China's Mysterious Silk Road - 15 Days
Visiting Xi'an, Lanzhou, Wuwei, Zhangye, Jiayu Guan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar, & Tashkurga
Best time to visit: all year
The cities and beautiful landscapes of China’s western expanse are often overlooked by travellers. A Silk Road Tour gives travellers the chance to see China in an off-the-beaten path way. On this Silk Road Tour the first stop is in Xi’an - the gateway to the West, starting point of the Silk Road, and home to the Terracotta Warriors. From there we head to Lanzhou, the ancient city of Wuwei, and Jiayuguan. Upon reaching the Silk Road’s Dunhuang we’ll explore its Buddhist caves and tour the desert by Camel. We’ll then head over to the citiies of Turpan and Urumqi, then fly over the Taklamakan desert to Kashgar. This is where the largest bazaar of Central Asia is held every Sunday. We’ll also get to visit Lake Karakuri at the base of Mt. Muztagh.
Whether you’re looking to uncover the trading routes of the Silk Road, ride camels through the desert, or explore the less touristy areas of China, this is one of the best Silk Road Tour itineraries for anyone looking for some adventure and a truly unique experience.
(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Day 1 - Arrival in Xi’an (B,L)
After your pick-up from the airport, your Silk Road journey will begin with a visit to the magnificent Qin Terracotta Army which was formed around 2500 years ago and which contains more than 6000 warriors, soldiers and horses. In 1987 it was listed by UNESCO as one of the world cultural heritages.
In the afternoon, we return to Xi'an city and visit the Forest of Stone Steles Museum.
Stay in 4 - star hotel in Xi'an
Day 2 - Xi’an - Lanzhou (B,L)
In the morning, visit Shanxi History Museum and the Old City Wall. The Shanxi History Museum's per manent exhibition primarily displays Shaanxi's ancient history. Representative pieces from all periods have been selected to show the development of civilization in this region. This afternoon we will visit Gao's Grand Courtyard, the Great Mosque and the old street. We’ll take the evening flight from Xi’an to Lanzhou where we’ll stay at a lovely 4 star hotel.
Stay in 4 - star hotel in Lanzhou
Day 3 - Lanzhou (B,L)
Today's highlights are Gansu Provincial Museum and an excursion to Bingling Temple Grottoes, 7 5km south west of Lanzhou. Listed as part of the ancient Silk Road for the World Heritage can didate, Bingling Temple Grottoes, filled with stupas, murals and Buddhist sculpture carved into natural caves, we re a work in progress between the 4th and 10th centuries. Taste traditional and local foods at the local market.
Stay in 4 star hotel in Lanzhou
Day 4 - Lanzhou - Wuwei - Zhangye (B,L)
Day 4 of our Silk Road Tour lets us cross the great Yellow River and head up the Hexi Corridor towards the ancient city of Wuwei. Here we’ll visit Lai Tai Han Tomb, which has become a fantastic tourist attraction in Wuwei city. Then drive to visit the Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye where the biggest indoor sleeping Buddha in China is preserved. Further on to Zhangye Danx ia Geopark, the Rainbow Mountains. It enjoys t he honors of "The world's top ten magical geographical wonders". Upon arrival, start hiking along the north part of Danxia Landform, enjoying the great view of Qilian S han and memorable sunset. China Rainbow Mountains are magnificent with gorgeous colors, which developed at about 200 million years ago. We will see lots of precipitous red cliffs, most of which are several hundred meters high, and multicolored ridges of weathered strata, sometimes stretching to the horizon. It is the best place for photography. After a great day we’ll stay in a nice 4 - star Huachen International Hotel or similar.
Stay in 4 star Huachen International Hotel in Zhangye
Day 5 - Zhangye - Jiayu Guan (B,L)
As we continue on our silk road journey, the snow - capped Qilian Mountain ranges wind it s way westward and accompany us all the way (about 250km). We’ll vis it “The Strategic Pass u nder Heaven” - the most west point of the present Great Wall. And visit Wei & Jin Ancient Tomb to explore the ground floor of its murals and brick Graves known as "the world's largest underground gallery".
Stay in 4 - star Huayuan Hotel
Day 6 - Jiayu Guan - Dunhuang (B,L)
Today we’ll drive about 385 km there the Great Gobi Desert. Along the way we’ll also ride ca mels to visit the Singing Sand Mountains. The Crescent Spring, which forms a lak e between two huge sand dunes. It is like seeing a mirage - but it ’ s r e al!
Stay in 4 - star hotel in Dunhuang
Day 7 - Dunhuang (B,L)
Today we get to sleep in a bit later and ha ve a nice rest. Afterwards, we’ll drive towards the northwest of the city for the Yumen Pass. Situated in the Gobi Desert 80 kilometers northwest of Dunhuang City, it was once one of the two critical defensive passes protecting Dunhuang from invasion about two thousand years ago. Drive onwards to visit Yadan National Geologic Park. Yadan landforms rise above the flat Gobi Desert and cover a vast area. Due to its eccentric landforms, the hard - to - spot roads, low - lying terrain, strong magnetism and howling sou nds made by the wind, the area is also called "Ghost City" by local people. Yadan Landforms is the largest in scale, fully developed in geology and most valua ble for ornament in the world. The scenery sites have an infinite variety of fantastic phenomena a nd the superlative craftsmanship of nature.
Stay in 4 - star hotel in Dunhuang
Day 8 - Dunhuang - Take the train to Turpan (B,L)
After a relaxing morning we’ll then visit the world famous Mogao Grottoes which is called “the World Famous Treasure House of Arts”, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddha. After dinner, we’ll take evening soft sleeper train from Dunhuang to Turpan, Overnight on the train;
Overnight on the train
Day 9 - Turpan (B,L)
After early arrival in Turpan we’ll be take n to our hotel and later picked up to see some of the ancient sights : Gaochang A ncient C ity shining like a resplendent precious stone i nlaid in the boundless desolate Gobi desert and t he Silk Road, and the Astana Grave s which are a grou p of underground tom bs. Following a lunch in an authentic Uygur restaurant we get to see the vineyards for ourself. The Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves is a n other rock - cut building with the most caves
and frescos contents at most in Turpan area. It is located on the west cliff s of the Wood Valley of the Flame Mountain, 45 kilometers away from Turpan city. The history of the Caves is more early than Dunhuang but unfortunately that most murals were damaged by nature or by man - made. Then visit t he Flaming Mountains, overshadow the cradle of the Turpan ancient civilization and oasis agriculture. They provide a spectacular backdrop to the oases and scenery of the Turpan area.
Stay in 4 star hotel in Turpan
Day 10 - Turpan - Urumqi - Flight to Kashgar (B,L)
In the morning, we w ill drive to the west part of Turpan for the Suleiman Minaret, the only ancient Islamic minaret left in China, and the Karez Wells, one of the three great ancient projects’ in China. The Karez Wells Folk Garden and Museum explains how the well system makes it possible for the famous orchards and vineyards to exist in these hot, dry desert communities. After that, w e will drive all the way to Uru mqi. It’s about 300km highway. T ake night flight to Kashgar.
Stay in 4 - star hotel in Kashgar
Day 11 - Kashgar - Tashkurgan (B,L)
Today we will drive about 4 - 5 hours to Tashkurgan County which is located at the south of Kashgar for the ancient stone city. We could take an easy hiking visit to the ruins of the stone city which is in the back of Tashkurgan County.
Stay in Tashkurgan Crown Inn (The best hotel)
Day 12 - Tashkurgan - Karakuri Lake - Kashgar (B,L)
Today we start our tour from the Tashkurgan Museum. We’ll drive about 2 hours to the famous Karakuri Lake and Muztagh Mountain, enjoying breathtaking scene ry of high mountain pastures and snow - capped peaks. Karakuri Lake, known as "the father of glaciers", is located at the foot of Mount Muztaga - Ata, sittin g at 3,600m above sea level. We will have enough time for deep exploration of the famous lake and the h oly Mountain. Take a leisure walking around the majestic blue lake. Then back to Kashgar.
Stay in 4 star hotel in Kashgar
Day 13 - Kashgar - Urumqi (B,L)
Spend the day experiencing its Islamic culture in Kashgar. A must visit place is Id Kah Mosque, built in the 15th century, where 10,000 people gather at midday on Fridays to pray, and a restaurant nearby which provides authentic Muslim food. Kashgar Bazaar is festooned with traditions and ancient history and has become famous throughout Asia, at tracting merchants from as far as Pakistan and Kirghizstan; some tourists come especially to see it. Zhiren Street is an old street where craftsmen still produce their fare. It’s easy to lose our sense of time and direction as we wonder this baza ar, but do n’t worry our guide will lead us through the maze. We’ll take a night flight back to Urumqi, and stay in Xinjiang Grand hotel or similar
Stay in 4 star hotel in Urumqi
Day 14 - Urumqi (B,L)
After breakfast we will head for Heavenly Lake (Tian Chi), which lies on the north side of Bogda Peak of Tian Shan (Heavenly Mountains), about 110 km east of Urumqi. We will be amazed by the snowy peaks of the Heavenly Mountains reflecting on the dazzlingly blue lake surface. Then drive back to Urumqi, we will also pay a visit to the National Museum. The display of ancient mummies is fantastic, for it was in this region that a great number of ancient and well preserved remains were discovered.
Stay in 4 star Hotel in Urumqi
Day 15 - Departure
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.