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. Return to Bishkek for an early farewell dinner at your hotel.
Today transfer with your National Escort to Bishkek Airport and board your flight to Dubai. Your National Escort will check you at the Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan airport and wave you off for your flight home.
Arrive home in Australia.
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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