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21-Day China Tour with Silk Road

China Classic Wonders and Silk Road Tour

21-Day China and Silk Road Tour

This 3-week tour is a combination of China's classic wonders and the Silk Road. It is designed for first-time visitors to China who want to include the famous Silk Road in their trip. It includes the most popular destinations among European and American tourists, as well as the core destinations along China's Silk Road.

This tour covers an extensive range of places from east to west including the north and middle of China. We offer the most efficient and cost-saving destination connection plan in this itinerary.

The detailed itinerary below is just for inspiration — it can be tailor-made according to your schedule and interests. Please contact your one-to-one travel advisor to personalize your journey.

Day 1-4 Beijing - Forbidden City, Great Wall, Summer Palace
 
Day 5-6 Xi'an - Terracotta Army, Ancient City Wall, Muslim Quarter
 
Day 7-8 Zhangye/Jiayuguan - Rainbow Mountains, Jiayuguan Pass
 
Day 9-10 Dunhuang -Mogao Caves, The Singing Sand Mountains
 
Day 11-12 Turpan/ Urumqi - Ancient Ruins in Urumqi
 
Day 13-14 Kashgar - Id Kah Mosque, Bazaar, Kala Kule Lake
 
Day 15-16 Chengdu - Panda Breeding and Research Center
 
Day 17-19 Zhangjiajie -Tianmen Mountain, Hallelujah Mountain
 
Day 20-21 Shanghai - The Bund, Shanghai Tower, Yu Garden
 

Suggested Route for A China Tour with Silk Road

China tour map

Tour 'Wow' Points

Discover Hidden Halls in the Forbidden City

Different from large group tours, which only visit six halls, you would see a hand-picked selection of "hidden halls" for a deeper understanding of the Former Palace's history, hear interesting stories about the emperors, and dodge the crowds.

Forbidden City
the Forbidden City

Explore a Less-Crowded Section of the Great Wall

With a round-trip ride by cable car, you would be escorted to the platforms that have a wide visual field whilst benefiting from fewer tourists and not much walking.

Great wall
Great wall

Appreciate the Terracotta Army and Make Your Own Terracotta Warrior

Unveil the secrets of the Terracotta Army. You would see the life-size warriors at the necropolis site and get to know how ancient craftsmen made them, then make a small warrior in a traditional cave dwelling to take home as a souvenir.

Terracotta Army
Terracotta Army

Meet the 'Rainbow Fallen to Earth' — the Rainbow Mountains

Take photos of China's Rainbow Mountains, which are one of the "7 Stunning Natural Wonders of Asia" on National Geographic

Rainbow Mountains

Admire the 'Oriental Louvre' — the Mogao Caves

You would see amazing mural art, impressive Buddhist statues, and centuries of religious rock carvings at the site of the Mogao Caves.

Mogao Caves
Mogao Caves

Experience Traveling on a Camel as Silk Road Merchants Did

Enjoy a camel ride across the desert of the Singing Sand Dunes, where you could easily imagine that you were traveling along the ancient Silk Road as a merchant.

Singing Sand Dunes
Crescent Moon Spring

Discover a Unique Ancient City on the Silk Road

Step back in time and witness the historical significance and architectural wonder of the ancient city of Jiaohe, which was carved out of a rocky river island.

Jiaohe ancient city

Catch a Glimpse of the Great Pamirs

You would drive along the China-Pakistan Highway and view the impressive Baisha ('White Sand') Lake and Karakul ('Black Lake'). Snowcapped Muztagh Ata and other very tall mountains look like a row of strong guards protecting this land.

Baisha Lake
Karakul Lake

Enjoy Afternoon Tea with Locals in an Ancient Uyghur Teahouse

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

ancient tea house
ancient tea house

Spend a Morning Hanging Out with Cute Pandas

Pandas are very active in the morning. They feast on bamboo, climb around the climbing frames, and romp about in their garden.

Pandas
Pandas

Be Shocked by Peculiar Sandstone Peaks — the Closest Thing on Earth to the Hallelujah Mountains

See more than 3,000 oddly-shaped peaks rising from the ground, with lush vegetation and greenery as far as the eye can see. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.

Zhangjiajie
Zhangjiajie National Park

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Suggested Itinerary

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

Day 1Beijing Arrival

Landing in Beijing, you would be met by your private guide and driver who would transfer you to your hotel.

Your guide would assist you with your luggage and help you to check in at your hotel for a worry-free start to your stay.

Day 2Beijing | Historical Marvels and Local Life
Breakfast & Lunch

You would start your tour by walking through the largest world-famous square, Tian'anmen Square, and then arrive at the Forbidden City.

With countless houses, chambers, and halls, the Forbidden City was not only a royal residence but a treasure trove for many cultural relics. Your knowledgeable private tour guide would bring the history to life for you.

You would have lunch in a local Beijing roast duck restaurant. Afterward, you would walk through the hutongs and visit a local hutong family to find out how the local people live their daily lives.

Day 3Beijing | The Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven
Breakfast & Lunch

One of the best ways to learn about Beijing's culture is to visit the Temple of Heaven in the morning. People engage in various activities, such as morning exercises, dancing, singing, tai chi, brush calligraphy, and playing chess.

After a 1½-hour drive from the downtown area, you would reach the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, a fully restored section that is ideal for families. You would enjoy different exploration options, such as a round-trip cable car ride for an easier walk or a chair lift up and a toboggan ride down, based on your preferences.

Day 4Beijing to Xi'an | The Summer Palace and a High-Speed Train
Breakfast & Lunch

You would visit the imperial garden — the Summer Palace — in the morning. In this garden, the combination of the lake, hills, gardens, and architecture creates a harmonious and picturesque landscape.

You would then take a high-speed train from Beijing to Xi'an after lunch.

Day 5Xi'an |The Terracotta Army and a Traditional Cave Dwelling
Breakfast & Lunch

You would drive to the Terracotta Army Museum from the hotel directly in the morning, uncovering a mysterious life-size underground army array of 2,200 years ago.

You would then visit a local craftsman's cave dwelling and learn how to make a mini terracotta warrior.

In the afternoon, you would visit the Great Mosque (largest mosque in China) and walk around the Muslim Quarter. You would sample delicious Islamic cuisine, witness traditional craftsmanship, and experience the unique ambiance of this historical district within Xi'an.

Day 6Xi'an to Zhangye | Xi'an Ancient City Wall
Breakfast

After packing your luggage in the morning, you would fly to Zhangye.

Before heading to the airport, you would go to the medieval Xi'an City Wall to have a view of the city. You could walk on the wall for a while or rent a bike to ride along it.

Day 7Zhangye | Zhangye National Geopark (The Rainbow Mountains)
Breakfast & Lunch

Zhangye was a key town on the Silk Road and has a long history. You would visit its colorful hills — the 'Seven-Color Danxia Landforms' — in Zhangye National Geopark.

It is one of the best places for photographers and nature lovers to visit. Geologists call this area, which is very dry and has no vegetation, 'window lattice and palace-shaped' Danxia topography.

In the afternoon, you would visit the Great Buddha Temple and the wooden tower from the Sui Dynasty (581–618).

Day 8Zhangye to Jiayuguan to Dunhuang | Jiayu Pass
Breakfast & Lunch

You would drive from Zhangye to Dunhuang and make a stop at Jiayu Pass. There, you could experience the grandeur of its Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) fort with its tall gate tower, the vast Gobi Desert surrounding it, and the majestic mountain ranges in the distance.

After lunch, you would visit Zixuan winery in Jiayuguan. This expansive underground wine cellar is the largest of its kind in Asia, covering 13,700 square meters (147,000 square feet).

Day 9Dunhuang | The Mogao Caves and Singing Sand Dunes
Breakfast & Lunch

You would start your visit to the Mogao Caves after breakfast. These caves are an important cultural and historical landmark, offering insights into ancient China's artistic and religious heritage.

After exploring the Mogao Caves, you would visit the Dunhuang Research Institute, where experts analyze the murals and you could choose a mural sample to create your own mud slab copy to take home.

In the late afternoon, you would experience riding on a camel in the Singing Sand Dunes.

Day 10Dunhuang to Turpan | The Great Wall of the Han Dynasty

You would visit the ruins of the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and remote Yumen Pass fort remains in the morning.

The Great Wall of the Han Dynasty is the oldest example of this defensive system in China. Inspect the ruins and find out how it is different from the Great Wall (around Beijing) that you have seen in pictures.

You would then take a bullet train to Turpan in the late afternoon.

Day 11Turpan | Turpan Highlights
Breakfast & Lunch

You would begin your tour of Turpan by uncovering the ancient wisdom behind the Karez Well System, an impressive feat of engineering.

Next, you would visit the fascinating Ancient City of Jiaohe, an architectural marvel built by excavating into a steep-sided island.

In the afternoon, you would venture to Tuyugou Village, the oldest Uyghur village with a rich 1,700-year history. Along the way, catch a glimpse of the Flaming Mountains, renowned for their scorching heat, desolate landscape, and striking red hue.

Day 12Turpan to Urumqi | Turpan Museum and Erdaoqiao Market
Breakfast & Lunch

You would visit Turpan Museum in the morning. As the second largest museum in Xinjiang, it offers a glimpse into the economic, cultural, and artistic exchanges that took place along the Silk Road.

You would arrive in Urumqi after 3 hours of driving, then head to Erdaoqiao Market in the afternoon. Erdaoqiao Market is not only a shopping destination but also a cultural hot spot, allowing visitors to experience the vibrant Uyghur culture and traditions while discovering unique local products.

Day 13Urumqi to Kashgar | Kashgar Highlights
Breakfast & Lunch

Get up early and fly to Kashgar.

There, pay a visit to Id Kah Mosque, which is the second biggest mosque in China. Then you would walk along Handicraft Street, which has an amazing range of handicrafts, including copper, metal, porcelain, woodwork, and other types of goods.

You would 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.

Lastly, witness the legacy of the Silk Road and the unique Uyghur culture that thrives in Kashgar Old City.

Day 14Kashgar | Karakul Lake
Breakfast & Lunch

In the morning, you would explore the renowned Kashgar bazaar, which is famous across Asia. It offers a diverse array of goods, including dried fruits, delicacies, clothing, shoes, leather products, textiles, rugs, carpets, scarves, souvenirs, and more.

In the afternoon, discover the hidden gem of China, Karakul Lake, which is a stunning glacial lake. Also take a moment to capture some pictures at Baisha Lake — 'White Sand' to contrast with Karakul's blackness.

Day 15Kashgar to Chengdu
Breakfast

You would use day 15 as a traveling day. It takes about 4½ hours to fly from Kashgar to Chengdu.

Day 16Chengdu | Lovely Pandas

In the morning, you would visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to see the active pandas in their nursery amid bamboo groves and walkways.

Afterward, you would enjoy lunch at a local Chinese restaurant. Then head to People's Park to get some fresh air and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere. You would also experience the bustling local teahouse culture.

Finally, try the delicious local snacks in Jinli Old Street, which is famous for its wide variety of Sichuan cuisine flavors.

Day 17Chengdu to Zhangjiajie | Tianmen Mountain
Breakfast & Lunch

Take a morning flight to Zhangjiajie.

You would take the longest cable car ride in the world to the top of Tianmen Mountain, taking 30 minutes. Tianmen Mountain Glass Skywalk is one of the world's highest observation platforms, jutting out from a sheer cliff at 1,430 meters above the ground. Through the glass walkway, you could see the hardy trees, karst cliffs, and long roads carved into the cliffsides.

Day 18Zhangjiajie | Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Breakfast & Lunch

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is renowned for its mesmerizing landscapes, towering sandstone pillars, lush forests, and serene valleys. You would focus on its Yuanjiajie area, which is famous and popular for its Hallelujah Mountain, named after the floating rocks in Avatar.

Day 19Zhangjiajie to Shanghai | Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is a world-famous attraction that stretches across Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. Walking on the transparent glass floor, visitors could marvel at the dizzying depths beneath their feet and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding natural beauty.

Then take an evening flight to Shanghai. Upon arrival, your private guide and driver would greet you at the airport and drive you to your hotel.

Day 20Shanghai | Shanghai Highlights
Breakfast & Lunch

You would visit Yu Garden and explore a nearby market in the morning.

In the afternoon, embark on an In-Depth Bund Culture Discovery Tour to unravel the captivating story of Shanghai's rise to the skies. You would enter the old buildings along the iconic Bund and listen to their intriguing stories, offering glimpses into Shanghai's past.

Enjoy a break at a Michelin-starred restaurant and experience local snacks before taking a public ferry ride across the Huangpu River. Then you would ascend Shanghai Tower for a bird's-eye view of the city.

Day 21Shanghai Departure

Your tour guide, driver, and van would pick you up from your hotel for your airport transfer and flight. Your guide would accompany and assist you as far as the security check and would then wave goodbye.

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Hotel Selection

—the Icing on the Cake

Boutique hotels are recommended to enrich your travel experience.

Hotel room in Beijing
The lodge of the hotel in Xian
a roof bar with a great view

Tour Price

FromUSD 6,500p/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

Tour Code: cht-sl-06

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

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1-to-1 Expert Planning

1-to-1 Expert Planning

Your tour will be tailor-made by your personal travel advisor — a destination expert. Every reply will be within 24 hours.

Personal Journeys

Personal Journeys

Enjoy your personal local guide and ride. Explore destinations at your own pace. Have unparalleled flexibility, which is impossible on a group tour.

Authentic Experiences

Authentic Experiences

Discover the hidden gems. Experience local culture by practicing it. Try new and exciting activities, and unveil the stories behind the sights and people.

Well-Selected Local Guides

Well-Selected Local Guides

Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and attentive — your personal local guides will share interesting stories, insider information, and even create unexpected highlights!

China Highlights tailor-makes China tours to help travelers discover China their way. We're a passionate team of one hundred avid travelers who love to share our knowledge of China with those looking for a more authentic travel experience, more ...
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