Explore the fabled Silk Road as you journey through Central Asia’s Five ’Stans: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

Starting at: $8,495 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Registan complex, Samarkand, Uzbekistan  The Sher Dor Madrassah, Registan Square Ensemble, Samarkand, Uzbekistan  Cupola of the Sher Dor Madrassah, Samarkand, Uzbekistan  Cupola of Bibi Khanum Mosque, detail, Samarkand  Bukhara Palace, Uzbekistan  The Shah i Zinda, Samarkand, Uzbekistan  Dried fruit and spices at Siab Bazaar near Bibi-Khanum, Samarkand, Uzbekistan  Statue of Magtymguly, Independence Monument, Ashkhabat, Turkmenistan  The Mausoleum of Turkmenbashi, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan  Vendor selling traditional bread at Panjshanbe Bazaar, Khujand, Tajikistan  Zenkov Cathedral (detail), Almaty, Kazakhstan  Zenkov Cathedral, Almaty, Kazakhstan  Falconer in Kazakhstan

The Silk Road: A Journey to Central Asia

Featuring the Five “Stans” of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan

17 days from $8,495

Explore the fabled Silk Road as you journey through Central Asia’s Five ’Stans: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details


A fascinating tour in a fascinating world. Don't miss it.

- Bechir R.

Our trip to the Silk Road cities of days of yore was a fascinating journey into the past. Ancient cities like Bukhara and Samarkand took on a modern cast after our fabulous Smithsonian trip there.

- Adrienne D.

Central Asia with Smithsonian Journeys was an eye-opening experience to a little-known part of the world. One of the most memorable trips I have ever taken.

- Janice S.

Our trip to the Five Stans with Smithsonian Journeys was extraordinary. Exploring the Silk Road fulfilled a lifelong dream—particularly Samarkand with some of the most magnificent Islamic architecture on the planet.

- Laura G.


See All Journeys Dispatches ››


Sep 7 - 23, 2022 Departure; Sep 13 - 29, 2023 Departure
Paula Swart

Paula Swart

Paula Swart is an art historian with expertise in Asian art, culture, and history, and has spent most of her professional life as a curator of Asian Studies. She is a lecturer in the Continuing Education Departments of the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria where she has taught a series of courses related to UNESCO World Heritage. Paula holds degrees in Sinology, Asian art history, Chinese history, and archaeology, having spent two years studying in China. She speaks five languages, including Mandarin, and has published several books and numerous articles on the art and architecture of Asian cultures. One of her recent articles “The Legacy of Cham Royal worship: The Danang Museum of Cham sculpture” published in the 2018 November-December issue of Arts of Asia, discusses the Cham culture of Central Vietnam.

Paula has enjoyed introducing visitors to Asian culture and history for more than 30 years, having participated in well over 70 expeditions by train, ship or private jet.

Oct 5 - 21, 2022 Departure
Hugh Neighbour

Hugh Neighbour

Hugh Neighbour brings many years of experience as a diplomat for the U.S. and an officer in the U.S. Navy, mostly working overseas.  Specialized in political and economic affairs, he was posted in Latin America, Asia/Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.  Hugh was awarded the Secretary of State’s Career Achievement Award as well as a number of Department of State awards for distinguished service. 

Since retiring from the U.S. State Department in 2010, Hugh has worked as a consultant in both Washington and overseas, served as an official observer for several elections overseas, and lectured aboard high-end cruise ships. Several times a year, Hugh directs a course in advanced foreign area studies to select groups in the Washington region.  Hugh will offer a fresh, up-to-date perspective on the history, culture, and current affairs of the fascinating peoples and places you will visit.

Oct 12 - 28, 2022 Departure
Barry Till

Barry Till

Barry Till is a Curator Emeritus of Asian art at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in Canada. With a wide-ranging knowledge of Asia's history, archaeology, and cultures, Barry has travelled extensively and lectured on numerous expeditions—including trips to China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar—for more than thirty years. He has published more than 100 exhibition catalogues (including The Buddhist Arts of Asia), books, and articles on various Asian art topics, and is an enthusiastic and engaging speaker. In 2008, Barry received the Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Museums Association. He speaks Chinese, holds degrees in Far Eastern Studies, and studied at Oxford and at Nanjing University in China.

Apr 12 - 28, 2023 Departure
Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy served almost four decades as a U.S career diplomat with much of her career spent working in or on the former Soviet Union. She also served multiple assignments in Geneva and Vienna on multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation  (conventional, nuclear and biological) as well as a number of temporary assignments at the United Nations in New York. Laura Kennedy’s assignments included Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus 2004-5, Ambassador to Turkmenistan 2001-3, Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva 2010-13 with concurrent service as U.S. Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention issues, Deputy Commandant of the National War College where she also taught for two years 2007-9, Charge d’Affaires in Armenia, and Deputy Political section chief in Moscow and Ankara.

At the outset of her career, Laura was detailed to serve with an official US exchange exhibit in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, an assignment which left her with a deep appreciation for public diplomacy as well as an abiding interest in Central Asia.  She retired in 2013 but was recalled to service in 2014 to head the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan and then the U.S. Mission in Vienna where she served as the U.S. Governor on the Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. She retired again in 2015.
Laura is an elected member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and serves on the boards of the World Affairs Council in DC, the Arms Control Association, Foreign Policy for America and the Advisory Council of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation. She has lectured at various U.S. and international civilian and military institutions and universities and has previously accompanied a Silk Road tour.
After receiving her B.A. from Vassar College, Kennedy did graduate work at Stanford and American University (M.A.).  She is married to a fellow former U.S. diplomat and has two sons.

Apr 26 - May 12, 2023 Departure
Richard Hoagland

Richard Hoagland

Ambassador (ret.) Richard E. Hoagland is currently Senior Adviser and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Caspian Policy Center in Washington, DC, as well as the Executive Director of their Security and Policy Program.  Before his 2015 formal retirement from the State Department after 30 years of service, he was U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, October 2013-August 2015.  Before returning to Washington in September 2013, he had spent a decade in South and Central Asia.  He was U.S. Deputy Ambassador and Charge d’affaires to Pakistan (2011-2013), U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan (2008-2011), and U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan (2003-2006).  He also served as U.S. Charge d'affaires to Turkmenistan (2007-2008).  Prior to his diplomatic assignments in South and Central Asia, Ambassador Hoagland was Director of the State Department’s Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs (2001-2003).  In that position, he wrote and negotiated four of the key bilateral documents defining the Central Asian states’ enhanced relationship with the United States in the aftermath of 9/11.  His earlier foreign assignments included Russia where he was Press Spokesman for the U.S. Embassy (1995-1998).  During the course of his career, he received multiple Presidential Performance Awards, State Department Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, as well as the rarely-bestowed Distinguished Honor Award.

Ambassador Hoagland is an elected member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.  He has spoken at university seminars and international conferences, including at the Kennedy School of Harvard University.  In Summer 2016, he led U.S.-Russian military coordination for the Cessation of Hostilities in Syria for three months from the American Embassy in Amman, Jordan (June-August 2016).  January-September 2017, he was the interim U.S. Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/OSCE’s Minsk Group for Nagorno-Karabakh.  In 2018 and 2019, he led the New York Times Silk Road Journey as the subject-matter expert. 

Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Ambassador Hoagland completed his graduate degrees at the University of Virginia and earned a certificate in French from the University of Grenoble, France.  Before joining the Foreign Service in 1985, Ambassador Hoagland taught English as a foreign language in the then-Zaire (1974-1976) and African literature at the University of Virginia's Carter-Woodson Institute of African and Afro-American Studies.

Sep 27 - Oct 13, 2023 Departure
Adam Tanner

Adam Tanner

A writer and lecturer, who spent much of his career as a foreign correspondent, Adam Tanner has long studied the impact of colonialism, economic engagement and globalization, and is especially interested in the enduring impact of Europe on Asia, Latin America and Africa. He has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg TV, NPR, the BBC and written for publications such as Scientific America, Forbes, Fortune, Time and MIT Technology. He is an associate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) at Harvard University where he has been since 2011, first as a fellow at the Nieman Foundation, then at IQSS. He is also an expert on privacy and commerce and has written two books, What Stays in Vegas and Our Bodies, Our Data

Oct 11 - 27, 2023 Departure
Pamela Spratlen

Pamela Spratlen

Pamela L. Spratlen is a diplomat who served twice as U.S. Ambassador, first to the Kyrgyz Republic (2011-14) and then to Uzbekistan (2015-18).  She held various positions in Washington and abroad related to all five Central Asian states and other regions in her 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service.  She retired in 2019 and is now a public speaker, mentor, and strategy consultant.

As Ambassador, Pamela prioritized culture and education as she advanced bilateral relations.  This included archeological preservation through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and university partnerships and exchanges between U.S. and Central Asian artisans, experts, and musicians.  Pamela traveled to distant Karakalpak’stan in Uzbekistan to visit the unique Stavisky Collection and to highlight the need for international cooperation to address the shrinking Aral Sea.  At the end of her tenure, the president of the country recognized her contributions by presenting her her with the Order of Dostlik (Friendship).  In the Kyrgyz Republic Pamela supported development of the country’s education, fashion, textile and tourism sectors. 

Pamela now supports diplomacy and development as an elected member of the boards of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Eurasia Foundation and with the Policy Council of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation. 

Pamela graduated from Wellesley College and received master’s degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Army War College.  She was the Goldman School’s Graduate of the Year in 2016.  Pamela speaks French, Russian and Spanish and looks forward to sharing her passion for Central Asia with the Smithsonian Journeys tours.