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Welcome to Urumqi, in Xianjiang, a massive province which shares borders with eight countries! A number airlines service Urumqi and our tour starts at this point. Arrival transfer from airport to hotel. Overnight - Urumqi
Urumqi - Kashgar. Capital of Xinjiang, a largely desert and grassland province fringed by some of the highest mountains in the world, Urumqi sits amidst beautiful scenery, with the snow-clad Tian Shan range to the city’s east. Two thousand years ago a string of oasis towns were developed along the Silk Road that skirted the surrounding deserts. Trade attracted merchants from Europe and India and Xinjiang became a meeting point between east and west. We enjoy an excursion to Tian Chi (Heaven Lake), located at an altitude of 2,000m among the Tian Shan Mountains, which rise to nearly 6,000m. Also visit the local Xinjiang Museum. Later, fly west to Kashgar. Overnight - Kashgar
Kashgar - Urumqi. Lying at the foot of the Pamir mountains in the far west of Xinjiang, Kashgar’s importance grew from its location as an oasis at the point where the northern and southern routes of the ancient Silk Road converged, forming a gateway to the mountains leading to India and Russia. From the 10th - 18th centuries Kashgar was part of the Islamic world, until the Chinese reconquered the region. See the Id Kah Mosque, Aba Khoja Mausoleum - where the local cemetery filled with distinctive mud and brick tombs is still used by the local Uighur peoples and the colourful Old Town. A visit is made to Kashgar’s local market with free time to explore. Later, catch a flight to Urumqi. Overnight - Kashgar
Kashgar - Urumqi. Lying at the foot of the Pamir mountains in the far west of Xinjiang, Kashgar’s importance grew from its location as an oasis at the point where the northern and southern routes of the ancient Silk Road converged, forming a gateway to the mountains leading to India and Russia. From the 10th - 18th centuries Kashgar was part of the Islamic world, until the Chinese reconquered the region. See the Id Kah Mosque, Aba Khoja Mausoleum - where the local cemetery filled with distinctive mud and brick tombs is still used by the local Uighur peoples and the colourful Old Town. A visit is made to Kashgar’s local market with free time to explore. Later, catch a flight to Urumqi. Overnight - Urumqi
Urumqi - Turpan. Enjoy an excursion to the southern mountain pastures before continuing by road to Turpan. Located on the northern Silk Road, Turpan is a rural Uighur settlement. The Uighur descended from nomadic Siberian and Central Asian tribes who settled the region in the 9th century. Renowned for its grape production, you’ll visit Putao Gou (Grape Valley), heart of the region’s massive grape production. Overnight - Turpan
Today, enjoy some sightseeing beyond Turpan. Driving to Bezeklik past the Flaming Mountains which due to sun and shadow at certain times of the day seeming to flicker as though glowing poker-hot. You’ll also visit the Bezeklik Caves which are situated in a desert gorge high above the Sengim River and once formed part of a Buddhist monastery between the 6th and 14th centuries. Beyond here are the Astana tombs and the impressive ruins of Gaochang city, founded as a garrison city in the 1st century AD. Tonight, enjoy a traditional show of song and dance. Overnight - Turpan
Turpan - Liuyuan. Visit to Imin Ta (Imin Minaret) constructed in 1778, before heading beyond Turpan to the Jiaohe Ruins. Occupying a spectacular position on a steep plateau, the ancient street plan, thanks to the many ruins of this former garrison town, is still evident. A stop is also made at some 2,000-year-old Karez water channels, an irrigation system that many Silk Road cities and towns relied upon; the idea for which came from ancient Persia. Tonight take an overnight sleeper train to Liuyuan. Overnight - Sleeper Train
Liuyuan - Dunhuang. Arrive Liuyuan, and continue to remote Dunhuang, a small and strategically important desert oasis town on the Silk Road, a stone’s throw from the end of the Great Wall. Visit Yueya Quan (Crescent Moon Lake), a small spring-fed lake surrounded by gigantic sand dunes, that has been a vital source of water here for millennia. If feeling energetic, the giant dunes can be climbed if inclined! Overnight - Dunhuang
Visit perhaps Dunhuang’s most famous attraction, the UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves. The colourful cave paintings which were the legacy of travelling pilgrim monks, merchants and nobles form the most fascinating repository of Buddhist art in China. Overnight - Dunhuang
Dunhuang - Jiayuguan - Lanzhou. Day 10, enjoy a visit to the awesome Jiayuguan Fort at Jiayuguan Pass - the farthest outpost of the Great Wall which was built here by the Ming in 1372, over 5,000km from the wall’s easternmost point at Shanhaiguan. This was literally the final defence of the Chinese empire, the spot where China ended and beyond which lay an uncharted, terrifying wilderness. Situated between striking mountain ranges, everything that travelled between the deserts of central Asia and the fertile lands of China, be it goods traders or armies had to file through the Jiayuguan Pass.
Flight from Jiayuguan to Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province and a former staging post on the Silk Road. Enjoy a boat ride on the 5,487 km long Yellow River (2nd longest in China after the Yangtze) and a visit to Bingling Temple. Overnight - Lanzhou
Lanzhou - Xi'an. Flight from Lanzhou to Xi’an. Today enjoy a city tour, taking in the highlights of Xi'an, including the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Muslim Quarter, the Great Mosque and the medieval City Wall, which can take a bike ride along. Overnight - Xi'an
Xi’an in Shaanxi Province is perhaps most famous for the discovery of Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Warriors. Discovered in 1974 by local farmers digging a well, the 2,200 year old terracotta warriors comprise more than 7,000 life-sized soldiers which stand battle-ready in excavated pits under the cover of a modern protective hanger. Made of local clay, no two faces are alike – each is said to be an individual portrait. Today, visit Huanqing Hot Springs, a scenic spot in the shadow of Li Mountain, before continuing to a workshop where crafts people make replicas of the terracotta warriors. Then visit the archaeological site of the Terracotta Warriors. Overnight - Xi'an
Xi’an - Beijing. This morning fly from Xi’an to Beijing, China's bustling capital city. Enjoy an excursion beyond Beijing to the legendary UNESCO-listed Great Wall at Badaling. Spanning rugged mountain ranges, lush green valleys and barren plains, it stretches as far as the eye can see - at least 6,700 kms. Continuing on, visit the tombs of the Ming emperors, where some 13 emperors were interred and a cloisonne workshop of decorative metal and enamel sculpture. Overnight - Beijing
Hotel check-out and included onward transfer to airport.
The discovery of despotic Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s army of 2,200-year-old terracotta warriors occurred in 1974 when local farmers digging...