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Silk Route & South East Asia Explorer Istanbul - Bangkok

We are running a new route for this trip in 2020! See here for more details.
125 DAYS THROUGH Azerbaijan, Cambodia (+ 8 more countries)
RATING:
PRICE FROM:
$13,735 (USD) + 3,870 KITTY (USD)
DURATION:
125 days
TRANSPORT:
Overland expedition vehicle, Jeep, Private bus, Public bus, Russian bus, Tuk-tuk, Boat, Ferry, Overnight boat
CREW:
2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew in certain areas
ACCOM:
20%
80%
PHYSICAL CHALLENGE:
LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE:
TRIP CODE:
EIO
DEPOSIT:
$700 USD

Highlights

  Wild camp near the 'Door to Hell' Darvaza Crater

  Visit the incredible Blue Mosque

  See the silk-weavers of the Fergana Valley

  Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat

  Wild camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan

  Explore the colourful natural phenomenon of the Rainbow Mountains

  Cross the northern end of the Tibetan Plateau

  3 days overlanding through the stunning Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

  Stay in traditional felt yurts at the incredible Song KÃÖl Lake

  Guided tour of the valley of Cappadocia

  SHOW MORE HIGHLIGHTS  

Itinerary

We are running a new route for this trip in 2020! See here for more details.
Day 1 - Istanbul ( 27th Jun 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Istanbul, you will most likely enter Turkey at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA code: IST).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting. If you are travelling beyond Tbilisi, your tour leader will need to carefully check your visa situation for your entire trip.

The afternoon will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River and the phenomenal Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia!

In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Istanbul before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Istanbul.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the incredible Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century

TRY 25

Explore the atmospheric underground Basilica Cisterns, built by the Byzantines in the 6th century

TRY 20

Explore the majestic Topkapı Palace, the huge palace of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years

TRY 35

Visit the Çemberlitas Baths, a traditional Turkish Hammam, for a bath and massage!

USD 20

Explore the phenomenal Blue Mosque, built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I - a stunning icon of Istanbul

Free

See the splendour of Istanbul from a boat trip on Bosphorus Strait, which marks the boundary of Europe and Asia

USD 17
Explore the colossal markets of the Grand Bazaar - once the centre of all trading between Europe and Asia, and the most visited tourist attraction in the world
Free
Day 2 - Göreme ( 28th Jun 2019 )

Today we start our journey with a full day's drive east to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.

In Göreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 3-4 - Göreme ( 29th Jun 2019 to 30th Jun 2019 )

We now have a 2 full days to explore Göreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during our time here.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries

Included in Kitty

Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the ancient pre-iconoclastic Byzantine rock monastery of Zelve

TRY 15

Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia

EUR 150

Guided tour of Cappadocia and underground troglodyte cities and caves

TRY 5

Discover the ancient techniques of Cappadocian pottery at the village of Avanos

Free

Head out for a fun evening of dinner and various Turkish dancing displays

TRY 90
Witness the hypnotic Sufi Whirling Dervishes ceremony at an ancient caravanserai near Göreme
EUR 35
Day 5 - Zara ( 1st Jul 2019 )

Today we continue our journey east with a full day's drive towards the Sumela monastery.

We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

Day 6 - Sumela ( 2nd Jul 2019 )

Today we will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will visit in the afternoon.

We will camp overnight in a campsite near Sumela if conditions allow. In cold weather we may opt to stay in a local hotel in Macka or Trabzon.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Exploration of the Black Sea mountain monastery at Sumela

Included in Kitty
Day 7 - Batumi ( 3rd Jul 2019 )

Border Information: Exit Turkey at Sarp, enter Georgia at Sarpi.

This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Georgia, reaching the port town of Batumi.

In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Batumi Archaeological Museum, home to many historical exhibits found in excavations in the area
GEL 2
Day 8 - Kutaisi ( 4th Jul 2019 )

After a relaxing morning, we leave the port town of Batumi behind us and make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bragrati cathedral and the Gelati monastery.

In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the incredible 11th-century monastery complex of Gelati, near Kutaisi (if time allows)
Free
Visit the beautiful 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral, a symbol of the city of Kutaisi
Free
Day 9 - Gori, Mtskheta ( 5th Jul 2019 )

This morning is free to explore the charming town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we make our way to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin - here we will have an included guided tour of the city and the Stalin Museum. 

We will then continue on to the ancient UNESCO world heritage site of Mtskheta where we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse. 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Learn about the early life of Joseph Stalin, one of the 20th century's most infamous world leaders, at his birthplace in Gori
Included in Kitty
Day 10 - Stepantsminda ( 6th Jul 2019 )

This morning we will explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

This afternoon we have a beautiful drive to the spectacularly located town of Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi).

Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, we will take a trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Church (the Church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.

In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local hotel or family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda

Included in Kitty
Day 11 - Tbilisi ( 7th Jul 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6:00pm - please meet at the joining hotel reception at this time. Please do not be alarmed if there is no note from you leader on arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the crew and they will not arrive until about 4:00pm. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tbilisi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tbilisi.

In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi
GEL 25
Day 12 - Tbilisi ( 8th Jul 2019 )

Today we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.

We will have a second night in our comfortable local hotel in Tbilisi.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation
GEL 3
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below
Free
Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography
GEL 1.5

Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi's Old Town

Free
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia
GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church
Free
Day 13 - Telavi ( 9th Jul 2019 )

This morning we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore this fascinating region. We will have a free afternoon to explore the area on arrival.

In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 14 - Telavi ( 10th Jul 2019 )

The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyards and wineries - there are hundreds of different grapes grown here, and every village has its own particular variety. We will visit some of the local vineyards today, where we can hopefully see some of the local traditions including grape harvesting and wine making, and enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Head out on Telavi's 'Big Day Out' - a tour of the town's monasteries, bee-keepers and textile-weavers, followed by lunch and wine tasting at a local family-run winery

Included in Kitty
Day 15 - Lagodekhi ( 11th Jul 2019 )

Today we leave the wine region behind us as we make our way towards the Azerbaijan border. We will visit the Gremi citadel en route.

We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodehki National Park close to the Azeri border.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Discover the ancient capital of the 16th-century Kingdom of Kakheti at the Gremi Architectural Complex

GEL 10

Take some short exploratory walks around our wild camp in the beautiful forested Lagodekhi National Park

GEL 5
Day 16 - Sheki ( 12th Jul 2019 )

Border information: Exit Georgia at Ladodekhi, enter Azerbaijan at Balakan.

Today we cross the border to Azerbaijan and continue to the old town of Sheki, where we can visit the exquisite Khan's Palace.

In Sheki we will stay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheki

Included in Kitty

Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797

Included in Kitty
Day 17 - Gobustan ( 13th Jul 2019 )

Today we will continue our journey to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea. Whilst here we will visit the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volcanoes that this area is famous for.

In Gobustan we will wild camp near the mud volcanoes.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs

Included in Kitty
Day 18-20 - Baku ( 14th Jul 2019 to 16th Jul 2019 )

This morning we have a short drive to the Azeri capital, Baku. During our time in Baku we will have free time to explore all the sights of the city and the surroundings.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

Our itinerary in Baku and over the Caspian Sea must remain very flexible and is very much determined by sailing times of the local ferries. Please note that there is no regular schedule for the ferries, they are notoriously unpredictable, and information from the ferry operators regarding the sailing times constantly changes (or is non-existant) up until the point of departure. Maximum flexibility, open-mindedness and co-operation with your tour leaders are absolutely essential here! 

In Baku we will stay in a local hotel for as many nights as is needed until we finally depart on the ferry over the Caspian Sea.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town

Included in Kitty

Audio Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace

Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Included in Kitty
Day 21 - Caspian Sea ( 17th Jul 2019 )

From Baku, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. The boat docks at the city of Turkmenbashi.

The ferry is a fantastic local experience, but please do not expect any luxury whatsoever! These ferries are budget vessels for the locals and cargo hauliers, and are not designed with tourists in mind. We must be prepared for very basic conditions and limited provisions on board.

Please also note that the time that the ferry takes to cross is also very unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Turkmenbashi while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat.

There will be basic cabins on the ferry overnight.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Cross the Caspian Sea on a local transporter ferry between Baku and Turkmenbashi
Included in Kitty
Day 22 - Turkmenbashi ( 18th Jul 2019 )

Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Baku, enter Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi.

Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Turkmenistan.

We will be either staying at a local hotel in Turkmenbashi or we will start our journey towards Ashgabat and wild camp en route.

Turkemenistan Visa Note - as the timing of the Caspian ferry crossing can be very unpredictable, please get your Turkmenistan visa issued with at least 2 'flexible' days before the entry date listed on these notes. If you arrange the visa through The Visa Machine they will be aware of all the correct dates for your visa according to the date of your trip. Please see the detailed visa notes below.

Day 23 - Geok Tepe ( 19th Jul 2019 )

Today, if we are off the ferry in good time by this stage, we will continue our drive to the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake. We will have some time either this afternoon or tomorrow morning to explore this superb lake of naturally-heated clear water.

Tonight we will wild camp in the area of Kow Ata or Geok Tepe.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Turkmenistan's unique underground lake at Kow Ata and swim in waters naturally heated to around 36°C

Included in Kitty
Day 24 - Ashgabat ( 20th Jul 2019 )

This morning we have a short drive to Turkmenistan's bizarre modern capital, Ashgabat. This afternoon we will have some free time to explore.

In Ashgabat we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the huge Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque on the outskirts of Ashgabat, built in 2004 as the mausoleum of Saparmurat Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan after the fall of the Soviet Union
Free
Day 25 - Ashgabat ( 21st Jul 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

After the meeting we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book. 

In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.

*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
Included in Kitty
Day 26 - Darvaza ( 22nd Jul 2019 )

Today we set off north from Ashgabat and head into the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!).

We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvaza, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'

Included in Kitty
Day 27 - Kunye Urgench ( 23rd Jul 2019 )

Today we will continue our overland journey north across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.

We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench

Included in Kitty
Day 28-29 - Khiva ( 24th Jul 2019 to 25th Jul 2019 )

Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov.

This morning we will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, before driving across the border into Uzbekistan and continue to the beautiful historic town of Khiva. 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

The following day we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town.

In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva
Included in Kitty
Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873
Included in Kitty
Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva
Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument
Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark
Included in Kitty
Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva
Included in Kitty
Day 30 - Bukhara ( 26th Jul 2019 )

Today we will have a full day's drive to the fascinating city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights.

In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

Day 31-32 - Bukhara ( 27th Jul 2019 to 28th Jul 2019 )

Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water
Included in Kitty

Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty

Included in Kitty

Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared

Included in Kitty

Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs
USD 5

See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara

Free

Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon

UZS 4500
Day 33 - Nurata ( 29th Jul 2019 )

Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to head out on an optional camel ride into the desert!

In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts.

Included in Kitty
Day 34 - Samarkand ( 30th Jul 2019 )

This morning we will spend some time exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. After lunch we will drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights.

In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Day 35-36 - Samarkand ( 31st Jul 2019 to 1st Aug 2019 )

Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur

Included in Kitty

Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia

Included in Kitty

Learn about the area's scientific heritage with a visit to the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world

Included in Kitty

Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire

Included in Kitty

See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit to Shakhrisabz city

USD 20
Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers
Free
Day 37 - Tashkent ( 2nd Aug 2019 )

This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 38 - Tashkent ( 3rd Aug 2019 )

Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner

Free

Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent

Free
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran
USD 5
Day 39 - Tashkent ( 4th Aug 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Tashkent, you will most likely enter Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

The rest of the day is free to explore the Uzbek capital.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tashkent before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

*Another important note - please be aware that all itineraries in Kyrgyzstan are highly weather-dependent. The itinerary described in these notes are a statement of best intention, but we must approach each trip in Kyrgyzstan with a large degree of flexibility, as our leaders and local guides will have to 'play things by ear' according to the local conditions and weather. In low season certain routes become impossible and it may become far too cold to camp - in all cases there are fantastic and well-tried alternatives in place which means we can always run an excellent and comprehensive trip here, but please do not treat the exact details of the itinerary listed here as gospel - thanks for your understanding!*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner

Free

Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent

Free
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran
USD 5
Day 40 - Fergana Valley ( 5th Aug 2019 )

This morning we travel in local transport over the Kamchik Pass to Kokand, where we will have the oppurtunity to visit the Khudayar Khan's Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing the journey to Fergana. 

The truck must pass over the Kamchik Pass without passengers and will rejoin us this evening in Fergana.

In Fergana we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Overland through Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley including historic Kokand and Fergana City

UZS 3000

Explore the impressive 19th-century Juma Mosque in Kokand in the stunning Fergana Valley

UZS 17500

See the silk-weavers of the Fergana Valley at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory

Free
Day 41 - Arslanbob ( 6th Aug 2019 )

Border information: Exit Uzbekistan at Andijon, enter Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik.

This morning we leave Uzbekistan behind and make our way into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan! 

Once we have crossed the border we continue our journey to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley - if we are delayed at the border we may choose to stay in the closer town of Jalalabad instead.

In Arslanbob we will stay overnight in a local family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Day 42-44 - Kyrgyz Fergana Valley ( 7th Aug 2019 to 9th Aug 2019 )

We will spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning and remote Kyrgyz Fergana Valley, stopping often to admire the views and perhaps take some impromptu hikes in the hills and countryside.

During these days we plan to wild camp en route. Please note that trips running in low season (May to mid-June and October to November), we may not be able to camp if temperatures are too low, in which case we will stay in local guesthouses along the route instead.

Estimated Drive Times - 4-8 hours each day.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Included in Kitty
Day 45-46 - Song Köl Lake ( 10th Aug 2019 to 11th Aug 2019 )

Today we complete the drive to the incredible Song Köl Lake, where we will spend the next two nights.

We will have free time here to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking and horse-riding.

At Song Köl we will stay in traditional felt yurts.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-8 hours.

Please note that trips during the low season will not be able to visit Song Köl Lake, as temperatures will be below freezing, the road will be snowed over, and there will be no yurts to stay in! Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Köl.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Experience the daily life of the Kyrgyz mountain shepherds.

Included in Kitty
Day 47 - Kochkor ( 12th Aug 2019 )

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village

Included in Kitty

See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Included in Kitty
See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt!
KGS 1000
Day 48-49 - Jeti Oguz Valley ( 13th Aug 2019 to 14th Aug 2019 )

Today we drive along the southern shore of Lake Issyk Köl and up into the mountains to the alpine trekking region of Jeti Oguz. En route we will have an included demonstation from a local 'eagle hunter'.

The next day we will have a free day to hike in the incredible scenery here, or take an optional horse ride with some of the local nomads!

In Jeti Oguz we will camp close to a local family yurt.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Please note that on trips in the low season we may not be able to camp in Jeti Oguz due to low temperatures. If this is the case, we will stay for 1 night in a local hotel at the base of Jeti Oguz Valley (allowing time for some day walks) and then move via a stunning and incredible drive up a mountain in a Russian 4x4 truck to Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development in a stunning alpine setting, staying in dormitory accommodation.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Trek into the wilds of the Jeti-Oghuz Gorge on the edge of the Tian Shan mountains

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the incredible mountain landscapes of the Jeti Oguz Valley by horseback

KGS 800
Day 50 - Karakol ( 15th Aug 2019 )

Today we will move on from Jeti Oguz or Altyn Arashan to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where we will have a free afternoon to explore and relax!

In Karakol we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Day 51-52 - Chong Kemin Valley, Cholpon Ata ( 16th Aug 2019 to 17th Aug 2019 )

Today we will drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk Köl and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. We will then continue to the beautiful area of Chong Kemin where we will spend 2 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

The next day we will have a free day to explore and hike in this stunning area, or to get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion!

In Chong Kemin we will wild camp. If it is too cold or simply preferred by the group, we may choose to camp in the grounds of a guesthouse in Ashu, a village in the Chong Kemin valley, where there could be the possibility to upgrade to rooms.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Included in Kitty

Tourist time: pedalos, sand, sun. On Lake Issyk-Kul, it?s a time warp

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the beautiful Chong Kemin valley on horseback

KGS 300

Head out on a white-water rafting adventure through the stunning Chong Kemin valley

KGS 1800
Walk around the incredible scenery of the Chong Kemin valley
Free
Day 53 - Bishkek ( 18th Aug 2019 )

Today we have a short drive to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, with the opportunity to visit the Burana Tower en route. We will have free time to relax and explore the city upon arrival.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Day 54 - Bishkek ( 19th Aug 2019 )

For everyone that is continuing with us to China, there will be quick pre-departure meeting at 10:00am in order to explain the next 6 days until Kashgar, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section.

The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Asia Mountains
Hotel Asia Mountains
1a Lineinaja St
Bishkek 720021
Kyrgyzstan
Tel: +996 312 694 075

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Begin our journey in picturesque Bishkek

Free

Freely explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market

Free
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square
KGS 150
Day 55 - Kochkor ( 20th Aug 2019 )

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Please note that if the group has no new people joining in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a further 2 hour drive beyond Kochkor). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat the following day.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village

Included in Kitty

See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt!
KGS 1000
Day 56 - Tash Rabat ( 21st Aug 2019 )

Today we continue our journey south to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.

In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (from Kochkor).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border

Included in Kitty
Day 57 - Kashgar ( 22nd Aug 2019 )

Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Torugart, enter China at Torugart.

Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass, crossing into China and heading down to the Uighur city of Kashgar.

In Kashgar we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 58 - Kashgar ( 23rd Aug 2019 )

Today we will have free time to explore the city of Kashgar and partake in any optional activities

Tonight we will stay in a good quality hotel

Day 59 - Kashgar ( 24th Aug 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Kashgar, you will most likely enter China at Kashgar Airport (IATA code: KHG).

Welcome to Kashgar, one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route! If you are joining in Kashgar, you are free to explore the city, and there will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm. Please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the tour leader and they will often arrive in Kashgar mid-afternoon.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kashgar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kashgar.

In Kashgar we will stay in a hotel with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world. 

Included in Kitty
Day 60-61 - Kashgar ( 25th Aug 2019 to 26th Aug 2019 )

Today we will visit the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar.

We will also have an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world! 

The following day we will have a free day to explore the town, the central Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square, while your crew finalise the customs procedures for our truck to continue further into China.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the finest example of Islamic architecture in Kashgar and the centre of religious life in the city

CNY 20

Discover the history of the ancient Silk Road at Kashgar's Silk Road Museum

CNY 15

Visit the mausoleum of the 17th-century religious leader Afaq Khoja, considered the holiest site in Xinjiang Province

CNY 15
Day 62-63 - Aksu, Bayanbulak ( 27th Aug 2019 to 28th Aug 2019 )

Our journey through China begins as we leave Kashgar and head east through the Taklamakan Desert! Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to stay in local hotels en route.

Estimated Drive Times - 8-9 hours each day (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 64-65 - Heavenly Lake ( 29th Aug 2019 to 30th Aug 2019 )

Today we will complete our drive through the Taklamakan Desert and arrive at Heavenly Lake, a beautiful lake set in the Tian Shan mountains.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

We will stay here for 2 nights, and will have many opportunities to relax in the incredible scenery and walk around the lake.

In Heavenly Lake we will stay in local yurts with very basic facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Enjoy a tranquil yurt stay at the beautiful Heavenly Lake

Included in Kitty
Day 66-67 - Turpan ( 31st Aug 2019 to 1st Sep 2019 )

Today we will travel to the oasis town of Turpan, where we stay for 2 days exploring the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan

Included in Kitty

Learn about the Karez water system, the ingenious method of irrigating the area that was developed by the Han Dynasty and allowed Turpan to flourish as an oasis town

Included in Kitty
See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

See the Emin Minaret, a beautiful Uighur mosque built in the 18th century which is the tallest minaret in China
CNY 30
Explore the ancient oasis city of Gaochang, once a bustling trading trading centre along the Silk Road
CNY 40
Day 68-69 - Dunhuang ( 2nd Sep 2019 to 3rd Sep 2019 )

Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the city of Dunhuang.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours.

Please note that sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, wild camping in between - in this case we will have 1 less night in Pingliang towards the end of the trip.

The following day we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it’s surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda!

In Dunhuang we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Stopover and time to explore historic Dunhuang

CNY 20

Take a camel ride to Crescent Moon Lake, Dunhuang

CNY 120
Day 70 - Jiayuguan ( 4th Sep 2019 )

Today we continue our journey with a drive to Jiayuguan, where we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note the Great Wall in this area is adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further to the east.

We will wild camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Journey down the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan Fort, our first stop at the Great Wall

Included in Kitty
Day 71 - Zhangye ( 5th Sep 2019 )

Today we will drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we'll spend some time exploring the region before heading off to wild camp nearby.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains

Included in Kitty
Day 72 - Liujiaxia ( 6th Sep 2019 )

Today we will drive onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan plateau and reach the small city of Liujiaxia. 

In Liujiaxia we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

Day 73-75 - Xiahe, Bingling Si ( 7th Sep 2019 to 9th Sep 2019 )

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. There may also be a chance to go trekking, horse riding or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.

In Xiahe we will stay in a local Tibetan-owned hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Climb up onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan Plateau

Free

2 night detour to the Tibetan town of Xiahe, one of the main pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists

CNY 40
Take a day trip up into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau surrounding Xiahe
CNY 400
Day 76 - Lanzhou ( 10th Sep 2019 )

Today we will leave Xiahe and head to the chaotic capital city of Gansu province, Lanzhou. We will have some free time this evening to explore the city.

In Lanzhou we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

Day 77-78 - Pingliang ( 11th Sep 2019 to 12th Sep 2019 )

Today we will drive to the small town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

The following day we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain. 

In Pingliang we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Please note that if the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang was split over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

Included in Kitty
Day 79 - Xi'an ( 13th Sep 2019 )

Today we will journey to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free afternoon to fully explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 80 - Xi'an ( 14th Sep 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

Welcome to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! 

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.

The rest of the day will be free to explore the city of Xi'an, its famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife

Included in Kitty
Day 81 - Xi'an ( 15th Sep 2019 )

This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour. We'll return to Xi'an in the afternoon and have some more free time to further explore this incredible city!

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties

CNY 80

Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world

CNY 80
Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057
CNY 50

Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China

CNY 30

Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures

CNY 90

Learn about the fascinating history of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an at the Shaanxi History Museum, without doubt one of the finest museums in China

CNY 30

Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset

CNY 40
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens
Free
Day 82 - Wudang Shan ( 16th Sep 2019 )

Today we begin our journey south of Xi'an with a drive to the beautiful Wudang Shan Mountain Reserve, the birthplace of the martial art of Taichi and the location of the filming of 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'.

We will have time this afternoon and the following morning to fully explore the mountain's sights, temples and martial arts schools.

In Wudang Shan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 83 - Xiang Fan, Wudang Shan ( 17th Sep 2019 )

This morning we will spend more time exploring Wudang Shan and the surrounding area, before setting off in the afternoon for a short drive to the pleasant city of Xiang Fan. We will also try to stop at the Purple Cloud Monastery en route.

In Xiang Fan we will stay in a local guesthouse or hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Trek up the Tianzu Peak to visit the Taoist martial arts school and numerous temples on Wudang Shan

Included in Kitty
Day 84 - Yichang ( 18th Sep 2019 )

Today we will drive from Xiang Fan to Yichang, where we will catch our first glimpse of the mighty Yangtze river. Yichang is a pleasant town, and we will stop here for 1 or 2 nights, depending on the ferry schedule - either way we will have time to explore a little.

In Yichang we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Day 85 - Yichang, Three Gorges ( 19th Sep 2019 )

Today we will have some free time to explore Yichang and the surrounding area, prepare for our 3 day Yangtze River cruise.

We will most likely have an included visit to the incredible Three Gorges Dam today, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, although it is possible this visit may take place tomorrow depending on the ferry schedule.

We will most likely stay in our hotel in Yichang tonight, but our ferry may need to depart tonight, in which case we will have a spare day later in the trip that we can use at our discretion.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

The cruise visits the main sites of the Three Gorges & new Yangtze Dam

Included in Kitty
Day 86-88 - Three Gorges, Badong, Wanzhou, Chongqing ( 20th Sep 2019 to 22nd Sep 2019 )

Today we embark on our Yangtze River cruise. We travel on a local ferry boat used by local people, a much more authentic and interesting way of travelling than on a tourist cruise. We stay in shared cabins (4 members of the group to each cabin) with private bathrooms and air conditioning where possible.

The journey itself usually takes 3 days/3 nights and heads through some areas of stunning scenery, especially near the Three Gorges - the Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges. The boats usually stop at the Fengdu (Ghost City), Shibaozai Tower, home to the Lanruo Dian (Orchid Temple) and at the three Lesser Gorges at various points on the trip. However due to local conditions, stops cannot always be guaranteed.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Cruise down the mighty Yangtze River for 3 nights on a local sleeper ferry
Included in Kitty
Stop off to visit the 1700-year-old Zhang Fei temple, famous for its exterior red-light decoration
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Stop off at the White Emperor City, a very scenic spot featured on the Chinese 10 Yuan banknote!
CNY 180
Stop off to take a boat ride through the stunning Three Mini Gorges
CNY 220
Day 89 - Dazu, Chongqing ( 23rd Sep 2019 )

Today we will disembark our ferry when it docks in Chongqing in the early morning, and rejoin the truck and our co-driver!

From Chongqing we have a short drive to Dazu, where we visit the Bei Shan and Baoding Shan caves, famous for their brightly-coloured freizes and carvings.

In Dazu we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Side trip to see the amazing sleeping Buddha in the Dazu Caves

CNY 135
Day 90-91 - Chengdu ( 24th Sep 2019 to 25th Sep 2019 )

Today we have another short drive on to the incredible city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where we will stay for 2 nights. On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city's parks, streets, and museums, and visit the fascinating and incredibly photogenic Jinli Old Town.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

On the following day we will have an included visit to the fantastic Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre. We'll then return to Chengdu for another free afternoon to further explore the city.

In Chengdu we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit to the Giant Panda breeding centre in Chengdu

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the Jinsha Archeological Site, the capital of the Bronze Age Shu Kingdom who were one of the most ancient civilisations to settle in the area

CNY 80

Freely explore the narrow streets of the atmospheric Jinli Ancient Street and visit the nearby Wuhouci Shrine

CNY 60

Explore the cobbled streets of historic Lijang

CNY 85
Explore the mountain complex of Qingcheng, one of the ancient cradles of Taoism in China
CNY 190
Visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Buddhist temple of Wenshu, containing more than 450 Buddha statues
CNY 5
Head out for an evening performance of a traditional Sichuanese Opera
CNY 220
Day 92-93 - Leshan, Emei Shan ( 26th Sep 2019 to 27th Sep 2019 )

Today we continue our journey south to the town of Leshan to visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha - at 71m tall, this statue is the largest Buddha rock carving in the world!

After our visit we will continue to the small town of Emei Shan.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore Emei Shan Mountain, one of the holiest sites in Chinese Buddhism and the site of hundreds of temples and an incredible golden statue of the deity known as Samantabhadra. It is possible to walk all the way up the stairs from the base of the mountain, joining the many pilgrims in their journey to the temple complex at the mountain summit, or take the cable car up instead!

In Emei Shan we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Day trek up the lush mountain of Emei Shan, one of the most important pilgrimage treks in China

Included in Kitty
See the colossal Dafo Great Buddha in Leshan, the world's largest rock-carved Buddha statue
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Take a cable car ride to the top of Emei Shan

CNY 120
Day 94 - Panzhihua ( 28th Sep 2019 )

Today we have a long drive south through stunning mountain scenery towards China's Yunnan province.

In the evening you can take a stroll on the riverfront and get an insight into local Chinese life. 

We will stay in the town of Miyi tonight in a  comfortable local hotel. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

Day 95-97 - Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge ( 29th Sep 2019 to 1st Oct 2019 )

Today we drive further into Yunnan province to the beautiful 'Old-China'-style town of Lijiang, the base for visiting the world famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On the following 2 days we will have free time to explore the town of Lijiang and its surroundings. One very popular excursion here is to go on a 2 day/1 night trek along the high trail above the Tiger Leaping Gorge - this is by far the best way to see the gorge from some truly incredible vantage points, and we will have the opportunity to take this trek during our time here (staying in a local guesthouse on the trail on the first night and returning to Lijiang for the second night). For those that don't want to do the full trek, your crew will also be able to arrange a trip to the low sections of the gorge, where there is a flat walkway to various viewpoints.

In Lijiang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the beautiful natural scenery and traditional buildings in the Black Dragon Pool Park
CNY 80
Head out for a day of trekking around the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, taking in some of the most incredible scenery in China on a clear day
CNY 80
Explore the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain area by cable car
CNY 280
See the incredible 'Impressions Lijiang' cultural show, demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai peoples of the area
CNY 270
Freely explore the area by bicycle and discover the Naxi villages surrounding Lijiang, such as the beautiful village of Baisha
CNY 20
Head out for a 2-day self-guided trek along the high ridge of the sensational Tiger Leaping Gorge
CNY 200
Go on a shorter trek along the flat base of Tiger Leaping Gorge to enjoy the scenery from below
CNY 125
Day 98-99 - Dali ( 2nd Oct 2019 to 3rd Oct 2019 )

Today we will drive through more stunning scenery to the beautiful Naxi town of Dali, where we will stay for 2 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to fully explore the area and for optional activities such as some short treks in the nearby Cangshan mountains or hiring bicycles to ride around the Dali lake.

In Dali we stay in a friendly hostel or guesthouse with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Time for sightseeing in the lakeside town of Dali, home to the minority Bai people

CNY 40

Learn how to make dumplings and traditional Yunnanese cuisine at one of Dali's fantastic cooking classes

CNY 150

Discover the ornate 9th-century Three Pagodas of Chongsheng, some of the tallest pagodas in China's history and the symbol of Dali

CNY 120

Head out by bicycle to explore the region in depth and visit various Bai villages and Qing Dynasty bridges en route

CNY 50
Experience the incredible ancient art of cormorant fishing with the fishermen of Xizhou on Lake Erhai
CNY 100
Day 100 - Kunming ( 4th Oct 2019 )

There will be a group meeting at 18:00PM. The evening free to explore the city. Overnight in comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Overnight stay in Yunnan's laid back capital, Kunming

CNY 6
Day 101 - Shilin Stone Forest ( 5th Oct 2019 )

This morning we will drive to the incredible Shilin Stone Forest. We will have a free afternoon exploring the stunning and bizarre rock formations of the Stone Forest.

Tonight we will stay in a local hotel near to the Shilin Stone Forest.

Estimated Drive Time - 2 - 3 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the maze of limestone pinnacles in the Stone Forest

Included in Kitty
Day 102 - Xishuangbanna ( 6th Oct 2019 )

Heading south from Shilinzhen we  have a full days drive towards the southern region of Xishuangbanna. 

Tonight we will stay in a local hotel en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

Day 103 - Jinghong ( 7th Oct 2019 )

Today we drive to Jinghong. Overnight in a local guesthouse.

Day 104 - Luang Namtha ( 8th Oct 2019 )

Border Information: Exit China at Mohan, enter Laos at Boten.

Short morning drive to the border with Laos, cross border and drive on to Luang Namtha, a small laid-back town on the edge of the Nam Ha Protected Area. 

Estimate drive time 4- 5 hours

We stay here for 3 nights at a comfortable friendly guesthouse lodge.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Cross the border into Laos and relax in peaceful Luang Nam Tha

Included in Kitty
Day 105-106 - Luang Namtha ( 9th Oct 2019 to 10th Oct 2019 )

We have two full days in Luang Namtha for optional activities. There are many Hiking and trekking options available in the national park, or you could use this time to simply kick back and relax back at our guesthouse.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Optional rafting, kayaking and trekking in Nam Ha National Park

USD 25
Day 107 - Luang Prabang ( 11th Oct 2019 )

This morning we drive through the stunning countryside of northern Laos and make our way to Luang Prabang where we stay in a friendly local hotel. 

This afternoon there will be free time for any optional activities. 

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Enjoy the tranquility of beautiful colonial city Luang Prabang

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the temple of Wat Xieng Thong, the oldest and one of the most beautiful temples in Luang Prabang

LAK 20000

Discover the thousands of Buddha statues at the Pak Ou caves outside of Luang Prabang

LAK 25000

Learn how to prepare some local Lao specialities at one of Luang Prabang's excellent cooking classes

USD 25

Witness the sunrise from the panoramic viewpoint at the summit of Phou Si hill

LAK 20000

Visit the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang, a fascinating blend of Lao and French architecture

LAK 30000
Day 108 - Luang Prabang ( 12th Oct 2019 )

Border Information: If joining in Luang Prabang, enter Laos at Luang Prabang Airport.

There will be an important group meeting at 10:00 hrs.
Your leader will leave a note at the reception telling you where this meeting will take place. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport and insurance details at this meeting.

Tonight we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Enjoy the tranquility of beautiful colonial city Luang Prabang

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Witness the sunrise from the panoramic viewpoint at the summit of Phou Si hill

LAK 20000

Visit the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang, a fascinating blend of Lao and French architecture

LAK 30000

Explore the temple of Wat Xieng Thong, the oldest and one of the most beautiful temples in Luang Prabang

LAK 20000

Discover the thousands of Buddha statues at the Pak Ou caves outside of Luang Prabang

LAK 25000
Day 109 - Luang Prabang ( 13th Oct 2019 )

This morning we have a short drive to a small hill tribe village called Ban Long Lao. This Hmong village is where we begin our 4 hour trek to the stunning Kuang Si waterfalls. This afternoon you have time to relax and swim in the many warm turquoise pools. We return in the late afternoon to our comfortable hotel for the night.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Learn how to prepare some local Lao specialities at one of Luang Prabang's excellent cooking classes

USD 25
Day 110 - Vang Vieng ( 14th Oct 2019 )

We leave after breakfast and drive to Vang Vieng (approx. 185 kms). The scenery today is spectacular as we make our way through windy and mountainous roads, passing small Hmong villages along the way so plenty of photo opportunities! We will stop for lunch in one of these villages before continuing our journey to Vang Vieng. The afternoon is free to explore.

Estimated Drive time 5 - 6 hours


We will stay overnight in a comfortable guesthouse tonight.

Day 111 - Vang Vieng ( 15th Oct 2019 )

Today we have the whole day to explore Vang Vieng. Enjoy the stunning landscapes surrounding the village and take part of the many optional activities available in the area. Popular activities here include trekking, renting a bicycle or rock climbing.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Free time available for optional activities in laid-back Vang Vieng

USD 30
Head out for a rock climbing trip in the ideal crags near Vang Vieng
USD 40
Kayak through the stunning scenery of the Nam Song River, and stop off in some of the Khmu villages en route
USD 40
Trek around the fantastic limestone hills and stunning caves near Vang Vieng
USD 20
Explore the scared ethereal Tham Phu Kham Caves and Blue Lagoon just outside Vang Vieng
LAK 20000
Day 112 - Thakhek ( 16th Oct 2019 )

We set off early this morning for a full days drive from Vang Vieng to Thakhek. We will arrive in the late afternoon and set up camp for the night.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours

Tonight we will wild camp near Thakhek

Day 113 - Pakse ( 17th Oct 2019 )

 

We will have the morning to explore the town before continuing our journey south to Pakse. Once in Pakse we have a short drive to the magnificent Wat Phou, a ruined Khmer temple complex located at the base of Mt Phu Kao.

Overnight in local Guesthouse in Pakse.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the incredible 10th-century temple of Wat Phou

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Enjoy a traditional massage in one of Pakse's excellent massage centres
LAK 35000
Day 114-115 - Don Khon, Si Phan Don (4000 Islands) ( 18th Oct 2019 to 19th Oct 2019 )

 

From Pakse we Drive South and transfer to a boat to take us over to one of the larger islands in the area, Don Khong. This afternoon we visit the Li Phi waterfalls and then spend the rest of the day relaxing. 

Overnight in a local guesthouse.

On our 2nd day on Don Khong we will have free time to explore the island which can be easily discovered by bicycles. On the bike you will discover a quiet rural life of the the four thousand Islands. 

Estimated Drive time 3 - 4 hours

Day 116-117 - Kratié ( 20th Oct 2019 to 21st Oct 2019 )

Border Information: Exit Laos at Voeung Kam, enter Cambodia at Dom Kralor.

Today we will be rejoining the truck. We then drive to the Cambodian border, cross and continue on to Kratie.

Kratie is situated in the northeast of Cambodia on the banks of the Mekong River, this area is famous for its sunsets!  In Kratie we will stay with local families in their homes. The accommodation is fairly basic but this will be a fantastic local experience.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours

On our 2nd day in Kratie we visit the fresh water dolphins and visit the town of Kratie, including the Pagodas.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Visit the beautiful 16th-century Hundred Pillar Pagoda near Kratie
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Hire bikes to explore the area, visit the basket weavers in the surrounding villages, or head to nearby Trong Island for the sunset
USD 2
Day 118 - Phnom Penh ( 22nd Oct 2019 )

Today we drive to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. The afternoon is free to explore.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

We will be staying in Phnom Penh for 2 nights at a friendly local guesthouse.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

2 nights in Cambodia's chaotic capital Phnom Penh

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the beautiful Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh

USD 7
Day 119 - Phnom Penh ( 23rd Oct 2019 )

This morning we will have a very moving visit to the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields Memorial. We will then return to Phnom Penh and have a free afternoon to explore Cambodia's capital.

Tonight we will spend a second night in a local guesthouse. 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Learn about Cambodia's history at the "Killing Fields" and Tuol Sleng Prison Museum

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Discover the world's largest collection of Khmer art at the National Museum of Cambodia

USD 5

Visit the beautiful Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh

USD 7
Day 120 - Kompong Thom ( 24th Oct 2019 )

This morning we have a fairly short drive to Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia's most impressive group of pre-Angkorian monuments. We will have plenty of time to explore the ruins before driving back to Kompong Thom, where we spend the night in the house of a local family.

The accommodation is basic and some bathrooms are outside, but experiencing traditional home-cooked food and spending time with people of the village is truly a special experience.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 - 6 hours.

 


We stay overnight in a local home stay.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the amazing pre-Angkorian temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk

Included in Kitty
Day 121 - Siem Reap ( 25th Oct 2019 )

This morning we drive from Kompong Thom to Siem Reap -

We will be in Siem Reap for 3 nights staying in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours

Day 122 - Siem Reap, Angkor Wat ( 26th Oct 2019 )

Today we get up early for our full day guided exploration of the incredible temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. We will also be able to watch the sunset over the temples.

Second night in friendly local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Full day tour of the incredible temples at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom

Included in Kitty
Day 123 - Siem Reap ( 27th Oct 2019 )

Today is a free day for you to do as you please. Return to the temples to spend some more time exploring, or maybe take some time to relax with a massage or local spa treatment. Siem Reap itself is a lively little town and interesting to wander around.

Third night in friendly local hotel.

Day 124 - Bangkok ( 28th Oct 2019 )

Border Information: Exit Cambodia at, enter Thailand at Aranyaprathet.

This morning we start our journey to the Cambodian border of Poipet where we will say goodbye to our co driver and overland truck. Once we have crossed the border and proceedings through the Thai Immigration office we will then finish our journey on locally chartered transport out of the Aranyaprathet and through the Thai countryside to the bustling city of Bangkok. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8 -9 hours. (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the sights of the bustling Thai capital of Bangkok, including the Grand PalaceWat Pho and Wat Arun, and the countless temples and parks

Free
Climb the steps of the Golden Mount to see the panoramic view of Bangkok from the Wat Saket temple
Free
Learn all about Thai history and culture at the Bangkok National Museum, the largest and most comprehensive museum in South East Asia
THB 40
Day 125 - Bangkok ( 29th Oct 2019 )

Border Information: Finishing in Bangkok, exit Thailand at Bangkok Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Bangkok.

Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

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Trip Notes
Departing: 27 Jun 2019
Returning: 29 Oct 2019
Duration: 125 days
Route: Istanbul - Bangkok
$13,735 USD + $3,870 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $700 USD
available
We are running a new route for this trip in 2020! See here for more details.