China’s Silk Road
Following the route of Merchants
Beijing • Xian • Tianshui • Zhangye • Jiayuguan • Dunhuang • Turpan • Urumchi• Kashgar
September 27 to October 12, 2020
Dating back to the years of the Han Dynasty, China’s famous Silk Road gained its name and reputation from the lucrative trade in silk that once plied its way into the West, travelling from the ancient capital of X’ian and through the Hexi Corridor towards India, Pakistan and Rome. Beginning in Beijing and ending in Urumchi, this remarkable journey follows in the footsteps of those original caravans, taking you from the imperial treasures of the Chinese capital and on through the remote and scorching deserts around Turpan to fabled Kashgar, arriving in time for its famous Sunday market. Along the way you will have an opportunity to visit the glorious Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall at Mutianyu, gaze upon the Summer Palace and the Terracotta Warriors and explore the fabulous Buddhist caves at Dunhuang, considered the greatest and most consummate collection of Buddhist art anywhere in the world. You’ll enjoy the snow-capped mountains of the Heavenly Lake before ending the journey in the fertile oasis of Kashgar which is located at the foothills of Pamir Mountains.
This tour can be combined with Pakistan trip (Oct 14 - Nov 06, 2020)
Tour cost (land only):
4-5 persons: $5,750.00 per person sharing in double occupancy
6-7 persons: $5,050.00 per person sharing in double occupancy
8-12 persons: $4,550.00 per person sharing in double occupancy
Single Supplement: $650.00
Price based on a group size of 4 to 12 participants
Led by STS Tour Manager (TBD)
Your tour does not include:
International air from USA into Beijing and out of Urumqi (and or into Islamabad).
Visa for China – obtainable in advance (cost currently $140.00).
Trip surcharge to operate below required minimum participants.
Expenses of a personal nature: alcoholic beverages, camera fees, telephone, email, laundry bills, etc.
Dayroom or extra hotel nights necessitated by airline flight schedule changes.
Porterage at the hotels.
Travel Insurance (highly recommended).
Your tour includes:
Accommodation at Superior Class (4*) hotels.
All meals on full board basis as mentioned in the itinerary.
Transportation throughout in air conditioned minivan/bus.
Spiekermann Travel’s Tour Manager for the trip
Tips for the local guides and the drivers.
Local English speaking licensed guide during the entire tour
Entrance fees to all visited sites as per itinerary.
Domestic Kashgar-Urumchi flight and train tickets in China.
Mineral Water during the tour.
II Active – Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long rides.
*** Superior - Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars)
Trip Grade: Active Touring - You will be covering a lot during this journey. The roads are good and the bus very comfortable. Some driving days are long. There will be several restroom stops along the way. It is important to recognize the exhausting nature of some of the long sightseeing days as well as some of the site visits where you may have to climb on uneven terrain, steps, rocks and sand as well as up inclines and stairs. Some of the sites involve more strenuous walking (uphill on uneven ground) in order to view the sights. Not easily done if you are not in good physical condition. Be prepared with comfortable shoes. You do have the option of staying with the vehicle if some sites seem difficult for you.
View Tour Itinerary
Sun-Mon, September 27-28
Depart your hometown for Beijing arriving the next day. Upon arrival, meet and transfer to your hotel for check in. Any free time today in Beijing is taken at your leisure, so get out and start exploring this vast and amazing city. It's recommended that you arrive a few days early to experience all that Beijing has to offer.
Remark: Check in to hotel on Sep 28 at 15:00 pm.
Tuesday, September 29
Catch the bullet train to Xi'an (approximately 5-6 hours). Once the imperial center of China for 2,000 years, Xian is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites to explore. Enjoy a walking tour of the Muslim Quarter of Xi'an. After the walking tour, why not visit the Great Mosque, one of the most important in China. This area has plenty of interesting shops, lively street stalls and roving groups of white-bearded men in skull caps. This evening enjoy some free time to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route of the Silk Road. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, September 30
Enjoy a day to explore Xi'an. Walk along the city walls, which are the most complete in China, climb to the top of the Bell and Drum towers for impressive views. We will visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Small or Big Wild Goose Pagodas. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is in a scenic area which also includes the Shaanxi History Museum and Da Cien Temple. It's very popular among locals, especially in the evenings when there is a nightly light and music show around the many fountains. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is inside the Jianfu Temple and Xi'an Museum is also nearby. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Thursday, October 01
Today you’ll journey out in to the countryside surrounding Xi’an (approximately 2 hours) and visit what is undoubtedly one of the man-made wonders of the world – the Terracotta Warriors. You’ll learn all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered after being buried for 2,000 years by farmers digging a well in 1976. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots (and originally individually painted) were commissioned by the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi as part of his mausoleum after he ascended to the throne in 264 BC. Three main pits are open for you to view, where over 1,000 warriors are displayed – each individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, and even facial expressions – stand in battle formation. Free evening at leisure and overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Friday, October 02
Xian - Tianshui
This day begins with taking the Bullet Train to Tianshui- the first significant Silk Road city since Xi'an located along the Wei River. It's about 2 hours train ride into the city. There you'll visit the Maijishan Grottoes- a network of caves and walkways carved into the cliffside, adorned in colorful Buddhist artwork. You'll spend the night at the hotel in Tianshui. (B,L,D)
Saturday, October 03
You'll take the morning train to Zhangye. It's about a 5 hour train ride, so take something along to occupy your time, or sit back and enjoy the local scenery. You'll reach Zhangye in the afternoon. From there, you'll be picked up at the train station and driven to the awesome Zhangye Danxia Landform. These mountains are often cited as the most beautiful landform in all of China. You'll then get your rest in Zhangye for the night before exploring more of the city. (B,L,D)
Sunday, October 04
In the morning you'll visit the Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye, where you'll witness some of the most intriguing ancient artwork on the China Silk Road, including the Giant Buddha itself, lying inside the temple. You'll then take a drive to Jiayuguan, the city that houses the western end of The Great Wall of China. From there you'll visit Jiayuguan Pass- one of the most intact parts of the Great Wall and a key point on the China’s Silk Road. If time permits, you may also visit the Overhanging Great Wall. After the tour is an overnight stay in Jiayuguan. (B,L,D)
Monday, October 05
You'll have an early morning departure from Jiayuguan and travel to Dunhuang, with a stop on the way to the Yulin Grottoes- where you'll find brightly colored artwork depicting 1,000 years of Chinese culture. Upon arrival in Dunhuang, you can rest, relax and enjoy the Shazhou Nightly Market, where you'll be able to sample local cuisine, browse local farmer stands and find unique goods made by the people of this beautiful region. You may catch a show at the famous Dunhuang Theater. This award winning theater features some of the best dancers in all of China and is truly an experience in local art. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, October 06
Dunhuang - Mogao Grottoes - Echoing Sand Mountain
In the morning you'll visit the Mogao Grottoes, also known as the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas. This includes a visit to the Dunhuang Grotto protection and Exhibition center, where you can learn about the rich history of unique network of 492 temples along the China Silk Road. Then on to explore the Echoing Sand Mountains, named for the musical sounds heard when even a light wind blows through the dunes; and the crystal clear Crescent Lake, named for the half-moon shape. Enjoy a camel riding here. Return to your hotel in Dunhuang for overnight and perhaps enjoy a drink at the unique beer gardens off the nearby night market. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, October 07
After breakfast enjoy free morning at leisure. Today you will be taking high-speed train to Turpan from Liuyuan train station (approximately 3.5 hours). Turpan is an attractive oasis town famous for its vineyards, stone fruits, melons and the nearby Flaming Mountains. The Turpan Depression is second only to the Dead Sea in Jordan as the lowest point on earth. It's a small city by Chinese standards, but the surrounding area is full of interesting places. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Thursday, October 08
Morning drive to visit the Gaochang Ruins which was once an important stop along the ancient Silk Road. Because of the war and water shortage, it was finally abandoned, but the remaining city walls, temples; houses still indicates the past glory of this city and the culture of ancient Gaochang people. Then continue the visiting to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves situated on the west cliffs of the Wood Valley of the Flaming Mountains. Afterwards, have a traditional Uyghur lunch in a local village of Tuyuk Valley. On the way back to Turpan make a stop to visit the Flaming Mountain, where the temperature on the surface reaches 47.8 C (118.04 F) in the hottest summer. The last visit today will be the Jiaohe Ruins, which is currently the largest and oldest earth city in the world. The remains you see today were descended from the Tang Dynasty. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Friday, October 09
Our morning begins with visiting the intricate Karez underground irrigation system. An important source of life to all of Turpan, this system of caves, reservoirs, canals and wells is an impressive 5,000 km (3100 miles) in total length. Next stop is the Emin Minaret which is the tallest minaret in all of China. After lunch you'll head to Urumqi, the world's most inland city, about a 2.5-3 hour drive through the countryside. There you'll be able to rest, refresh on and you may take a walk at the Xinjiang Grand Bazzar, where you'll find everything from entertainment to local fare and unique goods from different cultures in and around the region. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Saturday, October 10
You'll visit the Xinjiang Museum; with over 50,000 pieces, this astonishing collection will give you rare insight into this fascinating culture. In the afternoon take the flight to Kashgar, surrounded by the Great Pamir Mountains. The town's main landmark is the Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square. The dusty old laneways are crammed full of shops, food stalls and Uyghur locals living a lifestyle virtually unchanged for a hundred years. Take advantage of the proximity to Pakistan by having a meal of curry and chapattis at a Pakistani café or play a round or two with the lads hanging out at the pool tables on Id Kah Square. Alternatively, you can get lost meandering down lanes and alleyways, stopping at stalls selling tandoori-baked bagels or mulberry juice. Overnight at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Sunday, October 11
Kashgar's main attraction is undoubtedly its markets, which you’ll visit today. It’s said to have some of the biggest markets in Central Asia, and on Sundays, the main trading day; it can feel like everyone from hundreds of miles around has converged on the city. First we will visit live stock market. One of the best known markets of its kind in the region, it's considered a "must see" sight in Xinjiang. Watch the bargaining and bustle of local herdsmen and farmers as they buy and trade sheep, goats, cows and donkeys. It's a big social occasion for the local community too, as rural families gather to share a meal and a chat. Then return to the city to visit the Grand Sunday Bazaar, open every day but most alive today with traders selling all kinds of wares – rugs, hats, spices, boots, dates, ingredients for traditional medicines, auto parts, brightly colored material for clothing, electrical goods, household items, you name it and it's probably here. Browse the market at your own pace and a free evening tonight. (B,L,D)
Monday-Tuesday, October 12-13
Kashgar – Urumqi – USA/Pakistan
Take domestic flight back to Urumqi and connect to your international flight back to USA or continue to reach Islamabad to join Pakistan tour. You may need to add a day or 2 to China trip OR to Pakistan trip depending on the flight sequence and availabilities.
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants, sequence of sites or the order of activities if/as needed due to any unforeseen changes or conditions