The Great Silk Road Trip Notes

The Great Silk Road

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016
The Great Silk Road
Trip code: CBSAC
Validity: 01 Jan 2017 to 31 Dec 2017
TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017: From 1st January this trip will become 29 days and have a number of changes. To allow for more efficient transport connections we have removed Tianshui and will include the classic Silk Road destinations of Dunhuang and Jiayuguan as well as more time in Xi'an. 2 overnight trains will be replaces with high speed day trains. There will still be 2 overnight train journeys on the trip due to distances involved. Previously this trip included a flight from Urumqi to Bishkek. In 2017 we will travel overland from Kashgar into Kyrgyzstan.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeFinish point description
ThemesAccommodationEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?MealsVisas
Why we love itMoney mattersWhat to take
MapGroup leaderHealth
ItinerarySafetyTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerJoining pointA couple of rules
Physical ratingJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Important notesFinish pointFeedback
Is this trip right for you?
- Due to the nature of an overland adventure through China and Central Asia, we may have to make slight itinerary changes to the planned route due to train schedules and weather/road conditions. You will be informed in advance of this if it is necessary.
- Some accommodation and facilities my be basic but the rewards are immeasurable.
- There are some very long driving days over rough terrain, shower and toilet facilities are limited in some places.
Why we love it
- Visit the lesser known Hanyangling Mausoleum, of the Han Dynasty. In our opinion this site is far more authentic and interesting than the better known Terracotta Warriors.
- Visit the incredible UNESCO World Heritage site of the Mogao Caves, a important Buddhist site of the Silk Road.
- Overnight in a yurt. Yurts are the traditional dwellings of the Kyrgyz people, made of felt and tarpaulins on a round frame.
- Uncover Samarkand's Registan, probably the most recognisable of all Central Asia's monuments

Day 1 Beijing
Nimen Hao! Welcome to Beijing - the capital of the most populous country on earth. China's capital is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity, however there are still plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today, where your insurance and next of kin details will be collected. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the meeting will take place – if you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Any free time today in Beijing is taken at your leisure, so get out and start exploring this vast and amazing city. It's recommended that you arrive a few days early to experience all that Beijing has to offer. Beijing's food is a highlight, from the famous Beijing Roast Duck to dumplings in a tiny backstreet eatery, there’s no chance you’ll go hungry here!
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure - CNY360
  • Beijing - Great Wall Experience Urban Adventure - CNY900
  • Beijing - Beijing Insights Urban Adventure - CNY490
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Xi'an
    Catch the bullet train to Xi'an (approximately 5-6 hours). Once the imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xian is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites to explore. Enjoy a walking tour of the Muslim Quarter of Xi'an with your group. After the walking tour, why not visit the Great Mosque, one of the most important in China. This area has plenty of interesting shops, lively street stalls and roving groups of white-bearded men in skull caps. This evening enjoy some free time to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route of the Silk Road.
    Included Activities
    • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Day 3 Xi'an
      Enjoy a free day to explore Xi'an at your leisure. Perhaps hire a bike and ride along the city walls, which are the most complete in China, or climb to the top of the Bell and Drum towers for impressive views. Perhaps visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Small or Big Wild Goose Pagodas. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is in a scenic area which also includes the Shaanxi History Museum and Da Cien Temple. It's very popular with locals, especially in the evenings when there is a nightly light and music show around the many fountains. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is inside the Jianfu Temple and Xi'an Museum is also nearby.
      Optional Activities
      • Xi'an - Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
      • Xi'an - Great Mosque - CNY25
      • Xi'an - Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
      • Hua Shan day trip - CNY200
      • Xi'an - Karaoke - CNY100
      • Temple of the Eight Immortals - CNY10
      • Xi'an - Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Day 4 Xi'an/Overnight Train
        Today starts with a short drive to the lesser-known Hanyangling Mausoleum with a local guide. This is a Han dynasty tomb of Emperor Jingdi, a burial site that’s more authentic and less crowded than the Teracotta Warriors. Dating from 153 BC, the tomb’s a magnificent cultural relic, comprising of tens of thousands of buried pottery figures, the emperor’s tomb, empress’ tomb, burial pits, a ceremonial site, a human sacrifice graveyard and a criminals’ cemetery. You will head underground and walk through the pits, which have glass floors and walls that enable you to see the on-going excavations up close. In the evening the group boards the first overnight train to Zhangye.
        Included Activities
        • Xi'an - Hanyangling Mausoleum
          Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
          Special Information
          Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the country and its people as it's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. Some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins). Basic bathroom facilities with toilets and washbasins are situated at the end of each carriage. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's best to bring an emergency supply. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. Food is available on the train, but it's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the trip.
          Day 5 Zhangye
          Disembark after an overnight train ride to Zhangye, arriving at around midday. Check into your hotel and take an orientation walk with the group leader around this leafy town of temples and parks. The city was established 1,000 years ago as the headquarters of General Huo when he controlled the ‘Hexi Corridor’. Controlling this area meant controlling the lucrative Silk Road, as the corridor is one of the few ways through the Qilian Mountains to the north and the desert and peaks to the south. Zhangye is home to China’s largest reclining Buddha, which would have been visited by Marco Polo in the 13th century while he waited for permission from Kubilau Khan to continue on to the Mongolian capital. Relax with free time for the rest of the afternoon and evening as you prepare yourself for some truly spectacular scenery tomorrow.
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 6 Zhangye
          Today pack your sunscreen, hat and water as you head to see the unreal landscapes of Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, where it looks like millions of coloured paint pots have been spilled across the mountains. This 400-square-kilometer World Heritage site was formed over 24 million - 100 million years ago. The area was originally a lake fed by rivers, which brought many layers of sand and mineral deposits. When the lake dried up the mineral elements oxidised, giving the lake its unique colour palette. The elements then eroded the lake into mountainous shapes and unusual formations. The result looks like an oil painting, with colours ranging from pink and orange to earthy brown. The scale of the formation and the swirling patterns of rainbow colours are stunning. Take a trek around this grand and magnificent area at sunset, and discover that every angle is a photographers dream.
          Included Activities
          • Zhangye - Danxia Landform Geological Park
            Guesthouse (1 nt)
            Day 7 Jiayuguan
            Today there is an option to rise early and return to the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park for an unforgettable sunrise over the hills. Later at midday the group will catch a day train to Jiayuguan (approximately 1.5-2 hours). Jiayuguan was the last outpost on the edge of the ancient Han Chinese Empire, the last Chinese-controlled stop for travellers and traders before they passed into the uncertain and dangerous deserts beyond. While exploring the city you might notice the growing Muslim influence as we travel further west.
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 8 Jiayuguan/Dunhuang
            Today explore Jiayuguan Fort and a remote section of the Great Wall, which you will either visit today before heading to Dunhuang. The Ming dynasty built a series of forts and towers in Jiayuguan to secure their hold over the area and Jiayuguan Fort, though restored, still offers a feeling of desolation as you look out into the desert from atop its walls. Here we visit a section of the Jiayuguan Pass, which is the western end of the Great Wall built during the Ming Dynasty. Travel to Dunhuang in the afternoon, which is about five hours drive. 
            Included Activities
            • Jiayuguan - Hanging Great Wall
            • Jiayuguan - Fort
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Day 9 Dunhuang
              This morning the group can decide if they want to drive out of the city and watch the sun rise over the nearby dunes at Crescent Lake. The oasis, which take the shape of a crescent moon, is believed to have existed for around 2,000 years and is surrounded by Mingsha Shan (Singing Sand Dunes). Today you will also visit the nearby Mogao Caves, which house some of the most stunning Buddhist murals in the world, and are perhaps the greatest store of Buddhist art in the world. The first cave was carved out and painted in 366 AD after a Buddhist monk, passing through on the Silk Road, had a vision of a thousand Buddha faces appearing on the cliff. The caves were largely forgotten until a Taoist monk stumbled upon them in 1907. Currently there are more than 492 caves, most containing murals, manuscripts, and over 2,415 coloured statues. Return to your hotel in Dunhuang for the night and perhaps enjoy a drink at the unique beer gardens off the nearby night market.
              Included Activities
              • Dunhuang - Mogao Caves
              • Dunhuang - Crescent Moon Lake & Singing Sand Mountains
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Day 10 Turpan
                Travel by private bus this morning to Liuyuan train station and board a day train to Turpan (approximately 3.5 hours). A transfer will be waiting in Turpan to take you to the hotel. Once an important staging post on the Silk Road, Turpan is an attractive oasis town famous for its vineyards, stone fruits, melons and the nearby Flaming Mountains. The Turpan Depression is second only to the Dead Sea in Jordan as the lowest point on earth. It's a small city by Chinese standards, but the surrounding area is full of interesting places. The country roads on the outskirts are lined with poplars and the lovely old mud brick dwellings of the Uyghur people, while the modern ‘inner’ town has shiny new buildings, spacious streets and public squares.
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Day 11 Turpan
                Explore Turpan with your local guide. Visit the ruins of the once great Silk Road city of Jiaohe, one of Xinjiang’s best historical sites and one of the most rewarding to visit. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen with you as things will be heating up! During free time this afternoon, choose to join the locals socialising in the square, or visit the market tonight for all the flavours of the region and plenty of interaction.
                Included Activities
                • Turpan - Jiaohe Ancient City
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Day 12 Turpan/Overnight Train
                  Take the last train journey to Kashgar, which departs between 11am and 1pm (approximately 24 hours). See mirages in the Turpan basin, then climb through a high mountain pass, switch-backing up the peak of the Tian Shan Mountains. By morning you will have descended down the other side into the Tarim basin, skirting the northern edge of the sandy Taklamakan desert, passing isolated communities eking out a living in a harsh environment.
                  Optional Activities
                  • Turpan - Emin Minaret - CNY45
                    Overnight Sleeper Train (1 nt)
                    Special Information
                    While this is a hard sleeper train journey, the carriages used are often double-decker with compartments for four people. The compartments are smaller than on previous trains with little luggage storage space, so there is a chance that bigger bags will need to be kept on your bed. Sit back, relax and enjoy the journey to Kashgar. Much of the excitement of Kashgar lies in just reaching this remote city, which sits over 4,000 kilometres away from its nominal capital in Beijing.
                    Day 13 Kashgar
                    Arrive into Kashgar around midday today. Kashgar is very much a frontier town, quickly developing to take advantage of its geographical location right in the heart of Central Asia. There are few signs that you are still in China, other than the country's largest Chairman Mao statue, that is. This once ancient city is quickly modernising – in 2011 the Chinese government started rapid demolishing the Old Town due to it being overcrowded. It’s hard to predict what will be left in this area in the coming years. The town's main landmark is the Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square. The dusty old laneways are crammed full of shops, food stalls and Uyghur locals living a lifestyle virtually unchanged for a hundred years. Take advantage of the proximity to Pakistan by having a meal of curry and chapattis at a Pakistani café or play a round or two with the lads hanging out at the pool tables on Id Kah Square. Alternatively, you can get lost meandering down lanes and alleyways, stopping at stalls selling tandoori-baked bagels or mulberry juice. 
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Day 14 Kashgar
                    Kashgar's main attraction is undoubtedly the Sunday Bazaar, which you’ll visit today. It’s said to be the biggest market in Asia, and on its main day it can feel like everyone from hundreds of miles around has converged on the city. It’s alive with traders selling all kinds of wares – rugs, hats, spices, boots, dates, ingredients for traditional medicines, auto parts, you name it. The Bazaar is divided into two sections – the Downtown Bazaar, which sells clothing, household goods, produce and everything else you could imagine, and the Animal Bazaar just outside the city. Taking a private van, first travel out to the Animal Bazaar to see the frantic bargaining and bustle of local herdsmen and farmers (watch as they even take donkeys for a 'test drive'). It’s certainly a memorable scene to see every farmer, handler, sheep, cow, camel, horse and donkey from the surrounding villages packed into a small square overflowing with sound and smell. Then return to the city to visit the main bazaar and mingle with the traders and shoppers at your own pace. Perhaps join the locals in Id Kah Square on this free evening.
                    Included Activities
                    • Kashgar - Sunday & Animal Bazaars
                      Optional Activities
                      • Kashgar - Id Kah Mosque - CNY20
                      • Kashgar - Tomb of Abakh Hoja - CNY30
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Day 15 Torugart Pass/Naryn
                        Say goodbye to your Chinese leader and group today, and travel onwards with other group members who are completing the Beijing to Tashkent journey.

                        Depart early morning by private bus for our journey into the seldom-travelled country of Kyrgyzstan, a nation that still embraces nomadic traditions and extends some of the warmest hospitality you'll find anywhere in the world. We'll be travelling for around 11 hours today, including approx 7 hours of driving, plus border formalities (which can require a lot of patience and plenty of waiting).

                        You will be accompanied by a Chinese Intrepid representative to the border and then meet your new driver and escort on the Kyrgyzstan side who will be with you until we meet the Central Asia group at Song Kul lake tomorrow.

                        We cross the breathtaking Torugart Pass (3570m) high in the Tian Shan, slated as the most exciting route into Central Asia - take note of the changing landscape between China and Kyrgyzstan - and drive down to Tash Rabat (3500m), a beautifully preserved caravanserai of the 14th century. There is very little public transport in Kyrgyzstan so to make the most of our time here we have a private van for our journeys. It can be a rough ride in places today and often gets quite cold as we ascend higher into the mountains even in mid summer, so make sure you bring some warm clothes!

                        Drive on to Naryn where we stay in a hotel tonight.
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        1 lunch, 1 dinner
                        Day 16 Song-Kol Lake
                        Travel to Song Kul Lake, one of the largest lakes in the country and meet the rest of our group.

                        This beautiful alpine lake is considered a sacred place for many Kyrgyz people as well as one of the best summer pastures for nomadic herders. In the middle of the summer, you'll see nomadic herdsmen and their families watching over goats, sheep, and horses. Tonight you will stay in your first yurt camp of the trip. Yurts, made of felt and tarpaulins on a round frame, are the traditional dwellings of the Kyrgyz people. Sleeping arrangements are on a multi-share, mixed-gender basis with mattresses on the floor. It can get very chilly in the evenings, so there's a stove for heating and plenty of blankets. There are no bathroom facilities inside the yurts. Outdoor toilets are to be expected.
                        Yurt (1 nt)
                        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                        Special Information
                        The pass to Song-Kol is not open all year round. When the road is impassable, an alternative destination will be arranged for this day of the trip.
                        Day 17 Song-Kol Lake
                        Enjoy a full day of exploring your surroundings or relaxing lakeside. Overnight in yurts again tonight.
                        Included Activities
                        • Song Kul Lake - Hike
                          Yurt (1 nt)
                          1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                          Day 18 Suusamyr Valley/Chychkan Gorge/Toktogul
                          Suusamyr Valley is one of the more remote and rarely visited regions of Kyrgyzstan. It is a high steppe plateau situated at around 2,200 metres above sea level, and the mountainous, lush surrounding landscape is dotted with yurts. Just when you think the road couldn't possibly climb any higher, you will arrive at your guesthouse for an overnight stay. In the Jalal-Abad Region is Chychkan Gorge. Stop here and soak up the amazing scenery. Surrounded by mountains and rivers flowing below, Chychkan is simply stunning. Spot a wild boar or deer, go for a short hike or pick wild blackberries. With no cities in the vicinity, and the only electricity coming from a nearby hydroelectric dam, the night sky is stunning on a clear night here. Be sure to enjoy some stargazing before you retire for the evening.
                          Guesthouse (1 nt)
                          1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                          Day 19 Sary Chelek National Park/Arkyt Village
                          After breakfast, drive to Arkyt Village (approximately 6–7 hours). This UNESCO World Heritage-listed network of nature reserves is located in the Sary-Chelek National Park, about 15 km before Sary-Chelek Lake. The reserve was founded in 1959 to preserve the flora and fauna of the walnut-fruit forests and alpine landscapes. You will make a small detour to drive around a section of the Toktogul Water Reservoir which supplies electricity and water to 90% of the Kyrgyz population. The Toktogul Dam and hydroelectric power station in fact features on the 100 som banknote. Tonight you will stay in a local homestay and enjoy more of that warm Kyrgyzstan hospitality.
                          Homestay (1 nt)
                          1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                          Day 20 Osh
                          A morning drive (approximately 5 hours from Sary-Chelek Lake) brings you to Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country, Osh is often referred to as the 'capital of the south'. It is is one of the truly ancient Central Asian towns, dating back to the 5th century BC. While you are here, be sure to pay a visit to the Jayma Bazaar, a nice little marketplace where you might pick up an interesting local handicraft. Also pop your head into the famous three-story yurt, or perhaps venture to the Suleiman-Too Mountain which looms over the lovely Fergana Valley.
                          Included Activities
                          • Osh - Bazaar
                          • Osh - Solomon's Throne
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            1 breakfast
                            Day 21 Tashkent
                            Travel to Tashkent, Uzbekistan today (approximately 8 hours). Central Asia's largest city is a mix of Russian and Uzbek styles, an indication of the fact that for many years it was a key city of the USSR. Extravagant mosques, both ancient and new, sit alongside modern highways and Soviet monuments.
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            1 breakfast
                            Day 22 Tashkent
                            Explore the city on a full-day guided tour that covers its key sights. You will stroll around the maze of dusty streets with their small mosques and mud brick houses in what's left of Tashkent's Old Town. With free time afterwards, you might like to visit the Applied Arts Museum and see its impressive collection of carpets, ethnic costumes, embroidery and other traditional artefacts of the region. Also worth a look is the Amir Timur (Tamerlane) Museum, which depicts the story of the national hero's life and curiously displays what are claimed to be his actual eyebrows. You might also like to check out Independence Square or, later on, the Opera and Ballet Theatre where there might be an evening performance.
                            Optional Activities
                            • Tashkent - Amir Timur Museum - UZS5000
                            • Tashkent - Museum of Applied Arts - UZS6000
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              1 breakfast
                              Day 23 Samarkand
                              Travel to Samarkand, one of the most attractive Central Asian cities. It's also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Despite a history of war and earthquakes, it retains its striking profile. Keep your camera at the ready, as this destination is a photographer's dream, with colourful domes and minarets gracing the skyline. Enjoy some free time, perhaps strolling around or simply relaxing in preparation of your more in-depth explorations tomorrow. History and art enthusiasts might like to visit the State Museum, near the beautiful Registan.
                              Optional Activities
                              • Samarkand - State Art & History Museum - UZS2400
                              • Samarkand - Ulug Beg Observatory - UZS6000
                                Hotel (1 nt)
                                1 breakfast
                                Day 24 Samarkand
                                Join a local guide for an in-depth tour of Samarkand's sights. First you will head to the incredibly extensive Shah I Zindah Mausoleum complex, a holy site for local Muslims, where the Prophet Mohammed's cousin is buried. From there you will walk to the massive Bibi Khanum Mosque, which is no longer functioning but is impressive in its proportions and extravagance. You will cover the short distance to the Guri Amir Mausoleum by taxi to see Amir Timur's final resting place, then finish at the most spectacular spot of all – the Registan.
                                This public square holds what are probably the most recognisable of all Central Asian monuments. The facades of the two medressas facing the central square are decorated in exquisite mosaics, tiles and intricate geometric brickwork, with lovely domes of soft blue on either side. The interior of some of the buildings are equally impressive. You will visit some of the main rooms, then enjoy some free time to explore on your own.
                                Included Activities
                                • Samarkand - Bibi Khanum Mosque
                                • Samarkand - Guri Amir Mausoleum
                                • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda Mausoleum Complex
                                  Hotel (1 nt)
                                  1 breakfast
                                  Day 25 Shakhrisabz
                                  Travel by private transport to the town of Shakhrisabz (approximately 3 hours). Shakhrisabz is the birthplace of Tamerlane, aka Timur, the legendary 14th-century Persian military leader. While it's not as spectacular as Samarkand in terms of sights, the ruins of the Ak-Saray Palace offer a fascinating window to the past. Written above the entrance is the proud statement, 'If you challenge our power, look at our buildings', which gives you an indication of the palace's stateliness. You can climb to the top of Ak Saray's remaining entrance portal for views of the neatly-laid city that stretches into the distance. Staying in a local guesthouse, you'll have the chance to walk around the shady streets and get a feel for typical Uzbek town life.
                                  Optional Activities
                                  • Shakhrisabz - Ketab Observatory - UZS60000
                                  • Shakhrisabz - Kok-Gumbaz Mosque - UZS2400
                                  • Shakhrisabz - Ak Saray Palace ruins - UZS4000
                                    Hotel (1 nt)
                                    1 breakfast
                                    Day 26 Bukhara
                                    Take a private van further to Bukhara (approximately 4 hours), a favourite Silk Road city for many travellers. After you check into your hotel, your leader can give you tips on what to do with your free time today, as your walking tour with the local guide will take place tomorrow. In the evening, perhaps join the locals and other travellers around Lyabi Hauz, a pool of water surrounded by ancient mulberry trees in the Old Town's centre. Here you can have a meal of shashlyk (roasted meat on skewers) with non bread and green tea; head to the charming puppet show in the theatre nearby; or see tradition meet contemporary culture at the nightly fashion show across the plaza.
                                    Hotel (1 nt)
                                    1 breakfast
                                    Day 27 Bukhara
                                    Enjoy a walking tour with a local guide. You will have plenty of free time while in Bukhara to explore the artisan shops and wander the narrow, twisting streets and alleyways at your leisure. This is one of the best places to pick up some local handmade souvenirs such as embroidered hangings and cloth, silk, carpets, pottery, woodwork, miniature paintings and jewellery. Don't expect it to be cheap, though, as each item takes hours of painstaking labour to create, and many of the merchants are the artists themselves. While you're here you also might like to stop in at the Ark, the old royal fortress that's Bukhara's oldest standing structure. Inside you can find the Zindon jail where spies of the Great Game era were imprisoned. Perhaps get soaked and scrubbed in a traditional hammom (traditional spa).
                                    Included Activities
                                    • Bukhara - City Tour
                                      Optional Activities
                                      • Bukhara - Traditional Puppet Show - UZS5000
                                      • Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum - Free
                                        Hotel (1 nt)
                                        1 breakfast
                                        Day 28 Tashkent
                                        Take a local train to Tashkent (approximately 6 hours). Arriving late afternoon, the evening is free to spend at your leisure. This is a great chance to do some of the activities you didn't get around to the first time.
                                        Hotel (1 nt)
                                        1 breakfast
                                        Day 29 Tashkent
                                        There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Speak to your leader if you need to store any luggage at the hotel.
                                        1 breakfast
                                        Itinerary disclaimer
                                        Physical rating

                                        Included activities
                                        Xi'an - Muslim Quarter Walking Tour
                                        Xi'an - Hanyangling Mausoleum
                                        Zhangye - Danxia Landform Geological Park
                                        Jiayuguan - Hanging Great Wall
                                        Jiayuguan - Fort
                                        Dunhuang - Mogao Caves
                                        Dunhuang - Crescent Moon Lake & Singing Sand Mountains
                                        Turpan - Jiaohe Ancient City
                                        Kashgar - Sunday & Animal Bazaars
                                        Song Kul Lake - Hike
                                        Osh - Bazaar
                                        Osh - Solomon's Throne
                                        Samarkand - Bibi Khanum Mosque
                                        Samarkand - Guri Amir Mausoleum
                                        Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda Mausoleum Complex
                                        Bukhara - City Tour
                                        Important notes
                                        1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding nights on overnight trains, yurts and home stays.
                                        2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
                                        3. Some destinations visited on this trip do not have consulates in Australia and New Zealand. See Visa section of the Trip Notes for detailed information and allow sufficient time to obtain your visas for Central Asia prior to travel.
                                        4. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilet facilities (usually one with a toilet seat and one squat-style in each compartment) are available on all trains, but there are no showers or baths.
                                        5. While traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
                                        6. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                                        7. As this is a combination trip your leader and group composition will change along the way. You will have a Chinese, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbek leader in each country. For the border crossing between China & Kyrgyzstan and for the overnight stay in Naryn you will be accompanied by an Intrepid representative.

                                        Group size
                                        Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                                        Hotel (21 nts), Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nts), Guesthouse (2 nts), Yurt (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)
                                        14 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
                                        Money matters
                                        The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).

                                        ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Look for ATMs with your card logo.

                                        Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

                                        Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

                                        The official currency of Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyzstan Som (KGS).
                                        This can only be obtained within Kyrgyzstan. Conversion of KGS back into other foreign currencies may prove difficult.
                                        There are many private money changers in Kyrgyzstan, but if you choose to use them you must be sure to check the rate and your change carefully. Major credit cards are rarely accepted in shops and restaurants even in bigger cities. In Bishkek you may be able to find ATMs that accept international cards and use them to withdraw local currency; however these should not be relied on as your sole financial source. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Kyrgyzstan must be made in local currency.

                                        The official currency in Uzbekistan is the Uzbekistan Som (UZS).

                                        This can only be obtained in Uzbekistan. Conversion of UZS back into other foreign currencies may prove difficult.

                                        Banks are rarely able to exchange foreign currency so you should ask the advice of your hotel or leader for where to change money. There are also many private money changers in Uzbekistan but if you choose to use them you must be sure to check the rate and your change carefully.

                                        Major credit cards are rarely accepted in shops and restaurants even in bigger cities. Some banks in Tashkent will allow cash advances against a credit card but cash withdrawals are subject to a 5% or more service charge.

                                        In Tashkent you may be able to find ATMs that accept international cards and use them to withdraw local currency; however these should not be relied on as your sole financial source. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Uzbekistan must be made in local currency.

                                        Please note that you must declare ALL currency (including travellers cheques) on entry to and exit Uzbekistan. Failure to do so accurately, or exiting the country with more currency than when you entered may result in delays, fines or the additional sums being confiscated.

                                        SPENDING MONEY:
                                        When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                                        If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

                                        Tipping in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Intrepid does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.

                                        Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

                                        The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                                        Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.

                                        Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.

                                        Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.

                                        Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.

                                        Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                                        CENTRAL ASIA & MONGOLIA:
                                        If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

                                        The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                                        Restaurants: - we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. In China tipping in restaurants is not common practice.

                                        Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 (Central Asia & Mongolia), CNY5-10 (China) per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.

                                        Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest RUB30-50 (Russia)/US$1-2 (Mongolia, Central Asia)/CNY5-10 (China) per person per activity day for local guides. Adjust the amount accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.

                                        Porters: In some hotels in China a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.

                                        Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of RUB50/US$2 (Russia/Mongolia/Central Asia) or CNY5 (China) per person per day is generally appropriate. Adjust the amount accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.

                                        Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US3-5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used.

                                        Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                                        Please allow approximately US$10 for departure tax from Kyrgyzstan.

                                        EMERGENCY FUNDS:
                                        We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
                                        Group leader
                                        All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                                        Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                                        One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world.

                                        Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.

                                        The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

                                        - The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice
                                        - Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers
                                        - Leaders reports from off the road
                                        - Local contacts we have built up over 30 years of experience

                                        Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. You should always make yourself aware of the travel advice before you book and again before you travel.
                                        Joining point
                                        King Parkview Hotel (Huayu Hotel) 北京华育宾馆
                                        55 Shatan Hou Street 地址:北京东城区沙滩后街 55号 (近五四 大街,在景山公园东门对面的胡同里)
                                        Dong Cheng District
                                        Phone: +86 (010)58757888
                                        Joining point description
                                        King Parkview Hotel is centrally located in Beijing, close to many historical and cultural landmarks, including Jinshan Park, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square and the National Art Museum, and the hutong areaThe hotel offers comfortable rooms including en-suite bathroom, TV & AC. Hotel rooms may include a vanity pack which are not complimentary. You will be charged at checkout if you open or use the vanity pack.

                                        For more information, please go to
                                        Joining point instructions
                                        Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3. For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to

                                        An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through your booking agent.

                                        If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with us, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with our company logo on it and your name.

                                        If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. I
                                        f you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk near your exit and ask them to call Ms Qi at (+86) 13671299816.

                                        In any case, please take a printed copy of your hotel name and address in Chinese as shown in the joining point hotel section with you.

                                        If you are making your own way to the joining hotel:
                                        By taxi (the easiest option): Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. You can follow the airport signs to reach to the official taxi stand. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and should cost around CNY120 (include CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI DRIVERS WHO DON'T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE FOR CLIENTS AND APPROACH YOU IN THE QUEUE CLAIMING THEY USE METER**

                                        By airport express and taxi:
                                        You can follow the airport signs to reach to the airport express station. Take the airport express (CNY25, service time: 06:20 to 22:50) to Dongzhimen station. It is suggested to hail a passing by taxi to go to your hotel. It will cost around CNY30 from Dongzhimen Station to your hotel. Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown in the Joining Point Section. **THERE IS NO TAXI LINE AT THIS STATION. AVOID USING TAXIS THAT ARE WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE STATION EXITS. THEY DON'T USE METER AND TEND TO OVERCHARGE. **
                                        Finish point
                                        Hotel Uzbekistan
                                        45 Мusakhanov street
                                        Amir Timur Square
                                        Phone: +998 (71)1131111
                                        Finish point description
                                        Hotel Uzbekistan is a mid-range 16 floor hotel located right in the centre of Tashkent near the Amir Timur metro station. The Navoi Ballet & Opera Theatre is in walking distance as are a number of shops and eateries. The hotel is 10 km from Tashkent International Airport.
                                        Emergency contact
                                        While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                                        We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                                        You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                                        For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at

                                        In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

                                        Intrepid's Local Bishkek Office: +996555303025; +8613279717711

                                        Intrepid's Local Beijing Office: +861064067328
                                        Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                                        CHINA VISA:
                                        Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong If you have time here before your trip departs. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.

                                        Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong.

                                        Please make sure if you have a transit anywhere in China before arriving at your destination that you check with your airline to see if the transit will require using your visa.

                                        INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION:
                                        List the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf.
                                        Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.

                                        Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
                                        Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.
                                        606 InterChina Commercial Building
                                        33 Dengshikou Street
                                        Dongcheng District
                                        Beijing 100006
                                        +86 10 6406 8022

                                        DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
                                        * Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.
                                        * Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.
                                        * Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception - Tibet tours)
                                        * Photocopy of your passport
                                        * Passport size photos (up to 4 may be required)
                                        * Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

                                        DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:
                                        Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking or at least 30 days prior to travel:
                                        *Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
                                        (Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip in case it is requested)

                                        KYRGYZSTAN VISA

                                        Most nationalities no longer require a visa to travel to Kyrgyzstan for up to 60 days, including Australia, Belgium, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, USA and Switzerland. Other nationalities should check with their nearest embassy and obtain a visa in advance if required. Please contact us should you need any supporting documents for your visa application.

                                        If you do require a visa you will need to obtain one through your closest consulate.

                                        Uzbekistan Visa

                                        **All visitors to Uzbekistan require a visa, in order to obtain this visa a Letter of Invitation is required. Letters of Invitation will state the place where you will apply for your visa. This cannot be changed.**

                                        We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

                                        VISA ON ARRIVAL (TASHKENT AIRPORT ONLY)
                                        An Uzbekistan visa on arrival is only available at the Airport, with a Letter of Invitation stating Tashkent International Airport as your place of application. If you have a Uzbekistan Consulate in your home country must get the visa before arrival. If you don’t have a Consulate in your home country you can get a visa on arrival at the Airport. Visa on arrival can cost anywhere from 80USD to 100USD. You will need to have USD cash to pay for this.

                                        VISA IN ADVANCE
                                        If you are crossing into Uzbekistan overland at a border crossing, you will need to get your Uzbekistan visa in advance. Please ensure you allow enough processing time to get your LOI and send away your passport, especially if this will involved sending your passport overseas. You may be able to obtain an Uzbekistan visa in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan if travelling there before entering Uzbekistan. You would need to be in Bishkek for a minimum of 1 week to allow for processing. Opening times will vary and you will need to check in advance what the current situation is.

                                        THE VISA MACHINE:
                                        Intrepid Travel have partnered with The Visa Machine in order to provide the supporting documents (Letters of Invitation, Hotel Confirmations etc.) required for visas in this region to our travellers.

                                        LETTERS OF INVITATION
                                        Your Uzbekistan Letter of Invitation (LOI) will be provided by The Visa Machine and can take up to 4-6 weeks to process by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Visa Machine have no control over these processing times and are unable to fast track applications, nor can Intrepid Travel. Therefore the sooner you start this process the better, especially if you are travelling to multiple countries in this region and need to send away your passport once you receive your LOI.  Please note if you are a US or UK citizen you can obtain a Uzbekistan Visa without an LOI in London, New York, and Washington DC. 

                                        By logging onto The Visa Machine website via the links below you will be able to access checklists of what information and documents you will need to prepare as well as apply for the LOI.. More specific information is provided below for your trip, however for all countries we advise that you start your visa support application with The Visa Machine no later than 3 months before your trip is scheduled to enter each country in order to allow for the lengthy process, and where applicable, to apply for your visa in advance.

                                        If you are visiting multiple countries, we recommend submitting a single application to The Visa Machine which contains all the information necessary for visiting each country. This will allow The Visa Machine to provide you with the most efficient customer service.

                                        Please remember that applying for the necessary supporting documents as well as the visas is the responsibility of the traveller. Once you have submitted your application to The Visa Machine you will be contacted by their customer service team along with any further instructions.

                                        Please be aware that LOIs take an average of 20 working days/4 weeks to be processed however in peak season the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Uzbekistan have been known to take up to 6 weeks to process LOIs. This does not include the time it will take to apply for and receive your Uzbekistan visa which will vary depending on place of application. Both LOI and visa processing times are out of our control and can be unpredictable. Once the LOI has been processed a copy will be sent back to you. You can then begin the process of applying for your visa. LOIs are valid for a 3 months period so you must apply for your visa within 3 months of the LOI being issued.

                                        ** INSTRUCTIONS **
                                        To obtain your LOI for Uzbekistan, please follow the below link to get the process started in obtaining your supporting documents with the Visa Machine.  Remember this is not your visa, this is the documentation you need in order to apply for your visa.


                                        CHECK LIST:
                                        Firstly please look at the Central Asia ‘CHECK LIST’ and make sure you have everything you need with you so you can start the process. The system doesn’t let you save your progress for later, so you must finish the entire application at the one time. If you are visiting multiple countries on your trip, the same information and documents may be required for different visas. Please make sure you carefully read the check list in order to eliminate any double up.

                                        The Visa Machine will apply for the letter of invitation on your behalf. Once you are satisfied you have all information with you to apply for you visa support, click on the ‘Apply Now’ link and follow the instructions.


                                        If you have any trouble with the online form or want to chase up the status of your application for Visa Support Documents please contact The Visa Machine on or during UK working hours on +44(0) 207 148 6402.

                                        The Australian Visa Machine office can be contacted about actual Visa Applications (not Visa supporting documents) on or on +61 (2) 61 452 265. Please note the Australian office cannot assist with Visa Supporting Documents and or chasers. These must be directed to the UK office.

                                        WARNING – REGISTRATION IN UZBEKISTAN:
                                        All visitors to Uzbekistan must register with the local department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs within 3 working days after arrival. When staying at a hotel, you will be registered automatically. Please ensure you keep any registration documents issued by the hotel until you exit the country.

                                        LAWS & HEALTH:
                                        Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Uzbekistan. You should declare all prescription medications and other restricted items on arrival in Uzbekistan, and carry a copy of the prescription with you.
                                        What to take
                                        What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                                        Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

                                        Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:


                                        Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag also has carry straps as you will need to carry your own bag up and down the many steps in train stations. Overweight or bulky bags will be difficult to store on the overnight train and will need to be kept on your bed if they do not fit in the overhead racks or storage space under the bottom bunk.
                                        All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                                        You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

                                        The diet and hygiene standards of Central Asia may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc and bring some medication/re hydration salts etc should you experience stomach problems.

                                        Giardia intestinalis, a parasite that can cause diarrhoea, is reported from time to time in the water supply and which may not be eradicated by purification methods such as tablets or iodine are used. For this reason Intrepid recommends against drinking unboiled tap water in all Central Asian cities.

                                        AIR POLLUTION IN CHINA:
                                        Air pollution is a recognized issue for travelers in China, particularly in Beijing where the geographical location of the city exacerbates its effects. We provide travellers with certified PM (particulate matter) face masks as an option to be worn as protection during times of high levels of pollution. On days where the Air Quality Index (AQI) is above 101, some activities may be altered for the health and safety of our travellers and leaders. The US Embassy in Beijing provides a hourly updated AQI reading and explanation of the levels here:

                                        The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions.

                                        You can check the pollution index levels for many cities on the following website:

                                        BIRD FLU:
                                        There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:

                                        • Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
                                        • Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
                                        • Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
                                        • Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
                                        • Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
                                        • Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing

                                        For further information please visit:

                                        DRINKING WATER:
                                        As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about three litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
                                        Travel insurance
                                        Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                                        When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                                        If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                                        A couple of rules
                                        Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                                        Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                                        Responsible Travel
                                        We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.


                                        The Intrepid Foundation
                                        Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                                        The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:


                                        After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.