9 Days In-Depth Northwestern China Silk Road Tour

Miraculous Lands on Earth


Travel from Gansu is featured in Gobi desert landscape, Danxia Landform, Great Wall culture and Buddhist grottoes. While Qinghai is famous for high plateau lands, lakes, grassland. Both two destinations were very important regions during the history of ancient Silk Road. Travel from Dunhuang, via Jiayuguan and Zhangye, to Xining is a natural travel route which has diverse landscape and many cultural experiences.

Highlights of this tour

  • In-depth tour to explore the most highlights of Gansu Province - Mogao Grottoes, Jiayuguan Pass, Zhangye Danxia Landform Park...;
  • Traversing vast area of grasslands, colorful forests along the driving from Zhangye to Xining;
  • Enjoy stunning desert views of ancient Silk Road;
  • Feast the spectacular landscape of high plateau lake - Qinghai Lake.

Basic Trip Information

  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling in low seasons;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Dunhuang - Jiayuguan - Zhangye - Xining
Travel Length:
9 Days 8 Nights
Tour Code:
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Any day you want

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Dunhuang Arrival

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Welcome to Dunhuang, city of Buddhist art. Once arrival at airport/train station, you will be pick up by our tour guide and driver, then escort to your hotel. The rest time is free for you to explore this small city.

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Day 2 Dunhuang ( B,L)

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Today’s highlight is the Yardang National Geopark. Yardang has been created over time by the sort part of the earth surface having being eroded by wind and rain, with the hard part of the rocks remaining in the desert. You will drive from Dunhuang city westwards. On route, visit the Yumenguan Pass. 

In the afternoon, firstly visit the Echoing Sand Mountains. It is said, in the sunny days, the sand mountains echo like Orchestra music even if there is no wind. If you slide from the sand mountains, you can hear the echoing sound clearly.

Your last things to do for today is the Crescent Lake. Surrounded by sand mountains from four directions, the Crescent Lake is a beautiful oasis with some well decorated traditional Chinese architecture, some trees and flowers and a lake that has never dried up.

Stay overnight in Dunhuang City.

Enchoing Sand Moutains Hiking
Day 3 Dunhuang - Jiayuguan ( B,L )

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After breakfast, drive about 10km from the Dunhuang city to visit the newly opened Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center before go to Mogao Grottoes. You will watch two well-produced educational documentary movies that introduce the history, arts, and other facts about Mogao Grottoes. After the movies, take the interzonal bus to Mogao Grottoes. Mogao Grottoes is famed as the “Louvre of East”, which is outstanding for its exquisite mural paintings and statues. There are now 492 grottoes in which about 45000 square meters mural paintings and 2100 colorfully painted statues from which you can trace the development of Chinese art over 1600 years from one dynasty to the next because each dynasty built own caves to record its own features. There are about 40 common caves opened to the public. In the tourist area, you will be divided into groups by different tour guides who will accompany you to visit 7-8 caves among them with great introduction. After that, if you want to visit more other caves, you can do it by yourselves or follow other tour guides. Besides, there are 10 special caves (with extra fees) available for your extensional visiting.

Then drive to Jiayuguan from Dunhuang. Enjoy the breathtaking desert and gobi views along the road.

Tips: 1) During peak seasons (May to October), there are usually a lot of visitors to Mogao Caves, so it is recommended to make a reservation in advance for at least 7 days. 2)  If you want to see the Special Caves (excluded in the regular visit, and only open for limited individual visitors or small groups with reservations), you can contact our travel consultants or your tour guide to arrange for you, but you have to pay extra admission fee for each cave. 3)  It is not allowed to take photos inside the grottoes.

Mogao CavesTreasure in Dunhuang
Day 4 Jiayuguan - Zhangye ( B,L)

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After breakfast, visit the Jiayuguan Fort. Wander on the ancient city wall, and feel the heartbeats of the “first pass under heaven”. Then stroll to visit the Great Wall Museum where you will learn about history of Jiayuguan and the Great Wall.

In the afternoon, drive to Zhangye to explore the famous Danxia Geopark(Danxia Landform). Danxia landform is a spectacular petrographic geomorphology landscape which is formed from red-coloured sandstones and conglomerates. The one in Zhangye was formed in the pre-Jurassic Age. Thousands of mountains and stiffs stretch like the colorful sunset glow. The barren mountains are covered by a red grit rock stratum. At the same time, some surfaces of mountains appear other colors, such as white, yellow, etc, and form many irregular lines and blocks looking like some abstract oil paintings. There are four viewing decks for you to watch and shoot. You will visit one by one, and will be transferred by interzonal buses from one deck to another.

Tips: 1) Pack with sun creams, sun glasses, protective clothing and hat to protect from strong sunlight in summer; 2) sunset are the best hours for taking photos which happen around 19:00~20:00 in summer and 18:00~19:00 in winter.

Accommodate in Zhangye city.

Danxia Geopark
Day 5 Zhangye – Mati Temple - Zhangye ( B,L )

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In the morning, drive about 65km to visit the Mati Temple which blends grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and minority national customs together in a single site. Apart from strange peaks and fantastic grottos, experiencing the unique life-style and featured culture will also give you an enjoyable feeling. The temple also has collected many magnificent relics, including Standing Buddha of Jin Dynasty(CE 266-420), imperial robe of emperor Kang Xi, saddle of emperor Qiang Long, etc. 

There are four wonders in Matisi - green mountains, clear water, precipitous peaks and fantastic grottos. Among the four, fantastic grotto groups attract plentiful visitors, and stretches as long as 30 kilometers. Legend has it that once a sacred horse left its footstep in a rock here, so Matisi Temple (also called Horse Hoof Temple) got its name. There is no official record proves the exact time when Matisi Temple was built. However, large numbers of poets have portrayed Matisi Temple in their great works, and the earliest one could date back to Eastern Jin Dynasty. Because of its long history, Matisi Temple, combined with Mogao Grottos in Dunhuang, Yulin Grottos in Anxi are regarded as Three Artistic Treasured Grottoes of Hexi Buddha Holy Land.

After sightseeing at Mati Temple, drive back to Zhangye City. 

Mati TempleMati Temple
Day 6 Zhangye – Xining ( B,L )

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After breakfast, you will go to visit the Giant Buddha Temple which is famous for having the largest indoor sleeping Buddha in Asia. This temple was built in Xixia Dynasty(1098), and keeps many precious Buddhist scriptures and wall paitings. The Buddha statue was carved by woods with a length of 34.5 meters. His ears are as big as the space which 4 adults can sit side by side. The statue tells the story of Buddha’s Nirvana. The whole Dafo Temple is a large complex with regal arrangements. The Sleeping Buddha is the centrally seated, symmetric buildings situate along the sides.

After lunch, take a high speed train to Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province. Your local tour guide will pick you up at railway station, and then escort you to your hotel in the downtown. The rest of today is free on your own to have fun.

Giant Buddha Temple
Day 7 Xining – Qinghai Lake ( B,L )

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After breakfast, drive around 2.5 hours to see the picturesque Qinghai Lake from Xining via Huangyuan, Riyue Mountain, etc. You won't feel boring along the driving since fascinate scenery of green grassland, blue sky, white clouds, clustered flocks and herds unfold like a photo gallery.

You will stop at the Erlang Jian Scenic Area to enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake. As the largest inland lake, as well as the largest salt water lake in China, Qinghai Lake(3200m) stretches 105km at length,  63km at width and occupies a water area of over 4,500 square kilometers. Attracting thousands of photographers to take photos every year, this plateau lake was elected as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China’s National Geographic. It is surrounded by harsh mountain ranges from outside. While on the foot of mountains are endless beautiful grassland and rapeseed flower lands which are connected to the lakeside. At the same time, Qinghai Lake is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist site. There are many devoted Buddhist coming from afar to worship to Qinghai Lake each year.

After the sightseeing, drive back to Xining.

Tips: 1) Qinghai Lake is famous as the Paradise of Migrant Bird. If you are planning a bird watching tour, you are suggested to visit the Bird Island during May and June; 2) From late July to early August is the best time to view the vast golden rape flower fields surrounding the Qinghai Lake; 3) If you are interested and time allows, you can take optional visiting to some interesting attractions along the driving to and back to Xining, such as Dangaer Ancient City, Riyue Mountain, Jinyintan Prairie, etc.

Qinghai LakeQinghai Lake walking
Day 8 Xining ( B,L )

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After breakfast, go to visit one of the most famous Tibetan monasteries – Taer Monastery. Taer Monastery is the birthplace of the Tibetan Buddhism master – Tsongkhapa who was the founder of Gelug(a sect of Buddhism). It is also famous as one of “6 monastery of Gelug”. You must not miss the “three bests” of Taer Monastery – murals, barbola and butter sculptures. Taer Monastery is also a very important institute to learn Buddhism, Astronomy and Medicine. There are many Buddhist ceremonies organized here in each year.

After lunch, take a visit to the Dongguan Great Mosque. As one of the “four great mosques in China”, Dongguan Great Mosque is the holy home to the millions Muslims in China. There are many Muslim disciples worship and attend Muslim event here.

Taer Monastery Barbola
Day 9 Xining Departure ( B )

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Today is free at your own leisure until you until your tour guide and driver escort you to catch your flight/train to next destination.

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Recommended Add-on Options

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