Central Asia Travel: Silk Route Tour, Five “Stans” Tour

The Heart of the Great Silk Road, Now including the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan

Silk Road – Caravan Silk Route Tour – The Five Stans – Plus Republic of Karakalpakstan

Journey back in time and take an epic Silk Route tour. Visit Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

On this guided small group tour you will not only visit the fascinating cultural highlights of the “Five Stans,” you will also venture off the usual tourist circuit for insight into rural lifestyles in sleepy provincial towns and quaint villages.

This tour along the Silk Road caravan route includes a wonderful mix of monuments, museums, mosques, ancient ruins, traditional bazaars, music and dance programs. In additional, we enjoy the pristine natural beauty of mountains, canyons, lakes, rivers and parks.

The tour begins in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Additionally, we visit the archaeological site of Old Nisa, once the capital of the Parthian state. It was a flourishing city between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD.

Excursion to Merv

Next, an excursion to the ancient site Merv, conquered by Alexander the Great. Merv came under Persian, Greek, Sassanian and Moslem rule. From the 11th century, Merv was the capital of the Seljuk Turks. They controlled an empire stretching from Afghanistan to Egypt. In the 13th century Merv was destroyed by the Mongols leaving only the ruins of these numerous civilizations.

Other tour features include the exquisitely tiled madrassas (places of learning) and mosques of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.

Republic of Karakalpakstan

One very unique highlight of our Silk Route tour is a visit to the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. Karakalpakstan occupies the whole northwestern end of Uzbekistan. It is mostly desert and located near the Aral Sea.

The Original World tour features full days of activities with ample time to enjoy the local culture.


  • Explore the rich traditions of Islamic architecture
  • Venture into remote Tajikistan to view important archeological ruins
  • Visit the ancient ruins of Merv in Turkmenistan near the Iranian border
  • Revel in the open steppes and the snow-capped mountains of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan


View A Detailed Itinerary:

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Countryside Tajikistan

  • 1
    Day 1-4: Meet in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

    Full guided tour of Ashgabat including a visit to the Akhal-Teke horse stud farm, Gokdepe fortress, the remains of the Bronze Age settlement Anau -Depe and the fortress of Anau and the archaeological site of Old Nisa.

    An excursion to Old Merv ruins and a local museum.

  • 2
    Day 5: Konye Urgench-Nukus, Karakalpakstan

    Visit the ancient city of Kunya-Urgench (Old Urgench).

    After passing thru the border into Uzbekistan, we drive approx 30 minutes to Nukus, capital of Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan.

    we visit the State Art Museum also known as Savitskiy Museum, after its’ founder Igor Saviysky, a Russian painter, archaeologist and collector.

  • 3
    Day 6: Khiva, Uzbekistan

    We drive to Khiva, a most unique Uzbek city and major trading town on the Silk Road. One of the oldest towns in the world, Khiva, a once ruined desert town, has been magnificently restored through Soviet and UNESCO funded projects. 

    We enjoy a pleasant easy walking tour.

  • 4
    Day 7-8: Bukhara, Uzbekistan

    Our drive to Bukhara is via the famous Kizil-Kum Desert (Red Sands). The Kizil-Kum desert is one of the biggest deserts in the world.

    Bukhara was one of the great trading centers on the Silk Road, an independent Emirate and scene of Anglo Russian rivalry in the 19th century. Surrounded by vast expanses of the Kyzyl Kum desert, Bukhara retains the atmosphere of an ancient Silk Road city.

    Visit the historic sites including madrassas, mosques, and mausoleums. We also visit “Makhallya Khuma,” the ancient Jewish block of houses and synagogue.

    Stroll through local bazaars and enjoy a folk show.

  • 5
    Day 9-10: Samarkand, Uzbekistan

    This morning an excursion to Sitora-i-Mokhikhosa, the summer palace of the last Emir of Bukhara (1911). The style is an eclectic mix of European, Russian and Oriental design and there is a good exhibition of traditional Suzane embroidery as well as Chinese porcelain brought along the Silk Road from China.

    Drive to the historic town of Samarkand, a melting pot of the world’s cultures and a World Heritage Site.

    In Samarkand our small group admires the stunningly-tiled, medieval architectural wonder of the Registan Ensemble (a main highlight of Samarkand). We visit “Stars above Samarkand ” – Ulugbek observatory (15c), the “Ruins of Afrosiab” - the excavation and museum of the ancient town (6 BC-13 AD) and the Gur Emir Mausoleum (15c).

  • 6
    Day 11-12: Shakhrisabz-Termez , Uzbekistan

    Shakhrisabz is one of the most ancient cities in Central Asia and the birthplace and home town of Central Asia’s foremost conqueror - the Great Amir Temur. It is also a a traditional center of folk arts, especially embroidery.

    Termez is in the south of Uzbekistan, near the Afghan border. Once an important trading post at the crossroads of the Silk Routes, Termez is the most overlooked corner of Uzbekistan but is well worth a visit.

    See the influences of Greek, Buddhist & Islamic civilizations in Termez architecture.

  • 7
    Day 13: Dusanabe, Tajikstan

    Discover Dushanbe, the Tajik capital including guided visits to the blue domed mosque and the Museum of Archaeology which exhibits the largest Buddha in Asia.

  • 8
    Day 14: Istarafshan (former Ura Tyube)-Khujand, Tajikistan

    A beautiful drive today to Khujand via Istarafshan (also spelled Istaravshan). We visit the well-preserved old town of Istaravshan, a maze of small alleys that wind through neighborhoods of shady, mud walled Central Asian homesteads.

    Ura Tyube is also a handicrafts center, known for its woodcutting. Visit an 'ustokhana' or artisans workshop.

  • 9
    Day 15-16: Tashkent, Uzbekistan

    This morning we shall visit the remains of Khujand's citadel built in the early Middle Ages and used up to the early 20th century.

    Afterwards, drive to Tashkent. This wonderful city is a real embodiment of the modern elegance that is inherent in many world capitals. At the same time, it remains an oriental city.

    Enjoy an immersive visit to the Old Quarter of Tashkent, the excellent Applied Sciences Museum and soak up the ambiance at one of the world's oldest markets

  • 10
    Day 17: Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

    Tour the sights of Fergana and Margilan in the Fergana Valley. Visit the village of Rishtan, famous for its ceramics, where traditional designs are made with a mix of modern and traditional techniques including the use of a blue-green glaze rarely seen outside the region.

  • 11
    Day 18: Osh, Kyrgyzstan

    Enjoy Osh, one of the oldest towns in Central Asia, located at the southeastern edge of the Fergana Valley.

  • 12
    Day 19 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

    Tour Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyz Republic, located where the Kazakh steppe meets the foothills of the majestic snow-capped Tien-Shan mountains.

    Our tour explores the ancient city and its architectural masterpieces including Ala-Too Square, The National Museum of History, Frunze House, The Art Museum; see the Opera House and the Concert Hall (near which there is a statue of National Hero Manas).

  • 13
    Day 20 Tamgaly Petroglyphs - Almaty

    Our small group tour visits the Petroglyph site in the Zhetysu of Kazakhstan (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The majority of the 5000 petroglyphs are in the main canyon which are mostly from the Bronze Age, but some have been overlaid with medieval or later etchings. There are some petroglyphs from the Iron Age.

    This afternoon continue the drive to Almaty.

  • 14
    Day 21 Almaty-Depart

    Visit Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, including the Central State Museum, Panfilov Park, and Zenkov Cathedral (second tallest wooden building in the world).

    Transfer to the airport for depart (1-3 am).

  • Trip Length

    21-day trip begins in Ashgabad and ends in Almaty

  • Dates

    May 10 PM/May 11 AM-May 30 PM/May 31 AM, 2019
    Oct 7 PM/OCT 8 AM - Oct 27 PM/Oct 28 AM, 2019

  • Land Cost

    May: $5675 includes all airfares within the tour, 2019
    Oct: $TBA includes all airfares within the tour, 2019

  • Accommodations

    4 nights 5-star hotel
    15 nights 4-star hotels
    2 nights 3 star hotels (best available)

  • Group Size

    6-12 guests

  • Included Meals

    Daily breakfast, 19 lunches, 4 dinners, bottled water

  • Reading List

    Suggested Reading

  • Resource

    Visa Processing Company

  • Extend Your Trip

    The Caucasus Tour: Armenia-Georgia-Azerbaijan
    Precedes the Stans tour
    China's Silk Route Tour > Follows the Stans tour

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Khiva, Khorezm Province, Uzbekistan

Bukhara, Bukhara Province, Uzbekistan

Samarkand, Samarkand Province, Uzbekistan

Termez Airport, Termez, Uzbekistan

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Valley Service Dacha, Дачные участки, Fergana, Uzbekistan

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