Xi'an to Bishkek

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. Starting in the beautiful Kyrgyz city of Bishkek, we will cross the remote and desolate mountains in the south of Kyrgyzstan and cross the Torugart Pass into the incredible country of China. We will visit the stunning Lake Karakol in the colossal Karakoram Mountains before heading to the fascinating city of Kashgar, then fly to the colossal historic city of Xi'an, home of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors. We will then journey by train to the enchanted land of Tibet, exploring the highlights of Lhasa, the monasteries of Gyantse and Shigatse, and the base camp of Mount Everest before our return to Xi'an. Join us on this unforgettable epic overlanding experience on the Silk Road!

Duration: 23 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Active/Adrenaline Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 162940
Starts: Xi'an, China Finishes: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
You will visit
  • Xi'an
  • Qinghai Hu
  • Overnight Train
  • Lhasa
  • Gyantse
  • Shigatse
  • New Tingri
  • Rongbuk
  • Kashgar
  • Lake Karakol
  • Tash Rabat
  • Kochkor
  • Bishkek



Day 1: Xi'an

Border Information: if joining the trip in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

There will be a group meeting at 6:00pm in our hotel in Xi'an - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this important meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 2: Xi'an

Today we will head out for an included visit to the awe-inspiring world-famous Terracotta Warriors. We will have free time to independently explore the Xi'an on our return to the city.


Day 3: Qinghai Hu

Today we will take a short local flight to the small city of Xining in China's mid-western Qinghai province. On arrival we will make a visit to the vast and starkly beautiful Qinghai Hu Lake. The population of this part of the Tibetan Plateau is thinly spread and mainly comprises of Kazakhs, Moguls and Hui.

We will stay in a local hotel in the city of Xining.



Day 4: Overnight Train

Today we will board our overnight train to Lhasa - the train takes the 2000km-long Qinghai-Tibet railway, a masterpiece of railway engineering opened in 2006. The train takes us over the 5,072m Tanggula Pass (a crossing that makes the railway the highest in the world) on its spectacular and scenic journey across the mountains and the Tibetan Plateau, arriving in Lhasa the following day. Please note that there are several trains a day, so our departure and arrival times for the train journey will be flexible. 

Tonight we will have sleeper tickets on the train and will sleep on basic bunk beds on the train.


Day 5: Lhasa

Today we will arrive in the famous and evocative city of Lhasa, the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet. We will have free time to independently explore the city and soak up its unique atmosphere on our arrival.

In Lhasa we will stay in a comfortable hotel.


Day 6: Lhasa

Today we will have an included visit to the Jokhang Palace, located in the central Barkhor square and considered the holiest temple in all of Tibet. In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Sera Monastery, one of the most important schools for the Gelug school of Buddhism. 


Day 7: Lhasa

Today we will visit the world-famous Potala Palace, once the home of the Dalai Lama and an iconic symbol of Tibet. The rest of our time today will be free to independently explore the city and some of its other important Buddhist sites.


Day 8: Gyantse

Today we will start our land journey through southern Tibet with a stunning drive over the Kampa La Pass (4,794m) to the historic town of Gyantse.

In Gyantse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.


Day 9: Shigatse

This morning we will have an included visit to the Palcho Monastery in Gyantse before continuing our journey to Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city. On arrival in Shigatse we will have an included visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

In Shigatse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.


Day 10: New Tingri

Today we continue our journey with a drive over some more high mountain passes to reach New Tingri (also known as Shegar), where we will meet the junction for the road to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. This is usually a fairly long day's drive, but the stunning views and scenery make this one of the world's most visually fantastic journeys!

In New Tingri we will stay in a local guesthouse.


Day 11: Rongbuk

From New Tingri we make the journey to the Rongbuk Monastery and Everest Base Camp.

The drive is not an easy one, passing over another 5,200m pass, but the views are sensational and (weather permitting) we should have excellent views of Mount Everest.

Once we have reached the Rongbuk Monastery, it is about a 2 hour walk further to Everest Base Camp (please note that this is the Base Camp from the northern Tibetan side, not the famous southern equivalent on the Nepalese side that lends its name to the popular trek).

We will usually camp here in Tibetan tents which take six to eight people.


Day 12: New Tingri


Day 13: Shigatse

Today we will return to the city of Shigatse. If time allows we may be able to detour to visit the 11th-Century Sakti Monastery, the centre of the once-dominant Sakti school of Buddhism.


Day 14: Lhasa

Today we will return to Tibet's capital, Lhasa.


Day 15: Xi'an

Today we will board an internal flight back to our starting point of Xi'an, where we will have free time to explore on arrival.


Day 16: Xi'an


Day 17: Kashgar

For everyone that is continuing with us to Kyrgyzstan, there will be quick pre-departure meeting in the early morning in order to explain the next 6 days until Bishkek, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section.

Today we will set off on a stunning journey along the Karakoram highway to Lake Karakol. The drive takes us up past some truly incredible mountain scenery and underneath a few 7000m peaks, including Mustagh Ata.

Near Lake Karakol we will stay in local nomadic yurts, sleeping 6-8 people per yurt. Provisions here are very basic, but the scenery is incredible and it is an interesting glimpse into the way of life of the local Uighurs.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.


Day 18: Lake Karakol

This morning we have a chance to spend a little time at Lake Karakol before starting our journey back along the beautiful mountain road to Kashgar.

The evening will be free to explore the old town.

In Kashgar we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.


Day 19: Tash Rabat

Border Information: Exit China at Torugart, enter Kyrgyzstan at Torugart.

Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan! We will head just over the border to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.

In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.


Day 20: Kochkor

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Please note that if nobody from this group is leaving in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a 2-3 hour drive from Tash Rabat). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily on the next section and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat this morning.


Day 21: Bishkek

Today we have a short drive to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (from Kochkor).


Day 22: Bishkek

Today there will be a group meeting at 10:00am for the next section of the trip towards Tashkent. The rest of the day will be free to further explore the city.

    • Take in the spectacular mountain scenery on our drive along the Karakorum Highway to Lake Karakol
    • Stay overnight in a traditional yurt owned by Kyrgyz and Tajik families near the beautiful Lake Karakol, set amongst the 7500m-high mountains of the Tian Shan range
    • Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border
    • Cross into Kyrgyzstan via the stunning and remote Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains
    • Stay at an overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village
    • See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here
    • 0% Camping - 0% Hotels
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