Tailor-Made Holiday

Golden Eagle Silk Route by Train

An epic railway journey from Moscow to Beijing

21 days

from £17,495pp

For centuries the domain of adventurers and merchants trading their wares, the ancient Silk Route covers some 4,000 miles. Board the luxurious Golden Eagle train and cross five countries, following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great on a journey from Moscow to Beijing.

  • An exclusive private viewing of the treasures within Moscow's Kremlin Armoury Chamber
  • Explore the ancient and magnificent trading towns of Khiva, Merv & Bukhara
  • Evening drinks reception against a beautifully lit backdrop of Registan Square in Samarkand
  • Explore the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert by camel
  • Visit the iconic Terracotta warriors and walk a section of the Great Wall 

Russia

This magical rail journey begins in the city of Moscow, soaking up the grandeur of the Kremlin and the ornate architecture of St Basil's Cathedral. After boarding the Golden Eagle train your journey continues to the historic city of Volograd, scene of one of the most dramatic and important battles of WWII.

Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan

Spend a day relaxing on board the train as you depart Russia and travel through Kazakhstan and the vast Kara Kum desert.

Arriving into Uzbekistan, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Khiva, after which the train will weave its way through Central Asia crossing into Turkmenistan, the capital city of Ashgabat and the ancient silk route city of Merv, before returning to Uzbekistan to spend more time exploring this fascinating country.

From Bukhara to Samarkand and Tashkent, Uzbekistan is home to some of the most wonderful Islamic architecture.

Your time in Central Asia ends in Kazakhstan in the verdant city of Almaty, surrounded by the stunning Tien Shan Mountains.

China

Cross the border into China where you will board the Shangri La Express and continue on to the Flaming Mountains, the city of Turpan and the sand fortress city of Jiaohe.

The oasis city of Dunhuang is home to the Magao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex where some 500 grottoes are filled with murals and sculptures carved between 700 and 1,700 years ago. It is here that you will disembark the Shangri La Express and overnight in a hotel allowing time to experience the Gobi Desert on camel back.

The final two stops in China are home to some of the country’s most iconic sites. Visit the city of Xian, home to the terracotta warriors before boarding a high speed bullet train to Beijing where the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China await.

The Golden Eagle Train and Shangri La Express

For the majority of this trip stay on board the luxurious Golden Eagle Train. This private trains contain some of the finest accommodation available in luxury train travel today, offering a high level of comfort; particularly important in the cabins, which will be your ‘hotel room on wheels’. Both departures feature one or two restaurant cars and a spacious bar car.

For three nights from Almaty to Dunhuang, board the Shangri La Express and dine on authentic Chinese specialities. Please note, ensuite facilities on board the Shangri La Express are guaranteed only for Imperial and Gold class guests. All other ensuite cabins will be allocated on a first book basis.

Days spent travelling on board the Golden Eagle train offers the chance to relax and enjoy the passing scenery or listen to a talk on the history of the Silk Road and its people.

Whilst in Moscow, Dunhuang, Xian and Beijing you will stay in 5* Hotel accommodation.

Eastbound Departure Dates:

September 22 – 12 October 2017
September 22 – 12 October 2018

Westbound Departure Dates:

September 26 – 16 October 2017
September 26 – 16 October 2018

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation and meals as stated in the itinerary
  • All transfers

what is excluded

  • Gratuities

PLEASE NOTE THE COST SHOWN INCLUDES INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK, BASED ON AN APPROXIMATE AIR FARE. PLEASE ASK YOUR TRAVEL EXPERT FOR AN ACCURATE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT QUOTE. INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Moscow


The ancient city of Moscow is the focal point of modern Russia and everything that it has come to represent. It is a city where history unfolds around every corner, whether in the shape of the magnificent golden domed cathedrals and churches, or the historic and instantly-recognisable Kremlin. With a rich history and an insatiable hunger to embrace global modernity, Moscow is a compelling city.


Welcome Dinner at your Hotel Tonight


You will be staying at Baltschug Kempinski, Bed & Breakfast

Day 2

Moscow Sightseeing
The touring programme of Moscow principally includes 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. 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 façade of the world famous GUM department store, constructed in Tsarist times, and the sombre and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb.

With the Freedom of Choice touring option 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).


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Baltschug Kempinski, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Board the Golden Eagle & Spend the Day Onboard
Upon arrival at Moscow Kazansky Station, you will be greeted in the magnificent Imperial Waiting Room with a cold glass of Russian Champagne and canapes as you mix with the other guests and are welcomed by the train staff. The excitement in the waiting room audibly mounts and, 30 minutes before departure, your car attendants will escort you to Platform 1 where a military brass band is playing and the Golden Eagle awaits.

The Golden Eagle train, on selected departures, will be hauled by a Russian steam locomotive for the first 100km section of the journey. With the opportunity to photograph the locomotive in Moscow Kazansky Station it makes for an unforgettable way to start your journey onboard Russia's premier train.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 4

Volograd Sightseeing
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. Visit the poignantly sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, followed by an informative museum visit.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 5

Day Onboard
Today, relax onboard as the train travels 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 part in a Russian language lesson.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 6

Khiva Sightseeing
From Urgench 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, madrassas and bazaars

Founded when water was discovered in the desert, Khiva's importance as a well-placed oasis meant that it outlived the era of the Silk Road and remained powerful until the time of 'The Great Game'.

It was here, in 1840, that Richmond Shakespear, a young British lieutenant, helped abolish the practice of capturing Russian slaves.

In fact, due to much of the work done during Soviet times, Khiva's monuments are in outstanding condition. The most famous of these, the Ichan Qala, is preserved as an open-air museum.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 7

Ashgabat Sightseeing
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. Visit Kipchak Mosque, the largest mosque in Turkmenistan, as well as the imposing family mausoleum of the late President Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan. Also visit the National Museum of Turkmenistan which has wonderful displays of costumes and jewellery as well as archaeological displays.

Devastated by a 1948 earthquake, Turkmenistan's capital was originally rebuilt as a bland Soviet city. Following independence and the emergence of Saparmurat Niyazov - who lost his mother in the earthquake - as president, restoring the grandeur of Ashgabat became a priority.

Now a glittering example of hydro-carbon funded architecture, what Ashgabat lacks in history, it makes up with a stunning array of marble-clad palaces, ministries, hotels and residential areas.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 8

Merv Sightseeing
Head east of Mary towards Baryam-Ali, the contemporary re-incarnation and humble suburb of glorious Ancient Merv. Among Central Asia's key archaeological sites, Merv is reputedly one of the oldest and best preserved oasis cities on the Silk Road.
At this 1,200 hectare archaeological site, explore the series of neighbouring cities that made up the 'wandering city'.

The modern successor to the ancient city of Merv, Russian forces' capture of Mary in 1884 lead to British tabloids coining the phrase 'Mervousness', due to British fears about Russia's imperial ambitions.

An oasis in the Karakum desert, Merv played a key role in the development of the Silk Road, even surviving being ransacked by the Mongol Hordes in the 13th century.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 9

Bukhara Sightseeing
A highlight of Bukhara is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara, the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times.

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 the train departs.

The former capital and a centre of Islamic learning, Bukhara has over 300 mosques. This, along with the city's 80 madrasas, led to its reputation as the holiest city in Central Asia.

Now renowned for its architecture, it was the beauty of Bukhara's Kalon Minaret that stopped Genghis Khan in his tracks. Unfortunately, his sense of awe failed to stop him razing the rest of the city to the ground.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Bukhara again returned to prominence, as it became one of the most important pawns in 'The Great Game' being waged between Russia and Britain.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 10

Samarkand Sightseeing
Today visit some of its most significant sites of Samarkand 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 return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.

Samarkand is one of the world's most ancient and fabled cities. Inextricably linked with the great Silk Road, Samarkand was a famous trading city and has at various times been the capital of many a kingdom. Since 2001, it has been designated by UNESCO as one of their World Heritage Sites, and labelled 'Samarkand - Crossroads of Cultures'.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 11

Tashkent Sightseeing
Spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. Visit the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets and here in a small library we’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.

Although often referred to as a Silk Road city, little remains of Tashkent's old town. A 1966 earthquake and earlier modernisation work did irreparable damage to the city's architectural heritage.

Despite this, some treasures remain and modern Tashkent is a pleasant, green and open place. Dotted with monuments, parks and retaining an impressive feel, the city has undergone a successful reinvention.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 12

Almaty Sightseeing
Visit Panfilov Park and the Zenkhov Cathedral which was built entirely of wood. Also head out of the city to the Chimbulak resort, where a cable car ride offers spectacular views of Almaty and the mountains.

Almaty was the former capital of Kazakhstan before it was moved to Astana in 1997. It has many fine 19th century buildings and remains the country's business and educational centre. Roads are wide and tree-lined and there are good views of the Zaiysky Ala-Too mountains that form a back drop to the city.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 13

Border Crossing
Arrive at the Kazakh border of Druzhba, and bid the Golden Eagle a final farewell. The border crossing takes approximately 5 hours and the Shangri-La Express awaits in Alashankou, the Chinese border station, ready to begin the journey across China.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 14

Turpan Sightseeing
Turpan is the location where the Flaming Mountains create a magnificent backdrop. Take a fascinating tour to the ancient underground irrigation system that has successfully fed the rich orchards and vineyards for centuries.Also visit the Museum of Turpan with its 5,000 artefacts detailing the rich history of the area and includes the Ancient Mummy exhibition with exhibits dating back 3,200 years. Finally visit 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.

Located on the northern edge of the inhospitable Turpan Depression - the second lowest place on Earth - Turpan is a historic oasis town. Famous for its remarkable 'Karez' irrigation system, the town is fed by a network of wells, connected by underground channels.

The hottest place in China, Turpan is famous for the grapes that grow here. Both its wine and sultanas are popular within China.


IBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 15

Dunhuang Sightseeing
Visit the fascinating Magao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex. This impressive site contains almost 500 grottoes, carved between 700 and 1,700 years ago. Inside see an amazing collection of beautiful sculptures and murals depicting the evolution of Buddhist religious art over this 1,000 year period.

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

Meaning 'Blazing Beacon', Dunhuang is an oasis city trapped amidst the mountain-like sand dunes of the Gobi Desert. Out of nowhere, it springs into existence after thousands of miles of emptiness.

Dating back over 4000 years, Dunhuang became a major stopping point on the Silk Road due to its role as an oasis. Now more famous for its history than its geography, Dunhuang plays host to the UNESCO-recognised Mogao Caves.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 16

Dunhuang Sightseeing
An early start this morning to experience sunrise over the magnificent sand dunes, followed by breakfast. Today explore the vast natural beauty of the Gobi desert by camel. Discover Crescent Lake. Hidden amongst towering sand dunes, it has sustained life in this region for millennia.

Continue to Xian onboard the Shangri-La Express.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included

Day 17

Xian Sightseeing
Today 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 the Freedom of Choice programme, visit the Han Yangling Museum. This tomb, dating back 2,000 years with its adjoining museum, is one of China’s best kept secrets.

Tonight see the Tang Dynasty Dinner, Music and Dance Show, a wonderful performance of ancient entertainment.

Having existed for more than three millennia and been the capital city of 13 dynasties, Xian, formerly Chang'an, is often considered as being at the heart of Chinese civilisation. Also an ancient trade hub of huge economic importance, it was the eastern terminus of the legendary Silk Road.

Xian remains an important city, packed with sites worth visiting and laid out in a neat arrangement. Among these sites, the world famous Terracotta Army is the highlight, but numerous other historic locations litter the city.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Sofitel Hotel, Xian, Bed & Breakfast

Day 18

Xian Sightseeing Morning
Following breakfast at the hotel cycle along the ancient city walls and experience the bustling street culture of the Muslim Quarter with a visit to the Great Mosque.


Travel by high speed train to Beijing


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Regent Beijing Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 19

Beijing Sightseeing
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.

Continue sightseeing 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. Whilst here experience enchanting displays of traditional dancing, singing and the delicately precise ancient art of calligraphy. Also explore the small ‘hutong’ lanes of old Beijing by rickshaw and visit a local family in a traditional courtyard house.

Beijing is China's capital, and a city of epic proportions. It is a cauldron of history, culture and enterprise. Offering a feast of elaborate and ambitious architecture, world famous landmarks, and culinary delights.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Regent Beijing Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 20

Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China 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.

Walk along a portion of the wall, the perfect opportunity to take some memorable photographs with your fellow guests.

This evening dine at an authentic Peking Duck restaurant.


Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included


You will be staying at Regent Beijing Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 21

Fly Beijing to London

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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