The views along Hexi Corridor, the artery of ancient Silk Road dominates the travel destinations in northwest China with its unparallel tourist value in history, culture, religion and also natural sights. This 12 days private tour considerably collects all the highlights of Hexi Corridor in one and brings travelers a real adventure from Urumqi to Turpan, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Lanzhou and finally to Yinchuan. With the itinerary covering those noble sites like Heavenly Lake, Jiaohe Relics. Mogao Grottoes, Jiayuguan Pass, Zhangye Rainbow Mountain, Bingling Grottoes and Shapotour, you will “wow” throughout the whole trip!
* Wander around the world’s largest and oldest raw-soil ancient city – Jiaohe Ruins, tracing past civilizations.
* Step inside the stunning caves of Mogao Grottoes to discover the world’s largest and best-preserved anthology of Buddhist art.
* Have a look at the “Color Palette Overturned by God” – Rainbow Mountain in Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park.
* Enjoy an in-depth exploration of Shapotou in the Tengri Desert, try Yellow River sheepskin rafting, sand skiing, desert surfing, and camel riding.
* Pray for good luck for yourself and your loved ones at 108 Pagodas, a large group of pylons from the Western Xia period (1038-1227).
- Day 1: Urumqi Arrival (No meal)
Upon your arrival at Urumqi 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 downtown hotel for check-in. Free and easy on your arrangement for rest of the day.
Accommodation: Overnight in Urumqi
- Day 2: Urumqi Tour (B, L)Heavenly Lake, Xinjiang Regional Museum, Erdaoqiao International Bazaar
After hotel breakfast, drive around 1.5 hours to the amazing Heavenly Lake of Tianshan Mountain. Heavenly Lake, read Tianchi Lake in Chinese, is an alpine lake nestled against the slope of the snow-covered Bodga Mountain. Heat, the special feature coming with summer is seldom there due to its geographical conditions. Looking out over the scenic area, the white snowy mountains mirroring in the green lake and colorful flowers spotted on the green grassland along the lake, plus the tour guide’s commentary to the tale of Queen Mother of the West bringing it some color of mystery, both your eyes and souls will be fully pleased by the pure beauty here.
Afterwards, move on to Xinjiang Regional Museum. As the only autonomous region class museum in Xinjiang, Xinjiang Regional Museum houses over 40,000 collections including all kinds of relics and specimens, exhibited in five separate halls. You can find many treasures ever glittering on the famous Silk Road. The No.1 star exhibition in the museum is the unprecedented ancient corpse with even tiny fingernails well preserved.
Driving back to Urumqi city, follow your guide to explore the interesting evening scenery in Erdaoqiao International Bazaar. It’s one of the bazaars with largest scale in the world with strong Islam flavor in its buildings. You should not miss this site during your tour to Urumqi, even if you are not going for shopping, you would favor the experience for the strong ethnic flavor here. Eyes are dazzled by an overwhelming of goods in the stalls while ears are excited by the hawking, bewildering you if you are travel through space and time to the ancient silk road to glimpse the prosperous trades between different nations.
Accommodation: Overnight in Urumqi
- Day 3: Urumqi-Turpan (B, L)Karez Well, Sugong Pagoda, Tuyu Valley, Jiaohe Ruins,
Today you will head to Turpan which drives around 3 hours on the way. Upon arrival in Turpan, you will start the visit with Karez Well, an underground irrigation system created by ancient Xinjiang people. This project can be called the source of life for the arid northwestern region. Later, move on to Sugong Pagoda, you will witness this typical Islam architecture with the largest scale among all pagodas in Xinjiang.
Next, come to Tuyu Valley. It is the oldest Uyghur village in Xinjiang and a nice place to soak up Buddhist and Islamic culture. Afterwards, continue your visit to Jiaohe Ruins, the largest, oldest and best-preserved raw-soil building in the world with a history of more than 2,000 years. You will wander around this ancient city stepping back in time to trace past civilizations.
Accommodation: Overnight in Turpan
- Day 4: Turpan-Dunhuang by High-speed Train (B)Shazhou Night Market
Enjoy the peaceful morning time on your own. At around 9am, the driver will pick you up from the hotel lobby and drop you off at train station to catch the noon high-speed train to Dunhuang. The train rides around 3.5 hours and you can enjoy the scenery on the way. Upon arrival at Dunhuang station, the local English speaking guide and driver will be waiting for you and drive to downtown hotel.
Duly refreshed, follow your guide to explore the amazing 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.
Accommodation: Overnight in Dunhuang
- Day 5: Dunhuang Tour (B, L)Mogao Grottoes, Crescent Spring and Echo Sand Mountain
In the morning, you will 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 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 your tour guide will help to purchase tickets.
Accommodation: Overnight in Dunhuang
- Day 6: Dunhuang-Jiayuguan Tour (B, L)Jiayuguan Pass, Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum, Weijin Tombs
After breakfast, drive around 5 hours to Jiayuguan. You are suggested to wear comfortable shoes and take some snacks considering this will be a long-time journey.
After lunch in Jiayuguan, you will start the visit with 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.
Last, 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!
Accommodation: Overnight in Jiayuguan
- Day 7: Jiayuguan-Zhangye-Lanzhou Tour (B, L)The Rainbow Mountain
After breakfast, drive around 2.5 hours to Zhanggye and enjoy the highlight of 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.
At the end of this visit, you will be dropped off at train station to catch evening high-speed train to Lanzhou. There will be the local driver picking you up from the exit upon your arrival and transfer to local hotel.
Accommodation: Overnight in Lanzhou
- Day 8: Lanzhou Tour (B, L)Binglingsi Grottoes, Huanghe River Custom Tourist Line
After breakfast, drive around 1.5 hours to visit Binglingsi Grottoes which is 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 back to Lanzhou city and have a glimpse of Lanzhou city by visiting 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.
Accommodation: Overnight in Lanzhou
- Day 9: Lanzhou-Zhongwei Tour (B, L)Shapotou
After breakfast, drive around 4 hours to Zhongwei and visit Shapotou which is a complete paradise on Tengger Desert, with so many titles on head: AAAAA National Tourist Attraction, National Ecological Preservation Area, Global 500 environmental protection Unit…Not featuring single landscape, Shapotou incredibly collects the sights of desert, Yellow River, hills and oasis, satisfying visitors with both Chinese southern and northern style beauty. The highlights at Shapotou are the activities of amusement, including sheepskin rafts and speed boat on Yellow River, glass bridge, sand skiing, desert surfer, camel riding…
A warm notice for you regarding visit here: hat, sunglasses, sun cream or things like that are suggested as it’s hot there.
Accommodation: overnight in Zhongwei
- Day 10: Zhongwei-Yinchuan Tour (B,L)Qingtongxia Dam, 108 Pagodas, Shuidonggou Site
Today you will head to Qingtongxia City where the noble Qingtongxia Dam locates, the second hydraulic project on Yellow River. The site to visit here is the 108 Pagodas, a large-scaled pagoda group of Western Xia time, sitting against the hill at the west bank of Qingtongxia reservoir. It is believed by in Buddhism that people are suffering from 108 troubles, chanting scriptures for 108 times or wearing 108 Buddha beads helps to get rid of the annoying troubles. So, the local people think that you will get the troubles removed and receive fortune as long as you pray at the 108 Pagodas. Interesting, right? Remember to pray fortune for your loved ones here.
Next, move on to visit Shuidonggou Site which is the earliest unearthed cultural relics of the Old Stone Age, famed as the “Cradle of China’s Prehistoric Archaeology”. Here will you visit the best-preserved the Great Wall with stereoscopic military defense system to trace back Ming Dynasty’s history. Besides, there are interesting activities provided, like bamboo rafts, sand-surfing, camel carriages and so on which are optional.
Last, transfer to Yinchuan for overnight.
Accommodation: Overnight in Yinchuan
- Day 11: Yinchuan Tour (B, L)Sand Lake, Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum, Nanguan Mosque
After breakfast, follow your guide to explore the best of Yinchuan! The first stop will be the Sand Lake. Like a shining pearl embedded in the desert, Sand Lake is a national AAAAA level tourist attraction mainly dominated by 5 landscapes: sand, water, reed, bird and hill, capturing the beauty of both Jiangnan water village which features of “elegant”, “gentle” and northern frontier scene famous for “vast” and “magnificent”. How harmoniously the desert co-exists with lake and creatures here, that’s the first impression for most travelers here.
Later, continue your visit to Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum, as its name suggests, is the graveyard for the emperors and royal family members of Western Xia Dynasty. The Mausoleum is the largest existing Western Xia cultural relics and also the largest-scaled imperial mausoleum with most complete ground relics. Although there has been erosion hitting the Mausoleum in some degree, today we can still find its grand scale and delicate layout demonstrating bright features of that kingdom. Influenced by Buddhist architectures, it combined well Han culture, Buddhism and local Tangut culture, making it the unique style and helping it to gain the title of “Oriental Pyramid”.
Next, move on to see the Sea Treasure Pagoda which reading Haibao Pagoda in Chinese, locates in north suburb of Yinchuan City. With history dating back to 1,500 years ago, it was listed as the first historic architectures receiving special state protection. Today, you will have an outer visit to the Pagoda as there is structural damage on the body after Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008.
Last, come to Nanguan Mosque which is one the largest mosques in Ningxia Area, bearing a special place for the local Muslims as the main place for them to have religious activities. The buildings here is beautiful with mixed features of Arabia and China. Follow the tour guide to learn the culture of local Hui nationality.
Accommodation: Overnight in Yinchuan
- Day 12: Yinchuang Departure (B)
In the morning, the driver will pick you up from the hotel lobby and transfer to Yinchuan airport to see you off.