Venture into the remote west of China on this Silk Road itinerary, exploring rugged desert and mountain landscapes, fascinating historic sites and the central Asian cultures of this vast area.

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Why We Love It

The dramatic desert and mountain landscapes of western China

The remarkable Buddhist caves of Mogao

Kashgar and its classic central Asian architecture and markets

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Day by day Itinerary

The Silk Road: Xi'an to Kashgar

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Day 1


This morning fly to Zhangye. On arrival you will be met by your guide for a visit to the Dafo or Grand Buddha Temple, with its gigantic thousand-year-old reclining Buddha.

Day 2


Visit the Mati Temple, and then continue to Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. The dramatic rock formations in the arid Qilian Mountains are one of the most spectacular landscapes in China. (B)

Day 3


In the morning drive to Jiayuguan, and visit its dramatic Ming Dynasty fort guarding the strategic Jiayuguan Pass at the western end of the Great Wall – where the Gobi Desert stretches for hundreds of kilometres. Visit the Great Wall Museum and the Weijin Tombs, with their brick paintings dating back over 1,500 years. (B)

Day 4


Transfer to Dunhuang by road. In the afternoon, visit Echoing Sand Mountain and Crescent Lake, with their spectacular desert landscapes. At night, explore popular Shazhou Night Market, famous for its local specialties. (B)

Day 5


This morning visit the Mogao Caves. Also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, this World Heritage Site is one of the great artistic and religious wonders of the world, famous for its exquisite murals and sculptures spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. Later take the express train to Turpan. (B)

Day 6


After breakfast, tour the Tuyoq Valley with its famous grape industry and the Flaming Mountains, on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. (B)

Day 7


This morning visit the remarkable Karez, a unique irrigation system utilising the waters of the Xinjiang glaciers in one of the world’s driest deserts. Also visit the atmospheric Jiaohe ruins—with a history of 2,300 years and one of the best preserved ruins of ancient China. Continue on to modern Urumqi and its colourful bazaar. (B)

Day 8


This morning visit the Heavenly Lake located 2,000 metres up in the Tianshan mountain range, featuring alpine meadows, forests and peaks. Return to Urumqi in the afternoon and visit the Xinjiang Region Museum before your flight to Kashgar. (B)

Day 9


Time your visit for the Sunday market, one of the most famous bazaars in central Asia. See the colourful trade in livestock and local products. Later visit beautiful IdKah Mosque and Zhiren Street, with its many handicraft workshops. Stroll around the Old Town and the ornate Apak Hoja Tomb, the holiest place in Xinjiang. (B)

Day 10


This morning take the China-Pakistan Highway to beautiful Karakul Lake, at an altitude of 3,600 metres and surrounded by snow-covered peaks. Enjoy beautiful scenery before overnighting in Tashkurgan. (B)

Day 11


After breakfast visit the dramatic Tashkurgan Stone Fortress, its ruins backed by rugged mountains. See the local Tajik herdsman in the pastures and stop to learn about their customs. Later, return to Kashgar. (B)

Day 12


After breakfast, transfer to the airport for departure. (B)

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