Below are some of the major travel highlights for Silk Road. For more in-depth attractions of each country on this route, click on the country names below or select a route to see the highlights on this section of the journey. Click on the icons below to focus on specific types of features (click again to return to all).
|In-depth highlights: China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia|
Cultural attractions of Bishkek - Istanbul
Travelling on the Silk Road from Kashgar in China to Kyrgyzstan will take you through the stunning Torugart Pass (at 3572 metres) and descend through alpine scenery to Tash Rabat. This is an ancient 13th century caravanserai where you can stay in yurts and explore the beautiful surroundings before heading further into Kyrgyzstan.
Issyk-Kul is a spectacular and enormous lake situated between two mountain ranges with peaks of up to 4,700 metres. It is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca and is 170 km in length, 70 km wide and up to 700 metres deep. The lake was a popular resort for Soviet officials during communist times and remains a favoured holiday destination for Russians and Kazakhs. As well as absorbing the stunning views of the lakes and the surrounding mountain ranges, travelling around the lake's edge takes in a number of interesting destinations. The northern resort town of Cholpon-Ata has beaches and ancient petroglyphs, while the southern shoreline boasts Barskoön Gorge and the red sandstone formations of Jeti-Öghüz Canyon, perfect for trekking or horse riding. The eastern village of Karakol is known for its Russian wooden houses, the Chinese Dungan Mosque (built in 1910), the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Sunday livestock market. Staying in the lakeside villages and sleeping in traditional yurts allows you to experience traditional Kyrgyz culture in an amazing setting.
Surrounded by green pastures amidst a mountainous backdrop, Son-Kul Lake is a popular spot for nomadic herders to make summer camp. Staying in a traditional yurt by this lake allows you to experience the stunning beauty of Kyrgyzstan and its traditional culture. Swimming, hiking and horse riding around the lake and eating and drinking with locals out under the stars gives you a great taste of the Kyrgyz nomadic life. The village of Kochkorka near Son-Kul Lake has opportunities for homestays to meet friendly locals and the chance to visit workshops that made traditional Kyrgyz shyrdak felt carpets.