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.

Start
Beijing, China
Finish
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Countries
China,
Kyrgyzstan,
Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan
Themes
Overland
Code
CDOYC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4, Max 21
Carbon offset
2 952kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Wander through Beijing’s’ Forbidden City
  • Explore the temple and pagoda studded Kongtong Mountain
  • Climb deserted sections of the Great Wall of China
  • See the Army of Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an
  • Climb deserted sections of the Great Wall of China
  • Admire the Buddhist art at the Mogao Caves
  • Cross the infamous Torugart Pass from Kyrgyzstan to China
  • See the dramatic glaciers adorning the Ala Archa Canyon
  • Admire quaint Karakol
  • Meet local shepherds on a yurt stay
  • Explore the historic town of Bukhara
  • Walk the ancient walls of Khiva
  • Discover the romance of the Silk Road in Samarkand

Itinerary

Ni hao and welcome to China where a grand adventure awaits! Begin by joining the buzzing hive that is Beijing - a place where discovery and intrigue lie around every corner. Visit the Forbidden City to admire imperial architecture or the sprawling Summer Palace on the banks of Kunming Lake.
Stroll through the lush Shanzhuang gardens in the footsteps of past Emperors who holidayed here. Take in the rich heritage of Chengde by bicycle or admire the Mongolian and Tibetan influences in local temples and monasteries.
Take a walk along the monumental Great Wall as it snakes its way through rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Imagine the exhaustive effort of farmers and labourers who toiled for many generations to construct the Wall.
Marvel at the Hanging Monastery, delicately perched on a steep cliff face in Golden Dragon Gorge, and explore the World Heritage listed Yungang Grottoes, home to a staggering collection of over 50,000 statues and fascinating ancient rock art.
A famous pilgrimage site, Wutai Shan is believed to be the earthly abode of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri. Visit sacred temples, go hiking or simply soak up the serene atmosphere in a local cafe.
Stroll the ancient, and well preserved streets on Pingyao. This Han Chinese walled city is designed in the traditional bagua (octagonal) layout with architecture dating back centuries.
Visit the incredible cave houses of Lijiashan - built over 500 years ago - and spend the night in a cave room.
Get an insight into China's communist beginnings with a visit to Yan'an, once the Chinese Communist Party's headquarters during the 1930s and 40s
Admire the 2,000-year-old army of Terracotta Warriors and explore significant cultural sites and museums both in and around Xi'an. Enjoy a plate of hand-pulled noodles as you watch the locals dance, eat and practice martial arts in South Park.
Overland through the province of Gansu to Pingliang, which sits at the edge of the beautiful Kongtong Mountain. Peruse the wonderful shops or climb the mountain for rewarding views.
Travel down the fertile Gansu Corridor, a rugged stretch of the famed Silk Route.
Travel to the Tibetan monastery town of Xiahe, often described as one of the most enchanting places to visit in China.
At the crossroads of Qinghai and Gangsu, arrive at Liujiaxia. Visit the Bingling Si Buddhist Grottoes to see intricate cliff-side carvings.
Continue the journey west towards Jiayuguan, where we set up camp en route.
Arrive in Jiayuguan after a full day of driving, and discover deserted sections of the Great Wall.
Arrive in Dunhuang and relax in this Gansu oasis trading town. Visit the nearby Mogao Caves and discover their breathtaking Buddhist art.
Continue the overland adventure towards the ancient oasis town of Turpan. Spend the night wild camping beneath the desert stars.
Escape the desert sands in the laidback town of Turpan.
Travel towards the Tian Shan mountain range, and arrive at the pristine Heavenly Lake. Located at the top of a mountain and in the middle of a desert, this is a remote spot, perfect for relaxation.
Head to the outskirts of the enormous Taklamakan Desert. Travel into seemingly unchartered terrain and begin two days on an overland adventure.
Arrive in Kashgar, an exotic fusion of Chinese, Uzbek and Kyrgyz cultures. Wander the streets that weave through the old town and discover the markets and bazaars of this diverse city.
Set off early to get to stunning Lake Karakol. Spend the day wallowing in the surrounds of this magnificent setting.
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.
Take a good book as today's lengthy border crossing meanders through the Torugart pass and into Kyrgyzstan.
Spend some time getting to know the locals of Kochkor with a traditional Kyrgyz homestay and experience a glimpse of daily life.
Driving into the capital city, explore the crowded bazaars and vast bustling squares of this modern city.
Set off on a leisurely hike along Chong Kemin River. Or if feeling adventurous, perhaps tackle one of the tough 4000 m passes.
Enjoy the remote, picturesque town of Kara-kol, complete with quaint tree-lined streets and colonial houses.
Hike through dramatic canyons and sandstone cliffs in Djety Oguz Valley.
Enjoy more traditional Kyrgyz hospitality on a homestay in Kochkor village.
Stay in traditional yurt accommodation and experience nomad life in the lush pastures surrounding the beautiful Song-Kol Lake.
Spend a leisurely three days journeying through the stunning mountains and lakes of Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley.
Make tracks across the Ferghana Valley to Arslanbob.
Enter Uzbekistan and see the palace of the former Khan of Kokand.
Arrive in Tashkent, shop for fresh produce at the Chorsu Bazaar and perhaps grab some Soviet paraphernalia from a market.
Travel to one of Central Asia's most magical cities, Uzbekistan’s Samarkand. Discover the romance of the Silk Road in this perfectly preserved city full of exotic architecture and majestic buildings.
Spend a night in a yurt camp with the local nomads, sleeping among the dunes of the Red Desert.
Get to know Central Asia's holiest city, where the combination of buildings spanning a thousand years and a thoroughly lived-in Old Town combine to create an awe-inspiring atmosphere.
Gaze up at the ancient walls surrounding Khiva and imagine how they once provided sanctuary for weary Silk Road travellers. Explore the historic and perfectly preserved Old Town, beautifully decorated in classic turquoise tiles.
Follow a local trading route through harsh desert sands, and meet the nomadic people who call this inhospitable region home.
Drive across the Karakum Desert. If time allows, see the amazing Darvaza Gas Crater.
End your adventure among the futuristic architecture of Ashgabat's skyline. Spy the world's largest hand-woven rug or learn about the city's traumatic history at the Earthquake Museum.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (15 nights), Cave house (1 night), Guesthouse (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (43 nights), Yurt (5 nights)
Included activities
  • Ashgabat - Sunday Market
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
  • Bukhara - Guided city tour
  • Chengde - Bisu Shanzhuang
  • Chengde - Puning Temple
  • Datong - Hanging Monastery
  • Dunhuang - Mogao Caves
  • Entrance Jiayuguan fort
  • Jeti-Oghuz - Hiking
  • Jinshanling - Great Wall
  • Kashgar - Sunday & Animal Bazaars
  • Khiva - Guided city tour
  • Kochkor - Regional Museum
  • Kochkor - Women's Felt Co-op
  • Kokand - Khan's Palace & Mosque
  • Konye-Urgench - Ancient City ruins
  • Lijiashan - Black Dragon Temple
  • Liujiaxia - Bingling Si Caves
  • Pingliang - Kongtong Mountain
  • Samarkand - Guided city tour
  • Turpan - Jiaohe riuns
  • Wutai Shan - Taihui Temple Cluster
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors guided tour
  • Yan'an - Revolution Museum & CCP Headquarters site

Dates

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Important notes

1. Some destinations visited on this trip do not have consulates in Australia and New Zealand. We recommend that travellers from these countries book the WESTBOUND itinerary of this trip where some visas can be obtained en route.
2. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.
3. Combination trip. Please see Trip Notes (Important Notes) for more details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes