Silk Road & Northern Xinjiang Tour
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Silk Road & Northern Xinjiang Tour Map

Day 1

Irkestam/Torugart Border- Kashgar
The shops in the Bazaar

Drive to the Irkestam/Torugart border, custom control, and then drive to Turgart Pass where you will meet our Chinese guide. From there we will drive to Kashgar.

Crossing "modern" frontier is half the fun on the Silk Road today. After you have crossed over to China to Turgart Pass, your Chinese English-speaking guide will meet you and drive you to the Silk Road centre, Kashgar. Our Chinese guide will prepare the packed lunch for you, and you will have a drive of 3-5 hours to get to kashgar to start your China Silk Road Adventure. We will ensure that you will have a great silk road tour with us. As the Sunday bazaar is only available on Sunday and the border is not open, we suggest that you cross the border on Friday. Please note, the border is also closed on China holiday, so please check our website about the date when the border is closed in the year of your travel before you make the plan.

Day 2

Kashgar City Tour
Our Clients from Singaore in front of Apak Hoja Tomb

After breakfast we will take the city tour, visiting the Id Kah Mosque, the Abakh Hoja Tomb, roaming through the Colorful National Street that assembled rich and various workshops making uyghur’s handcrafts, and walking the streets of its Old Town, will provide a sense of what this legendary Central Asian hub was like in the days when the Silk Road was at its zenith.

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.

Day 3

Kashgar-Taxkorgan County (290km,about 4.5hours)
Karakul Lake and the Muztag Peak

After breakfast we will drive on the China and Pakistan highway, known as the 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 4

Taxkorgan County-Kashgar-Kuqa ( K5828: 20:32-06:37)
The Summar of Stone Fortress

After breakfast we will visit Stone Fortress, and walk around the pastureland to look at local Tajiks customs. Around noon we will return to Kashgar to catch the train (soft sleeper)to Kuqa, which was was the center of Buddhism, culture and military during Tang dynasty (618AD – 907AD). We will take you to the local market to buy some food for the overnight train ride.

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. is 1285 meters in circumference outside.

Day 5

Kuqa -Bayinbuluk (374km,about 4.5hours)
The Painting of Kizil Grottoes

We will meet you at the train station, transfer you to the hotel and check you in, so can freshen up for the day. After breakfast we will visit the Kizil Grottoes, and then drive to Bayinbuluk natural reservation along the Tianshan Mountain ranges to enjoy the splendid pristine view.

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.

Day 6

Bayinbuluk-Naraty (80km,about 2.5hours)
The Bayinbuluk Swan Lake Nature Reserve

In the morning we will visit the Bayinbuluk Swan Lake Natural Reserve, then drive to the Naraty Grassland.

Bayinbuluk Swan Lake Natural Reserve: The Reserve lies in Bayinbuluk grassland, taking up 1,000 square kilometers. In 1986 it was listed by the Chinese Government as a national nature reserve. It is a paradise for flocks of swan. The swans are like white sails wandering on the lake, carefree and contented, hence the name “Swan Lake”. This natural reserve is abundant in birds, particularly water birds of various kinds in large quantity. In spring, flocks of great swans, little swans and swans with prominent nose nest here to produce their offspring. According to investigation, the total number of great swans here are over 6,000-7,000. Mongolian herdsmen treat the swans as angels or happy birds. They take good care of them. The Swan Lake is not only a cool resort in summer but also a fascinating tourist attraction.

Day 7

Our Traveler from Malaysia in Naraty

After breakfast we will visit the Naraty Grassland, and in the afternoon we will send you to the airport to take the flight to Urumqi. Upon your arrival in Urumqi, we will meet you at the airport, transfer you to the hotel and check you in. The culture show in the International bazaar is highly recommended.

Naraty Grassland: Located at the important line of communications connecting Southern and Northern Xinjiang, the north part of Naraty Grassland connects to Gongliu and Xinyuan County Town,and west part to Hejing county. East part comes from Aikendaban of northwest Hejing and west part reaches to Wulandaban. It is about 150 kilometers long and 3,000-4,500 meters above sea level. The northern slope faces the wind and yearly rainfall is 400-700mm. A large stretch of wild apple trees have been found in Xinyuan County at the 1,500-2,000 above sea level.The Naraty Grassland has been listed as a nature reserve.

Day 8

UrumqiTurpan (220km,about 3hours)
The Pagoda in Jiahe Ruins

After breakfast we will visit the Xinjiang Museum, then head to Turpan. Upon arrival in Turpan, we will visit Jiaohe Ruined city, Karez Irrigation System, Sugong Minaret, as well as a local Uyger family in the Vineyard.

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.

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

TurpanDunhuang (9hrs driving on the sleeper train)
Our Travelers from Australia in Bezklik Grottes 

After breakfast  we will drive 60km to the east of Turpan and visit Bezeklik Grottoes, Astana Tombs, Tuyoq Valley. In the evening we will send you to the train station to take the train to Dunhuang.

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 10

Cresecent Lake in Sand Dune

We will meet you at the train station. The drive to Dunhuang city is about 2 hours. After breakfast we will visit the famous Mogao Grottoes, Echoing-Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake.

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 11

Dunhuang Jiayuguan (360km,about 3.5hours)
The Jiayuguan Fort

After breakfast we will head to Jiayuguan. We will visit the Jiayuguan Pass, and the Great Wall on the Cliff.

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.

Day 12

Jiayuguan Zhangye (280km,about 4hours)
The Rainbow mountain of Dnaxia Landform

In the morning head to Zhangye to visit the Danxia Landform Geological Park, and the Giant Buddha Temple.

Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park: The park is 40 kilometers from Zhangye County and 20 kilometers from Linze County. It is most developed and the most frequented one among the three similar parks in the region. Large areas of northwestern China are sparsely populated, and contain stunning scenic locations unheard of by outsiders. On this trip, the highlight is the Danxia Landform of Zhangye — magnificently multi-coloured mountains, valleys, hills, and cliffs that ripple away towards the horizon.
Giant Buddha Temple: Midway in the Hexi Corridor along the Silk Road lies the historic city of Zhangye, the centerpiece of which is the mysterious Giant Buddha Temple. Located in the southwest corner of Zhangye in Gansu Province, the Giant Buddha Temple is the largest architectural relic in Gansu Province of the Western Xia (1038-1227) period. China's largest reclining Buddha is well preserved in this temple. The Zhangye Museum is also located here. Legend has it that a chancellor named Wei Mie of the Western Xia period ordered workers to dig into the ground to 1 to 1.3 meters deep to carve a reclining Buddha to be covered with glazed color tiles. The Giant Buddha Temple was built in 1098 to house the Buddha. In its 900 years the temple was restored many times during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Day 13

Zhangye Xining (380km,about 7hours)
The Beautiful View of Qilian Mountain along the No227 

After breakfast we will drive to Xining on Highway No.227 (Zhanye-Minle-Qilian Mountain Grassland-Biandukou-Ebo-Qinshuizui-Daton-Xining) with various viewing spots along the way.

Xining, Qinghai’s capital, is home to a mix of minority ethnic peoples, mostly Hui Muslims and Tibetans with a sprinkling of Kazakhs and Mongols. From the 16th century, it served as a stopover on the Silk Road’s lesser-used southern route, and is now a good base for exploring Qinghai. Xining lies in a remote valley, and, at 2,200 m, experiences a cool summer and freezing winter. The Great Mosque, one of the largest and most impressive in northwest China, is situated on Dongguan Dajie, close to the city center. Restored recently, it was originally built in the 14th century, and is thoroughly Chinese in design, with elements such as flying eaves and vividly-colored arches. Enclosed within is a public square, that is usually bustling with worshipers.

Day 14

Xining-Tongren (260km,about 3.5hours) 
Longwu Temple

After breakfast we will drive to Tongren and visit Longwu Temple and Wutun Temple.

Longwu Temple: Longwu Temple was built around 1301 BC and belongs to the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The temple is beginning to be discovered by visitors and currently, only a few visitors come for touring purposes. The Tibetan-style temple is backed by a mountain setting. Buildings are well arranged, and gloriously decorated.
Wutun Temple: Located in the Tongren County of Huangnan Tibet Autonomous Region of Ningxia Province, the Wutun Temple is a temple of Lamaism. The Wutun Temple is at least 300 years old, but it is difficult to estimate when exactly it was built. The temple is a complex of Chinese and Tibetan culture. It has two gardens, the up garden and the down garden. One is 1.5 km away from the other. There are Da Jing Hall and the Sakymuni Hall in the Up Garden.

Day 15

Tongren-Xiahe (110km,about 3hours) 
Our  Clients from German in Labrang Monastery

In the morning we will drive to Xiahe, and upon arrival we will visit the Labrang Monastery, and Sangke Grasslands.

Labrang Monastery: The Labrang Monastery is located at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain, northwest of Xiahe County in Gannan Tibetan Nationality Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province. As a propitious place in the hearts of the Tibetans, it stands by the Daxia River and faces the Dragon Mountain. A long time ago, this place was a boundless sea, which over time had turned into the present landscape. There is a beautiful legend that tells about how the Dragon Mountain, Phoenix Mountain, and the Daxia River were formed.
Songke Grassland: Lying at an average altitude of over 3,000m above sea level, the Songke Grassland is situated a short 14km from Xiahe. This vast expanse of grassy plains, covering an area of around 70 square kilometers, is a lonely, beautiful place that presents a nice change for those coming from the bustling cities, such as Chengdu or Lanzhou. There are only 4,000 Tibetan nomads left on the grasslands, and they graze yak herds and offer tourists the chance of a ride on their horses. Entertainment here varies according to your preference. Botanists and hikers will be happy to just set off into the rolling hills, but for those after a little more excitement, the horse rides, costing around RMB25, are good fun. 


Day 16

Xiahe-Lanzhou-Beijing (260km,about 4hours)
Liu Jiaxia Reservoir

In the morning we will drive to Linxia and visit the Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves. Then we will proceed to Lanzhou for you to take the flight to Beijing, and that will be the conclusion of our tour. You may wish to take the Beijing tour with us or return home via Beijing airport.

Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves: The Bingling Thousand Buddha Caves are on the cliff of Xiaojishi Hill. Located on a branch of Gansu part of the Silk Road, the Bingling Caves were started by Buddhist monks from as early as the West Jin Dynasty (265AD -316AD) although the official carving began in 420AD. Today there are 183 caves existing with 694 stone statues, 82 earth statues and murals of 900 square meters (9,688 square feet). Another pleasant surprise on your way to Bingling Caves is the beautiful Liujiaxia Reservoir. The crystal water lying among the yellow earth mountains is quite a sight. At the end of the Reservoir, the green water connects to the yellow water while the blue sky connects to the yellow earth. Perhaps this can only be experienced in Liujiaxia.

Price: per person
Travel in party of Superior Class
Deluxe Class
Tourist Class
2-3pax N
4-6pax N
7-9 N
10 & above    on enquiry on enquiry
Single room Supplement N

Service included:

√ Private transportation with good AC 
√ Hotel with breakfast
√ All the entrance fee listed in the itinerary
√ Full board meals 
√ Breakfast when overnight in the train
√ Excellent English guide service
√ Shuttle bus in Naraty and Bayinbulak 
√ Travel permit to Bayinbulak 
√ Soft sleeper train: Kashgar to Kucha, Turpan to Dunhuang
√ Flights: Naraty to Urumqi
√ Visa support letter 
√ Travel insurance

Service excluded:

* Flight from Lanzhou to Beijing: 185usd/pax (subject to be changed)
* Boat cruise to Binglinsi temple
* Personal expenses and tips to the guide and driver.

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