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Ulaanbaatar to Istanbul Overview
Explore Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan as you travel from Beijing to Istanbul.
Travel along one of the world’s oldest trade routes - the Silk Road. Follow in the footsteps of armies, traders and explorers and traverse some of the world's hottest deserts, highest mountains and wildest tribal lands. Explore the ancient cities and cultures that became incredibly rich and powerful through the silk trade, stay with nomads, eat local delicacies, see modern Soviet history's indelible imprint, and walk along the Great Wall. Experience the invigorating mix of European and Asian cultures in Istanbul, visit the central Anatolian plain, journey into amazing Capadoccian Valleys, and uncover ancient civilisations in Iran, China and Mongolia. Immerse yourself in the ancient tales and culture of this wild and rugged land on the Ulaanbaatar to Istanbul adventure.
What's included in this trip
Ulaanbaatar to Istanbul SummaryAdd to Shortlist
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.
Farewell the Kyrgyzstan mountains and head to Cholpon Ata, nestled on the shores of the vast and beautiful Issyk-Kul Lake.
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.
Hit the road back to Bishkek, stopping to camp in the wilderness overnight.
Back in Bishkek, why not stretch the legs with a walk through Oak Park? Or perhaps just kick back in one of the park's open air cafes.
Make tracks into Kazakhstan and enjoy a night with a local family in Zhabagly, before exploring the grasslands of Asku National Park.
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.
Continue 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.
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