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7 Days In-Depth Northwestern China Silk Road Tour $1127

Miraculous Lands on Earth

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Gansu is featured in the Gobi and 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

Price:
from $1127
  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:
7 Days 6 Nights
Tour Code:
CD-QGT-07
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Experience:
ArchitectureCulturePhotographReligious
Departure:
Any day you want

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Dunhuang Arrival

Welcome to Dunhuang, the brightest star in the Gobi desert. Your tour guide will welcome you in the airport/train station, and then escort you to your hotel. The rest of today is for you to explore this exotic city by yourself. Free time idea: Shazhou Night Market is the most bustling place in the city where you can stroll leisurely to experience local living, hunt for delicious food, relax in a drinking bar, or buy some interesting handcrafts, etc.

How to Get to Dunhuang? Dunhuang is located in remote northwestern China. You can get there by domestic flights from Shanghai, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Xining, etc., or high speed trains from Jiayuguan(1.5hrs), Zhangye(4.5hrs), Lanzhou(8.5hrs), Xining(6.5-7hrs), etc.

Bustling Shazhou Night Market
Day 2 Dunhuang Geology & Mingshashan (B, L)

After breakfast, you will be taken to explore the remote wild Gobi Desert landscape as well as several legendary historical sites. Drive westwards about 100km, you will firstly arrive at Yumen Pass (Jade Gate Pass) which used to be a military defensive pass as well as an important border for international trading along the ancient Silk Road. It is said that the jadewares from West were imported to China through this gate, which is how the name Yumen was given. About 5 km from Yumen Pass is the Ruin of Great Wall of Han Dynasty which was built to fight against Xiongnu in the ancient time. Keep driving more 80 km, you will get to Yardang National Geologic Park. It is also called Devil City in that you will hear the sound just like the devil screaming when the strong wind goes through the desert. The park is featured Yardang landforms in distinct shapes like Mongolian Yurt, Stone Bird, Peacock and others. Make full use of your imagination, you may find some rocks with some miniatures similar to famed architectures, like the Potala Palace in Tibet, Heaven Temple in Beijing or something else.

Leave Yardang National Geologic Park, and drive along the coming way back to Dunhuang. On route, you will take a side trip to visit Yangguan Pass which was the gate to another branch of ancient Silk Road.

Useful Tips:1) Pack some food and water for the long driving on the desert; 2)get fully prepared for the strong sunlight and high temperatures in the daytime.

Beautiful Yardang National Geopark Sunset in June Yangguan Pass
Day 3 Dunhuang - Jiayuguan (B, L)

After breakfast, drive about 10km from the Dunhuang city to visit the modern 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.

After lunch, drive about 5 hours 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 Caves were constructed on a cliff of Mingshashan Desert Mogao Caves
Day 4 Jiayuguan - Zhangye (B, L)

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, sunglasses, 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.

Jiayuguan Fort Zhangye Danxia Geopark - the Rainbow Mountains
Day 5 Zhangye - Mati Temple & High Speed Train to Xining (B, L)

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

After the Giant Buddha Temple visit, drive about 65 km to visit the Matisi Temple (Matisi Grottoes). Built in Northern Liang period (A.D. 397 - A.D.460), Matisi Temple blends Buddhist culture, grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and Tibetan culture together in a single site. Its key site is the Puguang Temple which is set in the side of a sheer mountain rock wall with 21 grottoes in five storeys arranged in the form of a pagoda. The facades of several temples jut out on the surface of the cliff, making them look like they are hanging in the air. There are somewhere you need to climb up steep stairs to get up to the top storeys of the temple. The view outside the grotto is very beautiful with rolling hills covered with trees. In the distance is the Qilian Mountain which is usually snow covered (November to June).

After sightseeing at Matisi Temple, you will be transferred to catch your high speed train to Xining (about 2 hrs). Our local guide will pick up you at the train station, then escort you to check in your hotel.

Matisi Temple is famous for Buddhist culture, grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and Tibetan culture Mati Temple
Day 6 Xining – Qinghai Lake ( B,L )

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 Erlangjian 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.

Useful 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 Lake Qinghai Lake Blooming Rape Flowers
Day 7 Xining Departure (B, L)

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 the 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.

The rest of today is free until your tour guide and driver escort you to catch your flight/train to next destination.

Taer Monastery Barbola

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