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Golden Eagle Silk Road Westbound

Beijing ● Xian ● Dunhuang ● Turpan ● Almaty ● Tashkent ● Samarkand ● Bukhara ● Merv ● Ashgabat ● Darvaza Gas Crater ● Khiva ● Volgograd ● Moscow

20 nights from UK £ 19,295 per person

Price based on 2 people sharing a Silver Class cabin. These prices are based on 2019 rates. See below for full pricing.
Please note that this is group tour with fixed date departures (see full pricing and dates further down this page). We can also book your international flights if required.

Retracing one of the most important trading routes of ancient civilisation, the Silk Road follows in the footsteps of such legendary figures as Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. For centuries, merchants and adventurers journeyed to and from China on ancient routes through some of the most testing landscapes in the world trading silk, spices and perfumes. These ‘highways’ – stretching some 4,000 miles (6,400 km) – collectively came to be called the ‘Silk Road’.

Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival Beijing

Arrival in Beijing & a Welcome Reception & Dinner

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).

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

Meals Included: Dinner.

Day 2 - Beijing

Tour of the City Including the Forbidden

In our extensive touring programme of the Imperial City, we 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. Our cultural exploration continues at the Temple of Heaven. Built during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifices to the heavens, it is the grandest of the four great temples situated in Beijing.

Here we experience enchanting displays of traditional dancing, singing and the delicately precise ancient art of calligraphy. We will also explore the small ‘hutong’ lanes of old Beijing by rickshaw and visit a local family in a traditional courtyard house.

Alternatively, with our Freedom of Choice touring programme we offer 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.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 3 - Beijing

Visit the Great Wall & Enjoy a Peking Duck Dinner

During our stay in Beijing we devote time 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 world’s longest man-made structure in the world and part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. We have the privilege of walking along a portion of the wall – the perfect opportunity to take some memorable photographs with your fellow guests.

We host an exclusive dinner in an authentic Peking Duck restaurant. The banquet will be complemented by specially selected international wines, as with all our meals, along with a glass of local rice wine also known as ‘firewater’ as befitting this special occasion.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 4 - Beijing to Xian

Bullet Train to Xian & the Terra Cotta Warriors

This morning we depart Beijing and travel to Xian on the exhilarating 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 and 40 minutes.

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

Alternatively, as part of our Freedom of Choice programme we will offer 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.

We stay overnight at the centrally located Sofitel Xian.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 5 - Xian to Dunhuang

Take the Shangri La Express to Dunhuang

Following breakfast at the hotel we 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 we will board the Shangri-La Express for the next stage of our journey across China. A welcome dinner of authentic Chinese cuisine is served on board in the Restaurant Cars as we travel towards Dunhuang.

Imperial Suite and Gold Class passengers will be accommodated in the private en-suite Diamond Class cabins on board the Shangri-La Express, whilst Silver Class will be allocated Heritage Class cabins, which have shared shower and toilet facilities. Upgrades for Silver Class passengers to Diamond Class are available at an extra charge and subject to availability. A waitlist will be in operation for upgrades based on ‘date of booking’ order. Ask the Reservations Department for details. 

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 6 - Dunhuang

The Sand Dunes of Dunhuang

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

We stay for one night at the Silk Road Dunhuang hotel. Tonight we experience dinner and a local folk performance in this magical setting before waking for breakfast the following morning and experiencing the magnificent sunrise over the sand dunes.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 7 - Dunhuang to Turpan

The Mogao Caves & on to the Oasis of Turpan

We wake early this morning to experience sunrise over the magnificent sand dunes, before we visit the fascinating Mogao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex. This impressive site contains almost 500 grottoes carved between 700 and 1,700 years ago. Inside we 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 we will re-join the Shangri-La Express for our onward journey to Turpan.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 8 - Turpan

Explore the Area Around This Desert Oasis

The Flaming Mountains create a magnificent backdrop for our next location: Turpan. We take a fascinating tour to the ancient underground irrigation system that has successfully fed the rich orchards and vineyards for centuries. We will visit the Museum of Turpan with its 5,000 artefacts detailing the rich history of the area and the Ancient Mummy exhibition with exhibits dating back 3,200 years.

Our final destination is the elegantly decaying sand fortress city of Jiaohe. Founded in 108 BC, it became an important trading route along the Silk Road until it was abandoned in the 13th century following a raid by Genghis Khan.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 9 - On Board the Train

Cross From China to Kazakhstan

After a final breakfast on board the Shangri-La Express, we pass through dramatic mountain scenery before arriving at the Chinese border station of Alashankou. The border crossing takes approximately 5 hours but our patience is rewarded as the Golden Eagle is waiting for us at the Kazakh border station of Druzhba.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 10 - Almaty

Kazakhstan’s Former Capital & Largest City

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 beautiful city derives its name from ‘alma’ meaning ‘apple’. Just a short distance from the city, apple orchards thrive in abundance.

Our city tour includes a visit to Panfilov Park where we visit the Zenkhov Cathedral which was built entirely of wood. We will 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.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 11 - Tashkent

Arrive in Uzbekistan’s Capital of Tashkent

Today we visit Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan. We spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city, which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966.

Our tour of the city includes the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets. In a small library here we will 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.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 12 - Samarkand

Tour Perhaps the Most Impressive Architecture of Uzbekistan

More so than any other town, just the mention of Samarkand instantly conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road. 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 we 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 we will return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 13 - Bukhara

More Outstanding Architecture & History

Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. Like Khiva, UNESCO sponsored 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.

We 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, we will enjoy a barbecue on the station platform before our train departs.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 14 - Merv

Visit the Ruins of This Once Mighty City

From Mary we 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.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 15 - Ashgabat

Reach Turkmenistan’s Unusual Capital & Continue to Darvaza Gas Crater

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. The Soviet city was largely rebuilt 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 our visit include a visit to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque.

The Golden Eagle makes a scheduled stop at Ichoguz. We 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 the locals as the ‘Door to Hell’ and has been burning for over 40 years. A unique experience that is not to be missed.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 16 - Khiva

Back Into Uzbekistan & This Ancient Oasis Town

From Urgench we 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, we discover its impressive mosques, madrassas, bazaars and minarets within Khiva’s ancient walls.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 17 - On Board the Train

Continue Through Kazakhstan

We will enjoy a relaxing day on board the Golden Eagle as we travel across the vast open expanses of Kazakhstan and head into Russia. This time offers the opportunity to unwind and reflect on the many sights and sounds we have experienced or are about to experience on our rail journey so far.

Chat to your fellow passengers, listen to a talk on the history of the Silk Road and its people along the route, simply relax with a good book or enjoy the ever-changing landscape outside your window as it unfolds before you.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 18 - Volograd

Visit This Russian City So Important in World War II

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. We visit the poignantly sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, followed by an informative museum visit.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 19 - Moscow

Reach Our Final Destination of Moscow

Having travelled a mammoth 7,000 miles (11,250kms) from Beijing the Golden Eagle pulls into Moscow, our final destination.

Included in our time spent in Moscow are two nights at the stylish five-star Four Seasons Hotel Moscow. Located in the historic building of Moskva Hotel and occupying one of the most enviable addresses in the very heart of Moscow, the hotel is a short walk from the Kremlin, Red Square and the Bolshoi Theatre.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 20 - Moscow

Tour of the Highlights of Moscow & a Farewell Dinner

Our touring programme of Russia’s capital takes us 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 where we will enjoy an exclusive private viewing.

Our exploration of the city continues with a visit to Red Square, the iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture. Here we visit the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires and marvel at the beautiful façade of the world-famous GUM department store which was constructed in Tsarist times.

Lunch is served in Café Pushkin, a legendary Moscow restaurant with a décor that revives the atmosphere of an early 19th century mansion and serves traditional Russian cuisine. An essential part of any visit to Moscow is a tour of the opulent and unique stations of the Moscow metro – showpieces of Socialist art furnished with statues, frescoes and mosaics, unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

If you have been to Moscow before we offer included Freedom of Choice touring where we show you other sights of Moscow such as the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art) or the Space Museum.

This evening we will enjoy a Farewell Dinner toasting the success of our journey.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Day 21 - Depart Moscow

Depart Russia or Extend to St Petersburg

After breakfast in your hotel, you will be transferred to Moscow Airport for your onward flight.

Meals Included:  Breakfast.

2019 Dates & Prices

Starts Beijing 16th April and finishes Moscow 6th May 2019

IMPERIAL SUITE / DIAMOND CLASS

£ 35,995 per person or £ POA for single occupancy of cabin & hotels

GOLD  / DIAMOND CLASS

£ 23,895 per person or £ 34,995 for single occupancy of cabin & hotels

SILVER / HERITAGE CLASS

£ 19,295 per person or £ 27,995 for single occupancy of cabin & hotels

2020 Dates & Prices

Starts Beijing 13th April and finishes Moscow 3rd May 2020

Starts Beijing 1st October and finishes Moscow 21st October 2020

IMPERIAL SUITE / DIAMOND CLASS

£ 37,995 per person or £ 75,895 for single occupancy of cabin & hotels

GOLD  / DIAMOND CLASS

£ 25,395 per person or £ 36,695 for single occupancy of cabin & hotels

SILVER / HERITAGE CLASS

£ 20,195 per person or £ 29,595 for single occupancy of cabin & hotels

Inclusions & Exclusions For This Trip

What is included?

Accommodation in high quality hotels for nights not spent on the train.

Full board the Golden Eagle train including drinks with meals.

Other meals as indicated in the itinerary including welcome and farewell dinners.

Visa support documents required.

Airport transfers and all transportation according to the itinerary.

 Route Guide and Information Pack.

Informative sightseeing tours as per the itinerary with professional guides and your own personal headsets.

 Experienced tour managers and 24 hour service attendants.

Entertainment program on board, including lectures on regional geography, culture, and history of the countries you pass through along the route.

Onboard doctor and medical facilities.

Porter services at all railway stations.

 All tips and gratuities.

Financial Peace of Mind as your trip is protected

What is not included?

International Airfare to / from the start / finish of your trip – we can book these flights on request

The visas – we can advise and partner with VisaCentral

Travel insurance to cover any medical treatment – we recommend ABTASure

Travel insurance to cover any medical treatment

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