Asia Transpacific Journeys - vacations and travel

China's Silk Road: History's Great Thoroughfare

China, Asia

from $7,395* per person 17 Days May, September
Luxury accommodations Exertion level: 2
Operator: Asia Transpacific Journeys 18 people max
  • Beijing airport, china
  • Culture & Nature trips
A vast network of interconnected caravan routes that stretched for over 5,000 miles, the Silk Road enabled the exchange of products and ideas between China and Europe, Persia, Egypt, India and Mesopotamia, engendering civilization as we know it. The Silk Road is thus the very backbone of history. Travel to Western China with us, in the footsteps of ancient merchants and great explorers, along the greatest thoroughfare ever known.

    Visit with Kazak families in their village
    Shop for sheep at Kashgar's Animal Bazaar
    Explore the authentic old-world bazaar at historic Hotan
    Saunter through sand dunes atop a camel
    Delve into the phenomenal Mogao Caves
    Gape at the tallest minaret in China while visiting Turpan

Locations visited/nearby

China, Asia

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  • Reviewer:
    We had a superb time and it couldn't have gone more smoothly. We had excellent guides everywhere-they met us on schedule, they took great care of us and showed us the personality of their own counries. Thanks again for putting together a trip that gave us a lot of people contact. It was truly memorable!

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Days 1-2 En Route/Beijing, China
Fly U.S. west coast to Beijing, China. Cross
the International Dateline and “lose” a day.
Overnight Crown Plaza Airport Hotel in Beijing

Day 3 Beijing/Lanzhou
This morning fly to Lanzhou. Strategically located
on the Silk Road’s Hexi Corridor, mountains
and desert limited caravan traffic to a narrow
stretch and fortification could control who
passed. This led to a period of great prosperity
in the city that lasted nearly 1,500 years. We will
transfer to Lanzhou and enjoy a welcome dinner.
Overnight Lanzhou Legend Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 4 Bingling Si Caves/Dunhuang
We begin by transferring to the pier (1.5-2
hours) and boarding a privately chartered, high
speed boat for the one hour journey on the Yellow
River to the ancient Bingling Si Caves, located
in a stunning canyon setting. Dating back to
385, the 183 caves carved into the cliff are considered
among China’s most important Buddhist
sites, displaying fabulous statues and frescoes,
including an 80-foot Buddha cut into the canyon
wall. Their inaccessibility spared them from
destruction during the Cultural Revolution. We’ll
enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon
we fly to Dunhuang. Dinner will be on your own
tonight, offering opportunities to explore or relax
at the hotel. Overnight Silk Road Hotel (B,L)

Day 5 Dunhuang
Dunhuang is an oasis of brilliant emerald fields
set amidst sweeping brown sand dunes and
snow-white peaks towering in the distance. The
tree-lined streets are picturesque thoroughfares
for Mongolian ponies and locals in traditional
dress. Today we’ll explore this area. Experience
a camel ride in the desert sand dunes of Minsha
Hills and visit Crescent Moon Lake. Also visit
the highly regarded Dunhuang Museum. Tonight
we’ll enjoy a traditional dance performance with
dinner. Overnight Silk Road Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6 Dunhuang/Mogao Caves
Today explore the famous Mogao Caves, a series
of 492 carved temple-grottos. This UNESCO
World Heritage site is an incredible repository
of Buddhist culture, centuries of neglect and
foreign absconding notwithstanding. Discover
thousands of artifacts, including murals,
carvings, paintings, embroidery, hand-written
texts on Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism,
historic records, accounting books, letters and
court records in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Falu,
Sute, Hetian and Huihe languages. They are of
great value for the study of politics, economy,
culture, military affairs and foreign relations
in ancient China. We’ll also visit the nearby
Thousand Buddha Caves. Dinner will be on your
own tonight. Overnight Silk Road Hotel (B,L)

Day 7 Dunhuang/Turpan
Transfer to the airport for our late afternoon
flight to Urumqi. On arrival we continue overland
to Turpan (Turfan). This delightful town sits in
a basin 505 feet below sea level. We begin with
a visit to the ruined city of Gaochang, once the
capital of the Uyghurs and an important staging
post on the Silk Road. Next visit the underground
tombs of Atsana to view funerary objects dating
from the 3rd century. Also visit the legendary
Flaming Mountains, and the Bezeklik (Thousand
Buddha) Caves. These remarkable grottoes
house 77 caves carved into the rock, the walls
of which are adorned with Buddhist frescoes.
Some have unfortunately suffered desecration
but many remain intact and some are
considered masterpieces of religious art. We’ll
visit the Turpan Museum followed by Jiaohe, a
3rd century BC capital. Continue to the Emin
Minaret, one of the finest buildings on the Silk
Road. This evening enjoy an authentic Uygur folk
song anddance show at dinner. Overnight Tuha
Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 8 Turpan
This morning we tour the grape yards—Turpan
is well known for its production and variety of
grapes. We will sample the grapes and learn
about the Kerez irrigation system, ancient fun-
nels which deliver water from the surrounding
mountains for drinking, plant irrigation and livestock
needs. Dinner will be on your own today,
offering opportunities to explore or relax at the
hotel. Overnight Tuha Hotel (B,L)

Day 9 Urumqi
Today we drive to Urumqi to access a truly fascinating
area in China, with 13 distinct ethnic
minorities calling the area home. Urumqi means
“beautiful pastures” in Mongolian. This afternoon
is free for independent exploration or to
relax at your leisure. Reconvene for dinner at our
hotel to sample the local Uyghur cuisine, a culinary
crisscross of Chinese and Middle Eastern
influences. Try the laghman, thick noodles
topped with a sauce of spicy lamb, eggplant,
tomatoes, beans and garlic. Overnight Sheraton
Hotel (B,D)

Day 10 Urumqi/Southern Mountains
Today we drive to the beautiful Southern
Mountains valley to explore the mountains,
pastures and waterfalls on horseback with a
Kazak guide. We’ll visit with local Kazak families
to experience the traditional ways of life that
endure in these parts. Drive back to Urumqi
for lunch and continued exploration of Urumqi.
This afternoon we visit the Regional Museum,
which houses 50,000 relics relating to the many
ethnic minorities who inhabit the area. It also
showcases artifacts that reveal the daily lives of
the Silk Road’s early inhabitants, including some
of their mummified remains, unearthed from
the nearby desert of Taklamakan, which literally
means “go in and you won’t come out.” Tonight
enjoy a local specialty for dinner—a whole roast
lamb on a spit, Kazak style. Overnight Sheraton
Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 11 Urumqi/Kashgar
Fly to Kashgar. The quintessential exotic outpost,
Kashgar was, and still is, the last frontier.
Almost frozen in time since its trading heyday
ceased five centuries ago, the old section of
Kashgar remains much as Marco Polo found
it—an intoxicating, marvelous confluence of
Indian, Persian, Arabian and Chinese cultures
layered one on top of the other. Explore the 16th
century Apakhoja Tombs and the impressive
Idkah Mosque, built in the 15th century. Visit the
old town to enjoy tea with a local Uyghur family.
The Uyghurs are one of China’s 56 distinct
ethnic groups, descended from Turkic peoples
that inhabited Mongolia. Enjoy a whimsical ride
on a donkey cart, and stroll the city’s alleyways.
Many an enthralling scene may be glimpsed
through the mud-brick doorways, of people
engaged in all manner of ancient arts—bread
making, metal forging, musical instrument
manufacturing and the firing of handmade tile.
Overnight Tianyuan
International Hotel

Day 12
We drive outside
of Kashgar to the
village of Upal,
to visit a memorial
to Mahmud
al-Kashgari. In
1072, he wrote
the first Turkic
dictionary and is
viewed as the first
great Turkic scholar. Stroll through the beautiful
gardens. After lunch return to Kashgar with the
rest of the day free to explore and dine independently.
Dinner will be on your own tonight,
offering time to explore on your own. Overnight
Tianyuan International Hotel (B,L)

Day 13 Kashgar/Urumqi/Beijing
This morning fly to Beijing via Urumqi. The rest
of the afternoon is free to rest or explore China’s
riveting capital, which has undergone a near
total transformation in recent years. Reconvene
for our farewell dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.
Overnight at Raffles Hotel. (B,D)

Day 14 Home or Extend
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your
flight home, or extend with another group trip or
private custom journey. (B)

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