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BEST OF THE STANS

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22 days from $6599pp

UNCOVER THE DIVERSE WONDERS OF THE SILK ROAD
VISIT KAZAKHSTAN, TAJIKISTAN & KYRGYZSTAN

INCLUDES RETURN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

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3176 silkroaddiscovery hissarfortresstajikistan

3176 A Best Of The Stans Map


A centuries-old trade route passing through vast deserts and across towering mountain ranges; the Silk Road is home to some of Central Asia’s most spectacular cities and landscapes. On this 22 day tour, the diverse history, culture and natural beauty of this exotic region is yours to uncover.

Take in the best of ‘the Stans’ - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - as you make your way through the historic cities, villages and landscapes of the great Silk Road. Enjoy a day in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan; witness dramatic rock formations in Charyn Canyon; go horse riding at a traditional Kyrgyz yurt camp; and admire the Russian-influenced architecture of Karakol on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul. Journey to the iconic city of Samarkand, home to the beautiful Registan Square; ignite your senses with a stroll through colourful Osh Bazaar; see Poi Kalon and Kalon Minaret on a city tour of Bukhara; explore the UNESCO listed Khiva; visit the Museum of Antiquities in Dushanbe - and so much more! With return international flights aboard five-star carrier Asiana Airlines, two additional flights, 18 nights hotel accommodation and a night in an authentic yurt, as well as a stopover in vibrant Seoul, this is a journey three thousand years in the making!  3176 Silk Road Discovery Hero


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 itinerary

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Day 1 New Zealand – Sydney, Australia

Today depart Auckland for Sydney, Australia. Fly with Asiana Airlines codeshare partners. Upon arrival make your own way to the airport hotel and relax for the evening. Tomorrow you will join TripADeal Australia customers on the departure flight towards Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

Overnight: Airport Hotel, Sydney, Australia
Meals included: In-Flight


 

Day 2 Sydney, Australia - Seoul, South Korea

Today make your own to the airport for your flight to Seoul, South Korea. Fly with Asiana Airlines. Upon arrival in Seoul, complimentary stopover accommodation will be provided by the airline, allowing you to rest before flying onwards to Almaty, Kazakhstan tomorrow.

Overnight: Airport Hotel (provided by airline), Seoul, South Korea
Meals included: In-Flight


 

Day 3 Seoul, South Korea - Almaty, Kazakhstan

Enjoy today at leisure before transferring to the airport for your flight from Seoul to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Upon arrival in Almaty this evening you will be transferred to the hotel.

Overnight: Plaza Hotel, Almaty, Kazakhstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;In-Flight


 

Day 4 Almaty Sightseeing Tour

This morning set out on a city tour of Almaty, the southern capital of Kazakhstan and largest city in the country. During the city tour you will see beautiful wooden Russian buildings - Zenkov Cathedral, the ex-assembly house of Czar officers and an apparel shop (1903 - 1908). You will visit the 28 Panfilov’s Guardsmen Park, Zenkov Cathedral, Museum of History and Republic Square.

In the afternoon continue onwards to the picturesque Big Almaty Lake, where the turquoise surface reflects the surrounding peaks almost like a mirror. This evening you will experience a Sunkar show where you will learn about birds of prey - how they are used for hunting, their history, lifestyle and organic traits. Five to seven species of birds take part in the show.

Afterwards enjoy dinner and return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Plaza Hotel, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 5 Almaty Free Day

Today enjoy the day at leisure to either relax or explore Almaty. Alternatively, you can take the opportunity to join an optional activity (not included).

Optional Activity: Half Day Madeo Gorge & Kok-Tobe Tour - $120 per person
Today travel to picturesque Medeo Gorge, which is located 25km from Almaty and has an altitude of over 2000m. It hosts the highest mountain skate ring in the world, as well as the largest skiing resort of the region. On the way stop by a dam which protects the city from avalanches and mudslides, which have been known to cascade from the slopes. Take a cable car trip to the top to enjoy an amazing panorama of Tien-Shan Mountains. Later return to Almaty to enjoy a cable car trip at Kok-Tobe recreational area to witness a panorama of Almaty and surroundings.

Overnight: Plaza Hotel, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Meals included: Breakfast


 

Day 6 Almaty - Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan - Karakol, Kyrgyzstan (approx. 400km day)

This morning head towards the amazing Charyn Canyon, often described as the Grand Canyon of Kazakhstan. The dramatic erosion made by the river Charyn has created an impressive landscape of red-coloured rocky formations that resemble castles, leading the canyon to be nicknamed the Valley of Castles. It’s spectacular during the day, as well as under a star-lit sky.

Afterwards cross the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border. After all border procedures continue on to Karakol via the scenic Karkara Valley, famous for its mountain flowers that attract many bee-keepers. Tonight enjoy dinner with an ethnic Uighur family to taste the national cuisine of Lagman. Lagman is a traditional Uighur dish made of pulled noodles, meat and vegetables. You will be able to see and help with the process of making and cooking Lagman.

Afterwards transfer to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Karagat Hotel, Green Yard Hotel or Amir Hotel, Karakol, Kyrgyzstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 7 Karakol City Tour - Bokonbayevo (approx. 120km day)

A visit to Karakol town is like stepping back in time a hundred years to an age of Tsarist Russia. This morning head out on a city tour to visit old Russian style houses (1870 – 1910), Russian Orthodox Church (1886) and Dungan Mosque (1899) made out of wood with no nails.

After the tour, transfer to Jeti-Oguz Gorge. Here you will have an opportunity to admire fantastic rock formations made of red sandstone, as well as local pastures which have long been used by shepherds to graze flocks of sheep and herds of horses.

Continue along the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake. The lake sits in a hollow surrounded by the snowcapped peaks of Terskei and Kungei Ala-Tau Mountain ranges at an altitude of 1600m. Issyk-Kul Lake is 180km long, 60km wide and 700m deep. One hundred and thirty four streams and rivers flow into the lake but none flow out due to underwater tectonic activity.

Tonight arrive at a semi nomadic yurt camp where you can experience horseback riding and, in the evening, take part in a baking class to make famous Kyrgyz flat bread followed by a traditional dinner. Tonight you will sleep in a traditional Yurt home. All yurts are brightly decorated and sleep four to five people - toilet and shower facilities are outside of the yurts. A traditional yurt (as it’s known in Turkic languages) is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.

Please note:
- As yurt accommodation is on a shared basis (4-5 people per Yurt) private rooms are not provided. This applies to both twin share and solo travellers.
- All yurts have been designed in the traditional nomadic way with mattresses on wool carpeted floors (there are no bed frames).

Overnight: Almaluu Traditional Yurt Camp, Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 8 Bokonbayevo - Burana Tower - Bishkek - Sightseeing Tour (approx. 280km day)

Today travel onwards to the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek. On the way stop at Burana Tower, a 12th century minaret built by the Turkish Karakhanids dynasty. Nowadays it’s a museum complex which includes the tower itself, reconstructions of mausoleums found onsite, remains of the citadel, a collection of balbals (grave stones used by nomadic Turkic peoples), and petroglyphs (stone carvings), as well as a small museum.

Afterwards continue to Bishkek, the capital and largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Located at the foothill of magnificent Kyrgyz Ala-Tau mountain range, Bishkek is a city of many green parks and marble-faced public buildings, combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks and thousands of smaller privately built houses. It’s laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade during hot summers.

The city is believed to be the greenest in Central Asia with more trees per head of population than any other. Upon arrival enjoy a sightseeing tour and visit Ala-Too Square, the main square of the city. The square serves as a place for state events and celebrations and includes many monuments, open-air picture gallery, famous Oak Park, marble government buildings and theatres. Your evening in Bishkek will culminate in a delightful dinner and folklore show, where artists will demonstrate their national musical instruments and techniques of playing.

Overnight: Plaza Hotel, Ambassador Hotel or Garden Hotel, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 9 Bishkek - Osh - Sightseeing Tour

This morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Osh (approx. 1 hour). Osh is the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan (estimated to be over 3000 years old) and the second largest in the country. The town is situated at the crossroads of the ancient trading routes that became known as the Silk Road.

The age of the city can be judged by the rock drawings and inscriptions found on the northern slope of the Suleiman Mountain, a distinctive monument in the centre of Osh. The UNESCO listed mountain, also known as Sulayman Throne, is a popular place of pilgrimage for local Muslims, with stairs leading up to the highest peak with a small mosque originally built in 1510.

Visit the brightly coloured Osh Bazaar, Historical Museum, and a local bread bakery. Get hands on with a local baker to learn how lepyoshka (also known as tandyr nan) is made, including preparing the dough, shaping and decorating the circular loaves and placing them in the tandyr oven.

Afterwards visit the workshop of Zakir Aka, who has been making handmade knives for almost 60 years. This evening enjoy dinner with an Uzbek family. Your hosts will demonstrate and explain all the tricks of cooking some of Central Asia's most famous meals – such as Plov (or Pilaf).

Overnight: Osh Nuru Hotel, Osh, Kyrgyzstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 10 Osh, Kyrgyzstan - Khujand, Tajikstan - Sightseeing Tour (approx. 370km day)

Today travel to Tajikistan (border crossing at Kyzyl-Bel). Upon arrival into Khujand, the country’s second largest city, visit the mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin - the 12th century poet and ruler of Khujand; and the Historical Museum, which is located in a citadel and the largest bazaar in Tajikistan - Payshanba. Afterwards enjoy dinner and an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Hotel Firuz, Khujand, Tajikstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 11 Khujand - Istaravshan - Dushanbe (approx. 350km day)

Today drive onwards to the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, via the Varzob Gorge and the Istiklol Tunnel. On the way you will enjoy majestic views of the Fan Mountain ranges and emerald Iskandarkul Lake (2195m), which reflects the surrounding mountains. Stop in the ancient city of Istaravshan, founded by Persian King Cyrus the Great in the 7th century. You will visit the old town with its mosque of Shohi-Zinda and Mug Teppe, where a gigantic fortress once stood. Next travel on to Dushanbe with a couple of stops in local villages along the way. You will get the chance to be acquainted with the local people and see the day-to-day life of local farmers.

Overnight: Hotel Atlas, Dushanbe, Tajikstan
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 12 Dushanbe Sightseeing Tour

In the Tajik language, the name of Dushanbe is translated as “Monday”. It was so named as it originally had a popular market on Mondays. Areas around Dushanbe were known as a centre of cotton and silk production during the Soviet period. Though the name of the city is rather new, its historical past dates as far back as three thousand years. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of Greek-Bactrian settlements, a settlement from the Kushan period, a Shishi Khon village and other medieval settlements.

The tour in Dushanbe will include the Museum of Antiquities, home to the UNESCO protected reclining Buddha, the largest statue of Buddha in Central Asia; the main mosque; old synagogue; Russian Orthodox Church; Rudaki Park; and the Shah-Mansur Bazaar. You will also take a trip to the 18th century Hissar Fortress, a former palace from the Emirate of Bukhara.

Overnight: Hotel Atlas, Dushanbe, Tajikstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 13 Dushanbe - Penjikent - Sightseeing Tour (approx. 230km day)

Your destination today is Penjikent, a town that is very famous in tourist circles for its architectural monuments, as well as a wonderful recreation area on the coast of the Zaravshan River. Penjikent is one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia, the venerable age of which is 5500 years. The name of the city in Russian is translated as Five Villages. After arrival in Penjikent, visit the excavation site of Old Penjikent, the 5th century ‘Pompeii of Central Asia’, with its former palaces and necropolises. Also visit the elegant Rudaki Museum, known for its display of textiles and costumes.

Overnight: Hotel Sughd, Penjikent, Tajikstan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 14 Penjikent, Tajikstan - Samarkand, Uzbekistan - Sightseeing Tour (approx. 70km day)

After crossing the Uzbek-Tajik border this morning and being welcomed by your new tour guide, drive onwards to Samarkand. The historic city of Samarkand is a crossroad and a melting pot of cultures. Founded in the 7th century as ancient Afrosiab, Samarkand received its most significant development in the Timurid’s period from the 14th to the 15th centuries. Today you will explore the fabled city of Samarkand, one of the most important sites of the Silk Road.

Visit Registan Square, which was for many centuries the heart of Samarkand. See three beautiful madrasahs: the Ulug-Bek Madrasah built in the 15th century; the Tillya-Kori Madrasah built in the 17th century and the Sher-Dor Madrasah, also built in the 17th century. Visit Gur Emir, a mausoleum of the Great Tamerlane. Dinner tonight will be at the National House of Shakhnoza. A visit to the National House (traditional restaurant) will plunge you into an atmosphere of local flavours where you will find real traditional Uzbek cuisine.

Overnight: Hotel Majestik Palace, Samarkand, Uzbekistan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 15 Samarkand - Shakhrisabz - Bukhara - Sightseeing Tour (approx. 270km day)

Today depart along the ancient silk road enroute to the city of Bukhara. On the way visit Shakhrisabz, one of most ancient cities in Central Asia. Founded over 2700 years ago, it is the hometown of Tamerlane (Timur), a Turco-Mongol Persianate conqueror.

Afterwards continue onwards to Bukhara. The history of Bukhara stretches back millennia. Humans have inhabited the region around Bukhara for at least five millennia, though the city has existed for only half that time. Located on the Silk Road, it has long served as a centre of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The city is also known as an open-air museum of mosques, madrasahs and minarets. It was the first oasis that caught the eyes of invading Arab armies. In its 2500 year history it has constantly changed hands from one ruler to another. Enjoy a guided tour and visit sites such as the architectural complex Poi Kalon with the Kalon Minaret, Kalon Mosque and Mir-Arab Madrasah, Toki Zargaron trade-domes and Magoki Attori Mosque.

Overnight: Hotel Malika Bukhara or Minzifa Inn, Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 16 Bukhara Sightseeing Tour

This morning visit an oriental bazaar full of traditional colours and oriental smells. Continue with a walk through Bukhara to marvel at the most beautiful architectural ensembles of mosques and madrasahs, visiting the Ark Citadel, the Mausoleum of the Samanids, Chor Minor Madrasahs, Lyabi Khauz Square, the Mausoleum Chashma Ayub and Bolo Mosque. Afterwards enjoy a folklore show in Nadir Divan Begi Madrasah followed by an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Hotel Malika Bukhara or Minzifa Inn, Bukhara, Uzbekistan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 17 Bukhara - Kyzylkum Desert - Khiva (approx. 470km day)

Today proceed onwards to Khiva via the Kyzylkum Desert (red sands) - the past route of invaders, nomadic hordes, armies of Persians, Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. Enjoy a picnic lunch at Amudarya (Oxus River) and then continue to Khiva. Many important spiritual and cultural values came from the large scientific centres of astronomy, mathematics and medicine that operated in this area centuries ago. A valuable heritage of knowledge was left here by internationally famous scholars such as Beruni, Agakhi and Nadjmiddin. One can stroll through the narrow streets of Khiva, peeking into the small courtyards through the wooden carved doors. The life inside the gardens assures the visitor it is not just a museum, but also a living city.

Overnight: Hotel Malika Kheivak, Khiva, Uzbekistan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Lunch;Dinner


 

Day 18 Khiva Sightseeing Tour

This old town is like a daylight museum from tales of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, and has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1990. Behind every corner and gate there are fascinating scenes, whether it be the mosques; inner squares, minarets sparkling in the sun, ornamented carved wooden doors or small workshops, where the inhabitants still follow traditional craftsmanship. Khiva has still retained the atmosphere of an ancient, oriental city.

Today you will visit the old town of Khiva with the surrounding Kunya Ark fortress, Mohammed Amin Khan Madrasah, beautifully decorated Islamic Khodja Minaret, Palvan Kari Complex and Rafanek Madrasah. In the afternoon, continue your exploration with a visit to the Uch-Avliyo Mausoleum; Juma Mosque; the Tash-Hauli Palace, where a cobra is still guarding the gold treasures of the last Khan, Arab Mohammed Khan Madrasah; and more. Everywhere within this old town you will see fine, ornate wood carvings - an art that has been cultivated in Khiva since ancient times. Enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the sunset from the Akshi Bobo Tower.

Overnight: Hotel Malika Kheivak, Khiva, Uzbekistan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 19 Khiva - Tashkent - City Tour

This morning fly to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, and enjoy a city tour on arrival. 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 a discovery tour which will take you to ancient squares and buildings, as well as the modern part of the 2,000 year old city. Visit Kukeldash Madrasah, which still serves as a Koran School, the Khast-Imam Square with the beautiful Barak Khan Madrasah, the Tillya Sheikh Mosque and the Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum made of simple brickwork. Here you can also take a look at the Koran written by the third Caliph Osman (644 - 656). Afterwards transfer to the hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure.

Overnight: Hotel City Palace, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 20 Tashkent, Uzbekistan – Seoul, South Korea

Today check out of the hotel and take a stroll through the huge Chorsu Bazaar which will let you experience the everyday life of Uzbekistan with all your senses. In the afternoon visit the interesting Museum of Applied Arts before transferring to Tashkent Airport for your overnight flight to Seoul, South Korea.


Meals included: Breakfast;In-Flight


 

Day 21 Seoul, South Korea – New Zealand

This morning arrive into Seoul, South Korea. Make use of the complimentary airport to hotel shuttle to your nearby hotel accommodation where you will be provided day use of a room and hotel facilities. Enjoy time at leisure before taking the complimentary hotel shuttle to airport and departing for Australia later this evening.

Day Use: Days Hotel and Suites Incheon Airport or similar (day use)
Meals included: In-Flight


 

Day 22 Arrive in New Zealand

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TERMS AND CONDITIONS

*Prices are per person (pp) in NZD, twin share based on lead in season. All care is taken to promote correct pricing at time of publication but is dependent upon availability and will be confirmed at time of reservation. Valid for sale until sold out. Airfares not included unless specified. Offers are subject to availability and can change without notification due to fluctuations in charges and currency. Credit card surcharges apply. For full terms and conditions please contact a World Travellers consultant.