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Home China Silk Road Tour Silk Road Private Tours 8 Days Classic Silk Road Tour from Xian to Dunhuang

Tour Overview

Covering iconic historical sites, the amazing Gobi desert, natural marvels, and brilliant Buddhist arts, this 8 days Silk Road Tour from Xi’an to Dunhuang will offer you one of the most classic Silk Road tours. Equipped with professional English-speaking guides, drivers, boutique hotels, and hand-picked attractions, the trip is designed to make your Silk Road experience worlds easier and more enjoyable.

Highlights of this tour:

*Visit the landmarks of Xi’an – Terracotta Army, Muslim Quarter, and Ancient City Wall.
*Appreciate the breathtaking Zhangye Rainbow Mountains, a geographic wonder which is distinguished from common Danxia landforms by its gorgeous colors and striking shapes.
*Visit the world heritage-listed site of Mogao Grottoes to marvel at the brilliant Buddhist artworks.
*Have fun at the Crescent Spring and Echoing Sand Mountain with various desert activities.

Day-by-day Itinerary

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  1. Welcome to Xi'an! Upon arrival, your English speaking guide and diver will meet you at the airport (they will hold a board with your name on it), and transfer you to the iconic Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Entitled “the Eighth Wonders of the World”, the Terracotta Army is a part of Emperor Qinshihuang’s (259~210 BC ) Mausoleum Site Museum where you will be shocked by life-sized sculptures of over 8000 warriors and hundreds of horses in battle formations. You will have 2.5-3 hours to explore this underground troop at your leisure.

    Then, head to Muslim Quarter (aka Huimin Street) which is a throw stone’s away from the Bell Tower and Drum Tower. Comprising of several ancient streets of over 1000 years old, the Muslim Quarter boasts a bulk of local food options, exotic Islamic culture atmosphere, Great Mosque, and numerous ethnic souvenir stalls. Your expert local guide will recommend some local food and restaurants upon your interests.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Xi'an

    Terracotta Warriors and Horses

  2. After breakfast in your hotel, step onto the Xian Ancient City Wall, the largest and the best preserved city wall in China. Also known as fortifications of Xi'an, it is originally built for military defense in 14th century. You can either walk or cycle atop the wall to overlook the old parts of Xi’an inside the wall, the modern new parts of Xi’an outside, the chanting moat surround the wall, the elegantly designed watchtowers, etc. (cycling on the wall is optional, you can rent a bike at your own expense.)

    Xian City Wall
    Ancient City Wall

    After an early lunch, you will head to Xianyang International Airport to catch your flight to Lanzhou.

    Upon your arrival at Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport, the local English speaking tour guide and driver will welcome you at the exit gate by holding a board with your name. After a short rest in your hotel, follow your guide to visit Yellow River Custom Tourist Line - one of the longest riverside gardens in China stretching along the Yellow River. A leisure strolling here will introduce you into a series of folk culture themed sites, including Zhongshan Iron Bridge, White Pagoda Hill Park, Waterwheel Park, Yellow River Mother Sculpture, sheepskin raft, etc.

    After that, transfer to a downtown hotel for check in.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Lanzhou

  3. After breakfast, embark on a 1.5 hours drive to Bingling Grottoes (aka Bingling Thousand-Buddha Caves). Being carved out on the cliff over 1600 years ago along Liujiaxia Reservoir, Bingling Grottoes is only accessible by boat. We will arrange a time-saving speed boat to reach the 183 Buddha caves with 694 precious stone statues, 82 sculptures, and over 900 square meters of murals. The surrounding Yellow River scene is also a bonus for your boat ride here.

    In the afternoon, drive to Xiahe for the night.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Xiahe

    Bingling Temple Grottoes
    Bingling Temple Grottoes

  4. Start today with a visit to Labrang Monastery. One of the six monasteries of Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Labrang Monastery is famous for its complete Tibetan Buddhism teaching system in China. You can explore the monastery in a clockwise direction (like the pilgrims used to do), and walk around the grand Buddhist architecture complex, the longest corridor of turning scriptures in the world, and look into precious Buddha statues, wall paintings and more treasures.

    Then, a 2.5 hours drive will take you back to Lanzhou. Your driver will drop you off at Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport for the flight to Zhangye.

    Upon arrival at Zhangye, a local driver will pick you up from the exit gate and transfer you to the hotel.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Zhangye

    Labrang Monastery in Xiahe
    Labrang Monastery

  5. After breakfast, start your Zhangye exploration with a visit to Zhangye Giant Buddha Temple. Having witnessed the vicissitudes of different dynasties for over 900 years, the Giant Buddha Temple got its name for the gigantic sleeping Buddha statue of Sakyamuni which is in the largest scale in Asia. It draws a lot of travelers for the impressive woodcarvings, wall paintings, statues and the brilliant Buddha culture.

    Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye
    Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye

    Then, move on to Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, a natural masterpiece which was rated as one of the “10 Wonders of Nature in the World” by National Geographic News in 2011. You will head to the Rainbow Mountain Scenic Area to marvel at the “Color Palette Overturned by God”. It is breathtaking to see layers of bright colors stretching among the rolling mountains.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Zhangye

    Zhangye Rainbow Mountains
    Zhangye Rainbow Mountains

  6. In the morning, drive around 2.5 hours to visit Jiayuguan Pass, the westernmost of the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644 A.D.) Great Wall. Entitled the “First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven”, “the Throat of Hexi Corridor”, the pass is constructed as a vital military fortress on the Silk Road with towers, outer and inner city walls and other military buildings. There are walkways allowing both people and horses to walk up the top of the walls.

    To know more interesting facts about the Great Wall, you can walk into the Great Wall Museum for an educational exploration. The collection of old photos, relics and the large-scaled oil painting of the Great Wall will bring you a sketch of the glory past of the fortress.

    Next stop is the Wei-Jin Tombs which are 18 km from Jiayuguan City. It is actually a complex of over 1000 tombs dating from Wei and Jin Dynasties (220-419) (currently only part of the tombs are open to the public). The tombs appear in a layout similar to normal houses, including courtyard, living room and bedroom. Being praised as the “largest underground gallery in the world”, the numerous vivid wall paintings are a highlight of the tombs, showcasing people’s daily life thousands of years ago.

    Then, drive to your hotel in Jiayuguan.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Jiayuguan

    Jiayuguan Pass in Dunhuang
    Jiayuguan Pass

  7. After breakfast at your hotel, drive around 5 hours to another hub on the ancient Silk Road - Dunhuang. After the hottest hours of the day, you will head to the Crescent Spring and Echoing Sand Mountain - a desert oasis surrounded by sand dunes. You can ride a camel (at your own expense) around the Echo Sand Mountain, just like the caravans ride through the ancient Silk Road thousands of years ago. At the foot of the sand dunes lies the crescent-shaped lake where the crystal water and surrounding green vegetation bring much vitality and excitement to the bare desert.

    Good to know: Besides camel riding, more desert activities are available here, including sand skiing, motor cycling, etc. You can pay on your own if you want to try.

    Spend the rest time at Shazhou Night Market before heading to your hotel. Full of delicious snacks, groceries, souvenirs and local people, it is the place to experience authentic Dunhuang flavor.

    Accommodation: Overnight in Dunhuang

    Dunhuang Echoing Sand Mountain
    Echoing Sand Mountain

  8. Today you will explore the famous Mogao Grottoes (aka the Thousand Buddha Grottoes). You will be first guided to the Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center to appreciate two movies depicting history, arts, and interesting facts about the Mogao Grottoes. Then a shuttle bus will take you to the cave area where you will be shocked by the 492 grottoes housing about 45000 square meters of mural paintings and over 2000 colorfully painted statues. The caves are carved out in different dynasties with diverse features.

    In the afternoon, your driver will transfer you the Dunhuang Airport for the departure flight. Your 8 days Silk Road tour from Xian to Dunhuang ends here.

    Accommodation: N/A

    Murals in Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes
    Murals in Dunhuang Mogao 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

  • 7 nights’ accommodation in centrally located hotels with daily breakfast
  • Xian-Lanzhou, Lanzhou-Zhangye, Zhangye-Jiayuguan, Jiayuguan-Dunhuang high-speed train ( second class seat )
  • 8 Chinese-style lunches as listed in the itinerary
  • Excellent English-speaking guides
  • All private transfers in air-conditioned vehicles with licensed drivers
  • Entrance tickets as listed in the itinerary
  • Travel Agency Liability Insurance during the tour
  • Government taxes and travel insurance

Price excludes

  • China Visas/flights
  • Any dinner
  • Any optional activity/battery car/shuttle bus/boat cruise/camel ride inside the attractions
  • Any item beyond “Price Includes”
  • Gratuities to guide and driver (recommended if you are satisfied with their services)
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