Journey Along the Ancient Silk Road

12 Days / 11 Nights

  Xi’an - Lanzhou - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang - Turpan - Urumqi - Kashgar

12 Days / 11 Nights

Journey Along the Ancient Silk Road

  Xi’an - Lanzhou - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang - Turpan - Urumqi - Kashgar

Trace back 2,000 years of history on this fascinating 12-day journey along the Silk Road. Learn about the cultural and economic importance of the ancient trading trail and visit some of the most significant destinations along the way. From the ancient earthen ruins of Jiaohe and underground cave temples to the western end of the Great Wall of China, explore some of world’s most impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Complete with spectacular landscapes, such as the impressive Rainbow Mountains and the Echoing Sand Dune, get ready for an epic adventure through China!

JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Admire the spectacular landscape of the ‘Rainbow Mountains’
  • Visit Jiayuguan Pass, an impressive fortress at the western end of the Great Wall of China
  • Discover the famous Mogao Caves and its valuable collection of Buddhist art
  • Visit the second lowest point on earth as well as the hottest place in China
  • Travel to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and explore the province’s natural beauty and unique culture

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Domestic airfares & train fares
  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast
  • Meals as specified in itinerary
  • English-speaking guides
  • Private drivers & air-conditioned vehicles
  • Entrance fees to tourist sites

ITINERARY

DAY 1

Xi’an

DAY 1 - Xi’an

Welcome to China! Upon arrival in Xi’an, meet a local guide and transfer to a hotel in the city. Spend the rest of the day relaxing before embarking on a grand journey along the ancient Silk Road the following day.

DAY 2

DAY 2 - Xi’an

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before coming face to face with the life-sized terracotta army at the famous Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses. One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, the several thousand soldiers and horses were built by China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, with the purpose to protect him in his afterlife.

After this extraordinary sight, travel back to the city and visit the Xi’an City Wall. It is one of the largest and best-preserved ancient military defensive systems in the world and one of the top highlights when visiting Xi’an. Wrap up the day with a stroll along bustling Muslim Street, exploring the myriad of street stalls and picking up some snacks and souvenirs on the way.

DAY 3

DAY 3 - Xi’an – Lanzhou

After breakfast, hop aboard a train and travel westwards to Lanzhou. Upon arrival, enjoy a first introductory tour of the city on the Yellow River, starting at Lanzhou’s most impressive landmark – the Yellow River Mother Statue – before gaining insight into traditional irrigation methods at the Waterwheel Garden.

Next, head up to the top of the White Pagoda Mountain and take in the panoramic views of the city before ending the day in Lanzhou with a leisurely stroll across Zhongshan Bridge, the first permanent bridge across the Yellow River.

DAY 4

DAY 4 - Lanzhou – Zhangye

In the morning, head to the railway station and travel by bullet train – China’s highspeed railway – to Zhangye. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel to check in before kicking back at a local restaurant to get a taste for the regional cuisine.

After a delicious lunch, head to Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park and prepare to be blown away by the spectacular scenery of the ‘Rainbow Mountains’. Marvel at the multi-coloured landscape of fiery-red ridges and mountains in shades of blue, yellow, green and orange, and take in the numerous interesting rock formations found in the park.

DAY 5

DAY 5 - Zhangye – Jiayuguan

After breakfast, continue the trip westwards until reaching the famous Jiayuguan Pass. Located at the western end of the Great Wall, the magnificent military fortress was a key waypoint along the ancient Silk Road.

Continue to the First Fire Tower. Standing on the edge of a cliff in the Gobi Desert, the 56-metre-high earth mound constitutes the beginning of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall in the west and played an essential part in the defensive system of the Jiayuguan section of the wall.

Next, head to the Wei-Jin Art Gallery to admire a vast collection of colourful murals in what is the ‘world’s largest underground gallery’. Excavated in 1972, the area in the Gobi Desert is dotted with more than 1,400 tombs, built between the 3rd and 5th century by the Jin and Wei Dynasties, with two of them open for tourists. Enter the subterranean stone tombs and admire the vivid murals and patterns which give great insight into ancient Chinese society.

DAY 6

DAY 6 - Jiayuguan – Dunhuang

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before travelling to Dunhuang, an oasis in the Gobi Desert that served as an important crossroads along the ancient Silk Road. After checking into the hotel, head out for an adventurous camel-ride and witness the Echoing Sand Mountain, a huge sand dune known to sing and roar in the wind. Riding around the dune, discover a crescent-shaped lake surrounded by undulating desert and be entranced by the magical sight.

DAY 7

DAY 7 - Dunhuang – Turpan

Start the day exploring the famous Mogao Caves, a network of several hundred ancient cave temples that treasure some of the world’s largest collections of Buddhist art. Also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, admire the elaborate paintings and intricate sculptures at the UNESCO World Heritage Site and notice how Chinese art developed over the span of a thousand years. Continue to the Dunhuang Museum and learn more about the history of this area and the development of the Silk Road.

Next, leave Dunhuang and take the high-speed train to Turpan. Located in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the oasis was once an important stop along the Silk Road, and is, after the Dead Sea, the second lowest point on earth. Upon arrival, check into the hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

DAY 8

DAY 8 - Turpan

In the morning, visit the Jiaohe Ruins, an ancient city created of raw earth. Perched atop a steep cliff, the natural fortress is among the oldest and best preserved in the world. Explore the remarkable remains and imagine the city in all its former glory before visiting the Sugong Pagoda. The minaret’s cone-shaped tower is decorated with beautiful carvings and was built in the traditional architecture style of local Uygur ethnic group.

Next, visit the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Cave, a cluster of grottoes that were carved between 400 and 1300 AD. Admire the large religious murals before continuing to the nearby Flaming Mountains. As the name suggests, the red sandstone hills can reach temperatures of 47.8-degree Celsius – making it the hottest place in China.

DAY 9

DAY 9 - Turpan – Urumqi – Kashgar

After breakfast, pay a visit to the Karez Systems to learn about this extraordinary underground irrigation project that enabled life in one of the hottest places on earth.

Continue travelling to Urumqi airport in time for an afternoon flight to Kashgar. Located in China’s far western corner, the city has been an important trading centre for more than two millennia.

DAY 10

DAY 10 - Kashgar – Urumqi

Start the morning in Kashgar at the city’s Grand Bazaar. Dive into the colourful spectacle and peruse the many stalls, offering everything from spices to livestock. Observe merchants haggling over camels and, maybe, give it a go when picking up a souvenir. Continue on to the magnificent Id Kah Emin Mosque. Steeped in history, it is one of the largest mosques in China and hosts around 10,000 every Friday.

Next, visit the Tomb of the Fragrant Lady, a gorgeous mausoleum where, as legend has it, Emperor Qianlong’s Fragrant Concubines were buried.

In the evening, take to the skies again and return to Urumqi.

DAY 11

DAY 11 - Urumqi

Start the day with a visit to Xinjiang Museum and gain insight into the unique culture and interesting history of the region through a display of historical relics and folk custom exhibitions.

After, get to know a local family of the Kazakh ethnic group in their traditional yurt before enjoying a relaxing boat ride on Tianchi Lake. Meaning ‘Lake of Heaven’, soak up the breathtaking views of the serene alpine lake against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains – a perfect ending to this picturesque journey!

DAY 12

DAY 12 - Urumqi

The time has come to say goodbye and stray off the path of the ancient Silk Road! After breakfast get to the airport in time for a departing flight.

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