From Ashgabat to Almaty Aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Roll through the heart of the Silk Road on this riveting rail journey by private train, experiencing seven treasured UNESCO Sites in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The journey begins in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan, where gleaming marble monuments are counterbalanced by the ruins of Parthian Nisa and ancient Merv. Continue through the Uzbek Silk Road oases of Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand, fabled cities of blue-tiled domes and graceful arches. End with a traditional meal in a Kazakh yurt in leafy Almaty, Kazakhstan’s business capital.

A westbound departure from Almaty to Ashgabat is also available, as well as a longer version of this route between Almaty and Tashkent.

14 Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Take a guided tour of the extensive ruins of UNESCO-listed Merv
    Take a guided tour of the extensive ruins of UNESCO-listed Merv; the earliest of its five ancient cities is attributed to Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC....
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  • Explore the majestic Registan in UNESCO-listed Samarkand
    Applaud the unsurpassed majesty of the Registan and learn about the architectural wonders of fabled Samarkand....
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  • Visit Central Asia’s most ancient living city, UNESCO-listed Bukhara
    Visit Central Asia’s most ancient living city, UNESCO-listed Bukhara with its Ark Citadel, the original fortress of Bukhara, likely dating back two thousand years...
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  • Enjoy the mountain views around Almaty
    Enjoy the views of the Tien Shan Mountains from Central Asia’s most beautifully situated city, Almaty....
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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”
  • 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 1-3: Ashgabat, Nisa, Merv

Arriving in Turkmenistan, explore the archaeological site of Nisa, once a major center of the ancient Parthian Kingdom. In the modern capital, Ashgabat, discover the white marble buildings so plentiful that they were awarded a Guinness World Record in 2013. Visit the ancient ruins of Merv, capital of the Seljuk Turks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy lunch with a local family in their courtyard.


  • Capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, with marble and gold monuments
  • Parthian Kingdom of Nisa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
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Days 4-6: Bukhara

Next is Uzbekistan’s largest oasis city, Bukhara. The highlights here are the mud-brick Ark Citadel, the fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara, and the Lyabi-Hauz Plaza, its atmosphere cooled by the lovely reflecting pool in its center. Attend a performance of traditional dance over dinner in a former madrassah, and visit the Summer Palace of the last Emir of Bukhara. Spend two nights in a comfortable Bukhara hotel.


  • Bukhara’s atmospheric Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Lyabi-Hauz Plaza, center of Bukhara’s Old Town
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Days 7-9: Khiva, Samarkand

Investigate Khiva, among the most important oases on the Silk Road. The undulating city walls protect the distinctive minarets that watch over the Old Town. In Samarkand, Tamerlane’s beautiful capital, check into a four star hotel for two nights, and explore the Ulug Bek Observatory, Shah-i-Zinda, the majestic Registan and a silk carpet factory. Visit a workshop where handcrafted paper is made according to traditions handed down from the 8th century.


  • Ichon-Qala, Khiva’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Tash-Hauli Palace built in the 19th century for the khan and his wives
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Days 10-11: Shahrisabz, Tashkent

Explore UNESCO-listed Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. Here, the 14th century Ak Saray palace complex includes the remains of a massive portal covered with incredible blue, white and gold ceramic tile mosaics. Back on board, enjoy a tasting of Uzbek wines. Visit Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, a modern city rebuilt in the Soviet style after an earthquake in 1966. Survey some of its older surviving architecture and newer monuments.


  • Monumental Ak Saray, in UNESCO-listed Shahrisabz, Tamerlane’s hometown
  • Uzbekistan’s capital and largest city, Tashkent
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Days 12-14: Turkistan, Almaty

Cross the border into Kazakhstan and make a stop in Turkistan to see Khoja Akhmed Yasavi’s stately mausoleum, the country's first UNESCO Site. Arriving in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s business capital and largest city, disembark the train and take a tour that includes a visit to the 170-foot wooden Zenkov Cathedral, built without the use of nails. Enjoy a farewell meal in a traditional Kazakh yurt.


  • Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasavi, first Turkic Muslim holy man
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan’s business capital and largest city
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices
Trip Length: 14 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person

  • Ali Baba, twin share
  • Ali Baba, single
  • Aladdin, twin share
  • Aladdin, single
  • Sultan, twin share
  • Sultan, single
  • Kalif, twin share
  • Kalif, single

2020 Dates

  • April 14-27
  • FROM
  • $6,095
Trip Length: 14 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person

  • Ali Baba, twin share
  • Ali Baba, single
  • Aladdin, twin share
  • Aladdin, single
  • Sultan, twin share
  • Sultan, single
  • Kalif, twin share
  • Kalif, single

2020 Dates

  • October 20-November 2
  • FROM
  • $6,550
What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Accommodation aboard the Orient Silk Road Express private train.
  • 6 nights shared hotel accommodation per the itinerary (with late access as needed).
  • Meals per the itinerary.
  • Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
  • All guided off-train tours per itinerary.
  • The services of an experienced Train Tour Manager, with local guides for scheduled off-train touring.
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water round the clock from your car attendant while on board the train.
  • Baggage handling.

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 (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…

MIR can arrange for an extended program in the South Caucasus countries, IranWestern Russia, or Eastern Europe. All of MIR’s destinations are open to you, and all can be attached to this program. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of our private travel suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This trip is moderately active, and is rated moderate to rigorous touring due to the daily walking involved and the overall shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure. To reap the full rewards of this adventure, travelers must be able to walk at least a mile a day, keeping up with fellow travelers.

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

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Orient Silk Road Express

Orient Silk Road Express.

The perfect combination of remote destinations and comfortable accommodations, rail journey by private trains open a world of discover to adventurous travelers who want to discover the world as it unrolls past their train windows.

Exclusive private trains furnish the dream of Old World rail travel with modern comforts and amenities that make the journey as pleasant as the destinations. The comfortable Orient Silk Road Express offers a restful and satisfying way to experience a legendary rail route.

Train & Hotel Accommodations

Relax and enjoy the panorama rolling past your private window and disembark for guided off-train touring in fascinating towns and cities along the way. Each car on the Orient Silk Road Express has its own attendants who keep an eye on everything while guests are away from the train.

Four styles of accommodation are available aboard the Orient Silk Road Express for the journey between Almaty and Ashgabat:

  • Kalif Class (en suite)
  • Sultan Class (en suite with a wet-room-type shower)
  • Aladdin Class (shower at one end; WC at both ends of each car)
  • Ali Baba Class (WC at both ends of each car, but no shower)
  • Kalif Class

    Kalif Class

    Kalif cabins are the most comfortable option available on the Orient Silk Road Express private train. There are four cabins to a car, and each is outfitted with a shower stall, WC and washbasin. Cabins are equipped with convertible upper and lower berths, a window-table, wardrobe and power outlets for 110/220 volts.

    Additional Information

  • Sultan Class

    Sultan Class

    Sultan cabins, with six to a car, are slightly smaller than Kalif cabins, but are fully en suite, with a wet-room-style shower in the WC. Convertible upper and lower bunks, window-table, wardrobe, and comfortable seating round out the amenities.

    Additional Information

  • Aladdin Class

    Aladdin Class

    Aladdin cabins offer comfortable accommodation with twin-berth compartments featuring two lower berths. Beds convert to comfortable sofas for daytime travel and there is storage space under the berths and above the door in each cabin. A WC is found at each end of the car, and each car has a shower compartment at one end as well.

    Additional Information

  • Ali Baba Class

    Ali Baba Class

    Ali Baba cabins are the best-value cabin option. They are slightly smaller than the Aladdin cabins, with the same amenities and a WC at each end of the car, but no shower.

    Additional Information

  • Hotel Accommodations

    Hotel Accommodations

    Five hotel nights in four star properties are interspersed throughout the journey (plus late access on the last day as needed). On the eastbound itinerary, hotel nights include one in Ashgabat, two in Bukhara and two in Samarkand. Westbound hotels include one in Almaty, two in Samarkand, one in Bukhara and one in Ashgabat.

Life Aboard the Train
Orient Silk Road Express.

The Orient Silk Road Express train is a comfortable, though
 not luxurious, private train, which can accommodate up to 140 passengers. Average group sizes can range from 100-120 passengers, and off-train excursion groups top out at a maximum of 26 passengers per coach. The pleasant dining car transforms to a friendly lounge after meals.

The Orient Silk Road Express private train provides everything you need for a pleasurable journey. Join travelers from around the world to enjoy the relaxed and casual environment onboard, with no need to wear formal attire on excursions or while dining.

Please note that a variety of cabins styles are in use aboard the various trains. Décor and layout of dining, bar and sleeping cars on your journey may differ from the sample images depicted in our brochures/websites.

  • Dining Car

    Dining Car

    The dining car features freshly prepared regional dishes and operates as a lounge after dinner. Water, tea and coffee are included with your meals. A selection of soft drinks, wine, beer and spirits is available for purchase.

  • Off-Train Tours

    Off-Train Tours

    Rail journeys feature an extensive line-up of educational city tours at the various stops on the routes. Private coaches and local guides whisk you away from your private train for fascinating half- or full-day forays into the principal towns and cities, sometimes including an in-city dining opportunity. Read through this tour’s itinerary for more information (found on the Itinerary & Map tab of this page).