Silk Road desert and camel
Home China Tour China Group Tours 8 Days China Silk Road Tour of Qinghai & Gansu

Tour Overview

Explore the ancient Silk Road on this 8-day journey, beginning in Xining. Witness the surreal beauty of Chaka Lake and Qinghai Lake, breathing in the fresh air of paradise. Discover Tibetan spirituality at Ta’er Monastery, marvel at the Grand Buddha in Zhangye, and hike the captivating Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon. Experience the vibrant hues of Rainbow Mountains and the historical wonders of Jiayuguan Pass. Immerse yourself in Dunhuang’s rich culture, from the Mogao Grottoes to the echoing dunes of Crescent Spring.

Highlights of this tour:

1. Capture Chaka Lake’s ethereal beauty: Reflecting the sky, clouds, and vibrant surroundings, create stunning memories at the “Mirror of the Sky” in Chaka.
2. Embrace tranquility at Qinghai Lake: Breathe in fresh air, bask in warm sunshine, and savor paradise at China’s largest saltwater lake.
3. Discover Tibetan spirituality at Ta’er Monastery: Immerse yourself in the sacred ambiance of one of Tibetan Buddhism’s renowned Gelug Sect monasteries.
4. Marvel at Zhangye’s Grand Buddha: Witness China’s largest indoor reclining Buddha, adorned in gold leaf, and explore vivid murals at Grand Buddha Temple.
5. Hike Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon: Navigate this Silk Road gem, witnessing unique landforms and encountering precious wildlife in a captivating natural setting.
6. Experience the Rainbow Mountains: Encounter the surreal beauty of Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, a geological masterpiece painted with vibrant hues over millions of years.
7. Step back in time at Jiayuguan Pass: Explore the historic fortress marking the western end of the Great Wall, offering panoramic views and ancient architectural marvels.
8. Immerse in Dunhuang’s cultural wonders: Admire Mogao Grottoes’ intricate Buddhist cave art and experience the surreal desert landscape at Crescent Spring and Echoing-Sand Mountain.

Day-by-day Itinerary

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  1. Please make your own way to Xining Caojiabao Airport (please arrive before 10:30 am to avoid waiting too long for other passengers at the airport).

    Upon arrival at Xining, the local guide and the driver will pick you up from the exit gate. After meeting all group members, we will drive around 4hrs to the amazing Chaka Salt Lake!

    Xining Chaka Salt Lake
    Our guests in Chaka Salt Lake

    Chaka Lake with the title of "Mirror of the Sky in China" rose to fame nationwide rapidly in recent years, attracting increasing travelers. The pure white congealing in the water makes the lake a huge mirror to reflect the shadows of white clouds, blue sky, hovering birds, and beautiful girls in bright-colored dress.

    Yes, what you must do at Chaka Lake is take beautiful pictures of the sky and people. Do remember to wear clothes of bright colors. In the afternoon, drive to Chaka town for the night.

    Meal: N/A

    Accommodation: in Chaka Town

  2. This morning drive around 2.5 hours to reach Qinghai Lake. Qinghai Lake is the largest saltwater lake in China, and there you may feel that the air is so fresh and the sunshine is so warm which is like paradise. There are groups of sheep and yaks, blue sky and white clouds, etc.

    Qinghai Lake
    Qinghai Lake

    The main scenic area you are going to visit is the Erlangjian Scenic Area, the most beautiful place in Qinghai Lake where you can enjoy the charming lake. There are boat cruises, horse riding, and bike riding available around the lake, and you can pay in cash on your own if you have interests (optional).

    After the relaxing sightseeing, drive back to Xining for the night.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Xining

  3. After breakfast, pay a visit to Ta'er Monastery, a significant Tibetan Buddhist monastery with a history dating back to the 16th century. Explore the monastery's impressive architecture, including temples, stupas, and prayer halls adorned with intricate artwork. Ta'er Monastery offers a serene retreat, allowing visitors to witness Tibetan Buddhist rituals and immerse themselves in the spiritual ambiance of this sacred site.

    Ta'er Monastery in Qinghai
    Ta'er Monastery

    After the visit, drive to Zhangye for the night.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Zhangye

  4. After breakfast, drive to Zhangye, on the way, you would have to visit the Grand Buddha Temple, which houses China's largest indoor reclining Buddha, the Nirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha. The figure is covered in gold leaf and painted in various colors to make it so vivid. When you walk behind the reclining Buddha, you will see beautiful murals.

    Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye
    Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye

    Later, you will head to the impressive Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon. As one of the magnificent grand canyons along the Silk Road, it is the best place where you can not only enjoy the special landform but also visit some precious animals and plants.

    Note: We will hike in the Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon for about 2-3 hours. It is not suggested for tourists with knee problems.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Zhangye

    Zhangye Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon
    Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon

  5. Today, continue your Silk Road journey to Matisi Grottoes, a mesmerizing complex of Buddhist caves and temples carved into the cliffs. Dating back to the Northern Wei Dynasty, these ancient grottoes showcase a fusion of Indian, Persian, and Central Asian artistic influences. You will marvel at well-preserved murals, intricate sculptures, and unique architectural features.

    Mati Temple
    Visit Mati Temple in Winter

    Later, go to the exciting Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park to visit The Rainbow Mountain Scenic Area, a geological marvel renowned for its vibrant and surreal landscape. The mountainsides showcase an array of colors, resembling a painter's palette, created by mineral deposits over millions of years. Explore the scenic beauty of the multicolored rock formations.

    Tonight, you will experience Mongolian yurt in Kaoshan Tent which is just near the Rainbow Mountains.

    Note: NO private bathroom in the tent, only public baths, and toilets.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Kaoshan Tent

    Danxia Geological National Park Rainbow Mountain
    Rainbow Mountain, Danxia Geological National Park

  6. In the morning, drive to Jiayuguan. After driving through the yellow sand of the desert, you will come to Jiayuguan Pass, a historic fortress marking the western end of the Great Wall. Visitors can explore the well-preserved walls, watchtowers, and the iconic Jiayuguan Fort, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

    Jiayuguan Pass
    Jiayuguan Pass

    The Overhanging Great Wall is a remarkable section of the Great Wall that clings to the edge of a steep cliff. Built during the Ming Dynasty, this awe-inspiring architectural marvel offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Dunhuang

  7. In the morning, you will head to the amazing Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site housing a vast collection of Buddhist cave art. Carved over a millennium, the grottoes contain exquisite murals and statues depicting Buddhist teachings. Visitors can explore the caves, marvel at the artistic masterpieces, and gain insights into ancient Silk Road culture. The site is a testament to the fusion of diverse artistic styles and the profound influence of Buddhism on the region's history and art.

    Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes
    Mogao Grottoes

    In the afternoon, when it's not too hot, go to Crescent Spring and Echoing Sand Mountain, a surreal desert landscape. The Crescent Spring, a pristine oasis, contrasts against the towering Echoing Sand Mountain. Visitors can ride camels, climb the dunes for panoramic views, and experience the phenomenon where the shifting sands create a sound akin to distant echoes. The harmony of the serene lake and the vast, echoing dunes offers a unique and enchanting experience in the heart of the Gobi Desert.

    Friendly tip: There are many entertainment activities available in the desert, like camel rides, sand buggy etc., if you are interested in trying, please pay on your own at the spot (optional).

    Dunhuang Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Spring
    Experience riding a camel

    Afterwards, come to Shazhou Night Market, a vibrant culinary and cultural hub. Open after sunset, it entices visitors with a kaleidoscope of local flavors, arts, and crafts. Tourists can indulge in a diverse array of street food, from savory skewers to traditional desserts. The market also features stalls selling local crafts, clothing, and souvenirs.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: in Dunhuang

    Dunhuang Shazhou Night Market
    Shazhou Night Market

  8. 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 to the airport for your departure flight.

    Note: No English tour guide service or any tour activity for today.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: N/A

Price Includes

  • 6 nights' accommodation in 4-star hotels & 1 night's Mongolian yurt with daily breakfast;
  • Meals listed in the itinerary;
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle with licensed drivers;
  • Excellent local English-speaking tour guides services as mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Entrance tickets as mentioned in the itinerary;
  • 1 bottle of mineral water per person per day;
  • China Travel Insurance.

Price Excludes

  • Flight/train tickets to Xining / off Dunhuang;
  • Any optional activities inside the attractions, like camel rides;
  • Any item not mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Single Room Supplement;
  • All kinds of gratuities for guides, drivers & others.
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