The Silk Road

The Silk Road

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The Silk Road

11 Days Starting and ending in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Visiting: Tashkent, Urgench, Ayaz Kala, Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand

Tour operator:

Riviera Travel

Tour code:

UZ

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

0 - 50

Age range:

9-99

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians

Tour operated in:
English

This tour is no longer available

Tour Overview

The fabled Silk Road from China to Europe was, in reality, always a number of differing and competing routes, but the most successful of them passed through present-day Uzbekistan. In particular, the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. The region was well known in ancient times as the land of the Scythians, conquered back in 329BC by Alexander the Great. 

Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes passed through in the 12th-century, followed by Tamerlane, known locally as Amir Timur, a century or so later. Timur initiated a vast building programme and 'invited' the greatest artisans in his empire to help create the extraordinary monuments you will explore on our tour. In the nineteenth century, the British in India vied with Imperial Russia to control the area in the so-called 'Great Game'. After some unsuccessful diplomatic manoeuvres and military defeats in neighbouring Afghanistan, the British lost out to the Russians who finally gained full control after the 1917 revolution. Uzbekistan remained part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in the 1990s. For modern, independent Uzbekistan, Timur has now become the national hero and his colossal statue has supplanted Karl Marx in the main square of the city. The many years within the USSR nevertheless created good infrastructure and a secular society, proud of its ancient past. 

As well as its rich history and culture, Uzbekistan has much to offer to those who appreciate art and architecture too. Striking ceramic tiles can be found scattered around the cities, with many of the ornate mosaics decorating the incredible monuments. The region is also famed for its intricate wood carving, found not only on the buildings but also in the local handicrafts of the area. The bustling bazaars are a hive for impressive hand-made ornaments, an abundance of authentic street food and ingredients and a variety of carpets, particularly well-known for their colourful, hand embroidered textiles. Look out for the famous chugirmas too, distinctive, furry handmade hats, made historically from sheepskin.

Highlights

  • Happy by day two or we'll bring you home with a full refund

  • Stay in three of Central Asia’s most extraordinary cities; Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand

  • See the places where the ‘Great Game’ was played out between Britain and Russia in the 19th-century

  • Discover how first the Russian Tzars and then the Soviet state influenced and changed this strategic region

  • Guided visits through bustling local markets and fascinating bazaars full of colourful handicrafts, including Chorsu bazaar, the largest in the country

  • Travel through vast plains and deserts and cross the fabled River Oxus

  • Discover the old summer palace of the last Emir of Bukhara, which was built in the early 20th-century

  • Visit ancient mosques, covered markets and forbidding fortresses, see soaring minarets and vaulted caravanserais

  • Marvel at the outstanding intricacy and vibrant colours in almost every shade of blue of the tiles adorning ancient mosques

  • Visit the little village of Gijduvan, famed for its master potters, to meet a family who have perfected their craft over seven generations

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Itinerary

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Day 1 : Departure

Location: Tashkent

You should arrive at the airport for your overnight direct flight to Uzbekistan.

Day 2 : Arrival In Tashkent

Location: Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 4* superior Lotte City Palace

Meals Included: Breakfast

After our morning arrival to Tashkent, we drop our luggage at our hotel, the excellent four-star superior Lotte City Palace, and have a spot of breakfast. We continue with our first taste of Uzbekistan with a stop at the Amir Temur Square, overlooked by one of the most iconic buildings of the Soviet era, the Uzbekistan Hotel. Tashkent was hit by a devastating earthquake in the 1960s, so most of the city was rebuilt with more ‘modern’ blocks of apartments and wide, tree-lined avenues, and there’s only a small area left of the old city, which we visit.



In the afternoon we’ll have a guided walk through the Chorsu bazaar, the largest in the country – a perfect introduction to the foods, smells and exotic produce of Uzbekistan.



Signature Expereince:



Scratch Tashkent’s surface and discover the hidden secrets below ground; the oldest underground system in Central Asia, you’ll be taken on a fascinating journey with a local expert to discover some of its most magnificent architectural treasures. You’ll be wowed by a creative blend of iconic 1960’s styles imaginatively blended with beautiful mosaics, stunning ceramic murals, vaulted Mosque-like high ceilings and shimmering panels as you travel between the most exceptional stations.

Day 3 : Fly To Urgench & Ayaz Qala Desert Fortress

Location: Urgench, Ayaz Kala

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Malika hotels

Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast we catch the short flight to the city of Urgench in the far west of the country. On arrival we drive out to the vast plains of the Khorezm desert. This will give us a glimpse into the seemingly never-ending distances and inhospitable country that Silk Road caravans had to cross. The Ayaz Qala is just one of a series of castles that were built to protect these trade routes until they were destroyed by the Mongol invasions of the 12th-century.



We stay two nights in the centrally-located three-star Asia or Malika hotels, with breakfast.



Signature Expereince:



Immerse yourself in two millennia of history as you stroll amongst the atmospheric ruins, palaces, mausoleums and madrasas of Khiva’s ancient walled town, Itchan Kala. An oasis where once caravans rested on their desert trail to Iran, soak up the ambience as you imagine what a vibrant and exciting place this once was; admire its incredible Djuma Mosque and mighty walls, some towering ten metres above!

Day 4 : Khiva & Free Afternoon

Location: Khiva

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 3* Hotel Asia

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning we explore the amazing living museum that is the UNESCO World Heritage city of Khiva. Fully enclosed by its spectacularly buttressed mud-brick walls, this is the best-preserved of the country’s Silk Road cities, and as soon as you pass through its fortified gates, you’ll really start to understand what it must have been like in its heyday. Surprisingly compact, all the incredible sights are conveniently close together and, since no cars are allowed, it’s the perfect place to walk around. Amongst many of the highlights visited, we’ll see the Khan’s palace, the Tosh-Hovli Palace, and harem, the great, beautifully tiled Kalta minaret, which would have been the highest in the country, had it been completed. Close by is the current holder of that title, the Islam Hodja minaret, which is an incredible 56m tall. Khiva was also infamous for its slave market – many slaves were from Persia but surprisingly from Russia as well. Astoundingly, the trade was only officially abolished after the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks finally gained full control over the region. 



This afternoon is free to explore at your leisure. Perhaps take a walk around the historic city walls of the old town, Ichon Qala, which date back to the 18th-century. Some of the impressively high mud stone walls, with over a mile of preserved wall nearby the North Gate, where you can take in some memorable views. For a small entry fee, you can access the viewing platform, best visited in the evening for unbelievable sunsets.

Day 5 : Drive To Bukhara

Location: Bukhara

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 3* Superior Hotel Shahriston or 3* superior Omar Khayam

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we have a long drive to the city of Bukhara, a spiritual city with ancient architecture and a grand royal fortress. On the way we’ll cross the fabled River Oxus, which was also crossed by Alexander the Great and his army over 2,000 years ago. On arrival in Bukhara we’ll check into our hotel for three nights with breakfast, the three-star superior Shakristan or Omar Khayam in the old city. One of the first places we’ll see is the Lyab-i Khauz complex, with some of the finest 16th-century buildings in the city constructed around a water reservoir. It’s now surrounded by popular open-air tea houses. 

Day 6 : Bukhara

Location: Bukhara

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 3* Superior Hotel Shahriston or 3* superior Omar Khayam

Meals Included: Breakfast

Larger in scale than Khiva, Bukhara was a richer city and it still shows, with hundreds of fascinating monuments. We’ll have two full days to explore it in depth, with plenty of free time on your own as well. Bukhara was also one of the cities involved in the ‘Great Game’ and is the place where two unfortunate British officers, Stoddart and Connelly, were imprisoned and ultimately executed by the local Emir. We’ll visit the Arc fortress, the Emir’s palace, set high above the city walls, as well as the prison where the officers were held. The most prominent landmark in the city is the Kalyan minaret, with its intricate decorative brickwork, rising 47 metres into the sky, it would have been the tallest building in Central Asia when it was completed in the 12th-century.



Signature Expereince:

Before tonight’s dinner we will be treated to a vibrant performance honouring Uzbek tradition. Enjoy traditional songs and dancing, and a rainbow of colourful costumes showcasing Uzbekistan’s musical and artistic heritage.

Day 7 : Bukhara

Location: Bukhara

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 3* Superior Hotel Shahriston or 3* superior Omar Khayam

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we’ll visit the old summer palace of the last Emir, just outside town, which was built in the early 20th-century. It’s an intriguing mix of Russian imperial design and local craftsmanship, and now houses many fascinating artefacts from that time. The Emir’s harem was said to have contained 400 wives and concubines and he even had his own personal zoo, with a pet elephant! This afternoon, you’ll have time to browse in the many local dome-roofed bazaars. Look out for the market bakers making traditional bread from scratch, traditionally eaten warm and fresh with kaymak, more familiar to us as clotted cream.

Day 8 : Drive To Samarkand

Location: Samarkand

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 3* superior Dilimah Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

We say goodbye to Bhukara and set off on the road to the greatest of all the central Asian cities, Samarkand. On the way there, we’ll stop by the little village of Gijduvan, famed for its master potters. We’ll visit a family who have perfected their craft over seven generations, still producing superb pieces on traditional foot-powered potters’ wheels and mud-brick kilns. We stay two nights in Samarkand, at the charming three-star superior Grand Samarkand or Dilimah hotels, with breakfast.

Day 9 : Samarkand

Location: Samarkand

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 3* superior Dilimah Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast

Samarkand’s extraordinary Registan Square is the crowning jewel of Islamic architecture in Central Asia. Just the sheer scale of the place is staggering! As the capital of Tamerlane’s empire, it benefitted from a huge building programme, supported by the very best artisans from his numerous conquests. You won’t miss the 14th-century mausoleums of Samarkand either, which are said to have inspired the Taj Mahal. The Gur-e-Amir in particular is a sight to behold, with its striking turquoise dome and beautiful floral-patterned tiles. Fittingly, Tamerlane himself was interred here, and we will visit his mausoleum which is still impressive after all these years.

Day 10 : Tashkent

Location: Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: 4* superior Lotte City Palace

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we head slightly out of town to visit the small community of Koni Ghil where the ancient craft of producing paper from mulberry tree bark has been revived. We’ll also stop at the Afrosiyob museum which contains a remarkable series ancient frescoes discovered nearby. In the afternoon we transfer to the railway station to catch the fast train back to Tashkent and our final night back at the Lotte City Palace Hotel, with breakfast.

Day 11 : Arrive Home

Location: Tashkent

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today after breakfast we depart for home, arriving later the same day.

What's Included

  • Accommodation

    Nine nights in three and four-star accommodation

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • Fully Guided

    The services of our experienced and insightful tour manager throughout

  • International Travel

    Return direct flights

  • Meals

    Daily breakfast, Daily breakfast

  • Overseas transfers

  • Local accommodation taxes

  • Touring and coach travel as mentioned in the itinerary

What's Not Included

  • Insurance

  • Tipping and Gratuity

Check out our Q&As

  • What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

    As detailed in the itinerary

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    Return direct flights

  • Are all the relevant entry visa’s included in the price of the tour?

    No

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    We are unable to accommodate children under 9 years old at the date of departure..

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    Yes

  • Is the tour coach air conditioned?

    Yes

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in the itinerary

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Yes

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    For almost 40 years

  • I have reduced mobility; can I still travel?

    We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to contact us to discuss these concerns

  • Do I require travel insurance?

    It is a condition of booking that you carry suitable travel insurance.

  • What is my luggage allowance?

    You will receive details of your luggage allowance with your final travel documents, which are sent approximately 10 days prior to your date of departure.

Reviews of this operator

David Clarke (Google Reviewer)  

This review is for the...

08-Aug-2023

This review is for the italian Lake Como trip Aug 1-8 Wow what a trip. Riviera from start to finish were excellent the booking and help line answering questions were very good and clear. The travel booklet you get is laid out that it is simple to read and follow with step by step info from booking in to flights to meeting the guides. Our guide Matt Purse was just the best guide and real credit to Riviera with his knowledge and straight forward approach to running the trips. Matt kept us informed and told us all the sort of info you want to know without going over the top....This chap should teach other reps ..thank you so much. The coaches they use are all clean and well equipped with usb chargers and have aircon. The places chosen to visit were well researched even down to where coaches park or drop you off. The Bernina Express was the highlight for our family and matts photo tip was welcomed. The only down point was the hotel,a little dated and evening meal in main restuarant was a bit of a let down. I think we were lucky with our room on level 7 and with balcony as the walls are very thin and noise travels. We would book again with riviera

Barbara Shillaker (Google Reviewer)  

I have been on three...

11-Jan-2024

I have been on three trips with Riviera Travel so far, with two more booked during 2024. Highly recommended. Excellent tour guides. Great program of visits. Great hotels used.

Mrs Bodnarec (Google Reviewer)  

Thankyou Riviera and all the...

28-Apr-2024

Thankyou Riviera and all the staff on the William Wordsworth Danube River cruise. My husband and i have just travelled on the Danube to celebrate my husbands 60th and we had such a lovely experience. We were younger than most of the travellers but we met so many lovely people so this wasnt a problem. The staff were so lovely and professional. The service we experienced was so high. The boat was beautiful, the food amazing and the excursions were informative and well managed. I would definately recommend riviera as a company. In fact we are now considering their Japan holiday.

Valerie Pascoe  

We would go again in a heartbeat

22-Jan-2022

Oh my goodness, what a relief it was to actually get away! Full marks to all at Riviera for keeping us up to date before our trip and for the help so cheerfully and patiently given with the extra admin that Covid brought our way. We felt totally safe with the measures taken on board, thank you very much for this. Without exception, Staff were fantastic and our every need was attended to. The additional Covid testing ran smoothly, organised by our Riviera Reps. The guided tours were most interesting: the guides very knowledgeable and more importantly, interesting to listen to. We loved this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you again Riviera, you were FAB!

Chris Wilson (Google Reviewer)  

Second escorted tour with this...

25-Jul-2022

Second escorted tour with this company. Did 5 days in Iceland tour. Everything went smoothly, excellent tour guide, Per. Extremely knowledgeable and interesting guy. Very friendly too. Highly recommend. Just let down by the room given at the hotel, but I guess the travel company doesn't have control over this.

Kathryn Jurin, GB  

Riviera South Africa tour - awesome

21-May-2021

Riviera have amazing holidays and tours to choose from. The one we chose was South Africa and wow! It turned out to be our best trip ever - incredible memories we will never forget. We’ve been all over the world which was because of all our experiences, this one was awesome. The organisation of the holiday, the guide and the travel was e cells that. The choice of hotels, meals, restaurants, trips was absolutely fantastic - very good quality and character - nothing bland or boring! The Riviera guide was permanently with us along with a South Africa guide and they were both extremely friendly, professional, informative and you could ask any questions you want! I would massively recommend this holiday/trip and when you’ve experienced it, you realise how reasonable the price is. We reflect on this trip a lot and thank you Riviera for giving us such a wonderful experience.

Trustpilot
Barry, GB  

Rhine Christmas markets cruise

09-Dec-2019

Just completed a 5 day trip on the Rhine. Our first river cruise and a tester for future cruises. The boat was well appointed and the cabin and public areas were spotlessly clean. The staff were attentive and contributed to the very relaxed atmosphere on the boat. The quality of the food surpassed that which we have experiened on sea cruises in recent years. I have written little because it was a faultless experience. We have booked a further cruise (in France) on the basis of our experience.

Trustpilot
Christine Hardy (Google Reviewer)  

Although most people seem to...

10-Mar-2024

Although most people seem to book and pay for their holidays online, because we live close by we prefer to make a personal visit. In my opinion if they are offering this as an option they should be better equipped to accommodate visits in person. We have not been on our river cruise yet, so can't comment on that yet.

Rob Steele (Google Reviewer)  

My 3rd Riviera trip within...

16-Feb-2024

My 3rd Riviera trip within a year and I wasn't disappointed 😁 This time it was https://www.rivieratravel.co.uk/escorted-tours/southern-india-coastal-route-solo-travellers This trip, although not cheap, it really offers exceptional value for money as you see a lot of Tamil Nadu and Kerela, stay in fantastic hotels, excellent breakfasts every day as well as some lunches and dinners also included. George Bareham, our "Tour Manager" was brilliant, very professional, but also friendly and diligent. Satheeshan, our local guide was helpful and picked me up antibiotics when I got ill, he was a nice chap, if (for my taste) went on a bit and used 20 words when 1 would suffice. Mr Sweeny, our coach driver was fantastic,really professional and an exceptionally good driver. His assistant, Murgon wad a delight, always smiling and attentive. This is a full on trip, early morning starts and quite a packed itinerary, but still leaving time to laze around some brilliant hotel swimming pools. Only a couple of suggestions to improve the holiday. More shopping time in Cochin and change carriers from Etihad who, unfortunately aren't the excellent airline they used to be. But, will I use Riviera Travel again - Yes 😁

Barbara Parkes (Google Reviewer)  

Presently in Croatia staying at...

22-Sep-2023

Presently in Croatia staying at Arauana Hotel, supposedly a 4 star property, but wouldn't give it any star rating. Rooms are small and dirty. Wallpaper blistering. Meals served in a shed like lean-to. Food like warm, greasy and always self service. Second holiday with Riviera this year and neither at standard advertised. Have travelled with them previously and everything was fine, but standards have really dropped. Have booked a holiday with them next year and now dreading it. Certainly don't provide the standard advertised. We have never stayed in such a hovel and have visited youngsters in back packers accommodation which was far better than this supposedly 4 star accommodation. There are no indoor bars or lounges only a shed as a so called restaurant. Absolutely disgusting. Won't be boking with them again

Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Riviera Travel requires a minimum deposit of 500 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 75 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of riviera travel charges.

    Up to 75 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 74 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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