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Home China City Tours Xian Tours Xian Side Trips 5 Days Xian & Zhangye Tour: Culture and Landscape Discovery

Tour Overview

Discover historical wonders of Xian and the surreal landscapes of Zhangye with this 5-day adventure. In Xian, witness the awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors, cycle atop the ancient city wall, and savor the flavors of the Muslim Quarter. Fly to Zhangye to explore the otherworldly Danxia landforms at Binggou and the Rainbow Mountains, adorned with hues of red, yellow, and green. Immerse yourself in the cultural tapestry of Giant Buddha Temple and Matisi Temple before concluding your trip with a departure from Zhangye.

Highlights of this tour:

1. Witness the awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors and Horses, an iconic UNESCO site showcasing life-sized clay soldiers and chariots.
2. Immerse yourself in Zhangye’s surreal landscapes, from the ice valley formations of Binggou Danxia to the vibrant hues of the Rainbow Mountains.
3. Experience Xian’s cultural tapestry by cycling the Ancient City Wall, indulging in halal delights in the Muslim Quarter, and exploring historical gems like the Giant Buddha Temple.
4. Discover Matisi Temple’s cliff-carved grottoes, offering breathtaking views of the Qilian Mountains and the legendary footprint of a sacred horse at the “horse hoof temple.”

Day-by-day Itinerary

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  1. Upon arrival at the airport, your guide and driver will pick you up and take you to your downtown Xian hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure to relax or explore the city on your own.

    Feel free to ask your guide for evening recommendations or explore popular attractions such as the Bell and Drum Tower, or the vibrant Muslim Street.

    Accommodation: Downtown Xian

  2. After breakfast, embark on a journey to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, a renowned archaeological site showcasing thousands of life-sized clay soldiers, horses, and chariots buried with the first emperor of China over 2,000 years ago. Your guide will provide insights into the history and significance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xian
    The Life-size Terracotta Warriors and Horses

    Next, visit the Xian Ancient City Wall, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. Take a leisurely walk atop the wall, enjoying panoramic views of old and new Xian. For an extra adventure, consider renting a bike (optional, at your own expense) to cycle along the 14-kilometer-long wall with its four gates and 98 watchtowers.

    Xian City Wall Cycling
    Our customers ride on the City Wall in February 2023

    Continue to the Muslim Quarter for a culinary and cultural experience. Explore the hub of Xian's Muslim community, sampling halal snacks and visiting mosques. Try local specialties like roujiamo (meat sandwich), yangrou paomo (mutton soup with bread), or biangbiang noodles. Visit the Great Mosque, a blend of Islamic and Chinese architectural styles.

    The evening is yours to enjoy the night scene of Xian or relax at your hotel.

    Accommodation: Downtown Xian

    Xian Muslim Quarter
    Muslim Quarter

  3. Following breakfast, visit Da Cien Temple, housing the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a seven-story brick pagoda built in the Tang Dynasty to store Buddhist scriptures. Climb the pagoda for a panoramic view. Optionally, dress in Hanfu, traditional Han Chinese clothing, for photos (at your own expense).

    Big Wild Goose Pagoda Xian
    Big Wild Goose Pagoda

    Next, head to Hanyangling, the joint mausoleum of Emperor Jing of Han and his empress. This underground museum displays miniature terracotta figures, animals, and utensils buried with the royal couple. Walk on the glass floor to view excavated relics beneath.

    Hanyangling Museum Xian
    Hanyangling Museum

    After the visit, transfer to the airport for your flight to Zhangye, a city on the ancient Silk Road in Gansu province. Upon arrival, your local guide and driver will welcome you and accompany you to your hotel.

    Accommodation: Zhangye

  4. Today is dedicated to exploring the breathtaking Danxia landform, a unique geomorphology characterized by red-colored sandstone, steep cliffs, and vibrant layers. Following breakfast, you'll be transported to Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area, located approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Zhangye city. Binggou, meaning "ice valley" in Chinese, derives its name from rocks that resemble ice sculptures. Witness various Danxia landscape forms such as castles, pagodas, towers, and animals. A sightseeing bus will take you to Xiaoxitian and Daxitian, the main scenic spots, where you can capture splendid views and photographs.

    Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area
    Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area

    In the afternoon, proceed to Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park, also known as the Rainbow Mountains, situated around 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Binggou. The park boasts rocks with stunning colors ranging from red, yellow, and green to blue and purple, a result of diverse minerals and sedimentary rocks deposited over millions of years. The park features four viewing platforms, each offering a distinct perspective of the Danxia landform. The optimal time to visit is before sunset when the lighting enhances the vibrant colors, creating a magical atmosphere.

    After sunset, return to downtown Zhangye.

    Accommodation: in Zhangye

    Zhangye Danxian Rainbow Mountains
    Zhangye Danxian Rainbow Mountains

  5. Following breakfast, continue your exploration of Zhangye by visiting two historical and cultural sites: the Giant Buddha Temple and the Matisi Temple. The Giant Buddha Temple, also known as the Dafo Temple, represents the largest architectural relic of the Western Xia Dynasty in Gansu Province. Admire the largest reclining Buddha in Asia, surrounded by disciples and arhat statues, with colorful murals depicting Buddhist scriptures and legends adorning the walls. The temple's Buddhist Classics Hall houses over 6,000 sutras, some inscribed in gold and silver.

    Zhangye Giant Buddha Temple
    Giant Buddha Temple

    Next, visit Matisi Temple, approximately 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Zhangye city. Matisi, meaning "horse hoof temple" in Chinese, is named after a legend of a sacred horse leaving its footprint on a rock. The temple comprises Buddhist grottoes carved into the cliff of Linsong Mountain. Explore seven clusters of grottoes, each with its unique style, featuring more than 200 Buddha statues and intricate murals. The Thirty-three Heaven Grottoes, with seven floors and 21 caves, offer a breathtaking view of the Qilian Mountains and vast grassland.

    After the visit, your driver will transfer you to the airport or train station for your departure. Have a pleasant journey!

    Matisi Grottoes
    Matisi Grottoes

Tour Price Per Person

The price varies depending on the activity, number of people, travel date, and selected hotel. Please contact us for a specific price.

Price Includes

  • Private land transportation in air-conditioned vehicle with licensed driver;
  • Excellent English-speaking tour guide service as mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Main entrance tickets as listed in the itinerary;
  • Accommodation, meals, and activities as listed in the itinerary;
  • Domestic flight form Xian to Zhangye (economic class seat );
  • One bottle of water per person per day;
  • China Travel Insurance;
  • Government taxes.

Price Excludes

  • Any optional activities inside the attractions;
  • Single Room Supplement;
  • China visa;
  • Gratuities are highly appreciated if you think we did a great job;
  • Flights or trains to Xian and off Zhangye.
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