- Beijing, The Great Wall, Forbidden City
- Xian, The Terracotta Army and city tour
- Dunhuang's Magao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex
- Heavenly Lake in Urumchi
- Almaty, fomer capital of Kazakhstan
- Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan and Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan
- Merv and Khiva
- Kara Kum Desert
- Last but not least the trains, two comfortable hotels-on-wheels with bar cars, restaurant cars and first-class sleeping cars.
Tour Itinerary (Westbound):
Day 1: Beijing. Transfer from airport to five-star hotel in Beijing for two-night stay. Welcome dinner.
Day 2: Beijing. Full day tour of Beijing, including the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Lunch and dinner in the city.
Day 3: Beijing. Morning visit to Great Wall at Badaling. Lunch in the city followed by free time at the market. Dinner at specialty Peking Duck restaurant.
Day 4: Board the Shangri-La Express. Transfer to Beijing West station to board your private train, the Shangri-La Express, and begin the 7,050-mile journey to Moscow. Lunch and dinner on board.
Day 5: Luoyang. Arrive Luoyang, in the Yellow River Valley. Visit local museum with city artifacts recovered from tombs. Tour Longmen Caves. This complex of 1,350 caves contains over 100,000 statues and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 6: Xi’an. Morning arrival in ancient city of Xi’an. See the Great Mosque, eight-mile city walls, Drum and Bell Towers and Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Afternoon visit to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, discovered by peasants just over 30 years ago. The thousands of terracotta figures are one of the best-loved and most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century. Dinner and Tang Dynasty show in city; evening train departure.
Day 7: Lanzhou. Arrive midday in Lanzhou, a vital city on the Silk Route. Visit the 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. Late afternoon departure and dinner on board.
Day 8: Dunhuang. Morning arrival in small oasis city of Dunhuang to visit the fascinating Mogao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex. It contains about 500 grottoes, carved 700 to 1,700 years ago, and is filled with an amazing collection of sculptures and murals depicting the evolution of Buddhist religious art. Afternoon trip to the Sand Dunes; optional camel ride to Crescent Moon Lake. Dinner near the dunes with a local folk show.
Day 9: Turpan/Urumchi. Arrive Turpan, where we view the Flaming Mountains, the Emin Minaret and the Karez 2,000-year-old irrigation system. Lunch on the train as we travel to Urumchi to visit the Xinjiang Provincial Museum. Depart for Kazakhstan.
Day 10: Crossing to Kazakhstan. Arrive Alashankou after breakfast, where border controls are carried out, and we transfer to our waiting Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express private train for the continuation of our journey to Moscow. Lunch and dinner on the train.
Day 11: Almaty. Morning arrival in Almaty and tour the flourishing former capital of Kazakhstan, nestled in the foothills of the Tien Shan mountains. Visit the magnificent 170-foot-high wooden Zenkhov Cathedral before lunch in a Kazak yurt in the mountains.
Day 12: Tashkent. Lunch on board and arrival in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. Spend the afternoon in this pleasant, modern Soviet style city, including a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts.
Day 13: Samarkand. Many phrases have been used to describe this wonderful city–“Rome of the East” and “Pearl of the Muslim World”—and it counts Alexander the Great, Marco Polo and Tamerlane among its most well-known admirers. Full day touring the many fabulous buildings including the Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ulug Beg observatory and the awe-inspiring Registan Square. After dinner enjoy an evening of traditional dancing and music at the splendidly lit Square.
Day 14: Bukhara. Awaken to the splendor of Uzbekistan’s oasis city, Bukhara, having traversed the Kyzyikum Desert during the night. UNESCO funded the renovation of this “jewel of the desert” for its 2,500-year anniversary in 1999. Tour includes The Ark, fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara—rulers infamous for their cruelty. Enjoy a lunch of traditional cuisine in one of the city’s many beautifully tiled Islamic schools, then travel out of the city to visit the Emir’s Palace of Moon and Stars.
Day 15: Ashgabat. We arrive in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, and tour this newly constructed “Las Vegas of the Kara Kum Desert.” The old city has been replaced with a modern, multi-fountained, gold-gilded center dedicated to “President for life” Sapamurat Turkmenbashi.
Day 16: Merv. Continue through the desert to Merv, an ancient Silk Road city left to die after the Emir of Bukhara destroyed the dam, which the population depended upon for water. Visit one of the five walled cities.
Day 17: Khiva. Cross back into Uzbekistan and tour fascinating Khiva today—one of the most important trading centers at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia. Its former wealth is evident in the fabulous buildings, mosques, bazaars and minarets—many of which were restored with UNESCO’s help for its recent 2,500th anniversary. Lunch and dinner on the train as we travel north.
Day 18: Kara Kum Desert. Day spent on board while traveling through Kazakhstan’s Kara Kum Desert. Stop briefly at remote villages along the way, with breakfast, lunch and dinner on the train. Cross into Russia this evening.
Day 19: Volgograd. Probably the most important battle of WWII occurred on the banks of the River Volga in Stanlingrad, as it was known then. The Russians finally turned back the Nazi advance to the Caucasian oil fields in Baku in the famous battle that took more than two million lives on both sides, the bloodiest battle in human history. Up to this defeat, Hitler had lost no major battles; after Stalingrad he won none. Stalingrad paid an enormous price for the victory—it was virtually destroyed. Visit the sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, excellent diorama and interesting museum. Return to the train for our final dinner on board.
Day 20: Moscow. Lunchtime arrival in Moscow where our tour concludes with a night in a five-star hotel. Afternoon visit to Red Square and the Kremlin. Farewell dinner held in the city.
Day 21: Moscow. Airport transfers provided to connect with flights.
For this tour, we will be using two trains. The first is the "Shangri-La Express". When we cross the border into Russia, we will transfer to our waiting "Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express". Accommodation on the trains is in modern air-conditioned first-class sleeping cars, two people per twin compartment. Single occupancy is available at a supplement. A washbasin and shower is shared between each two compartments on the Chinese train. There is a large amount of luggage space under the seats and above the door, hangers are provided for clothes, and there is a small table by the window. There are also two washrooms in each car, chemical toilets are available for use during stops.
The restaurant cars will serve three meals per day (except where meals are taken in restaurants), and each sleeping car will have two attendants who provide tea and coffee throughout the tour and make up the beds each night during dinner. A Bar Car will also be included in the train formation.
In Russia, members will transfer to the "Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express," which offers varying classes of accommodation as follows:
- Silver Class: Silver Class carriages have six compartments each with private en-suite facilities (power shower, toilet and sink). Silver Class compartments feature under floor heating, DVD/CD player, audio system, individual air conditioning, recessed lighting and wardrobe space. There is a wide lower bed, as well as an upper twin bed.
- Gold Class: Gold Class compartments are the most luxurious and spacious on the train. Amenities are similar to the Silver Class compartments, but the Gold Class cabins are larger. Gold Class carriages have only five compartments per car, each with en-suite facilities (the shower is larger in Gold Class than Silver). Some departures feature the "Siberian Tiger Trans-Siberian Express."
General Information: A full passport with at least six months validity from the start of the tour is required. Visas: Chinese, Uzbek, Kazak, Turkmen and Russian Visas will be required. We will provide instructions for arrangement of all visas.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia China Kazakhstan Uzbekistan Local Culture Railway Trips