Along the Great Silk Road
12-Day China Silk Road Tour from Xi'an 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.
The itinerary can be tailor made according to your schedule and interesets.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.
Amazing Time in Xi'an
On our way to our hotel Jenny arranged dinner to be delivered by the hotel robot (an experience that was a must on the kids list!) before we even checked in, nothing was a problem, everything quickly solved!Jenny's knowledge of Xi'an and its history was also amazing. No question went unanswered, it was such an interesting trip! We'd definitely like to come back and spend a little longer here to see what else there is to do.more
Feb 2024, JenB
Thank you, Shannon. Thank you, Xi,an.
We met our tour guide Shannon in Xi,an and we enjoyed very much our stay. Her good English level and her knowledge of the history of the city made our jorney very memorable. Kind, flexible and patient, she attended all our wishes. We will always be grateful for her work.more
Feb 2024, Man B
Mi esposo y yo, tuvimos la oportunidad de visitar la hermosa ciudad de Xian, la muralla de la ciudad, los guerreros de terracota, el barrio musulmán, todo esto con la mejor guia del mundo mundial!!! Susana, quien aparte de ser super simpática, tiene un gran conocimiento de la ciudad, la historia de los lugares y monumentos y aparte está siempre al pendiente de cualquier cosa que necesites y va más allá par hacerte tener una experiencia excelente, nos quedamos con ganas de regresar. Gracias x todo!!more
Feb 2024, Betty A
Memorable and Great Trip!
Our guide, Jenny, was extremely knowledgeable of the area, history and culture. She addressed our questions and provided additional insights and recommendations for our free time. She was an amazing guide that always checked in and took the extra steps to make the trip special. Jenny definitely made our trip to Xi’an memorable and very special!more
Feb 2024, karolX8974SV
China highlights Xi’An.
I had a wonderful trip to China. Susan was my guide. The history and sights picked were wonderful. The Terracotta Warriors were the highlight of me trip. Susan even helped me get some of the authentic replicas shipped home that arrived at my house just two weeks later. The making of dumplings with Susan’s aunt and neighbor was most memorable as well. Susan also sent pictures of the Chinese New Years Lanterns to me after I arrived home. They were in construction when I was there.more
Feb 2024, Megan S
China Highlights is Excellent
Jenny was the tour guide in Xian, showed us the terracota warriors found in 1974 by a farmer behind a mountain masoleum, with projected ongoing excavations for next 100 years. Made clay model terracota warriors.Jenny is very enthusiastic and bubbly, helped us all the way, from picking up us from train station to dropping us off at the airport.more
Jan 2024, Brahma P
Excellent 2-day Xi'an trip
Xi'an was my last stop in Northern China with China highlights. I have had great experiences with all of my guides but Mervyn was exceptional. Really easy to talk to, wonderfully knowledgeable and was really on top of the details. The timings for entry to and moving venues were really smooth.While in Xi'an, I visited the Terracotta army, the Xi'an museum & , the Muslim quarter and the city walls. All great to see if you come to the city.Mervyn chose some great restaurants with delicious local dishes as well as helping me to try really good snacks and street food in the Muslim quarter.Highly recommended!more
Jan 2024, Sherpa325441
Xian the city where all began!
Our guide (Ken) speak very good English and know a lot, he was very patient and he had no problems with plan changing.We really recommend the private tour, it is very convenient and time saving. You can visit all the places using your private driver without having to wait.more
Jan 2024, Maria V
Great Guide Made Xi’an Extra Special
Our tour guide Jenny was excellent and made our time in her city extra special. Not only was she a wealth of knowledge about Xi’an’s ancient history, she also had insights and great recommendations for local restaurants and places to see based on her own experience. We saw Teracotta Soldiers, the Muslim quarter, a shadow puppet show, the Xi’an museum, and had a dumpling banquet!! Highly recommend China highlights who coordinated our trip to multiple cities in China.more
Jan 2024, Rose A
Susan was our guide and she was really helpful and highly prepared. She gave us all the information about places visited and organized everything in evergreen single details.I highly suggest to choose China Highlights and Susan to discover this Amazing city.more
Jan 2024, Alessandra
Xi’an with Juan!
From the beginning at the airport drive to the hotel, Juan explained us in a perfect Spanish the history of Xi’an. His seemly inexhaustible knowledge about culture and history let us truly enjoy places such as the city wall and the terracota warriors, places whose potential we could have only overseen if gone by ourselves.more
Jan 2024, Diego Gorrón
This is the way to see China
We travelled to China in September/October to visit a relative who lives in Shanghai. He was too busy to show us the sights of China so we decided to use China Highlights. I am so pleased we did. Carol arranged a trip for us to X'ian and back to Shanghai. It wasn't cheap, but it was well worth it. We caught the bullet train to X'ian.more
Jan 2024, LDreviews
Susan is great!
Susan is great!She is very knowledgeable about Xi An city and history. We really enjoyed and learned a lot about that city.more
Jan 2024, Tiong-Oen
La ciudad es muy bonita y muy interesante. Nuestra guía Susana fue muy amable y dispuesta a explicar todo lo que vimos y nos ayuda con todas nuestras preguntas.Ella conoce bien los sitios turísticos y nos recomendó muy buena comida. Además ella habla muy buen espa?olmore
Dec 2023, Elizabeth V@elizabethvT7737OK
100% trustworthy and fuss free
While in Xi An, our local guide Mervyn (Yang Ru) was very knowledgeable about the rich history behind the historical sites we visited and she was very professional too. I appreciated their professionalism so much and would highly recommend them to anyone who wants a peace of mind and 99% hands off planning their vacations in China.more
Dec 2023, Ami
Great visit in Xi‘an with Jenny
We covered many different places and sights through which Jenny guided us expertly and efficiently, never wasting time but also never making us feel stressed, always presenting us with a wealth of information and answering all of our questions patiently while we were trying to get a grip on the long history of China.more
Dec 2023, Philippe v
Great tour of Xi’an! Our guide, Mark, was very knowledgeable, very accomodating of all our requests and showed us the main highlights of Xi’an! Trip, transfers and visits all went very smoothly. Loved it and probably will be back to visit again! Thanks Mark! :-)more
Dec 2023, ceccoshani
A Great Introduction to Xi'an
Mervyn was most professional in how she handled the visits to the different attractions in Xi'an. She is knowledgeable about the history and culture of the city and this really helped in the group's appreciation of the place.more
Dec 2023, mobile
Xian Full Day Tour Including Terracotta Warriors
Mervyn is a very good and knowledgeable guide! She came prepared and chock-full of informative & interesting nuggets about the Terracotta Warriors, City Wall and the Drum and Bell Tower.more
Dec 2023, Kee Yun
Expertly Guided Through China's Heart
The itinerary put together was excellent and my guide Mervyn good company, well informed, very committed and flexible. The Warriors visit was great and there are so many other aspects to Xi'an including a great museum, significant Muslim and Buddhist historical sites, cultural shows. great food and markets. Lives up to its description as 'the heart of China'.more
Dec 2023, Patrick
Here is a suggested itinerary. We are happy to customize a tour according to your interests.
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.
Somerset Xindicheng Xi'an(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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Dunhuang Hotel (4-star)
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel (5-star)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.