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.
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.
What Our Customers Said
Xian 3 day tour
A real cultural&historical impressive 3 day trip to Xi'an, despite the shortening of the actual trip by some days to Covid!However, even with all the challenges, which laid ahead before and during the trip, the flexibility of everyone involved (especially my guide Jenny & my agent Zac) was the key to a memorable journey.This wasn't my first good experience with China Highlights and won't be definitely my last one as you can really take your mind off from the daily grind during those days and just enjoy the scenic spots!more
Oct 2022, Karl Kirchheimer
Hua Shan Hike
Mervyn took me from Xi'anbei Station to the top of Hua Shan east peak, where I stayed overnight to watch the sunrise.It's a magnificent place, best appreciated on days like this without too much crowd, and Mervyn was a fantastic guide.It's not easy being a foreigner travelling around China in these days of covid, but Mervyn made all of that seem easy. And she was a helpful and encouraging presence on the way up, pointing out places of interest and pulling out cans of red bull for when the going got tough!Highly recommended!more
Sep 2022, Paul R
Xian 2022 Trip
Went on a family vacation to Xian and thanks to #chinahighlights my kids and I had a truly enjoyable time. #Christy arranged our tour and #Helen was our tour guide. #Helen did a great job of leading us around the Muslim Quarter, the Terra-cotta Warriors, walking up the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, bell and drum towers, riding on the Xian city wall, visiting the Shaanxi History Museum and watching the Legend of the Silk Road show. She was especially knowledgeable of the areas history. The kids and I enjoyed the paper cutting and making terra-cotta warriors out of clay activities as well as watching the Shadow Puppet Show. Despite the COVID restrictions and excessive bureaucracy that now exists for foreigners traveling in China, #Helen did a great job meeting the unique needs of my family and I highly recommend her services.more
Jul 2022, Bryan Stanfield
We highly enjoyed our trip to Xi'an organised by China Highlights and with fantastic support from our guide Helen. Helen stitched together thousands of years of Chinese history throughout our visits to the terracotta warriors, the Xi'an museum and the ancient city walls. Helen gave us many superb food recommendations, in particular Xi'an's thick spinach noodles and the famous Muslim street. The trip was made very straightforward and we were supported at every step of the journey which gave us great peace of mind, even with COVID restrictions. The tour around the city walls by bike was a particular highlight. Helen also recommended the Nearwall bar which is a fantastic place for coffee and craft beer enthusiasts. China Highlights have been very flexible and responsive. We look forward to visiting again with family and friends in future.more
Jul 2022, Michael H
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
Dec 2021, David P
The best Xi’an experience I could only recommend
Susan (绒绒), my guide for 2 days, explained everything very pleasant in very good English. She has a huge historical know-how and could introduce me into all cultural and historical events connected to the visited places. To complete this journey, always accompanied with a delicious local food. Many thanks to Susan (绒绒), her driver and Chinahighlights for this fantastic experiencemore
Oct 2021, luismK2514FG
Our tour guides were Ann (Zhangjiajie), Ivy (Beijing), Lily (Xi'an) and Cecile (Chengdu). Each one of them was fantastic - attentive to our needs, organized, and made sure all of the details were taken care of. Each one of them adapted to our family's needs as things came up and also adapted to changing conditions -(weather, illness, unexpected closures, delays, etc) so we maximized our time and got the most out of every day. Every guide was knowledgeable and personable.more
Jul 2021, christinajeanne
The support from Christy before the trip was superb. The itinerary was perfectly designed to meet my wishes. I loved every single bit of it. Mervyn, my guide was knowledgeable, kind and friendly and brought an added something to the trip that you just don’t get when you do it all yourself. This was my third itinerary with China Highlights and it didn’t disappoint.more
May 2021, CSA100
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, and enjoy a bullet train journey to Dunhuang.
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.