Exotic Silk Road Tour 2019A Once in a Lifetime in the Footsteps of Marco Polo 20 day train tour - August 29, 2019
Your BEST opportunity to experience the Silk Road
Our SECRET Tour Along The SILK ROAD
The Best Kept Secret
We have offered this special Silk Road Train Tour twice before – once for 2017 and another one going in 2018. Both times we kept it a secret from the vast majority of you that have traveled with us. We never advertised it in our mailer and we never put it on the website. We just contacted a few past guests each time and easily sold out this special tour. We decided that wasn’t really fair to the rest of our loyal past guests that never received the information or had a chance to participate in this fantastic tour, AND WE DO MEAN FANTASTIC!!! By including our Silk Road Train Tour into this mailer, this special tour is no longer a secret it is open to everyone.
“One of the BEST Tour’s in the World”
One of the Fun For Less Tours owners, who has been to over 100 countries, expressed after experiencing the Silk Road: “this was one of the BEST tours she had ever been on”. The quality of any tour is the number of highlight days. This tour is filled with highlight days. The most beautiful building in the world, with over one billion colorful mosaic tiles, is part of this tour. The tour is filled with hundreds of UNESCO World Heritage Site buildings, most covered in colorful mosaics and some even in gold leaf. There are even ancient walled cities still intact. It is really one of the BEST tours in the whole world and should not be missed.
Why We Have the BEST Silk Road Tour
There have been two ways to travel the silk road through Central Asia. By bus and by train. When we started working on this tour we talked to many that had traveled the Silk Road by bus, we wanted to know how much they liked their bus tour. They all said the same thing – They loved the sites but absolutely hated the extremely long exhausting drives on bad roads to get from one place to another. They all felt a private train would be a much better option! The owners of Fun For Less Tours experienced the Silk Road by private train in 2015. They absolutely loved the train, it would travel by night from one place to another and then they would park the train during the day so you had time to see all the fantastic sites. There was only one drawback to the train Jim and Carol went on – it visited fewer countries than doing it by bus. We wanted to do all the countries AND we wanted to do it by train. The only way we could do that was to charter the whole train and design our own itinerary that included the additional countries. It took us six months to get permission for our private train to enter the additional countries we wanted, we now include all of the countries that would be done by bus. We are the only ones in the world that offers a private train tour that covers China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. We were the first to ever bring a private train into Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan – the only other way to visit all these countries in the past was by a vehicle that often involved many 10 hour drives in one day on bad roads. WE SEE IT ALL WITHOUT THE LONG DRIVES!
Chartering the Whole Train Gave Us FANTASTIC PRICING
When the owners of Fun For Less Tours went on the Silk Road train in 2015 that visited only 3 countries, there were 16 passengers from the USA on the same train. They knew we were preparing for a group in 2017. They also knew we were going to add the Silk Road in China and most likely visit additional countries that were not included on our 2015 train trip. They asked what we might be charging our group when we put it all together. There was no way to be accurate, but we could give an estimate as we knew what our costs would be in China and had some estimated pricing for the train. We took our train cost estimate, added extra for additional countries, added China, added our best guess on airfare in China and then gave them our best guess price. Their program was a 14-day tour, we estimated our future program to be a 20-day tour. They were shocked, at our estimated pricing! For the same cabin category, without China, educator and additional countries we planned to include, they had paid almost $3,000 more per person than we estimated we would charge our passengers for everything. We not only have the best tour of the Silk Road, we have the best pricing! Chartering the whole train created huge savings! We have the best price possible!
Why NOW IS THE TIME
We contracted for three chartered Silk Road Train Tours. 2017, 2018 and 2019. We have already taken 2017 and we are sold out for 2018. When 2019 is sold out, we do not know when we will be able to do this again. We have not been able to get a contract for 2020 as they are using their train in other parts of Europe. We do hope we will be able to charter the train again in the future, but no one knows. Don’t take the chance – Now is the time to schedule this special train tour.
Travel by Planes, Buses, High Speed Train & our Private Train
This really is a once in a lifetime chance to experience the Silk Road in a way no one else can deliver!
In Central Asia (The Heart of the Silk Road):
We will travel throughout Central Asia by our Chartered Private Train – almost every stop was part of the Silk Road! We fly into Ashgabat, Turkmenistan where we will board our PRIVATE DELUXE Train. Silk Road splits into three major trails east. We will take the Northern route, which is the absolute best route for experiencing ancient ruins and staggering beauty. In addition to Ashgabat, you will experience Merv Khiva, Bukhara, Khujand, Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, Tashkent and Bishkek.
Very Important information:
There are a total of 7 countries that end in Stan. We will be traveling through 5 of those countries: Kazakhstan (the 9th largest country in the world), Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. There are two other countries that end in Stan THAT WE ARE NOT VISITING – Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is critical to understand the difference. The 5 Stans we visit were part of the Soviet Union from the 1800’s until 1991. After 70 years of Russia’s no religion policy, there are very few that practice religion, be it Christian or Muslim. Just because a country ends in Stan, does not make them an Afghanistan or Pakistan.
We will fly from Almaty, Kazakhstan, over the 14,000-foot mountains that separate Central Asia from China, into Urumqi, China. From Urumqi we will bus to Turpan, then take a high-speed train to Dunhuang, which was a major crossroad on the Silk Road. From here we will fly to Xian, the ancient capital of China, where the Emperors lived during the time of the Silk Road. It was also the starting/ending point of the Silk Road.
Package Price Includes:
Our Fantastic 20 day Silk Road Package Price Includes:
The Silk Road Express Private Train is 13 days (we added a 6 day China portion that brings the total tour to 20 days).
The 13-day train portion includes many nights on the train along with several hotel nights. We are using the same train company as the one across Siberia. Chartering the whole train has made it possible to do the Silk Road at prices substantially less than the Siberia Rail trip. The 15 day Siberia Rail Train cost was $8,395 for the Classic Cabin (2 lower beds). The 13 day Silk Road Train portion costs $6,595 for the Aladdin Cabin (same 2 lower beds). That is a full $1,800 less than our passengers had to pay to visit Siberia on the same train for the same number of days. We have even more savings on cabins that include their own toilet and shower – the savings range from $5,000 to $7,000 LESS per person. Chartering the train has created huge savings.
The 13 day Train portion includes the following:
- It is our train, with only our passengers on it. We have designed a special tour including stops not offered to others including visiting all 5 Stans.
- 2-nights in one of the best 5-star Luxury Hotels in the World – Ashgabat.
- 1-night 2.5-star First Class Hotel in Bukhara – best location to enjoy Bukhara.
- 2-nights 3-star Deluxe Hotel in Samarkand.
- Private Chartered Train in Aladdin Cabin.
- Most days you will have three meals.
- All touring, Guides, Entrance fees in Central Asia.
- Shows and cultural performances along the way.
- Special experienced train staff that will accompany us on the train and with us on all tours.
- Dr. S. Michael Wilcox as your special guest educator throughout the time on your private train.
- Fun For Less Tour Staff: throughout.
- Whisper Perfect headset receivers that allow you to hear everything, even when you step away from the group to take the important picture.
The 6 day China Portion Includes:
- $880 in airfare.
- Almaty to Urumqi.
- Dunhuang to Xian.
- High-Speed Train between Turpan and Dunhuang, China.
- 1-nights First Class Hotel near the airport in Urumqi, China.
- 1-nights 4-star Deluxe Hotel Turpan, China.
- 2-nights 4-star Deluxe Hotel Dunhuang, China.
- 2-night 5-star Luxury Hotel Xi’an, China.
- All tours in China.
- Breakfast and dinner in China.
- Fun For Less Tour Staff: throughout.
- Whisper Perfect headset receivers that allow you to hear everything, even when you step away from the group to take the important picture.
Package Price: $8,690*
**Per person cash discount price, based on double occupancy. Does not include Domestic or International airfare, visas and tips.
*NOT included in the 20-day package price:
- Airfare into China and home from Ashgabat. Airfare will not open up until approximately 10 months before your tour. We estimate roundtrip airfare into China and home from Russia was around $2,150 per person.
- Visas, tips, personal expenses.
Silk Road Itinerary
Note: It is only a partial list as we are still working on making sure we will see what is most important. Like all of our tours, the itinerary is subject to change as we find ways of improving the itinerary!
Day 1: August 29: Fly to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Fly from the US to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Day 2: August 30: Ashgabat
Evening arrival into Ashgabat. Upon arrival into Ashgabat, you will be greeted and transferred to your 5-star luxury hotel.
Day 3: August 31: Ashgabat
This morning we will drive to the ancient Parthian city of Nisa. We will then head back to the White Marble City of Ashgabat. The city is absolutely impressive, nearly everything is constructed of white marble. It has been compared to a Hollywood-style movie set. Everything is perfect spotlessly clean. We will overnight again in our 5-star Luxury hotel.
Day 4: September 1: Ashgabat – Merv, The Pearl of the East
This morning we will board our chartered deluxe private train and depart for the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of Merv, the remnants of what was once one of the world’s largest and most magnificent cities before being destroyed by Genghis Khan. The initial impression is disbelief, gigantic walls and ramparts simply standing in the middle of the desert next to the impressive ruins of ancient buildings such as the Tomb of Sultan Sanjar, the Maidens’ Castle (Kyz Kala), the historical ice-houses, and other tombs. Then we will return to the train to travel through the night to Bukhara.
Day 5: September 2: Bukhara, the Nobel One
Located in the middle of the Kyzylkum Desert, Bukhara has nearly a thousand architectural monuments recalling the golden age of the Great Silk Route. Exotic spices, furs, especially silk, were stored and traded in the city’s caravanserais. In Bukhara’s Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage site), you see the almost fifty-meter tall Kalyan Minaret and Lyab-I Hauz Ensemble by the pond. You will spend the night in a 3-star First Class Hotel in Bukhara.
Day 6: September 3: The Samanid Mausoleum
Bukhara, which also bears the name Sherif (the noble one), has preserved its ancient oriental countenance in its extensive, unparalleled collections of authentic architecture. In the morning, we drive you to the splendid Mir-i Arab Madrasah and the Samanid Mausoleum, one of Central Asia’s most beautiful architectural treasures. Afterwards, you will tour the massive Ark Citadel, a city within a city that was once the seat of government of Hukhara’s former rulers. There you view the throne room, after which you visit the last Emir’s Summer Residence. We will spend the night on the train.
Day 7: September 4: Khiva
Today you will visit the Stone Oasis of Khiva, a fairy tale from “1001 Nights”. Standing at the mighty town wall with its gates and bastions of mud brick you feel transported into another world. On your sightseeing tour of the oasis, you have a chance to take in its exotic atmosphere. Its palaces, mosques, minarets, mausoleums and madrassas (Muslim religious schools) represent one of the best-preserved ensembles of medieval oriental urban architecture in the world. Later this afternoon you will re-board your train heading to Tajikistan.
Day 8: September 5: Khujand, Tajikistan
In the morning we will visit the Shaikh Muslihiddin Mosque, along with the Arbob Palace and the Payshandba Bazaar (the biggest Bazaar in Tajikistan). We will also visit the “Tajik Sea” a large lake just outside of town. This afternoon we continue eastbound to Samarkand.
Day 9: September 6: Samarkand, the Crossroads of Culture & Silk Road
Today is spent visiting the sights of this famous historic city, which during the rule of Timur was considered the most beautiful and prestigious city in the world. The Necropolis of Shah-i-Zinda (the living Shah), the excavation sites at Afrosiab (with a museum tour) and the staggeringly beautiful Registan Square are certainly among the most notable architectural sites in all of Central Asia. It is also historically important as the site where many Uzbek women burned their veils (paranjas) in 1917, to signal their arrival in a new era. The night is spent in a 4-star Deluxe Samarkand Hotel.
Day 10: September 7: Samarkand
Your day in this fascinating city includes a tour of silk carpet manufacturer, a visit to an Uzbek craftsman’s family to see paper being made from mulberry bark, stops at the Ulug Beg Observatory and the ruins of the Bibi Khanum Mosque and viewing the interior of the palace-like Gur Emir Mausoleum. You spend a second night in your Samarkand Deluxe Hotel.
Day 11: September 8: Shahrisabz – Traveling through time
The Greek heritage has been preserved in this inaccessible mountainous region. Cultural influences of Bactrians and Kushan Empire also survive here. Fire Worship and Shamanism are still practiced here in the form of rituals and myths seldom found elsewhere. Trade caravans once traveled through these narrow mountain gorges and the armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Timur (or Tamerlane) also passed by here. Your journey then continues along the Great Silk Road aboard your train to the Green City of Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Timur. Your sightseeing here includes the monumental architecture of the brutal Mongol ruler’s great palace from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In the evening, we depart for Tashkent by train.
Day 12: September 9: Tashkent, the Green Oasis
Your private train arrives in the early morning into the Uzbek Capital of Tashkent. On your sightseeing tour of the city, you can have a look at this green oasis in the steppe and see the Madrasa Kukeldash, the Kavoj and Amir Timur Monuments and the typical Kazakh mud-brick houses. In the evening, you will attend Tashkent’s famous Navoi Opera or a concert in the Tashkent Philharmonic Hall (program permitting). The night will be spent on the train heading to our next destination.
Day 13: September 10: Bishkek
Upon arrival, we will tour the beautiful city of Bishkek. We will take a walking tour through this beautiful city and its many monuments. After we head to the Ala Archa National Park for a leisurely walk into the beautiful mountains near Bishkek with snow-capped peaks that reach 14,000 feet. This time of year the leaves are changing to create beautiful fall colors. Late in the afternoon, we will get back on the train to drive the short distance to the border of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. We will continue tonight through Kazakhstan until we cross into the country of Uzbekistan. Overnight on our private train.
Day 14: September 11: Almaty, The Father of the Apple – Urumqi
Today we will visit breathtaking mountains. Upon returning to Almaty, we will visit the impressive Zenkov Russian Orthodox Cathedral, built entirely of wood along with the Wedding Palace, the Central Mosque and Kazakh. Late this evening we will fly to Urumqi, China and overnight near the airport.
Day 15: September 12: Urumqi – Turpan
This morning we will depart Urumqi and drive to Turpan. Upon arrival in Turpan, we will visit the Grape Valley, which stands in lush contrast to the desert surrounding the area. Then we visit the Flaming Mountains, named for their vibrant color. Overnight in Turpan.
Day 16: September 13: Turpan – Dunhuang
This morning we will finish touring Turpan. We will visit the ruins of Jiaohe City, where large fragments of actual streets and buildings remain. This afternoon we will take a highspeed train to Dunhuang. Overnight in Dunhuang.
Day 17: September 14: Dunhuang
We will visit the Jade Gate Pass, which is approximately a 2-hour drive from Dunhuang. The Jade Gate was the pass that connected Central Asia to China for the Silk Road. Until the Tang Dynasty, all caravans traveling through Dunhuang were required to pass through one of these two gates. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then we visit the earliest existing Great Wall – Han Dynasty Great Wall. Later we will be taken on a camel ride through the “Singing Sand Dunes” in the desert. Overnight in Dunhuang.
Day 18: September 15: Dunhuang – Xian
Tour the Mogao Grottoes, the World’s richest treasure trove of Buddhist manuscripts and art. It began in 386 AD and was added to over the next nine centuries. The grottoes total over 480,000 square feet and boast over 2,000 murals and sculptures. Afterwards, transfer to the airport to fly to Xian. Overnight Xian.
Day 19: September 16: Xian
Xi’an is the capital of 11 dynasties and one of the largest medieval cities in the world. Our day will start with a visit to the Wild Goose Pagoda. The rest of the day will be spent visiting the greatest archaeological discovery of the century, the more than 2,000-year-old Terracotta Warriors, which were buried with the Emperor Qin Shi Huang. In the evening, we will attend one of the best cultural shows you will see anywhere in the world, The Tang Dynasty Dinner and Cultural Show. This fantastic show is full of music, dance and colorful traditional costumes. Today is a fantastic highlight day! Overnight in Xi’an.
Day 20: September 17: Fly Home
Today we drive to the airport to catch our return flight home back to the US and home.
Our Private Orient Silk Road Train Cabin Choices:
This category of compartment has two lower beds (27.5 in. x 74.8 in.), plus a small table and storage space. The picture is looking from the window to the open door and the train car hall. There is a door that closes and locks when needed. The Aladdin Cabin does not have a shower or toilet in the cabin. There is a combination western toilet and washbasin located at both ends of your car. There is a large shower compartment in your car or the car next to your car. The showers have a sign-up schedule sheet. There is plenty of room in the shower area with two sinks and one shower.
* The price of the tour includes the Aladdin Cabin Category
Sultan & Kalif Cabin
Both the Sultan & Kalif categories are approx. the same size. The main difference is the bathrooms. The Sultan has a showerhead directly in the middle of the bathroom. It has a shower curtain that pulls around, separating the sink and toilet, which works fine, we tried it. The Kalif has a separate shower stall and a larger bathroom. Other than that they are basically the same. They are almost 60 square feet of space in these cabins. They each have two beds, with the upper measuring 31.5 x 69.3 in. and the lower 44 x 72.4 in. It is possible to sleep two on the oversized lower bed. These compartments also offer comfortable seating, a generous-sized table, and a small clothes closet. Each compartment has its own lavatory equipped with a toilet, washing basin, and integrated shower with a shower curtain in the Sultan OR a separate shower stall in the Kalif. This configuration of train car has only six compartments compared to the 8 or 9 cabins in the Aladdin cars.
* The Sultan or Kalif Cabins are at an optional increased price