13-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Dunhuang–Urumqi–Shanghai Tour

Silk Road Highlights and China's Gateway Cities

13-Day Beijing–Xi'an–Dunhuang–Urumqi–Shanghai Tour

Connecting Beijing and Shanghai, this tour is best for people who are traveling to China for the first time and are interested in the Silk Road's culture and history.

Tour 'Wow' Points

Witness the Greatest Ancient Project of China

Climb the Great Wall of China and learn about the history of the country's oldest defensive system.

Great Wall
walking on the Great Wall

Discover the Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses

Meet the Terracotta Army and make a mini terracotta warrior on your own.

terra-cotta amy
make a Terra-Cotta warrior

Admire the Valuable Cultural Heritage of the Silk Road

Appreciate the murals in the Mogao Caves and copy one of them on a mud slab by yourself.

Mogao Caves
the Buddhas in the cave

Discover the Splendid Ancient City on the Silk Road

Explore the ruins of an ancient city and visit a Uyghur vineyard on the Silk Road.

Jiahe Ancient City
old buildings in Turpan

Experience New China in the Most Developed Metropolis

Experience both the ancient and modern parts of Shanghai in one day.

the skyscrapers in Shanghai
the Bund

Why Choose Us

Your Wellbeing is Our Priority

Your Wellbeing is Our Priority.

  • 1-to-1 travel expert
  • Vaccinated guides
  • Private Rides
Your Trip is Perfectly Planned

Your Trip is Perfectly Planned.

  • No crowds
  • Exclusive Exciting Experiences
Your Booking is Risk-Free

Your Booking is Risk-Free.

  • No cancellation fee
  • Free changes

Finish Your Booking in as Quick as 1 Day

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About China Highlights

travelers' choice 2021

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!"

Itinerary Quick Look

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

Day 1Beijing Arrival

Your private guide will be waiting for you in the airport arrivals area. Your vehicle (non-smoking) and driver will be ready to transfer you directly to your hotel.

Day 2Beijing City Highlights

After breakfast, start your China exploration with the biggest square in the world, Tian'anmen Square, and then go into the Forbidden City. Your private guide will avoid the crowds and take you to explore the hidden halls for a better experience.

Have lunch in a local restaurant and continue your tour with a visit to the hutongs. Take a rickshaw ride and sneak into the narrow hutongs, experiencing the true heartbeat of Beijing.

Day 3The Great Wall

Not just an imperial temple, the Temple of Heaven is also used as a public park for local people to do their morning exercises nowadays. In the fitness equipment area, you will find seniors who are as good as Olympic athletes.

After lunch, you will be driven to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, which has good scenery and fewer visitors. Taking the cable car up and down will save your energy and give you more time to see the Great Wall.

Day 4The Summer Palace, a Peking Duck Lunch, and a Flight to Xi'an

In the morning, wander around the Summer Palace, enjoy the breeze from the lake, and have a look at the imperial theater.

Peking duck is one of the typical foods in Beijing — you will have a Peking duck lunch in our handpicked restaurant before you fly to Xi'an.

Upon your arrival, your Xi'an tour guide will meet you in the arrivals area and escort you to your hotel.

Day 5The Terracotta Army and a Traditional Cave Dwelling

Start your Silk Road adventure in Xi'an — the eastern end of the Silk Road.

Meet the life-size Terracotta Army and explore the huge site of this underground army. Your guide will explain the history and help you to avoid the crowds.

After lunch, visit a local craftsman in his home — a traditional cave dwelling. Learn how to make a mini terracotta warrior on your own.

When you've returned to the city, you will have an opportunity to stand on the ancient city wall and have a great view of the city. Ride a bike to enjoy the breeze.

Day 6Xi'an City Highlights and a Flight to Dunhuang

Visit one of China's best museums, Shaanxi History Museum, and then proceed to visit one of the most famous symbols of Xi'an, Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This Buddhist pagoda was built during the Tang Dynasty and dates back to 652 AD. If there is one pagoda to visit in China, it is this one.

Enjoy a dumpling feast for lunch, pay a visit to the charming Muslim Quarter, and enjoy various dishes originating from the Tang Dynasty for dinner, ending your time in Xi'an.

Your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight to Dunhuang later on in the day.

Day 7The Mogao Caves and Sand Dunes

Now, in Dunhuang, you are at a point of vital strategic and logistical importance, being on a crossroad of two major trade routes within the Silk Road network.

Your Dunhuang tour starts with a visit to the enchanting Mogao Caves. Follow your guide and unravel the caves' system of 492 temples, forming a treasure trove of Buddhist shrines and artwork.

After lunch at a popular local restaurant, you will get your first glimpse of the dunes at the Singing Sand Mountains and Crescent Moon Spring, which forms a lake between two huge sand dunes. Take the opportunity to ride on a camel, and imagine what it was like to travel in a caravan on the Silk Road.

Day 8The Remote Great Wall and a Train to Turpan

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 sections that you have seen in Beijing.

After lunch, take the bullet train to Turpan.

Day 9Turpan Highlights

You will see some of the ancient sights in Turpan: the Emin Minaret, which is the only ancient Islamic minaret left in China, and the Karez Well System, one of the three 'great ancient projects' in China.

The Karez Wells Folk Garden and Museum explains how the well system makes it possible for the famous orchards and vineyards to exist in these hot and dry desert communities.

Instead of being built from the ground up, the ancient city of Jiaohe was constructed by digging down into the ground. The ruins of the ancient city of Jiaohe, built by the ancient Cheshi people on a river island, provide a good vantage point from which to see the surrounding area.

Day 10Heavenly Lake

Your guide and driver will take you from Turpan to Urumqi, where Heavenly Lake awaits you. The view is one of a kind — see the snowy peaks of the Tianshan Mountains reflecting on the dazzlingly blue lake surface. A cruise on Heavenly Lake is one way to appreciate its beauty, and there is also a cable car going up the mountainside for an even better vantage point and some great walking paths.

Day 11Urumqi City Highlights and a Flight to Shanghai

After breakfast, visit Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum. It is based on Uyghur and Russian styles, and houses a collection of over 1,000 pieces of precious relics dating from four to five thousand years ago until modern times.

Enjoy a local meal for lunch, then visit Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar. The Erdaoqiao Market is the largest bazaar in Urumqi. You'll find a bustling market filled with fruit, clothing, crafts, knives, carpets, and almost anything that you can imagine.

This ends your Silk Road adventure and your guide will transfer you to the airport for your flight to Shanghai.

Day 12Shanghai, the Ancient and the Modern Aspects

As one of the gateway cities in China, Shanghai is considered to be the economic center. First, visit the ancient and traditional part of Shanghai – Yu Garden – and then walk along the Bund to see the combination of ancient and modern aspects of the city.

Your guide will lead you into the oldest building on the Bund where you can seek proof of its history.

After lunch, go up to the top of the highest building – Shanghai Tower – and have a bird's-eye view of the modern city.

Day 13Shanghai Departure

Your guide and driver will take you to the airport to catch your next flight, and will make sure that your check-in goes smoothly.

Hotel Selection

—the Icing on the Cake

Boutique hotels are recommended to enrich your travel experience.

Hotel room in Beijing
hotel in Beijing
hotel in Dunhuang
FromCNY25,840 / USD4,030 p/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
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