Traveling Silk Road is a journey through history that is very much alive today !

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15 Days Silk Road in-depth

Destinations:Xian, Dunhuang, Urumqi, Kashgar, Aksu, Kuqa, Korla, Turpan

from: US$1860
Tour Code: CITA-SR07
Summary: For more than a thousand years, the Silk Road had been an important path for cultural, commercial and technological exchange carried out by traders, merchants, pilgrims, missionaries, even soldiers between China and the west. The Silk Road had also helped to transform the ancient nomads into urban dwellers across a large part of the Asian continent. In this tour we will visit the various places that were important along the Silk Road, to appreciate its history, culture, as well as the customs of the peoples who had descended from those ancient dwellers along the Silk Road.

Day 1

Xi'an 

We will meet you at the airport, transfer you to the hotel and check you in. We will begin the tour the following day.
 

Day 2

Xi'an 
The Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses

After breakfast we will Visit the famous Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, the Bell Tower and the Wild Goose Pagoda.
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 Shi Huang's tomb from two thousand years ago. It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China. Emperor Qin Shi Huang ascended to the throne of Qin at the age of 13 in 246 BC. Under him, Qin conquered the other six warring states and became the first true emperor, or Shi Huang, of China.
The Bell Tower: This is the emblem of Xian city. It was used to keep time for the town and to sound alarms. This huge tower was originally built in the 14th century, and was relocated in 1739.
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 3

Xi'an  Dunhuang
City Wall

After breakfast we will visit Shaanxi History MuseumXian City Wall, and The Grand Mosque. After that you will take the flight to Dunhuang.
Shaanxi History Museum: This provincial museum is one of the major museums in China, and it holds numerous unearthed cultural artifacts from within the Shaanxi province as well as the rest of China.
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 4

Dunhuang 
The Terracotta Warriors

After breakfast we will visit the famous Mogao Grottoes .
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.
 

Day 5

Dunhuang  Urumqi
Crescent Lake

After breakfast we will visit Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake, after which you will be transferred to the railway station to catch the train to Urumqi.
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 6

Urumqi  Heavenly Lake
Erdaoqiao Market & International Bazaar

After breakfast we will visit Xinjiang Museum, and then from there we will head to the Heavenly Lake. After we return to Urumqi, we will visit Erdaoqiao Market & International Bazaar.
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.
Heavenly Lake: High up in the Heavenly Mountain, or Tianshan, the Heavenly Lake is a long and narrow gourd-shaped moraine lake, 3400 meters long, about 1500 meters wide, 105 meters at the deepest point, with an average depth of 40 meters, covering an area of about 5.9 square kilometers. There are eight beautiful scenic spots in the lake area. These are “A Ray of Stone Gate”, “Dragon's Pool and Green Moon”, “Magic Needle for Guarding the See”, “Three Stones Bearing the Sky”, “the Snowcapped Southern Mountain”, “Pine Billows in Western Mountain”, “the Hanging Waterfall”, and the “Sea Peak's Sunrise”.
Erdaoqiao & International Bazaar: 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 7

Urumqi  Kashgar
Handi craft street

After breakfast you will take the flight to Kashgar. Upon your arrival in Kashgar, we will visit Id Kah Mosque, Old Town, Handicraft street.
Id Kah Mosque: This is the largest mosque in China, and the most famous mosque in Xinjiang. The construction of the mosque started in the middle of the 15th century, and the mosque has gradually developed to its present size. The buildings of Id Kah Mosque look magnificent and solemn, and display the artistic styles of Islamic mosque architecture. The Mosque has an area of about 16,800 square meters, consisting of the Pray Hall, the Koran teaching Hall, the Corridor, the Arches and other buildings attaching to it. The Pray Hall of the mosque, which can hold 4,000 prayers, is supported by 140 carved wooden pillars.
Old Town: Kashgar is an ancient city, and in walking the streets of its Old Town, one gets the sense of what this legendary Central Asian hub was like in the days when the Silk Road was at its zenith. 500-year old remnants of the city wall, narrow lanes and colorful multi-ethnic crowds combine to make Kashgar’s historic district a highlight of any visit to the city. Visit the small alleys to look at the characteristic Uygur residences. You will experience and enjoy the culture and history that has been retained in the small alleys and deep courtyards. In the alleys on platforms beside the residence you could marvel at the even more ancient primitive workshops for hand-made earthenware. Some 17 or 18 antique workshops have been restored.
Handicraft Street: Handicraft Street, or Zhiren Street, is a fascinating place showing the distinctive custom and culture of Kashgar, with many full-time handicraftsmen working on the street and hundreds of workshops and booths alongside. This street is an exhibition for traditional Kashgar and mid-Asian handicrafts. Copper, metal, porcelain, woodwork, jewellery and other goods are seen to be made here and you will marvel at the incredible devices like the wooden objects that prevent babies from wetting the bed.

Day 8

Kashgar   Taxkorgan county
Karakul Lake

After breakfast we will drive on the China and Pakistan highway, known as Karakorum Highway, to visit the Karakul Lake.
Karakorum Highway: The Karakorum Highway, or China-Pakistan Friendship Highway, is more than 1200 km long. It was opened to the public in 1979. Due to its high elevation (more than 4700m at its highest point) and the difficult conditions in which it was constructed, it is often called the 8th Wonder of the World. The Karakorum Highway traces one of the ancient Silk Roads. The Silk Road merchants then had to climb through the Wakhan Corridor, north of the high mountains of Karakorum and Hindu Kush, to get to India, Pakistan and onward to Iran. While you are on the Karakorum Highway, you can enjoy the scenery of Mt. Muztagh, and Taxkorgan, which in Persian language means stone castle. The brave Tajiks people had lived their nomadic life in Taxkorgan on the Pamir Plateau for more than 2000 years.
Karakul Lake: At an altitude of 3600m, this is the highest lake of the Pamir plateau, near the junction of the Pamir, Tianshan (Heavenly Mountain), and Kunlun Mountain ranges. Surrounded by mountains which remain snow-covered throughout the year, the three highest peaks visible from the lake are the Muztag Ata (7546m), Konur Tagh (7649m) and Kongur Tiube (7530m). The lake is popular among travelers for its beautiful scenery and the clarity of its reflection in the water, whose color ranges from a dark green to azure and light blue. There are two Kirgiz settlements along the shore of Karakul Lake, a number of yurts about 1 km east of the bus drop-off point and a village with stone houses located on the western shores.
 

Day 9

Taxkorgan county  Kashgar
The Terracotta Warriors

After breakfast we will visit the Stone fortress, and then return to Kashgar.
Stone fortress: Located on a tableland northeast of the county seat of Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, it covers an area of 100,000 square meters and consists of ruins of city and temple of the Tang Dynasty era and a Qing Dynasty government office. The temple occupied the eastern part of the city. In the western and southeastern parts are found ruined houses. On the ruins of the temple the Pulitin Office of the Qing Dynasty was built. The city is oval in shape, and the city walls were built with sun-dried bricks on stone foundation. It is 1285 meters in circumference outside. 

Day 10

Kashgar  Aksu
Apak Hoja Tomb

After breakfast we will visit the Sunday bazaar and Apak Hoja Tomb and then head to Aksu.
Sunday Bazaar: This is called “Sunday” bazaar but it is open daily, even though it is busiest on Sundays. Streets near this big market are jammed with farmers and buyers arriving by donkey cart, truck, bicycle, horseback, ute, motobike, or on foot, with their animals. It is loud, lively and cheerful as they arrive, eat breakfast, set up their animals and check out the action. Cattle, sheep (they definitely look different), goats, donkeys, horses have their own sections. Sellers show off their animals as “good eaters” (most go as livestock, not meat). The entire experience is fascinating and fun.
Apakh Hoja Tomb: This Mazar is the holiest place in Xinjiang for the Muslims, and an architectural treasure. Built in 1640, it is reminiscent of the Central Asian artistic style of Samarkand or Isfahan. The site is also known as the Xiang Fei (Fragrant Concubine) Tomb in memory of Abakh Khoja's granddaughter, Iparhan, who was the Fragrant Concubine of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty. A handsome blue-and-white tiled gate leads into the compound, which includes a small religious school and the Abakh Khoja family tomb. The latter is domed and faced with muti-color tiles. It is the most complete Islamic tomb dating from the beginning of the Qing Dynasty.
 

Day 11

Aksu   Kuqa
Great Tianshan Canyon

After breakfast we will drive to Kuqa, and visit Kizil Grottoes, Great Tianshan Canyon.
Kizil Grottoes: Kizil Grottoes (Kizil being spelled variously as Qizil or Qyzyl) are a set of Buddhist rock-cut caves located near Kizil Township in Baicheng County, Xinjiang. The site is located on the northern bank of the Muzat River 75 km by road west of Kucha. This area was once a commercial hub of the Silk Road. The caves are said to be the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in China, with development occurring between the 3rd and 8th centuries. The contents of the cave paintings are very rich, including jataka stories, Buddha’s life story and the stories about karma. The Kizil Caves complex is the largest of the ancient Buddhist cave sites that are associated with the ancient Tocharian kingdom of Kucha, as well as the largest in Xinjiang.
Great Tianshan Canyon: Known as the most stunning Canyon in China, five thousand meters in total length, and two hundred meters in average depth, this great canyon was once the ancient river course for Kucha River. It would be a real treat for us visitors to take a half-hour walk in the great canyon to experience the gorgeous scenery.

Day 12

Kuqa  Korla
Iron Gate Barrier

After breakfast we will visit the Subashi Ruins and Kuqa Old Town, and then we will drive to Korla and visit the Iron Gate Barrier.
Subashi Ruins: Located 23 kilometers northwest of Kuqa County, Xinjiang Province are the ruins of the Subashi Temple. The Ruins are divided by Kuqa River into eastern and western areas. These large area ruins reflect the temple's past brilliance. Subashi Temple was a Buddhism temple, which was built in the first century and reached its peak during the sixth to the eighth centuries in the Sui and Tang dynasties. In the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), the hierarch Xuanzang was attracted by the splendor of the temple and the popularity of Buddhism in this area, and stayed here for more than 2 months on his way to India to get Buddhist sutra.
Iron Gate Barrier: Occupying a strategic position at the mouth of a precipitous gorge on the Konqi River in the north of Korla, the barrier was such a point that one must pass through before coming into the Tarim Basin from the north. According to textual research, it was set up in Jin Dynasty. Because it is situated in a strategic point and difficult to access, the barrier is vividly called “Iron Gate Barrier”.

Day 13

Korla  Turpan
Bezklik Grottoes

After breakfast we will head to Turpan. On arrival we will visit Bezklik GrottoesAstana TombsTuyoq Valley.
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.
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.
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.

Day 14

Turpan  Urumqi
Karez Irrigation system

In the morning we will visit Jiaohe Ruined cityKarez Irrigation system, and Sugong Minaret. After lunch we will return to Urumqi.
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.
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.
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.

Day 15

Urumqi  your destination

After breakfast you will check out the hotel and take the flight to you destination.

 

Travel in party of Superior Class
★★★★★
Deluxe Class
★★★★
Tourist Class
★★★
2-5 persons N $ 3171 $ 2955
6-9 persons N $ 2413 $ 2196
10 persons & above N $ 2078 $ 1861
Single room Supplement N $550 $ 389

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): Dunhuang to Turpan
    Flights with tax:: Xi'an to Dunhuang. Urumqi to Kashgar
√  Service Charge & Government Taxes .
√  Luggage Transfers between airports and hotels
√  Government letter for visa support

Service excluded:

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