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12-Day China Silk Road Tour from Xi'an to Kashgar

Along the Great Silk Road

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.

The itinerary can be tailor made according to your schedule and interesets.

China Silk Road Tour Map

china silk road tour map

Tour "Wow" Points

Immerse Yourself in the Memory of the Silk Road at the Historical Site in Xi'an

Visit the Big Goose Pagoda and the Ancient City Wall which were always cherished by the ancient Chinese traveling on the Silk Road. Imagine the Muslim from different countries do their business in the Muslim Quarter. The Unique mosque shows the culture integration

the big goose pagoda
Muslim Quarter

Unveil the Secrets of the Terracotta Army and Make a Mini Terracotta Warrior

See the life-size warriors at the amazing Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Get to know how ancient craftsmen made them. Visit a traditional cave dwelling and learn how to make your own warrior.

The Terracotta Army
Make Warriors

Meet the 'Color Palette Overturned by God' — the Rainbow Mountains.

Take photos of the Rainbow Mountains, one of world's 25 dream travel destinations as described by many well-known websites.

the colorful mountains
a bus on the road in the red mountains

Admire the Valuable Cultural Heritage of the Silk Road

Grasp the opportunity to see the Mogao Caves, which might disappear in 50 years. Lose yourself in the beautiful and mysterious legends shown by the murals.

Mogao Caves
the Buddhas in the cave

Experience Traveling on a Camel as the Merchants on the Silk Road Did

Visit the Singing Sand Mountains and the Crescent Moon Spring. Enjoy a camel ride and walking on a gobi desert. The ruins of the ancient pass and the Great Wall give you a stong sense of the history

camel ride
a building in an oasis in the desert

Discover the Splendid Ancient City on the Silk Road

Explore the ruins of the ancient city of Jiaohe, a city that was built by digging down instead of building up from the ground.

Jiahe Ancient City
old buildings in Turpan

Catch a Glimpse of the Great Pamirs

Drive along the China-Pakistan Highway. View the impressive Baisha ('White Sand') Lake and Karakul ('Black Lake'). Snow-capped Muztag Ata and other very tall mountains look like a row of strong guards protecting this land.

scenery on the Pamirs
A yurt on the lake bank

Experience Exotic Charm in the Westernmost City of China

Experience the region's religion in Xinjiang's biggest mosque. Enjoy the beauty of Islamic architecture in a quiet atmosphere.

the mosque in Kashgar
Kashgar old town

Enjoy Afternoon Tea with Locals in an Ancient Uyghur Teahouse

Experience the typical social life of the town as you listen to folk music played by the Uyghur seniors.

the typical Xinjiang afternoon tea
Uyghur people in the tea house

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Suggested Itinerary

Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.

Day 1Xi'an Arrival

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.

Hotel options:
Somerset Xindicheng Xi'an(4-star)
Wyndham Grand Xian South (5-star)

Day 2Xi'an | The Terracotta Army
Breakfast and lunch

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 explore unique stalls at the Muslim Quarter and visit the unique Great Mosque, which is an unusual blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture, even the minaret was a Chinese pagoda.

The Terracotta Warriors The Terracotta Warriors
Day 3Xi'an to Zhangye | Xi'an City Highlights

In the morning, have a walk on the ancient city wall. And then pay a visit to Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is part of the Silk Road route。

We will transfer you to the airport to catch your flight to Zhangye.

Hotel options:
Tianyu International Hotel (4-star)
Zhangye Hotel (5-star)

Ancient City WallAncient City Wall
Day 4Zhangye | Danxia National Geological Park
Breakfast and lunch

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.

Danxia National Geological ParkDanxia National Geological Park
Day 5Zhangye to Dunhuang | Jiayuguan Pass
Breakfast and lunch

Drive from Zhangye to Dunhuang. On the way, you will visit a magnificient ancient pass, Jiayuguan Pass. It is the west end of the Great Wall of Ming Dynasty and a well-preserved ancient militery fortress. The tall gate tower, the gobi desert, and the mountains ranges in the distance will make you feel that you have traveled back to the powerful Ming Dynasty.

Have a walk on the Hanging Great Wall which is one part of the Jiayuguan military defense system.

Continue to 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.

Hotel options:
Dunhuang Hotel (4-star)
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel (5-star)

Jiayuguan PassJiayuguan Pass
Day 6Dunhuang | The Mogao Caves and Camel Ride
Breakfast and lunch

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.

Visit the Singing Sand Mountains and Crescent Moon Spring in the late afternoon. 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.

The mural in Mogao CaveThe mural in Mogao Cave
Day 7Dunghuang to Turpan | The Great Wall of the Han Dynasty
Breakfast and lunch

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.

Hotel options:
Turpan Friendship Peak Hotel (4-star)
Shuangcheng Hotel (5-star)

The Great Wall of the Han Dynasty The Great Wall of the Han Dynasty
Day 8Turpan | Turpan Highlights
Breakfast and lunch

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.

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.

Turpan is famous for its grapes so visit a local vineyard and relax as you sit under the grapevines.

Visit Tuyugou Village in the afternoon. It is the oldest Uyghur village with a history of 1,700 years. On the way, you will see the Flaming Mountain.

The Tuyugou village The old Tuyugou Village
Day 9Drive to Urumqi and City Highlights

Visit the Turpan Museum before driving to Urumqi. Every cultural relic in the museum shows you a vivid story of the Silk Road.

Go to the Erdaoqiao Market – the biggest bazaar in Urumqi – and be amazed by the dazzling array of goods.

Hotel options:
Excemon Xinjiang Yilite Hotel (4-star)
Wanda Vista Hotel (5-star)

Urumqi Urumqi
Day 10 Urumqi to Kashgar | Kashgar Old Town
Breakfast and lunch

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.

Hotel options:
Luxemon Qinibagh Hotel (4-star)
Radisson Blu Kashgar (5-star)

Kashgar Ancient City Kashgar Ancient City
Day 11 Kashgar | Karakul Lake
Breakfast and lunch

Drive along the China-Pakistan Highway. Enjoy the seldom-seen scenery of the westernmost point of China.

See one of the best-kept secrets in China: Karakul Lake, a sparkling glacial lake. During the 3-hour drive, you may want to ask the driver to stop so that you can take photos as the scenery is breathtaking. The scenery and lake will draw out your inner photographer.

Snow-capped Muztag Ata and other very tall mountains look like a row of strong guards protecting this land.

Karakul Lake and the Muztag MountainThe Beautiful Karakul Lake and the magnificent Muztag
Day 12Kashgar Departure
Breakfast and lunch

Your guide and driver will take you to Kashgar Airport and wave goodbye to you. You can connect to the main cities in China from this airport.

Trip Notes

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. 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.

2. 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

3. Accommodation

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.

4. Transportation

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.

5. 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.

Tour Price

FromUSD4,149p/p Based on a private tour for 2 people. Price varies depending on program, travel date, number of people and chosen hotel

Price includes:

  • Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
  • English speaking local guide
  • Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
  • 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling

Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

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