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Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar Overview
See Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan as you travel from Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar
Two massive continents, eight countries and one massive overland adventure - Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar really is the trip of a lifetime. Travel along pathways that were once trodden by some of history’s most influential rulers, from the ancient yet highly sophisticated Persians to Alexander the Great and the fearsome armies of Genghis Khan. Beginning in the spice-scented bazaars of Istanbul, this trip follows the legendary Silk Road through holy lands, remote mountain villages and cultured cities including lively Tehran, futuristic Ashgabat, sacred Samarkand and hedonistic Beijing, before crossing the mysterious Mongolian plains. Perfect for travellers wanting to get under the skin of Central Asia, this is the most extensive, off the beaten track, overland experience you will come across.
What's included in this trip
Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar SummaryAdd to Shortlist
Welcome to incredible Istanbul! Have your fortune told in the Taksim, bargain up a storm in the Grand Bazaar or admire the imposing Blue Mosque.
Visit Turkey's salt lake, Tuz Golo, which provides 63% of Turkey's salt. Bush camp in the evening.
Discover Cappadocia's Goreme Valley and underground troglodyte cities, fairy chimneys and caves.
Travel overland into Eastern Turkey via ancient trade routes. Camp under skies that have been gazed at for centuries by fellow travellers.
The town of Dogubayazit is at the foot of Mount Ararat, reportedly where Noah's Ark came to rest after The Flood.
Enjoy the first night in Iran at Kandovan, an ancient village of caves built into the volcanic rock - and where locals still live.
Explore Zanjan's delightful bazaar and check out the beautiful handicrafts on sale here - perhaps answer the question: does a handcrafted rug fit in a backpack?
Travel to Tehran and be awed by this vibrant city where ancient meets modern. There is plenty of time here to explore the incredible Golestan Palace.
Spend three days in this breathtaking city and take time trawling the souqs, bazaars, beautiful squares and blue-tiled Mosques of Esfahan.
Explore the ancient ruins of Persepolis, Persia, and visit the stunning Islamic Shiraz - discovering its impressive citadel and mosques.
Feel transported back in time while staying in a traditional caravanserai in the Dasht-e Lut desert.
Wind through the old city of Yazd - reputedly one of the oldest towns in the world.
Travel through the Dasht-e Kavir Desert, which lies in the middle of the Iranian plateau, to the tranquil oasis of Khoor.
Explore Iran's oldest surviving mosque - dating back to the 1st century - in Damghan.
Relax by Shirvan's Atrak River, which gives this small town a lush and peaceful feel.
Say goodbye to Iran and travel into Turkmenistan. Conclude the adventure among the futuristic architecture of Ashgabat.
Sleep under the stars in the Karakum Desert. See the spectacular fires of the Darvaza Gas Crater.
Continue the Overland journey through the Karakum Desert, and take in the parched landscape of Asia's hottest desert.
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.
Get to know Central Asia's holiest city, where the combination of buildings spanning a thousand years and a thoroughly lived-in Old Town help create the awe-inspiring atmosphere.
Spend a night in a yurt camp with the local nomads, sleeping among the dunes of the Kyzylkhum Desert.
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.
Continue your adventure in the most modern of Uzbekistan’s cities. Visit Tashkent’s thriving Chorsu Bazaar to pick up Soviet-style souvenirs and admire the ornately decorated Kukeldash Medressa.
Make tracks into Kazakhstan and enjoy a night with a local family in Zhabagly before exploring the grasslands of Asku National Park. Kazakhstan's oldest national park is a scenic wonderland full of mountain lakes, rivers and glaciers, plus all sorts of unusual flora and fauna.
Soak up the relaxed charm of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital. Wander through its wide streets and admire its wealth of handsome houses.
Set off on a leisurely hike along Chong Kemin River - or if feeling adventurous, perhaps tackle one of the tough 4000 m passes.
Head to Cholpon Ata, nestled on the shores of the vast and beautiful Issyk-Kul Lake.
Discover the remote, picturesque town of Karakol, complete with quaint tree-lined streets and colonial houses.
Admire the lofty sandstone cliffs in Djety Oguz Valley.
Mingle with friendly locals and relish Kyrgyz hospitality while enjoying a homestay in Kochkor.
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