2019’s Ancient Silk Road  (SV12E)

12 Days: Urumqi, Turpan, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Xining, Lanzhou


Call 888-285-8933

Day 1: Urumqi

Fly west across the country to Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Province. Urumqi is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the city farthest from any ocean. If you bought air tickets yourself, please meet the group in the hotel.

Day 2: Urumqi - Turpan - Urumqi

Drive to TURPAN in the morning. This oasis town is famous for its grapes and melons, as well as being the lowest point in China. Sample some grapes as you visit the KAREZ WELLS, an ancient underground well system that brings the town water from Mt. Tianshan. The canals channel water to the surface and are the main reason why Turpan became a major stopping point on the Silk Road. Then, visit the ancient ruins of GAOCHANG. Built as a garrison town in the 1st century AD, it became the capital of the Western Han Empire by the 4th century AD, but was abandoned during the early Ming dynasty. Walk through the ruins and imagine what life must have been like 700 years ago. Afterwards, visit the FLAMING MOUNTAINS, made famous in the Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. In the novel, the mountains are said to be on fire, and at certain times during the day, the sun and shadows turn the rocks into a fiery red. Dinner is a Turpan specialty, roast lamb. (B/L/D)

Day 3: Urumqi  

Visit the waters of TIANCHI, or the “Heavenly Lake.” Lying at an altitude of 6500 ft, the lake is surrounded by dense pine forests and snow capped mountains. Take a boat ride around the lake and see some local nomadic Kazakhs herding their sheep. Return to Urumqi to learn about Islam in China at the XINJIANG PROVINCIAL MUSEUM. (B/L/D)

Day 4: Urumqi - Dunhuang

Take a high-speed train to Dunhuang, the last oasis town before the Silk Road split into the northern and southern routes. (B/L/D)

Day 5: Dunhuang  

Visit the MOGAO GROTTOES. Designated an UNESCO World Heritage site, these are China’s oldest Buddhist grottoes. Housed in the 492 cave temples are over 2000 sculptures and 45,000 square meters of frescos. The statues and are painted and carved directly into the cave walls - the dry climate and the relative isolated location of these caves have preserved the works since the 4th century CE. Later, hear the sand dunes sing at HUMMING SANDY MOUNTAIN. Then, relax at the desert oasis the CRESCENT MOON SPRINGS, a small freshwater lake that has been a vital source of water here for thousands of years. Or, take an optional camel ride or sled down the sand dunes. (B/L/D)

Day 6: Dunhuang - Jiayuguan

Explore the ruins of YANGGUAN. One of the major western passes on the Silk Road, Yangguan was rebuilt after it was abandoned over 1000 years ago. Drive to Jiayuguan City, home of the largest steel company in the Gansu Province. (B/L/D)

Day 7: Jiayuguan - Zhangye

Drive to JIAYU PASS to see the western end of the Great Wall of China. This is the most intact ancient military building along the entire Great Wall and was the only military and trade link between China and Central Asia. Continue your bus tour to Zhangye, which was a famous commercial port on the Silk Road. Catch a glimpse of Zhenyuan Tower and Wooden Pagoda. Enjoy the local specialties as your dinner. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Zhangye - Xining

Extending along the northern slope of Qilian Mountain in west China, DANXIA NATIONAL GEOLOGICAL PARK is the best representative of China's colorful Danxia landform and the largest Danxia landscape in an arid area, with a wide variety of landforms. Undulating fiery-red ridges together with amazing multicolored mountain folds transform the park into an immense sea of fire with rolling waves, earning it the reputation of China's Rainbow Mountains and also one of the 'Top 10 Geographical Wonders of the World' selected by the National Geographic. Board the high-speed train to Xining, the Provincial City of Qinghai. (B/L/D)

Day 9: Xining  

Drive to QINGHAI LAKE, the largest salt water lake in China. Many birds use the lake as a stop during migration. It is also considered a holy lake in Tibetan Buddhism; you can find many worshippers praying along the banks. Later, visit the “Sun Moon Mount,” a memorial dedicated to the Tang Dynasty Princess Wencheng, who is credited as one of the people who brought Buddhism to this region. Upon returning to Xining, visit the PROVINCIAL MUSEUM. Tonight’s dinner is a taste of Qinghai hot pot. (B/L/D)

Day 10: Xining - Lanzhou

Visit the KUMBUM MONASTERY, one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in China. The founder of the Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism was born here. Take coach to Lanzhou in the afternoon. (B/L/D)

Day 11: Lanzhou  

The capital of the Gansu Province, Lanzhou is also known as the “City of Fruits.” Travel by coach to Liujiaxia Hydropower Station and take a cruise to visit BINGLING TEMPLE to see the grottoes at the end of the reservoir. Then visit the YELLOW RIVER BRIDGE, known to give good luck to all who travel through Lanzhou. Enjoy shish kabob and beef noodle soup for dinner. (B/L/D)

Day 12: Lanzhou -  Home

Fly home or on to your next destination. (B)


Call: 888-285-8933