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14-Day Wonders of China Silk Road Tour

Route: Kashgar – Karakorum Highway – Tashkurgan – Yarkent – Hotan – Taklimakan Desert – Aksu – Kucha – Turpan – Dunhuang – Urumqi

Activities: 14 days Wonders of China Silk Road Tour allows you to experience the human life at most remote areas like Tashkurgan at Pamir Plateau, the lowest, hottest, sweetest and driest place Turpan, and visiting the world famous Buddhist treasure house Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang.

Day 01

Place & Transport: Arrival to Kashgar

Day’s Activities: Airport to Kashgar Hotel Transfer

Place to Stay: Kashgar
You fly in kashgar and we will meet you at Kashgar Airport then transfer to your Hotel.

Day 02

Place & Transport: Kashgar City Tour

Day’s Activities: Apak Hoja Tomb, Sunday Market, Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Handicraft Street

  • Kashgar Apak Hoja Tomb
  • Kashgar Sunday Market
  • Kashgar Old Town
  • Kashgar Id Kah Mosque
  • Kashgar 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.

Day 03

Place & Transport: Kashgar to Karakul Lake to Tashkorgan

Day’s Activities: Karakoram Highway, Opal Village, Red Mountain, Corner Lake,  Sand Mountain, Mt. Muztagh Ata, Mt. Konger, Karakul Lake

  • Karakoram Highway
  • Corner Lake
  • Mt. Muztagh Ata
  • Karakul Lake

Place to Stay: Tashkurgan.

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.

Picnic lunch: We will then enjoy our picnic lunch of fruits and fresh bread that we purchased in Opal village in a beautiful picnic spot overlooking the Karakul Lake. We will take 1.5 hours drive from Karakul lake to Tashkorgan. It Tashkurgan is an interesting small town located on the Pamir Plateau.  This area was extremely isolated until the rebuilding of the Karakurum highway in 1987 and even today the local community still lives in a very traditional fashion with only a single road reaching here from Kashgar, so it has retained a certain uniqueness. This region is commonly known as the main road of the “old Silk Road” the main route leading from China to West Asia. The average elevation is 4000 meters.

Day 04

Place & Transport: Tashkorgan to Kashgar

Day’s Activities:Tashkorgan Stone City, Tashkorgan Grassland, Subash Pass

  • Tashkorgan Stone City
  • Tashkorgan Grassland

Place to Stay: Kashgar

After breakfast we will visit the Stone fort, located in downtown Tashkurgan. It has a history of more than 2000 years. In times gone by it was the central palace of the Tajik kingdom. Then we will hike around the Tashkurgan grassland and enjoy the scenery of Mt. Mutztah Ata and Mt. Pamir. We take the Karakorum Highway back to Kashgar and arrive in the late afternoon.

Note: Guests will need to carry their passports on this tour as they will be required to show these at the Gaz check point (around an hour after the colorful mountain on the first day and also on the way back to Kashgar).  Everybody at this point needs to be registered by the authorities due to its close proximity to many bordering countries. It is also advisable to bring warm clothes as temperatures can be colder than those found in Kashgar at the higher altitudes.

Day 05

Place & Transport: Kashgar to Hotan

Today’s Activities: Yegisar Knife Factory, Yarkent Golden Graveyard, Tomb of Aman Nisahan, Yarkent Old Town

  • Yegisar knife factory
  • Yarkand Golden graveyard
  • Yarkent old town

Place to Stay: Hotan
We will leave for Hotan after breakfast. On our way to Hotan 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 Yarkent (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.

 Day 06

Place & Transport: Hotan Tour & Desert Camp

Today’s Activities: Taklimakan Desert, Local silk, Carpet, Jade Workshops, White Jade River, Hotan Sunday Bazaar

  • Taklimakan Desert
  • Local Silk
  • Carpet Factory
  • Jade Workshops
  • Hotan Bazaar

Place to Stay: Taklimakan Desert Camp

We will visit Hotans amazing Sunday 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 the 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.

Day 07

Place & Transport: Hotan to Aksu by Crossing New Desert Highway

Today’s Activities: Taklimakan Desert Highway

  • Taklamakan Desert Highway

Place to Stay: Aksu

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 have to cross it in their caravans in times gone by, many traders entered the desert lost their way and were never to be seen again.

We will arrive in Aksu late in the afternoon in time for dinner. The day’s total distance will be 500 km from Hotan to Aksu (around 6 hours).

Day 08

Place & Transport: Aksu to Kuche (Kuqa) via Bay County (320KM)

Today’s Activities: Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, Ancient Beacon Tower, Subash Ancient City, Iron Gate

  • Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves
  • Kucha Beacon Tower
  • Kuqa Grand Mosque
  • Kuqa Old Town
  • Subash Ancient City

Place to Stay: Kuche (Kuqa)

After breakfast we will set out from Aksu to Kuqa (Kuche in Chinese). On our way to Kuqa we will visit 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 journey to 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.

We will then 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 the Subash ancient city – Well preserved 1km square in size used to be the temples where Uyghur ancestors used to worship in the Buddhism periods

Day 09

Place & Transport: Kuqa to Turpan (620KM)

Today’s Activities: TianShan Mountains

  • Tianshan Mountains
  • Tianshan Mountains
  • Tianshan Mountains

Place to Stay: Turpan
After breakfast we will leave for Turpan. Our journey will take us across the TianShan Mountain, 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 Turpan late afternoon and you will have free time to explore the city.

Day 10

Place & Transport: Turpan Tour

Today’s Activities: Gaochang Ancient City, Astana Ancient Tombs, Tuyuk Village

  • Gaochang Ancient City
  • Astana Ancient Tombs
  • Tuyuk Village

Place to Stay: Turpan

Gaochang, Ancient City was built in the first century B.C; it was a key point on the ancient Silk Road. Astana Ancient tombs is known as capital tombs and underground museum of Xinjiang where many important writings, paintings and mummies have been discovered. Tuyuk Valley, here the most traditional Uyghur life can be seen with the people living in traditional homes made of mud.

Day 11

Place & Transport: Turpan Tour then Overnight Train to Dunhuang

Today’s Activities: Kariz Underground Water System, Jiaohe Ancient City, Emin Minaret

  • Kariz Underground Water System
  • Jiaohe Ancient City
  • Emin Minaret

Place to Stay: On the Train

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 Jiaohe. 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). You will take an evening train to Dunhuang.

Day 12

Place & Transport: Hotel Transfer from Railway Station then Tour in DunHuang

Today’s Activities: Mogao Caves, Echoing Sand Dunes, Crescent Moon Spring

  • Mogao Caves
  • Echoing sand dunes
  • Crescent Moon Spring

Place to Stay: Dunhuang

We arrive at the Dunhuang railway station early 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.

We return to Dunhuang in the afternoon and take a walk around Shazhou Market in town. After dinner we will watch the Flying Sky Show (Fei Tian), a traditional Buddhist dance.

Day 13

Place & Transport: Dunhuang to Urumqi

Today’s Activities: Xinjiang Museum

Place to Stay: Urumqi

In the morning you will take the flight from Dunhuang to Urumqi. After arrival to Urumqi we will visit the extensive Xinjiang Museum. It is a large integrated museum, holding all key artifacts and cultural relics central to Xinjiang region and the Silk Road. The museum is famous for its rich collections of silk artifacts dating from many periods throughout history. The museum also contains several mummies some of them dating back 4000 years, which can easily rival those found in Egypt.

Day 14

Place & Transport: Urumqi Airport Drop Off

After breakfast we will take you to the airport and help you check in your flight to your next destination.