time 17 Days
luggage 2-20 travellers
location Xi'an
language English

17 Days on Silk Road: Follow the Footprint of Monk Xuanzang

Tour Summary

Monk Xuanzang was one of the epic figures on the ancient Silk Road who spent seventeen years on road, traveling from China to the far west India and brought Buddhist learning back to China during the early Tang dynasty. After 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 keeps its popularity in centuries, influencing many generations in China. The other renowned character is the Monkey King, Sun Wu Kong.

In this 17 days adventure, we will follow Monk Xuanzang's footprint to travel 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 an once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will not attain from anywhere else.

Tour itinerary

Day 1. Arrive in Xi'an - Contact us in advance to confirm your arrival time

Arrive in Xi'an, met and transferred by our representative to the hotel.

Overnight: Xi'an 3-star hotel

Meal: None

Day 2. Xi'an Highlights

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 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: Xi'an 3-star hotel

Meals: B

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 in Tang Dynasty. Until present days it is 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 3,000 relics that can be dated back to millions years ago.

Overnight on the train to Laznhou (harder sleeper )

Meals: B

Day 4. Lanzhou - Xiahe

Upon arrival, take a ride to Xiahe, also called as Labrang in Tibetan language. Free time in the afternoon to explore the Tibetan town.

Overnight: Xiahe 3-star hotel

Meals: B

Day 5. Xiahe - Lanzhou - Overnight train to Jiayugua

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 presents the typical Tibetan Buddhism culture.

Harder sleeper overnight train to Jiayuguan

Meals: B

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 hotel

Meal: B

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 fresco and statues will 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 frescoes with colorful paintings that look like finished yesterday.

Harder sleeper overnight train to Turpan

Meal: B

Day 8. Turpan Highlights

Upon arrival, transfer to hotel for breakfast.

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 Minaret.

  • Astana Ancient Tombs: It was a public cemetery 1,000 years ago for the citizens of Gaochang Kingdom. You will see dried corpses and tomb paintings.
  • Karez Irrigation System: This underground tunnel provides 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 hotel

Meal: B

Day 9. Turpan - Urumqi

Take a ride to Urumqi. Visit 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 Taklamakan desert and Turpan basin will amaze you with their features.

Overnight in Urumqi 3-star hotel

Meal: B

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 hard sleeper train to Kuqa

Meal: B

Day 11. Kuqa

In Kuqa, view Kizil Grottoes which is one of the earliest caves in Xijiang. Moreover, we will visit Tianshan Grand Valley to enjoy the picturesque scenery.

  • Kizil Grottoes: It was the first grottoes built in China, which can be traced back to 2,000 years ago, with many Buddhism stories telling people to follow Buddha.

Overnight in Kuqa 3-star hotel

Meal: B

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 hotel

Meal: B

Day 13. Hetian - Kashgar

Visit Hetian Bazzar, and Paper Mill in the morning.  In the afternoon, take a ride to Kashgar. 

Overnight in Kashgar 3-star hotel

Meal: B

Day 14. Kashgar Highlights

It is a busy day, you will see the iconic spots in this 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 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 hotel

Meal: B

Day 15. Kashgar - Karakul Lake - Tashkuergan

Get on a coach to the Karakul Lake and drive long 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: A beautiful mountain lake with altitude of nearly 3,800 meters. It has impressive scenery of the snow-covered mountains. 

Overnight in Tashkuergan 3-star hotel

Meal: B

Day 16. Tashkuergan - Kashgar

After sightseeing the Stone City in Tashkuergan, return to Kashgar.

  • Stone City: Built 2,000 years ago, you can still image the original style from the ruins.

Overnight in Kashgar 3-star hotel

Meal: B

Day 17. Depart from Kashgar

Transfer to the airport for your ongoing journey. End of the service. 

Meal: B

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Important Information
Tour Location China-Xi'an
Meetup Location Xi'an airport pickup


  • Accommodation in 3-star hotel (Twin room)
  • Transportation by Chartered car or public bus
  • Train tickets: Harder sleeper Xi'an-Lanzhou
  • Train tickets: Harder sleeper Lanzhou-Jiayuguan
  • Train tickets: Harder sleeper Dunhuang-Turpan
  • Train tickets: Harder sleeper Urumqi-Kuqa
  • Meals listed in the itinerary
  • Professional English-speaking guide
  • Entrance tickets as mentioned in the itinerary


  • Gratuities
  • Flight
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   Per Person

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About the Guide

Ben Y.

Member since 03/07/2017

We are an outstanding travel and tour provider specializing in unique Silk Road tours and tours in the major cities such as Beijing, Xi'an. Guangzhou, etc, offering once-in-a-lifetime experience while you travel to China. Founded in 2004, we expanded into a fully travel business and is now one of the largest adventure travel companies on the Silk Road specializing in active walking, trekking and cycling tours. We are able to run group, private and tailor-made tours, book and issue air tickets, provide ground transportation, book exclusive hotel rooms and be a provider of destination, conference and convention management services for our clients. Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that travel should be stimulating and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of Silk Road and its ancient culture.

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