Shangri-La Express Golden Eagle Train Ichan Khala Walls Khiva, Uzbekistan

The Silk Road Westbound – Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

The most epic rail journey in the world  - the renowned Trans - Siberian Express! Travel  6,500 miles on the luxurious Golden Eagle, your luxe hotel  on wheels. During your two weeks you will see some of the most unique places in the world, Lake Baikal, Ulaan Baatar, Vladivostok -  almost inaccessible by any other route and certainly not in the same level of comfort or luxury.  Four other journeys are possible with the Golden Eagle; perhaps the most evocative is The Silk Road. Following in the footstep of Marco Polo, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, it’s a 21 day adventure from Russia to China.

The Tour Includes:

  • All meals and wine, beer and soft drinks provided with Lunch and Dinner.
  • Experienced tour representatives throughout the tour.
  • Russian Interpreters able to speak English, German, French and Italian.
  • Comprehensive off-train sightseeing program as detailed in the itinerary. Please note that all touring is with fellow-passengers at all times.
  • A doctor who travels with the train throughout the tour.
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water throughout the tour from your car attendant.

Accommodations:

Beijing: Three (3) nights at the Regent Hotel or similar; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily.

 Xian: One (1) night at the Sofitel Xian or similar; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily.

Dunhuang: One (1) night at the Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel or similar; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily. 

Shangri-La Express: One Cabin for Three (3) nights on board the Shangri-La Express. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included daily.

Golden Eagle: One Silver or Gold Class Cabin or Imperial Suite for Ten (10) nights on board the Golden Eagle. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included daily.

Moscow: Two (2) nights at the Baltschug Kempinski; Tax and Buffet Breakfast included daily.

The Tour Does Not Include:

  • Travel cancellation insurance.
  • Charges of a personal nature on the train or at the hotels (laundry, telephone, bar account, etc.)
  • Visas (as required) or Excess Baggage Charges, Airport Departure Taxes, Vaccination or Medical Costs.

Options and Extensions:

Please contact Exeter International for tour extensions and options in Russia. All tour extensions are on a private customized basis.

 Trip Departures: 

September 23-October 13, 2016

September 26 - October 16, 2017

Download Itinerary PDF Here.

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

Silver Class $24,595.00 per person, double occupancy                                                   Silver Class $35,895.00 single occupancy   Gold Class $30,795.00 per person, double occupancy                                                          Gold Class $44,595.00 single occupancy

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Upon arrival at Beijing Airport, you will be met and transferred to the five-star Regent Hotel (or similar), which is located in the historical centre of the city. This luxurious Beijing hotel is minutes from the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing shopping street, the Oriental Plaza and picturesque hutongs (old lanes).

You will enjoy a welcome reception dinner at a local restaurant, giving you the opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and look ahead to your 21 day voyage of a lifetime. 

Accommodation: Regent Beijing

Day 2
Beijing, China | Beijing, China

In your extensive touring program of the Imperial City, you visit Tiananmen Square and explore the magnificently restored Forbidden City which was built in the early 14th century and was home to the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Your cultural exploration continues at the Temple of Heaven, built during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifices to the heavens, which is the grandest of the four great temples situated in Beijing. Here you experience enchanting displays of traditional dancing, singing and the delicately precise ancient art of calligraphy. You’ll also explore the small ‘hutong’ lanes of old Beijing by rickshaw and visit a local family in a traditional courtyard house.

Alternatively, with your Freedom of Choice touring program you’ll be offered a tour to Cuandixia ancient village, nestled in the mountains 90kms (56 miles) west of Beijing. Cuandixia is known for its architecture and the natural beauty of the area. It is home to more than 500 well preserved courtyard houses dating to the Ming and Qing dynasties.

 Accommodation: Regent Beijing

Day 3
Beijing, China | Beijing, China

During your three-night stay in Beijing you’ll devote one whole day to the most awe-inspiring site in the whole of China – The Great Wall. This amazing edifice is perhaps the most evocative symbol of Chinese skill and precision. Originally built to protect the Chinese Empire from raids by nomadic tribes, it is the longest man-made structure in the world and part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

You have the privilege of walking along a portion of the wall – the perfect opportunity to take some memorable photographs with your fellow guests.

Accommodation: Regent Beijing

Day 4
Xian, China | Xian, China

This morning you depart Beijing and travel to Xian on the exhilarating new high speed railway line. Travelling at speeds of up to 300kms per hour (190 miles per hour) the bullet train will cover the distance of 1,144kms (710 miles) in a time of approximately 5 hours.

Arriving in Xian early this afternoon, you will have several hours to explore the world famous Terracotta Warriors, discovered by peasants only 40 years ago. The 6,000 terracotta figures and their horses are one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.

Alternatively, as part of our Freedom of Choice program you will be offered a visit to the Han Yangling Museum. This tomb, dating back 2,000 years with its adjoining museum, is one of China’s best kept secrets.

Accommodation: Sofitel Xian

Day 5
Xian, China | Xian, China

Following breakfast at the hotel you will admire Xian's historical architecture on a cycle along the ancient city walls and experience the bustling street culture of the Muslim Quarter with a visit to the Great Mosque.

Later this afternoon you will board the Shangri-La Express for the next stage of your journey across China. A welcome dinner of authentic Chinese cuisine is served onboard in the restaurant cars, as you travel towards Dunhuang.

Accommodation: Shangri-La Express

Day 6
Dunhuang, China | Dunhuang, China

Following a leisurely morning onboard, you arrive in the small oasis city of Dunhuang. This afternoon you explore the vast natural beauty of the Gobi Desert by camel. Here you discover Crescent Lake. Hidden amongst towering sand dunes, it has sustained life in this region for millennia.

You stay for one night at the Silk Road Dunhuang hotel and tonight you experience dinner and a local folk performance in this magical setting.

Accommodation: Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel

Day 7
Dunhuang, China | Dunhuang, China

You wake early this morning to experience sunrise over the magnificent sand dunes, before you visit the fascinating Magao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex. This impressive site contains almost 500 grottoes, carved between 700 and 1,700 years ago. Inside you will see an amazing collection of beautiful sculptures and murals depicting the evolution of Buddhist religious art over this 1,000 year period.

Later this afternoon you will rejoin the Shangri-la Express for your onward journey to Turpan.

Accommodation: Shangri-La Express

Day 8
Turpan, China | Turpan, China

Turpan is the location where the Flaming Mountains create a magnificent backdrop. You take a fascinating tour to the ancient underground irrigation system that has successfully fed the rich orchards and vineyards for centuries. You will also visit the Museum of Turpan with its 5,000 artifacts detailing the rich history of the area and includes the Ancient Mummy exhibition with exhibits dating back 3,200 years. Your final destination is the elegantly decaying sand fortress city of Jiaohe that was founded in 108 BC and became an important trading route along the Silk Road until it was abandoned in the 13th century following a raid by Genghis Khan.  

Accommodation: Shangri-La Express

Day 9
Crossing into Kazakhstan | Crossing into Kazakhstan

After a final breakfast on board the Shangri La Express, you’ll pass through the dramatic mountain scenery before arriving in Alashankou, where border controls are carried out.  The border crossing takes approximately five hours and patience is a virtue!  You’ll be transferred to the waiting Golden Eagle private train for the continuation of your journey to Moscow.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 10
Almaty, Kazakhstan | Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and is notable for its wide tree-lined boulevards. Surrounded by the majesty of the Tien Shan Mountains, this beautifully verdant city derives its name from ‘alma’ meaning ‘apple’. Just a short distance from the city, apple orchards thrive in abundance.

Your city tour includes a visit to Panfilov Park where you have the opportunity to visit the Zenkhov Cathedral which was built entirely of wood. You’ll also go out of the city to the Chimbulak resort, where a cable car ride will give you spectacular views of Almaty and the mountains.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 11
Tashkent, Uzbekistan | Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and you spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. Your tour of the city includes the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets and here in a small library you’ll be privileged to see one of Islam’s most sacred relics – the world’s oldest Koran. This is followed by a visit to the Railway Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 12
Samarkand, Uzbekistan | Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Just the mention of Samarkand instantly conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road, more so than any other town. Founded in the 6th century BC, Samarkand’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia and is particularly noted for its architectural remains from the 14th to the 17th century, when it flourished as the fabled capital of the Mongol empire of Timur and his successors.

Today you will visit some of its most significant sites including Registan Square, the refined elegance of the beautifully proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque and the Ulag Beg observatory, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories built in 1428. Before dinner you will return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 13
Bukhara, Uzbekistan | Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. Like Khiva, UNESCO backed the renovation of much of the city for its 2,500th anniversary in 1999.  The highlight of this wonderful tour is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara - the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times. You will then travel out of the city to experience the Emir’s enchantingly named, Palace of the Moon and Stars.  This evening, weather and time permitting, you will enjoy a barbecue on the station platform before the train departs.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 14
Mery, Turkmenistan | Mery, Turkmenistan

From Mary you transfer to the ancient and mainly unrestored remains of Merv. Once an important stopping point on the Silk Road, it claims to have briefly been the largest city in the world during the 12th century.

1794 saw the demise of Merv, after the Emir of Bukhara destroyed the dam which the population depended on for its water.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 15
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan | Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan is known as the ‘Las Vegas of the Kara Kum’. Situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, Ashgabat is a relatively modern city built upon the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala and the Soviet city built after the devastating earthquake of 1948.

The city’s extravagant fountains, golden domes and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this desert setting. Highlights on your visit include a visit to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque.

 The Golden Eagle makes a brief scheduled stop at Ichoguz, where you have the option to leave the train and make a short journey to Darvaza's famous burning gas crater, a spectacular sight best seen at night. 

Located in the middle of the Kara Kum desert where the area is rich in natural gas, the 70 metre-wide crater is known by locals as the 'Door to Hell' and has been burning for over 40 years. A unique experience that is not to be missed. 

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 16
Khiva, Uzbekistan | Khiva, Uzbekistan

Today, you travel to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago.  As one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia.  A truly magnificent sight to behold, it rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of impressive architecture.  Stepping back in time, discover its impressive mosques, bazaars and minarets within Khiva’s ancient walls. 

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 17
Kara Kum Desert, Turkmenistan | Kara Kum Desert, Turkmenistan

Today, enjoy a relaxing day onboard as you travel across the vast expanses of the Kara Kum desert.  As well as experiencing the unique landscape, you can take the opportunity to chat to fellow passengers and maybe take a Russian language lesson.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 18
Volgograd, Russia | Volgograd, Russia

Standing on the banks of the Volga, Stalingrad, as the city was known in Soviet times, was the dramatic scene of one of the most important Second World War battles. The Russians heroically turned back the Nazi advance here to alter the course of the war.  You will visit the poignantly sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, followed by the informative diorama and absorbing museum visit. Tonight is your final evening on board the Golden Eagle and the occasion will be marked with a farewell banquet.

Accommodation: Golden Eagle

Day 19
Moscow, Russia | Moscow, Russia

Having travelled almost 7,000 miles (11,226km) from Beijing you arrive into Moscow, your final destination.

Included in your time spent in Moscow is a two-night stay at the five-star Baltschug Kempinski.

Accommodation: Baltschug Kempinski

Day 20
Moscow, Russia | Moscow, Russia

Your touring program of Moscow principally takes you to the grandeur of the Kremlin – the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow – and to see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber. You also visit Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful facade of the world famous GUM department store, constructed in Tsarist times, and the sombre and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb.

With your Freedom of Choice touring options you may instead wish to travel out of the city centre to Sergiev Posad, home to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Russia and the historical and spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church or visit the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art).

Accommodation: Baltschug Kempinski

Day 21
Departure | Moscow, Russia

Following breakfast in the hotel, you will be transferred to Moscow airport to begin your journey home.

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