Immerse yourself in the legendary land and feel the pulse of civilization as you explore the treasures of the Silk Road, the bridge between history and today.
Joy Tour will bring you this perfect combination of culture, adventure, history, and natural wonders. Visit everything from UNESCO World Heritage sites to magnificent mountain ranges and deserts. Start your trip from Lanzhou, you will then have the chance to visit Chaka Salt Lake, Rainbow Mountain in Zhangye, Jiayuguan Pass Great Wall, and Dunhuang Mogao Caves. Enjoy a sunset view of the best colorful ridge scenery in the Rainbow Mountains. Marvel at the geometric beauty of the brick murals in Weijin Tomb Murals. Enjoy camel trek in desert and sand sliding at Echoing-sand Mountain in Dunhuang.
*Enjoy camel trekking and sand sliding at Echoing-sand Mountain;
*Discover the unreal, ancient rainbow-colored landscape of Zhangye;
*Appreciate the brilliant Buddhist art in Mogao Grottoes
- Day 1: Xining arrival by morning flightTa'er Monastery
Please make your own way to Xining Caojiabao Airport (please arrive between 10 am-11 am to avoid waiting too long for other passengers at the airport).
The local English-speaking guide holding a welcome board with your name on it will pick you up from the exit gate. After a short rest, your Silk Road tour in Xining will start with a visit to Ta'er Monastery.
As one of the "Six Great Monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism Gelug Sect", Ta'er Monastery in Xining, Qinghai Province, shares the same popularity with Qinghai Lake. It is the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Tibetan Buddhism Gelug Sect. Dating from the Ming Dynasty, the monastery is composed of Buddha halls, pagodas, Lama residences, scripture repository, and Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the place to see a mix of architectural styles of both Tibetan and Han Chinese. And the place you will be shocked by devout followers who trudge for pilgrimage here.
Hotel: 4-star hotel in Xining
- Day 2: Xining-Qinghai Lake-Chaka Salt Lake (450kms, 6-7hrs driving)Qinghai Lake
Depart at 08:30 and reach Qinghai Lake via Sun-moon Mountain in about 2.5 hours. One of the most beautiful lakes in China with tremendous wildlife species and diverse landscapes packed around its huge water body. If you want to seek tranquil natural scenery, sparse tourists, Tibetan culture, and adventurous activities, it should be a wonderful destination. Head to the Erlangjian Scenic Area, the pearl in Qinghai Lake scenic area with laid-back sandy beach, lush green grassland, and a great abundance of water activities. Boat cruises, horse riding, and bike riding are available around the lake, and you can pay on your own if you want to experience it (optional).
After that, you will head to Chaka Salt Lake which takes around 2.5 hours to drive on road. Have a good rest in the van.
- Day 3: Chaka Lake-Xining Xining-Zhangye by High-speed TrainChaka Salt Lake
Relax in the amazing Chaka Salt Lake today! Covering an area of 105 square kilometers, Chaka Salt Lake is one of the most popular destinations as well as an important salt mine in Qinghai. The lake is famous for its crystal-blue water, serene water reflections, hence its name “Mirror of the Sky”. For those shutterbugs, it is a can't-miss for some stunning pictures.
In the afternoon, drive back to Xining to catch the evening high-speed train to Zhangye. The train ride will take around 2.5 hours, and you can have a nap on the train or just enjoy the scenery on the way.
When you arrive at Zhangye Train Station, a local driver to pick you up and transfer you to the local hotel.
Hotel: 4-star hotel in Zhangye.
- Day 4: Zhangye tourMatisi Grottoes & Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon
In the morning, you will visit Matisi Grottoes. It is one of the “Three Artistic Grottoes of Hexi Corridor”. Standing against the hills where plenty of grottoes were engraved, it will offer you an incredible combination of Buddhist temples and mountain grottoes. Another highlight of the Mati Temple is that it combines both Han Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.
In the afternoon, you will go to Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon. A magnificent grand canyon that is comparable to the famous Grand Canyon in the United States, Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon is the place not only for beautiful scenic views but also for witnessing a wide species of wild animals and birds. The basic geomorphic features of the canyon are water flowing gully, and colorful mountains being engraved into breathtaking landscapes.
Special note: You will need to hike for around 2-3 hours. Tourists with knee problems are NOT suggested to go.
- Day 5: Zhangye-Jiayuguan by 2.5-hour drivingZhangye Danxia National Geological Park, Rainbow Mountain Scenic Area & Ice Valley Mountain Scenic Area
After breakfast, follow your guide to explore the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. Known for its colorful and magnificent rock formations, Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is listed as one of the 'Top 10 Geographical Wonders of the World' by National Geographic. Visit the Rainbow Mountain Scenic Area, the highlight of the geological park which are masterpieces of nature with layered undulating ridges and colorful mountain folds. The sightseeing of sunrise or sunset from the viewing platform is so breathtaking to inspire photographers around the world.
Later, move on to the Ice Valley Mountain Scenic Area (aka Binggou Scenic Area). Although the color of the hills here is not as bright as Rainbow Mountain, The Binggou Scenic Area is known for its magnificence and strange shapes. Scattered among this area is a kaleidoscope of various rolling hills in weird shapes of temples, pagodas, castles, cones, birds, figures of Buddha, etc.
Then drive about 2.5 hours to Jiayuguan City for overnight.
- Day 6: Jiayuguan-Dunhuang by 5-hour drivingJiayu Pass, Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum & Shazhou Night Market
Today you will drive through the desert to reach Jiayu Pass, also known as “First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven”. A section of loess-built Great Wall pass which has stood for hundreds of years, the Jiayu Pass is full of a sense of vicissitudes of history. It is the westernmost section of the Ming Great Wall and a traffic fortress on the ancient Silk Road.
For an in-depth exploration of the Great Wall, the Jiayuguan Great Wall Museum in the scenic area deserves your visit. It is the first museum focusing on the history and culture of the Great Wall. A highlight of the museum is the oil painting of the Great Wall on large scale.
After the Jiayu Pass exploration, drive around 5 hours to Dunhuang. Upon arrival, enjoy your leisure time wandering around the Shazhou Night Market. The most bustling place of Dunhuang at night, here you can taste different kinds of local cuisine and buy some souvenirs for your family and friends.
- Day 7: Dunhuang tourMogao Grottoes, Crescent Spring & Echo Sand Mountain
In the morning, you will head to the Mogao Grottoes. The Mogao Caves in Dunhuang is more than 1650 years old and is composed of hundreds of caves that full of Buddha statues and wall paintings, hence its another name of “Caves of the Thousand Buddhas”. It is one of the largest as well as the most diverse treasure house of Buddhist art. Being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1987, its vivid Buddha statues and wall paintings offer the finest examples of Buddhist art that will easily bring you back to the glorious Tang Dynasty.
After the heat hours of the afternoon, get to the Crescent Spring and Echo Sand Mountain, an incredible view where the golden dunes and green oases coexist in harmony. Echo Sand Mountain (Mingsha Mountain) is a lonely sand mountain in the open desert formed by the action of wind. The sand will echo when there is a strong wind, hence its name. It looks like a golden dragon is about to fly while viewing afar. Next to the sand dunes, the Crescent Spring is the only oasis that adds much vitality and energy to the barren desert.
Note: Camel riding is available here, you can experience it upon your interests and pay on your own (RMB100/camel).
- Day 8: Dunhuang Departure
Your 8 days Silk Road tour ends here. Free and easy on your own in the morning time. In the afternoon, the driver will pick you up from the hotel lobby and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight.