SILK ROAD (EASTBOUND)
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 – BEIJING
DAY 1 MOSCOW
We enjoy a welcome dinner at our hotel, whilst you meet your fellow travellers and, together, look forward to the 21 day voyage that lies ahead.
Why not extend your stay in Moscow with additional nights to explore more of the city at your leisure or have time to take in a performance at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theatre? Tickets need to be pre-booked and are subject to schedule and availability.
DAY 2 MOSCOW
With our Freedom of Choice touring option you may instead wish to travel out of the city centre to Sergiev Posad, home to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Russia and the historical and spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church or visit the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art).
DAY 3 ONBOARD
On the morning of Day 3, we board the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.
Upon arrival at Moscow Kazansky Station, you will be greeted in the magnificent Imperial Waiting Room with a cold glass of Russian Champagne and canapes as you mix with the other guests and are welcomed by the train staff. The excitement in the waiting room audibly mounts and, 30 minutes before departure, yuor car attendants will escort you to Platform 1 where a military brass band is playing and the Golden Eagle awaits.
Our Golden Eagle train, on selected departures, will be hauled by a Russian steam locomotive for the first section of the journey. With the opportunity to photograph the locomotive in Moscow Kazansky Station it makes for an unforgettable way to start your journey onboard Russia’s premier train, theGolden Eagle.
After settling into our modern, stylish cabins we enjoy dinner in one of the beautifully designed restaurant cars as our rail journey to Beijing begins.
DAY 4 VOLGOGRAD
DAY 5 KARA KUM
DAY 6 KHIVA
From Urgench we travel to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago. As one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia.
A truly magnificent sight to behold, it rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of impressive architecture. Stepping back in time, we discover its impressive mosques, madrassas, bazaars and minarets within Khiva’s ancient walls.
DAY 7 ASHGABAT
Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan is known as the ‘Las Vegas of the Kara Kum’. Situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, Ashgabat is a relatively modern city built upon the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala and the Soviet city built after the devastating earthquake of 1948.
The city’s extravagant fountains, golden domes and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this desert setting. Highlights on our visit include a visit to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque.
DAY 8 MERV
1794 saw the demise of Merv, after the Emir of Bukhara destroyed the dam which the population depended on for its water.
DAY 9 BUKHARA
Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. Like Khiva, UNESCO sponsored the renovation of much of the city for its 2,500th anniversary in 1999. The highlight of this wonderful tour is a visit to 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
Just the mention of Samarkand instantly conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road, more so than any other town. 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, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories built in 1428. Before dinner we will return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.
DAY 11 TASHKENT
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and we spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. 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
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
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. A waitlist will be in operation for upgrades based on ‘date of booking’ order. Ask the Reservations Department for details.
We are now at liberty to settle into our comfortable cabins as we begin our journey across China. A welcome dinner is served in the Restaurant Cars, giving us our first taste of authentic Chinese cuisine.
DAY 14 TURPAN
DAY 15 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. Inside we will see an amazing collection of beautiful sculptures and murals depicting the evolution of Buddhist religious art over this 1,000 year period.
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.
DAY 16 DUNHUANG
DAY 17 XIAN
Our fascinating journey of discovery takes us to Xian. We will have several hours to 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.
Alternatively, as part of our Freedom of Choice programme we will offer a visit to the Han Yangling Museum. This tomb, dating back 2,000 years with its adjoining museum, is one of China’s best kept secrets.
Tonight we stay overnight at the centrally located Sofitel Xian and enjoy the Tang Dynasty Dinner, Music and Dance Show, a wonderful performance of ancient entertainment.
DAY 18 XIAN & BEIJING
*Please note this is from 2017 onwards.
Arriving in Beijing later this afternoon, we will check in to our home for the next 3 nights, the five-star Regent Beijing hotel, located in the historical centre of the city. This luxurious Beijing hotel is minutes from the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing shopping, the Oriental Plaza and picturesque hutongs.
DAY 19 BEIJING
In our extensive touring programme of the Imperial City, we visit Tiananmen Square and explore the magnificently restored Forbidden City which was built in the early 14th century and was home to the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Our cultural exploration continues at the Temple of Heaven, built during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifices to the heavens, which is the grandest of the four great temples situated in Beijing. Here we experience enchanting displays of traditional dancing, singing and the delicately precise ancient art of calligraphy. We’ll also explore the small ‘hutong’ lanes of old Beijing by rickshaw and visit a local family in a traditional courtyard house.
Alternatively, with our Freedom of Choice touring programme we provide a number of options including a tour to Cuandixia ancient village, nestled in the mountains 90kms (56 miles) west of Beijing. Cuandixia is known for its architecture and the natural beauty of the area. It is home to more than 500 well preserved courtyard houses dating to the Ming and Qing dynasties. We also offer the fantastic opportunity to visit a Hutong Chinese Cooking School where you can learn the art of cooking authentic Chinese cuisine in a traditional courtyard home.
DAY 20 BEIJING
We have the privilege of walking along a portion of the wall – the perfect opportunity to take some memorable photographs with your fellow guests.
We host our exclusive farewell dinner in an authentic Peking Duck restaurant. The banquet will be complemented by specially selected international wines, as with all our meals, as well as a glass of local rice wine also known as ‘firewater’ as befitting this special occasion.
DAY 21 BEIJING
Following breakfast in the hotel, you will be transferred to Beijing 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
- Guided Off-Train Excursions
- Freedom of Choice Touring
- 24 Hour Service Attendant
- All gratuities
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