From Almaty to Tashkent aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Traverse four of the five ‘Stans of Central Asia on this private rail journey along the Silk Road. Begin in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city. Continue into Kyrgyzstan to inspect the capital, Bishkek, and take a boat ride on the country’s most beautiful lake, Issyk-Kul. Dip into Khujand in Tajikistan to meet with a local family and hear about their daily lives. Stop in Tamerlane’s UNESCO-listed hometown, Shahrisabz, before visiting three famed Uzbek Silk Road oases – Samarkand, Khiva, and Bukhara – all of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Experience four UNESCO sites in 16 days, with seven hotel nights and eight nights onboard the comfortable Orient Silk Road Express private train.

A shorter version of this route between Ashgabat and Almaty is also available (eastbound / westbound).

16 Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • 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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  • Admire gorgeous high-altitude Lake Issyk-Kul
    Wander the shores of Kyrgyzstan’s beautiful Lake Issyk-Kul, the second-largest high-altitude lake in the world after Titicaca....
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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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  • Explore Khujand, with its pink-painted covered bazaar
    Visit the Khujand market, a huge columned structure with rows of tables covered with bags of brilliant spices and nuts, straw-bedded melons with macramé...
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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 1-2: Almaty

Begin the tour in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, exploring lush Panfilov Park, candy-colored Zenkov Cathedral, and enjoying lunch in a Kazakh yurt. Settle in to your comfortable cabin as the journey begins.


  • Almaty, Kazakhstan’s business capital
  • Foothills of the Zaili Alatau Mountains in the Tien Shan range
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Days 3-4: Lake Issyk-Kul, Bishkek

Enjoy a boat ride on beautiful Lake Issyk-Kul, before a picnic lunch in the mountains and a folklore performance. In the capital, Bishkek, examine the National History Museum, and drive outside the city to Ala Archa National Park, boasting more than 20 glaciers and 50 peaks.


  • Lake Issyk-Kul, the second-largest high-altitude lake in the world
  • Folklore performance
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Days 5-6: Tashkent, Kokand

Spend some time touring pleasant, Soviet-style Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, including Kukeldash Madrassah, one of the largest 16th century madrassahs remaining in Central Asia. Cross 8,700-foot Kamchik Pass and continue to Kokand, visiting a local family and helping with the traditional baking of bread.


  • Uzbekistan’s capital and largest city, Tashkent
  • Navoi Theater, symbol of Uzbek culture
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Day 7: Shahrisabz

Visit the UNESCO-listed ruins of Ak Saray (White Palace), built in the 14th century in Shahrisabz, Tamerlane’s hometown.


  • Ak Saray’s massive portal covered with blue, white and gold ceramic tiles
  • Comparative tasting of Uzbek wines

Days 8-10: Samarkand

In Samarkand, Tamerlane’s blue-tiled capital, admire Shah-i-Zinda, the regal Registan, the Ulug Bek observatory, and the final resting place of Tamerlane, Gur-Emir Mausoleum. Take a tour of a silk carpet factory, and visit a workshop where handcrafted paper is made according to traditions handed down from the 8th century.


  • Samarkand, UNESCO-listed “Crossroad of Cultures”
  • Registan Square, Samarkand’s most famous landmark
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Days 11-12: Khujand, Khiva

Stop in Khujand, the second largest city in Tajikistan, visiting the bazaar and the Muslihiddin Memorial Complex. Walk the winding alleys of the Silk Road oasis city, Khiva, passing by the Tash-Hauli Palace, the Dzhuma Mosque with its interior forest of carved wooden pillars, and the Kunya Ark, the original residence of the khans.


  • Pink-painted covered Panjshanbe Bazaar
  • Memorial Complex of 12th-century leader and poet Muslihiddin Khujandi
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Days 13-14: Bukhara

Spend two days in beautiful Bukhara, enjoying Lyabi-Hauz Plaza at the center of Bukhara’s old town, cooled by a long reflecting pool. Visit the 12th century Kalon Mosque and Minaret, the little Samani Mausoleum, and the Summer Palace of the Emir of Bukhara. Take in a traditional Uzbek performance along with dinner at a former madrassah.


  • Bukhara’s atmospheric Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Lyabi-Hauz Plaza, center of Bukhara’s Old Town
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Days 15-16: Tashkent

Enjoy a leisurely morning in Bukhara, then depart for Tashkent with the remainder of the day left free. The journey comes to an end with transfers to the airport in the early morning of Day 16.


See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices
Trip Length: 16 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person

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

2020 Dates

  • September 21-October 6
  • FROM
  • $6,475
What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Accommodation aboard the Orient Silk Road Express private train.
  • 7 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 Tashkent:

  • 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

    Seven hotel nights in upscale properties are interspersed throughout the journey. Hotel nights include one in Almaty, two in Tashkent, two in Samarkand, and two in Bukhara.

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).