Zhangye Rainbow Mountains
Home China City Tours Dunhuang Tours Xian Dunhuang Tours 7 Days Silk Road Tour from Xi’an to Dunhuang by High-speed Train

Tour Overview

Where is Hexi Corridor and why is it so famous? Hexi Corridor is a long and narrow zone in Gansu province extending from Lanzhou to Dunhuang, playing a vital role in ancient Chinese military. This tour departing from Xian, the starting point of Silk Road, brings you a real adventure to explore the essence of Hexi Corridor including Tianshui, Lanzhou, Zhangye, Jiayuguan and Dunhuang, discover those noble sights: Maijishan Grottoes, Yellow River, Zhangye Rainbow Mountain, Jiayuguan, Mogao Grottoes and Crescent Lake & Echo Sand Mountain.

Highlights of this tour:

* Visit three culturally brilliant grottoes, including Maiji Grottoes, Mogao Grottoes, and Yulin Grottoes, the first two of which are listed as World Heritage Sites.
* Explore the exciting Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, where you can take photos of the stunning colorful mountains of the Rainbow Mountain Scenic Area.
* Admire the stunning Zhangye Giant Buddha Temple (Dafo Temple), which houses Asia’s largest sleeping Buddha statue of Sakyamuni, and learn about the culture and history behind it.
* Step into the Ghost City to witness the stunning Yadan Landform and learn from your guide how it got its name.

Day-by-day Itinerary

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  1. In the morning, the Xian driver will pick you up from the downtown hotel and drop you off at Xian North Train Station to catch the high-speed train to Tianshui. The train rides around 1.5-2 hours which would be a good chance for you to rest on the train or enjoy the scenery on the way.

    Upon your arrival at Tianshui South Station, you will find the local English speaking tour guide and driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name. Your visit begins with Maiji Grottoes which is one of the “Four Great Grottoes in China” especially featuring its beautiful scenic landscape. The first grottoes here were excavated during the post-Qin Dynasty (384-417). And in the later dynasties more grottoes were excavated with the development of Buddhism. In June 2014, Maiji Grottoes was listed by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage site. There are 194 caves and about 7800 Buddha statues preserved in the grottoes.

    Later, continue your visit to Fuxi Temple, the earliest and best-preserved ancestral temple complex, is an important material carrier for all Chinese people to worship and memorize Chinese cultural ancestor Fuxi. Stepping into the entrance, you will be enchanted by the dense atmosphere of ancient Chinese culture from the old temples, trees and statues which soon drags you to a world filled with mysterious tales of Fuxi and his time when Chinese civilization started. The vivid commentary from tour guide about this great man will help you better understand the origin of Chinese nation.

    Last, transfer to check into local hotel.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Tianshui

    Maijishan Grottoes
    Maijishan Grottoes

  2. In the morning, the driver will meet you at the hotel lobby and drop you off at Tianshui South Train Station to catch morning high-speed train to Lanzhou. Upon arrival at Lanzhou station, the local English speaking tour guide and driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name.

    You will officially start your visit with Gansu Provincial Museum which is the largest one in the whole Gansu with abundant collections reflecting Gansu local culture and Silk Road ‘s history and culture. The famous Bronze Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow exhibited in Silk Road Hall on the second floor is the most precious treasure of the museum. Besides, the Buddhist Hall displaying the Buddhist cultures featuring Han nationality, Tibetan region and Western region and grottoe arts from Dunhuang and Tianshui are also big seeing points here.

    Later, move on to 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.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Lanzhou

    Lanzhou Waterwheel Park
    Waterwheel Park in Huanghe River Custom Tourist Line

  3. Today you will take the morning high-speed train from Lanzhou to Zhangye. After around 4.5 hours train riding, you will arrive at this amazing city! First, follow your guide to explore the exciting 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.

    After the visit, come to local hotel for a good rest.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Zhangye

    Zhangye Danxian Rainbow Mountains
    Rainbow Mountains

  4. After breakfast, you will further explore Zhangye by the visit to Zhangye Giant Buddha Temple (Dafo Temple). Built in Western Xia Dynasty, the Giant Buddha 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.

    Zhangye Giant Buddhist Temple
    Giant Buddhist Temple

    Later, drive around 2.5 hours to Jiayuguan. After driving through the yellow sand of desert, you will come to 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.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Jiayuguan

    Jiayuguan Pass
    Jiayuguan Pass

  5. In the morning, you will further explore Jiayuguan by visiting 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 officals’ 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!

    Murals in Weijin Tombs
    Murals in Weijin Tombs

    After that, drive around 4 hours to Dunhuang. On the way, you will make a stop at Yulin Grottoes which locates in Jiuquan City, about 100km east away from Dunhuang city. Although not being as famous as Mogao Grottoes and Longmen Grottoes, Yulin Grottoes is rated highly and commented as a surprise by former visitors. It is the lower fame that makes the grottoes less visited and better protected. Engraved in North Wei Dynasty on the cliff of the Yulin River Valley, Yulin Grottoes looks extremely spectacular. The colorful wall paintings here will take you into another world with strong flavor of history and religion.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Dunhuang

    Murals in Yulin Grottoes
    Murals in Yulin Grottoes

  6. Today you will explore the highlight sites 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.

    Afterwards, move on to the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty. With history about 2,100 years, the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty is another masterpiece from the great Emperor Wu who was ambitious in defending against Huns and uniting the Western Regions. The Great Wall was taken 20 years to build, playing an important role in pacifying the regions. The section we will visit is the best-preserved part today.

    Later, continue your visit to 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!

    Yadan Landform (Ghost City)
    Yadan Landform (Ghost City)

    In the late afternoon when it is not too hot, follow your guide to explore the 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. 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

    Dunhuang Echoing Sand Mountain
    Echoing Sand Mountain

  7. 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, you will be dropped off at Dunhuang airport / train station for departure.

    Accommodation: N/A

    Buddha statues in Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes
    Buddha statues in Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes

Price Includes

  • 6 nights’ accommodation in centrally located hotel with daily breakfast
  • Xian-Tianshui-Lanzhou-Zhangye high-speed train (second class seat)
  • 7 Chinese style lunches
  • Entrance tickets as listed in itinerary
  • Excellent English-speaking tour guides
  • Private transfers in air-conditioned vehicle with licensed drivers
  • Travel Agency Liability Insurance during the tour
  • Government taxes

Price Excludes

  • China Visas/flights
  • Any dinner or meal not mentioned in itinerary
  • Any optional activity/battery car/shuttle bus/horse/camel rides inside the attractions
  • Our package does not include travel insurance. Please purchase commercial travel insurance before your trip for any unforeseen circumstance
  • Any item beyond "Price Includes"
  • Gratuities to guide and driver (recommended if you are satisfied with their services)
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