Popular Travel destinations along the Silk Road
What to visit?
There are many beautiful natural landscapes and historical sites along the silk road and it's time to pick some destinations and start our journey!
Xi'an: The Starting Point of the Silk Road
As the Starting Point of the Silk Road, it was once the imperial capital of 13 ancient dynasties, Xi'an is the best witness of China's long history and time-honoured cultures. The city presents the unique amalgamation of stunningly ancient and modern architectures, allowing tourists from all over the world to dive into the richness and distinctiveness of its cultural heritage.
Being the capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Xi'an is participating in China's 72-hour visa-free transit policy to foreigners. Visiting the city is like reading a living history book, so don’t miss out the chance to "get lost" in the mind-blowing time warp in Xi'an.
Ancient City Wall: Listen to the echo of history
The natives always say the journey to Xi'an is not complete without visiting the Ancient City Wall, which has been stretched round to guard the inner city since the 13th century. Even nowadays, the massive, ancient City Wall is still strong and solid. It is the best-preserved city wall in China, and also one of the oldest intact military fortifications in the world.
Xi'an City Wall stretches almost 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) in length. The best way to see the entire wall might be cycling. Rental bikes are available around. If you are at a leisurely pace, biking the entirety takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Keep your eyes open for the spectacular gates, ramparts, and a deep moat surrounding the wall.
Terracotta Warriors: Magnificent archaeological site
Neighbouring province of Gansu province is Shaanxi to the east. Xi'an, the capital city in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, climbed up to No. 7 on the ranking list.
The diverse heritage in Xi'an is supreme, particularly with the highlight of Terracotta Warriors, which is a collection of thousands of terracotta sculptures depicting the army of Qin Shi Huang (China's first emperor). These detailed life-size models were delicately painted, which are considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, and one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century.
Gansu: Silk Road tour with a rich history in Buddhist art
Gansu is one of the cradles for Chinese time-honoured cultures. With a population of 26.7 million, including ethnic minority groups, this city has developed a unique community with its richness and distinctiveness in culture.
Gansu is synonymous with the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes, formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, and linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce.
The history of world-class Buddhist art has been deeply rooted in Gansu. In ancient times, the city of Dunhuang was the oasis surrounded by high mountains, deserts and served as a rest stop for traders as the gateway to enter China through the Silk Road. The world-famous Mogao Grottos is considered as the largest and most well-preserved Buddhist art palace and collections in the world.
The Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang is considered one of the most important collections of Buddhist art in the world. It is a complex of 492 grottoes adorned with Buddhist statuary and frescoes, created between the 4th and 14th centuries. At its zenith during the Tang Dynasty, the site housed 18 monasteries, more than 1,400 monks and nuns, and countless artists, translators, and calligraphers.
Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Moon Spring:
Six kilometres south of Dunhuang at Singing Sands Dune, the desert meets the oasis in the most spectacular view. From the sheer scale of the dunes, it's easy to see how Dunhuang gained its name "Town of Sand". In the same area is the Shallow Spring fed Crescent Moon Lake, which forms an oasis at the desert's edge. A peculiar natural phenomenon occurs when standing on top of the dune. If it's a windless day, a sound similar to a flute can be heard, but if there are many people descending the dune at once it becomes a thunderclap.
Jiayuguan Pass: The Greatest Pass under Heaven
Dubbed as "China's greatest pass under heaven," the Jiayuguan Pass is the anchor of the westernmost point of the Great Wall. It served as a passageway for armies, merchants and envoys during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Jiayuguan sits along one of the narrowest parts of the Hexi Corridor, which formed the route of trade and cultural exchanges between the East and the West decades ago. It was included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1987.
As one of the popular travel destinations in Xinjiang, stepping into Kashgar is like being transported into the mysterious Arabian Fairy Tales.
This far-flung city in Xinjiang is a must-see for its beautiful scenery and intoxicating culture. Miraculous, modern China peels away to reveal the arresting sights, sounds, fragrance and atmosphere of a 2,000-year-old Middle Eastern Town.
Kashgar old town:
Two-thousand-year-old Kashgar old town has been a crucial trading centre on the ancient Silk Road, enticing travellers and traders alike with its captivating bazaars, maze-like residences and vibrant street life. It still retains the exotic air and immense appeal of medieval Asia.
In the ancient enclave called the Old Town sinuous dirt paths barely two-mules wide are lined with age-old shops. Generous legs of lamb, succulent mutton strips, leather, pots of all shapes and sizes or caps for every occasion hang from rickety wooden beams - the same as it's been for centuries.
This mesmerizing Muslim city tucked away in China's westernmost frontier brims with colour and contrasts. Fridays and Saturdays may be quiet prayer days but when Sunday comes around, watch the city thrive with life. The entire community and visitors by the thousands throng Kashgar's famed Sunday Market.
Kashgar is miles away from anywhere, but the items that turn up at its markets are varied. At the weekly Animal Bazaar, fowl and various four-legged animals are scrutinized, prodded and traded. Observe the traders closely for their bargaining is an ancient art form; the sellers and buyers indicate their asking price and counter-price by scripting it into each other's palms all the while shaking each other's hand.
Id Kah Mosque
"Id Kah" means "a place of praying and celebrating in festivals." The Id Kah Mosque is the largest mosque in China, covering 16,800 square meters. The mosque was built in 1442 and is located in the central square in Kashgar.
It was once a cemetery, the Id Kah Mosque consists of a courtyard, a hall of prayer, a gate tower and other structures.
Muslims worship five times a day. There are usually 2,000 or 3,000 Muslims worshipping here, and during festivals, as many as 20,000 to 30,000.
There are some religious customs that you should pay attention to. Never stand in front of a Muslim when they worship, because they are facing the direction of the holy city of Mecca in the west.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.
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