10 Days Silk Road Tour: Dunhuang-Jiayuguan-Zhangye-Xining-Lanzhou
A trip to Gansu Corridor catches the essence of Silk Road tours in China beyond the doubt. Stepping into the legendary corridor, you are starting an amazing adventure to explore history and culture of the oldest civilized orient, China. This 10-day tour covers those pearl-like cities along Hexi Corridor, Silk Road including Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Xining, Lanhzou and Xiahe with views varying from deserts to grottoes, lake, grassland and Danxia landform. It’s a real historic & cultural expedition!
Mogao Grottoes, Crescent Spring and Echo Sand Mountain, Shazhou Night Market, Jiayuguan Pass, Weijin Tombs, Zhangye Rainbow Mountain, Zhangye Giant Buddhist Temple, Ta’er Monastery, Dongguan Mosque, Qinghai Lake, Gansu Provincial Museum, Huanghe River Custom Tourist Line, Bingling Temple, Labrang Monastery, Sangka Grasslands
Private tour guide + Driver + Vehicle + Entrance tickets + Hotels with breakfast + Lunch + High Speed Train
Upon your arrival at Dunhuang airport / train station, the local driver will pick you up from the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name and transfer to local hotel for check-in. Free and easy on your own for rest of the day.
In the morning, head to the amazing Mogao Grottoes. As the existing anthology of Buddhist art with biggest scale and the best preservation in the world, Mogao Caves wins a fame of “the pearls of oriental art”. It keeps 735verns, about45,000 square kilometers frescoes, 2,415 painted sculpture, more than 4,000 flying Apsaras (the beautiful Bodhisattva in the Buddhism who has fair scent and does well in dancing and music), and 5 wooden constructions of Tang and Song Dynasty as well as thousands of Stone pillars and flagstones with lotus carving on them.
In the late afternoon when it is not too hot, continue your visit to Crescent Spring and Echo Sand Mountain. Echo Sand Mountain and Crescent Spring are harmonious mates of miracle created by natural, glittering like a pearl along the Silk Road for thousands of years. The incredible co-existence between spring water and sand mountains always amazes visitors at their first sight here: the sand mountains meanders like a huge dragon and roars when wings blowing while the Crescent Spring, like a gentle maiden, is embraced in arms of mountains without being smudging. A life-time experience provided here as optional activity is camel ride at Echo Sand Mountain.
Friendly tip: There is camel ride available in the Echo Sand Mountain, if you would like to try it, please pay in cash on your own (around CNY100 /pax ). Of course yout tour guide will help to purchase tickets.
Last, have some relaxing sightseeing in Shazhou Night Market. Though you might have visited many night markets or food streets during your weeks of vacation, Shazhou Night Market still brings something different for you. Mogao Caves visited in daytime put the most outstanding highlight of Dunhuang before you, Shazhou Night Market just takes you into the down-to-earth life of the local. Do you feel a pull from the strong perfume emitting from the stalls bathed in the dim lights and speed up towards the hawkers and carefully avoid the busy crowds? For sure, you will find the special vitality of this northwest city remoting from the country center during your leisure strolling.
After breakfast, drive around 3.5 hours to Jiayuguan to visit the best sights in Jiayuguan.
After driving through the yellow sand of desert, you will come to Jiayuguan Pass, also known as the “First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven”, “the Throat of Hexi Corridor”. As the western end of Great Wall of Ming Dynasty, Jiayuguan Pass, being constructed for hundreds of years, not only occupied a vital position in military defense but also exerted importance influence in trade & culture exchange as a key waypoint of ancient Silk Road. You can climb up the tower to admire the entire view.
Next, continue your visit to Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum. Inside the Jiayuguan Pass Scenic Area, there is the first Great Wall themed museum with 7 major exhibition halls to show you more detailed knowledge about this great constructional engineering in Chinese history. The oil painting of Great Wall exhibited here with large scale, about 220.5 m2 is a highlight deserving longer stop.
Afterwards, move on to Weijin Tombs. Driving through the wilder Gobi about 20km from Jiayuguan City, you will come to the famous “underground gallery”, Weijin Tombs. In accordance with the title, wall paints dominate the theme of the visit to this site. Underneath the yellow sand, were about 1,400 ancient tombs buried in the obscure desert and only 6 tombs are open to public today. It’s definitely a surprise discovery process when beholding the paints with bright colors vividly depicting the scholars and officals’ life in Weijin Time. The background knowledge about history, culture, politics and economy reflected by the paintings explained by tour guide helps you better understand this site, please follow up your guide closely!
Today you will head to another important city along the ancient Silk Road - Zhangye which famous for the rainbow mountains.
Driving around 2.5 hours, you will arrive at this amazing city! First, follow your guide to explore the exciting Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. The Danxia landform earns the most spotlight for Zhangye City. Rated as one of “10 Wonders of Nature in the World” in 2011 by National Geographic News, it does deserve the reputation. There are two main scenic area of the Zhangye Danxia with different features, and you will visit The Rainbow Mountain Scenic Area for today.
Located in Linze County, the Rainbow Mountain features in its bright color and is better to enjoy sunset, which chosen by most travelers. Seen from the high platform, the rising layers of mountains in beautiful red with different saturation is bathed in rosy sunlight, depicting a gorgeous picture for the visitors who trudged a lot to here.
After the visit, you will head to Zhangye city and pay a visit to Zhangye Giant Buddhist Temple. Built in Western Xia Dynasty, the Giant Buddhist Temple had survived from the vicissitudes and stands on Silk Road for 900 years. There is a gigantic sleeping Buddha statue of Sakyamuni with the largest scale in Asia inside the temple, hence the name. The beautiful woodcarving, paintings and statues as well as the underneath culture and history impresses travelers a lot.
In the morning, the driver will pick you up from the hotel lobby and drop you off at Zhangye train station for morning high-speed train to Xining. The train rides around 2 hours which would be a good chance for you to enjoy the urban scenery on the way.
Upon arrival in Xining, you will find the local English speaking tour guide and driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name. Your exploration begins with Ta’er Monastery. As one of the “Six Great Monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism Gelug Sect”, Ta’er Monastery is another site in Xining, Qinghai Province, sharing the same popularity with Qinghai Lake. Ta’er Monastery has profound historical origin that it’s the birthplace of famous Tsongkhapa, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism Gelug Sect. Not only bearing the divine position in religious followers, the monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist institution of higher education. Beneath the glorious decorations on surface fascinating your eyes, the rich accumulations in history, culture, religion and arts of Ta’er Monastery excites your souls deeply especially when meeting those devout followers trudged for pilgrimage here.
Afterwards, continue your visit to Dongguan Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Qinghai Province, gain the title of “Four Greatest Mosques in Northwestern China” together with Xian Great Mosque, Lanzhou Qiaomen Mosque and Etigar Mosque in Kashgar. Built in Ming Dynasty, the Mosque has stood in Dongguan District of Xining for 600 years, badly experienced wars and reconstructed in 1998. The beautiful calottes and gorgeous pillars and praying hatted Muslims forms a bright scenery line here.
After breakfast, drive around 2.5 hours to the amazing Qinghai Lake.
You must have heard the fame of Qinghai Lake before you go. It is indeed hot for tour to Qinghai and the whole Silk Road. Why? The co-existence of different views collected at the meantime at Qinghai Lake push its fame higher and higher: massive sea-like lake, vast desert, lush meadow-grass and yellow sea of rape flower. A single one of the four elements would attract people as a “wonderful place”, however, the mix of the four at Qinghai Lake makes it a “must-go” place. Each summer (June and July), it ushers in the annual peak when the blossom of rape flowers and round-the-lake cycle track here.
The birds island in the lake is the paradise for many kinds of birds. Each summer thousands of birds fly to Qinghai Lake to escape from hot summer and the ground of grove will be covered with birds’ stool. And in August the lake area will be covered by golden rape flowers. You could optionally take a cruise ship to have some exciting time there. And if you are photography lovers, the Qinghai Lake area will be a great place to take some wonderful photos.
Finishing the sightseeing, you will check into local hotel.
If weather permits, you can get up early to appreciate the gorgeous sunrise in Qinghai Lake. Later, drive around 2.5 hours back to Xining and head to the train station to catch noon high-speed train to Lanzhou. The train rides around 2.5 hours.
Arrival in Lanzhou, there will be the local English speaking tour guide and driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name. You will start today’s visit with Gansu Provincial Museum which is the largest one in the whole Gansu with abundant collections reflecting Gansu local culture and Silk Road ‘s history and culture. The famous Bronze Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow exhibited in Silk Road Hall on the second floor is the most precious treasure of the museum. Besides, the Buddhist Hall displaying the Buddhist cultures featuring Han nationality, Tibetan region and Western region and grottoe arts from Dunhuang and Tianshui are also big seeing points here.
Later, move on to Huanghe River Custom Tourist Line, which is considered as “the Bund of Lanzhou City”, taking Zhongshan Bridge as the axis to stretch out along the Yellow River. The sites to visit of the Tourist Line are distributed on the Road River, including Yellow River Mother Sculpture, Zhongshan Iron Bridge, White Pagoda Hill Park, Waterwheel Park and so on. A leisure strolling bathed in rosy light of dusk on the River Road is a top thing to do in Lanzhou.
Today you will head to Xiahe. One the way, making a stop at Bingling Temple will be a perfect chance to further learn Chinese grottoes culture. Although in the name of “temple”, it is actually a series of grotto complex featured in Buddhist elements and engraved on the mountain cliffs. Considering Bingling Temple stands on the cliff along Liujiaxia reservoir, people need to take a speedboat to approach the grottoes to have a better visit. The boat thrilling travels through the breath-taking landscape offering a delicious appetizer for travelers, later on, the climax is coming when you walking closely to those giant statues with vivid shapes and walling paintings in bright color, deeply dazzling each visitor.
After the visit, drive to Xiahe country for overnight.
Today you will visit the must-see sights in Xiahe before driving back to Lanzhou. The first one will be the amazing Labrang Monastery. You will regret that you didn’t pay an earlier visit to Labrang Monastery if you hear the loud titles of it: one of the “Six Great Monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism Gelug Sect”, famous Tibetan Buddhist college with best complete teaching system of Tibetan Buddhism, the longest corridor of turning scriptures in the world…It does deserve the titles and also your visit after trudge. The grand temple complex housing elegant Buddhist images and statues, wall paintings and other treasures receives devout worship from those Tibetans who are pilgriming from misty valley in each dawn, telling you the moved power of belief from hearts.
In the afternoon, move on to Sangka Grasslands definitely would refresh yourself. Distinct from the spiritous touch at Labrang Monastery, Sangke Grasslands is filled with esthetical taste, appealing endless people to cry out mental pressure built up from busy life. Lush grasses waves green carpets here stretching distantly on the plateau with altitude of 3,000 meters while flocks and herds spotted on it to add more vitality, which forms awesome idyllic sights, bewildering travelers to crazily click the shutters. More “wow” moments here is from those interesting activities at local families, like have local foods and appreciate their ethnic dances.
Friendly tip: The best visit time to Sangka Grasslands is from June to September.
The core of our service is excellent travel guides. Over 20 years, we have built up a considerable professional guide team that is knowledgeable, attentive and flexible. The most experienced and reliable guides will be arranged for your unique China tour. Our passionate guide team is full of contagious enthusiasm and keen interest to share culture and history in a pleasant manner. We are always glad at your service to lead you to explore a real China and experience authentic local life in China.
Our Driver and Vehicle
The first mission of our service is to ensure you feel safe and comfortable during your travel. The vehicles we use are air-conditioned, clean and well-maintained. Our drivers are all licensed drivers with many years of driving experience. Moreover, we offer free baby seats for families with little kids.
Food is a very important part of Chinese culture. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to taste the real local Chinese food!
Buffet breakfast will be included in the hotel if you would like accommodation to be arranged by us. Having lunch at local restaurants close and convenient to the attractions you will visit, you would enjoy the local dishes in each city. Chinese style, Vegetarian or Muslim meals are all available. If you have any other diet requirements or allergies, please feel free to let us know, we will try our best to organize it.
For daily dinner, you are suggested to have it on your own when you are exploring each city in your own time, this way would be more flexible for you to choose food as per your interest and preference.