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Road to Samarkand

2015 Tour Prices From $9,280 - 26 Days, from selected Australian cities

2016 Early Birds From $9,280 - 26 Days, fully inclusive from selected Australian cities

The most renowned overland trading route of ancient civilisations was the Silk Road, crossing rugged, mountainous and desert areas where tales abounded of mystical cities, lively open-air bazaars and a seemingly endless hive of activity. Historically, the Silk Road was a remote and arduous path and one can only imagine the kind of difficulties those who travelled this renowned road had to overcome. It spanned from China’s former imperial capital, Xian, westward through to Europe.
With so much to see and experience, this journey will take you along the Silk Road from Kashgar in China to some of the most amazing ancient cities such as Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, one of Central Asia’s oldest settlements. Along the way you will discover breathtaking sights, view beautiful Islamic architecture and see some of the most captivating scenery you will ever encounter.

You will find our 2015 tour prices have also been listed for your convenience. While these departures are not included as part of our Early Bird Specials, we have a great range of tours available for travel in 2015! Take advantage of these great prices before 2016 increases.

Please note that itineraries are based on 2015 programmes. Variations to itineraries and durations may occur for travel in 2016 – please refer to our Early Bird brochure. 2016 Specials are valid when flying Cathay Pacific. Road to Samarkand utilises China Southern Airlines. 2016 Early Bird savings are based on the price reduction from the 2016 group tour prices published 26 May 2015

Tour itinerary


Fly overnight with China Southern Airlines to Urumqi for an overnight stay. In the afternoon, visit the International Bazaar and the local markets.


Travel to Tian Chi (Heavenly Lake), a pristine lake nestled in the foothills of the Tianshan Mountains. With melted snow as its source, Heavenly Lake has crystal-clear water. This evening, fly to Kashgar, an ancient market town, once the flourishing centre of the Silk Road trading route.


Explore the elegantly tiled Abakh Hoja Tomb, the Id Kah Mosque and the old alleys that intertwine through Id Kah Square.


Travel from China into Kyrgyzstan across the Tian Shan Range (Heavenly Mountain) to Torugart Pass where you cross the border into Kyrgyzstan. Stop at the Tash Rabat Caravanserai en route to Naryn.


Leave Naryn and travel to Kochkor Village. Enjoy a traditional lunch at a Ger before watching a ‘shyrdak’ demonstration (making of Kyrgyz wool carpets).


Travel to Karakol, visiting Bokonbayevo Village en route. Enjoy lunch with a local family and watch a demonstration of eagle hunting.


Rise early this morning and visit the colourful Sunday animal market, the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral and a Chinese mosque. Enjoy an easy afternoon hike in Jety-Orguz and the Valley of Flowers.


Explore the Przhevalskii Museum and Semenov Gorge before continuing to Cholpon-Ata. Relax on an afternoon cruise on Issy Kul. Explore the petroglyphs of ibex, wolves and deer etched into glacial stone. Continue to Ashu in the Chon-Kemin Valley.


Today take in the real life of Kyrgyz people in Ashu village.


Drive to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, visiting the Burana Tower en route. Later, visit Ala Too Square and Oak Park. This evening, enjoy a folklore performance during dinner.


This morning take a leisurely hike in Ala Archa National Park. This evening fly to Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan.


Fly to Urgench and drive to the ancient city of Khiva for a three night stay.


Explore the walled inner town called the Itchan Kala. See the Kukhna Ark Fortress, the turquoise-tiled Islom-Huja, Amir-Tur Medressa and Tash Hauli Palace.


Visit the ruins of Elliq-Qala, an impressive fort complex, and enjoy lunch at a yurt camp below the ruins of Toprak Qala.


Travel to Bukhara, Central Asia’s most sacred city with a history spanning over 2,500 years.


Explore the Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, Chor Minor and Kalon Minaret. Tomorrow, visit the Lyabi-Hauz Plaza and the summer residence of the last Bukharan Emirs. Enjoy a cultural folk performance this evening.


Travel to Samarkand, the site where the Silk Road diverged east to China, south to India and west to Persia, stopping in the historic town of Shakhrisabz en route.


Over the next two days explore the historical sites of Samarkand, including Timur’s Guri Amir Mausoleum and Registan Square. Also visit the She Dor Medressa, Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Shah-I-Zinda, Ulugh Beg Observatory and a paper-making workshop.


Return to Tashkent by road. You will pass through the Tamerlane Gates en route. Visit the majestic 16th-century Kukeldash Medressa, Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, Khan Medressa, Khast Imam Complex and Moyie Mubarek Library Museum. Later, wander the Chorsu Bazaar and explore the Crying Mother Monument.


Explore Tashkent, including Museum of Applied Arts, Independence Square, 1966 earthquake memorial, Amir Timur Maydoni, the Russian-style Alisher Navoi Theatre and Broadway Street. This evening fly overnight to Beijing.


Arrive into Beijing early and enjoy the morning free at your leisure. This afternoon visit Beihai Park, one of the most ancient imperial gardens in China, and Jingshan Park, for views across the Forbidden City.


This morning is free at your leisure before you are transferred to Beijing airport to board your overnight flight to Australia.


Arrive home today.

Tour Reviews

"This is a most incredible ride, through this vast expanse of unspoiled landscape."

Looking back on the trip as a whole I have to say that well organised, well led and well informed guides and escorts springs first to mind. The group interacted well together with a smooth running operation overseen by a light touch from the guides.

Starting from Perth our trip to Guangzhou and Urumqi went off without a hitch. Chinese customs and immigration were “thorough” without being officious throughout. Kyrgyz and Uzbek were a slightly lighter touch. But nothing to disturb us and we all came through the experiences unruffled.

Arriving in Urumqi and Kashgar we enjoyed our visit to the markets. It may be part of China but the atmosphere is different I can only describe it as more “laid back”. It is only when you look on the map that you realise you are far to the north of the main area of China, well to the east, in semi desert and with people which are Asian but certainly not Chinese. What we experienced here became the norm for the rest of the trip. The unfailing good humour, friendliness and good manners of everyone we met.

The range of goods on sale and the size of the markets kept us fascinated for hours. Literally. We got lost and had to be rescued by Christine. Fortunately it wasn’t too much of a delay to proceedings as we were all heading back to the hotel.

When we travelled to Urumqi, our visit to Heavenly Lake was a major experience for me. As a geologist I like plenty of rocks and mountains and this trip provided both in the first half. The Lake is spectacular and when we arrived a festival seemed to be underway with some very professional dancers going though their paces on a stage. This kept us all enthralled for quite a while. Walks round the lake and trips on the water rounded out a thoroughly enthralling day.

Flying to Kashgar everything changed. The dry area with little water was a contrast to Urumqi but in its own way equally fascinating. Here Islam is more evident in the carefully tended mosques and cemeteries. However, amongst the people in the street there is less sign of Islam than can be found in Perth. It was a feature of the trip that Islamic dress for women or men was almost completely absent. Not even a headscarf.

Leaving Kashgar and heading for Kyrgyztan via the Torugat Pass everything changed yet again: with bare mountainside scenery blowing dust and a big climb to nearly 3800M. When we arrived at the head of the pass the temperature was -4­­­0 C and with the wind blowing strongly. Even the two minutes we had to stand outside the bus was bad enough but the border guards were there all day. We were glad to get back in the warm.

Then we started the descent through the mountains of Kyrgystan. As the bus descended the mountains rose on both sides of us and in the far distance in front were more white capped peaks. This is a most incredible ride for several hours through this vast expanse of unspoiled landscape. On the way down, there was a break for a “comfort stop”. This was more than many were used to. Open Asian style toilets did not endear themselves to most. Only those few used to this style of “comfort” were unfazed.

Our first experience in Kyrgyztan was at dinner in the town of Naryn. We shared a large theatre hall with an engagement or pre wedding party. Many of the guests sang and danced and there were speeches and artists that entertained the large crowd. Our party was later included in the celebration.

From here on we travelled through the stunning beauty of Kyrgyztan for the next seven days. As we went we experienced life Kyrgyz style but very definitely geared towards tourists. The trips we took to Jety Orguz and Semenov gorges and the snow in the Ala Arta National Park were particular scenic highlights.

The highlight of the accommodation experience was the home stays. Whilst being factually accurate the name does no justice to the standards of accommodation we encountered. Without exception they are clean, well ordered imaginative and exceedingly well appointed. They most closely resemble 3+ star hotels. The staff, mainly family members, were unfailing friendly and courteous. Nothing was too much trouble and they went out of their way to provide everything we could possibly want. Most memorable was the Green Door accommodation. The rooms were faultless and the food here, as everywhere in Kyrgyzstan, was varied, well presented, and far in excess of what we could eat. Most remarkable was the widespread understanding of English from almost everyone.

Our final memory of Kyrgyzstan was an evening at a restaurant with entertainment from a trio of Kyrgyz players whose dexterity and beautiful playing of local tunes had to be heard to be believed.

Then we reached Uzbekistan and Khiva in the far southwest, only a short distance from Turkmenistan. The town seems to be largely preserved in its original state and the mosques, madrassas, minarets and palaces give a strong sense of the long history of this town. Its almost completely preserved city wall surrounding the town completed the feeling that entering here and leaving behind the commercial sections, you were stepping back in time to the era of Tamerlane.

Continuing our travels to Bukhara and Samarkand gave a strong impression of travelling through time to the present. Whilst Khiva is largely original, Bukhara has restored and preserved its ancient buildings whilst adding more amenities. In Samarkand the process of transformation to the present is more advanced.

Bukhara seems to be in two parts, the older city with the minarets and madrassas, and its winding streets and many small markets selling a huge range of local wares, and the more modern part where the imposing Ark Fortress stands. The Labi-Hauz pool, preserved from the original town forms a beautiful and peaceful centre to an intriguing town.

Samarkand is a modern town with its many beautiful buildings carefully and lovingly restored and maintained. Without doubt the most spectacular and mind-boggling is the Registan Square. This complex of madrassas and museums is more beautiful than mere words can describe. It has to be seen to be believed and appreciated. Many of these buildings have been built in such a way that when entering them and looking around, and particularly up, you are overwhelmed by the beauty of the design and decoration. This varies from blue tiles to gold leaf and I would think it is of incalculable value.

Our final stop in Tashkent revealed a very modern city with many fine and spectacular buildings, many of which have been completed in the very recent past. We then returned to China via Beijing where we visited the delightful Beihai and Jinshang Parks with its 9 Dragon Wall.

In summary I have to say that we enjoyed a wonderful and diverse travel experience accompanied by impeccable professional guides who made it their business to see that everything went smoothly and efficiently for the great enjoyment of all concerned.

Apart from the “must see” sight-seeing sites we enjoyed visits to: –

The Felt Factory, Kochkor.

The Silk Paper Factory, Samarkand.

The Carpet Warehouse, Bukhara. (Expensive visit!)

The local musical instrument demonstration, Samarkand.

The eagle hunting.

The jam in Kyrgyztan. And the shopping

Peggy and Peter Walker
Western Australia
Travelled on: Road to Samarkand

Dates & Prices

From $9,280 per person

2015 Tour Prices

26 Days, fully inclusive Twin Share

Departing Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth with China Southern Airlines

*Brisbane and Perth passengers may require stopovers in Guangzhou at an additional cost.

From Price Includes Tour cost $8,778 China Southern Airlines Fuel Surcharge $327 & Tipping $175 (Subject to change with Tipping payable on arrival in destination. See Booking Conditions)
From $9,280 per person

2016 Early Birds

26 Days, fully inclusive Twin Share

Departing Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth with China Southern Airlines

*Brisbane and Perth passengers may require stopovers in Guangzhou at an additional cost.

From Price Includes Tour cost $4,988 China Southern Airlines Fuel Surcharge $327 & Tipping $175 (Subject to change with Tipping payable on arrival in destination. See Booking Conditions)
From $1,090 Single Hotel Room Option
From $8,141 Land Only including Tipping
Twin Share
Price AUD
Airline Book
08/05/16 02/06/16 $9,280
China Southern
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09/10/16 03/11/16 $9,280
China Southern
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Important Notes:

Tour availability

Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 1300 727 998 Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

China Southern Airlines - Above prices include fuel surcharges and tipping of $502. Please note the Tipping amount of USD161 (AUD175) is payable on arrival in Central Asia.

Though status is regularly updated, availability above is indicative only, not live and hence does not guarantee that space is available on your selected tour when you or your agent calls Wendy Wu Tours to book. Booking early is the only way to ensure availability of your selected departure date.

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Image Gallery

Samarkand Abakh Hoja Tomb, Kashgar