Day 1: Beijing. Transfer included from airport to five-star Regent Hotel (or similar) in Beijing for a three-night stay. Welcome reception and dinner.
Day 2: Beijing. Full day tour of Beijing, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the grand Temple of Heaven. Alternate touring of “modern” Beijing, including Olympic Village and stadiums, CCTV Tower and National Museum.
Day 3: Beijing. Morning visit to Great Wall at Badaling, with a chance to walk along a restored portion of the Wall. Free time in Beijing this afternoon. Dinner at specialty Peking Duck restaurant.
Day 4: Board the Shangri-La Express
Free morning in Beijing, then transfer to Beijing West station to board Shangri-La Express, and begin the 6,835-mile journey to Moscow. Settle into your cabin or have a drink in the bar car. Lunch and dinner served on board.
Day 5: Xian
Explore Xian’s ancient city walls and Great Mosque, one of oldest and largest in China. Afternoon visit to world-famous Terracotta Warriors, discovered by peasants just 40 years ago. The 6,000 figures and their horses, buried with First Emperor of Xin in 210 BC, are one of 20th century’s greatest archaeological finds. Alternate touring of Han Yangling Museum available. Enjoy Tang Dynasty dinner, music and dance show.
Day 6: Lanzhou
Morning arrival in Lanzhou, vital city on the Silk Route. Visit Gansu Provincial Museum to see the kind of goods that moved along the Silk Route, along with the famous “galloping horse” dating from the Eastern Han period. Return to the train for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Dunhuang
Arrive in small oasis city of Dunhuang to visit Mogao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex containing some 500 grottoes, carved 700 to 1,700 years ago. Lunch with local folk performance. Afternoon exploration of Gobi Desert; take a camel ride to Crescent Moon Lake.
Day 8: Turpan/Urumchi
Turpan’s Flaming Mountains create a stunning backdrop. Tour the city’s ancient underground irrigation system that has successfully supplied rich orchards and vineyards for centuries. Next visit elegantly decaying sand city of Jiaohe, founded in 108 BC. Then motorcoach to Urumchi to see Xinjiang Provincial Museum’s renowned mummy exhibition. Depart for Kazakhstan.
Day 9: Arrive Kazakhstan
Arrive Alashankou for border control and transfer to Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. (Note this border crossing can be very lengthy.) Settle into your private cabin with ensuite facilities and your first dinner on the Russian train.
Day 10: Almaty
Tour Almaty, flourishing former capital of Kazakhstan. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a Kazak “yurt,” typical nomadic dwelling. Spend the evening on board the train; after dinner enjoy a drink while listening to the resident pianist in the bar car.
Day 11: Tashkent. Breakfast and lunch on board, with lectures on the region’s history. Arrive Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. Local tour includes the Old Town, Railway Museum Museum of Applied Arts.
Day 12: Samarkand
Tour Samarkand, whose appellations include “Rome of the East” and “Pearl of the Muslim World,” and whose admirers include Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. Tour includes Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ulug Beg observatory and illuminated Registan Square. Dinner near the square.
Day 13: Bukhara
Morning arrival in oasis city of Bukhara, whose renovation UNESCO funded for city’s 2,500-year anniversary in 1999. Tour includes The Ark, fortified residence of Emirs of Bukhara—rulers infamous for their cruelty. Enjoy traditional lunch in the city, then visit Emir’s Palace of Moon and Stars.
Day 14: Merv. Continue through desert to Merv, ancient Silk Road city left to perish after Emir of Bukhara destroyed the dam, which the population depended upon for water. Visit one of the five walled cities.
Day 15: Ashgabat. Arrive Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan and newly constructed “Las Vegas of the Kara Kum Desert.” City’s modern, multi-fountained, gold-gilded center is dedicated to former president Sapamurat Turkmenbashi.
Day 16: Khiva
Cross back into Uzbekistan and tour Khiva—one of most important trading centers at crossroads of routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia. Khiva’s fabulous buildings, mosques, bazaars and minarets testify to its former wealth.
Day 17: Kara Kum Desert. All-train day crossing Kazakhstan’s Kara Kum Desert. Stop briefly at remote villages along way. Evening crossing into Russia.
Day 18: Volgograd (Stalingrad). Stalingrad, as it was known in WWII, was the scene of the most historic battles in human history. Visit sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial at site where Russia finally turned back Nazi advance.
Day 19: Moscow. Arrive Moscow late afternoon. Transfer to five-star centrally located Marriott Royal Aurora Hotel for two-night stay. Evening at leisure.
Day 20: Moscow
Full day touring in Moscow: St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, The Kremlin and Lenin’s Tomb. Alternate touring options, such as Tretyakov Gallery or Sergiev Posad excursion, are available. Farewell dinner this evening.
Day 21: Moscow. Transfers included to Moscow airport.
-Sept. 20-Oct. 10 (Moscow-Beijing)
-Sept. 24-Oct. 14 (Beijing-Moscow)
-March 31-April 20 (Beijing-Moscow)
-Sept. 19-Oct. 9 (Moscow-Beijing)
-Sept. 23-Oct. 13 (Beijing-Moscow)
-Oct. 22-Nov. 11 (Beijing-Moscow).
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