12 Days Southern Xinjiang Silk Road Tour for Cultural Expedition
How to plan the best Xinjiang Silk Road tour of 12 days? Get inspired on this 12 days South Xinjiang tour which provides an in-depth Silk Route adventure to Urumqi, Turpan, Korla, Kuqa, Khotan, Shache, Kashgar and Tashkurghan. South Xinjiang earns its reputation more with those incredible historic relics and splendid Muslim & Buddhist culture. In this tour, you will meet grottoes, ancient city relics, ruins, Mosques, tombs, local bazars hidden in the deepest of deserts and canyons, enchanting travelers like sirens in the tales. Equipped with luxury service, this 12 days South Xinjiang cultural trip will be an unforgettable memory throughout your whole life!
Heavenly Lake, Sugong Tower, Jiaohe Ruins，Iron Gate Pass，Kizil Grottoes, Tianshan Grand Canyon, Kuqa Old City，Tarim Desert Highway，Malikawat Ruins, Khotan Museum， Ye'erqianghan Mausoleum, Shache Old City, Kashgar Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Abakh Hoja Tomb, Sunday Bazaar, Karakul Lake, Tashkurgan Stone City
Private tour guide + Driver + Vehicle + Tickets entrance fee + Hotels with breakfast
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.
In the morning, drive about 1.5 hours to visit the 2,000-meter-high Heavenly Lake in the Tianshan Mountain. The mountain is covered with snow all the year round. The Heavenly Lake Scenic Area centers on alpine lake with picturesque scenery. Snow-capped peaks are reflected in the turquoise lake, and the lake surrounded by spruce trees is smooth like a mirror. If you are interested, you can stroll along the lake or take a boat to see the lake from different angles.
Afterwards, drive back to Urumqi city and continue to visit Xinjiang Regional Museum where you will learn more about the famed Silk Road and minority culture and appreciate the precious unearthed relics.
Later, come to Xinjiang International Bazaar, the largest bazaar in Urumqi. You will see all kinds of stuff such as fruits, clothes, crafts, knives, and rugs in the bustling market. You can buy some souvenirs or local dried fruits and nuts for your family and friends if you would like to.
After breakfast, drive about 3 hours to Turpan, a transportation hub connecting central China with Central Asia, South Xinjiang, and North Xinjiang in ancient times and also a major stop on the ancient Silk Road. You can have a nap in the car or enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way.
Arrival in Turpan, the first site you will visit is Tuyu Valley. It is the oldest Uyghur village in Xinjiang and a nice place to soak up Buddhist and Islamic culture. Next, go on to admire the largest ancient tower in Xinjiang, Sugong Tower. Then, head to 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. The last stop will be 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.
Today you will head to Korla. On the way, you firstly will visit the Iron Gate Pass.
Lying in the Iron Pass Valley, upstream the Kongque River, Iron Gate Pass is regarded as throat on the middle route of ancient Silk Road, connecting South and North Xinjiang. Passing the gate, you are welcomed by a narrow path meandering forth with murmuring stream flowing with jagged rocks of grotesque shapes standing alongside. Those great men like Zhang Qian, Ban Chao and Xuan Zang who created incredible contribution in history also left their footprints here.
A day’s enjoyment comes from the leisure walking along the Kongque River after dinner. Although there are high buildings rooting in the land to declare its modern time, the elegant river embraces the city in its soft water to wash out the impatience and fickleness seen on those metropolises. Stroll slowly in the bath from dusk with your loved one and then have a good rest to welcome tomorrow’s exploration.
After breakfast, drive around 4 hours to Kuqa. Known as Guizi in ancient times, Kuqa boasts lots of cultural relics such as ancient city walls, temples, caves and tombs. Today the knowledgeable tour guide will lead you to learn more about this city. You will visit a typical Buddhist grotto first, Kizil Grottoes. It is the earliest and westernmost large-scale grotto group in China. There are 4 grotto areas with 236 officially numbered grottoes. Most of the statues have been destroyed, but 81 caves still have delicate murals which are valuable historical and cultural remains of the ancient Guizi Kingdom.
Afterwards, continue to explore the magnificent Tianshan Grand Canyon, the best geological park in the world. It records the entire process of crustal movement in Xinjiang for nearly 400 million years.
Last, come to Kuqa Old City to savor local gourmet food and experience the life of the local people. This pristine place will definitely leave you an unforgettable memory.
Today you will spend most time on the way since the driving lasts around 9 hours from Kuqa to today’s destination, Minfeng Country. Comfortable shoes and snacks would be suggested.
You will drive along the amazing Tarim Desert Highway! Driving on the straight highway stretching out on the uninhabited Tarim Desert is definitely one of the coolest things during your whole life. Think about it, white clouds hovering in blue sky are above your head, the second largest drifting desert is under your wheels while steering wheel is in hands of experienced drivers, troubles fly away together with the yellow sand out of windows, and you get in spiritus freedom …
Arrival in Minfeng, follow your guide to find a local restaurant to fill your stomach and have good rest in local hotel.
After breakfast, drive around 5-6 hours to Hotan and visit the best of Hotan! Compared the most relics uncovered in desert of South Xinjiang with badly erosion, Malikawat Ruins should be counted as an interesting one worthy of visit. Plus the splendid desert views alongside, trip here will not let you down. Through the desolate broken relics, you can imagine what prosperity the temple was in and what a large scale it had.
Museum is always the best material carrier for people to have a glimpse of regional history and culture in quickest way. Obviously, Khotan Museum is such a one. During one-hour visit here, you will be introduced with the rich exhibitions including stoneware, terrines, stone paintings, coins, inscribed wooden slips and more items and impressed with the existed civilization here in remote days.
Get up early in the morning and drive about 4-5 hours to a trade center, Shache, which is also an oasis at the western end of the Taklimakan Desert. The first stop in Shache is Ye'erqianghan Mausoleum. The mausoleum was originally built in 1533 containing the remains of 11 emperors and other royal family members. Its unique layout and exquisite decoration attract plenty of visitors each year.
Next, continue your visit to the mysterious Shache Old City. This is a typical Uighur settlement where you will deeply understand the lifestyle of the local people.
Later, continue to drive west to Kashgar and check into local hotel.
You will start Kashgar tour with the Old Town to have a glimpse of the local people’s lifestyle and unique architectural styles. Next, go on to Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China and the most famous mosque in Xinjiang. Later, come to stroll down the local Handicraft Street, a special exhibition center for traditional handicrafts of Kashgar and Central Asia to learn further about local culture.
In the afternoon, continue your visit to Abakh Hoja Tomb. Abakh Hoja is well-known to Chinese as tomb owner is said to be a famous concubine of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty. Started to be build since 1640, in Ming Dynasty, it’s actually a family graveyard of the local chief. Following the tour guide, you will be pleased by the beautiful ancient architectures here and also enchanted by the rich historical stories about the people buried in the tombs.
Last, move on to the local Sunday Bazaar (Livestock Market). The products sold here are large animals such as cow, sheep, donkey, and camel. You will not only see the livestock but also witness the whole process of selling and buying from pulling the livestock carrier into the field, unloading the animals from the car, bargaining, to making a deal. It can be very interesting for people that never experience this. You can see ancient primitive ways of trading in this lively market.
Today you will head to the amazing Karakuri Lake. The driving lasts around 4 hours from Kashgar city to the lake, which would be a good chance to enjoy the mountain-and-lake view on the way.
Karakul Lake, the name means “Dark Ocean”, which is corresponded to its appearance: the water is deep and unfathomable, the grass growing well on the banks where Kirgiz shepherds usually stay for grazing. The Lake embraces the inverted images of the snowy pinnacles, green grass and leisure flocks and herds when sunny days while it turns to be dark and bleak in the rainy days. You must totally relax yourself after the full day sightseeing.
After breakfast, come to enjoy the unique scenery in Tashkurgan Stone City which is a famous relic along ancient Silk Route, occupying a vital position in sense of ancient military. It was the Capital of Puli Kingdom of Han Dynasty and a stronghold set by Tang Dynasty to governing the surrounding areas. The significant value in trade and politic brought it prosperous time in old time and left many treasures you can see today including pottery shard, gold, silver and jewelry, scriptures, silk…
In the afternoon, drive around 5.5 hours back to Kashgar and rest yourself at the local hotel.
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.