Beijing to Ashgabat

Trip Map


Trip Validity

  • 2012-01-01 - 2013-12-31

Explore Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan as you travel from Beijing to Istanbul.

Get ready for a massive overland adventure from the bustling streets of Beijing to the futuristic city of Ashgabat. Travel through some of the planet's most remote, wild and unique wildernesses along the legendary Silk Road into Turkey. Pass through the mountain-scapes of Kyrgyzstan, pitch a tent beneath the stars in the Karakum Desert, and arrive at secluded sections of the snaking Great Wall. From China to Turkmenistan and beyond, this adventure will introduce you to the friendly and hospitable locals who call these rugged lands home. If you're longing for an epic overland odyssey, away from the tourist crowds and through some of the world's last wild terrains, then this journey is just for you.

  • Admire the Buddhist art at the Mogao Caves
  • Climb deserted sections of the Great Wall of China
  • Climb deserted sections of the Great Wall of China
  • Cross the infamous Torugart Pass from Kyrgyzstan to China
  • Discover the romance of the Silk Road in Samarkand
  • See the Army of Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an
  • Walk the ancient walls of Khiva
  • Wander through Beijing’s’ Forbidden City

Beijing to Ashgabat Summary

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Days 1-2 Beijing

Beijing has a long and colourful history and this rapidly modernising city is an amazing whirl of ancient sites, modern buildings, bicycles, people, shops and eateries.

Days 3-4 Chengde

Sitting pretty in the mountains, Chengde is a breath of fresh air, especially the enchanting Mountain Resort which is a former royal summer residence.

Day 5 Jinshanling

Jinshanling is a mountainous area with an attractive section of the Great Wall, which zigzags up the steep terrain and straddles peaks like a suspension bridge.

Days 6-7 Datong

Bordering Inner Mongolia, Datong is a coal rich city that founded in 200BC and is the gateway to the incredible Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery.

Days 8-9 Wutai Shan

Wutai Shan is also called 'Five Plateau Mountain', and is home to the Bodhisattva of wisdom and harbours some of China's most sacred monasteries and temples.

Days 10-11 Pingyao

Walking through the beautifully preserved streets of Pingyao is like stepping back into Imperial China with red lanterns lighting streets, imposing city walls and traditional buildings at every turn.

Day 12 Lijiashan

With cave dwellings adorning the hills around Lijiashan, this fascinating town is a definite highlight of any trip to China.

Days 13-14 Yan'an

Yan'an was where Mao's Long March ended in 1935, and was the Communist Party's base until 1948 - it's also filled with cultural sites and nature to enjoy.

Days 15-18 Xi'an

As the start of the ancient trading route the Silk Road and an imperial centre for 2,000 years, Xi'an has a fascinating history and rich cultural sites to discover.

Day 19 Pingliang/Mount Kongtong

Pingliang is a city in China's Gansu Province that is overlooked by the beautiful and sacred Kongtong Mountains.

Day 20 Gansu Corridor, Lanzhou

With the Yellow River running through the city, Lanzhou has a number of interesting mosques, temples, parks and museums to visit.

Days 21-22 Xiahe

The colours of Tibet can be seen on the streets of Xiahe, a celebrated town for Tibetans due to the Labrang Monastery and its stunning surrounding landscapes.

Day 23 Liujiaxia

Liujiaxia lies along the Yellow River and is known for its hydroelectric power station and close proximity to the intriguing Bingling Si Caves.

Day 24 Bingling Si/Zhangye Bush Camp

Formerly known as Ganzhou, Zhangye was an important stop along the Silk Road and is close to the intriguing multi-coloured Danxia landforms.

Day 25 Jiayuguan/Great Wall

Home to a 14th-century fort and a well-preserved part of the Great Wall, Jiayuguan is a legendary part of the Silk Road marking the line between China and barbarity.

Days 26-27 Dunhuang

Once an important stop on the Silk Road and a city of incredible historical and cultural riches, Dunhuang is a spectacular desert oasis.

Day 28 Bush Camp

Continue the overland adventure towards the ancient oasis town of Turpan. Spend the night wild camping beneath the desert stars.

Days 29-30 Turpan

Once an important staging post on the Silk Road, Turpan is an attractive town famous for its vineyards, stone fruits, melons and the nearby Flaming Mountains.

Days 31-32 Urumqi & The Heavenly Lake

With the bluest of blue waters, tiered mountains of green and white, and soft, billowy clouds moving across the sky, no wonder this is called Heavenly Lake.

Days 33-34 Bush Camp

The Taklamakan Desert covers an immense area of northwest China and while a treacherous part of the Silk Road journey, stunning sunsets and sunrises have long enthralled travellers.

Days 35-37 Kashgar

Traditionally an important trading city along the Silk Road, Kashgar is still at the crossroads of trade due to its location in the heart of Central Asia.

Day 38 Karakol

Set off early to get to stunning Lake Karakol. Spend the day wallowing in the surrounds of this magnificent setting.

Day 39 Kashgar

Hike the lakeside mountains or ride the perimeter of the lake on horseback to wear yourself out before the drive back to Kashgar. Take time out in comfort this evening to relax and recuperate.

Day 40 Bush Camp

Take a good book as today's lengthy border crossing meanders through the Torugart pass and into Kyrgyzstan.

Day 41 Kochkor

Spend some time getting to know the locals of Kochkor with a traditional Kyrgyz homestay and experience a glimpse of daily life.

Days 42-43 Bishkek

Driving into the capital city, explore the crowded bazaars and vast bustling squares of this modern city.

Days 44-45 Chong Kemin Valley

Set off on a leisurely hike along Chong Kemin River. Or if feeling adventurous, perhaps tackle one of the tough 4000 m passes.

Day 46 Karakol

Enjoy the remote, picturesque town of Kara-kol, complete with quaint tree-lined streets and colonial houses.

Days 47-48 Djety Oguz Valley

Hike through dramatic canyons and sandstone cliffs in Djety Oguz Valley.

Day 49 Kochkor

Enjoy more traditional Kyrgyz hospitality on a homestay in Kochkor village.