Along the Great Silk Road
11-Day Tour from Xian to Kashgar
From Xi'an to Kashgar, the eastern end to the western end of the Silk Road in China, this tour offers you the chance to see the highlights along the Silk Road. You will see marvelous landscapes, the extraordinary culture, and have an authentic interaction with the locals.
- Meet the Terracotta Army and make a mini terracotta warrior with a local artisan.
- Take photos of the Rainbow Mountains, one of world's 25 dream travel destinations as described by many well-known websites.
- Grasp the opportunity to see the Mogao Caves, which might disappear in 50 years.
- Enjoy afternoon tea with some locals in an ancient Uyghur teahouse.
- Experience a bazaar that has existed for centuries on the Silk Road — the Kashgar Livestock Market.
About China Highlights
Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
2.5 days in Xian
Helen helped with a quickly arranged Covid test at a local centre to smooth future travel. Next day was the Terracotta Warriors, Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Mosque. Amazing history and not too crowded with plenty of time to explore with excellent local restaurant for dumpling lunch . Helen went through loads of background info at each site adding to the experience and assisted with bartering at the markets. The final day required a late switch of museum and to the little wild goose pagoda which Helen organized efficiently and also played museum guide, I’m not sure what she doesn’t know about Chinese history. Helen was also helpful with our individual onward travel plan changes and our obsession with coffee. more
Your private guide will be waiting for you in the airport/train station arrivals area. A comfortable vehicle (non-smoking) with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you check in.
Grand Noble Hotel (4-star)
Wyndham Grand Xian South (5-star)
Xi'an, the eastern end of the Silk Road, your tour starts at the site of the mysterious underground army — meet the life-size Terracotta Army, and you will find the horse are short and small. This is one of the reason that Emperor Wu of Han decided to send the ambassador Zhang Qian to the Western Region-- seek for good steed. It laid the foundation of the silk road.
Then visit a local craftsman in his home — a traditional cave dwelling — where you will learn make a mini terracotta warrior on your own.
After lunch, return to the city and pay a visit to Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is part of the Silk Road route.
In the morning, visit the unique Great Mosque, which is an unusual blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture, even the minaret was a Chinese pagoda.
Try some local food and explore unique stalls at the Muslim Quarter — it is an ideal place to visit before you go to the airport.
We will transfer you to the airport to catch your flight to Zhangye.
Tianyu International Hotel (4-star)
Zhangye Hotel (5-star)
After breakfast, you will visit the 'Color Palette Overturned by God' — the Zhangye Qicai Danxia National Geological Park, which is home to the Rainbow Mountains.
After returning to the city, enjoy a local lunch and continue to the oldest tower in Zhangye, the Wooden Pagoda Temple.
Admire the largest reclining Buddha in China at the Giant Buddha Temple, and enjoy a bullet train journey to Dunhuang.
Dunhuang Hotel (4-star)
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel (5-star)
Mogao Caves ticket booking:
In order to protect the fragile murals and paintings, the number of daily visitors to the Mogao Caves is restricted and your entrance ticket(s) must be reserved on the official website, which is in Chinese.
Tickets are difficult to get hold of, especially during the tourist peak season (July to October). Although we can guarantee tickets at least 5 days in advance, early booking is still recommended.
Having arrived in Dunhuang, you are now at a point of vital strategic and logistical importance, being on a crossroad of two major trade routes within the Silk Road network.
After breakfast, start your adventure to the Mogao Caves where you will marvel at the exquisite murals and lifelike sculptures.
If you want to see more murals after visiting the Mogao Caves, we will take you to the Dunhuang Research Academy. There, you can linger over copies of murals created by masters and can copy a sample mural on a mud slab with your own hands under the guidance of the teacher.
In the late afternoon, as the heat starts to fade away, you will visit the Singing Sand Mountains and Crescent Moon Spring. Ride a camel in the desert and imagine how caravans crossed the desert over 1,000 years ago.
Tip to tailor-make your tour:
The Mogao Caves include 735 caves, and 40 to 60 caves are normally open to the public. A normal visit to the Mogao Caves includes seven caves but, if you would like to see some special caves, we can arrange for you to visit some that are not open to the general public.
These special caves are treasures — they contain important murals and statues, and have made a significant contribution to the study of human culture and art.
Dunhuang Hotel (4-star)
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel (5-star)
In the morning, you will visit the ruins of the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). It is the oldest example of this defensive system in China. Check the ruins and you will find it is different from the Great Wall that you have seen in pictures.
After lunch, board the bullet train to Turpan.
Turpan Friendship Peak Hotel (4-star)
Shuangcheng Hotel (5-star)
The Emin Minaret is particularly beautiful in the morning, with the shadow of the minaret falling across the mosque. Go into the mosque and try to tell the time by checking the position of the sunlight on the wall.
Then go underground to unveil the secret of the Karez Well System. It's a great place to escape from the heat of the sun.
Turpan is famous for its grapes so visit a local vineyard and relax as you sit under the grapevines.
Instead of building from the ground up, the ancient city of Jiaohe was constructed by digging down into the ground. Explore the ruins of this unique ancient city and learn about the different government structures and residential areas.
Take a bullet train from Turpan to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Province. After lunch, you will visitXinjiang Regional Museum to see the well-preserved collection of 4,000-year-old corpses.
Go to the Erdaoqiao Market – the biggest bazaar in Urumqi – and be amazed by the dazzling array of goods.
Excemon Xinjiang Yilite Hotel (4-star)
Wanda Vista Hotel (5-star)
After your morning flight from Urumqi to Kashgar, you will start your tour of the westernmost corner of China. Along the Silk Road, Kashgar has been the center of regional trade and cultural exchange for more than two millennia.
Pay a visit to the Id Kah Mosque, the biggest mosque in China. Then walk along the Handicrafts Street, which has an amazing range of handicrafts, including copper, metal, porcelain, woodwork, and other types of goods. Have a break at the ancient teahouse, which has a history of over 100 years, and join in with the local people's conversations and dancing.
Luxemon Qinibagh Hotel (4-star)
Radisson Blu Kashgar (5-star)
After breakfast, go to Abakh Khoja Tomb to learn about the Islamic mazar (shrine) culture. The middle of the day is the livestock market's busiest time of day. Every Sunday, people take their livestock there for trade and shearing. You will hear people bargaining and different animal noises, and you will see sheep trying to escape and money passing from hand to hand.
In the afternoon, visit the captivating Kashgar Old City where you will see green lianas climbing on mud buildings and children chasing each other. Learn to cook a local meal from a Uyghur family.
Every element of the tour above can be tailored. Feel free to tell us your ideas and we will be happy to make adjustments for you.
1. Extend the Tour
- Lanzhou: add 1 day — BinglingBingling Temple Grotto
- Xiahe: add 1 day — Tibetan culture, the Labrang Lamasery
- Jiayuguan: add 1 day — The Jiayuguan Pass (including Great Walls Museum)
- Shanghai: For international transportation, visit the Bund, the Shanghai Tower and watertowns
In remote cities, such as Kashgar and Turpan, star-rated hotels might not be as good as the same standard of hotels in big cities due to local situations. To provide you with a comfortable experience, we have selected the best possible hotels for you.
China is a huge country, so to make your travel experience more efficient, we usually arrange flights to connect your destinations.
China's high-speed rail network is afast-paced way to travel. We recommend taking high-speed trains for journeys of less than 6 hours to interested customers — please tell us if you are one of them.
4. Overnight Train
This tour includes an overnight train experience. We have arranged a deluxe soft sleeper for you, which means you will have a private compartment with a door and two soft sleepers (bunks) in it. The bunks are each equipped with a pillow and a blanket. All the bedding is clean and sterilized.
If you are traveling in a group with more than two people, we can also arrange normal soft sleepers for you. This is a compartment with four soft sleepers (bunks) to make sure that your group is in one compartment.