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8 Days Xinjiang Silk Road Highlights

Destinations:Dunhuabng, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar

from: US$1150
Tour Code: CITA-SD-01
Summary: We will take you on a tour of the mysterious and fascinating historical Silk Road in China. You will visit the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, and the historical Turpan, an oasis in the Gobi Desert. You will learn about the ancient Karez irrigation system using wells and underground canals, take a boat cruise in the Heavenly Lake on the Heavenly Mountain (Tianshan), be a guest in a Kazak yurt along the lakeshore, visit the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar, and enjoy the beautiful landscape of Karakul Lake along the Karakom highway.

Day 1

Shanghai /Beijing Dunhuang
Shazhou Night Market

Our nice guide will meet you at the airport, arrange to transfer you to the hotel and check you in.
We will then visit Dunhuang’s Shazhou Night Market, which is famous for its tasty snacks and local specialties. The night market is well managed and regulated. The market is 1 km long, with shops selling handicraft and souvenirs, as well as food stalls and fruit stands. During the fruit season, visitors can buy juicy fruits at very reasonable prices.

Day 2

Dunhuang  Turpan (by soft sleeper train)
Mogao Grottoes

Today we will be visiting the famous Mogao Grottoes, Echoing-Sand Mountain and the Crescent Moon Lake, and you can go camel riding. In the evening you will be taking an overnight train (soft sleeper, four berths in a compartment, air-conditioned) 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 3

Turpan 
Bezklik Grotto

Our guide will meet you at the train station, drive you to Turpan (about 40 minutes), and check you into the hotel. Today we will be visiting Astana Tombs, Flaming Mountain, Bezklik Grottoes, and a local Uygur Family in a vineyard.
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.
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.
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.

Day 4

TurpanUrumqi (190kms 2.5hrs driving)
Karez Irrigation System

In the morning we will be visiting Jiaohe Ruined City, Karez Irrigation System, and Sugong Minaret.
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.

Lunch will be in Turpan. After lunch you will travel back to Urumqi. After checking into the hotel in Urumqi, you will visit Erdaoqiao & International Bazaar.
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 5

Urumqi  Kashgar
Heavenly Lake

Today we will be visiting the Xinjiang Museum, the Heavenly Lake, and we will take a boat cruise on the lake.
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”.

In the evening around 5pm you will be taking a flight to Kashgar. We will check you into the hotel upon your arrival in Kashgar.

Day 6

KashgarKarakul Lake (200kms 3 hrs driving)
Karakul Lake

In the morning, after breakfast, we will be taking a drive on the China-Pakistan highway, known as Karakorum Highway, to visit the Karakul Lake and enjoy the Pamir landscape.

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 7

Kashgar
Sunday Bazaar

Today we will be visiting the Sunday Bazaar, Id Kah Mosque, Old Town, Apak Hoja Tomb, and Handicraft Street.

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.
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. 
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.
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  Your destination

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to take your flight to your destination.



Travel in party of Superior Class
★★★★★
Deluxe Class
★★★★
Tourist Class
★★★
2-5 persons $1470  $ 1320 $1150
6-9 persons $1148 $ 998 $ 889
10 persons & above $980 $ 826 $ 718
Single room Supplement $480 $ 325 $ 206




Service included:

√ Entrance fees
√ Meals as listed in the itinerary, B=breakfast; L=lunch ;
√ Personal Guide & Driver + Private car / van for Private Transfers & sightseeing
√ Hotels with breakfast(twin share bases) as listed in the itinerary .
√ Domestic flights or trains as listed in the itinerary
   (Train: Dunhuang to Turpan soft sleeper)
√ Service Charge & Government Taxes .
√ Luggage Transfers between airports and hotels
√ Goverment letter for visa support

Service excluded:

* International flights
* Airfare from Urumqi to kashgar (160usd/pax)
* Lunches and dinners through out the itinerary
* Breakfast on the train
* All the personal expenses and gratitues to the guide and driver. (guide: 20usd/day,
   driver:15usd/day)

Contact Center

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