Start: UK Finish: UK
Physical rating: Medium, Reasonable level of fitness required. A lot of time spent on your feet rather than covering long distances.
Special diets catered: Vegetarians, Meat
Tour code: 427
Group size: 8 - 18
Tour operated in:
Follow in the footsteps of intrepid adventurers by journeying along one of the world’s most famous trading routes, the Silk Road. Beginning in ancient Xian, venture across this vast land to reach the fascinating outpost of Kashgar. Hike along the Jiayuguan area of the Great Wall and spend time exploring Imperial Beijing.
Location: London, Xi'an
Fly overnight to Xian, the ancient former capital. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Gaze over the ranks of warriors and horses, each one unique, whilst your guide introduces you to these life-like soldiers' fascinating story. Later, enjoy a gentle cycle ride that will take you the nine miles around the ancient city wall and take a walking tour of the narrow and winding streets of the Muslim Quarter. Tonight, enjoy a traditional dumpling dinner and take an optional 'Xian by night' tour.
Start the day with a visit to Xian Museum and the Little Wild Goose Pagoda. Later, board the bullet train to Lanzhou.
Begin today with a leisurely walk along the Yellow River and then head to the hilltop Baita Temple for a moment of tranquillity. Along the river and in Baita Park you can see locals practising Tai Chi. Later, tuck into some delicious Lanzhou-style noodles made with hand stretched dough. The next day, cross Liujiaxia Lake by speed boat and head into the green hills around Liujiaxia to explore the extraordinary Thousand Buddha Caves of Bingling Temple and their wealth of Buddhist murals, statues and sculptures. Also visit the statue of Maitreya.
Location: Xiahe County
Conquer the scenic Jishi Mountain Pass to arrive at Tibetan Xiahe and spend time acclimatising to the altitude.
Giving a taste of the mysteries of Tibet, Labrang Monastery is a fascinating maze of prayer wheels, chapels and chortens. Dine on traditional Tibetan food for lunch, including Tibetan dumplings, known as momos.
Return to Lanzhou and take the speedy bullet train to Zhangye, once an important commercial town along the Silk Road.
Location: Zhangye, Jiayuguan City
Rise early this morning to witness the sunrise over the kaleidoscopic mountains in Danxia National Park. Return to Zhangye and visit the Giant Buddha Temple before boarding your bullet train to Jiayuguan.
Location: Jiayuguan City
Seen as China's western gateway, Jiayuguan is the perfect place to get to grips with your Silk Road history. Visit the Jiayu Fortress and take a walk on the western extremes of the magnificent Great Wall for panoramic views over the starkly beautiful Gobi Desert.
Drive to Dunhuang. Located on a major trade and cultural crossroads, Dunhuang, known as the 'City of the Sands', sits in a verdant oasis on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. Visit the Shazhou Night Market where you can wander amongst the stalls.
A system of temples and sanctuaries, visit the Mogao Grottoes that exhibit wonderful examples of Buddhist paintings and statues that span thousands of years.
Visit Crescent Moon Spring, nestled amongst rolling dunes and the famous Singing Sand Dunes, a phenomenon produced by the wind blowing through grains of sand.
Take the bullet train to Turpan, a lush green oasis set in a barren landscape. An easy-going town famed for its grapes, its pleasant streets are lined with lush vine trellises.
Location: Turpan, Korla
Visit the ruins of ancient Jiaohe and see the elegant Emin Minaret, the tallest in China. The next day, learn about the fascinating 2000-year-old Kerez irrigation canals and drive to Kurla.
Location: Kuqa, Xinjiang, Aksu Prefecture, Kashgar Prefecture
Over the next three days travel along the original Silk Road through the Xinjiang Region, viewing ruins and sights largely unvisited by tourists. Start with a visit to see the ruins of Subashi, before arriving in Kuqa to see the Kyzil A Thousand Buddha Caves. Continue travelling to Aksu, and on to the fabled city of Kashgar.
Location: Kashgar Prefecture
Its skyline punctured by minarets, Kashgar feels a million miles from China – in fact, it feels a million miles from anywhere! Although now a modern city, the sights and sounds of Kashgar's bazaar have remained unchanged for millennia. Sightseeing today includes a visit to Abakh Hoja Tomb, ID Kah Mosque and a stroll through the narrow atmospheric alleyways around ID Kah Square.
Location: Kashgar Prefecture, Ürümqi
Dive headlong into Central Asia's largest bazaar. Within this riot of textures, vivid colours and traditional dress, you can browse hundreds of stalls selling anything from spices and carpets to boots and blenders. Later, fly to Urumqi.
Location: Ürümqi, Beijing
Escape to the tranquillity of Tianchi (Heavenly Lake), formed in a crater. Pay a visit to a Kazakh minority family in their yurt and spend some time with them, learning their way of life. Tonight, enjoy local Uyghur lamb skewers for dinner. The following day, make a short visit to the Xinjiang Museum before flying to Beijing, China’s historic capital.
Location: Great Wall of China
This morning is dedicated to China's most iconic sight – the Great Wall. In the afternoon, enjoy the idyllic landscapes of the Summer Palace as you wander through traditional Chinese gardens and see the exquisite architecture.
Head to Beijing's symbolic heart, Tiananmen Square and into the sprawling magnificence of the Forbidden City where you will find a complex full of imperial treasures. Soak up the ambience of the Temple of Heaven before visiting Yandaixiejie, where you will have some free time to wander the hutongs. This evening, dine on Peking duck and enjoy a Chinese acrobatic show.
Fly to the UK, arriving home the same or following day.
25 nights in 4 star
International flights and current taxes
Touring with Guides and entrance fees
Breakfasts: 24, Lunches: 23, Dinners: 24
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