12 Days Xinjiang Silk Road Tour for Nature and Culture Tracing
Why should we visit Xinjiang once in the whole life? For its breathtaking landscapes of grassland, snow mountains, lakes and deserts, for its mysterious historic & cultural relics and for its unique ethnic culture. Not limited on the mentioned views, Xinjiang actually provides more details of beauty for travelers through this 12 days in-depth tour which perfectly covers the highlights of both southern and northern Xinjiang, from Urumqi to Burqin, Kanas, Hemu, Turpan and Kashgar, bringing an amazing expedition for culture and natural landscapes.
Highlights of this tour: *Marvel at the picturesque natural landscapes in Kanas Lake, Multi-colored Bay. *Appreciate the beautiful natural and primitive mountain scenery in “The Top Village in China”–Hemu Village. *Visit the mysterious and enchanting Urho Ghost City and learn the Buddhist culture in Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves. *Feel the local lifestyles and splendid culture in Kashgar Old Town. *Discover famous Id Kah Mosque, a complex of ancient buildings with strong ethnic style and religious characteristics. *Immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery in Heavenly Lake and Karakul Lake.
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. The rest of the day is at your disposal. You can have a good rest at the hotel or freely explore the city.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will officially start the Silk Road tour. Driving along the National Highway 216 through the Gurbantunggut Desert and feel the charm of wildlife paradise, Kalamaili Nature Reserve. If you are lucky, you may see wild donkeys and goats running on the Gobi desert.
Passing by Huoshaoshan Mountain, you will be amazed by the vast expanse of red sea. The rocks which were not red originally turned into red due to spontaneous combustion of the underlying coal seam. It looks as if the mountain is still burning. Pull over to take some beautiful pictures here would be perfect! Then, continue driving and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way.
The mesmerizing Kanas Nature Reserve is a must see for visitors to Xinjiang. After about 3 hours’ ride on the winding road, you will arrive at Jiadengyu for lunch, and then take the scenic shuttle bus to the legendary Kanas Lake.You may have never seen so beautiful mountain lake. As the seasons change, the lake bursts into different colors, crystal blue, dark green or even gray. Walking from one bay to another and taking some pictures, you will have a relaxing time immersing yourself in the idyllic beauty and embracing nature. Because the natural beauty is unspoiled and local people still keep the original simple lifestyle here, it is dubbed as “the pure land on earth” as well as "the oriental Switzerland”.
Strolling along the Kanas River, you will see the virgin forests, Fairy Bay, Wolong Bay, Moon Bay, and Wild Duck Lakewhich would be a perfect chance to take nice pictures!Finishing the relaxing sightseeing, you will check into the hotel.
If weather permits, you can get up early to catch the stunning sunrise of Kanas Scenic Area, and then drive to Hemu Village. Hemu Village is one of the three settlements of Tuva people in China. We will enter the village on a shuttle bus. It’s truly a paradise for photographers. The tranquil village, dense woods, and herds of cattle and sheep make a picturesque landscape. You can freely walk around the village to experience the unique lifestyle of the local Tuva people who have lived here for centuries.
Early bird will be rewarded with the amazing sunrise of Hemu Village. After saying goodbye to the pristine village, drive about 4 hours to the Multi-colored Bay in Burqin. The scale of the Yadan landscape is not very large, but it is quite a surreal spot created by water erosion and wind erosion. Sitting on the north bank of the rippling Eerqisi River and facing the lush greenery on the opposite bank, it seems like an alien world. Because the rocks contain different kinds of mineral substances, they show different colors under the sunshine. The sunset, river, forest, and colorful bank make an incredible picture that will make you dizzy with too many things for your eyes to feast on. There is a suspension bridge at the far end. It looks like a beautiful oil painting!
Today you will head to Urumqi by driving around 9 hours, thus you will spend most time on the road, please wear comfortable shoes and prepare some snacks. You won’t be bored even in such long-time driving as the scenery on the way is awesome too!
First, you fill stop by the Urho Ghost City which following the Gurbantunggut Desert. The Ghost City is also known as “Wind City” because of the howling winds throughout the year. The eerie landform is the joint result of intermittent torrential scouring and strong wind erosion. You can tour the whole Ghost City on a shuttle bus.
Arrival in Urumqi, you can have some rest and find a local restaurant to fill your stomach. Then, follow your guide to tick off Xinjiang International Bazaar, the largest bazaar in Urumqi, you definitely won’t want to miss it! You will see all kinds of stuff such as fruits, clothes, crafts, knives, and rugs in the bustling market. If you have interests, you can buy some souvenirs or local dried fruits and nuts for your family and friends.
After breakfast, drive about 3 hours to Turpan, one of the important stops on the Silk Road.
Arriving in Turpan, the first scenic site will be Tuyu Valley. It is the oldest Uyghur village in Xinjiang and a nice place to soak up Buddhist and Islamic culture.
Next, continue to explore the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves. Among all the grottoes in Turpan, Bezeklik has the largest group of caves and the most abundant murals. It is also one of the large Buddhist cave temple sites in Xinjiang. There are 57 caves open to visitors now.
Later, move on to Astana Tombs. Nearby Gaochang Ruins, about 40km away from Turpan city, stretches out an ancient tomb group named Astana Tombs. There are over 500 tombs in total with owners varying from the nobility, officials and civilians, gaining a high reputation in archeology.
After breakfast, follow your guide to further explore the amazing Turpan! The first stop will be 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. Next, go on to admire the largest ancient tower in Xinjiang, Sugong Tower.
Later, move on to Jiaohe Ruins, the largest, oldest and best-preserved raw-soil building in the world with a history of more than 2,000 years. We will wander around this ancient city stepping back in time to trace past civilizations.
After that, head to Grape Valley, as a must-visit site in Turpan, teems with fruits, especially grapes, hence the name. Going inside the area, walking under the grape trellis to have some coolness and dazzling your eyes by the local agricultural products, buildings with strong Uygur flavor. The mouthwatering fresh fruits with high quality growing on the trees is always a large selling point as optional item on your own cost.
At the end of the visit, you will head to the train station to catch an overnight train to Kashgar. The train rides around 13 hours, and you will arrive Kashgar on the second morning.
Friendly tip: The train will be overnight soft-sleeper, rides around 13 hours on road. There will be 4 pax sharing one cabin, NO breakfast or private bathroom provided. You are suggested to prepare some snack just in case.
You will start Kashgar tour with theKashgar 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. 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.
Taking morning flight back to Urumqi. Upon arrival, there will be the local English speaking tour guide and driver picking you up from the exit gate by holding a board with your name.
After short rest on the van, you will start the visit with 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 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.
The 12 days Northern Xinjiang trip will end by today. We will arrange airport transfer for you and wish you a pleasant journey home! If you want to visit more places in Xinjiang or other Chinese cities, please feel free to contact us. We will be very happy to be helpful for you.
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.