Travel along the footprint of Monk Xuanzang 17 days
Monk Xuanzang was one of the most famous figures on the Ancient Silk Road. We will follow his footprint to travel, acquiring the firsthand story.
Day 1. Arrive in Xi'an
Arrive in Xi'an, met and transferred by our representative to the hotel.
Overnight: Xi'an 3-Star Skytel Hotel or similar
Day 2. Xi'an
The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum is one of the highlights of the Silk Road. Take a ride for a visit.
In the afternoon, ride a bike on the Old City Wall of Xi'an is pleasant experience.
-Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses: Discovered in 1974, it is a must-see in Xi'an. Various warriors exhibitd in an original site will amaze you with their different features.
-Old City Wall: Nearly 14km, build in 6 hundred years ago, the old City Wall of Xi'an is a perfect place to know the long history of China.
Overnight: Xi'an 3-star Skytel Hotel or similar
Day 3. Xi'an/Lanzhou
In the morning, visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Shaanxi Provincial Museum.
In the afternoon, catch bullet train 3 hours to Lanzhou.
-Big Wild Goose Pagoda: It was build 1500 years ago in Tang Dynasty, still well preserved. You can have a bird view of the city when you climb up.
-Shaanxi Provincial Museum:One of the biggest museums in China, houses more than 3000 relics dated back to millions years ago.
Overnight: Lanzhou 3-star Ibis Hotel or similar
Day 4. Lanzhou/Xiahe
Take a 5-hour ride to Labrang in Tibetan language. Free time in the afternoon to explore the Tibetan town.
Overnight: Xiahe Norbu Serwo Hotel or similar
Day 5. Xiahe/Lanzhou/Overnight train to Jiayugua
Visit Langrang Temple in the morning. Take a ride to Lanzhou to catch overnight train to Jiayuguan.
-Labrang Monastery: One of the six biggest Tibetan monasteries, presents typical Tibetan Budhism culture.
Harder Sleeper Overnight train to Jiayuguan
Day. 6 Jiayuguan/Dunhuang
Early morning arrival, transferred to hotel to have breakfast, then visit the well-preserved Jiagyuguan Fort.
Take a ride to Dunhuang in the afternoon.
-Jiayuguan Fort: The end of the Great Wall in Ming Dynasty looks like a huge city to guard the border in Ming Dynasty.
Overnight: Dunhuang 3-star Hantang Hotel or similar
Day 7. Dunhuang/Overnight train to Turpan
In the morning, we will view the Mingsha Dunes and Crescent Moon Spring in the desert.
In the afternoon, visit Mogao Caves, the most important site on the Silk Road. Colorful fresco, statues tell you various stories about Buddha.
Catch overnight train to Turpan.
-Minsha Dunes: It means Singing Sand Dunes, the sand was moved from Taklamankan desert to form the dunes in the history.
-Mogao Caves: Though it was stolen many times in the history, Mogao Caves still has well preserved frescos with colorful paintings that look like finished yesterday.
Harder Sleeper Overnight train to Turpan
Day 8. Turpan
Transferred to hotel for breakfast upon arrival.
Turpan Basin is a key part on the ancient Silk Road, with well preserved ruins and grottos. We will visit Bezklik Grottos, Astana Ancient Tombs, the Ancient City of Jiaohe and Gaochang, Karez Irrigation System, and Sugong (Emin) Minaret.
-Astana Ancient Tombs: It was a public cemetery 1000 years ago for the citizens of Gaochang Kingdom. You will see dried corpses and tomb paintings.
-Karez Irrigation System: This underground tunnels provide enough water offering to the farmers and their field to support local civilization in the dry and hot oasis.
-Ancient City of Jiaohe: Build on a 30 meter terrace, Jiaohe is a ruin to prove local splendid history.
-Ancient City of Gaochang: It was build in the first century BC. Gaochang has huge city wall and various temples. Unfortunately it was abandoned in the cilvil war of Mongolians.
-Sugong Minaret: Built in 1777, also called Eming Tower, it is a representative of Uyghur architecture.
Overnight in Turpan 3-star Turpan Hotel or similar
Day 9. Turpan/Urumqi
Take a ride to Urumqi. Visit Xinjiang Museum, mummies are a must-see in it, particularly Loulan Beauty and Xiaohe Beauty.
-Xinjiang Museum: It houses numerous relics and exhibitions. Mummies from Taklamakan desert and Turpan basin will amaze you with their features.
Overnight in Urumqi 3-star Jinggu Hotel or similar
Day 10. Urumqi/Heavenly Lake/Kuqa
In the morning take a ride to Heavenly Lake(Tianchi in Chinese), enjoying the stunning scenery there.
In the afternoon take overnight train to Kuqa.
-Heavenly Lake:Located in the Heavenly Mountain(Tianshan), it has a beautiful mountain view.
Overnight on the hard sleeper train to Kuqa
Day 11. Kuqa
In Kuqa, view Kizil Grottos which is one of the earliest caves in Xijiang. Moreover, we will visit Tianshan Grand Valley to enjoy the picturesque scenery.
-Kizil Grottos: It was the first grottos built in China, which can be traced back 2000 years ago, with many Buddhism stories telling people to follow Buddha.
Overnight in Kuqa 3-star Kuqa Hotel or similar
Day 12. Kuqa/Hetian
Today we will take a long ride from Kuqa to Hetian, traveling along the Taklamagan Desert Highway.
Overnight in Hetian 3-star Muztaga Hotel or similar
Day 13. Hetian/Kashgar
Visit Hetian Bazzar for the local trade in the morning.
In the afternoon, take a ride to Kashgar.
Overnight in Kashgar 3-star Seman Hotel or similar
Day 14. Kashgar
It is a busy day, you will see the well-known Sunday Bazaar, Animal Market, Apa Hojia Tomb, Idkar Mosque, old town of Kashgar.
-Sunday Bazaar: It was said this is the biggest market in the world, you can purchase all products apart from your parents.
-Idkar Mosque: It is the biggest mosque in Xinjiang. The mosque with its square is for local Uyghurs to pray.
-Apa Hoja Tombs: It is a family cemetery, with stunning blue tiles shining in the sun.
Overnight in Kashgar 3-star Seman Hotel or similar
Day 15. Kashgar/Karakul Lake/Tashkuergan
Catch a coach to the Karakul Lake which is situated by the China-Pakistan friendship highway, with a stunning snow covered mountain view.
Move on to Tashkurgan that is situated at the border between China and Pakistan.
-Karakul Lake: Beautiful mountain lake with altitude nearly 3800 meters, has impressive scenery with the snow-covered mountains.
Overnight in Tashkuergan Travel Hotel or similar
Day 16. Tashkuergan/Kashgar
After sightseeing the Stone City in Tashkuergan, return Kashgar.
-Stone City: Built 2000 years ago, the ruin still can trace back its original style.
Overnight in Kashgar 3-star Seman Hotel or similar
Day 17. Depart from Kashgar
Transferred to the airport to catch flight heading home.
End of the trip.
Ürümqi is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, in the northwest of the country. With a built up population of 3.1millions as of 2010census (5 urban districts plus Midong), Ürümqi, whose name means "beautiful pasture" in the Mongolian language of the Dzungar people, is the largest city in China's western interior. Since the 1990s Ürümqi has developed economically and now serves as a regional transport node and commercial centre.
The largest city in western China, Ürümqi has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most remote city from any sea in the world. It is about 2,500 kilometers(1,600 mi) from the nearest coastline as Ürümqi is the closest major city to the Eurasian pole of inaccessibility. The city has an administrative area of10,989 square kilometres (4,243 sq mi) at an average elevation of 800metres (2,600 ft).
Although Ürümqi is situated near the northern route of the Silk Road, it is likely to be a relatively young city. According to Chinese scholars, during the 22nd year of Emperor Taizong's reign in the Tang Dynasty, AD 648, the Tang government set up the town of Luntai in the ancient town seat of Urabo, 10 kilometers from the southern suburb of present-day Ürümqi.
Thus, little is heard ofthe region following the Tang Dynasty in the Chinese texts until the Qing Dynasty conquest of Dzungaria in 1755 under the Emperor Qianlong. Qianlong Emperor named the expanded town of Luntai "Dihua", meaning "to enlighten." In 1884, the Guangxu Emperor established Xinjiang as a Province, with Dihua (today’s Urumuqi) as its capital. Following the founding of the People's Republic of China, on 1 February 1954, the city was renamed Ürümqi, meaning "beautiful pasture" in the Mongolian language of the Dzungar people.
Turpan also known as Turfan or Tulufan, is an oasis county-level city in Turpan Prefecture, in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Its population was 254,900 at the end of 2003. Turpan is located about 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Ürümqi, Xinjiang's capital, in a mountain basin, on the northern side of the Turpan Depression, at an elevation of 30 m (98 ft) above sea level. Turpan has a harsh, cold desert climate, with long and very hot summers, winters that are quite cold and moderately long, and brief spring and autumn in between. Annual precipitation is very low, amounting to only 15.7 millimeters (0.62 in). July is the hottest month, averaging 32.2 °C (90.0 °F), while January is the coldest, at −7.6 °C (18.3 °F), for an annual mean of 14.4 °C (57.9 °F).Extremes have ranged from −28.9 °C (−20 °F) to 48.1 °C (119 °F).
Turpan lies in the 2 deepest inland depression in the world with more than 4000 sq km of land below sea level. Anciently called Huozhou (land of fire) its climate has not changed, although a vast tree-planting program to the NW has helped break the wind. Turpan survives with the assistance of karez, covered water channels, which bring melt water from the mountains to the north and west. These merge with the waters of the Tian Shan that, having been absorbed by the desert, resurface at the foot of the Flaming Mountains. However, the very heat and dryness of the summer, when combined with the area's ancient system of irrigation, allows the countryside around Turpan to produce great quantities of high-quality fruit.
Kashgar (Kashi) 喀什
Kashgar or Kashi is an oasis city with approximately 350,000 residents in the western part of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Kashgar is the administrative centre of Kashgar Prefecture which has an area of 162,000 km²and a population of approximately 3.5 million. Located in the western extremity of China, the city covers an area of 15 km² at the altitude averages 1,289m/4,282 ft. above sea level.
Kashgar has been an important trading centre since the days of the Silk Road, and still is today. The road from Eastern and Central China branches out to both the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert, and Kashgar is where the two branches meet again in the western part of the desert. The local population is a mixture of Uyghurs, Han Chinese, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks, boasting a colorful ethnic variety. The majority residents are Uyghurs in Kashgar. The Uyghurs employed an alphabet based upon the Syriacand borrowed from the Nestorian, but after converting to Islam widely used also an Arabic script. They spoke a dialect of Turkic claimed to be preserved in the Kudatku Bilik, a moral treatise composed in 1065.
Dunhuang is a city (pop. 187,578 (2000)) in northwestern Gansu province, Western China. It was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road. It was also known at times as Shāzhōu , or 'City of Sands', a name still used today. It is best known for the nearby Mogao Caves.
It commands a very strategic position at the crossroads of the ancient Southern Silk Route and the main road leading from India via Lhasa to Mongolia and Southern Siberia,as well as controlling the entrance to the narrow Gansu Corridor which led straight to the heart of the north Chinese plains and the ancient capitals of Chang'an (today known as Xi'an) and Luoyang.
In the history, the commercial prosperity on the Silk Road provided a basis for a flourishing and diverse Buddhist community. Most Buddhist monks came to China from India and Central Asia by way of the Silk Road. As the westernmost Chinese station on the route, Dunhuang became the ideal place for these foreign monks to learn the Chinese language and culture before entering central China.
Foreign monks and their Chinese disciples formed the earliest Buddhist communities at Dunhuang in the late 3 and early 4centuries. Many Buddhist sutras were translated at Dunhuang and then distributed into central China. Monk Zhu Fahu, a famous translator of Buddhist texts, organized his translation team at Dunhuang and became known as "The Bodhisattva of Dunhuang”. Enormous economic and human resources were used to produce Buddhist sutras and to build places of worship, including thousands of cave temples.
Jiayuguan City is a prefecture-level city in Gansu, China, with a population of 127,532 as of 2007. It is most famous for the nearby Jiayu Pass, the largest and most intact pass of the Great Wall of China. In ancient times, many inns were built near the pass. Gradually, more and more people decided to stay there for business and Jiayuguan City was built. At present, Jiayuguan City is not only famous for Jiayuguan Pass but also for Jiuquan Steel Company built in 1958. The steel company is the largest in Gansu Province.
Jiayuguan and its fort represented the Wild West frontier of Ancient China. In centuries past there were many levels of capital punishment, the highest being death by decapitation or strangulation. The next level of severity was banishment for life from the capital. The worse the crime, the further you were sent from Beijing. Jiayuguan was considered the furthest place to be sent, a land of barbarians and criminals.
Today Jiayuguan is a relatively wealthy industrial center producing chemical fertilizers, cement and iron, with the raw materials coming from nearby mines. It is richer per capita than Xi’an and the government is in the process of building a large steel plant which will bring more money to the area.
Travelers are advised to read the Trip Notes before your China tours.
Visas - A China visa is required for entry into China for all nationalities except Japan, Singapore and Brunei. Travellers holding APEC cards are allowed entrance visa free if their card has already been approved for China. Please view our web page for detailed information about China Visa: http://silkroadtrips.com/260.html
Insurance - Travel insurance is compulsory for all our customers. Please provide us with:
• Insurance company
• Policy number
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• The expiry date of the policy
You may check our webpage for more detailed information as below.
Vaccinations and Your Health - We recommend that you contact your primary care physician or a travel doctor for advice on vaccinations and travel health and we advise that you check to see if your tetanus-diphtheria booster is still valid every 10 years.
Luggage - We suggest you to take one main piece of lockable baggage and a shoulder bag. Total allowance: 44lbs/20kgs. Don’t overload yourself, because you have to carry your own baggage.
Itinerary Disclaimer – The information in this trip details has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience.
Accommodation - Each tour lists the hotel standard, you can check it before your booking, The hotels are selected for convenience of location, comfort or character, and can range differently from tour to tour. In some remote areas, accommodation may be of a lower standard and may not have all western amenities. Please note that there is no international classification system for hotels, and differences and quality do exist between the European Countries and China, though it is marked 4 or 5 star hotel.
In bigger cities and large towns the standard is similar although on a lesser scale. In small towns or villages where tourism is less prevalent, the hotels we use are smaller and facilities are more limited, though we generally stay in the best place in town. Rooms will still be en suite but rooms can be basic. Plumbing and electricity supplies can be somewhat erratic and although the welcome is warm, service levels may be less efficient than you may be used to.
Booking a Single Room – Silkroadtrips are pleased to offer travellers the option of pre-booking a guaranteed single room. Kindly note our single supplement do not include sharing cabins on the overnight trains or cruises. All of our tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation.
Aboard the overnight sleeper train, berths are usually in 1st class ‘soft sleeper’ lockable compartments for 4 which have 2 sets of bunks with clean bedding provided. WC and washbasins are provided for shared use at the end of each carriage. Hot meals and snacks are sold to your berth on all overnight journeys. In times of large demand we may have to travel in 2nd class ‘hard sleeper’ which consists of sectioned off compartments for 6,leading off an open plan carriage.
Bullet trains are getting popular, it is very modern with a high velocity of 300km per hour. There are western toilets, dinning car on the bullet trains, and normally for short distance running 1—8 hours.
You can check in 20 kg baggage and carry 5kg hand bag with you while boarding a flight in China. Please be aware, before boarding a flight in China that the Chinese authorities will only allow bottles onto aircraft if they have been checked in as main luggage. Any bottles in the hand luggage may be confiscated.
Eating is always an important part of the tours. Each tour of Silkroadtrips has listed the included meals, please check it on-line. Our professional guide will always arrange the meals at clean local restaurants to taste different food with different budget approximately from CNY20 to CNY200 per person per meal. Please check our webpage for Chinese Cuisine as below.
Tipping - If you're happy with the services provided then a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. Tipping is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across China and other Asian countries. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.
Tour guides: Throughout your tour you may at times have local guides or national guide. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for guides.
Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Optional Extras - Our standard tours are planned to be as fully inclusive as possible. However, from time-to-time you may be suggested to join optional tours/sightseeing in addition to the standard sightseeing planned for that city. Such options are at an additional cost, with prices ranging from 20-200 CNY per person. If you do not wish to take part in any optional extras, you will have the option of enjoying some free time at leisure or to return to the hotel.
Personal Expenses - Kindly check the inclusions for your tour, you will need to take some extra money to cover drinks, laundry and souvenirs, plus any additional sightseeing that may be offered to you. Based on the advice of previous customers an approximate amount of $250 per week should be sufficient; however for those that can’t resist a bargain, consider allocating a higher amount.
Electricity Supply & Plugs
China operates on a 220V and uses a combination of US/European and Chinese style plugs in most hotel rooms. You can buy an international adaptor before the tour