This 13 days Silk Road from Chengdu to Kashgar in Xinjiang perfectly links those glittering sites scattered in west China, such as cute pandas, Terracotta Warriors, Mogao Grottoes, Crescent Lake-Echo Sand Mountain, Jiaohe Ruins, Heavenly Lake, Kashgar Old Town and Karakul Lake. As we know China is a noble destination with abundant travel resources on its vast land where the east area demonstrates more its incredible development on the fusion of modern and ancient elements while the west better preserves its original local appearance. Obviously, more and more people are enchanted to explore the far-flung wild western China after being weary of those skyscrapers and busy streets easily seen in the east China. Pack your bag and join in this 13 days Silk Route tour, you will start a life-impressed journey to discover the unknown secret of the oldest civilization in the world!
* Get up close and personal with the cuddly pandas in Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center.
* Synchronize yourself with the slow pace of Chengdu – enjoying a relaxing afternoon tea in Renmin Park, meandering through the bustling Jinli Pedestrian Street, and sampling some of the classic Sichuan dishes.
* Get impressed by the spectacular army of over 8,000 terracotta warriors in Xi’an.
* Be amazed by the Mogao Grottoes, known as the “Pearl of Oriental art”, where you can enjoy the amazing murals and painted sculptures.
* Enjoy Urumqi’s Islamic architecture and experience the rich ethnic customs in the world’s largest market – Erdaoqiao International Bazaar.
* Appreciate the amazing Heavenly Lake, which is an alpine lake nestled on a snow-capped hillside, and learn about the legend of the Queen Mother of the West.
* Have a visit to the fortress ruin of the legendary Tashkurgan Stone City, where the great movie “The Kite Runner” was filmed.
- Day 1: Chengdu Arrival (No meal )
Upon your arrival at Chengdu 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 Chengdu
- Day 2: Chengdu Tour (B, L)Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Wenshu Temple, Renmin Park, Jinli Pedestrian Street
In the morning, you’ll head to the exciting Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, which is well known for the protection and breeding of the endangered giant pandas which are unique to China. The base is definitely a highlight for most visitors to Chengdu. There are adorable pandas everywhere. You can watch them eating bamboo, playing with each other, and of course sleeping. Your tour guide will navigate you through the huge area, share some information about the pandas, and help you take amazing photos.
After lunch, continue your visit to Wenshu Temple which was built in the Sui Dynasty with a long history. The temple is still operating and frequented by local people who come to pray and relax themselves. It is a good place to come to know Buddhism. You can have a nice stroll around the pleasant garden and take photos of the wonderful ancient architecture.
Later, enjoy some relaxing tea time in Renmin Park. Renmin Park is a perfect place to do people watching. Here you can enjoy a cup of tea in a nice tea house and watch local people while away the time with various activities such as playing cards, doing tai chi, playing mahjong, dancing, and napping.
Afterwords, come to explore the bustling Jinli Pedestrian Street, a must see place in Chengdu. You can see that the buildings here are built in Qing Dynasty style, and meandering through the street gives people the feeling of traveling back in time. You can enjoy shopping, do people watching, and taste some yummy food that you never saw before.
Accommodation: Overnight in Chengdu
- Day 3: Chengdu-Xian by High-speed Train (B, L)Jinsha Site Museum, Sichuan Cuisine Museum
After breakfast, you will visit Jinsha Site Museum. It is an excellent place to learn about Chengdu's history. There are thousands of cultural relics that can date back to 3000 years ago. You will follow your knowledgeable tour guide to appreciate the precious artifacts such as golden sun bird disc, golden mask, bronze standing figure and stone tiger, and get to know the stories behind them. You also can enjoy a walk around the lovely park and take some pictures.
Later, go to check out a unique museum themed with cuisine culture, Sichuan Cuisine Museum, and have a fantastic experience there. You will have chance to see plenty of cooking utensils from the past dynasties and sample some local delicacies. The highlight of this interesting museum tour will be learning to cook a couple of Sichuan dishes such as Mapo Tofu and Kung Pao Chicken under the instructions of local chefs. After finishing cooking, you will sit down and enjoy your own cooking.
After lunch, you will head to the train station and catch an afternoon high-speed train to Xian. The train rides around 3-4 hours which would be a good chance for you to have a nap on the train or just enjoy the scenery on the way. When you arrive at Xian North Train Station, the local driver will pick you up from the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name and drive to local hotel.
Accommodation: Overnight in Xian
- Day 4: Xian Tour (B, L)Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Ancient City Wall, Bell and Drum Tower Square, Muslim Quarter
Your Xian exploration begins with world’s heritage Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Known as “the Eighth Wonders of the World”, it was found by four local farmers while drilling a well in 1974. Now it has turned into one of the most important attractions in China and the No.1 attractive site in Xi’an. The museum includes Pit 1(the largest pit), Pit 2, Pit 3, and the exhibition hall of the chariots and horses. You will stay in the museum for 2-3 hours. Listening to the explanation from the expert tour guide, you will learn the hidden story of those live-sized sculptures and history of their owner: First Emperor of Qin who is also the first emperor of China.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then head back to Xian downtown area for another historical highlight-Ancient City Wall. It is the most complete preserved and the largest city wall in China, which was built for the military defense in the ancient time. Since it is cycling the city, visitors can ride a bike around the city wall ( optional).
Later, move on to the Bell and Drum Tower Square, which locates in the very center of the city and is considered as the symbol of this old capital. Walking forward, you will come to Muslim Quarter where you will find many special local products and authentic local snacks. You can enjoy preserved meat, casserole, various noodles, and purchase some Terracotta Warriors imitation as souvenirs.
Accommodation: Overnight in Xian
- Day 5: Xian-Dunhuang by Flight (B, L)Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda
As one of the most famous historical cities, Xian has lots of interesting places to go! Today you will explore the must-see sights in Xian downtown area.
Firstly, come to the Shaanxi History Museum( closed on every Monday),which is one of the biggest and most famous museums in China. The museum houses the cultural heritage unearthed in Shaanxi Province. Although it’s a provincial Museum, the collection of relics here is at national level from both quantity and quality as Xian had been Capitals for more than 13 dynasties in ancient China. Following the tour guide, walk and stop at those priceless exhibits to learn the hidden history and splendid civilization of China.
After that, move on to Big Wild Goose Pagoda. On the way to the attraction spot, your guide will introduce the history and culture of this ancient city for you to catch a glimpse of reason why so many well-known relics were discovered on this land. Big Wild Goose Pagoda was originally built to hold Buddhist sutra and figurines of the Buddha that Xuanzang brought back from India in Tang Dyansty, 652 A.D. Now there is a big square divided into North Square and South Square, surrounding the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The design of the buildings and statues is in Tang style, showing people the ever glory of that great time. It’s busier in the evening when many activities with Tang elements held by local amateur.
In the afternoon, taking flight to Dunhuang. Upon your arrival at Dunhuang airport, there will be the local driver picking you up from the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name and transfer to local hotel.
Accommodation: Overnight in Dunhuang
- Day 6: Dunhuang Tour (B, L)Mogao Grottoes, Crescent Spring and Echo Sand Mountain, Shazhou Night Market
Today 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 yout tour guide will help to purchase tickets.
Last, come to Shazhou Night Market for further exploration. 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 7: Dunhuang-Turpan by High-speed Train (B, L)Jade Gate Pass, The Yadan Landform
Today you will further explore the local relics of Dunhuang. The first site will be Jade Gate Pass. The relics of Jade Gate Pass is located at the far western edge of Hexi Corridor, about 90 km away from Dunhuang city, with main geographical landscape of gobi and deserts. How bleak you feel about this place from eyes, how moved you feel about its history from your hearts. Jade Gate Pass had been a vital position on military defense in ancient China since the time of famous Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty who is famous for his achievements on defending against invasion. So many heroes with their stories about Jade Gate Pass emerged in the history and so many famous events happened there has been written in poems and novels and familiar by people.
Later, head to The Yadan Landform (Ghost City). The Yadan Landform we are heading for is about 90km west away from Jade Gate Pass. About 25km long and 1-2km wide, this place yells when wind blowing just like ghost screaming, scaring visitors a lot, hence the name of Ghost City. Going inside, it excites your eyes and amazes your mind with those “streets”, “buildings”, “squares” and even “churches” forming a real “city” relic!
In the afternoon, you will head to train station to catch the high-speed train to Turpan. The train rides around 3.5 hours, you can have a nap on the train or just enjoy the scenery on the way. Upon your arrival at Turpan, there will be the local driver picking you up and transfer to local hotel.
Accommodation: Overnight in Turpan
- Day 8: Turpan-Urumqi Tour (B, L)Karez Well, Sugong Pagoda, Jiaohe Ruins, Erdaoqiao International Bazaar
After hotel breakfast, your exploration begins with Karez Well, which is a special Irrigation System distributed in Turpan area, sharing the same fame with Great Wall as “Great Human Engineering”. With a little rainfall volume yearly, it’s almost impossible for Turpan to use water in the surface to irrigate farmland. However, Turpan locates in a basin embraced by the snowy mountains around, so, fortunately, it is rich in water resources underground. Local people brought into full play the tilted terrain of the basin, dug many Karez and connected them together into a subterranean irrigation system.
Moving on to Sugong Pagoda, you will witness this typical Islam architecture with the largest scale among all pagodas in Xinjiang. It was built by the local governor to show appreciation for Qing Government, today symbolizing national unity. The conical body of the Pagoda was engraved with beautiful paintings of strong ethnic flavor, vividly telling its old stories for the visitors. Behind the Pagoda stands the biggest Mosque in Turpan, consisting a harmonious picture in the scenic area.
Later, head to Jiaohe Ruins. If you ever watched the aerial photo of Jiaohe Ruins, you will find it roves in the vast Turpan basin just like a giant aircraft carrier. Located at a ship-like loessal mesas eroded by rivers for thousands of years, the ancient city later emerged with the coming of Cheshi people whose great wisdom could be deduced easily on their masterpieces: the dwellings, streets and city layout that they built on a clever use of the local geographic conditions, thus we could have opportunity to have a look to the relics of the largest city made of natural soil in the world with long history, about 1700 years.
Last, drive around 3 hours to Urumqi to tick off 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 9: Urumqi-Kashgar Tour by Flight (B, L)Xinjiang Regional Museum, Heavenly Lake
After hotel breakfast, meet your guide at hotel lobby and your exploration begins! The first site will be 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.
Later, move on to the highlight of today - 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 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 due to its geographical conditions. Looking out over the scenic area, the white 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.
After that, you will be dropped off at the airport for evening flight to Kashgar. Upon arrival at Kashgar airport, there will be our local driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name. Stay overnight in Kashgar.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kashgar
- Day 10: Kashgar Tour (B, L)Kashgar Old Town, Handicrafts Market, Id Kah Mosque
Today you will further visit Kashgar city. No doubt the first site will be Kashgar Old Town. Kashgar’s spirit is in the old town with curved lanes distributed in the maze-like Islam blocks, which is the thing that bewilders you to be here. Eyes on face and camera in hands should be busiest during visit, elegant folk dwellings, neat streets, cozy tea houses gathering leisure old people, naughty kids playing in front of doors and bursting into laughter when you walking closely… soul warmth rising from bottom of hearts along your slowly wander.
Later, move on to the local Handicrafts Market. Spending some time in the handicrafts market is also a top things-to-do in Kashgar. Follow the local crowd to walk leisurely and stop at a stall interesting you or talking with those hawkers with ethnic faces. Do not forget to bargain when you are picking some as souvenirs.
After that, come to the largest Islam Mosque in Xinjiang - the Id Kah Mosque, whose birth could be traced back to 1442, in Ming Dynasty. It’s an ancient architectural complex sitting in the city center with strong ethnic and religious color, composed by four parts: the pagoda, garden, scripture hall and praying hall. Not only functioned as center for religious activities, is the Mosque also the place for local people to celebrate festivals. If you are lucky to visit it on a praying day and or festival day, yu will meet an extreme busy scene that thousands of Islam followers gather oon the Square.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kashgar
- Day 11: Kashgar-Karakuri Lake-Tashkurgan Tour (B, L)Karakuri Lake
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.
Karakuri Lake also named Karakul is a high mountain moraine lake. Karakuri 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.
Finishing the relaxing sightseeing, you will go back to Kashager.
Accommodation: Overnight in Tashkurgan
- Day 12: Tashkurgan-Kashgar Tour (B, L)Tashkurgan Stone City
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.
Accommodation: Overnight in Kashgar
- Day 13: Kashgar Departure (B)
The 13 days amazing 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 China, please feel free to contact us.
Accommodation : N/A