Gansu Province and Qinghai Province are both located in northwestern China. They are usually traveled together in a Silk Road trip or landscape tour. Both two destinations were very important regions in the history of ancient Silk Road. Gansu is featured in the Gobi and desert landscape, Danxia Landform, Great Wall culture and Buddhist grottoes, while Qinghai is famous for high plateau mountains, lakes, grassland and Tibetan culture.
This 8 Days Miraculous Land Tour takes you travel from Dunhuang, via Jiayuguan and Zhangye, to Xining (opposite route is available too). It is a classic itinerary which has diverse landscape and many cultural experiences. Both your eyes and mind will be refreshed as you will explore magnificent World Heritage Site Mogao Grottoes, western starting of Great Wall, colorful Danxia landform, wild Yardan Gobi view, holy Tibetan Taer Monastery, vast Qinghai Lake and many unique places in just one go!
Day 1 Dunhuang ArrivalDunhuang airport/train pick up
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.
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Day 2 Dunhuang Geology Tour (B, L)Today's Highlights: Yardang National Geologic Park, Yumen Pass, Great Wall of Han Dynasty, Mingshashan Desert
After breakfast, you will be taken to explore the remote wild Gobi Desert landscape as well as several legendary historical sites. Drive westwards about 100 km, 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 jade wares 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. The following attraction is the Echoing Sand Mountains (Mingshashan). 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 thing to do for today is the Crescent Lake. Surrounded by the Echoing Sand Mountains, 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 and shapes like a crescent moon.
Nightlife Ideas: 1) Go out to go for a walk in the Shazhou Night Market where you can try some local food, relax in a drinking bar, or buy some interesting handcrafts, etc. 2) Enjoy the fascinating Silk Road Show - Silk Road Flower Rain which is a relaxing feast of unparalleled visual beauty with impressively elaborate dances performed by professional dancers wearing stunning costumes and an incredible set design.
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
- Crescent Lake Never Dry Up
- Riding Camel at Mingshashan (Echoing Sand Mountains)
Day 3 Dunhuang - Jiayuguan (B, L)Today's Highlights: Mogao Grottoes, Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center
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 the 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 the caves (usually 7~8 caves during April~November and 12 caves during December~March) 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 an 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)Today's Highlights: Jiayuguan Fort, Zhangye Danxia Geopark
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 the 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 (B, L)Today's Highlights: Giant Buddha Temple, Matisi Temple
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, drive back to Zhangye.
- Matisi Temple is famous for Buddhist culture, grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and Tibetan culture
- Mati Temple
Day 6 Drive to Xining (B, L)Today's highlight: Xining City exploration on your own
Today you will drive about 6 hours to Xining. Get overwelmed by the fast-changing landscapes along the road which include vast plain, rural farmlands, high mountains, etc. After arriving in Xining city, go to check in to your hotel. The rest time is free for you to relax and explore this plateu city.
Nightlife idea: go to enjoy a great dinner and stunning night view of Xining city on Pearl of Puning which is a 188 meters tall TV & Sightseeing tower alike Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.
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Day 7 Xining - Qinghai Lake - Xining (B, L)Today's highlights: Qinghai Lake (Erlangjian Scenic Area), Grasslands, Mountains...
After breakfast, drive around 150 km (2.5 hours) to see the picturesque Qinghai Lake from Xining via Huangyuan, Riyue Mountain, etc. You won't feel bored along the driving since the fascinating scenery of green grassland, blue sky, white clouds and clustered herds unfold like a photo gallery. As the largest inland lake, as well as the largest salt water lake in China, Qinghai Lake (3200 m) stretches 105 km in length, 63 km in width and occupies a water area of over 4,500 square kilometers. It was elected as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China’s National Geographic, attracting thousands of photographers to take photos every year.
You will spend a wonderful time appreciating the beauty of Qinghai Lake in Erlangjian Scenic Area - the essence of the whole scenic area of Qinghai Lake. It shapes like a long and narrow sword inserting into the lake. Walking on the plank road, you will be delivered a far-reaching panorama of the sea-like lake. Due to the different salt content of different parts of the lake, the water presents different colors in the refraction of sunlight. More than the lake view, the scenic surrounding - endless grassland and rapeseed flower lands, soft sand beaches as well as flocks of grazing sheep, horses and yaks also make you enjoy yourself to the fullest. On a clear day, you will feast your eyes on a charming vista of the snow-capped mountains in the distance as well as the huge sand dunes of Sand Island on the far shore. 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.
Optional Qinghai Lake Cruise: Taking a cruise allows you to admire Qinghai Lake from a different perspective. There are two kinds of cruises available in Erlangjian Scenic Area: High Speed Cruise and catamaran. The former offers a 25 minutes’ single trip from Erlangjian Wharf to Erlangjian Peninsula at the cost of CNY140. The latter offers a 50 minutes’ round trip at the cost of CNY180. This price doesn't include your personal expense on the ship, such as drinking, food, etc. This cruise is only available during the period from May to October.
After sightseeing, drive about 10 minutes to Viewing-deck in Nanshan Mountain for a panoramic view of Qinghai Lake. The beautiful shoreline is seen clearly and the water takes on bluer color. Then, drive back to Xining for accommodation.
Warm Tips: 1) It is available to visit Qinghai Lake all the year around, but May to October is the best time because of the most comfortable weather. If you want to savor the sea of rape flowers, remember to visit in July and August. 2) The sunlight is very strong in Qinghai Lake, and it is necessary to bring hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. to protect your skin from sun burn especially in summer. 3) Few people get serious high altitude sickness in Qinghai Lake, but it is important to be wary of high altitude sickness if it's your first time to enter the high plateau. Avoiding strenuous exercise and drinking more water will be helpful.
- Herd of Tibetan nomads around Qinghai Lake
- Qinghai Lake Fully Blooming Rape Flowers in August
- Enjoy a cruise on Qinghai Lake
Day 8 Xining Departure (B, L)Today's Highlights: Taer Monastery, Dongguan Great Mosque, Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum
After breakfast, drive about 28 km (40 minutes) to visit the famous Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er Monastery). The monastery is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist temple most known as “one of the six greatest Gelug monasteries”. It is said to be the birthplace of Tsongkhapa - the founder of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism (Yellow Hat Sect) and constructed based on a memorial pagoda about him.
Inside this large temple complex, you can appreciate mixed Tibetan and traditional Chinese style architectures that are harmoniously laid, and feature in bright colors and complicated decorations. There are rich collections of Buddhist sculptures, precious Sutras and cultural relics treasured inside. The highlights are the Eight Pagodas of Buddha Shakyamuni, grandiose Grand Golden Tiled Hall, artistic Dhammapala Hall enshrining Buddhist masters’ statues. Yak Butter Sculpture of Buddha, Mural and Barbola are the noted “Three Arts” you can admire remarkable arts, aesthetics and religious culture. (You may watch a Buddhist scripture debating or witness a grand Buddhist festival by luck.)
Next, drive 37 km (about 50 minutes) to visit the Tibetan Medicine & Tibet Culture Museum. It is a theme museum highlighting the profound Tibetan medicine and folk culture. Through visits of different exhibition halls, you can look many ancient surgical instruments, medical books, specially processed specimens and calculation methods of astronomical calendar. It’s an interesting and rewarding journey to catch a glimpse of the mysterious traditional medical system and diverse Tibetan culture. Don’t miss the Guinness World recorded 618-meter-long gallery displaying over 700 exquisite Thangka paintings.
After lunch, transfer to Dongguan Mosque, the largest mosque in Qinghai. The mosque is a sacred sanctuary for Muslims, one of the four greatest mosques in Northwest China and the highest-level institute of Islamic study. Originally built in the early Ming Dynasty, it is a large building group occupying 13,602 square meters which combines traditional Chinese architectural art and Islamic features. The Worship Hall can accommodate 3,000 Muslims at one time. The pale mint-green exterior is very pretty and chic. You may see lots of Muslim disciples worshiping and attending Muslim event here.
Lastly, your tour guide will escort you to catch your flight or train to next destinations. Tour ends.
- Taer Monastery Barbola
- Tibetan Medicine and Culture Museum
- Dongguan Great Mosque is the Biggest Islamic Sanctum in Qinghai
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in a 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
3. This price is only valid to March 31, 2023.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD USD 1= RMB 6.45. The final quote is based on current exchange rate. It may change according to the currency fluctuation, while the RMB quotation will be remained the same.
Yesterday was great. Ellen is a perfect tour guide. Sure we enjoyed very much.
So far so good! Just the program for the second day is not updated, as it’s almost impossible to do it one day. The cruise took us almost 5 hours, the sightseeing is not existing any more, the bicycle we did for 1 hour.. I decided to go to Impression show for an extra price. The 2 hotels were extraordinarily and very recommended. The car and driver were very good, safe and comfortable. The guide was also good, seems he was not very enthusiastic.. prefered long conversation with the driver instead of long explanation about the sights and route - but was ok!
The trip was marvelous. We have really enjoyed!
It was great. I really enjoyed it!
It was a wonderful trip! Thank you for everything Wonder. Can’t wait to go on another one
"Highest Standards of Quality and Honesty" is the core value of each specialized team at China Discovery.
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Our travel consultants are professional, experienced and responsible, helping you from the very beginning to the end of your China trip!
After sending us an inquiry, one of our travel consultants will get back to you within 0.5~23.5 hrs. In the next few days, he/she will be working closely with you to formulate a customized tour plan, as well as providing professional suggestions based on your travel interests, time, and budget.
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Our local guide in every destination is not only very friendly, enthusiastic but also very informative and knowledgeable.
Once you arrive in the destination, the patient and punctual guides will pick you up and take you to get under skin of the city at your own pace. By in-depth discovery and explanation, they’ll show you more about the history, culture, customs and authentic local life. Throughout the journey, they're not only expert guides who take care of all the details but also fellow travelers who are dedicated to help you explore in comfort and style.
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In each destination, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stay in a great location!
The hotels we choose are based on star rating, great locations, well-equipped facilities, cozy bed, high quality service and guests’ feedbacks. Choices are a lot ranging from luxury 5 star, comfortable 4 star to budget 3 star. You could decide where to stay to best suit for your budget and likes. Generally, the hotels have both Western and Chinese breakfast with a wide choices.
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Have good sleep in our well-selected hotels in all the destinations of China.
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The restaurants we will take you for lunch or dinner are all designated tourist restaurants approved by local tourist administration bureau. They have very good sanitary conditions and the food is prepared fresh and clean.
There will be some meals excluded in your itinerary as you like, and your private guide will be delighted to give you some suggestions and take you to the local restaurants to taste like Beijing Roast Duck, Xian Dumpling Dinner, Sichuan Hotpot, etc., if you are interested in local food tasting.
All the dining options will satisfy your stomach!
Lanzhou - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang
Xining - Zhangye - Badain Jaran Desert
Lanzhou / Xiahe / Jiayuguan / Dunhuang
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“Very good experience”
“WONDERFUL 25 DAYS IN CHINA - PRIVATE TOUR”
“Awesome China tour from northeast to southwest”1,570+ Reviews