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Xian – Lanzhou – Dunhuang – Turpan – Urumqi – Kashgar
On this exotic journey we retrace the footsteps of Marco Polo to explore the glorious past of the fabled Silk Road. Trip highlights include the Terracotta Army, Mogao Grottos and the scenic drive from Kashgar to Karakul Lake on winding Karakoram Highway whose route overlaps one of the many paths of the Silk Road. There will be lots of walking and stair climbing throughout the tour. Since this tour visits locations as high as 3,645 metres (12,000 feet) above sea level, travellers prone to altitude sickness should take precaution.
- Group size limited to 20.
- Expert local guides hand-picked by owners of Laurus Travel.
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers included.
- No forced shopping stops.
- Free Wi-Fi in all hotels.
- Quality meals at non-tourist restaurants.
- Unlimited supply of bottled water during group activities.
Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
Day 1/Mon: Departing for Xi’an
The China Silk Road tour starts with your transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Tue: Arrival in Xi’an
Welcome to Xi’an! Meet the driver on arrival for transfer to the hotel. You’ll have the balance of the day at leisure. The guide will get in touch with you tonight.
Day 3/Wed: Xian (B/L/D)
With a history going back over 3,000 years, Xi’an served as the capital of several ruling dynasties including the Han (206 BC – 220 AD) and the Tang (618 – 907). It is home to the famous Terracotta Army as well as the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Road – a network of trade routes that connected China proper with regions as far as the Mediterranean beginning in the 2nd Century BC.
Morning visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terracotta Army represents one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
After lunch we return to the city for a stroll on the ancient city wall. Declared a national treasure by the State Council in 1961, the wall first built in 1370 encircles an area of 14 square kilometres. It runs 13.7 kilometres long and measures 12 metres in height with a thickness at the base between 15 to 18 metres.
Day 4/Thu: Xian (B/L)
Morning sightseeing begins with Shaanxi Provincial Museum. The modern, well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of Xian from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The extensive galleries and exhibitions offer the visitor an excellent introduction to the area that greatly improves understanding of the numerous historical sites in and around the city.
We then visit the ancient grand mosque in the old town centre and the adjacent Muslim bazaar. The mosque was established in the 8th Century but the majority of the complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was further expanded in the Qing Dynasty. Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in its architectural style. It has neither domes nor traditional minarets.
Day 5/Fri: Xian – Lanzhou (B/L/D)
Our morning journey to Lanzhou by high-speed rail takes 3 hours.
A major link on the ancient Silk Road, Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu Province and a key regional transportation hub with a population of 3.7 million. Our afternoon schedule takes in the Gansu Provincial Museum, Zhongshan Bridge (built in 1907 by Germans) and the historical White Pagoda Hill across the bridge.
Day 6/Sat: Lanzhou – Dunhuang (B/D)
We depart for Dunhuang by high-speed train after breakfast. The rail journey along the Gobi desert takes 5 hours. On arrival at the train station in Liuyuan, we’ll travel another 2 hours by motor coach to arrive in the city of Dunhuang. Lunch on the train would be your own responsibility. You may bring some snacks or purchase bento style lunch on the train.
Late afternoon sightseeing at Dunhuang Museum.
Day 7/Sun: Dunhuang (B/L)
Morning sightseeing introduces us to the brilliant murals and sculptures inside Mogao Grottos, one of the most celebrated legacies of the Silk Road era. Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route, at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. In the afternoon, we visit the Crescent Moon Lake and Singing Sand Dunes.
Day 8/Mon: Dunhuang – Turpan (B/L/D)
Following breakfast we transfer to the train station located 2 hours from Dunhuang to board the high-speed train for Turpan (3 hours). Situated on the northern route of the Silk Road, Turpan is a fertile oasis where crops and vineyards are irrigated by an underground water canal system called Karez. Ethnic Uyghurs make up 70% of the total population.
Our afternoon sightseeing in Turpan features Jiaohe Ruins (Yarkhoto, an ancient garrison town), the Karez museum and the Bezeklik Buddhist Caves in the Flaming Mountains.
Day 9/Tue: Turpan – Urumqi – Kashgar (B/L/D)
The high-speed train ride to Urumqi takes only one hour. Our sightseeing in Urumqi includes Red Hill Park and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum where the famous Tarim Mummies are on display. Transfer to the airport for late afternoon flight to Kashgar (2 hours).
Located at the westernmost tip of China, Kashgar, also known as Shufu in the old days, is a vibrant kaleidoscope of Central Asian cultures. An oasis 1200 metres above sea level, Kashgar is a remarkably prosperous and pleasant place, despite remaining, in part, an essentially medieval city.
Day 10/Wed: Kashgar (B/L)
Our morning schedule today includes the Old Town centre, Abakh Hoja Tomb (also known as Fragrant Concubines’s Tomb) and Ida Kah Mosque.
We spend the afternoon visiting a local Uighur family and the extraordinary Sunday Bazaar where half of Central Asia seems to converge. The market now called Central Asia International Grand Bazaar is open every day except for three days during the three-day holiday known as Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice).
Day 11/Thu: Kashgar – Lake Karakul – Kashgar (B/L)
After breakfast we embark on a full-day excursion to Karakul Lake, 198 kilometres southwest of Kashgar.
Accessed via legendary Karakoram Highway leading to Pakistan, the lake, 3,600 metres above sea level, sits on the laps of Muztagh Ata and Kongur, two towering peaks of the Pamir Mountains. The scenery along the way is simply stunning. As we drive higher and higher into the mountains, farmland along the river valley on the edge of the desert gradually gives way to high mountain pastures nibbled by camels and yaks tended by yurt-dwelling Kirgiz and Tajiks.
The Karakoram Highway is the highest paved international road in the world, connecting China’s Xianjiang region with Gilgit-Baltisan region of Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an elevation of 4,693 metres. The highway was built by the government of Pakistan and China. It was started in 1950 and opened to the public in 1979. About 810 Pakistanis and 200 Chinese workers lost their lives during the construction of the highway, mostly in landslide and falls.
Day 12/Fri: Kashgar – Home City (B)
Your memorable China Silk Road tour ends this morning. Transfer to the airport any time for return flight.
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2018 Dates and Prices
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Additional 4% discount for parties of 6 and more.
* Land Only price does not include international air. Please contact us for a fare quote.
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