SILK ROAD & TIBET (Eastbound) - September 2017 Departure
Retracing one of the most important trading routes of ancient civilisation, the Silk Road follows in the footsteps of such legendary figures as Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. For centuries, merchants and adventurers journeyed to and from China on ancient routes through some of the most testing landscapes in the world trading silk, spices and perfumes. These ‘highways’ – stretching some 4,000 miles (6,400 km) – collectively came to be called the ‘Silk Road’.
MOSCOW – VOLGOGRAD – KARA KUM DESERT – KHIVA – ASHGABAT – MERV – BUKHARA – SAMARKAND – TASHKENT – ALMATY – TURPAN – DUNHUANG – XIAN – GOLMUD – LHASA
DAY 1 MOSCOW
DAY 9 – BUKHARA
The highlight of this wonderful visit is The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara – the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times. We then travel out of the city to experience the Emir’s enchantingly named, Palace of the Moon and Stars. This evening, weather and time permitting, we will enjoy a barbecue on the station platform before our train departs.
DAY 10 – SAMARKAND
Founded in the 6th century BC, Samarkand’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia and is particularly noted for its architectural remains from the 14th to the 17th century, when it flourished as the fabled capital of the Mongol empire of Timur and his successors. Today we will visit some of its most significant sites including Registan Square, the refined elegance of the beautifully proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque and the Ulag Beg observatory built in 1428.
DAY 11 – TASHKENT
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and we spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city. Our tour of the city includes the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets and here in a small library we’ll be privileged to see one of Islam’s most sacred relics – the world’s oldest Koran. This is followed by a visit to the Railway Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.
DAY 12 – ALMATY
Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and is notable for its wide tree-lined boulevards, surrounded by the majesty of the Tien Shan Mountains. Our city tour includes a visit to Panfilov Park where we have the opportunity to visit the Zenkhov Cathedral which was built entirely of wood. We’ll also go out of the city to the Chimbulak resort, where a cable car ride will give you spectacular views of Almaty and the mountains.
DAY 13 – BORDER CROSSING
As we arrive at the Kazakh border of Druzhba, we bid the Golden Eagle a final farewell. The Shangri-La Express awaits us in Alashankou, the Chinese border station.
Imperial Suite and Gold Class passengers will be accommodated in the private en-suite Diamond Class cabins on board the Shangri-La Express, whilst Silver Class will be allocated Heritage Class cabins, which have shared shower and toilet facilities. Upgrades for Silver Class passengers to Diamond Class are available at an extra charge and subject to availability.
We are now free to settle into our comfortable cabins as we begin our journey across China. A welcome dinner is served in the Restaurant Car, giving us our first taste of authentic Chinese cuisine.
DAY 14 – TUPAN
Turpan is the location where the Flaming Mountains create a magnificent backdrop. We take a fascinating tour to the ancient underground irrigation system that has successfully fed the rich orchards and vineyards for centuries. We will also visit the Museum of Turpan with its artefacts and Ancient Mummy exhibition with exhibits dating back 3,200 years. Our final destination is the elegantly decaying sand fortress city of Jiaohe that was founded in 108 BC and became an important Silk Road trading route until abandoned in the 13th century following a raid by Genghis Khan.
DAY 15 & 16 – DUNHUANG
In the small oasis city of Dunhuang we will visit the fascinating Magao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex. This impressive site contains almost 500 grottoes, carved between 700 and 1,700 years ago. We stay for one night at the Silk Road Dunhuang hotel and tonight we experience dinner and a local folk performance in this magical setting.
We wake early the next morning to experience sunrise over the magnificent sand dunes, followed by breakfast. Today we will explore the vast natural beauty of the Gobi Desert by camel.
DAY 17 – XIAN
In Xian we explore the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, discovered by peasants only 40 years ago. The 6,000 terracotta figures and their horses are one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.
DAY 18 & 19 – GOLMUD
We spend day 18 travelling across the Chinese countryside, before a late evening arrival into Golmud, where we transfer to the DoubleTree Qinghai Hilton in the city for a two-night stay.
DAY 20 – QINGHAI-TIBET RAILWAY
Early morning at Golmud we board the high-altitude train that will take us on an extraordinary and unforgettable 14-hour daylight journey along the 1,142km ‘Roof of the World’ line to Golmud, cresting the 16,640ft (5,072m) Tangula Pass. This is the world’s highest railway pass, reaching an unbelievable 3 miles (5km) above sea level.
Upon arrival into Lhasa we are transferred to the centrally located luxurious five-star The St Regis Lhasa Resort for a three-night stay. The sweeping landscapes surrounding this exclusive resort provide a timeless, inviting setting for contemplation as well as exploration. A Welcome Dinner will be served in the hotel this evening.
DAY 21 & 22 – LHASA
Lhasa is the traditional seat of the Dalai Lama and the holiest centre of Tibet with over a thousand years of cultural and spiritual history.
Today we visit Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s tranquil Summer Palace built in the 1740’s. There will also be free time to wander through Lhasa and soak up the atmosphere of this picturesque city or to take an optional drive 30 minutes outside Lhasa to visit a local village and see the life of farmers there.
On our second full day here, we visit the 13th century Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s holiest shrine. Next we explore the adjacent Barkhor market, the oldest market in the capital. A local lunch is accompanied by traditional folk music.
This afternoon we visit the 17th century Potala Palace, former seat of the Tibetan Government and the Dalai Lama’s winter residence. It contains thousands of rooms, dominates the city skyline – it is the greatest monumental structure in Tibet and one of the architectural wonders of the world.
Day 23 – DEPARTURE DAY
Following breakfast in the hotel, you will be transferred to Lhasa airport for your onward flight departure.
- Experienced Tour Managers
- Arrival and Departure Transfers
- Hotel and Onboard Accommodation
- Welcome and Farewell Dinners
- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Daily
- Drinks with Meals and from the Bar Lounge Car
- Dining in local restauarants
- Guided Off-Train Excursions
- Freedom of Choice Touring
- 24 Hour Service Attendant
- On board doctor
- All gratuities