17 Days on the Silk Road: Follow the Footsteps of Monk Xuanzang
Monk Xuanzang was one of the epic figures of the ancient Silk Road. He spent seventeen years on the road, traveling from China to the far west India, and brought Buddhist learning back to China during the early Tang dynasty. Nine centuries later, he became one of the central characters of the novel "Journey to the West" written by Wu Cheng'en during the Ming dynasty. This novel has kept its popularity throughout the centuries, influencing many generations in China. The other renowned character is the Monkey King, Sun Wu Kong.
On this 17-day adventure, we will follow Monk Xuanzang's footsteps along the ancient Silk Road and acquire the first-hand story about his epic journey. The destinations include Xi'an, Lanzhou, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, and more. With our professional guide's help, you will attain a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will not find anywhere else.Tour itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Xi'an (Please contact us in advance to confirm your arrival time)
Arrive in Xi'an, where you will meet our representative and be accompanied to your hotel.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Xi'an)
Day 2: Xi'an Highlights
The Terracotta 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 and enjoy this pleasant experience.
- Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses: Discovered in 1974, it is a must-see in Xi'an. Various warriors exhibited in an original site will amaze you with their different features.
- Old City Wall: Nearly 14 km, built in 600 years ago. The old City Wall of Xi'an is a perfect place to know the long history of China.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Xi'an)
Day 3: Xi'an - Lanzhou
In the morning, visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Shaanxi Provincial Museum. In the afternoon, catch the overnight train to Lanzhou.
- Big Wild Goose Pagoda: It was built 1,500 years ago during the Tang Dynasty. Up to the present day, it is still well-preserved. You can have a bird's-eye view of the city when you climb up.
- Shaanxi Provincial Museum: One of the biggest museums in China. It houses more than 3,000 relics that can be dated back to millions of years ago.
Overnight on the train to Lanzhou (hard sleeper)
Day 4: Lanzhou - Xiahe
Upon arrival, take a ride to Xiahe, also called "Labrang" in the Tibetan language. Free time in the afternoon to explore the Tibetan town.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Xiahe)
Day 5: Xiahe - Lanzhou - Overnight train to Jiayuguan
Visit Langrang Temple in the morning. Take a ride to Lanzhou to catch the overnight train to Jiayuguan.
- Labrang Monastery: One of the six biggest Tibetan monasteries that represent the typical Tibetan Buddhist culture.
Overnight on the train to Jiayuguan (hard sleeper)
Day 6: Jiayuguan - Dunhuang
Early morning arrival. Transfer to the hotel to have breakfast, then visit the well-preserved Jiagyuguan Fort.
Take a ride to Dunhuang in the afternoon.
- Jiayuguan Fort: This end of the Great Wall, created during the Ming Dynasty, looks like a huge city and was designed to guard the border.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Dunhuang)
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. The colorful frescoes and statues will tell you various stories about Buddha. Later, catch the overnight train to Turpan.
- Minsha Dunes: It means "Singing Sand" Dunes. According to history, the sand was moved from the Taklamankan desert to form the dunes.
- Mogao Caves: Though they were stolen many times throughout history, the Mogao Caves still has well-preserved frescoes with colorful paintings that look like they were finished yesterday.
Overnight on the train to Turpan (hard sleeper)
Day 8: Turpan Highlights
Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel for breakfast.
Turpan Basin is a key part of the ancient Silk Road, with well-preserved ruins and grottos. We will visit the Bezklik Grottos, Astana Ancient Tombs, Ancient City of Jiaohe and Gaochang, Karez Irrigation System, and Sugong Minaret.
- Astana Ancient Tombs: It was a public cemetery 1,000 years ago for the citizens of the Gaochang Kingdom. You will see dried-up corpses and tomb paintings.
- Karez Irrigation System: This underground tunnel provides enough water to the local farmers and their fields to support civilization in the dry and hot oasis.
- Ancient City of Jiaohe: Built on a 30-meter terrace, Jiaohe is a ruin that showcases the splendid local culture.
- Ancient City of Gaochang: It was built in the first century BC. Gaochang has a huge city wall and various temples. Unfortunately, it was abandoned during the Mongolian Civil War.
- Sugong Minaret: Built in 1777, also called "Eming Tower", it is representative of Uyghur architecture.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (X)
Day 9: Turpan - Urumqi
Take a ride to Urumqi and visit the Xinjiang Museum. Mummies are a must-see in it, particularly the Loulan Beauty and Xiaohe Beauty.
- Xinjiang Museum: It houses numerous relics and exhibitions. Mummies from the Taklamakan desert and the Turpan basin will amaze you with their features.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Urumqi)
Day 10: Urumqi - Heavenly Lake - Kuqa
In the morning take a ride to Heavenly Lake and enjoy the stunning scenery there. In the afternoon, take the overnight train to Kuqa.
- Heavenly Lake: Located in the Heavenly Mountain (Tianshan). It has a beautiful mountain view.
Overnight on the train to Kuqa (hard sleeper)
Day 11: Kuqa
In Kuqa, view the Kizil Grottoes which is one of the earliest caves in Xijiang. Moreover, we will visit the Tianshan Grand Valley to enjoy the picturesque scenery.
- Kizil Grottoes: They were the first grottoes built in China, which can be traced back to 2,000 years ago. Inside, there are many Buddhist stories telling people to follow Buddha.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Kuqa)
Day 12: Kuqa - Hetian
This day we will take a long ride from Kuqa to Hetian, traveling along the Taklamagan Desert Highway.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Hetian)
Day 13: Hetian - Kashgar
Visit the Hetian Bazaar and the Paper Mill in the morning. In the afternoon, take a ride to Kashgar.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Kashgal)
Day 14: Kashgar Highlights
This will be a busy day. You will see the iconic spots in the city, including the well-known Sunday Bazaar, livestock market, Apa Hojia Tomb, Idkar Mosque, and the old town of Kashgar.
- Sunday Bazaar: It is said this is the biggest market in the world. You can purchase almost anything here.
- 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: 3-star Hotel (Kashgar)
Day 15: Kashgar - Karakul Lake - Tashkuergan
Get on a coach headed to Karakul Lake. Drive along the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway with a stunning snow-covered mountain view.
Move on to Tashkurgan, which is situated on the border between China and Pakistan.
- Karakul Lake: A beautiful mountain lake with an altitude of nearly 3,800 meters. It has an impressive scenery of snow-covered mountains.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Tashkuergan)
Day 16: Tashkuergan - Kashgar
After sightseeing the Stone City in Tashkuergan, we return to Kashgar.
- Stone City: Built 2,000 years ago, you can still imagine the original style from seeing the ruins.
Overnight: 3-star Hotel (Kashgar)
Day 17: Depart from Kashgar
Transfer to the airport, where our service comes to an end.
|Meetup Location||Xi'an airport pickup|
- Accommodation in 3-star hotel (Twin room)
- Transportation by chartered car or public bus
- Train tickets: Hard sleeper Xi'an-Lanzhou
- Train tickets: Hard sleeper Lanzhou-Jiayuguan
- Train tickets: Hard sleeper Dunhuang-Turpan
- Train tickets: Hard sleeper Urumqi-Kuqa
- Meals listed in the itinerary
- Professional English-speaking guide
- Entrance tickets as mentioned in the itinerary
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