The Silk Road Through Western China and the Five ‘Stans

Silk, spices, tea, precious metals and jewels, carefully lashed to pack camels, made their way from one world to another along the old Silk Road. Follow in the footsteps of early explorers who plied these trade routes connecting East with West.

Begin this six-country adventure in Almaty, Kazakhstan and from there fly to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China to visit one of the most exotic cities in the world, Kashgar. Skirt the infamous Taklamakan Desert on camelback, and admire the breathtaking views across the 12,000-foot Torugart Pass, following the Silk Road through Kyrgyzstan to Lake Issyk-Kul and Bishkek. Visit Tashkent, the Fergana Valley and the UNESCO-listed Silk Road oases of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva in Uzbekistan, and continue overland into Turkmenistan to discover its 2,500-year history.

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Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Learn how the Kyrgyz set up their traditional yurts
    Learn how the Kyrgyz set up their traditional yurts, the round collapsible homes that nomads have lived in for thousands of years....
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  • Dine at the home of an Uzbek family
    Dine at the home of a local Uzbek family and sample traditional Central Asian dishes....
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  • Meet Uzbek artisans in their workshops
    Learn about the life and work of Uzbek silk and ceramic artisans during visits to their workshops in the rural Fergana Valley. ...
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  • Witness exhilarating horse games
    Witness the spirit of Kyrgyzstan at exhilarating horse games, such as oodarysh, a kind of wrestling match on horseback....
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over 30 years of Central Asia travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Vassar, Dartmouth and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Central Asia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • MIR affiliate office in Uzbekistan
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-6: Almaty, Urumqi, Kashgar, Yarkand, Taklamakan Desert

Assemble in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, before heading into Western China, where Urumqi and Kashgar won renown as Silk Road centers. Browse the animal bazaar in Kashgar, still as exciting as in ancient times. Visit the oasis city of Yarkand and skirt the nearby Taklamakan Desert on camelback.


  • Almaty, Kazakhstan’s business capital and largest city
  • Lofty Tien Shan Mountain Range
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Day 7: Torugart Pass, Tash Rabat

After driving over the 12,000-foot Torugart Pass into Kyrgyzstan, overnight near Tash Rabat, a 15th century stone caravanserai in a boundless alpine setting.


  • Stunning 12,000-foot Torugart Pass at the Sino-Kyrgyz Frontier
  • Overnight in a yurt near Tash Rabat, an ancient Silk Road caravanserai

Days 8-13: Lake Issyk-Kul, Bishkek, Osh, Fergana Valley, Khujand

Near high-altitude Lake Issyk-Kul, attend a demonstration of horse games and learn how to set up a yurt. Visit Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, and Osh in the Fergana Valley, heart of Central Asian silk production. Cross the Tajik border for an overnight in Khujand, founded by Alexander the Great.


  • Issyk-Kul, second-largest high-altitude lake in the world
  • Cholpan-Ata petroglyphs
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Days 14-21: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva

Drive to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, and continue overland to the fabled Uzbek oases of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, finding gorgeous blue-tiled mosques and madrassahs at these World Heritage Sites.


  • Uzbekistan’s capital and largest city, Tashkent
  • The Square of Independence, tracing Tashkent’s history
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Days 22-24: Dashoguz, Ashgabat, Nisa

Fly to Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, where gleaming new government buildings rub shoulders with traditional bazaars. Visit the UNESCO-listed ancient Parthian site of Nisa before celebrating the journey with a farewell meal.


  • Capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, with marble and gold monuments
  • Hand-loomed carpets at the Museum of Carpets and Textiles
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices

There are no departures available at this time.

Please contact us for more information and a MIR Destination Specialist will contact you shortly. Thank you!

Please note

This itinerary is currently only available as a custom or independent program.  For an itinerary that travels through this region, you might be interested in Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans.


What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in well located tourist to superior-tourist class hotels and B&Bs, one night in an authentic yurt/tented camp. Yurts are shared among several group members and facilities are outhouse-style.
  • 23 breakfasts, 19 lunches, and 21 dinners, plus snacks on select days. A few meals are not included so that you may enjoy a chance to dine on your own.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end cities.
  • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private coach, jeep or van (size of vehicle depends on group size and terrain).
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Services of a MIR Tour Manager with English-speaking local guides at specific sites.
  • Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters an other service personnel.
  • Bottled water at group meals.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list and reading list.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Customized visa application instruction kit (if applicable to your itinerary; please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international and internal airfares are not included in the land tour cost).
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

Consider a post-tour extension to Iran on MIR’s Essential Iran Private Trip. You can also add a private trip to Nukus, Uzbekistan to visit the Savitsky Art Museum, which was featured in the documentary film “The Desert of Forbidden Art.”

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This Explorer Series program, by nature, is designed to be comfortable to western travelers, but is a very adventurous program to a rustic part of the world. Accommodations will vary widely, and will include three-star hotels, simple and basic accommodation in bed & breakfasts, and a yurt/tent camp.

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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