16 Days Heritage China Silk Road Tour
Destinations: Xi’an-Lanzhou-Dunhuang-Turpan-Kucha(Kuqa)-Aksu-Crossing Taklimakan Desert-Hotan (Khotan)-Yarkand-Kashgar-Urumqi
Our 16 day heritage China Silk Road Tour gives you the opportunity to explore the mystery of the Silk Road of China. Our well designed tour allows you to discover the world heritage historical sites and natural beauty of this part of the world.
Day 1: Day Tour in Xi’an
Attractions:Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’an Grand Mosque, Drum Tower, Bell Tower
Activities: Our tour for the day starts after breakfast at the hotel. We start by visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors which were accidentally discovered by local farmers while they were drilling for water near the tomb of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. By reputation, Xi’an is famous for its endless rows of Terra Cotta Warriors. Since 1974, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses have been unearthed from the site. Xi’an offers much more than this remarkable stone army, though. As the start of the Silk Road, Xi’an is an integral junction, culturally and historically, of Eastern and Western art, ideas, culture, and architecture. The Xi’an Grand Mosque was first built in the Tang Dynasty (685-762AD), and is still used by Hui Muslims today as a place of worship. 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. The Bell Tower is a symbol of Xi’an and regarded as one of China’s marvels. 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 is also a symbol of the city. It was built in 1380 AD and towers above the city centre offering an incredible view of Xi’an. 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. We will spend the night in Xi’an
Accommodation: Xi’an Tanghua Hotel or Similar
Day 2: Day Tour in Xi’an
Attractions: Xi’an City Wall, Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Activities: We will start our day by visiting the Xi’an City Wall which is one of the oldest and best preserved city walls in China. The existing wall was built by the Ming dynasty in the 14th century on the foundations of the original Tang Forbidden City. The wall is 13.7 km long, 12m high and 15-18 m thick at the base. Shaanxi History Museum which has more than 370,000 exhibits on display within its Tang Dynasty style halls. Most striking are the over 400 pieces of murals from the tombs of royalty and nobles of the Tang Dynasty, depicting their life and daily pursuits. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda 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. Xuan Zang travelled extensively and wrote a detailed account of the politics, economics, culture and geography of the regions. This became the inspiration for the epic novel Journey to the Westwhich has been adapted for television and cinema in Japan and the West. We will take evening flight to Lanzhou. Our guide and driver will pick us up and transfer to our hotel.
Accommodation: Lanzhou Hualian Hotel or Similar
Day 3: Day Tour in Lanzhou
Attractions: Gansu Provincial Museum, Bingling Buddha Caves
Transportation:Bus/Car, overnight Train
Activities: Our tour in Lanzhou starts after our breakfast in the hotel. Our day tour starts by visiting the Gansu Provincial Museum which is the home of the renowned Galloping Horse of Wuwei (Han dynasty 206 BC – 22 AD) which was once loaned to museum exhibitions worldwide but is now considered too precious to ever leave China again. The bronze horse is exquisitely balanced on just one foot upon the back of a swallow in flight. The museum has more than 75,000 historical and natural exhibits including color-painted pottery of the Neolithic Age and a 4 meter mammoth fossil. Afterwards, we will visit Bingling Buddha Caves which is located in Yongjing County of Gansu Province. It is one of the famous sites on the ancient China Silk Road. Bingling means Ten Thousand Buddha’s in the Tibetan language. Construction of the caves began as early as the Western Qin Dynasty (366AD) and was continued on by various Chinese dynasties throughout the centuries. Today, there are 183 caves containing 694 stone statues, 82 clay sculptures and some 900 square meters’ of murals. We will take overnight train to Dunhuang.
Accommodation: On the Train
Day 4: Day Tour in Dunhuang
Attractions: Crescent Lake, Echoing-Sand Mountain, Shazhou Market
Transportation:Bus/Car, Night Train
Activities: Upon our morning arrival in Dunhuang , our guide and driver will greet us at the railway station and drive us across Gansu’s stark desert landscape to our hotel in the heart of the Dunhuang (it’s name means great prosperity), a thriving and vivacious oasis, for a short rest. Afterward, we will enjoy breakfast and begin exploring Dunhuang. We start by visiting the desert, where we will climb the Echoing-Sand Mountain, an impressive sand dune. From atop the dune, we can enjoy a remarkable view of the desert, slide down the sand (a crucial and fun desert experience), ride camels into the desert, and view Crescent Lake, an amazingly blue colored lake sandwiched between two towering dunes. The dune gets its name from the sounds produced by the wind, ranging from a roar during strong winds to a sweet musical hum during a light breeze. In the afternoon, we will visit Shazhou Market, which is one of the best places in Dunhuang to look at famous crafts and taste some of Dunhuang’s diverse street cuisine.
Accommodation: The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel or similar
Day 5: Day Tour in Dunhuang
Attractions: Mogao Caves, Han Great Wall, Yumen Pass
Transportation: Bus/Car, Overnight Train
Activities: We will visit Mogao Caves in the morning. the Mogao Grottoes is the world’s largest and best-preserved treasure house of Buddhist scriptures, murals, and architectural design. Dating back to 366 AD, 492 grottoes have survived, of which thirty are open to the public. Early in the last century, a Taoist monk named Wang Yuanlu discovered a walled up cave in the grottoes containing thousands of manuscripts dating from 406 to 1002 AD. This discovery included the world’s earliest printed book, the Diamond Sutra, and other Confucian, Taoist and Nestorian Christian works, as well as government records and private transactions. Yumen Pass is located 80 km Northwest of Dunhuang. It used to be the pass the Caravan’s on Ancient Silk Road in 2000 years back used to pass. The Han Great Wall is situated 5 km west of Yumen Pass. It was built by Han Wudi as a defense wall against Western Region. It is considered one of the oldest sections of Great Wall. We will take overnight train to Turpan.
Accommodation: On the Train
Day 6: Day Tour in Turpan
Attractions: Gaochang Ancient City, Tuyuk Village, Astana – Karakhoja Tombs, Flaming Mountain
Activities: We will be in Turpan by next day morning. Our guide and driver will meet us at Turpan RailwayStation then transfer us to our hotel. After breakfast and short refresh, we start our Turpan tour by visiting Gaochang Ancient City. 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 Villag 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, visit their house in order to get general idea about their life style. You can also have your lunch in a Uyghur family in the village if you want to. Astana – Karakhoja Tombs located near to Gaochang Ancient city. 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 Mountain 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.
Accommodation: Turpan Huozhou Hotel or Similar
Day 7: Day Tour in Turpan
Attractions: Jiaohe Ancient City, Karez Underground Water System, Emin Minaret (Tower)
Transportation: Bus/Car, Night Train
Activities: Our tour for the day starts after the breakfast by visiting the Jiaohe Ancient City which is known as Yarghul Ancient City in the Uyghur language. Located about 13 kms from Turpan City, it was first the capital of the State of South Cheshi which was the one of the thirty six states in the Western Region (Old name for Xinjiang today). 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. Emin Minaret (Tower) or Turpan Tower is also called the Sugong Tower in Chinese. It was built 1778 AD by Suleman, the Aqimu Boke, in memory of his father. The circular tower is 37 meters high and its bottom diameter is 10 meters. The whole sun dried brick tower tapers skywards in geometric and floral patterns. There are 77 spiral steps up to the top. Our night will be spent Turpan.
Day 8: Turpan to Kucha by Morning Train
Attractions: Crossing the Tianshan mountain
Transportation: Bus/Car, Train
Activities: Our guide and driver will send you to Turpan Railway Station and assist you in finding your carriage for Kucha. You will be in Kucha middle of the night. Upon your arrival to kucha, our guide and driver will meet you at Kucha Railway Station then transfer you to your hotel in Kucha.
Accommodation: Kuche International Hotel or Similar
Day 9: Day Tour in Kucha
Attractions: Tianshan Grand Canyon, Subashi Ancient City, Beacon Tower, Kuqa Grand Mosque, Kucha Old Town, Kucha Bazaar
Activities: Our day tour in Kucha starts after the breakfast at the hotel. We start our tour by visiting the Tianshan Grand Canyon which is also known as the Kezilya Grand Canyon. It is located 64 km away from Kuqa town. It runs east to north for about 5.5 km and has an average altitude of 1600 m. This natural wonder was formed by erosion resulting from wind and rain. Afterwards, we visit Subashi Ancient City which was also an ancient capital of the Kingdom of Qiuci dating back to the 4th Century AD. Tourist can still see the ruins of halls, towers, houses, pagodas and monasteries.The Beacon Tower is located in the northwest of Kuqa County, about 12 km away from the town. The tower was the bulwark of a warning alarm system against enemy attacks. Kuqa Grand Mosque is located in the north of the old city of Kuqa County. It is the second largest mosque in the area after the Id Kah Mosque. The construction of the mosque, which even has its own religious court, was started in 1922. Kuqa Grand Mosque is the center of religious activities in Kuqa. Next to Kuqa Mosque is the Kucha Old Town and Kucha Bazaar, we will wonder around the Kucha Old town and see how is the life style of Kucha Uyghurs looks like. After the Old Town, we visit the Kucha Bazaar. Your night will be spent in Kucha.
Accommodation: Kuche International Hotel or Similar
Day 10: Tour in Kucha then to Aksu
Attractions: Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves
Activities: We start our day as usual after the breakfast, we will visit the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves before we continue our trip to Aksu. Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves is the one of the four biggest groups of grottoes in China. 75 of the caves are still intact with well-preserved frescoes. The Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caveswere amongst the earliest large-scale grotto-type temples built. The special grotto structures, the themes of the murals and artistic styles reflect the Buddhist faith of ancient Qiuci. Once we finish visiting the caves, we continue our journey to Aksu. Our night will be spend in Aksu.
Accommodation: Aksu Hongfu Hotel or Similar
Day 11: Aksu to Hotan
Attractions: Crossing Taklamakan Desert
Activities: Today’s target is to cross the Taklamakan Desert. We start our journey after early breakfast. The Taklamakan Desert is the second largest shifting sand desert in the world, covering an area of 337,600 square km. The ancient silk road traders regarded it as the “sea of death” and dreaded the camel caravan crossings through it. Many traders entered the desert and were never seen again. Marco Polo himself recorded traveller’s stories of evil spirits haunting the desert and luring unwary travellers to their deaths. Upon our arrival to Hotan, we will check in to the hotel. You will be free by yourself to explore the area near to your hotel.
Accommodation: Yuzhou Shijie Hotel or Similar
Day 12: Day Tour in Hotan
Attractions: Atlas Silk Factory, Carpet Factory, White Jade River, Hotan Sunday Market, Jade Factory
Activities: Our tour for the day starts as usual after the breakfast. 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. Afterwards, we will visit Hotan Carpet factory, it is 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. On our way to returning to Hotan city, we will visit White Jade river which is the river where the famous Hotan White jade is found. The Hotan Bazaar is located in northeastern corner of the city, sprawling over a vast area rivaling all other bazaars in the region. 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.
Accommodation: Yuzhou Shijie Hotel or Similar
Day 13: 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 (Shache in Chinese), Yarkant is the biggest county of Kashgar. Yarkant was once the capital of a 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. Your night will be spent in Kashgar.
Accommodation: Kashgar Barony Petroleum Hotel or Similar
Day14: Tour to Karakul Lake on KKH
Attractions:Karakoram Highway, Karakul Lake, Bulung Kul, Muztagh Ata, Kongur Tagh, Kirgiz
Activities: We will start our trip after our breakfast. We will drive on Karakorum Highway in order to reach Karakul Lake. Karakoram Highway is known as the Friendship Highway in China. From Kashgar of Xinjiang to Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan, it traces 1300km along one of the routes of the Ancient Silk Road to India. The views are unparalleled along this one of the highest roads of the world. 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 besides the Karakoram Highway 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, 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. After our trip at the Lake, we will return to Kashgar. You will be given free time to explore the city and Uyghur Night Market in front of the Eid Kah Mosque.
Accommodation: Kashgar Barony Petroleum Hotel or Similar
Day 15: Tour in Kashgar City
Attractions: Apak Hoja Tomb, Kashgar’s Sunday Market, Kashgar Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Handicraft Street
Transportation: Bus/Car, Evening Flight
Activities: Our day tour in Kashgar city starts after your breakfast at the hotel. We start our trip 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. She was called Xiangfei (Fragrant Imperial Concubine) because of the delicate fragrance emitting from her. Kashgar’s Sunday Market is also called The Grand Bazaar in Uyghur. It is the biggest market in Xinjiang. As early as two thousand years ago, it was the collecting and distributing center for trade. Nowadays, it has become even busier. 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. The inhabitants of the Old Town are Uyghur’s whose ancestors have been living there since the city was established two thousand years ago. Id Kah Mosque is a grand Islamic structure located in the center of Kashgar city. It was first built in 1442 AD. It was extended and renovated time and again through the ages, finally reaching its present shape and size. The mosque is the largest in all China and 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. At the end of the trip, you will take evening flight to Urumqi. Upon your arrivel, your guide and driver will greet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in Urumqi.
Day 16: Tour in Urumqi
Attractions: Xinjiang Museum, Urumqi International Market/Bazaar
Transportation: Bus/Car, Flight
Activities: Our last day trip with you starts after your breakfast. First, you will visit the Xinjiang Museum, it is located in a new building incorporating elements of traditional Uyghur architecture and 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. The Urumqi International Bazaar and Erdaoqiao Market are the biggest distribution center of ethnic handicrafts in Xinjiang, and the biggest trading center of various Uyghur Handicrafts after the Sunday Bazaar in Kashgar. It includes a banquet hall, a food court, a sightseeing tower, an open-air stage, and mosque. After your trip to the market, your guide will take you to Urumqi International Airport to see you off for your next destination. Our service will ends after our guide assist you with your checking in for flight.