Cultural Highlights of China on the Silk Road

China

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Description:

This 14 days’ tour covers some of the most well-known places of China, including Beijing, Xi'an, Kashgar, Urumqi, Turpan, Dunghuang, and Jiayuguan. Enjoy visiting world-famous monuments such as the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Warriors, as well as experiencing local life with a visit to the Beijing Hutongs. Every day is a new adventure, and you’ll mark a difference in your experiences when we travel to areas such as Urumqi and Turpan that have their own cultural marvels. From bustling cities to local markets, this is a non-stop tour of Chinese wonders, filled with precious memories you’ll cherish forever.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival - Beijing

Upon arrival in Beijing, you will be met by your private driver who will transfer you to your hotel in the city center. Take some time to freshen up at the hotel and relax after your flight. In the early evening, you will receive a briefing on the details of your tour. Later, enjoy a welcome walk in the neighborhood and be introduced to this amazing city. We'll stop at a local restaurant for dinner.

Overnight in Beijing.

Day 2: Beijing

After breakfast, you’ll spend the morning visiting the Temple of Heaven. This was where Emperors from the Ming and Qing Dynasties performed ceremonies and rituals to pray for good harvests and blessings for the country. After that, we will explore the historical face of Beijing with a brief visit to Tiananmen Square, now the largest city plaza in the world. Tiananmen Gate, on the northern side of the square, was the site where Chairman Mao announced the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

Stepping into the Tiananmen, you will see one of the world’s five most important palaces - the Forbidden City, a huge palace complex of more than 9,000 rooms where 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties lived. Pass through impressive doorways in this magnificent structure to admire the beautiful and well-preserved ancient buildings, decorated with yellow-glazed roof tiles, white marble bases and vibrant paintings.

Later we will go into the central city to experience the Beijing Hutongs, the small alleys made by neighboring quadrangle dwellings. Stroll through the Hutongs to get a feel for traditional Beijing lifestyle, visit various antique shops and small boutiques, and truly feel the historical changes of Beijing.

After dinner in a local restaurant in Hutong, we will return to the hotel.

Overnight in Beijing.

Day 3: The Great Wall

Today we start early as we visit the famous Great Wall of China, Mutianyu section. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall is about 40 miles away from the city centre.. The wall is vast, and we’ve chosen the Mutianyu section as it’s a less crowded part of the wall, yet is a well-preserved segment which was built in the Ming Dynasty. It will surpass your expectations, not only in the wonder of the wall itself, but also the rugged scenery and open vistas you’ll enjoy from the top. This great wall, linking Gubeikou in the east and Juyongguan in the west, served as the vital military strategic point in ancient times. Mutianyu section has been preserved and the protection work is well done here; tourists can now see its original appearance and enjoy the real ancient culture of great wall.

You’ll take a cable car to ascend the Great Wall, then hike the most beautiful and interesting part of Mutianyu. It's a wonderful experience to climb up its rising towers to enjoy scenic views and to take brag-worthy photos of the wall wriggling along mountain ridges. After your adventure, we’ll hike down and drive back to Beijing.

In the evening, we’ll enjoy the excitement of a fantastic acrobatic show, followed by the must-try Beijing Duck dinner.

Overnight in Beijing.

Day 4: Beijing - Xi’an

After breakfast, we’ll transfer to the Beijing West Railway Station for a high speed bullet train trip to Xi’an (about 5 hours). You will be picked up by your tour guide at Xi’an North Railway Station and escorted to your hotel in Xi’an. After checking in at the hotel, we will go and visit the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum which is a magnificent architectural complex in the Tang Dynasty style. It collects the highlights of the Shaanxi culture and shows the development of Chinese civilization.The museum owns 18 invaluable national treasures including bronze wares, gold and silver wares, jade, chinaware, mural paintings and pottery figurines. After the visit, we will experience the bustling and lively Muslim Quarter, a place where you can try different local snacks and explore Muslim culture in China.

Overnight in Xi’an.

Note: Lunch on the train to Xi’an from Beijing. We recommend that you buy some snacks before you board the train, which is better than ordering the boxed lunch on the train.

Day 5: Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an

After breakfast, we’ll drive about 25 miles to discover one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world - the Terracotta Warriors. They were built for the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuang, to protect him in the afterlife. Over 8,000 life-sized warriors, horses and chariots, buried in 3 pits for more than 2,000 years until uncovered by a local farmer in 1974, form an ancient military army with complete battle units of infantry, cavalry, and more. Standing in front of these figures, one can’t help being amazed not only by the ambition of Emperor Qin Shihuang but also by the fabulous artistic skills of ancient Chinese artisans.

After this highlight excursion, we will take you to a local noodle restaurant for lunch to experience the special Xi’an Noodles. After that we will head to Da Cien Temple, a famous Buddhist sutra translation site during the Tang Dynasty. Big Wild Goose Pagoda is the most famous building in the temple. The pagoda, rising to a height of 200ft, was built by the famous Buddhist master Xuanzang to preserve classic scriptures he bought back from India during the early Tang Dynasty. Xuanzang was the prototype character for Tang Seng in the famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. (Note: Climbing up the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is not included).

You’ll then take a stroll on the Ancient City Wall, which is the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. Enjoy panoramic views of modern Xi’an while you examine this well-maintained city wall.

Overnight in Xi’an.

Day 6: Xi’an - Kashgar

Today you will be escorted to catch your morning flight to Kashgar (MU2293 09:05 - 13:50). Kashgar is a bustling market town which is prominent on the Great Silk Road. Being populated by an overwhelming majority of Uygur people (93%), it’s an experience unique to anything you’ve seen in China so far. We will transfer to the hotel to check in upon arrival, followed by an orientation walk in the old town of Kashgar to soak up the local atmosphere.

Overnight in Kashgar.

Day 7: Kashgar Sunday Market

Our time in Kashgar is spent predominantly at the Sunday market where we can watch the traders selling their sheep which were brought from miles away by donkey cart. We will also wander through the different sections of the market, where hats, spices, kitchenware, carpets, musical instruments, richly decorated clothing and almost any other products are sold. This would be a perfect opportunity to purchase gifts for your loved ones at home.

The Fragrant Concubines tomb will be visited in the afternoon together with the Idkah Mosque.

Overnight in Kashgar.

Day 8: Kashgar - Urumqi - Turpan

You’ll catch the morning flight to Urumqi (CZ6885 11:40 - 13:25). Upon arrival, we’ll visit the Xinjiang Uygur Museum. Situated at the foot of the Tian Shan Mountains, Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. With the opening of the Silk Road, Urumqi became a junction for cultural exchange between the east and west.Today it is an interesting insight into Communist architecture. We will then drive to Turpan and transfer to a hotel where you’ll stay for two nights.

Overnight in Turpan.

Day 9: Turpan

Today you will visit the Jiaohe Ruins, the Karez Well, the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, and Jiaohe Ruins. This whole mud brick city, was the capital of the Cheshiqian kingdom nearly 2000 years ago. Although the ancient city has been badly damaged, the existing ruins still show its resplendence. Turpan is one of the hottest areas in China. In an area prone to drought, you may be curious about how the local villagers get water.

A visit to the Karaz well (main irrigation system) will answer this question. This great underground system protects the mountain snowmelt from evaporation and the guide will show you how it works.The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are picturesquely located on a cliff face overlooking a river valley.

Overnight in Turpan.

Day 10: Turpan - Dunhuang

Breakfast at the hotel, followed by a morning visit to the Emin Minaret. Travel by train to Liuyuan (D2706 11:06 - 14:22) and then drive to Dunhuang. Dunhuang was a major stop on the ancient Silk Road and is famous for the nearby Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes. In the afternoon we will visit Ming-Sha Dunes and Crescent lake. You will have the opportunity to ride a camel along the Echoing-Sand Dune to Crescent Lake, a miracle in the Gobi desert.

Overnight in Dunhuang.

Note: We recommend that you can buy some snacks before you board on the train, which is better than ordering the boxed lunch on the train.

Day 11: Dunhuang

First we will visit the Mogao Caves, with lunch at the museum. The caves will enable you to appreciate the Buddhist art on display. The grottoes were carved into the side of a mountain and were stacked with five stories up to 164 feet. Its exquisite Buddhist murals and statues are worth going the distance to see. Afternoon visit the Dunhuang Museum, and walk around the night market. Afternoon transfer to Jiayuguan Hotel and check in for one night.

Overnight in Dunhuang.

Day 12: Dunghuang - Jiayuguan

In the morning, we drive to Jayuguan. It will be a long drive of 5 hours. After checking in at the hotel, we go to the Black Mountain to climb a restored section of the wall. In the late afternoon, you may relax with a walk in the downtown of the city.

Overnight in Jiayuguan.

Day 13: Jiayuguan - Beijing

Breakfast at hotel, followed by a visit to the Jiayuguan Pass/Great Wall. In 1372, during the Ming Dynasty, a fortress was built to protect the last frontier of the Chinese empire. It was entirely built up in 1540 and became a small township engaged in local trading, catering to the needs of the military garrisons stationed at the fort. The city used to be the pass of the famous Silk Road and the first pass at the west end of the Great Wall in the Ming Dynasty. We will visit Jiayuguan Pass of Great Wall.

The Jiayuguan Pass represents the western starting point of a section of the Great Wall constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The pass covers an area of eight acres and lies at the base of a narrow valley, and takes its name from one of the surrounding hills, the Jiayu. Commonly referred to as the most exceptional example of its kind on earth, the pass is the best preserved of the Great Wall's ancient military fortresses. Transfer to Jiayuguan Airport. Internal flight (MU 2417 17:00 -21:40) to Beijing. Transfer to hotel and check in for one night.

Overnight in Beijing.

Day 14: Beijing - Departure

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to the airport to catch your flight home.

Inclusions:

Included in the package:

  • Best available hotels (3-4* or similar), 13 nights, breakfast and some meals included.
  • Ground transportation as per the program.
  • Domestic flights and trains.
  • Guided tours as per the program.
  • Experienced English-speaking tour guides.
  • Entrance tickets to monuments and museums as per the program.
  • Welcome gift.
  • Silka Departure Guarantee.
    What is Silka Departure Guarantee?

    We’d rather take a loss than let you down. We guarantee that any tour you booked will happen even if the group is not full. If that occurs, we might adjust certain technical details like driving you around in a mini-bus or sedan instead of a coach, or letting you join one of our partners’ scheduled departures, but we’ll still take you to places we promised.

Not included:

  • International airfare.
  • Visas and local visa fees.
  • Additional hotel expenses.
  • Travel and/or medical insurance.
  • Meals, unless specified.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Tips.
  • Telephone/fax/data charges.
  • Alcohol or soft drinks.
  • Optional tours or deviations from the scheduled itinerary.
  • Camera/video fees in the museums (if applicable).

Days

14

Hotel

4*

From:

$0

Scheduled departures:

Cultural Highlights of China on the Silk Road