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16 Days Ancient Silk Road Travel from Beijing to Bishkek

Destinations:Beijing, Xian, Jiayuguanm, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, Kashgar, Torugart, Tash Rabat, Kochkor, Issyk K

from: US$3160
Tour Code: CITA-SR13
Summary: Nowadays, the Silk Road is a metaphor for cultural discovery and exchange. It was not simply a route for commercial activities, but also a cultural highway linking the East and the West. In this tour you will experience the various facets of the Silk Road, its history, religions, arts, music, cultural treasures and people's livelihood.

Day 1


You will arrange for your international flight to arrive in Beijing. We will meet you at the Beijing international airport and transfer you to your hotel. Feel free to explore the city at your leisure for the rest of the day.

Day 2

The Great Wall

Today we will take the full day to visit the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City.

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.
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.

Day 3

Beijing  Xi'an
The Ancient City Wall

In the morning you will be taking the flight to Xi'an. Upon your arrival there, we will visit the Shaanxi Provincial MuseumThe Ancient City Wall, and the Grand Mosque.

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

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

After breakfast we will take the city tour, and visit the amazing Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses - where7000 individually crafted clay soldiers stand on guard. From there we will proceed to visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, built more than a thousand years ago to house Buddhist scriptures collected by the renown monk Xuan Zang.

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.
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 5

Xi'an  Jiayuguan  Dunhuang
The Jiayuguan Pass

In the morning you will take the flight to Jiayuguan. Upon arrival there we will visit Jiayuguan Passthe Great Wall on the Cliff, and the Great Wall Museum. After that we will proceed to Dunhuang by bus.

Jiayuguan Pass: Jiayuguan Pass stands in the southwest part of Jiayuguan City, about 6 km away from downtown. The Ming Dynasty fort here guards the strategic pass, at the western end of the Great Wall – this was the last section built by the Ming Dynasty.  Construction of the fort was started in 1372 in the Ming Dynasty, and subsequently enlarged and strengthened, and was known as 'the strongest pass under heaven'. It is located in the Jiayu Highland, hence its name Jiayuguan. 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 6

Dunhuang  Turpan
Echoing-Sand Mountain

After breakfast we will visit the famous Mogao GrottoesEchoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake. After that we will send you 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 7

Bezklik Grottoes

We will meet you at the train station, drive you to the hotel and check you in. Then we will visit Bezeklik Grottoes, Astana Tombs, Tuyoq 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 8

Turpan  Urumqi  Kashgar
Karez Irrigation System

In the morning we will visit Jiaohe Ruins , Karez Irrigation system, Sugong Minaret, then drive to Urumqi, and take the flight to Kashgar. We will meet you at the Kashgar airport, drive you to the hotel and check you in.

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 9

Apak Hoja Tomb-

In the morning we will take the city tour, the entire day to visit the Sunday BazaarApak 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.
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.
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 10

Old town

After breakfast we will visit the Id Kah Mosque, and Old town.

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.

Day 11

Kashgar  Torugart Tash Rabat
Stone Castle

Today we will drive to Tash Rabat Caravanserai, a Stone Castle from the 14th century. Traditional dinner will be served at 7 p.m. You will spend tonight in real yurts. It is a great chance to discover the land of nomads and to find out many interesting facts.

Stone Castle: The building is a unique one. It is located at the very heart of Tian Shan Mountains. And it has no analogue in the whole world, because it was made of stones and furthermore it was hidden in the mountains at a height of 3200 m. In total there are 31 rooms in the castle. The wall is 1 meter thick.

Day 12

Tash Rabat  Koch-kor
Kochkor village

Early in the morning we will drive to Kochkor. We will be driving along mountain roads and on the way we will climb over a few high mountain passes. The highest one is called Dolon pass. It is 3030 meters high above the sea level! Then we will arrive at Kochkor Village to visit a local family to find out more about Kyrgyz people. After that we will visit a small local Handicraft museum.

Kochkor Village: The town is actually a conjoining of two villages. One guide book calls if a "sleepy little Kyrgyz village" - although it is a little hard to imagine it as "sleepy" when you consider the number of people in the main square almost every day. Another travel writer was reminded of the paintings in Bishkek's Fine Arts Museum of traditional Kyrgyz life, enhanced by enlightened Soviet settlement policies. This probably has something to do with things like the metal cut-outs on the lampposts along the length of the main street - a hammer and sickle; a rocket blasting into space and a sculpture of an atom representing science; a cog wheel representing industry and technology; corn representing the agriculture of the region … and so on. There are also painted wooden fences with slats of wood held together by an elongated diamond shape - typical of villages everywhere in the former Soviet Union.

Day 13

Kochkor  Issyk Kul
Issyk Kul Lake

After breakfast we will drive to the celestial Issyk Kul Lake, the second largest alpine lake in the world (1608m above sea level). In Cholpon Ata town you will have an opportunity to visit the Cholpon Ata Petroglyphs site. It is the most ancient place of Kyrgyzstan. Also, we will visit a local museum that is considered to be the best one in Kyrgyzstan. There are many things connected with nomadic life and it is really worth visiting!

Issyk Kul Lake: This is the world's second largest salt water lake (after Caspian Sea) and is 1609 above sea level. The lake is about 180 km long by 70 km wide and 668 meters deep at the deepest point, the average depth being about 300 meters. The lake never freezes (hence the name), even though surrounded by mountains.
Cholpon Ata Petroglyphs Site: There is an Open-air Museum, sometimes referred as a Stone Garden, which covers some 42 hectares and contains a number of prehistoric monumental structures (stone circles, tombs, the remains of a boundary stone wall, balbals) and Petroglyphs dating from the 2nd millennium BC up to the Middle Ages upto the 6th century AD.

Day 14

Issyk Kul  Burana Tower  Bishkek
Burana Tower

In the morning we will leave Issyk Kul and drive to the Bishkek city. On the way we will visit Burana Tower (a minaret from the 11th century) and an Open Air Museum of Balbans (stone warriors).

Burana Tower: 75 km east from the Burana city is a 25m-high tower, which dates from the 11th century and is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagyn. The name “Burana” most probably comes from wrongly pronounced word “Monara” which means Minaret. Minaret is an obligated part of any mosque, it is a tower from which the Muslims were called up for the next prayer. Some centuries ago the tower was 44 metres high, but after an earthquake in early 1900, the upper part fell down.

Day 15

Pobeda Square

After breakfast we will take the city tour, visiting the central Ala-Too Square, Duboviy Park (Oak Park), Pobeda Square (Victory Square), the History Museum, National philharmonic and Asian Bazaar, as well as other places of interest. During the tour you will see the city main squares and buildings that were built during the Soviet period.

Ala-Too Square: This is the central square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The square wаs built іn 1984 tо celebrate the 60th anniversary оf the Kyrgyz SSR, аt whіch tіme а massive statue оf Lenin wаs placed іn the square's center. The statue оf Lenin wаs moved іn 2003 tо а smaller square іn the city, аnd а new statue called Erkindik (Freedom) wаs installed іn іts place.
Dubovy Park: The Dubovy Park is full of strollers on warm Sundays, has a few open-air cafés and some neglected modern sculpture and funnily enough, century-old oaks. Where Erkindik Prospektisi (Freedom Ave) enters the park, there is an open-air art gallery.
Asian Bazaar: This bazaar is very colorful and noisy. People sell all kinds of goods there. You will walk in the bazaar for about an hour to see local people, goods, fruits, vegetables, meat store, and other things! You will see very interesting people that come from villages to sell their goods.

Day 16

Bishkek  your destination

After breakfast we will drive you to the airport to take the flight to your destination.


Departure Dates Price Per Person Hotel Single Supplement Availability
2nd  June $3160 $550
23rd June $3160 $550
8th Sept $3360 $650
13th Oct $3360 $650

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 itinerar
√ Airport Taxes: US$30for domestic,
√ Service Charge & Government Taxes .
√ Luggage Transfers between airports and hotels
√ Goverment letter for visa support

Service excluded:

* All lunches and dinners, and breakfast on the train
* Personal expenses, tips to the guide and driver.
* Note, the price for 6-10 pax included Lunches and Dinners
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