8 Days Xinjiang Southern Silk Road Tour
Destinations: Kashgar- Tashkurgan- Hotan- Taklimakan Desert- Kuche
Our 8 day Xinjiang Southern Silk Road Tour begins in Kashgar then continues along the Southern Silk Road to Hotan via Yarkand. After a day visit to Hotan, we drive across the Taklamakan Desert to Kucha for our visit to Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves and other places of interest in Kucha.
Day 1: Arrival to Kashgar
Activities: Arrival to Kashgar by connected flight from Beijing or Shanghai via Urumqi. Our guide and driver will meet you at Kashgar Airport then transfer you to your comfort Hotel. You will be given time to explore the area near to your hotel rest of the afternoon. Night will be spent in Kashgar.
Day 2: Karakul Lake and Tashkurgan Tours
Attractions: Karakoram Highway, Opal village, Red Mountain, Corner Lake & Sand Mountain, MT. Muztagh Ata (7546m) & MT.Konger (7719m), Karakul Lake.
Activities: Today we take a drive on Karakurum highway, renowned as the highest paved border crossing in the World and regarded as one of the World’s most beautiful highways. We will see the following on our drive: Opal village is a 1 hour drive from Kashgar. It is a good location to take photos of village life and traditional activities like bread making and Uyghur food stalls. Half an hour drive from the village we will arrive in Oytagh Red Mountain. The mountain valley is surrounded by a beautiful backdrop of multi-coloured mountains topped by snowcapped peaks. Corner Lake (Bulung Kul) is a tranquil shallow lake where you can take very nice photographs of the lake with stunning reflections of the sand mountains. Karakul Lake is 3600 meters above sea level. It is located between Mt. Muztagata (7546 meters) and Mt. Gonger (7719 meters), which are said to be 2 of the 6 most beautiful mountains in the World . We will visit the local Kyrgyz Yurts and listen to their stories about traditional ways of nomadic mountain life.
Picnic lunch: We will then enjoy our picnic lunch of fruits and fresh bread that we purchased in Opal village in a beautiful picnic spot overlooking the Karakul Lake. We will take 1.5 hours drive from Karakul lake to Tashkorgan. Night will be spent in Tashkurgan.
Day 3: Back to Kashgar from Tashkurgan Tour
Attraction: Tashkorgan, Stone fort, Tashkorgan grassland, Subash pass
Activities: Tashkurgan is an interesting small town located on the Pamir Plateau. This area was extremely isolated until the rebuilding of the Karakurum highway in 1987 and even today the local community still lives in a very traditional fashion with only a single road reaching here from Kashgar, so it has retained a certain uniqueness. This region is commonly known as the main road of the “old Silk Road” the main route leading from China to West Asia. Stone fort, located in downtown Tashkurgan. It has a history of more than 2000 years. In times gone by it was the central palace of the Tajik kingdom. Then we will hike around the Tashkurgan grassland and enjoy the scenery of Mt. Mutztah Ata and Mt. Pamir. We take the Karakorum Highway back to Kashgar and arrive in the late afternoon.
Note: Guests will need to carry their passports on this tour as they will be required to show these at the Gaz check point. Everybody at this point needs to be registered by the authorities due to its close proximity to many bordering countries. It is also advisable to bring warm clothes as temperatures can be colder than those found in Kashgar at the higher altitudes.
Day 4: Kashgar City Tour
Attractions: Apak Hoja tomb, Sunday market, Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Handicraft Street
Activities: We will start our Kashgar City tour by visiting Apak Hoja tomb also known as “fragrant concubine tomb”. This is a very tranquil place and a beautiful example of Uyghur Islamic architecture. Next we will head to the Infamous lively Sunday market renowned as the biggest market in Central Asia. It is said you can buy anything you want from the Sunday market except chicken milk and Cow eggs. We will then enjoy lunch in a typical Uyghur restaurant. After lunch we will wander through the narrow winding streets of the historic Old townbrushing shoulders with the friendly Uyghur residents. Located at the spiritual heart of old town is Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China. We will go inside and have the chance to understand a bit more about the Islamic life of the Uyghur people. We will pass down Handicraft Street where we can view pots being hammered, wood craftsmen at work and traditional musical instrument workshops.
Note: For entering the Mosque visitors should dress respectfully, no shorts or short sleeved shirts and women should cover their heads with a scarf.
Day 5: Kashgar to Hotan via Yarkand
Attractions: Yegisar knife factory, Graveyard of the Yarkent Uyghur Kingdom, Tomb of Aman Nisahan,Yarkent Old Town
Transportation: Bus/Car or Train
Activities: We will head to Hotan after the breakfast. On the way, we will stop in Yegisar. Yegisar is the most famous town in Xinjiang for making traditional Uyghur knives. We will have the chance to visit one of the many knife factories here and view the making process and purchase souvenirs. Next stop a further two hours down the road will be Yarkand. In Yarkand, we will visit the Golden Graveyard. This graveyard dates from the 17thCentury and is the burial place of Royal family members of the Yarkand Uyghur Kingdom. Next to this is the Tomb of Aman Nisahan, the wife of the second King of the Yarkand Kingdom. Aman Nisahan is a famous Uyghur poet, musician and composer. She is most renowned for her transcription of the Twelve Mukam of famous traditional Uyghur music. We will enjoy a traditional Uyghur lunch in town. After lunch we will continue our journey to Hotan and arrive to Hotan late in the afternoon. Night will be spent in Hotan.
Note: If you choose to take train from Kashgar to Hotan, you can’t visit the sites mentioned above.
Day 6: Hotan Tour
Attractions: Local silk, Carpet, Jade Workshops, White Jade River, Hotan Bazzar
Activities: After breakfast we will visit Hotans amazing Sunday Market, a huge lively market which is like taking a journey back in time, experiencing donkey gridlock. Hotan is particularly famous for its high quality Jade products, the best Jade in China being found here in the White Jade River. We will visit the river and try to find some Jade for ourselves and watch the locals at work digging and sifting for the precious rock. We will also visit the white Jade factory to see how the Jade is processed and made into jewelry and ornaments. Hotan is also renowned for its high quality wool carpets. we will visit a carpet workshop to see the weaving process. After our tour in Hotan, we will head to Taklamakan Desert for our camel riding and trekking. Night will be spent by the camp fire in Hotan part of Taklamakan Desert.
Accommodation: Taklamakan Desert Camping
Day 7: Hotan to Aksu via crossing the new Taklimakan Desert Highway
Attractions: Taklamakan Desert, Sand dunes
Activities: We start our tour after our breakfast at the hotel. Today we cross the Taklamakan Desert to Aksu. Taklimakan Desert is the second largest shifting sands desert in the World, covering an area of 337,600 square km.Taklamakan Desert is known as the “sea of death” by the silk road traders that used to have to cross it in their caravans in times gone by, many traders entered the desert lost their way and were never to be seen again. We will arrive in Aksu late in the afternoon in time for dinner.
Day 8: Day Tour in Kucha then End of Our Service
Attractions: Kizil Thousand Buddha caves, Becon tower, Subash Ancient City
Activities: After breakfast we will set out Kuqa tour (Kuche in Chinese). On our way to Kuqa we will visit the Kizil Thousand Buddha caves, dating from the 5th and 6th century AD. These are the second best preserved Buddhist caves in China. We will enjoy a Chinese lunch at the caves before continuing on our journey to Kuqa. Beacon Tower, the highest tower on the Silk Road, at 13m high and made of mud and wood. The Beacon Tower was previously used for sending out fire signals to warn of the arrival of enemies. We will then visit the Subash Ancient City – Well preserved1km square in size used to be the temples where Uyghur ancestors used to worship in the Buddhism periods. This will be the end of our services. We will take you to the airport or to the train station for your journey back to Urumqi then to your next destination. It is the end of our service.