Destinations: Xi’an – Urumqi – Turpan – Hotan – Kashgar
Our 11 day Memory of China Silk Road Tour begins from Xi’an, the starting point of ancient Silk Road in China. This tour focuses more on Turpan, Hotan and Kashgar in Xinjiang which are the main cities of the Silk Road in China. These cities played significant roles in the history of the Silk Road 2,000 years ago.
Day 1: Arrival to Xi’an
Activities: Our guide and driver will pick you up from Xi’an Xianyang International Airport then transfer you to your comfort hotel. You will be free by your own to refresh and explore the surrounding area near to your hotel rest of the day.
Day 2: Day Tour in Xi’an
Attractions: Terra Cotta Army, Shanxi Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Xi’an Grand Mosque
Activities: Our tour for the day starts by visiting the Terra Cotta Army which was accidently discovered by local farmers while they were drilling for water near the tomb of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Since 1974, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses have been uncovered from the site. Afterwards, we will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which is seven storied and 64 meters high. It was built in 652 AD to house Buddhist scriptures that were brought back by the famous Buddhist monk, Xuan Zang during his 17 year pilgrimage to India. Bell Tower is a symbol of Xi’an and one of the grandest of its kind in China. It was built in 1384 AD during the early Ming dynasty and contains several large bronze-bells cast several centuries earlier during the Tang Dynasty. The Drum Tower is located northwest of the Bell Tower and was built in 1380 AD. In contrast to the Bell Tower, whose bell was struck at dawn, the Drum Tower’s drum was beaten at sunset to indicate the end of the day. Xi’an Grand Mosque is one of the oldest and most renowned mosques in China. It was first built in the Tang Dynasty (685-762AD), and is still used by Hui Muslims. Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, the Great Mosque of Xi’an is completely Chinese in its construction and architectural style having neither domes nor traditional-style minarets. Night will be spent in Xi’an.
Day 3: Morning Flight to Urumqi then Transfer to Turpan
Attractions: Jiaohe Ancient City, Karez Underground Water System
Transportation: Bus/Car, Flight
Activities: Our guide and driver will meet you after your breakfast at the hotel to send you to your flight to Urumqi. Upon your arrival to Urumqi, our guide and driver in Urumqi greet you and transfer you to Turpan. After check in to our hotel and a quick refresh, we will visit Jiaohe Ancient City which is known as Yarghul Ancient City in Uyghur language. It is located 13 km to Turpan, it was first the capital of the State of South Cheshi which was the one of the thirty six states in the Western Region. The Jiaohe Ancient City was bordered by rivers flowing by, hence the name of ‘Jiaohe’ or ‘the city of joining rivers’. Turpan owes its existence the Karez System an underground gravity irrigation system developed by the Uyghur’s over centuries. Karez is composed of a series of wells along the snow-covered mountains and linking underground channels that use slopes and gravity to bring water to the surface. There are around 1600 Karez Systems in Xinjiang and length of the Karez in Turpan is around 5000 km. It is considered as one of the three great ancient projects in China, the other two being the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. You will be in Turpan tonight.
Day 4: Day Tour in Turpan
Attractions: Gaochang Ancient City, Tuyuk Village, Astana – Karakhoja Tombs, Flaming Mountain
Activities: We start our Turpan tour by visiting Gaochang Ancient City which is located 50 km southeast of Turpan. The city was built as a garrison town in the first century BC and developed into one of the key points along the Silk Road. The town was known as Kocho and ruled a wide area. In the 14th century however, it was abandoned after continued warfare between the Mongols and the Uyghurs. The remains of the city still testify as to its past glory, with courtyards, Buddhist temples and pagodas scattered over 10000 square m in area. Tuyuk Village is a one of the oldest Uyghur settlements in Xinjiang. In this village, we can see how the local Uyghur’s living in this village and their life style by visiting their house. You can also have your lunch in a Uyghur family in the village if you want to. Astana – Karakhoja Tomb is a public cemetery of the Ancient Gaochang Kingdom. Archeologist excavated many tombs and found mummies, ancient books, paintings, pottery, clay figures, wood works, gold and stone wares, ancient coins, cotton and silk textiles in great value. The Flaming Mountains stretch 100 km from east to west and are about 10 km wide. In the summer, temperatures go as high as 80 C and the airflow shimmers above the mountains like a fire. We will be in Turpan tonight.
Day 5: Turpan to Urumqi for your Flight to Hotan
Attractions: Xinjiang Museum
Transportation: Bus/Car, Flight
Activities: We will leave for Urumqi after our breakfast at the hotel. Upon our arrival to Urumqi, we will visit Xinjiang Musuem. Xinjiang Museum houses several thousand cultural relics from all over Xinjiang. It serves as the archaeological and history research center of the region. The museum is famous as the home of the thousands year old Europoid mummies discovered in the deserts of southern Xinjiang at the end of the last century. After our trip at the museum, we will take our afternoon flight to Hotan. You will meet with our guide and driver then transferred to your comfort hotel. You will be given free time to explore the evening scenery of Hotan. Night will be spent in Hotan.
Day 6: Day Tour in Hotan
Attractions: Atlas Silk Factory, Carpet Factory, White Jade River, Hotan Sunday Market, Jade Factory
Activities: We will start our tour by visiting the Atlas Silk Factory. Atlas is the Uyghur word for the soft and graceful silk and means “tie dyed silk fabric”. Visitors can see the whole process of handmade silk from boiling the silk worm cocoons till weaving the cloth on the looms. Hotan Carpet factory located same way with Silk Atlas Factory. Hotan Carpets were sought after in ancient times and antique carpets are collector items. Modern carpets are considerably cheaper and the factory can make custom carpets to order. White Jade River is the river where the famous Hotan White jade is found. The Hotan Bazaar is located in northeastern corner of the city. On every Sunday, the whole city and countryside community converge on the bazaar to trade, shop and enjoy themselves conjuring up a fascinating Aladdin’s world. The Jade Factory carries on Hotan’s more than 3000 years old tradition of supplying jade to central China where Hotanese jade was used to make the Imperial seals of power. Hotan is the best place to do camel trekking in Xinjiang. We can arrange desert trekking with camel in Hotan with camp fire for this evening if you wish to so. Need to arrange it in advance.
Accommodation: Taklamakan Desert Camping
Day 7: Travel Hotan to Kashgar
Attractions: Amannisahan Tomb, Golden Grave Yard, Golden Mosque, Yarkant Old Town, Yingsar Knife Factory
Activities: We will set out to Kashgar early in the morning after our breakfast at the hotel. Kashgar is 520 KM from Hotan. On the way to Kashgar, we will stop in Yarkant, Yarkant is the biggest county of Kashgar. Yarkant was once the capital of Uyghur Kingdom and was an important station on the ancient Silk Road, with a history of over 2000 years. Aman Nisahan, the wife of the second king of the Yarkant kingdom and the compiler of the famous Uyghur 12 Music Mukams, is buried in a tomb in the Golden Grave Yard. Next to Golden Graveyard is the Yarkand Old town which is very authentic and traditional. After Yarkand, is the Yingsar. Yingsar is 78 km to Kashgar and is famous for making traditional Uyghur knives known as Yingsar knives. Visitors can visit workshops to observe how these sought after knives are made and maybe pick up one or two as souvenirs. Night will be spent in Kashgar.
Day 8: Tour to Karakul Lake
Attractions: Karakorum Highway, Bulung Kul, Karakul Lake
Activities: We start our trip early today. We will be driving on Karakorum Highway from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan. It traces 1300km long, one of the routes of the Ancient Silk Road to India. It also cuts along the collision zone of the Eurasian and Indian plates where China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan come close to one another. Bulung Kul (Corner Lake) is located on the way to Karakul Lake. The view of the lake reflecting the mountains of sand in the distance is absolutely stunning. At an attitude of 3600m, Karakul Lake is the highest lake on the Pamir plateau where the Pamir, Kunlun and Tianshan mountain ranges meet. Surrounded by mountains which remain covered by snow throughout the year, the three highest peaks visible from the lake are the Muztagh Ata (7546m), the Kongur Tagh (7649) and the Kongur Tiube (7530m). Every summer, mountain climbers from all over the world descend to Karakul lake to climb the Muztagh Peak. The lake is famous for its unreal scenery and clear reflections in the water, ranging from dark green to azure to light blue. There are two Kirgiz settlements along the shores of the Karakul lake, living in yurts and mud stone houses. Night will be spent at Karakul Lake.
Accommodation: Kirgiz Yurt at Karakul Lake
Day 9: Karakul Lake to Tashkurgan then back to Kashgar
Attractions: Tashkurgan, Stone City, Tajik Family Visiting
Activities: We will continue our trip to Tashkurgan after our breakfast. Tashkorgan is located on the eastern part of the Pamir Plateau, where the Kunlun, Hindukush, and Tianshan Mountain Ranges merge to form the Pamir Plateau. From here, it just 130 km away from the Khunjerab Pass which is 4693 meters above the sea level. The Tajik nationality lives here and engage in farming and animal husbandry. The Stone City is located in the north of Tashkorgan town and dates to the Tang dynasty. The city is surrounded by beautiful green pasturelands and streams with a beautiful view of the surrounding snow capped mountains. Only some broken sections of the city’s walls remain but it was once an important fort on the ancient Silk Road guarding the roads from Kashi, Yengisar and Yarkant leading to the mountain passes towards Central Asia and India. We will do Tajik family visiting if you want to. For this, you should let us know before our arrival to Tashkurgna so that we can allocate our time to visit their house. After our trip at Tashkurgan, we head back to Kashgar. Night will be in Kashgar.
Day 10: Kashgar City Tour
Attractions: Apak Hoja Tomb, Kashgar’s Sunday Market, Kashgar Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Handicraft Street
Activities: We start our tour by visiting Apak Hoja Tomb, which is located in the northeast of Kashgar city. Legend has it that seventy-two persons in five generations of the Hoja family are buried in the tomb. The legend goes that among the Hoja descendants buried here, a lady named Iparhan was one of the concubines of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong. Kashgar’s Sunday Market is the biggest market in Xinjiang. As early as two thousand years ago, it was the collecting and distributing center for trade. Nowadays, various special local products, handicrafts, articles of daily use, fruits and vegetables as well as all kinds of domestic animals can be found here. We will visit Animals Part of Sunday market before coming to Sunday Market. Kashgar Old Town is located in center of the city. By walking through narrow streets and visiting the families there, you can learn about Uyghur culture and custom. Id Kah Mosque is a grand Islamic structure located in the center of Kashgar city. It was first built in 1442 AD, extended and renovated time and again through the ages, finally reaching its present shape and size. The mosque is the largest in all China with covering an area of 16,800 square meters. The Handicraft Street is located next to the Id Kah Mosque and provides a place where tourists can see traditional Uyghur craftsmen engaged in making different types of articles for special and daily use. Night will be spent in Kashgar.
Day 11: Fly Out
Transportation: Bus/Car, Flight
Activities: After your breakfast at the hotel, our guide and driver will transfer you to Kashgar Airport to your flight to your next destination. Our guide will asist you with your checking in, this will be end of our service.