Central Asia: Five Stans Express

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

4.8 out of 5 based on 6 reviews submitted.
USD $5,891
View dates and book

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 by 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
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
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
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
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 by 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.


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



23 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 8 dinners


Private Vehicle, Flight, Metro, High Speed Train


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

  • 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

Dates and availability

Loading trip dates and availabilities...

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


4.8 out of 5 based on 6 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.

Filter by rating

John · Traveled April 2024
Ever aspect of the trip was great apart from the lack of warm bedding at Darvaza.The tour guides Nazira,Jem and Regep were consistently excellent.Hotel accommodation ,food arrangements and the yurts at Issy Kul lake were first class.
Review submitted 26 Apr 2024

Mary · Traveled April 2024
Pleasantly surprised with my trip to the 5 Stans as it was my first group trip ever and friends had used Intrepid in the past. It exceeded my expectations and was exhilarating, sometimes exhausting, informative … my knowledge of history in this area has improved tenfold! The tour leader was fantastic, our needs were met and all requests met. I choose single supplement and was glad I had as at end of long days with so much human contact it was great ti have some recharge time. Overall this trip requires a level of fitness and Stamina as so much is covered. I Treasure the memories and new friendships gained.
Review submitted 29 Apr 2024

Michael · Traveled October 2023
This is a poorly designed questionnaire. You should have asked what we specifically liked and didn’t like. You should have asked for suggestions for changes in the itinerary. You should have asked what we thought of the other tour guides, namely Igor in Turkmenistan and Nazira in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan.
Review submitted 02 Nov 2023

Vikki · Traveled September 2023
A fantastic blend of cities, nature, history & culture. Highly recommended if you have an interest in the silk road & want a trip with a lot of variety but have limited time. I would have loved it to be a few days longer! Our tour leaders were excellent!
Review submitted 01 Oct 2023

James · Traveled September 2023
I could not have asked for a better organized trip. The tours and transportation were prompt, the included meals were plentiful and delicious. All the guides spoke English very well and their local knowledge was on point.
Review submitted 09 Oct 2023
Central Asia: Five Stans Express
USD $5,891