12 Days Historical Xinjiang Tour
Destinations: Urumqi- Turpan- Kuqa- Aksu- Crossing the Taklimakan Desert- Hotan- Kashgar- Urumqi
Our 12 day Historical Xinjiang Tour focuses on historical cities along the Silk Road in Xinjiang. These historical citieshad significant roles in caravans businesses during the Silk Road times and in the development of Xinjiang today.
Day 1: Arrival to Urumqi
Activities: Our guide and driver will meet you at Urumqi International Airport then transfer you to your hotel. You will be given time to rest and explore the area near to your hotel rest of the day.
Accommodation:Urumqi Jingu Hotel or Similar
Day 2: Urumqi to Turpan then Sightseeing in Turpan
Attractions: Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Gaocheng Ancient City, Flaming Mountain, Emin Minaret
Activities: After our breakfast at the hotel, we will head to Turpan which is 184 km to Urumqi. Turpan is located on the second lowest depression in the world after the Dead Sea. It is the driest and hottest place in China. Despite its harsh climate, people have been living Turpan for thousands of years and the oasis is famous for the abundance its fruit, especially its sweet grapes and melons. The Bezklik Thousand Buddha Caves have seventy-seven numbered grottoes, about forty of which still have murals in them. The Caves were the religious temples of the HuiHu State who were the predecessor of the Uyghur’s. Although many of the cave murals were destroyed over the centuries, enough has survived to provide historians with valuable information about its past glory. 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. The mountains were referred to in the Ming novel Journey to the West where the Buddhist pilgrims faced attacks from demons. Night will be spent in Urumqi.
Accommodation: Turpan Jiaotong Hotel or Similar
Day 3: Day Tour in Turpan then drive back to Urumqi
Attractions:Jiaohe Ancient City, Karez Underground Water System, Emin Minaret
Activities: We start our tour by visiting Karez System which is 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. Jiaohe Ancient City is known as Yarghul Ancient City in the Uyghur language. Located about13 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’. Emin Minaret (Tower) or Turpan Tower, was built 1778. 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. After our tour in Turpan, we will head back to Urumqi.
Accommodation: Urumqi HoiTak Hotel or Similar
Day 4: Urumqi Tour then Flight to Kucha
Attractions: Erdaoqiao Market, Urumqi International Market, Xinjiang Museum, Kucha Old Town, Kucha Mosque
Transportation: Flight, Bus/Car
Activities: We start our Urumqi tour after the breakfast. We will visit the Erdaoqiao Market is the biggest distribution center of ethnic handicrafts in Xinjiang, and the biggest trading center of various Uyghur Handicrafts after the Sunday Bazaar in Kashgar. The Xinjiang Museum 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 head to Urumqi International Airport to see you off. End of our service. After our trip in Urumqi, we will take afternoon noon flight to Kucha. Upon your arrival to Urumqi, you will be greated and transfered to your hotel by our guide and driver. You will visit Kucha Grand Mosque and Old Town.
Accommodation: Kuqa Fandian Hotel or Similar
Day 5: Tour in Kuqa then to Aksu
Attractions: Beacon Tower, Subash Ancient City, Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves
Activities: We start our tour early in the morning by visitng the Beacon Tower which 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. Subashi Ancient City 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. Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves which 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 Caves were 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. After the trip at the caves, we continue our journey to Aksu. We will be in Aksu late in the afternoon.
Day 6: Aksu to Hotan via Crossing Taklamakan Desert
Attractions: Taklamakan Desert, Sand Dunes
Activities: We start our journey for the day after the breakfast at the hotel. Today we cross the Taklamakan Desert which 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. Hotan is the principal town located on the south of the Tarim basin. People have settled in the oasis for thousands of years and Marco Polo wrote that everything necessary for human life is here in the greatest plenty. In addition to its abundance in agriculture, Hotan became a centre for silk production, carpet weaving, metal work and jade. Today the town remains a very pleasant place for visitors to linger in and explore “A Whole New World”. We will in Hotan by the afternoon. we will check in to our hotel and wonder around the town in the evening.
Accommodation: Hotan Taxna Hotel or Similar
Day 7:Day Tour in Hotan
Attractions: Hotan Sunday Market (Bazaar), White Jade River, White Jade Factory, Carpet Factory, Silk Atlas Factory
Activities: After our breakfast, we will visit Hotan Museum which exhibits fossilized shell 65 million years old, to Neolithic tools 5000-10000 years old, to treasures from Niya and other lost cities along the Silk Road. Highlights of the museum are the mixtures of Caucasian and East Asian “mummies” reaching back two thousand years proving Hotan’s historically rich blend of peoples, cultures and religions. 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. The Atlas Silk Factory is about 15 minutes driving distance from Hotan and preserves the traditional way of making the soft light silk which made Hotan famous along the Silk Road. 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. The Hotan Bazaar is 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.
Accommodations:Hotan Taxna Hotel or Similar
Day 8: Hotan to Kashgar
Attractions: Yarkand Golden Grave Yard, Yarkand Old Town, Yingsar Knife Factory
Activities:We set out to Kashgar after breakfast. It is 520 km from Hotan. On the way to Kashgar, we will visit Yarkand. Yarkand is another county of Kashgar’s, and is known as Shache in Chinese. 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. Yingsar is 78 km from 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.
Accommodation: Kashgar Seman Hotel or Similar
Day 9: Tour to Karakul Lake then to Tashkurgan
Attractions: Karakoram Highway, Bulung Kul, Karakul Lake
Activities: We start our trip early today. The Karakoram highway is known as the Friendship Highway in China. 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. 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. There are Kirgiz settlements along the shores of the Karakul lake, living in yurts and mud brick houses. After the trip at the lake, we continue our journey to Tashkurgan. Night will be spent in Tashkurgan.
Accommodation: Tashkurgan Stone city hotel or Similar
Day 10: Karakul Lake to Tashkurgan then back to Kashgar
Attractions: Tashkurgan, Stone City, Tajik Family Visiting
Activities: We start our tour at Tashkurgan after the breakfast at the hotel. Tashkorgan 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 Sino-Pakistan border and 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 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 in advance. After our trip at Tashkurgan, we head back to Kashgar. Your night will be in Kashgar.
Accommodation: Kashgar Seman Hotel or Similar
Day 11: Day Tour in Kashgar
Attractions: Sunday Market, Id Kah Mosque, Kashgar Old Town, Appak Hoja Tomb/Fragrant Concubine Tomb, Handcraft Street
Activities: We start our tour by visiting the Id Kah Mosque which is a grand Islamic structure located in the center of Kashgar city. 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. Kashgar Sunday Market 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. 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. By walking through narrow streets and visiting the families there, you can learn about Uyghur culture and custom. Apak Hoja Tomb 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. Night will be in Kashgar.
Accommodation: Kashgar Seman Hotel or Similar
Day 12: Fly Out
Activities: After your breakfast at the hotel, our guide and driver will meet you and 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.