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14 Days Silk Road Culture Exploration

Destinations:Beijing, Datong, Pingyao, Xian, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi Tour

from: US$1690
Tour Code: CITA-SR03
Summary: This tour will take you to the mysterious and fascinating ancient Silk Road in China, as well as the Great Wall in Beijing, the unbelievable hanging Monastery in Datong, the delightful Pingyao Ancient City, and the awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an.

Day 1

Beijing

You will arrange for you international flight to Beijing. Our guide will meet you at the airport, transfer you to your hotel and check you in. You will have the rest of the day free to do a little exploration at your leisure.

Day 2

Beijing
Tiananmen Square

After breakfast we will start with a visit to the Temple of Heaven. You will see local people practicing Tai Chi, as well as singing and practising calligraphy in the neighboring park. Then we will take a leisurely walk through Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City, enjoy the panoramic view of Forbidden City from Jingshan Hill. You will be able to enjoy a Peking Duck Dinner, before a fantastic Kungfu Show.
Tiananmen Square: Located at the centre of Beijing, Tiananmen, or the Gate of Heavenly Peace, is the largest city public square in the world. It was originally built in 1651 and in the 1950s it was enlarged to its current size, four times the original. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of a number of important events in the Chinese history, including the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
Forbidden City: Located in the middle of Beijing, Forbidden City was the Chinese royal palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, with a history of around 600 years. Also called Palace Museum, the Forbidden City is recognized as the most magnificent and splendid palace complex in China and one of the five world-famous palaces, along with the Palace of Versailles in France, Buckingham Palace in England, the White House in United States, and the Kremlin in Russia.
The Temple of Heaven: Temple of Heaven, or Tiantan, is located in the southern part of Beijing, and has been one of the most sacred places for the whole country for more than five centuries. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to heaven, and is the largest one in Beijing among several royal altars to Heaven, Earth, Sun, Moon and other deities or symbolic forces of Nature.
 

Day 3

Beijing
The Great Wall

In the morning we will visit the Great Wall and Ming Tomb. After that we will explore the Beijing alleyways - "Hutong" by riding on a rickshaw to catch close-up glimpses of traditional local life.
The Great Wall: This is one of the seven wonders of the world and the symbol of China. Badaling Great Wall, located 80km north-west of Beijing, is the most impressive and the most visited section of the Great Wall of China. Constructed in 1502 during the Ming Dynasty, the Badaling Great Wall once served as an important military fortification. Many leaders from China and around the world, like Richard Nixon, Margaret Thatcher, had all visited this section of the wall.
The Ming Tombs: Also known as the “13 Tombs”, this is a collection of mausoleums of the 13 out of 17 of the Ming Dynasty emperors. The tomb that can be visited is that of Emperor Wanli, who reigned from 1537 to 1620, and his two empresses. Unearthed in 1956, this is literally an underground palace located 27m below ground surface.
 

Day 4

Beijing
Bird's Nest National Stadium

We will take a photo stop at the 2008 Olympic Site to see the Bird's Nest National Stadium and Water Cube Aquatic Centre, then explore the Summer Place - a former imperial summer resort.
Bird's Nest National Stadium: The National Stadium, affectionately known as Bird's Nest due to its nest-like appearance, is situated in the Olympic Green Village, in the northern Chaoyang District of Beijing. It was designed as the main stadium of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The Olympic events of track and field, football, javelin, hammer-throw and discus were held there. 
Water Cube Aquatic Centre: Located on the west side of Landscape Avenue in the Olympic Green and to the west of Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest), the National Aquatics Center houses the official 2008 Olympics swimming facility. It measures 177 meters long, 177meters wide, and 30 meters high and covers an area of 62,950 square-meters. It has four floors: one at street level, two above, and one below ground.
Summer Palace: Situated in the Haidian District northwest of Beijing City, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers from central Beijing. Being the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China, it has greatly influenced Chinese horticulture and landscape with its famous natural views and cultural interests. It has long since been recognized as 'The Museum of Royal Gardens'.
 

Day 5

Beijing  Datong
Yungang Caves

We will take the morning train ride to the ancient city of Datong. We will visit Yungang Caves, where we will see amazing Buddhist carving craftsmanship from thumb-sized figurines to a 12m Buddhist statues, and then visit the 1500-year-old Hanging Monastery with its halls and pavilions built along the natural contours of the cliff.
Yungang Caves: This is one of the three major ancient Buddhist Temple sculptural cave clusters in China, punctuating the north cliff of Wuzhou Mountain, Datong. The area was excavated along the mountain, extending 1 km from east to west, revealing 53 caves and over 51,000 stone statues. The Caves are divided into east, middle, and west parts. Pagodas dominate the eastern parts; west caves are small and mid-sized with niches.
Hanging Monastery: The Hanging Monastery stands at the foot of Hengshan Mountain, 5 kilometers south of Hunyuan County, and 65 kilometers from downtown Datong City. Since it hangs on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge more than 50 meters above the ground, it is known as Hanging Monastery. Hanging Monastery was built in 491, and has survived more than 1400 years.
 

Day 6

Datong  Pingyao  Xi'an
Qiao Family Courtyard House

After breakfast we will head to the World Heritage site, the ancient town of Pingyao, where we will see the city surrounded by Ming City Walls. Pingyao was China's banking centre and has many mansions, courtyard house, temples, museums and historic shops. We will stroll from Ming Qing Street to Town Tower, Armed Escort Company Museum and the Temple of the City God. We will also visit the Qiao Family Courtyard House, where the movie "Raise the Red Lantern" was filmed. We will take an overnight soft sleeper train from Pingyao to Xi'an.
City Wall: Pingyao is one of the four wholly-protected ancient cities in China. The Pingyao Ancient City is thought of as, and is quite literally, the 'treasure house' of ancient Chinese architectures. The other three protected ancient cities are Langzhong Ancient City, Shexian County and the Old Town of Lijiang.
Temple of the City God: The Pingyao Temple of City God is one of the best-preserved temples in China. It is located in the southeast of Pingyao City. The whole construction is of a grand scale, and covers an area of 7,302 square meters. The temple has a long history and has been renovated several times. Built facing the south, the temple looks truly magnificent.
Qiao Family Courtyard House: The prosperity of the Qiao Family originated with Qiao Guifa who was an orphan and made a living as a servant during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1711 - 1799) during the Qing Dynasty. He first started a business when he met his business partner, Qin. Initially, they sold fodder, bean sprout and bean curd. Several years later, they had become very wealthy.
 

Day 7

Xi'an
Xi'an Old Mosque-Prayer

In the morning you will arrive in Xi'an, and you will be met and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon we will stroll on the original City Wall, and you will have the opportunity to cycle on this ancient wall. After that we will explore the Grand Mosque and Old Muslim Quarter.
The Ancient City Wall: This is an extension of the old Tang Dynasty structure boasting the most complete city wall that has survived through the long Chinese history. The City Wall has corner towers, ramparts, sentry towers, gate towers, battlements and a number of city defensive fortifications with very strong defense capability.
Grand Mosque (and Old Muslim Quarter): The Grand Mosque is a Chinese traditional Alhambresque architecture with a long history and grand scale, and is a great combination of Islamic and Chinese culture. It was recorded that it was established in the first year of the Tian Bao reign by the Tang Dynasty Emperor Li Lung Ji (685AD-762AD). After renovations and expansions on several occasions in the Song, Yuan and especially the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it gradually took on the current appearance. The Grand Mosque and the Muslim Quarter are now an important cultural preservation of Shanxi Province and a national-level historical/cultural preservation site.
 

Day 8

Xi'an
The Terracotta Warriors

After breakfast we will visit the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses - where7000 individually crafted clay soldiers stand on guard. Then continue to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda built to house Buddhist scriptures collected by a Chinese Monk, where you can see a variety of buddha statues.
The Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses: This is one of the greatest archaeological findings of the 20th century - the army of terra-cotta warriors and the bronze chariots entombed in vast underground vaults at emperor Qin's tomb from two thousand years ago.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda: The Big Goose Pagoda is where the renowned Buddhist Master Xuanzang (Monk Tripitaka) stored his classics brought back all the way from India. The pagoda is one of the oldest structures in China. Originally it consisted of a brick structure of five storeys and was about 60 meters high. It was first built in 589AD during the Sui Dynasty. Between 701AD and 704AD during the reign of the Empress Wu Zetian five more storeys were added to the pagoda making it ten in all.
 

Day 9

Xi'an  Jiayuguan
The Jiayuguan Pass

After breakfast you will take the flight to Jiayuguan. After your arrival in Jiayuguan, we will visit the Jiayuguan PassThe Great Wall on the Cliff, and the Great Wall Museum.
Jiayuguan Pass: Jiayuguan Pass stands in the southwest part of Jiayuguan City, about 6 km away from downtown. Construction of the castle was started in 1372 in the Ming Dynasty, and is located in the Jiayu Highland, hence its name Jiayuguan Pass. It is situated between the Wenshu and Heishan Mountains at the foot of Jiayuguan Hill of the Qilian Mountain range.
The Great Wall on the Cliff: The Suspended Wall is a part of the Great Wall of China. The wall here was built on the ridge with a gradient of 45 degrees. It is high in the air and it looks as if it fell down from the top of the hill. So people refer to this section of the Great Wall as the "Suspended Wall". The Suspended Wall, the extension of the walls at the Jiayuguan Pass towards the north, was an integral part of the ancient defense system at the Jiayuguan Pass.
Great Wall Museum: The Great Wall museum opened to visitors in October 1989, and it is the first museum to exhibit the Great Wall culture in a comprehensive and systematic way. The Museum covers an area of 12,312 square meters with an exhibition area of about 1,766 square meters. Its main building takes a shape of a typical signal fire tower on the Great Wall.
 

Day 10

Jiayuguan  Dunhuang
Yulin Grottoes

After breakfast we will head to Dunhuang, and visit the Yulin Grottoes on the way.
Yulin Grottoes: The Yulin Grottoes lie 70 km to the south of Anxi County, Gansu Province. The Grottoes are chiseled into the cliffs on both the east and west sides of the Yulin River. The east cliff has 30 grottoes and the west has 11, with a distance of more than 100 meters between them. It used to be called Ten-Thousand Buddha Gorge. The grottoes began to be chiseled and sculpted during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), and was enlarged in the later dynasties, such as Tang (618-907), Five Dynasties (907-960), Song (960-1279), the Western Xia (1038-1227), Yuan (1271-1368) and so on. More than 1,000 square meters of frescoes, and more than 100 colored sculptures are still extant there.
 

Day 11

Dunhuang  Turpan 
Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake

After breakfast we will visit the world-famous Mogao Grottoes as well as the Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake. You will then be transferred to the railway station to catch the train to Turpan.
Mogao Grottoes: The Mogao Grottoes, a shrine of Buddhist art treasures, is 25 km from downtown Dunhuang on the eastern slope of Mingsha Shan (Echoing Sand Mountain). A network of plank-reinforced roads plying north to south 1600 meters long lead to the cave openings, which are stacked five stories high, some reaching up to 50 meters. Incidentally, Mogao means high up in the desert. According to Tang Dynasty records, a monk had witnessed onsite a vision of thousand Buddhas under showers of golden rays. Thus inspired, he started the caves construction work that spanned a millennium, from the 4th to the 14th centuries. What remains today is truly awe inspiring, and is likely the world’s richest treasure house of Buddhist sutras, murals and sculptures. Please note that cameras are not allowed inside the grottoes.
Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake: Together with the Crescent Spring and the Mogao Caves, the Echoing-Sand Mountain is the most popular tourist site in Dunhuang. Echoing-Sand Mountain, known as Mingsha Mountain to the Chinese, is 5 km to the south of Dunhuang and is famous for the constant sound of the moving sand. Legend has it that many years ago a horrific battle was fought here, and the sounds we hear today were the haunting cries of soldiers buried in the sand dunes. Situated within the Echoing-Sand Mountain Park, the Crescent Moon Lake is literally an oasis in the desert. The lake’s name derives from the crescent moon shape taken by the pool of spring water between two large sand dunes. Although the surrounding area is very dry, the pool surprisingly doesn’t dry up as one might expect.
 

Day 12

Turpan
Jiaohe Ruins

After checking into the hotel, we will visit the Jiaohe Ancient City, Bezklik GrottoesTuyoq Valley and The Flaming Mountain.
Jiaohe Ancient City Ruins: The city's name means 'River City'. It was founded during the first century BC and abandoned during the 15th century. It is located atop a steep cliff on a leaf-shaped plateau between two deep river valleys in the Yarnaz valley 10 km to the west of Turpan City. It runs northwest to southeast, 1760 meters long and 300 meters across at the widest part. The ruins include city gates, streets and lanes, government office, temples, domestic houses, cave houses, wells, and an underground temple. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Silk Road Sites.
Bezeklik Grottoes: The Bezeklik Grottoes, or Thousand Buddha Caves, is a complex of Buddhist cave grottos dating from the 5th to 14th century between the cities of Turpan and Shanshan at the north-east of the Taklamakan Desert near the ancient ruins of Gaochang in the Mutou Valley. They are high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountains, and most of the surviving caves date from the West Uyghur kingdom around the 10th to 13th centuries. There are 77 rock-cut caves at the site. Most have rectangular spaces with rounded arch ceilings often divided into four sections, each with a mural of the Buddha. The effect is of entire ceiling covers with hundreds of Buddha murals. Some murals show a large Buddha surrounded by other figures, including Turks, Indians and Europeans. Some of the murals are masterpieces of religious art.
Tuyoq Valley: This is a 12 km long primitive Uighur agricultural valley about 70 km from Turpan, with vineyards and fields in the northern and southern valleys and a narrow ravine that connects them. It is a Muslim religious pilgrimage site. The southern mouth of the valley has big Uighur mosques older than the Sugong Minaret and a cave thought by many to be described in the Koran. About a kilometer from the cave shrine is a group of grottoes that have some Buddhist and Nestorian artwork. These grottoes are said to date from the West Jin Dynasty (265AD-316AD), and are considered to be the earliest in Turpan. Most of the murals are damaged. Fortunately, 10 of the grottoes still have some of the preserved murals. These precious murals are very unique in style.
The Flaming Mountain: The Flaming Mountain is famously described in the classic Chinese mythological novel “Journey to the West”. It runs west from Shanshan County, is 98 km in length and 9 km across, with a relative height of 500 meters and the highest peak at 832 meters. The mountain is a branch range of the Bogda Mountain, formed in the orogenic movements of the Himalayas. This is the hottest place in China. The highest air temperature in summer is 47.8 degrees Centigrade, and the ground is over 70 degrees Centigrade in summer. Many years of volcanic activity have formed the unique crisscrossing gullies and ravines. During mid-afternoon the heat becomes intense as the sun's rays are reflected off the red rocks, as though the hillsides are engulfed by tongues of fire, hence the name.
 

Day 13

Turpan  Urumqi
Karez Irrigation System,

After breakfast we will visit the ancient Karez Irrigation System, Astana Tombs, Sugong Minaret, and then return to Urumqi, where we will visit the Xinjiang International Bazaar.
Karez Irrigation System: The ancient Karez Irrigation System, which is still used today, is a unique irrigation system in Turpan. It takes advantage of the slopes, draws the underground water to flow by itself to irrigate farmland. It consists of four parts: vertical wells, underground channels, ground canals, and small reservoirs.
Astana Tombs: This is the graveyard of the residents who lived in the Gaochang City in the Jin-Tang period. Between 1959 and 1975, a great number of cultural relics had been unearthed, including Chinese documents, textiles, epitaphs, coins, clay sculptures, pottery, wooden wares, silk-paintings, crops and foods, etc. The site is known as the Underground Museum. 
Sugong Minaret: Located in Mura Village 2km to the east of the city of Turpan, the minaret tower was built in the 41st year of the long reign of Qianlong Emperor during the Qing Dynasty. It is the embodiment of the ancient architectural arts of the Uighur people. The body of the tower is cylindroid in shape, built with bricks arranged in various symmetrical patterns on the outer wall. The tower has 14 windows and a spiral staircase inside going to the top.
Xinjiang International Bazaar (in Urumqi): Here you will find a bustling market filled with fruits, clothing, crafts, knives, carpets, and almost anything that you can imagine. This is the largest bazaar in Urumqi, and is a place most welcomed by tourists, especially the ladies who will find they can buy some traditional Yugur cosmetics. On Sunday, there are more stalls and more goods to buy than any other day. The old streets around the bazaar are particularly worth seeing.

Day 14

Urumqi  Your destination
Xinjiang Museum

After breakfast we will visit Xinjiang Museum. After that you will be transferred to the airport to take the flight to your destination.
Xinjiang Museum: The Xinjiang Regional Museum is a large integrated museum and a centre for the collection and study of cultural relics in Xinjiang.  The museum was built in 1953, featuring Uighur ethnic internal decor style and has an exhibition hall covering an area of about 7,800 square meters. There are more than 50,000 pieces of various kinds of cultural relics stored in the museum, among them are the ancient mummies represented by the “Loulan Beauty”, manuscripts in Chinese, Karosthi, Qiuci, Yanji, Tibetan, Uighurian and other characters prevailing in ancient western regions of China, as well as silk, wool, cotton and hemp fabrics and folk raiment, etc., all items of great intrigue. The 'Loulan beauty' mummy in particular is a well preserved mummy from 4000 years ago. It still has a reddish brown skin, thick eyelashes, charming large eyes, and long hair.
 

 

Travel in party of Superior Class
★★★★★
Deluxe Class
★★★★
Tourist Class
★★★
2-5 persons $ 2816 $ 2541 $ 2266
6-9 persons $ 2376 $ 2101 $ 1826
10 persons & above $ 2190 $ 1906 $ 1690
Single room Supplement $ 833 $ 640 $ 366

Service included:

√ Entrance fees
√ Breakfast in the hotel
√ Personal Guide & Driver + Private car / van for Private Transfers & sightseeing
√ Hotels (twin share bases) as listed in the itinerary .
√ Domestic flights or trains as listed in the itinerary
   Train (soft sleeper): Beijing to Datong.  Pingyao to Xi'an, Dunhuang to Turpan
   Flights with tax:: Xi'an to Jianyuguan
√ Service Charge & Government Taxes .
√ Luggage Transfers between airports and hotels
√ Government letter for visa support

Service excluded:

* All the lunches and dinners
* Personal expenses. such as laudentry and tips to the guide and driver
* other activities such as boating, camel riding ect
Contact Center

86+991-2699399

xinjiangtravel@hotmail.com
silkroadtrip@hotmail.com

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