Colorful caravans glowing ruby red and gold beneath mighty mountains, dust that settles into every crease, camels laden with jewels and rugs, the sultry sound of strange music, minarets gleaming on the haze of the horizon, fabled lands, smoke rising from singular camps scattered across the desert in the night, and blood and sweat and stories and tears – this is the Silk Road, the center of the world for thousands of years.
The Silk Road is more than a singular strand, it is an intricately woven slip of something special, the heartbeat of our ancestors, and a spider’s web of wonder that catches you in its illustrious allure, promising to show you things you never could have even imagined existed. The Silk Road seems to have played host to the footsteps of both beggars and kings, buyers and sellers, the old and the young, and the decadent and the dreamers. Alexander the Great once left his prints in the dirt as did Genghis Khan and Marco Polo. For over two thousand years these roads that span across the Middle East and Asia have been marred with the exotic, have been ground down with stories and have blown their eclectic fusion of culture across the sweeping plains. From the lore of Uzbekistan to the Blue Mosques of Turkey, the chaos of China’s great cities and the billowing saffron and spice colored dunes of Dunhuang, this is a journey that will take you away from everything you have ever known, showcasing a world built from the poetry of the sweetest slip of silk, the heady scent of spice, the riches of oil and old world traditions that weave through the fabric of modern life.
Presidential Private Jet Vacations cracks open a world previously hidden from prying eyes, until recently the Silk Road remained elusive, a far-flung stretch of eight thousand kilometers spanning from the back alleys of Beijing to the golden tips of Istanbul’s Great Dome. Lack of mapping, transportation and knowledge shut down the route to outsiders, but now we can fling open the door and shine a light on this incredible tapestry of heart and heritage.
Day 1: Arrival
After an overnight flight in the luxurious comfort of your own private jet, touch down in beautiful Beijing, one of China’s most fascinating cities where ancient Eastern mysticism collides with modern times and ornate Buddhist temples sit in the shadows of skyscrapers. Your luxury concierge will be waiting to escort you to the splendid Waldorf Astoria for a blissful slumber.
Day 2: Beijing
After a sumptuous breakfast and your first Chinese sunrise you will be taken on a cultural exposé of the city. Standing in the historical paved space of Tiananmen Square you can almost hear the cries of the million citizens pledging allegiance to Chairman Mao and watch the Marxist emperor gaze serenely over the world’s largest public square. Live and breathe the history in this square that has shaped modern China.
Entering the Forbidden City with its endless galleries, great halls, imposing courtyards and imperial gardens you are sure to be blown away. A former Sotheby’s expert is waiting to bring the fabled tales of the Ming and Qing dynasty to life with his talk on Court Life in the Summer Palace. He will take you into the exclusive Chonghuagong section brimming with rarities and antiques which is normally closed to the public.
The Hutong alleyways are one of the most characteristic and iconic sides of old Beijing and you have the chance to explore with a renowned photographer. After the revolution, the palatial homes were swamped with tin can shacks and cramped side shops. Meandering through these streets shows you a romantic side of the city, where children run through the streets, hidden courtyards bloom and tiny teahouses spill out onto the streets.
This evening you have the rare chance to meet with a woman (∴) with a fascinating life story worth unraveling who can provide you with an astute and in depth social and political commentary on modern day China. From working in a missile factory to organizing one of the largest workers demonstrations in Nanjing, reporting for the BBC and penning her memoirs, this is an unmissable opportunity to converse with someone who has lived, breathed and thoroughly experienced the fascinating agenda of modern China.
Day 3: The Great Wall
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China will inspire great thoughts as it weaves across the tableau of fabled hills, harsh mountains, and sweeping plains. Your expert guide will escort you to the most beautiful part of the wall, outside Beijing, where the wilderness seeps through. The sheer isolation, the crumbling stones, the flowering greenery and the expanse of the mountains behind make for a mesmerizing sight.
For lunch, you can enjoy a delectable banquet picnic on the Wall itself. Witness the remarkable skill and finesse of the famous Shaolin Warriors as they perform a Kungfu masterpiece for your eyes only against the backdrop of the Great Wall. To deepen the experience, one of the most well-informed historians of our time profiled in The New Yorker and informer to the Discovery Channel will accompany you as you walk across the endless steps that vanish on the horizon.
Sit peacefully as you partake in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. A professional tea master will introduce you to the elite art of the perfect pour, you can learn the meditative rituals and let the delicate aroma and sensual taste roll softly around your palate.
Day 4: Beijing
Stand in awe at the Temple of Heaven with its enigmatic presence, its ornate design and its ancient aura providing a rare glimpse into the old world. With sweeping groves of knotted cypress trees sprinkling the sunlight, rich marble alters and the lull of birdsong it’s easy to understand the meaning behind the name.
Call on the primal force of energy with a supreme Taichi session in the shadows of the dazzling Temple of Heaven. This is the perfect environment to feel the dancing contrasting prisms of dark and light, hot and cold, and the other building blocks that make Taichi more than a simple self-defense technique but an ancient art and a way of life.
Afterwards you will have the chance to meet with one of the key players (∴) in the Beijing corporate scene, one of those characters brimming with creativity and innovation, a meeting with him will leave you truly inspired as you take a closer glimpse at his startup projects dabbling in everything from art to education.
Along with being a political and technical hub, Beijing is a rare beauty when it comes to its truly inspiring art. Emerging talent springs up from every nook and cranny and you have the opportunity to gaze in awe at some of these incredible creations from China’s thriving art scene.
Day 5: Beijing
Those with children have the chance to capture a truly special moment as the little ones are whisked away for an opera face painting session complete with costumes and a private photo session. Later in the morning you can enjoy a majestic drive to the largest imperial gardens in China at the romantic Summer Palace. This emperor’s playground is a watercolor come to life with its shimmering lakes, ornate temples, carved bridges and sweet scent of flora rolling in from the surrounding hills.
Board a private boat for an exclusive floating adventure around the glistening lake. A guest lecturer from Sotheby’s will accompany you as you drift pass the romance laden landscape and will seduce you with tales from court life in the summer palace to complement your cocktails.
Enjoy another bright Beijing evening, taste the finest local cuisine, explore the hedonistic nightlife and blend the beauty of the day with the spark of after hours entertainment in this thriving city. Those not in a mood to leave the comforts of the Waldorf Astoria may opt to indulge in a private dinner especially catered to their taste by the hotel's chefs.
Day 6: Beijing to Xi’an
Let your private jet sweep you away to the ancient capital of Xi’an, on board you can stretch out in complete privacy, sip morning fresh cocktails and watch the tapestry of colors spread beneath your feet on a serene flight into the past.
Visit the riches of the Yangling Museum where you can view the mini underground terracotta army in softly lit trenches. The museum is dedicated to the tomb of the Western Han dynasty emperor Liu Qiu. Those with a thirst for historic splendor can enjoy unrivaled behind the scenes access to the restoration room.
Day 7: Xi’an
Witness the wonder of the life-size terracotta army on the march. One of the most alluring sights to see in Xi’an, the majestic underground army of carved life-sized warriors is hauntingly beautiful. As a rare treat, you can claim special access to the area known as the hospital where 200 strong and repaired soldiers stand in formation. You can walk through the lines and gaze into the fearsome faces of the first emperor’s army.
In a land as old as China sometimes you stumble upon secrets and in 2011 this is exactly what happened on an archeological dig in Xi’an.
After lunch you have unique private access on a tour with the lead archaeologist to the on-going excavation of the family tomb of the President of the Board of War during the Han dynasty. The working archeological site is closed to the general public but you can enjoy access down into the golden dust of the earth to see for yourself the legend that lives on in the pages of history.
Day 8: Xi’an to Dunhuang
Art lovers and antique aficionados will be in their element this morning with a specially curated behind the scenes visit to the Archeological Institute. In their usually off limits storeroom you have the incredibly rare opportunity to hold priceless works of art and ancient treasures in your own bare hands.
Take to the skies once more for your next stop on the fascinating Silk Road in dazzling Dunhuang. Dunhuang is one of those fabled places that seems to shimmer as though carved from a surreal dream. The desert is fair and gold, the mountains seem to sing, and when the sun melts everything in sight flames like a mystery soaked in sheer drama. Caves, grottoes and dunes make Dunhuang a treasure house of nature and for history lovers this was one of the select stops on the Silk Route where you could find caravans with precious violet and green gems passing through the famous Jade Gate.
This evening you can check into the lavish Dunhuang Silk Road Hotel. The Tang Dynasty truly comes alive in this architectural wonder comprised on enclosed romantic courtyards, long and winding corridors, natural materials and oversized rooftops. Suites are elegant and splashed with the perfect touch of soft silk, crimson color and intricate furnishings, and sitting in the rooftop starry lounge you can see the blazing cosmos that hangs over the depths of the desert.
Day 9: Dunhuang
This morning after a sumptuous breakfast overlooking the dunes you have the chance to visit the UNESCO wonder of the Mogao Caves. Hailed as the Thousand Buddha Caves, you are sure to rub your eyes in disbelief at the plethora of religious art work adorning the walls in color dating back from the 4th century to the 14th when the Silk Road was at its peak. Tiptoe through temples, creep into caves carved into the cliff and stand in awe at the foot of a 34-meter high Buddha.
After a delicate lunch of the finest local foods you can make the infamous journey to the Pass of the Jade Gate or Yumen Pass. Along the way you will pass through the stretch of deserted desert lands until you witness the weight of the golden hewn rock standing like a fierce and proud warrior with its slip entrance. Two thousand years of history are etched into the face of this monolith, if you strain you can almost hear the ringing bells of camels, the clash of swords, and the cries of the market sellers carried in the hollow wind.
Before dinner you can wander through the local market admiring the glistening colors of the exotic dried fruits in the dying heat of the day. Supping on a barbeque dinner in the dunes with a whole ceiling of stars raging above your head is the perfect end to a delirious day a little further along on the Silk Road.
Day 10: Dunhuang to Samarkand
After one last breakfast in the rich allure of China you can board your own beautiful private jet for a sweeping flight to Uzbekistan. Onboard you can read tales of the Silk Road in your guide, sip freshly roasted coffee and nibble on fresh fruits and pastries as you float through the clouds. Upon landing you can take a city tour of ancient and austere Samarkand.
Samarkand is the pièce de resistance of Uzbekistan, known as one of the oldest inhabited cities on earth. You can only imagine how many footprints have passed through these exotic parts, how many stories are soaked into the sand, and how many traders lay down their wares at the feet of emperors and kings. Scholars and warriors walked this route, bringing prophecies, bringing blood and bringing some of the world’s most feared leaders to the shadowlands of the dry desert.
After wandering through the moonlit mausoleums dating back to the 14th and 15th century you can head down to Registan Square to witness an incredible light and sound show. Finish the day on a high note with a tour of the Khovenkro Wine Factory for a little light sip and swirl before falling into a rich cotton bed at the Grand Samarkand Superior.
Day 11: Samarkand
You have plenty more time to explore the hidden wonders of Samarkand with your own personal guide. The Bibi Khanym Mosque is a must with its awe inspiring dome glistening a glorious shade of blue beneath the summer sky. The poetic story of the mosque built by Timur’s wife, the betrayal of a single kiss, and the revenge of a sharp sword make your first sight of the blazing ornate mosque even more breathtaking to behold.
On the outskirts of the city the 15th century Observatory of Ulugbek sits buried deep in the hills, this is said to have been the finest observatory in the whole of the Islamic world quenching the thirst of knowledge for scholars from near and far.
The Gur Emir (Tomb of the King) Mausoleum is the place where Timur was buried. Stand in awe of the magnificent bright blue dome in this architectural complex houses the tomb of Tamerlane and his sons, grandson and other notable political and religious figures.
Soak up the colors and cloying spice scent of the Siyab Bazaar, visit a local handicraft center and meet with a renowned artist (∴).
Later you can visit the ancient silk making village of Koni Ghil where you can dabble in the beautiful art of silk painting.
Day 12: Samarkand –Bukhara
Start the day with a healthy fresh breakfast from local specialties before transferring to your own private jet to fly to the beauty of Bukhara with its gold glowing minaret that even Genghis Khan declared too precious to be burnt. Bukhara is a sight for sore eyes with its tantalizing tea houses, old Russian cars, narrow dusty streets and beautiful blue domes. Walk beside the imposing 5th century Ark Fortress, see the well that Job made with a single blow of his staff and learn all about ancient Persian dynasties in the Ismail Samani mausoleum.
Take lunch on the rooftop terrace of the Old Bukhara Restaurant drinking up the panoramic views of the city as it shines like polished bronze in the afternoon sun. You will then have the chance to climb the sweeping spiral stairs inside the Kalyan Minaret, the rising spire so beautiful that not even the world’s fiercest warrior would destroy it. Let the Kalyan Mosque take your breath away with its sea of domes supported by an ocean of pillars and explore the secret sights and hidden maze of magic that makes up the Poi Kalyan Architectural Complex.
When the walls of Bukhara have cooled in the milky slant of moonlight you have the chance to visit a puppet workshop before enjoying an intimate dinner with a local family. Overnight stay at the Minor Hotel.
Day 13: Bukhara – Khiva
After a breakfast of sultans and kings you can visit one of the most important Muslim shrines. The Naqshbandi Complex is the final resting place of the Sufi founder and a pilgrimage site for many. The mosque, the minarets, the necropolis and the small madrassah are all beautiful to behold with their gleaming tiles of blue and gold.
After a gorgeous lunch at Rustam’s House you can transfer to the airport for your flight to Khiva. Let your own private jet whisk you high above the clouds on a short and seamless flight ready to touch down in Khiva, another of the Silk Roads glorious gems. Hailed as a living city museum with ancient walls and artifacts dating back to the 6th century, Khiva is a historical treasure trove waiting to be cracked open and explored.
Stay at the Malika Kheivak, a traditionally styled hotel with an ideal location in the center of Ichan Qala, the historical fortress of Khiva, next to the Islam Khoja Minaret. Enjoy dinner at the hotel's restaurant where you can sup on fragrant golden soup, local glugs of Uzbek wine, charcoal grilled meats, bright salads and dill noodles splashed with creamy yoghurt.
Day 14: Khiva
Get your final fill of fascinating Khiva. Visit the madrasah built for the last Khivan Khan who surrendered the city to Russia in the 19th century, bringing a dash of soviet style to the heady Middle Eastern and Persian mixture. Explore the Djuma Mosque with its hidden walls and inner courts, and stand in awe at the glory of the Stone House Palace with its cool ceramics and warm woods.
Over lunch you can converse about Khivan’s former glory days when it was a stop on the Silk Road soaked in blood and slaves and barbaric cruelty. Gazing out at the sunlight dappling over the minarets, the quietude of a fresh cup of tea and the twisting alleys, it’s hard to imagine her any other way. Spend the afternoon uncovering every stone in the town and shopping for silk carpets to ship back home.
This evening you can watch the moonlight spill her cool touch across the shadows of the minarets as you dine on the terrace of Zainab’s House. Afterwards whilst sipping something cool and refreshing you have the chance to watch a live traditional folk show.
Day 15: Istanbul
This morning you can enjoy a private jet flight to touch down in the hedonistic capital of Istanbul, a place where the west and the east collide in a tour de force of color, chaos and charm. The Grand Bazaar spills over with crimson spice, the clang of the call to prayer bells twist and turn through close knit streets, the Bosphorus ebbs and flows and the baklava is sticky sweet and soaked in honey.
Let your luxury private transfer whisk you away to the heavenly delights of the Four Seasons Hotel at the Bosphorus. The 19th century mansion overlooking the European banks and the Asian tangle of hills offers an incredible respite from the chaos of city life. Plush drawing rooms, suites that sparkle with warmth and an aqua terrace and shimmering teal pool ensure that you have your own piece of paradise in one of the Silk Road’s most fascinating cities.
Dabble in the art of beautiful food in the fabulous Aqua Restaurant at the Four Seasons. Start with tuna marinated in something special to make it so tender it simply melts like butter in the mouth, pop olives from the depths of the Turkish hills into your mouth, taste fish fresh from the morning market or opt for some impeccable cuts of meat grilled to absolute perfection.
Day 16: Istanbul
Start the day with a signature Turkish coffee, dark and sweet on the terrace watching the city stir to the vibrant hum of life. This morning you can enjoy a private tour of the city with a personal guide. Start with a visit to the Hippodrome, the very place where Byzantine emperors would race their chariots leaving a trail of dust.
Continue to the cool blue tiles, the spiraling minarets and elegant columns of the famous Blue Mosque.
Afterwards you can visit the imperial Topkapi Palace with its tales of harems and sultans, slip inside the treasury to see one of the world’s most impressive diamonds sparkling with temptation.
Take lunch at Nar Restaurant and nibble on a fresh mezze platter surrounded by locals, finish with some light mint tea before continuing your adventures in the evocative city. This afternoon you will have the chance to listen to a fascinating lecture on one of Turkey’s oldest and most revered art forms – carpet weaving. From unraveling the Anatolian motifs to learning which herbs cause the spun wool and silk to color, you can plunge deep into one of the country’s most beautiful and fascinating crafts. Finish the daylight hours by immersing yourself in the madness and magic of the Grand Bazaar, one of the best markets in the world. Jewels, carpets, gold, silver and spice all come together in this maze of stalls that seem to breathe life back into the lost civilization of the Silk Road.
This evening you will have the chance to tiptoe into the famous Hagia Sophia. The crowning jewel in Istanbul’s skyline, the Hagia Sophia is a precious work of architectural art with its glowing mosaics, its divine domed roof and its minarets reaching for the stars. Seeing the beautiful construction bathed in the rosy glow of sunset is sure to send a tingle down your spine.
Day 17: Istanbul
After a peaceful night’s slumber you can wake refreshed and ready to continue your tour of Istanbul. Start with a tour of the Galata neighborhood, the most beloved, hip and historical area in the whole of the city. Small sincere cafes spill over with locals, the cobbled roads are sun scorched underfoot and the Galata tower stands like a lighthouse steeping the rest of the neighborhood in its 14th century shadow. Meander to the chic streets of Karaköy where delicate boutiques and cafes fill the tangle of streets with life.
Take lunch at Lokanta Maya in Karaköy relishing on flawless renditions of the most flavorful local cuisine based on the freshest available seasonal ingredients. After lunch. the Egyptian Spice Bazaar is there to warm you deep to the bone with its fragrant oriental feel. Mountains of aromatic herbs and spices sit prettily in wicker baskets, fresh cheese wheels from the hills adorns the stalls, Turkish apricots splash the scene with color and the taste of homemade Turkish delight lingers like a sweet sugar coated kiss on your lips.
Return back to the calming beauty of the Bosphorus before taking an intimate sultan inspired dinner in a private room at the Ciragan Palace. Distinguished service, inspiring regal décor and dazzling views across the banks of the river are sure to flood your soul with a flicker of romance.
Day 18: Istanbul
After a leisurely breakfast you can board your own private motor yacht for a luxury cruise along the trade routes of the Bosphorus. Passing along the Golden Horn and to the river mouth of the pearly black sea you will see magnificent villas scattered along the banks, beautiful palaces, and incredible fortresses.
You will disembark from your yacht in Bebek for a sumptuous lunch at Bebek Balikcisi, one of Istanbul's poshest and most popular seafood restaurants. The incredible location and their great selection of classic mezes and the freshest of fish is an experience you will remember long after you leave the table.
Wander to the ancient ruins of the Byzantine castle perched on the hill, fall in love with the shimmer of the Black Sea and soak up the charm of this sweet little fishing spot splashed in green and surrounded by blue. Afterwards you can leisurely motor back down the river snapping up the perfect spots.
Enjoy a little time to refresh back at the hotel, sip a cocktail on the river bank or indulge in a little light pampering at the Four Seasons signature spa.
As the sunlight dwindles you can take a private dinner at the Macar Feyzullah Pasha mansion surrounded by ottoman opulence, gemstone colored walls, whimsical touches and imperial portraits.
Day 19: Depart Istanbul
After one last lingering glance across the Bosphorus you can carry your silks, perfumes, carpets and coffee home. Enjoy a luxury airport transfer before climbing onboard your own private jet for a smooth flight home. Aboard you can sleep easy dreaming of the fables that have followed you from the Silk Road to the sky.
(∴) Out of respect and privacy considerations, the specifics of these persons or locations will be shared with seriously interested parties only.
The number of guests, the type of aircraft elected and the origin city define the cost of the vacation. The following two types of private jets are suggested for this itinerary:
Heavy Jet –Gulfstream V or similar
This is the aircraft of choice for groups up to 16-18 guests. Prices begin at $79,700 per person for a group of 12 guests flying from the East Coast.
VIP Airliner – Airbus 319 or similar
This aircraft is suited for groups larger than 18 guests. Prices begin at $59,900* per person for a group of 30 guests flying from the East Coast. The airplane is never shared with travelers from different groups of guests.
- Return flights on selected private jet
- Onboard gourmet catering
- All hotel accommodations in suites or equivalent, including breakfast **
- Most meals and all activities, including entrance fees for listed sites where applicable
- Best available ground transportation to and from all activities
- Private guidance by professional guides and historians for the entire trip
- Unique events and surprises
* Due to capacity limitations at some of the itinerary venues, groups larger than 18 guests may necessitate alternate accommodations or slightly different activities.
** If the number of suites at any given property is insufficient to host the entire group, next best available rooms will be used for some guests.
All itineraries are fully customizable to accommodate our guests’ interests, lifestyle and desired purposes.
You may also create your own journey by selecting any worldwide destinations of choice. We will build a custom-crafted experience for you.