Silk Road Facts

the flaming mountainFlaming Mountain

For ever 2,000 years, traders carried products such as silk and tea through the Gansu Corridor to the countries in the west and east. You can follow trade routes that crossed Xinjiang and the rest of China.

A stunning array of scenery: from the mountain peaks near Kashgar to the Flaming Mountains and hot deserts of Xinjiang, to the high mountain lakes and meadows around Urumqi and its Grand Bazaar for shopping. See the parks, mountains and grasslands around the Gansu Corridor, the Yellow River and its sights, and the large city of Xian.

Ancient places, history, and artwork: See Buddhist grottoes, ancient sites, and museums in Xinjiang and along the Gansu Corridor, and see the Terracotta Army, museums, and ancient mausoleums in Xian.

Learn how the cultures of East and West interacted and how Buddhism,Christianity, and Islam arrived China.

Most Popular Sections

Terracotta Army

See our Silk Road tours.

  • Most popular souvenirs and local products: rugs, carpets, souvenirs, textiles, dried fruit and delicacies, Chinese paintings, ceramics, silk
  • Most popular food: raisins, nuts, dairy and fruit products in Xinjiang, Muslim beef noodle soup in Lanzhou, roujiamo (like hamburgers) and shish kabobs in Xi'an.

History

wooden tower of sui dynastywooden tower of the Sui Dynasty
  • ~1000 BC During the Shang Dynasty era, the Yuezhi people in Xinjiang traded jade with the Shang court, and merchants carried the trade goods on early trade routes through the Gansu Corridor.
  • 138 BCZhang Qian (200–114) started to explore the travel routes between Xi'an and the west for the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). Silk Road trade ensued.
  • 629A monk named Xuanzang (602–664) traveled the Silk Road to go to India during the Tang Dynasty.
  • 1269Marco Polo set off on his journey eastwards.
  • 1271The Mongols captured the Song Empire. Trade across Eurasia flourished during their reign.
  • Late 20th century: Various Silk Road locations became international tourist attractions.
  • Read more about Silk Road history.

Most famous legend: The monk Xuanzang and his epic journey that became the Journey to the West novel and Monkey King legends.

Geography

  • Significance: the travel routes enabled communication, travel, and trade between cultures and changed Eurasian culture.
  • Tourism: These routes enriched the early empires for 1,400 years, and there are many ancient legacies to see.
  • Provinces crossed: Xinjiang, Gansu, Shaanxi, and Henan
  • Location: From Khunjareb Pass (36.50, 75.25) to Louyang (34.68,112.47)
  • Straight line distance: 3,334 m (2,702 mi)
  • Highest Altitude: Khunjareb Pass 4,693 m (15,397 ft)