$8,975 per person
15 Days

Magnificent Uzbekistan

Ride the rails along the fabled Silk Road

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Thoughts of Western America often conjure up images of covered wagons carrying adventuring families and would-be entrepreneurs following the promise of gold and land upon which to build a new life. Not long after the settlers came the railways, making the region accessible for many more, which very quickly saw the rise of towns and cities that still draw us today. The railway network also opened up the region’s staggeringly beautiful natural world to visitors, much of which is still protected today by various government bodies and UNESCO.

Some Details

Departure Location
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Return Location
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tour Leader(s)
Darrin Ford
Tour Date
25 Sep 2024 - 9 Oct 2024
Price: $8975 Single Supplement: $1150
Price includes
  • 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 11 dinners
  • 14 nights’ accommodation in the highest quality hotels available, mostly 4 to 5 stars
  • A local tour leader/tour guide in Uzbekistan
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure airport transfers
  • All excursions and entrance fees to attractions, as listed in the itinerary
  • An Australian Railway Adventures tour leader throughout
  • Drinks included with welcome and farewell dinners
  • Private air conditioned vehicle transfers to and from the train
  • The best train journeys possible in modern air conditioned day trains
  • Tipping and gratuities
  • Tour support from the team at the Uzbekistan and Australian offices
Price does not include
  • All other personal expenses, such as drinks, phone calls, laundry services, and camera fees where applicable
  • Excursions listed as optional and extra in the itinerary
  • International flights
  • Meals and services not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Travel Insurance (a condition of travel)
  • Tour Plan
Tour Plan

Day 1 • Wednesday 25 September:


Arrive in Tashkent and check into your hotel.

Airport arrival transfers are included in your tour package. Please contact us for flights to and from Uzbekistan.

Our welcome dinner will be scheduled for 7pm, so when booking your flights, please consider your arrival time to ensure you don’t miss out on this fully-hosted opportunity to meet your fellow travellers over a great meal with drinks included.

Sprawling Tashkent is Central Asia’s hub and the place where everything in Uzbekistan happens. Much of Tashkent was destroyed in the 1966 Tashkent earthquake, but it was rebuilt as a model Soviet city and at the time was the fourth-largest city in the Soviet Union, after Moscow, Leningrad and Kyiv. Today, Tashkent is the main economic and cultural centre of Central Asia as well as being Uzbekistan’s largest city at 4 million people.

Enjoy some free time to freshen up before your Welcome Dinner at your hotel. Our hotel offers a lounge bar and open-air terrace for drinks and a two-storey on-site restaurant serving European and local Uzbek cuisine.

Overnight: Ichan Qal’a Premium Class Hotel, Tashkent (D)

Day 2 • Thursday 26 September:


This morning after breakfast, we’ll set off on a guided tour of Tashkent, during which we’ll visit Independence Square, the Amir Timur Monument, the medieval Kukeldash Madrasa, the Old City, Chorsu Bazaar, the Earthquake Monument and the neoclassical Alisher Navoi Opera House.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll take a ride on the Tashkent Metro and marvel at the ornately decorated stations such as Kosmonavtlar, Alisher Navoi and Pushkin before a tour of the Museum of Railway Equipment where the magnificent collection of 1930s to 1950s Soviet locomotives at the open-air Railway Museum will thrill those interested in the history of rail. The museum opened on August 4, 1989, the 100-year anniversary of the first railways in Central Asia. The museum sponsors exhibits on the development of railway technologies in Uzbekistan in the second half of the 20th century, and hosts 13 steam engines, 18 diesel and 3 electric locomotives that were used across Uzbekistan to pull different types of wagons – many of which are also on display.

Tonight, you’ll  experience Uzbek cuisine at the National Food Restaurant, one of the most notable places to visit for authentic Uzbek food. At the entrance you’ll  see a number of large kazans, so big that it often requires two people to stir whatever it is that’s cooking inside. Next to the kazans are hundreds of small clay pots that are continuously watered to make sure the stews don’t dry out, and further inside you’ll see a large table where dozens of women are cutting noodles and meat. During this culinary experience, you’ll try the ubiquitous Plov (rice, chunks of lamb, onions and carrots), Halim (a wheat, barley, meat, spices, lentil paste-like stew), Dimlama (stew of meat, potatoes, onions, carrots), Dolma (minced meat and rice) and Obi Non bread. Delicious!

Overnight: Ichan Qal’a Premium Class Hotel, Tashkent (B, L, D)

Day 3 • Friday 27 September:


After an early breakfast, we’ll depart Tashkent railway station at 8am and travel on a Soviet era O’zbekiston train to the ancient town of Kokand. Travelling at speeds of up to 120km/h, the O’zbekiston train makes regular journeys between the Fergana Valley and Tashkent, passing through a 19 km tunnel under the scenic Kamchik mountain range along the border with Tajikistan that separates the Fergana Valley from the rest of Uzbekistan. You’ll travel in air conditioned business class compartments with direct access to the bistro carriage where you can purchase refreshments. We’ll arrive in Kokand just after noon, where we’ll check straight into our hotel and enjoy lunch.

After lunch you’ll visit the Palace of the Khan of Kokand, also known as the Pearl of Kokand. Built in 1873, with seven courtyards and 114 rooms, it was the palace of the last ruler of the Kokand Khanate, Khudayar Khan. Constructed by sixteen thousand conscripted or enslaved workers using one thousand carts to transport materials, eighty master builders designed and built the ornate structure of variegated colours and rich ornaments with geometric patterns, arabesques, and floral motifs all made from ceramic tiles and based on tales of the Orient. 

In the mid-afternoon, we’ll travel by private coach to Rishton, the centre of pottery in Uzbekistan for almost 1,200 years. Ceramics production originated here in the 9th-10th centuries, when Rishton became a transit point on the Great Silk Road, and almost every adult male in town was a potter. By the end of the 19th century Rishton was one of the largest centres of production of glazed dishes in Central Asia. While here, we’ll meet up with Rustam Usmanov and his family at their ceramics museum and workshop where you’ll enjoy a private tour of his workshop.

We then return to Kokand and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.

Overnight: Silk Road Kokand Hotel, Kokand (B, L, D)

Day 4 • Saturday 28 September:


This morning you’ll see more of Kokand, touring the impressive Jami Mosque Museum built by Umar Khan in 1812, Dakhma- i-Shokhon, and the tomb of Muhammad Umar Khan with its elegant wooden portal carved with the poetry of Umar’s wife, Nodira. There’ll be time to wander the Kokand market where you can grab some snacks before taking your business class seat on the Soviet era O’zbekiston train, departing at noon from Kokand for the one hour journey to Margilan, enjoying the rural scenery of the Fergana Valley along the way.

After arriving at Margilan train station, we’ll transfer the short distance to our hotel in the nearby town of Fergana, where you’ll enjoy lunch before checking in and having some time to relax.  Founded in 1876, Fergana is one of the youngest cities in Uzbekistan. With a population of just 350,000, this picturesque town is an excellent base to visit the wonderful attractions in the valley.

Later in the day, you’ll visit the Sayid Ahmad Hoja Medressa. Medressa (Madrasa) is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, secular or religious, whether for elementary education or higher learning. The charming Sayid Ahmad Hoja Medressa has now been converted into a crafts centre, with the small cell-like living quarters of the past now housing a suzani embroiderer, metal worker, copper chaser and cloth block print stamper. The main attraction here is the workshop of Rosuljon Mirzoakhmedov, a ninth-generation Ikat master weaver (Ikat is a common weaving technique in Uzbek culture) who was taught the art of Ikat by his father, Turgunboy  – a well respected pioneer in this craft.

Tonight, you’ll enjoy dinner at the lively Tot Samiy Gastropub restaurant.

Overnight: Grand Fergana Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 5 • Sunday 29 September:


This morning we’ll have an early breakfast before travelling the short distance by road to the exceptional Sunday Kumtepa Bazaar in the town of Margilan. This is a fascinating oriental market where you’ll experience the real Central Asia – chaotic, exciting, colourful and full of sights, sounds and smells that will stay etched in your memory. See Uzbek matrons in their full garb selling everything from headscarves to onions and men gossiping over endless pots of tea while grilling kebabs amid clouds of smoke. Rows of handmade khan-atlas fabric and adras silk are both the shopping and the visual highlight. Tour the market and enjoy a cup of tea and a snack with the locals in the many food stalls outside the market.

After your market visit, we’ll travel to the nearby Yodgorlik Silk Workshop to learn about traditional methods of silk production, from steaming and unravelling the cocoons to the tie-dyeing and weaving of the dazzling hand-woven silk khan-atlas fabrics for which Margilan is famous. Margilan was formerly at the crossroads of trade caravans from China to the West and was the centre of silk making and the chief keeper of its secrets. Beautiful silks, manufactured in the town and its surroundings, were exported to Europe and the East along the ancient Great Silk Road routes into Baghdad, Kashgar, Egypt and Greece. Even today, Margilan is considered to be the silk capital of Central Asia.

We’ll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant in Margilan before returning to our hotel. Later in the afternoon you’ll experience the generous and hospitable people of Fergana when we visit a local family home for a traditional dinner.

Overnight: Grand Fergana Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 6 • Monday 30 September:


This morning we’ll enjoy an early breakfast before travelling to the Margilan station for the 7am O’zbekiston train to Tashkent. We’ll travel in comfortable business class through mountainous terrain back to the capital, arriving just after 12pm. The bistro carriage will be available for refreshments during the journey. Upon our arrival, we’ll transfer directly to a nearby local garden restaurant for a relaxing lunch before checking into our hotel. 

This afternoon you’ll step back in time and tour some of the best examples of Brutalist Soviet architecture at Hotel Uzbekistan, the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan, Tashkent Circus and the Exhibition Hall of the Uzbek Union of Artists. After the devastating Tashkent earthquake of 1966, hundreds of Soviet style residential blocks were built in the city to house the 250,000 people made homeless due to the quake. We then return to your hotel where your evening is free.

Overnight: Ichan Qal’a Premium Class Hotel, Tashkent (D, L)

Day 7 • Tuesday 1 October:


This morning you’ll take the Afrosiyob fast train to the fabled city of Samarkand, arriving in the late morning. The Afrosiyob is a modern, high-speed train that connects most major cities around the country and this 320-kilometre journey from Tashkent to Samarkand takes just over two hours to complete by train but five hours by road! Today, you’ll travel in air-conditioned First Class carriages, equipped with USB and power plugs and rivalling the comfort and cleanliness of European trains. After arriving at Samarkand train station, you’ll transfer to your hotel where you can check in and enjoy lunch.

The mythical town of Samarkand, at the junction of ancient trade routes from China to India, is perhaps the most evocative and exotic location on all of the Silk Road. A centre of commercial importance from ancient times, the arrival of Russian railways in 1888 saw Samarkand become an important centre for the export of silk, wine, dried and fresh fruits, cotton, rice and leather. Larger-than-life monuments of Tamerlane, the first ruler of the Timurid Empire comprising modern-day Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia abound and the city’s long, rich history still works some kind of magic on visitors.

We’ll spend the afternoon visiting the sights of Samarkand, starting with the centrepiece of Samarkand’s central square, Registan, an ensemble of majestic, tilting medressa’s of azure mosaics and vast, well-proportioned spaces. We’ll then continue to the Ulugbek Medressa, Sher Dor Medressa and the gold covered Tilla-Kari Medressa, located near the Registan. Dusk is a perfect time to see this magical place, so we’ll make the most of it by having dinner at a traditional restaurant close to the Registan..

Overnight: Bibikhanum Boutique Hotel, Samarkand (B, L, D)

Day 8 • Wednesday 2 October:


After breakfast, we’ll continue our exploration of Samarkand with a visit to the colourful Siob Bazaar, the beautiful portal and trademark fluted azure dome of the mausoleum of Tamerlane at Gur-e-Amir, and the Bibi-Khanum Mosque – financed from the spoils of Timur’s invasion of India and named after his favourite Mongolian wife. After your tour you will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon you’ll jump on a local tram to explore different parts of the city. The tram route in Samarkand is the only one remaining in Uzbekistan after the Tashkent tram network stopped in 2016.

Since 2017, trams have been running on Russian standard gauge to various parts of Samarkand. French engineering company Alstom has announced that they will start the construction of a new tram network in Tashkent in mid-2024 costing 180 million Euros. After riding on the local trams, you’ll visit the stunning avenue of mosques, mausoleums and necropolis’ of tombs at Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand’s most moving and beloved site, and then on to Ulugbek’s 15th-century medieval observatory where Ulug-Beg, the great medieval astronomer, built his gigantic sextant, enabling him to calculate the length of a year to within just 10 seconds. From here, you’ll visit the Afrosiab Museum and the Hazrat-Hizr Mosque.

The late afternoon and evening are free for you to relax in the old town and dine at a restaurant of your choice.

Overnight: Bibikhanum Boutique Hotel, Samarkand (B, L)

Day 9 • Thursday 3 October:


This morning, you’ll travel by road over the mountains to Shahrisabz, a small, traditional Uzbek town. This is Timur’s hometown, and once upon a time it probably put Samarkand itself in the shade. The historic centre of Shahrisabz contains a collection of exceptional monuments and ancient quarters which bear witness to the city’s secular development, and particularly to the period of its apogee, under the rule of Amir Timur and the Timurids, in the 15th-16th century.

After stopping for some lunch, you’ll tour the historical UNESCO World Heritage Listed Shahrisabz to learn about the significant monuments of the Timurids epoch: the grand ruins of the Ak-Saray Palace once Timur’s summer palace, Dorut Tilyovat and Dorus Siyadat mausoleums where Timur’s father and spiritual mentor are buried, Kok Gumbaz Mosque, the Crypt of Timur and the Statue of Amir Timur himself. It’s all about Timur today!

Return to Samarkand by road in the mid-afternoon where the rest of your afternoon and evening is free.

Overnight: Bibikhanum Boutique Hotel, Samarkand (B, L)

Day 10 • Friday 4 October:


This morning you’ll take your First Class seats on the Afrosiyob fast train from Samarkand to Bukhara. The driving time between these cities is 270 kms and takes 4.5 hours but this train will have you there in 1.5 hours! The Afrosiyob is the fastest train in Uzbekistan, with a speed of up to 210km/h. It runs daily between the major Uzbek cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Karshi. All carriages are air conditioned, non-smoking, with comfortable seats, tables, and many other facilities.

Bukhara, Central Asia’s holiest city, boasts  buildings spanning a thousand years of history, and a thoroughly lived-in and cohesive old centre that hasn’t changed too much in two centuries. It is one of the best places in Central Asia for a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan. Upon arrival in Bukhara in the late morning, you’ll tour the adjacent Kagan Palace, Bukhara’s original train station. Later, we’ll check into our hotel and have lunch together.

After lunch, you’ll embark on a tour of the city visiting Poi Kalon Mosque, which contains the Kalon Minaret (once the tallest building in Central Asia), the Kalon Mosque, and the magnificent Mir-i Arab Madrassa, one of Uzbekistan’s most striking buildings. You will also visit Ulugbek Medressa – Central Asia’s oldest medressa, and Maghoki-Attar, Central Asia’s oldest surviving mosque. Finish your day at Lyab-i Hauz, an architectural complex built around a pool shaded by mulberry trees and the most peaceful and interesting spots in town. Enjoy free time to relax by the pool with a cold drink and enjoy dinner in a traditional restaurant, where we’ll immerse ourselves in a local dance performance, complete with colourful national costumes and music.

Overnight: Boutique Hotel Minzifa, Bukhara (B, L, D)

Day 11 • Saturday 5 October:


This morning after breakfast you’ll continue exploring Bukhara by visiting the photogenic little Chor-Minor medressa, Sitorai Mohi Hosa summer palace, Fayzulla Khojaev House and the Jewish Synagogue. Later, visit the spectacular Ark of Bukhara, a massive citadel which was used as a fortress from the 5th century until its fall to the Russians in 1920, the nearby Zindon (jail), a morbidly fascinating attraction which includes a torture chamber and shackles used on prisoners, and then  Bolo-Hauz Mosque and the Ismail Samani Mausoleum. We’ll end our morning exploration with lunch at a local restaurant. 

The rest of the afternoon and evening is free to relax in the old town or for you to explore Bukhara further at your own pace. You can enjoy some shopping (Bukhari carpets, anyone?) at the Bukhara Artisan Development Center on Naqshband Street, or plunge into the Toki-Sarrafon and Tok-i-Telpak Furushon bazaars. You can also visit Hunarmand UNDP assisted workshops near Lyabi-Hauz to see miniature painting, block printing, metal chasing and gold embroidery or explore the bazaars and soak up the atmosphere of this ancient city.

Overnight: Boutique Hotel Minzifa, Bukhara (B, L)

Day 12 • Sunday 6 October:


After breakfast and checking out of our hotel, we embark on a 7-hour journey to Khiva, one of Central Asia’s hidden gems. We’ll stop for lunch along the way and arrive in Khiva at around 5pm, transferring directly to our hotel, a traditional hotel in the old walled town, after which we’ll enjoy dinner in one of Khiva’s traditional restaurants.

Khiva’s name, redolent of caravans of enslaved people, barbaric cruelty, terrible desert journeys and steppes infested with raiding Turkmen tribesmen, struck fear into all but the boldest 19th-century hearts. The historic heart of Khiva is so well preserved it’s known as the ‘museum city’ and was the first site in Uzbekistan to achieve recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 1990.

When you walk through the city gates and wander the fabled Ichon-Qala or the inner walled city in all its monotone, mud-walled glory and it’s hard not to feel like you are stepping into another era. All of Khiva’s sights are within the old walled town, so exploring it will be a delight.

Overnight: Orient Star Khiva, Khiva (B, L, D)

Day 13 • Monday 7 October:


This morning after breakfast, you’ll tour the Kukhna Ark Fortress, the Khiva rulers’ own fortress and residence, the turquoise-tiled 57-metre-high Islom Khodja minaret, the Kalta Minor Minaret and the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum with its sublime courtyard – all located within the walled town.

We’ll stop for some lunch and then continue our tour, visiting Tosh-Hovli ‘Stone House’ Palace, the Mohammed Amin Madrassah, the Seid Alauddin Mausoleum, one of the oldest buildings in Khiva, and the atmospheric Juma (Friday) Mosque. Your tour will finish mid-afternoon leaving you free to spend the rest of the day and evening wandering this fascinating town.

Overnight: Orient Star Khiva, Khiva (B, L)

Day 14 • Tuesday 8 October:


This morning, you’ll embark on a unique mode of transport, Soviet-era trolleybuses, to reach Urgench, your next destination on our way back to Tashkent. The Urgench trolleybus system links Khiva to the city of Urgench, and since the closure of the Tashkent trolleybus system in 2010, it has been Uzbekistan’s only operating trolleybus. You’ll travel 33 kms over one hour on what is the second longest trolleybus connection in the world.

Upon arrival in Urgench, we’ll take some time for lunch before transferring to the airport for your one-hour mid-afternoon flight to Tashkent. We will arrive at around 5pm and transfer directly to our hotel, check in and freshen up before our farewell dinner.

Overnight: Ichan Qal’a Premium Class Hotel, Tashkent (B, L, D)

Day 15 • Wednesday 9 October:


This morning after breakfast it’s time to say farewell to your tour leader and fellow travellers and check out of your hotel for your departure. Unless, of course, you’re making more of your adventure by extending into other regions of fascination and renown on the famed Silk Road. (B)

Airport departure transfers are included in your tour package. Please contact us for flights to and from Tashkent and for pre and post accommodation if needed.

Thoughts of Western America often conjure up images of covered wagons carrying adventuring families and would-be entrepreneurs following the promise of gold and land upon which to build a new life. Not long after the settlers came the railways, making the region accessible for many more, which very quickly saw the rise of towns and cities that still draw us today. The railway network also opened up the region’s staggeringly beautiful natural world to visitors, much of which is still protected today by various government bodies and UNESCO.

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    Magnificent Uzbekistan

    $8,975 per person
    15 Days

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