Tailor-Made Holiday

Journey through Central Asia

The five stans - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan

22 days

from £5,795pp

Travel through desert and across mountains, see the finest architecture in Central Asia and mingle with the many different ethnic groups that inhabit the region.

  • Explore the city of Almaty, former capital of Kazakhstan
  • Stay in a traditional yurt and experience the nomadic lifestyles of Kyrgyzstan
  • See Central Asia's largest reclining Buddha in Tajikistan
  • Visit some of the beautiful and historical manmade monuments in Uzbekistan
  • Take in the local market and some of Central Asia's finest museums in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

This fascinating journey takes in the highlights of these five very different countries. Starting in the capital of Kazakhstan travel across the border into Kyrgyzstan spending time in Bishkek before heading to the mountains and lakes dotted with nomadic families where you will spend a night under canvas in a traditional yurt. Travel onto Tajikistan, a melting pot of regional ethnic groups before crossing into Uzbekistan to explore the colourful bazaars and architectural wonders of Samarkand and Bukhara. Your journey across Central Asia ends in Turkmenistan with a visit to Merv, once one of the most important cities on the Silk Route.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights
  • International flights as detailed
  • Sightseeing with private guide as per the itinerary
  • Transfers as detailed

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Istanbul

Day 2

Fly Istanbul to Almaty


Almaty was the former capital of Kazakhstan before it was moved to Astana in 1997. It has many fine 19th century buildings and remains the country's business and educational centre. Roads are wide and tree-lined and there are good views of the Zaiysky Ala-Too mountains that form a back drop to the city.


Time at Leisure


You will be staying at Grand Voyage Hotel

Day 3

Full day city tour
Visit Panfilov Park to see the Zenkov Cathedral which was built in 1904 without a single nail and is one of the world’s tallest wooden buildings. In the same park is the Glory Memorial, a tribute to 28 men from Almaty who served under General Ivan Panfilov who, as legend says, repulsed 50 tanks of the German army from the outskirts of Moscow. Adjacent to the park is the museum of musical instruments. The central State Museum has a wonderful pictorial display of life in the early part of the century and an excellent display of costumes and items of everyday use.


You will be staying at Grand Voyage Hotel

Day 4

Travel from Almaty to Bishkek


Travel to the Kazakh/Kyrgyz border and continue onto Bishkek. The total journey will take about 5 hours including the border crossing.


The capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek was built on a grid system with many tree-lined streets. This approach to city planning has made central Bishkek a pleasant area to explore, with wide boulevards and impressive architecture.

Unusually low and surprisingly flat for the capital of such a mountainous country, Bishkek is still 800 metres above sea level. Almost constantly visible from the streets are the snowy peaks of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, which surround the city.


Time at Leisure


You will be staying at Silk Road Lodge, Bishkek

Day 5

Road transfer Bishkek/Cholpan Ata via Burana Tower and Petroglyphs at Cholpan Ata


Travel to Lake Issyk-Kul visiting Burana Tower and the petroglyphs at Cholpan Ata en route.

The Burana Tower dates from the 11th century and the minaret is all that remains of a former Karakhanid city called Balasgun.

Cholpan Ata, is a town on the north shore of the lake and here it is possible to see many petroglyphs depicting wolves, long-horned ibex, horses, snow leopards and some hunting scenes, said to date from between 500 BC - 100 AD.

Issyk-Kul is Kyrgyzstan's largest lake and surprisingly it never freezes. Surrounded by mountains it still retains its pristine condition.


You will be staying at Karven Issyk Kul Resort

Day 6

Drive from Cholpan-Ata to Karakol via Semenov Gorge


Formerly known as Przhevalsk, after the Russian explorer, Karakol is a peaceful, low-rise town. Shaded by rows of white poplars, its winding backstreets hide Russian timbered gingerbread cottages.

Sitting at over 1800 metres, the town is slightly inland from the enormous Issyk Kul Lake, pressed up against the foothills of the Tien Shan. The area is famous for its apple orchards which can be found around the town.


Tour of Karakol
Take a tour of the town of Karakol. Sites include the Chinese mosque built in 1910, by 20 Chinese artisans, for the local Dungan community. Built without nails it resembles a Mongolian Buddhist datsan.
Also visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral that was only formerly re-consecrated in 1991. Services were held in a yurt on the site prior to 1890, at which point the stone church was erected.


You will be staying at Green Yard Hotel

Day 7

Drive from Karakol to Song Kol Lake via Djety Oguz Gorge


Travel to Song Kul stopping to visit the Djety Oguz Gorge (Seven Bulls), famous for its red sandstone rocks. Continue with a visit to the Felt Museum in the small village of Kochkor. Felt is still made by hand in many areas and is used to make the yurts, bedding and clothing including hats and gloves.


You will be staying at Yurt Camp

Day 8

Drive from Song-Kol Lake to Bishkek via the Burana Tower


A journey time of around 4-5 hours.


You will be staying at Silk Road Lodge, Bishkek

Day 9

Day at Leisure


You will be staying at Silk Road Lodge, Bishkek

Day 10

Fly Bishkek to Dushanbe


The capital of Tajikistan located in the Hissor Valley, Dushanbe's history can be traced back more than 3000 years although more modern historical events have occurred into the 20th century when Said Alimhon, the last of the Bukhara emirs fled from Bukhara to the city later to be driven out by the Bolsheviks. It became the capital of the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922 but since its humble beginnings of a few houses has grown into a sizable city that we see today.


You will be staying at Hyatt Hotel Dushanbe

Day 11

Sightseeing - Hissor Fort & City
Travel outside the capital to see Hissor Fort, formerly capital of Eastern Bukhara province. The site has two madrasas, one of which is now an ethnographic museum. Travel through the city will include an overview of the capital and will include a visit to the Museum of National Antiquities. The exhibits in this museum are mostly from Tajikistan's pre-Islamic civilisations. The centre piece is the 19 metre reclining Buddha in Nirvana. Since the tragic destruction of the Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan, this is the largest Buddha in Central Asia.


You will be staying at Hyatt Hotel Dushanbe

Day 12

Drive from Dushanbe to Khujand with stops enroute


A total journey time of between 6-7 hours.


Half Day City Tour
See the earthen ramparts of the medieval citadel and the Museum of Archaeology housed in the renovated eastern gate houses. Also see the mosque of sheikh Mouslehiddin and the Panjshanbe Market.

Khujand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia dating back to the VII century BC. It was an important city on the Silk Route and today is an important industrial, scientific and cultural centre lying as it does on a flat tract of land adjacent to the Syr-Darya River surrounded by mountains.


You will be staying at Sogd Hotel

Day 13

Travel from Khujand to Tashkent


Travel to the Tajik/Uzbek border (Oibek) and after border formalities continue to Tashkent.


Although often referred to as a Silk Road city, little remains of Tashkent's old town. A 1966 earthquake and earlier modernisation work did irreparable damage to the city's architectural heritage.

Despite this, some treasures remain and modern Tashkent is a pleasant, green and open place. Dotted with monuments, parks and retaining an impressive feel, the city has undergone a successful reinvention.


You will be staying at Hotel Lotte City Tashkent Palace

Day 14

Travel from Tashkent to Samarkand by Train


Depart Tashkent and travel by train to Samarkand, a journey time of just over 2 hours.


Samarkand, in Uzbekistan, is one of the world's most ancient and fabled cities. Inextricably linked with the great Silk Road, Samarkand was a famous trading city and has at various times been the capital of many a kingdom. Since 2001 it has been designated by UNESCO as one of their World Heritage Sites, and labelled 'Samarkand - Crossroads of Cultures'.


You will be staying at Grand Samarkand Hotel

Day 15

Full Day City Tour
Visit the Gur Emir, Tamerlane’s Tomb and the Ulugh Bek Observatory, built by Ulugh Beg (Tamerlane’s grandson) in the 15th century. The Shah-I-Zinda Ensemble is a narrow street which contains many mausolea including, it is believed, the tomb of Kazi Zade Rumi who was Ulug Beg’s teacher. The Bibi Khanym Mosque built by Tamerlane between 1399-1404 suffered from being built too quickly and from an earthquake in the 18th century. However, it has recently been restored. The colourful bazaar is located nearby and one can buy nuts, dried and fresh fruit, spices, honey and a multitude of other goods.


You will be staying at Grand Samarkand Hotel

Day 16

Travel from Samarkand to Bukhara


A journey time of approximately 4 hours.


The former capital and a centre of Islamic learning, Bukhara has over 300 mosques. This, along with the city's 80 madrasas, led to its reputation as the holiest city in Central Asia.

Now renowned for its architecture, it was the beauty of Bukhara's Kalon Minaret that stopped Genghis Khan in his tracks. Unfortunately, his sense of awe failed to stop him razing the rest of the city to the ground.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Bukhara again returned to prominence, as it became one of the most important pawns in 'The Great Game' being waged between Russia and Britain.


Half Day City Tour
This morning you depart for Bukhara, a journey of about 4 hours, passing the remains of an old caravanserai near the city of Navoi. On arrival in Bukhara check-in to your hotel before sightseeing this afternoon. Visit Mogaki Attari mosque, madrassahs Aziz Khan and Ulugh Beg. Later visit, Poi Kalon Minaret and mosque and the living madrassah of Miri Arab before seeing the Ark Fortress, Balakhauz mosque, Ismail Samanid mausoleum and Chasma Ayub.


You will be staying at Hotel Minzifa

Day 17

Full day sightseeing
At one time Bukhara was known as the holiest city in Asia and was reputed to have over 300 mosques and 80 madrasas (Koranic schools). Renowned in the 10th century as the intellectual capital of the East, the beauty of Bukhara’s Kalyan minaret stopped even Genghis Khan in his tracks but failed to stop him razing the rest of the city to the ground. In the 18th and 19th centuries Bukhara became one of the most important chess pieces in the Great Game. Today it is a collection of mosques, tea houses, carpet sellers, minarets and stalls.
Visit the 2,000 year old fortress, the Ark, the Kalyan Mosque and Minaret, and the many mosques and madrasas which are dotted throughout the old city, two of which include the Uleg Beg and Abdulaz-izkhan madrasas. Also the Khan’s Summer Palace and Harem, the Chor Minor with its four blue-domed minarets, the Ismael Samani Mausoleum and the pool of Lyab-i-Khauz, flanked by two magnificent buildings, the Nadir Divanbegi madrasa and Khanaga.


You will be staying at Hotel Minzifa

Day 18

Drive Bukhara to Mary


Travel to the Uzbek/Turkmen (Turkmenabat) border and continue onto Mary. At the border cross the Amu Daryr River on a pontoon bridge.


The modern successor to the ancient city of Merv, Russian forces' capture of Mary in 1884 lead to British tabloids coining the phrase 'Mervousness', due to British fears about Russia's imperial ambitions.

An oasis in the Karakum desert, Merv played a key role in the development of the Silk Road, even surviving being ransacked by the Mongol Hordes in the 13th century.


You will be staying at Mary Hotel

Day 19

Discover Ancient Merv
Head east of Mary towards Baryam-Ali, the contemporary re-incarnation and humble suburb of glorious Ancient Merv. Among Central Asia's key archaeological sites, Merv is reputedly one of the oldest and best preserved oasis cities on the Silk Road.

At this 1,200 hectare archaeological site, explore the series of neighbouring cities that made up the 'wandering city'. These can be roughly separated into ancient, medieval, and post-medieval cities and they appeared over time as part of the city's natural evolution.

Also visit the forts of Big and Little Kyz-Kalas, noticeable for their distinctive corrugated walls, as well as the exquisitely decorated 12th century mausoleums of Sultan Sanjar and Muhammed ibn-Zeyd.


You will be staying at Mary Hotel

Day 20

Full Day Sightseeing to Margush & the Desert
Travel into the desert by 4 wheel-drive vehicle to visit Margush (Gonur Depe), located northeast of Mary. Here the first agricultural settlements appeared in the delta of Murgab river as far back as the 3rd millennium BC. Fertile silt coming from mountains, an abundance of water and moderate climate had created favourable conditions for agriculture. The progress of the ancient economy continued for several centuries. The American newspaper "Boston Globe" wrote that before we knew the four oldest centres of the world's civilisations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China, and due to the fantastic results of the Margiana expedition it is quite possible to think that there was another, the fifth centre.

Fly Mary to Ashgabat


You will be staying at Grand Turkmen Hotel

Day 21

Full day city tour
A tour of the city reveals how quickly it is developing. Modern buildings fringe the older architecture in the centre of town and wide boulevards radiate out to the suburbs. Visits will include the Carpet Museum and the new National Museum of History and Ethnography.

Devastated by a 1948 earthquake, Turkmenistan's capital was originally rebuilt as a bland Soviet city. Following independence and the emergence of Saparmurat Niyazov - who lost his mother in the earthquake - as president, restoring the grandeur of Ashgabat became a priority.

Now a glittering example of hydro-carbon funded architecture, what Ashgabat lacks in history, it makes up with a stunning array of marble-clad palaces, ministries, hotels and residential areas.


You will be staying at Grand Turkmen Hotel

Day 22

Fly Ashgabat to Istanbul

Fly Istanbul to London

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Kyrgyzstan

Charles Knights, Travel Expert

"Charles was most attentive without becoming intrusive, he changed the schedule several times to meet our changing needs."

"Charles was extremely helpful, swift in replying to emails and when he was away another consultant carried on the good work."

"Charles Knights was superb. He gave us all the information we requested, was very patient with the number of queries we had running up to our trip and was extremely helpful throughout from the start thinking about our trip to taking off. Fantastic service."

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Paul Craven, Travel Expert

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"The service which I received from your Travel Expert Paul Craven was excellent, he was able to answer any queries I put to him."

"Paul must be congratulated on his expertise and great patience in dealing with all my programme changes. He must dread my phone calls!! A big thank-you from both of us to Paul and Carol."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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