11-Day Xinjiang Silk Road Tour including Dunhuang
Route: Dunhuang – Turpan – Kucha – Taklamakan Desert – Hotan – Yarkant – Kashgar – Karakorum Highway – Kashgar
Activities: Our 11 days Xinjiang Silk Road Tour including Dunhuaung suitable to people who already have been to Xi’an but not to rest of Chinese side of the Silk Road. It helps them to experience the nature, learn about their past and present history, culture and custom.
Place & Transport: Flight to Dunhuang
Day’s Activities: Airport to Hotel Transfer
Place to Stay: Dunhuang
We will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel.
Place & Transport: Tour in Dunhuang
Today’s Activities: Mogao Caves, Echoing Sand Dunes, Crescent Moon Spring
Place to Stay: On the Night Train.
We arrive at the Dunhuang airport in the morning and then take a 1.5 hour drive from the station to Dunhuang city to check in to our hotel and freshen up. We head to Mogao Grottoes that morning. Constructed over a millennium ago, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, the caves hold the world’s richest treasure house of Buddhist sutras, murals and sculptures.
We will have lunch at Mogao Caves and then drive to Crescent Moon Spring, 6km south of Dunhuang in the Singing Sands Mountains. It is quite literally an oasis in the desert. The spring’s name derives from the crescent moon shape taken by the small pool of spring water between two large sand dunes. Although the area is very dry, the pool doesn’t dry up as one might expect. After dinner you will take overnight train to Turpan.
Place & Transport: Pick Up from Train Station then Tour in Turpan
Day’s Activities: Kariz Underground Water System, Jiaohe Ancient City, Emin Minaret, Tuyuk Village
Place to Stay: Turpan
Kariz Underground Water System is the China’s third most important ancient engineering feat with a total length of 3100 miles and dating back more than 2000 years.
Jiaohe Ancient City is the oldest, largest, highest ancient city built of mud in the World. Many cultural relics were unearthed, such as antefix of the Tang Dynasty and Buddhist scriptures at the Ancient City of Jiao he
Emin Minaret was built in 1777,it is the largest extant old tower in Xinjiang and it is the only Islamic tower among the hundred famous towers in China).
Next we will have a traditional Uygher lunch in Tuyuk Valley. We will visit the Tuyuk Village where we can see traditional Uyghur life. Villagers live in traditional homes made of mud.on the way back to Turpan City you will see the Tuyuk Valley
Place & Transport: Turpan to Kucha by Crossing the Tianshan Mountain
Day’s Activities: Tianshan Mountains
Place to Stay: Kucha
After breakfast we will leave for Kucha. Our journey will take us across the Tianshan Mountain Range, the range which divides Xinjiang into two parts: Northern Xinjiang and Southern Xinjiang. TianShan Mountain is known to the Uyghur people as “Tangry Tagh” which means “God Mountain”. This was due to the life sustaining properties the first Uyghur settlers found here. The first settlers inhabited both sides of the range and received water from the mountains and green pastures on which to graze their herds. We will enjoy a picnic lunch along the route. We will arrive in Kucha late afternoon and you will have free time to explore the city.
Place & Transport: Kuqa (Kuche) Tour
Day’s Activities: Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, Beacon Tower, Grand Mosque & Kuqa Old Town, Subash Ancient City
Place to Stay: Kuqa
After breakfast we will the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, dating from the 5th and 6th century AD. These are the second best preserved Buddhist caves in China. We will enjoy a Chinese lunch at the caves before continuing on our tour of Kuqa. Kuqa is the biggest county of Aksu prefecture. Kuqa was previously the most important pass on the middle silk road (route) in Xinjiang. Kuqa is also a center for Buddhism in southern Xinjiang.
Following we will visit Kuqa Grand Mosque and have some free time to stroll through the streets of Kuqa’s old town. We will then set off for Korla making a few visits on route. First we will visit the Beacon Tower, the highest tower on the silk road, at 13m high and made of mud and wood. The Beacan Tower was previously used for sending out fire signals to warn of the arrival of enemies. We will then visit Subash ancient city, a well preserved 1 sq km where Uyghur ancestors used to worship in the temples of the city during the Buddhism periods.
Place & Transport: Kucha to Hotan by crossing the new Desert Highway
Day’s Activities: Taklamakan Desert Highway
Place to Stay: Hotan
The day’s journey will have us cross the width of the Taklamakan Desert, along the 450km long Taklamakan Desert Highway. Taklamakan desert is the second largest shifting sands desert in the World, covering an area of 337,600 square km. Taklamakan Desert is known as the “sea of death” by the silk road traders that used to cross it in their caravans in times gone by. Many traders who entered the desert lost their way and were never to be seen again.
We will arrive in Hotan late in the afternoon for dinner.
Place & Transport: Hotan Tour & Desert Camping
Day’s Activities:Taklamakan Desert, Local silk, Carpet, Jade Workshops, White Jade River, Hotan Sunday Bazzar
Place to Stay: Taklamakan Desert Camp
After breakfast we will visit Hotan’s amazing Hotan Market, a huge lively market which is like taking a journey back in time, experiencing donkey gridlock. Hotan is particularly famous for its high quality Jade products; the best Jade in China being found here in White Jade River. We will visit the river and try to find some Jade for ourselves and watch the locals at work digging and sifting for the precious rock. We will also visit the white Jade factory to see how the Jade is processed and made into jewelry and ornaments. Hotan is also renowned for its high quality wool carpets. We will visit a carpet workshop to see the weaving process. Late in the afternoon we will take a camel ride out into the Taklamakan Desert and camp over night here. We will enjoy a camp fire dinner and breakfast in the desert.
Note: We will provide you with all the necessary camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and blankets etc.
Place & Transport: Hotan to Kashgar
Day’s Activities: Yarkand Golden Graveyard, Tomb of Aman Nisahan, Yarkand Old Town, Yegisar Knife Factory
Place to Stay: Kashgar
We will leave for Kashgar after breakfast. On our way to Kashgar we will make a stop in the county of Yegisar. Yegisar is the most famous region in Xinjiang for making traditional Uyghur knives. We will have the chance to visit one of the many knife factories here and view the making process and purchase souvenirs. Next stop a further two hours down the road will be Yarkand (shache in Chinese). In Yarkand we will first visit the Golden Graveyard. This graveyard dates from the 17th Century and is the burial place of Royal family members of the Yarkand Uyghur Kingdom. Next to this is the Tomb of Aman Nisahan, the wife of the second King of the Yarkand Kingdom. Aman Nisahan is a famous Uyghur poet, musician and composer. She is most renowned for her transcription of the Twelve Mukam of famous traditional Uyghur music. We will enjoy a traditional lunch of corn noodles, pumpkin dumplings and kebab in a local Yarkand teahouse. After lunch we will continue our journey to Kashgar and arrive in Kashgar in the late afternoon.
Place & Transport: Kashgar to Karakul Lake then to Kashgar
Day’s Activities: Karakoram Highway, Opal Village, Corner Lake & Sand Mountain, Mt. Muztagh Ata & Mt. Konger, Karakul Lake
Place to Stay: Kashgar
Today we take a drive on Karakurum highway, renowned as the highest paved border crossing in the World and regarded as one of the World’s most beautiful highways). We will see the following on our drive: Opal Village is a 1 hour drive from Kashgar. It is a good location to take photos of village life and traditional activities like bread making and Uyghur food stalls. Half an hour drive from the village we will arrive in Oytagh Red Mountain. The mountain valley is surrounded by a beautiful backdrop of multi-coloured mountains topped by snowcapped peaks. Corner Lake (Bulung Kul) is a tranquil shallow lake where you can take very nice photographs of the lake with stunning reflections of the sand mountains. Karakul Lake is 3600 meters above sea level. It is located between Mt. Muztagata (7546 meters) and Mt. Gonger (7719 meters), which are said to be 2 of the 6 most beautiful mountains in the World . We will visit the local Kyrgyz Yurts and listen to their stories about traditional ways of nomadic mountain life. We will come back to Kashgar in the afternoon.
Place & Transport: Kashgar City Tour
Day’s Activities: Apak Hoja Tomb, Sunday market, Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Handicraft Street
Place to Stay: Kashgar
We will begin our tour of Kashgar City by visiting the Apak Hoja tomb, also called fragrant concubine tomb (Xingfei in Chinese). This is a very tranquil place and a beautiful example of Uyghur Islamic architecture. Next we will head to the Infamous lively Sunday market, renowned as the biggest market in Central Asia. It is said you can buy anything you want from the Sunday market except chicken milk and Cow eggs. We will then enjoy lunch in a typical Uyghur restaurant.
After lunch we will wander through the narrow winding streets of the historic Old town brushing shoulders with the friendly Uyghur residents. Located at the spiritual heart of old town is Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China. We will go inside and have the chance to understand a bit more about the Islamic life of the Uyghur people. We will pass down Handicraft Street where we can view pots being hammered, wood craftsmen at work and traditional musical instrument workshops.
Note: For entering the Mosque visitors should dress respectfully: no shorts or short sleeved shirts and women should cover their heads with a scarf.
Place & Transport: Kashgar Airport Transfer
Day’s Activities: Morning flight from Kashgar to your next destination