Central Asia: Five Stans Express

24 Days | Explore The Five Stans on an incredible Central Asian adventure of history, nature and culture

4.9 out of 5 based on 13 reviews submitted.
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EUR €4,892
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Start in the grand Ashgabat of Turkmenistan, explore Samarkand in Uzbekistan, head to Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – yep, that’s a total of five Stans! See the best of the Silk Road and deep dive into the fascinating history, captivating landscapes and beautiful culture that is intertwined throughout this region. You'll stay in yurts near Lake Issykul, explore Registan square in Samarkand and discover Darvaza Crater, a 70-metre wide hole in the Karakum Desert that is permanently aflame (yes, you read that right). And that’s just a few of the highlights of this trip! There’s so much to see, do and learn in this region, you’ll constantly find yourself surprised and delighted on this 24-day adventure through Central Asia.

Trip overview

Map of Central Asia: Five Stans Express including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
Start
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Finish
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Theme
Explorer
Destinations
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Style
Original
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
KFSS
We’re in the process of figuring out how much CO2-e this trip generates. In the meantime, find out more about our climate commitments and carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • This trip explores the essential highlights of Central Asia and uncovers culture, nature and history while meeting some of the most hospitable people in the world
  • With breathtaking scenery at every turn, you’ll discover the incredible Darvaza Crater, Kolsai Lakes and Issykul Lake
  • Take a step back in time as you explore the Silk Road history and visit Khiva ancient town, Registan in Samarkand, Bukhrara, and Khujand
  • Get to know the locals as you visit a carpet-making workshop, meet a local eagle trainer (or Berkutchi), rub shoulders with the locals in the bustling bazaars and test your taste buds in a dinner of home-cooked plov (Uzbekistan's national dish)
  • Enjoy special stays like sleeping in yurts near Lake Issykul, staying in local villages and making yourself at home in a boutique hotel that used to be an old Jewish house in Bukhara

Is this trip right for you?
  • This trip explores the best of Central Asia in a short time, covering a lot of ground. If you want to be far, far away from everywhere and experience the key highlights of Central Asia – this trip is for you.
  • In true adventure style, the trip involves some long travel days by private vehicle. The road may be bumpy and dusty, but the experience and the journey will be rewarding. This is a great opportunity to sit back, unwind and let the sweeping views roll by. Drives range from 3 to 10 hours in duration. Though the longer travel days and single night overnight stays can be tiring, you'll be in a private vehicle, and much of the scenery in this part of the world is simply stunning.
  • You’ll experience varying temperatures in the desert and out on the steppe or in the mountains from below zero to over 40 ºC, so check the weather forecast online before you visit and pack accordingly.
  • Tourism is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, with Letters of Invitation needed in advance in order to apply for your visa (which you can then get on arrival) and guides tending to be protective of what tourists see and fiercely proud of their nation and its leaders. Those used to more freedom of exploration and tour guides with a more global perspective may find their experience here different from in other destinations. Please see the ‘Passport and visas’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.
  • Be prepared to experience the full legacy of the Soviet era – not just in the sights and history, but also in the standards of accommodation and service! A range of different accommodations are used on this trip, including yurt camp, home stay, guesthouse, hotels and camping. The conditions at the camping, yurt stay and the home stays are basic with shared facilities. This means the group being split between different houses, multi-share rooms and the bathroom facilities are separated from your sleeping quarters. For the camping at the Darvaza Crater, sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are all provided, but there are no bathing or permanent toilet facilities at the campsite. You won't be able to take a shower every day on this trip.

Itinerary

Map of Central Asia: Five Stans Express including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

Inclusions

Meals

23 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

Private Vehicle, Flight, Metro, High Speed Train

Accommodation

Hotel (16 nights), Guest House (1 night), Tourist Yurt Camp (2 nights), Home Stay (3 nights), Camping (1 night)

Activities
  • Ashgabat – Complimentary Arrival Transfer
  • Ashgabat - Ertugrul Gazi Mosque
  • Ashgabat - Anau ruins
  • Ashgabat - Independence Monument
  • Ashgabat - Turkmenbashy Ruhi Mosque & Family Mausoleum of the First President of Turkmenistan
  • Ashgabat - Neutrality Arch
  • Darvaza - "Door to Hell" Crater
  • Konye-Urgench - City tour
  • Khiva - Juma Mosque
  • Khiva - Islom Hoja Minaret & Medressa
  • Khiva - Tosh-Hovli Palace
  • Khiva - Kunya Ark
  • Khiva - Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum
  • Bukhara - Ark Fortress
  • Bukhara - Chor Minor
  • Bukhara - Bolo Hauz Mosque
  • Bukhara - Kalon Minaret & Mosque
  • Bukhara - Taki Zargaron Trading Dome
  • Bukhara - Ulugbek Madrasa
  • Bukhara - Lyabi-Hauz Plaza
  • Samarkand - Plov cooking demonstration & family visit
  • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda
  • Samarkand - Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum
  • Samarkand - Bibi-Khanym Mosque
  • Samarkand - Registan
  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
  • Tashkent - State Museum of History of Uzbekistan
  • Tashkent - City tour
  • Tashkent - Metro tour
  • Khujand - History Museum
  • Khujand - Jami Mosque
  • Sary Tag - Iskanderkul Lake
  • Dushanbe – Hissor Fort
  • Dushanbe – National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan
  • Dushanbe - Rudaki Square and Somoni Museum
  • Almaty - Kok Tobe Hill
  • Almaty - Central State Museum
  • Almaty - Zenkov Cathedral
  • Almaty - Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments
  • Almaty - Panfilov Park
  • Charyn Canyon - National Park
  • Kolsay Lakes National Park - Hiking
  • Karakol - Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral
  • Karakol - Dungan Mosque
  • Karakol - Jeti Orghuz Canyon Hike
  • Issyk-Kul Lake - Fairy Tale Canyon picnic lunch
  • Issyk-Kul Lake - Home-cooked dinner
  • Issyk-Kul Lake - Carpet workshop
  • Issyk-Kul Lake - Yurt workshop
  • Issyk-Kul Lake - Eagle Hunter Visit
  • Bishkek - City Tour With Local Guide

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is bookable if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 3 (camping), Day 13 (home stay), Day 18&19 (home stay), and Day 21&22 (yurt camp), where you will be in shared accommodation. Single supplement is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for flight ticket booking no later than 45 days prior to departure. Fees may apply for amendments or failure to provide the required details within 45 days of departure.
3. This is a multi-country trip. Please read the visa section of the Essential Trip Information carefully for the visa requirement. You'll need to travel with one passport throughout the trip as using different passport for exiting and then entering a different country may cause issue at the immigration. Visa for Turkmenistan requires a Letter of Invitation in advance which needs to be organized by our local operator. Evisa for Tajikistan for some nationalities will require a Letter of Invitation. Essential documents for the letter of invitation should be submitted no later than 60 days before the trip.
4. Independent travel is not allowed in Turkmenistan. If you have pre trip accommodation booked with us, you won't be allowed to leave your hotel without a guide in Ashgabat. Please consult with your booking agent if you need to book pre-trip accommodation in Ashgabat.
5. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel for us to arrange your complimentary arrival transfer. Once you have provided your flight details, a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Please note that this transfer could be a group one if customers arrive on the same flight.
6. If you are booked on a Friday departure in 2024, Air Astana has changed their flight schedule and there’s no flight from Dushanbe to Almaty on Day 16 of the trip as it was originally scheduled, therefore, your itinerary will change to below:
Day 14 Travel to Dushanbe, overnight in Dushanbe
Day 15 Midday flight to Almaty, overnight in Almaty
Day 16 Almaty city tour; overnight in Almaty
Day 17 Free day in Almaty, overnight in Almaty
Included visits and experiences not not changed in Dushanbe and Almaty, with adjustment of order of visits.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.

Read Essential Trip Information

Reviews

4.9 out of 5 based on 13 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Laurel · Traveled May 2024
This was an amazing trip through the 5 'Stans'. Both tour leaders, Rejep and Nazira were fabulous and knowledgeable. It is a very fast paced tour so you are on the go a lot and its also fairly active with lots of walking. There is so much to see and do and each country is so diverse. I learnt so much about their history and cultures and wished I could have stayed longer. If you are thinking about it, just do it. Its sensational.
Review submitted 22 Jun 2024

Josefina Rizalita · Traveled May 2024
Mindblowing! From surreal Turkmenistan, to amazing mosques and mausoleums of Usbekistan, the mountains and lakes of Tajikistan, the endless steppes of Kasachstan and the nomadic culture of the Kirgis people. It’s a trip of a lifetime.
Review submitted 20 Jun 2024

Diana · Traveled May 2024
Fabulous trip, experiencing and learning about these little-known countries which were the centre of world trade ('silk road') in centuries past. Amazing culture, intriguing politics, vast landscapes and breathtaking mountain scenery.
Review submitted 16 Jun 2024

Jillian · Traveled May 2024
This is an excellent itinerary. It provides a balance between history, culture, engaging activities and dramatic scenery. The quality of the guides and the organisation of the trip was excellent. The accommodation places were warmly receptive and helpful. They usually went out of their way in anticipating our requests. Loved it.
Review submitted 14 Jun 2024

Dipti · Traveled April 2024
This is a great trip for anyone wanted to explore the stans. Most of the trip focuses on Uzbekistand whhich has a lot to offer, and you get a good taster of the other stans! I really enjoyed all of it!
Review submitted 26 May 2024
Central Asia: Five Stans Express
From
EUR €4,892