West Along the Silk Road

Duration: 16 nights/17 days

We visit: Xian, Lanzhou, Xiahe, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Kashgar, Urumqi, Beijing

In the footsteps of the great caravans of old you will traverse the China leg of the Silk Road from Xian (ancient Changan) to Kashgar, China’s westernmost city. The same route utilised by merchants and traders to move goods between China and Rome more than 2000 years ago. You will see the fascinating and unique monuments and treasures of Xian; traverse vast distances of grassland and deserts; meet local Muslim and Tibetan people; visit markets, mosques, tombs and holy sites (grottoes and caves), some dating back more than 1500 years, and some housing astonishingly beautiful murals and other artefacts; you will visit the ruins of ancient cities that succumbed to the incessant warfare of the region over hundreds of years; you will visit fascinating museums seeing relics including the mummified bodies of ancient Caucasian people who once roamed the region, and you will visit great markets and bazaars reminiscent of bygone ages. This is a fantastic tour for the person who wants to see out of the way wonders.


Highlights:

  • Xian - Terracotta Warriors & Horses, Xian City Wall, Bell Tower
  • Xiahe - Sunset on the Sanker Grassland, bonfire party, Muslim markets and Mosques, Labrueng Monastery
  • Lanzhou - Binglinsi Temple
  • Jiayuguan - The Fortress of the Great Wall at Jiayuguan
  • Dunhuang - Mingsha Sand Dune, Mogao Grottos
  • Turpan - Flaming Mountain, Thousand Buddha Cave, Jiaohe Ruins, Karez Irrigation System, Gaochang Ruins, Tuyugou Grape Valley, Astana Tomb
  • Kashgar - Kashgar Sunday Bazaar, Grand Mosque, Tomb of AbakhHojia
  • Urumqi - Xinjiang Regional Museum, Daoqiao Market

Day
1
Arrive Xian

Transfer to your hotel.

Day
2
Xian

This morning you will view the excavated Terracotta Warriors and Horses, buried over 2000 years ago to guard the tomb of the first emperorQinshihuang who died in 210 BC. After lunch, you will walk along Xian’s massive City wall, one of the best preserved in China. You will then visit the famed Bell Tower. In ancient times from early morning the bell was rang to provide the correct time to the whole city. This tower became the symbol of Xi'an from the time it was build. Due to its age, many legends and anecdotes about the Bell Tower have been passed down from ancient times. (B/L)

Day
3
Xian-Lanzhou-Xiahe

You will fly to Lanzhou and travel to Xiahe by car.Xiahe is located at the northeast corner of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. Here you will enjoy the beautiful view of sunset on the Sanker Grassland and a bonfire party. On the way to Xiahe, you will pass Muslim areas to visit Muslim markets and Mosques passing through terraced fields and Tibetan villages.(B/L/D)

Day
4
Xiahe

Xiahe is often referred to as "Little-Tibet". Visit Labrang Lamasery, one of the six main lamaseries of the Yellow Sect of Buddhism and the largest Lamaism institute in the world. The Lamasery has a famed large collection of scriptures volumes.(B/L/D)

Day
5
Xiahe-Lanzhou

After breakfast, you will return to Lanzhou and spend the night at hotel.(B/L)

Day
6
Lanzhou-Jiayuguan

Lying upstream on the Yellow River from Liujiaxia Dam, Binglingsi is an important Buddhist cave complex dating from the 5th century and one of the most unusual sights in Gansu where grottoes were spared the vandalism of the Cultural Revolution.

Transfer to the station for your overnight train to Jiayuguan. (B/L/D)

Day
7
ArriveJiayuguan

Arrive Jiayuguan in the morning. After check in at the hotel, you will visit the famous fort constructed in 1372 at the western end of the Great Wall and the 16th Century Over hanging Wall which once connected the fort to the Mazong range. (B/L/D)

Day
8
Jiayuguan-Dunhuang

Travel by road to the oasis town of Dunhuang, where you will visit the magnificent desert scenery of the Mingsha Sand Dunes, some as high as 300m, where there will be an opportunity to ride camels. (B/L/D)

Day
9
Dunhuang-Turpan

Today you will tour the astonishing caves cut by Buddhist monks from 366 AD into cliff faces at Mogao. These caves contain the greatest grouping of early Buddhist painting and sculpture to survive.  In the afternoon, you will visit the Museum and Research Institute to see how the caves were discovered and some of the objects that remained in them.

You will be transferred to the station for your overnight train to Turpan.(B/L/D)

Day
10
Arrive in Turpan

Morning arrival in Turpan.You will be transferred to your hotel.Turpan is a largely Muslim city lying below sea level in a depression in the desert. Today there is an excursion to the spectacular rock formations of the Flaming Mountains and you will see the ancient Thousand Buddha Caves at Bezeklik.  Following this you will travel into the desert to see the mystical ruins of the ancient settlement of Jiaohe, founded over 2000 years ago. (B/L/D)

Day
11
Turpan

Trupan is a stunning agriculture oasis, thirstily surviving on irrigated snowmelt water from the nearby 6561ft high Tian Mountains. The ancient Karez irrigation system you will visit today is the most outstanding of its kind in the world.Then we drive to the peaceful ancient village of Tuyugou in a lush valley in the Flaming Mountains before moving on to the ancient ruins of Gaochang built in the 2nd century. Also of interest is the nearby Astana Tomb where the dead of Gaochang were buried and where many interesting artifacts have been found. (B/L/D)

Day
12
Turpan-Urumqi-Kashgar

You will travel by road to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Then join your flight to Kashgar.  (B/L/D)

Day
13
Kashgar

Kashgar is China’s westernmost city. Today you will visit the famous Sunday Bazaar, where tens of thousands of villagers and nomads arrive in their donkey carts, often causing traffic jams. Large numbers of minority peoples come to trade, all sporting their distinctive costumes and headgear. (B/L/D)

Day
14
Kashgar-Urumqi

Today your tour will start from the heart of the town Grand Mosque and visit the sacred resting place of AbakhHoja, a 17th century ruler of the region, and his descendants. This tomb is the holiest place in the area, including, it is said the burial place of Xiangfei, the emperor Qianlong’s legendary “Fragrant Concubine”.  Later in the day you will fly to Urumqi. (B/L)

Day
15
Urumqi

Today you will visit the excellent Xinjiang Regional Museum to see the incredibly well preserved mummies found in ancient tombs. Also visit Daoqiao Market. (B/L)

Day
16
Urumqi-Beijing

Fly to Beijing and transfer to hotel upon arrival. (B)

Day
17
Depart Beijing

You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

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