Marco Polo’s Silk Road: Around… (trip)

Marco Polo’s Silk Road: Around the Taklamakan

  • Airport Expressway, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China
  • Culture & Nature
China, Asia

from $2,950* per person9 DaysYear-round
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: WildChina 12 people max
The Silk Road remains one of the world’s most legendary journeys, full of dusty desert roads and ancient towns immortalized in the accounts of the great Italian traveler, Marco Polo. Travelers find stunning desert landscapes that seem to stretch out endlessly and gain an appreciation for the oasis settlements that sprung up across the desert, providing a vital backbone for trade and the spread of religion, science, and technology to and from China. The Silk Road presents a window into the harsh conditions faced by early merchants and monks who depended on it for trade and communication between Europe and Asia.

On our journey, we explore bustling bazaars; spend quality time with local Uighur residents; immerse in the awe-inspiring isolation of the Taklamakan Desert; explore Karakul Lake and its surrounding lush alpine forests; dine in a beautiful vineyard; and encounter the sheer magnificence of the Flaming Mountains. All the while, we take in the glorious scents and flavors of the vibrant Central Asian culture that lies at the heart of Xinjiang province. An optional, post-trip extension to another Silk Road oasis, Dunhuang in neighboring Gansu province, allows for one final step back in time.

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Locations visited/nearby

China, Asia

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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.


Day 1 – Arrive in Kashgar via Urumqi:
Arrive in Urumqi | Time permitting, visit Xinjiang Regional Museum | Fly to Kashgar

4-Star Local Hotel or similar (L, D)

Day 2 -  Kashgar:
Visit Id Kah Mosque for morning prayers | Peruse the handicrafts street, and depending on the day, the Sunday Livestock Market and Bazaar | Lunch of Uighur cuisine | Abakh Khoja Mausoleum | Uighur family dinner, followed by song & dance | Overnight in Kashgar

4-Star Local Hotel or similar (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Karakul Lake - Karakorum:
If it is a Monday, visit Upal village market | Drive to Karakul Lake | Walk along the lake & visit of local Kyrgyz families and villagers | Continue down the Karakorum Highway up to the West Frontier | Overnight in Taxkorgan

4-Star Local Hotel or similar (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Taxkorgan - Kashgar:
Easy hiking along fertile valleys in Taxkorgan | Return to Kashgar (~5-6 hour drive) | Overnight in Kashgar

4-Star Local Hotel or similar (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Kashgar - Yarkant:
Stroll through Kashgar Old City | Drive to Yarkant, en route stop at Yengisar knife market | Time permitting, visit King Yarkant's tomb | Overnight in Yarkant

Local Guesthouse (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Taklamakan Desert via Khotan:
Drive to Khotan | Picnic lunch | Pass by Yechang & the Khotan River | Camel ride into the Taklamakan Desert | Enjoy a barbeque prepared by a private chef accompanied by Uighur music & a bonfire during your night camping on the Taklamakan desert

Camp in the Taklamakan Desert (B, L, D)

Day 7 – Khotan - Urumqi:
Camel ride out of Taklamakan | Visit Khotan's renowned jade and carpet workshops | Fly to Urumqi | Evening and dinner on own | Overnight in Urumqi

5-star International Hotel or similar (B, L)

Day 8 – Turpan:
Drive to Turpan | Lunch at a vineyard | Learn about the challenges of the water supply at a point along the Karez Water System | Explore the ancient Jiaohe ruins & Sugong Tower | Overnight in Turpan

4-Star Local Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 9 – Tuyugou Valley - Flaming Mountains - Urumqi:
Drive to Tuyugou Valley & pass by the Flaming Mountains | Return to Urumqi | Farewell dinner | Overnight in Urumqi

5-star International Hotel or similar (B)

Day 10 – Depart Urumqi:
Transfer to the airport | WildChina journey ends


Post-Trip Extension to Dunhuang (additional cost):

Day 9 – Tuyugou Valley - Flaming Mountains - Dunhuang:
Drive to Tuyugou Valley & pass by Flaming Mountains | Take an overnight train from Turpan to Dunhuang

Overnight Train (soft-sleeper) (B, L, D)

Day 10 – Dunhuang:
Visit the Mogao Grottos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site | Enjoy a free afternoon | Explore the Shazhou Night Market | Dinner on rooftop of hotel, overlooking sand dunes | Overnight in Dunhuang

4-star Local Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 11 – Mingsha Sand Dunes; depart Dunhuang:
Explore Mingsha Sand Dunes | Transfer to airport | Journey ends

B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner

More information from WildChina: