Silk Road Adventure 2021

The Silk Road Adventure

Xinjiang, China

  • Overland Tours
  • Summer Tours
11 Days
2 Flights
Not Child Friendly

For centuries Westerners have been intrigued by the Silk Road, which laid the foundation for the first connection between East and West, conveying goods, knowledge, and messages of peace and war across Eurasia. Traders’ camel caravans – laden with silk, tea, porcelain, and other goods from China and other parts of Asia – made their way westwards to the Middle East. From there, goods were taken on by sea and other forms of transportation to Europe and beyond. Crossing vast open plains, mysterious deserts, high mountain passes, and foreign – sometimes hostile – territories, these traders put their lives in the hands of the gods, hoping to bring prosperity to their families. Through this Silk Road tour explore these ancient trade routes the old way – overland. Starting from Xi’an, the then Chinese capital, travel all the way to Kashgar in the far west near the borders with central Asian republics, meeting different cultures and religions, and exploring the diversified landscapes of this remote region.


Recommended dates for Silk Road tour: June to September, though July and August might be a bit more crowded (please refer to trip rates during Chinese national holidays below)

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Itinerary

DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN BEIJING

Arrive in Beijing, the Chinese capital, home to some 24 million people, and the beating heart of Chinese culture and economy. After immigration formalities meet the local guide, and drive to a hotel in the center of town. After checking in the hotel, and if time permit, take a first orientation tour of the city. First visit the Hutongs, the ancient living quarters of mandarins and high-ranking court officials during the imperial era. Then proceed to Houhai, a huge artificial lake which used to be an exclusive lakeside garden for royals, and now a nightlife hotspot, busy with trendy restaurants and pubs. End the day with a stroll through Wangfujing Pedestrian Street, where, behind some of the world’s largest shopping malls hidden the night food market. For the brave at heart, a delicious meal of various insects cooked in several ways awaits! In the evening revert to the hotel for a first night in China.

DAY 2. FLIGHT TO ZHANGYE AND DRIVE TO ALXA YOUQI

  • Breakfast

Drive back to Beijing airport for a morning flight to Zhangye, in Gansu Province, to embark on the Silk Road tour. Upon landing and meeting the local guide, take a two hours’ drive to the edge of the desert lying at the border between Gansu and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Once part of Greater Mongolia, the region has fallen under Chinese rule during the Qing era, but to date its inhabitants are keeping much of their cultural and national heritage. Arrive in the late afternoon at the sleepy town of Alxa Youqi, a mostly Mongol inhabited settlement, and set in a simple hotel for the night.

DAY 3. INTO BADAIN JARAN DESERT

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Badain Jaran Desert is home to the world’s highest sand dune, rising to some 500 meters, and offers challenging drives as well as marvelous landscapes of sand seas extending to the horizon. Surprisingly, this seemingly endless sea of sands is dotted with nothing but beautiful blue lakes. No one knows for certain what the source of these lakes is, but it is assumed the water comes all the way from the Qilian Mountains through underground rivers. The drive through the dunes and among the lakes would lead to Soumin Jaran, a beautiful lake with a traditional Mongolian temple beside it. visit the temple, now inhabited by only one monk, and stroll along the lake shores. After a short break at Soumin Jaran, continue the 4WD adventure through towering dunes and blue lakes back to Alxa Youqi. From here take the 2 hours’ drive back to Zhangye, arriving in this ancient hub on the Silk Road late in the evening. If time permit, stroll the night street where locals gather to enjoy a meal together before checking in the hotel.

DAY 4. UNIQUE LAND FORMS BY ZHANGYE

  • Breakfast

Leave Zhangye and drive to Bing Guo. Located at the foot of the Qilian Mountains, this lovely park consists of marvelous sandstone formations. Take a short hike down a valley and climb up to an observation point for a breathtaking view over this unique moon-like landscape. Then continue to Dan Xia, a spectacular mountain with somewhat psychedelic patterns of colors in the rock. After enjoying this unique landform, board the vehicle and head back to Zhangye for the bullet train ride at speeds of up to 300 km/h to the town of Jiayuguan. Arrive in Jiayuguan late in the evening and drive to the hotel for the night.

DAY 5. FROM JIAYUGUAN TO DUNHUANG

  • Breakfast

Jiayuguan is known as the ‘last station of the great wall’. Before the Qing Dynasty took over what is now Xinjiang Province, Gansu Province was China’s westernmost frontier. Here in Jiayuguan, in western Gansu, the traders used to gather into large convoys before leaving the protection of Chinese sovereignty, entering the Taklamakan Desert, and continuing to an alien land. Begin the day with a visit to the ‘Overhanging Wall’, a fortification of part of Jiayuguan, and a part of the historic Great Wall. Then drive to the Jiayuguan Pass, an ancient and beautifully reconstructed fortress, and the headquarters of the battalion that was stationed in this region. Drive back to Jiayuguan train station and board another bullet train to reach Dunhuang. In the evening stroll through Dunhuang’s busy Night Market before attending a cultural show of traditional dancing and singing.

DAY 6. FROM DUNHUANG TO TURPAN

  • Breakfast

In the morning drive to the ‘Sea of Sand’, a huge sand dune just outside Dunhuang. Take a walk through the sand to the Crescent Lake, to visit the old monastery that has been converted into a leisure center in recent years. Then return to the vehicle and take to Mogao Caves. These magnificent caves are considered to be a most important site in Chinese Buddhism. The construction of these grottoes was sponsored by rich traders, as an offering to the gods before embarking on the dangerous journey to the unknown. The grottoes then turned into a place of worship for traders and the rich families who ruled this area for hundreds of years. Some of the most ancient artwork, dated to the 4th century AD, has an unmistakable Indian influence, a clear indication of the caves being one of the first sites of Buddhist worship in China, when Buddhism extended from India into China’s heartland. The site comprises some 2000 statues carved into the rock, 490+ man-made caves and niches, and more than 45,000 square meters of murals. In the afternoon drive to the town of Liu Yuan to embark on yet another bullet-train ride, last for this trip, this time to Turpan. Arrive in Turpan late in the evening, and drive to the hotel in the city center, to spend here the night.

DAY 7. EXPLORING TURPAN AND ITS SURROUNDINGS

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Today explore Turpan, which unlike most cities in the region, and especially, most trading centers along the ancient Silk Road, is not an oasis, but receives its water supply through underground channels stretching from the Tian Shan mountain range. First drive out of Turpan to a traditional ancient Uyghur village perched on a mountain side, offering marvelous views over the Turpan Basin. Here not only one can appreciate the traditional architecture but also visit a local family to join them for a traditional lunch. Return to town, and visit Emin Minaret, the largest and most important mosque in Turpan. From here take a late afternoon walk through vineyards and along large courthouses, typical to the way the local Uyghurs lived for hundreds of years. If lucky, get invited to visit one such home and have a cup of tea with the locals. In the evening return to the hotel for a second night in Turpan.

DAY 8. FROM TURPAN ABOARD A NIGHT TRAIN TO KASHGAR

  • Breakfast

Begin the day with a visit to Turpan Museum. This recently opened museum showcases the region’s rich history, with archaeological findings that were dug around Turpan Basin. Some of the artifacts go back to the Tang Dynasty, the first dynasty to develop the trade routes commonly known today as the Silk Road. As well as these, the museum also features dinosaurs’ relics, and even few of the famous ‘Taklamakan Mummies’, which have effectively been baked in the hot, dry climate of the Taklamakan Desert. Next visit the Karez Museum. The Karez is the famous irrigation system that has maintained Turpan as an agriculture center in the heart of the desert. From here drive to the train station to board a 13-hours’ night train to Kashgar. Overnight aboard the train in a 4-berth Soft Sleeper compartment. Note: Meals aboard trains are not provided. You are welcome to enjoy the restaurant car, or alternatively, ask your guide to take you to a local shop to get some provisions for the train ride prior to boarding the train.

DAY 9. EXPLORING KASHGAR

  • Breakfast

Arrive in Kashgar, near China’s westernmost border, very early in the morning. From the train station drive directly to the hotel, to complete the night’s sleep. With a late beginning of the day, set off to explore this colorful and diverse town. On the way towards Id Kah Mosque walk through a narrow ancient street, where local craftsmen display their handmade wares. The Id Kah Mosque is the largest and most important mosque of Kashgar and is right in the vibrant center of town. The construction of the mosque was started in the mid-15th century but it has been expanded several times to its current size, and it now covers well over 16.5 square kilometers, to accommodate the increase in the city’s Muslim population. Visit the main prayer hall and the surrounding grounds, which are all crowded during major Muslim holidays. Then drive to the town’s outskirts to visit the Abakh Khoja Tomb. This private burial site belongs to the Muslim family who once ruled over this part of China. The best-known descendant of this family is Xiang Fei, the only Muslim concubine of a Chinese emperor of the Qing Dynasty. The complex consists of various prayer halls, vast gardens, and, of course, the tomb, the last resting place of all the members of Abakh Khoja’s family. At the afternoon go on a walking tour of Kashgar’s old town. The narrow streets between mud and brick buildings, together with the continual sounds of children playing, take one back through time to a simpler way of life. Visit some of the courtyards and see the unique and well-preserved architecture. From here take to the hotel for the night.

DAY 10. THE LIVESTOCK MARKET AND BACK TO BEIJING

  • Breakfast

Drive to Kashgar’s outskirts to visit Sunday’s livestock market. Farmers from small villages surrounding Kashgar meet here every weekend to sell, buy and swap horses, donkeys, cows, sheep, goats, and practically every other kind of animal that can thrive in this rugged land. Amidst constant dust clouds, people of different ethnic groups arrive on camels and in donkey carts from all over the region, not only to trade but also to meet old friends, hear the latest gossip, and sit down to share a meal with complete strangers. This market marks the end of the journey out west, and after visiting the market take to Kashgar’s airports for the long flight back to Beijing. Arrive in Beijing late in the evening, and set in the hotel for a last night of this Silk Road tour.

DAY 11. DEPARTURE FROM BEIJING

  • Breakfast

After breakfast at the hotel, drive back to Beijing airport to end this Silk Road tour, say farewell and board the international departing flight out of China.

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Dates & Pricing

Silk Road tour rates are quoted in US Dollars and are valid for two confirmed travelers and above.

[email protected] reserves the right to change Silk Road tour rates and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.

Prices are based on twin share occupancy.

Discounted rates for groups of 4 travelers and above:
4 travelers- US$3513/ person
6 travelers- US$3186/ person
8 travelers- US$2994/ person

  • Applicable only for travel groups of 4 people or more booking their trip together.

30th May, 2021–9th June, 2021

  • $4,319 Per Person (From 2 people)
  • $593 Single Room Supplement

Additional Information


Inclusions
  • Accommodation at hotels selected including breakfast
  • 2 domestic flights- Beijing/Zhangye and Kashgar/Beijing by economy class
  • Bullet trains Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Liuyuan (Dunhuang) - Turpan by 2nd class seats
  • Overnight train Turpan-Kashgar in shared 4 berth soft-sleeper
  • Transfer by private A/C vehicle
  • Meals as indicated in the program
  • Bottled drinking water
  • English speaking guide for each area as per program
  • Entry fees for all sightseeing as mentioned on the program

Exclusions
  • International travel to and from China
  • Travel insurance
  • Chinese tourist visa
  • Excess luggage
  • Gratuities
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)

Accomodation
  • Beijing- Jianguo Garden Hotel 5-star
  • Xian – Titan Times Hotel 4-star
  • Zhangye – Dinghe International Hotel 4-star
  • Badain Jaran – Simple Local Guesthouse
  • Jiayuguan – Holiday Plaza Hotel 4-star
  • Dunhuang – The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel 4-star
  • Turpan – Huozhou Hotel 4-star
  • Kashgar – Tianyuan Hotel 4-star

Note: the listed hotels are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.


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