Along the Silk Road: A Journey By Classic Train

  • 14-day train odyssey aboard the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express
  • Explore Moscow, Volgograd, and the ancient oasis cities of Khiva, Merv, Bukhara, and Samarkand

Expedition Details


Chart the course of history traveling along the legendary Silk Road aboard the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. Follow in the footsteps of merchants, Mongols, and princes, as we travel from Moscow to the ancient oasis cities of Central Asia, visiting four countries and six UNESCO World Heritage sites. See the tiled domes of Bukhara and Samarkand, and venture into mud-brick towns that evoke the camel caravans of old.

Trip Highlights

    • Step back in time at Turkmenistan’s World Heritage sites, Nisa and Merv.
    • Take a tour of Moscow’s Red Square at night, and meet a Russian cosmonaut.
    • Hear the dramatic tales of the emirs of Bukhara on a visit to their fortress palace.
    • Enjoy a meal in an authentic yurt in the mountains outside Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Itinerary - 14 Days

Days 1, 2, & 3 — U.S./Moscow, Russia

Depart for Moscow on an overnight flight and check into our centrally located hotel. After time to relax, gather for a welcome dinner. Meet your local guide the next morning for a full day’s exploration of Moscow. On a city tour, see the State Duma building, where Russia’s lower house of parliament meets; the Bolshoi Theater; and the notorious Lubyanka prison, former headquarters of the KGB. Take in sweeping views from Lomonosov Moscow State University, and visit the mighty Kremlin, the locus of Russian and Soviet power since the 12th century. See its three cathedrals where tsars were baptized, crowned, and buried; and peruse the collection of Fabergé eggs and other imperial treasures at the Armory. Visit the monument to the Conquerors of Space, which sweeps some 360 feet into the sky. Delve into the history of space exploration at the recently updated Memorial Museum of Astronautics, and enjoy a specially arranged talk by a Russian cosmonaut. After dinner at a local restaurant, take a tour of Red Square and see St. Basil’s Cathedral, whose whimsical, many-colored onion domes dazzle against the night sky.
Lotte Hotel Moscow (D;B,L,D)

Days 4 & 5 — Moscow/Volgograd

Settle into your cabin aboard our luxurious train and journey to Volgograd, known as Stalingrad during the Soviet era. It was here that Russian forces turned back the German offensive—Hitler’s first major defeat and a turning point in World War II. At the Mamayev Kurgan war memorial and museum, learn about the battle’s devastating effect on the city. Tonight, we continue towards Central Asia.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express (B,L,D daily)

Day 6 — Karakum Desert, Kazakhstan

Enter Kazakhstan and round the north end of the Caspian Sea. As we roll across the vast Karakum (Black Sands) Desert, one of the most challenging stretches for travelers on the Silk Road, take in sweeping views and perhaps spot a camel or two.

Day 7 — Khiva, Uzbekistan

Once the capital of a khanate, Khiva reached its apex as a thriving trading post on the Silk Road between the 17th and 19th centuries. A trip into its historic center, the World Heritage site of Itchan Kala, is a journey back in time. Merchants haggle amid tiled clay mosques and madrasas that date back hundreds of years. Stroll through this splendid old city to witness the harmony of its planning and admire some of the most exquisite Islamic architecture in Central Asia.

Days 8 & 9 — Ashgabat and Merv, Turkmenistan

Brimming with golden domes, soaring minarets, and futuristic skyscrapers, modern Ashgabat is largely the creation of Turkmenistan’s charismatic leader, the late Turkmenbashi. Visit the National Museum of History and Ethnography and the nearby ruins of Nisa, the capital of the ancient Parthian Empire, one of the Roman Empire’s great rivals. The following day, explore Merv, the oldest oasis city along the Silk Road in Central Asia and an important center of Islamic learning until it was sacked by the Mongols.
Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express (B,L,D daily)

Day 10 — Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Our train turns northeast to Bukhara, whose stunning historic center has changed little since the days when caravans passed through. Meander down ancient lanes lined with mud-brick buildings and merchants, and pay a visit to the Ark, the fortified residence of the notorious emirs of Bukhara. After a lunch of local cuisine served in a former madrasa, visit the nearby Palace of Moon-like Stars.

Day 11 — Samarkand

Set on the edge of the Qizilqum (Red Sands) Desert, the fabled city of Samarkand flourished in the 14th and 15th centuries under the rule of Tamerlane and his successors, who commissioned spectacular mosques and madrasas covered in blue tiles. Wander through Registan Square, lined by monuments that represent some of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in the world, and see the glittering turquoise domes of the nearby Bibi Khanum Mosque. Then marvel at Islamic scientist and ruler Ulugh Beg’s incredible medieval observatory.

Day 12 — Tashkent

Tashkent is a patchwork of Soviet-style avenues, warrens of ancient mud-brick homes, and grand mosques. Take a tour of this eclectic capital city, reconstructed after a devastating earthquake in April 1966, and visit the Museum of Fine Arts. Board the train this afternoon for the final leg of our journey.

Days 13 & 14 — Almaty, Kazakhstan/U.S.

Arrive in Almaty, the burgeoning business center of Kazakhstan, nestled in the foothills of the Tien Shan Mountains. Visit the magnificent 170-foot wooden Ascension Cathedral before a special lunch in a Kazakh yurt in the mountains. Toast your Silk Road journey at a festive farewell dinner, and transfer to the airport the following morning.
Hotel Intercontinental Almaty (B,L,D;B)

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