11 Days Mysterious China Silk Road Tour
Destinations: Dunhuang – Turpan – Urumqi – Hotan -Yarkand – Kashgar
Our 11 day Mysterious China Silk Road Tour helps the first time visitors to better understand the long history of the Silk Road in China. It allows one to understand the Buddhist and Muslim cultures with the help of well-chosen local guides in your once in a lifetime trip.
Day 1: Arrival to Dunhuang
Activities: You will be greeted by our guide and driver in Dunhuang Airport/Railway Station then transfer to your comfort hotel. You will be free by your own to explore the area near to your hotel rest of the day.
Day 2: Day Tour in Dunhuang
Attractions: Mogao Grottoes, Echoing Sand Mountain, Crescent Lake
Transportation: Bus/Car, Train
Activities: We start our tour after the breakfast at the hotel. We will visit the Mogao Caves which is the world’s largest and best-preserved treasure house of Buddhist scriptures, murals and architectural design. Dating from 366 AD, 492 caves have been survived, of which 30 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. The hoard included the world’s earliest printed book, the Diamond Sutra and other Confucian, Taoist and Nestorian Christian works as well records of government and private transactions. Nearby the Mogao Grottoes is the Crescent Lake, an amazingly blue colored lake sandwich between two huge sand dunes in the desert. The Echoing-Sand Mountain is also a popular site drawing many local and foreign tourists who climb and slide down the giant sand dunes. The dune gets its name from the sounds produced by the wind, ranging from a roar during strong winds to sweet musical sounds during a light breeze. We will take overnight train to Turpan.
Accommodation:On the Train
Day 3: Day Tour in Turpan
Attractions: Gaochang Ancient City, Astana – Karakhoja Tombs, Tuyuk Village, Flaming Mountains, Imin Minare
Activities: You will be in Turpan by morning then greeted and transferred by our guide and driver to your comfort hotel. After breakfast, you will visit the 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. It was abandoned after continued warfare between the Mongols and the Uyghurs in 14th century. Astana – Karakhoja Tombs 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. Tuyuk Village is a one of the oldest Uyghur settlements in Xinjiang. Where you can see how the local Uyghur’s living life style looks like. You can have your lunch in a Uyghur family in the village if you want to but you need to let us know early. Flaming Mountains stretch 100 km from east to west and are about 10 km wide. In summer, temperatures go as high as 80 C and the airflow shimmers above the mountains like a fire. Emin Minaret (Tower) or Turpan Tower was built in 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. There are 77 spiral steps up to the top. Night will be spent in Turpan.
Day 4: Day Tour in Turpan then Tour in Urumqi
Attractions: Jiaohe Ruins, Karez Underground Water System, Nanshan Pasture Land
Activities: We will start our tour by visiting the Jiaohe Ancient City which is known as Yarghul Ancient City in Uyghur language. It was the capital 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’. Karez System 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. After our trip in Turpan, we will continue our journey to Urumqi then visit South Mountain Pasture on the Way. It is very big with West Baiyanggou, Juhuatai, East Baiyanggou, Mount Zhaobi, Miaoergou and Daxigou from west to east. Visitors can visit locals’ houses to have some milk tea and mutton while you are there. You can also rent a horse to ride around the grassland. If you are fortunately enough, you can watch the activities of horse racing, sheep catching and girls’ whipping. You can also climb up the mountain for trekking if you wish to do so. We will be in Urumqi for the night.
Day 5: Day Tour in Urumqi then Flight to Hotan
Attractions: Heavenly Lake and Xinjiang Museum
Transportation: Bus/Car, Flight
Activities: We start our tour by visiting the Heavenly Lake which is located east of Urumqi in the middle ranges of the Bogda Peak. It’s nearly 100 meters deep and covers an area of 4.9 square kms. Heavenly Lake is considered the Pearl of the Tianshan Mountains with its spectacular alpine scenery often compared to Switzerland’s. 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 the trip at the Museum, we will take evening flight to 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. 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. If you wish to do desert trekking and camping with camp fire, Hotan is the best place to do in Xinjiang and we can organize it for this afternoon. You must let us know in advance.
Accommodation: Desert Camping (Optional)
Day 7: Hotan to Yarkand via Kargilik
Attractions: Kargilik Mosque and Market, Golden Graveyard, Golden Mosque, Yarkand Old Town
Transportation: Bus/Car, Flight
Activities: We will start our trip early in the morning after our breakfast at the hotel. Today we will head to Yarkant. On the way, we will short stop in Kargilik to visit the local market in front of the central mosque of Kargilik. We can visit the mosque and the market if you wish to do so since it is non-touristy site. Afterwards we continue to drive to Yarkand which is another 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 Mukams Music, is buried in a tomb in the Golden Grave Yard. Yarkand Old Townalso will be one of the highlights of your trip. You can stroll around the Old Town at the end of the day before going for your dinner. Night will be spent in Yarkand.
Day 8: Yarkand to Kashgar then Tour in Kashgar
Attractions: Yingsar Knife Factory, Eid Kah Mosque, Old Town
Activities: We start our tour after the breakfast at the Hotel. On the way to Kashgar, we will pass by Yingsar which 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 souveniers. Afterwards we will continue our journey to Kashgar. Upon our arrival, we will check in to our hotel. After short refresh, we will vist Eid Kah Mosque which 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 9: Tour to Tashkurgan then back to Karakul Lake
Attractions: Bulung Kul Lake, Tashkurgan, Stone City
Activities: We will start our tour after the breakfast. Today’s destination is Karakul Lake and Tashkurgan. We drive on Karakorum Highway in order to reach Karakul Lake and Tashkurgan. 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. 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. 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 pastureland and streams with a beautiful view of the surrounding snow capped mountains. After our trip in Tashkurgan, we will back to Karakul Lake to spent the night.
Accommodation: Kirgiz Yurt at the Lake
Day 10: Karakul Lake to Kashgar then Tour in Kashgar City
Attractions:Karakul Lake, Apak Hoja Tomb, Kashgar Sunday Market, Kashgar Old Town
Activities: 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). After our trip at the lake, we will return to Kashgar. In Kashgar, we visit Apak Hoja Tomb. 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 Sunday Market also called “The Grand Bazaar” in Uyghur language. 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. By walking through narrow streets and visiting the families there, you can learn about Uyghur culture and custom. Night will be spent in Kashgar.
Day 11: Fly Out by Morning Flight
Transportation: Bus/Car, Flight
Activities: After the breakfast at the hotel, our guide and driver will send you to Kashgar Airport to see you off for your next destination. Our service will ends after our guide assist you with your checking in for flight.