Want to travel along Silk Road? 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-Tibet-Xi’an actually provide more details of beauty for travelers through this 20 days in-depth tour which perfectly covers the highlights of both southern and northern Xinjiang, this tour will bring an amazing expedition for culture and natural landscapes.
Highlights of this tour: *Explore the mysterious Potala Palace in the marvelous holy city Lhasa. *Watch local people worship in the Barkhor Street to feel the pilgrimage culture. *Make a wish and learn the Tibetan Buddhism culture in Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery. *Immerse yourself in amazing Yamdroktso lake that reputed as the most breathtaking lake in Tibet. *Immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery in Heavenly Lake. *Discover some interesting things or local souvenirs in Xinjiang International Bazaar and Burqin Market. *Appreciate the brilliant Buddhist art in Mogao Grottoes. *Shocked by the grand Terracotta Warriors and Horses to explore the long history of Xian.
Private tour guide + Driver + Vehicle + Tickets entrance fee + Hotel with breakfast + Train tickets
Upon your arrival at Lhasa airport / train station, our local English speaking tour guide and driver will pick you up from the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name and transfer to downtown hotel for checking-in. Free and easy on your own for rest of the day to acclimate to the high altitude and weather of Lhasa.
After breakfast in hotel, our English speaking tour guide and the driver will pick you up from hotel lobby, and then go to visit the majestic Potala Palace. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. As you are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, you get to see the best of Tibetan art. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues. You will also get to view the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas.
After that, continue to explore the holy Jokhang Temple which has a history of over 1300 years. The temple is a mixture of Tibetan, Tang, Nepalese, and Indian architectural styles and has become an example of Tibetan religious architecture. The interior is so impressive with plenty of statues, colorful murals, and rows of butter lamps. It’s not allowed to take photos at most parts, but you will have opportunity to take some at the rooftop.
After coming out of the sacred Jokhang Temple, you will follow your tour guide threading your way through the throngs of pilgrims and other travelers in the mesmerizing Barkhor Street. This old street will give you a taste of Tibetan people's life and their faith. You can casually walk around and do some shopping.
Today, you will go to one of the most significant monasteries in Tibet- Drepung Monastery. You will see the place is well preserved and many devout Tibetan people come to pray here. Wandering around the monastery full of the aroma of incense and butter, you will learn something about Tibetan Buddhism from your knowledgeable tour guide and enjoy the peaceful scenery everywhere. Next, continue the Buddhism trip to Sera Monastery which is the second largest monastery in Tibet. Sera Monastery was built in the Ming Dynasty by the famous Sagya Yeshes who was one of the eight disciples of Zongkapa and given the title of the Great Mercy Dharma by Emperor Xuanzong of Ming Dynasty after he had an audience with the Emperor in 1409 and 1414. The debate about Buddhism of Sera Monastery earns its fame in the Tibetan region, which is always taken a necessary activity to see for travelers from the whole world. Transfer back to your hotel in the end.
Today’s first stop will be the charming Yamdroktso Lake, one of the three largest scared lakes in Tibet. It is famed as “the Most Beautiful Lake in the World”. When looking it from map or sky, you will be surprised to see the lake embedded in this land, glittering like an earring under the sunshine at different time.
After that, drive to the Karola Glacier with an elevation of 5400 meters above sea level. Getting off the car, the magnificent glacier jumps into your eyes with its shinning body soaked in the gentle sunshine. You are worry free from people or cars intruding into your shot and disturbing your selfies with the stunning sights as it’s usually off the beaten track.
Stop by Manla Reservoir, which is the unique scenery line around the mountains with average elevation of 4330 meters above sea level. Embedded onto the awe-inspiring mountain, the Reservoir is glittering in its transparent green water, showing a distinct beauty with the blue water of Yambork Lake.
Afterwards, come to the most important site in Gyantse -Penchor Chode Monastery, located in Gyangze Country, Shigatse area, surrounded by hills, this Monastery isa typical Tibetan Buddhist structure with harmonious fusion of pagodas and temples, fully representing the architecture style of monasteries in Shigatse from late of 13th century to the middle of 15th century. Besides, you’ll also have chance to see the notable Penchor Chode Pagoda (its official name is Bodhi Moanstery) injecting more special charm of this place. It has 9 tiers, 77 chapels and 108 doors, shrines and so on, housing hundreds of thousands of Buddha Images, hence the name “Hundreds of Thousands of Pagodas”. Last, drive to Shigatse for overnight.
Today we will go to visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the largest one in Shigatse with location at the foot of a hill, titled as one of the “Four Greatest Monasteries of Tibetan Gelug Sect together with Gandan Monastery, Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. The Monastery of sparkling yellow roofs and red walls houses those devout monks and visitors, describing the beautiful moments about human and their holy religious belief.
Later, drive around 5 hours back to Lhasa. On the way, you can enjoy the river view of Yarlung Zangpo River.
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.
After hotel breakfast, pay a visit to Xinjiang International Bazaar, the largest bazaar in Urumqi. Then drive around 3.5 hours to Turpan.
The first site in Turpan 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.
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.
Our English speaking guide and the driver will pick you up from your hotel in the morning. Go to visit the Gaochang Ruins, Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Cave and Flaming Hill and Sugong Pagoda.
Gaochang Ruins - The Ancient City located at the east of Turpan, the city-state that ruled the area from the 9th century to the 13th. The city was actually founded a few hundred years earlier than that, and gradually became known as a trading post on the Silk Road.
Bizaklik Thousand Buddha Cave located 50 kilometers to the east of Turfan City .“Bezeklik”means “a place with beautiful decoration”. There are 83 numbered caves; among them 40 preserved murals totaling 1200 square meters. These caves are first excavated in Qu`s Gaochang period. The exising caves were reconstructed or newly extended by Uighurian people. In some caves one can find that Buddhish murals are painted on Manichean murals. Themes of the murals are mainly the stories about causes. On front walls flanking the door of the cave are generally painted Uighurian donors and written Chinese and Uighurian inscriptions. The Bezeklik Caves now is a major cultural site under state protection.
Flaming Hill - The Flaming Mountain is a legendary mountain, running from Shanshan County on west, 98 kilometers in length and 9 kilometers across, with a relative height of 500 meters and the highest peak 831.7 meters. The mountain is a branch range of the Bogda Mountain , formed in the orogenic movements of the Himalayas . Its highest air temperature in summer is 47.8 degrees centigrade, and the ground is over 70 degrees centigrade in summer. For this reason and its natural geographical features, people vividly call it “ Flaming Mountain ”. Through the well-known story about this mountain in the novel “Journey to the West”, the mountain has enjoyed great popularity and become an ideal place for tour.
Sugong Pagoda Sugong Pagoda is one of the most popular Islamic construction and the only Islamic style pagoda. After the tour finished, transfer to your hotel.
Take the morning train to Dunhuang Liuyuan Train Station. Upon arrival, our local tour guide and the driver will pick you up on time, drive for about 2 hours to Dunhuang city, check in hotel and have a short rest. Then you will head 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.
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.
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.
After the tour finished, drive for about 5 hours to Jiayuguan.
The first stop in Jiayuguan is 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 official’s 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!
After the tour finished, take the high-speed train to Zhangye, meet with our local driver and then transfer to hotel in Zhangye.
Today you will start your Zhangye day tour withZhangye 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.
Next, 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.
Take the morning high speed train from Zhangye to Lanzhou. Upon arrival at Lanzhou train station, there will be the local English-speaking tour guide and driver to pick you up from the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name.
Follow your guide to a local restaurant to fill your stomach, then 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.
Our guide and the driver pick you up from your hotel lobby 8am. Drive for 3 hours to the Binglingsi Grottoes. You will board a boat ship at Liujiaxia Gorge to Binglinsi Grottoes. There are776 Buddha statues, over 1,076 square yards murals and 6 stones sculptures from 1,600 years ago waiting for your exploring(2.5-3hours).
After the tour finished, transfer back to your hotel in Lanzhou.
Take early morning high-speed train to Xi’an (about 3 hours). Upon arrival, our local tour guide and the driver will pick you up on time. Go to visit Yuanjia Cun Village, where you will have many stops with lots to eat and drink. You also have chance to try new things such as milling flour, waving cloth, and making Tofu. Your English-speaking tour guide will share local knowledge and interesting stories with you. Pick this tour to discover delicious food and have a glimpse of folk culture!
Then drive to down town Xi’an, continue visit the Great Tang All Day Mall. After the tour finished, transfer to hotel and checking in.
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.
Then come to the Huaqing Palace. Huaqing Pool is a part of Huaqing Palace which dates back to the Zhou Dynasty, which was over 3,000 years ago. During the Han Dynasty the site was expanded and by the Tang Dynasty, Emperor Xuanzhong had a Palace built around Mount Li. The Huaqing Pool was where Emperor Xuanzhong preferred to spend winter with his favorite consort Yang Guifei who was one of the Four Beauties of China. The romantic love story of Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei still appeals to many tourists.
Next, 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).
The 18 days amazing trip will end by today. Today is free and easy for you. You can go to visit the Bell Tower Square and Muslim Street by yourself. We will arrange airport transfer for you and wish you a pleasant journey home!
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.