Itinerary of the Silk Road Tour

Day 1 Meet in Xi’an

Meeting point: Xi’an airport or you can come to the hotel directly by yourself.

Meeting time: 17:00

Dinner: Welcome dinner, where we will sample traditional Shaanxi-style cuisine.

xi'an muslim quarterDay 2 Explore Xi’an

Our first stop will be the ancient City Walls, from which we will be treated to a panoramic view of the whole city.

Then we will visit the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, where there are not only ancient buildings and beautiful gardens but also a stunning combination of modern buildings and artificial Tang-style architecture.

We will also take a trip to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, which contains the Xi’an Museum, but is not as popular with tourists and is thus far less crowded.

Yet perhaps the most interesting part of the day might be our visit to Muslim Street. There we will find many exotic and delicious local foods, full of ethnic flair and Central Asian spice.

Dinner: Not included. Guests are free to explore the area and sample the local food themselves.

Terracotta Army01Day 3 The Terracotta Army and Huaqing Lake

We will travel to this internationally renowned attraction via private mini coach. The Huangqing Lake is also of particular interest, as it was once the royal garden of the Tang Empire. It is most famous for having once been used as a bathing area by Yang Guife, who was reputedly one of the most beautiful women in Chinese history.

Dinner: Shaanxi-style cuisine

mount huaDay 4 Scale the heights of Mount Hua

In the morning, we will take the train to Mount Hua. Unfortunately you may not have enough time to explore the entirety of the mountain range, unless you have limitless energy that is! After all it is one of the largest mountain ranges in China and some of the hiking paths that lead to the peaks are quite difficult. Alternatively you can choose to ride the cable car, which cuts out some of the fun of climbing but will save you a lot of time and energy.

Dinner: Not included. Guests are free to explore the area and sample the local food themselves.

Tianshui Hu familyDay 5 The Hu Family Mansion in Tianshui

In the morning, we will take the train from Xi’an to Tianshui. There we will visit an old mansion that once belonged to the wealthy Hu family. It is a traditional compound built in the Han-style and is a rare sight as there are very few old Han-style mansions in the western part of China.

Dinner: Local Food

maijishan 02Day 6 Maijishan Grottoes

We will go there by bus as the plan is to hike some of the way to the grottoes. As long as you don’t mind a short 2 mile hike, this experience will help to replicate the journey that pilgrim’s would have taken to visit the grottoes all those years ago. We’re sure you can handle it since their road was much longer than ours and they managed to do it without hiking boots!

Dinner: Not included. Guests are free to explore the area and sample the local food themselves.

qilian mountainsDay 7 Train to Zhangye

This day will be primarily taken up by the 9 hour train journey to Zhangye. We have chosen to travel during the day rather than the night because the scenery along this route is particularly beautiful and unusual. You will see how the landscape slowly changes from lush mountainous terrain to the barren Gobi Desert. Not to mention our trip will take us past the Yellow River and the Qilian Mountains. That being said, don’t worry about the length of the trip as you will have a soft bed and be able rest anytime you want.

Dinner: Local Food

Zhangye DanxiaDay 8 The Zhangye Danxia Landform and the Giant Buddha Temple

We’ll start our day with a visit to the Giant Buddha Temple in the morning, followed by a trip to the incredible Danxia Landform. We will take a private car to the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park but you will need to do a little bit of hiking around the park if you want to make the most of the unique scenery.

Dinner: Not included. Guests are free to explore the area and sample the local food themselves.

horse's hoof templeDay 9 Horse’s Hoof Temple, Train to Dunhuang

If you want to see some of the more magnificent cultural attractions that Zhangye has to offer but don’t fancy battling the crowds, then the Horse’s Hoof Temple is the ideal place for you. Not only that, but we’ll also provide you with the opportunity to ride a horse to the temple. You’ll experience what it’s like to be a true Western Cowboy, although please don’t try to lasso any local animals!

We will take the overnight train to Dunhuang because most of the passing scenery will be of the Gobi Desert and, beautiful though it may be, it might get a little boring. After all, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing!

Dinner: Not included. Guests are free to explore the area and sample the local food themselves.

silk road DunhuangDay 10 Crescent Lake

After our overnight trip, you’ll have a couple of hours in the morning to yourselves. You can either check in at the hotel and have a good rest in your room or explore the spectacular oasis town of Dunhuang.

In the afternoon we will indulge in a trip to a nature lover’s paradise, Crescent Lake, which is widely considered to be the most beautiful oasis in the Gobi Desert. You can take part in all kinds of activities there, including sandboarding, paragliding and camel riding.

Dinner: Local Food

yumenpassDay 11 The Yardang Landform, Yumen Pass, Hecang Relics, and Great Wall relics from the Han Dynasty

You may still be in awe of the Danxia Landform in Zhangye, but rest assured, the Yardang Landform is just as unbelievably beautiful. We will take the shuttle bus to the Yardang National Park but, unlike other tour companies, we will also hire a car so that we can explore the interior of the park more intimately. The magnificent yardangs create an alien landscape that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

On the way back to Dunhuang, we will pass some relics from the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), which are over 2,000 years old!

Dinner: Not included. We recommend that you take the time to explore the Shazhou Night Market together, as it’s a great place to sample some of the finest local cuisine.

mogao caves 02Day 12 The Mogao Caves, Flight to Ürümqi

Now that we’ve already thoroughly enjoyed the many miracles of the natural world, it’s time to focus on a few manmade wonders by taking a trip to the Mogao Caves. We will join one of the English guided groups organised by the tourist administration at Mogao.

In the afternoon, we will board our flight to Ürümqi.

Dinner: Traditional Uyghur-style cuisine

jiaohe relics02Day 13 Train journey to Turpan, Trip to the Jiaohe Relics and Turpan Karez Water System

During the train journey to Turpan, you will have the chance to enjoy scenic views of both Mount Tian Shan and the Xinjiang portion of the Gobi Desert.

The ancient Jiaohe Relics are undoubtedly impressive, but we reckon you’ll be more surprised by the ingenuity of the Turpan Karez Water System.

Dinner: Not included. Guests are free to explore the area and sample the local food themselves.

Urumqi01Day 14 Uyghur Culture in Ürümqi

We will visit the Grand Bazaar and the Uyghur district.

Dinner: Traditional Hui-style cuisine

Day 15 Your Onward Journey

On your final day with us, you can either choose to embark on your return journey home or continue your travels. If you decide to continue traveling, we’ll be on hand to help you book any travel tickets or hotels should you need us to. If you need any recommendations on where to travel, please do not hesitate to ask us.

Here are our top choices for travel destinations that are easy to reach from Ürümqi:

Kanas Lake –This wonderful scenic area in the north of Xinjiang is resplendent with beautiful lakes, snowy mountains, verdant meadows, and sleepy villages.

(We don’t recommend you travel to other parts of Xinjiang at the moment since they are currently considered a little unsafe)

Qinghai Lake – Surrounded by old Buddhist temples, Qinghai Lake is the perfect place to indulge your spiritual side.

(Please note that foreign tourists cannot travel to Tibet unless they join a tour group organised by a government-approved travel company)