Day 1 Tashkent
Make your own way to Tashkent, where you can meet us for the scheduled group transfers to your hotel. After arriving at your first hotel and freshening up, it'll be time to get your first glimpse of Tashkent on a panoramic tour. The city is a real melting pot of architectural influences, from bustling bazaars to imposing Soviet-era structures. We'll pass a handful of its highlights before you get to know your fellow travellers over a traditional meal.
Day 2 Khiva
Today, we'll be leaving the bright lights of Tashkent behind and taking an internal flight to Urgench. From there, it's a short drive to Khiva, one of the Silk Road's best-preserved cities. It's a haven for history buffs thanks to its dozens of architectural monuments, which largely date back to the 19th century. Examples include the turquoise-tiled Kalta Minor Minaret and Tash-Khauli Palace, famed for its richly decorated interiors.
We'll also be shown around Ichan Kala, a UNESCO open-air museum at the heart of Khiva, by a Local Guide. Afterwards, you'll be able to explore a handicraft centre known for its woodcarving and carpet-weaving wares.
Day 3 BukharaToday, the group will journey from Khiva to Bukhara on the newly opened direct high-speed train service. Relax in comfortable, contemporary carriages as you travel past vast stretches of untouched countryside. We'll arrive in Kagan, and then it's just a short 30-minute drive to Bukhara and your next hotel. Meals included: B,L,D
Day 4 Bukhara
Once a major stop on the Silk Road and an important centre of Islamic culture, Bukhara has no shortage of incredible monuments. A full-day guided tour of the historic city will unveil many of them, from the 288 splendid domes of the Poi-Kalyan Mosque to the Lyab-i Hauz complex of madrassahs, which dates to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Today's tour will also include a handful of unique heritage activities. Attend a puppet workshop where you'll learn how to craft a colourful puppet from papier mâché, admire tiny works of art at the Bukhara miniature school, and sip on fragrant teas at the Silk Road Spice teahouse whilst watching a performance by a local artist. In the evening, you'll get to sample regional delicacies at a local restaurant.
Day 5 Bukhara
Bukhara's treasures are too vast to experience in just one day, so we'll continue our explorations with visits to key sites like the immense Ark of Bukhara Fortress and the sacred 9th century Samanid Mausoleum that sits just outside the city centre.
Wander Bukhara's historic walls to see the city's towers and minarets from above, before stopping for lunch. We'll then admire the ornately decorated Saifuddin Bukhari and Buyan Khuli Khan Mausoleums, both important holy places in Islamic culture.
Day 6 Bukhara - at Leisure
You'll have another morning to explore Bukhara at your own pace. If you'd rather get out of the city, join our optional excursion to the Bahautdin Nakshbandi Necropolis (the burial tomb of Nakshbandi, the leader of Sufism) and the stunning Sitorai Mokhi Khosa Palace (the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara).
After lunch, we'll begin our two-hour train journey to Samarkand from Kagan.
Day 7 Samarkand
The ancient city of Samarkand has a pretty turbulent history, from being captured by Alexander the Great in 329 BC to being ruled by Genghis Khan during the height of the Silk Road trade. As a result, it has an eclectic culture and fascinating mix of architectural styles, which we'll explore in detail.
After admiring attractions like the huge Siab bazaar and the mix of intricately tiled mausoleums, we'll embark on a wine-tasting tour at the Hovrenko Wine Factory. Samarkand's wine culture dates back centuries and you'll get to sample several on a tour of this 19th century winery. Later, we'll enjoy a historical theatrical performance complete with traditional music at the Samarkand Theatre of Historical Costumes.
Day 8 Samarkand - at Leisure
Spend the day meandering around Samarkand's many majestic monuments or sign up to our optional tour to Shakhrisabz. It's where Uzbekistan's national hero Timur was born in the 14th century, and it was later developed into a thriving city by his descendants. Admire the ruins of Ak-Saray Palace that are covered in gold mosaics, and the impressive Kok Gumbaz Mosque with its eye-catching blue dome.
In the evening, we'll all head to a friendly local's home for a memorable cooking class where you'll get to learn how to prepare 'plov', Uzbekistan's tasty national dish.
Day 9 Samarkand - Tashkent
Enjoy another morning exploring Samarkand, including a trip to the Afrasiab Museum of Samarkand that's full of ancient archaelogical artefacts, and a stop at the Meros Paper Mill to learn about the historic art of paper making.
In the afternoon, we'll take another high speed train back to Tashkent and finish the day with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant near the hotel. Meals included: B,D
Day 10 Tashkent - DepartureYour tour comes to an end today. Scheduled group transfers are available to the airport, please see www.justyou.com/transfers.
Meals included: B