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17-Day Xinjiang, Silk Road, Xian, Pingyao and Beijing Tour

Classic China and Silk Road Tour

Explore the cultural fusion of Urumqi and the ancient Silk Road city of Turpan. Marvel at the awe-inspiring Mogao Caves in Dunhuang and witness the extraordinary beauty of the rainbow-colored Danxia landforms in Zhangye. Immerse yourself in the historical wonders of Lanzhou and Xian, home to the Terracotta Army. Traverse the ancient streets of Pingyao, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before concluding your journey in the imperial grandeur of Beijing.

The itinerary below is only one possibility. Tips to tailor-make your trip are offered as inspiration. Send us details of your preferences and our travel experts will customize this trip to suit your interests, tastes, and budget.

Tour 'Wow' Points

Experience the Thrill of Riding a Camel Across the Singing Sand Mountains

Riding a Camel

Witness the Famous Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye

Rainbow Mountains

Find the Hidden Halls in the Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Explore a Top-Ranked Section of the Great Wall

walking on the Great Wall

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Trip Advisor certificate of 2023 Tour Review

Itinerary Quick Look

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

DAY 1 Urumqi Arrival

Your private guide will be ready to meet and greet you at the arrival hall in Urumqi. A comfortable private car with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel. Your guide will help you to check-in.

DAY 2 Urumqi| The Heavenly Lake

Boat Cruise on Heavenly Lake: Experience a unique way to explore the stunning Heavenly Lake as you embark on a boat cruise. Glide across the pristine blue waters surrounded by steep forested hills, breathtaking meadows, and the majestic peaks of Heavenly Mountain. Sit back and relax as you immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of this remarkable natural wonder.

Heavenly Lake: Prepare to be amazed by the mesmerizing beauty of Heavenly Lake (Tian Chi), a picturesque mountain lake known for its pristine blue waters. The serene lake serves as a captivating contrast to the lush forested hills, expansive meadows, and snow-capped peaks of Heavenly Mountain in the backdrop. Enjoy leisurely walks, hop on an electric cart, take in the breathtaking views from a cable car, and embark on a memorable boat cruise across the shimmering lake.

DAY 3 Urumqi| The Ruins of Jiaohe Ancient City

Ruins of Jiaohe Ancient City: Explore the captivating ruins of Jiaohe Ancient City, originally built by the Cheshi people during the Qin Dynasty and later expanded in the Han Dynasty. Located in the Yarnaz Valley, just 8 km west of Turpan, this ancient city was carved out from the yellow-gray parched ground of a narrow island in a river. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including vineyards, orchards, desert, and mountains.

Karez Wells: Discover the remarkable Karez Wells irrigation system, considered one of China's great ancient projects. The Karez Wells Folk Garden and Museum, located 3 kilometers west of Turpan, provides insights into the fascinating history and construction of these wells. Underground channels connected the wells, allowing for the irrigation of the famous fruit and vineyards of this hot, dry desert region. Appreciate the importance of this ancient system that still functions today.

Suleiman Minaret: Marvel at the impressive Suleiman Minaret, also known as Sugong Tower. It is the largest ancient tower in Xinjiang and the country's sole ancient Islamic minaret. Situated 2 kilometers southeast of Turpan's center, this architectural gem is a testament to the region's rich history.

Local Family Visit: Experience the warm hospitality of the Uygur people during a visit to a local family's traditional house. Be treated to unique food and drinks, and gain insight into their daily life and customs. Respect the local customs and follow your tour guide's suggestions for an authentic and immersive experience.

DAY 4 Turpan | The Gaochang Ruins

Gaochang Ruins video: Explore the ancient Gaochang Ruins, an important Silk Road city founded in the first century B.C. Ascend for a panoramic view of the city's three parts: the exterior, interior, and palace cities. Despite being reclaimed by the desert, some ruins remain and evoke a sense of history.

Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves: Visit the impressive Bezeklik Caves, renowned for their rock-cut structures and murals. Located on the cliffs of the Flame Mountain, these caves offer a glimpse into the region's early history, although many of the paintings have been damaged.

Flaming Mountain video: Witness the stunning Flaming Mountains, known for their scorching heat and importance in Turpan's civilization. These iconic mountains, featured in legends like "Journey to the West," provide a dramatic backdrop. Visit stone reliefs depicting mythical characters and enjoy the vibrant colors during the best time to visit.

Tuyoq Village and Tuyugou Canyon: Discover the charming Tuyoq Village, with its vineyards and ancient mudbrick houses against the backdrop of the Flaming Mountains. Take a leisurely walk to ancient mountain-side caves with well-preserved frescoes showcasing Buddhist and Nestorian influences.

DAY 5 Turpan to Liuyuan | The Singing Sand Mountains and Crescent Spring

Singing Sand Mountains and Crescent Spring: Embark on a remarkable journey to the Singing Sand Mountains (Mingsha Shan) and Crescent Spring (Yueya Quan), located 6 km south of Dunhuang. Discover an oasis in the midst of the desert as you encounter Crescent Spring, named for its crescent-shaped lake nestled between towering sand dunes. Despite the arid surroundings, the pool remains a natural wonder, defying expectations.

Camel Trekking: Experience the thrill of riding a camel across the mesmerizing dunes of the Singing Sand Mountains. Delight in the picturesque undulations of golden sand against the vivid blue sky, immersing yourself in the ambiance of the ancient Silk Road. Venture off the camel and listen closely for the enchanting phenomenon of the "singing sand."

DAY 6Dunhuang | Mogao Caves

Mogao Caves: Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Mogao Caves during a guided tour. The knowledgeable guide, fluent in English, German, French, and Japanese, will accompany you alongside fellow travelers. While around 30 caves are accessible to the public, the tour typically includes a selection of 10 caves that offer a representative glimpse into the site's overall magnificence. Please note that the specific caves visited will be determined by the guide.

Dunhuang Mural Research Institute and Mural Facsimile Experience: Enhance your visit to the breathtaking murals of the Mogao Caves with a special experience at the Dunhuang Mural Research Institute. Gain insights from an expert who will guide you through the appreciation and analysis of the murals. Then, choose a mural sample and create your own facsimile on a mud slab, using the same material found in the Mogao Caves. Take your masterpiece home as a cherished momento of your Mogao Cave adventure.

DAY 7 Dunhuang to Jiayuguan | The National Forest Park

The Cliff-Side Great Wall: Witness a remarkable section of the Great Wall known as the Cliff-Side Great Wall, situated 11 km northwest of Jiayuguan city center and 7 km north of Jiayu Pass Fort. This particular section of the wall is built on a steep ridge with a gradient of 45 degrees, giving it the appearance of being suspended from the side of the mountain range. Its precarious positioning has earned it the nickname "the Suspended Wall". Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring engineering marvel of this unique part of the Great Wall.

Fresco Tombs of the Wei and Jing Dynasty: Venture into the northwestern Gobi desert, approximately 20 km from Jiayuguan City, between Xincheng Township of Jiayuguan City and Dingjiazha Township of Jiuquan City, to discover the fascinating Fresco Tombs of the Wei and Jing Dynasty. In this remote desert landscape, you will encounter approximately 1400 tombs from this ancient era. Marvel at the intricate murals and gain insights into the rich history and cultural significance of this burial site.

DAY 8 Jiayuguan to Zhangye| The Jiayuguan Pass

Jiayuguan Pass: Explore the renowned "First Pass Under Heaven" located at the western end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. Jiayuguan Pass is not only the most magnificent pass but also the best-preserved among the thousand passes of the Great Wall. Positioned strategically in the Gansu corridor between two mountain ranges, this fort offers breathtaking views. Uncover the fascinating history of the world's longest wall at the adjacent Great Wall Museum, which houses a remarkable collection of artifacts.

DAY 9 Zhangye | Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park

Giant Buddha Temple: Located in the southwestern corner of Zhangye city, the Giant Buddha Temple (Dafo Si) houses China's largest indoor reclining Buddha. Explore the temple and witness the majesty of this magnificent statue that captures the essence of Chinese Buddhist art.

Wooden Tower of Sui Dynasty: Originally constructed during the Sui Dynasty and restored in 1926, the Wooden Tower is a nine-story architectural marvel reaching a height of approximately 40 meters. It stands as an outstanding example of wooden towers in China. This historical tower once served as a repository for valuable Buddhist relics.

Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park (Rainbow Mountains): Journey to Kangle Township, 40 km from Zhangye, to witness the awe-inspiring Danxia landforms at the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, also known as the Rainbow Mountains. These unique geological formations, found only in the arid regions of Gansu and Qinghai provinces, present picturesque window lattice and palace structures. Delight in the vivid and vibrant colors of the Qicai Danxia Landforms, where the hilly terrain resembles rippling waves. The juxtaposition of multi-colored rock strata creates a breathtaking, imposing, and magnificent sight. Nature enthusiasts and photographers alike are drawn to this extraordinary landscape.

DAY 10 Zhangye to Lanzhou | Waterwheel Garden

Waterwheel Garden: Explore the remarkable Waterwheel Garden, where giant steel and wooden waterwheels once served the crucial purpose of lifting water from the Yellow River to supply this arid region. Immerse yourself in the historical significance of these waterwheels and experience the unique opportunity to ride on a raft made of inflated sheepskins. Located on South Binhe East Road, on the opposite side of the river from White Pagoda Hill, this enchanting garden is just 1 km west of Zhongshan Bridge.

Yellow River Iron Bridge: Uncover the historical significance of the Yellow River Iron Bridge, originally built in 1372 and reconstructed with iron in 1909. Spanning approximately 200 meters, this engineering marvel was an impressive achievement during its time. Positioned at the base of White Pagoda Hill, the bridge is also known as Zhongshan Bridge.

DAY 11 Lanzhou to Xi'an | The Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Great Mosque: Immerse yourself in the vibrant Muslim quarter of Xian, near the city centre, where you'll find one of the largest Islamic mosques in China. The Great Mosque impresses visitors with its fusion of Chinese architecture and Islamic traditions. Its courtyards are meticulously aligned from east to west, facing Mecca. Marvel at the beautifully adorned pavilions, halls, and gateways, and experience the lively atmosphere of this active place of worship for the Hui descendants of Silk Road traders and travelers.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda: Discover the significance of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a prominent Buddhist site located within the charming grounds of the Da Ci'en Temple. This simple yet elegant brick pagoda was constructed in the 7th century to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India by Xuanzang (also known as Tripitaka) during his epic journey. Explore the temple complex, which showcases impressive Buddhist statues and murals in its spacious halls.

Muslim Quarter: Experience the vibrant ambiance of the Muslim Quarter, situated just 100 meters west of the Bell Tower in downtown Xi'an. Stroll along the 500-meter-long avenue, adorned with bluestone pavement, and encounter an array of unique stalls, souvenir shops, cafes, and bars predominantly operated by the local Muslim community. Engage with the bustling atmosphere and embrace the opportunity to explore and shop while immersing yourself in the diverse cultural offerings.

DAY 12 Xi'an | The Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta Warriors Experience: Unlock the secrets of the Terracotta Warriors, a must-see attraction in Xi'an. Discover fascinating stories behind these remarkable ancient warriors and their creation by Emperor Qinshihuang's craftsmen. Visit a local cave dwelling to see skilled artisans crafting clay warriors and try your hand at making your own. This unique experience offers a deeper understanding of these extraordinary artifacts.

Xian City Wall Bike Ride: Explore the well-preserved Xian City Wall, one of China's oldest and largest defense systems. Pedal along the 13.74 km perimeter on a bike, taking in panoramic views. If weather conditions are unfavorable, we'll visit the Bell Tower instead. Bike rental fees are included, and your guide can assist you in navigating the wall. Enjoy this memorable adventure through ancient history.

DAY 13 Xi'an to Pingyao | The Pingyao Ancient Town

Pingyao Ancient Town Exploration: Discover the well-preserved Pingyao Ancient Town, one of China's best-preserved ancient towns. Inside the Ming Dynasty city walls, you'll find beautifully preserved buildings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Take a leisurely walk or rent a bike to explore. Immerse yourself in traditional Chinese arts like paper cutting and lacquerware production. In the evening, enjoy the town's serene beauty with glowing lanterns and unwind at the local bars.

DAY 14 Pingyao to Beijing | The Summer Palace

Summer Palace and Garden of Virtue and Harmony: Experience the grandeur of the Summer Palace, China's largest and best-preserved royal park. Located 9 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of downtown Beijing, this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases exceptional horticulture and stunning scenery. Take in the natural beauty and cultural significance as you walk through the park for approximately 2 hours (2 kilometers).

DAY 15Beijing | The Temple of Heaven and Mutianyu Great Wall

Temple of Heaven: Explore the historic Temple of Heaven, a complex of Taoist buildings from the Ming dynasty. Emperors came here to pray for good harvests, and the park is now a vibrant gathering place for locals practicing tai chi and exercising. Enjoy an easy-paced 1-1.5 hour walk (1.5 kilometers) through the serene park.

Mutianyu Great Wall with Cable Car: Visit the picturesque Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, famous for its well-preserved architecture. Take advantage of a round-trip cable car to effortlessly ascend and descend instead of climbing stairs. After your guide provides an introduction, explore the Wall freely. Hike the scenic "golden route" between watchtowers 14 and 23, considered the most beautiful portion of the Great Wall. This 2-hour adventure concludes with a bus transfer back to our vehicle.

DAY 16Beijing | The Forbidden City and Hutong Tour

Wangfujing Night Market: Indulge in the vibrant atmosphere of Wangfujing Night Market, where dozens of stalls offer a variety of street food. Sample common treats like dumplings, noodles, and fresh strawberry kabobs, or be adventurous and try exotic delicacies such as silk worms, scorpions, starfish, and centipedes. Rest assured that the food is safe to try, providing a unique culinary experience.

Hutong Tour with Rickshaw Ride (including Bell Tower or Drum Tower): Delve into the historic Hutong neighborhood, a maze of narrow alleyways lined with traditional courtyard houses. Hop on a rickshaw for a one-hour tour, weaving through the alleys and gaining insights into the local way of life. Visit a local family to discover the different courtyards' thresholds and explore notable sites like the Bell Tower or Drum Tower.

Forbidden City Emperor's Tour: Uncover the secrets of the Forbidden City, the world's largest imperial palace. Home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, it dates back to 1420. Unlike other group tours, our Emperor's Tour takes you to 12 carefully selected places, offering deeper insights into the lives of Ming and Qing emperors and concubines. Explore its rich history, architecture, and art alongside your knowledgeable guide during this approximately 2-hour walk (2 kilometers) through the palace.

Tiananmen Square: Experience the grandeur of Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in Beijing. This iconic square holds profound cultural significance and has been witness to pivotal events in Chinese history. Marvel at the majestic surroundings, including the Heavenly Gate, museums, government buildings, and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, as you spend approximately 30 minutes immersing yourself in China's national pride.

DAY 17 Beijing Departure

Our guide will help you transfer from your hotel to Beijing Capital Airport for departure with independentcar/van and guide.

Tour Price

FromUS4,250 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

Tour code: cht-cx-37

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