The term ‘The Silk Road’ was coined during the 19th century by a German geographer named Ferdinand von Richthofen. It refers to the commercial routes that connected mainland China with Central Asia in ancient times. However, the Silk Road was not solely used for commercial trade, but was also a point of cultural exchange between various ethnic groups in China, Central Asia, west Asia, and Europe. Thus the road is littered with ancient treasures, stunning works of art, and unique styles of architecture.
Our unforgettable 15-day tour begins at the very source of the Silk Road, starting in Xi’an and ending in Ürümqi. From towering mountains to the sandy expanse of the Gobi Desert, we’ll cover all kinds of exotic terrain.
Duration: 12 days and 11 nights.
Dates: 7th of July - 21st of July, 2018.
Cost pp: £2200/7-10 people in one group, £2680/4-6 people in one group, £3200/2-3 people in one group.
What's Included: 14 nights of accommodation; all entrance fees to the attractions; 7 dinners; all breakfasts; all transportation fees during the designated tour times; an English speaking guide; a pdf file with useful information about the Silk Road; and any further help or information we can provide if you decide to continue traveling in China after the tour.
Our first stop will be the ancient City Walls, from which we will be treated to a panoramic view of the whole city.
Then we will visit the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, where there are not only ancient buildings and beautiful gardens but also a stunning combination of modern buildings and artificial Tang-style architecture.We will also take a trip to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, which contains the Xi’an Museum, but is not as popular with tourists and is thus far less crowded.
Yet perhaps the most interesting part of the day might be our visit to Muslim Street. There we will find many exotic and delicious local foods, full of ethnic flair and Central Asian spice.
We will travel to see the magnificent Terracotta Army via private mini coach. The Huaqing Lake is also of particular interest, as it was once the royal garden of the Tang Empire. It is most famous for having once been used as a bathing area by Yang Guife, who was reputedly one of the most beautiful women in Chinese history.
In the morning, we will take the train to Mount Hua. Unfortunately you may not have enough time to explore the entirety of the mountain range, unless you have limitless energy that is! After all it is one of the largest mountain ranges in China and some of the hiking paths that lead to the peaks are quite difficult. Alternatively you can choose to ride the cable car, which cuts out some of the fun of climbing but will save you a lot of time and energy.
In the morning, we will take the train from Xi’an to Tianshui. There we will visit an old mansion that once belonged to the wealthy Hu family. It is a traditional compound built in the Han-style and is a rare sight as there are very few old Han-style mansions in the western part of China.
We will go to the Maijishan Grottoes by bus as the plan is to hike some of the way to the grottoes. As long as you don’t mind a short 2 mile hike, this experience will help to replicate the journey that pilgrim’s would have taken to visit the grottoes hundreds of years ago. We’re sure you can handle it, since their journey was much longer than ours and they managed to do it without hiking boots!
This day will be primarily taken up by the 9 hour train journey to Zhangye. We have chosen to travel during the day rather than the night because the scenery along this route is particularly beautiful and unusual. You will see how the landscape slowly changes from lush mountainous terrain to the barren Gobi Desert. Not to mention our trip will take us past the Yellow River and the Qilian Mountains. That being said, don’t worry about the length of the trip as you will have a soft bed and be able rest anytime you want.
We’ll start our day with a visit to the Giant Buddha Temple in the morning, followed by a trip to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Landform. We will take a private car to the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park but you will need to do a little bit of hiking around the park if you want to make the most of the unique scenery.
If you want to see some of the more magnificent cultural attractions that Zhangye has to offer but don’t fancy battling the crowds, then the Horse’s Hoof Temple is the ideal place for you. Not only that, but we’ll also provide you with the opportunity to ride a horse to the temple. You’ll experience what it’s like to be a true Western Cowboy, although please don’t try to lasso any local animals!
We will take the overnight train to Dunhuang because most of the passing scenery will be of the Gobi Desert and, beautiful though it may be, it might get a little tiresome. After all, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing!
After our overnight trip, you’ll have a couple of hours in the morning to yourselves. You can either check in at the hotel and have a good rest in your room or explore the spectacular oasis town of Dunhuang.
In the afternoon we will indulge in a trip to a nature lover’s paradise, Crescent Lake, which is widely considered to be the most beautiful oasis in the Gobi Desert. You can take part in all kinds of activities there, including sandboarding, paragliding and camel riding.
You may still be in awe of the Danxia Landform in Zhangye, but rest assured, the Yardang Landform is just as unbelievably beautiful. We will take the shuttle bus to the Yardang National Park but, unlike other tour companies, we will also hire a car so that we can explore the interior of the park more intimately. The magnificent yardangs create an alien landscape that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Now that we’ve already thoroughly enjoyed the many miracles of the natural world, it’s time to focus on a few manmade wonders by taking a trip to the Mogao Caves. We will join one of the English-speaking guided group tours organised by the tourist administration at Mogao.
In the afternoon, we will board our flight to Ürümqi.
On your final day with us, you can either choose to embark on your return journey home or continue your travels. If you decide to continue traveling, we’ll be on hand to help you book any travel tickets or hotels should you need us to. If you need any recommendations on where to travel, please do not hesitate to ask us.
Here are our top choices for travel destinations that are easy to reach from Ürümqi: