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5 Days Dunhuang to Turpan Silk Road Culture Tour $848

Strategic Ancient Towns of Silk Road

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Both Duhuang and Turpan had played important roles in the history of Silk Road. Dunhuang was the cultural center of Hexi Corridor which was the arm of the empires in ancient China to rule West Region. While Turpan is the cultural, economic and transportation center of the West Region. More than 200 cultural sites, 40,000 cultural relics, 18 ancient characters and 25 languages have been discovered in Turpan. There were once stretching roads went through the Gobi, desert and snow mountain to connected two places, but nowadays they have been replaced with the new “Silk Road” – modern high-speed railway. In this tour, you will travel from Dunhuang to Turpan discover both the magnificent culture and unique landscape of ancient Silk Road in a well-paced way.

Highlights of this tour

  • Riding a modern high speed bullet train traversing through the wild land of remote northwestern China;
  • In-depth exploration of Dunhuang’s legendary history and vast Gobi scenery in a full day;
  • Well-design itinerary to help you learn deep about Mogao Caves’ history and art with visiting both the Digital Exhibition Center and Caves Area;
  • Unlock Turpan’s mysterious history in the ancient ruins and caves, also experience exotic local Muslim culture.

Basic Trip Information

Price:
from $848
  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in a 4-star hotel and traveling in low seasons;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according to your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Dunhuang / Turpan
Travel Length:
5 Days and 4 Nights
Tour Code:
CD-DHTPT-05
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Experience:
ArchitectureCulturePhotographReligious
Departure:
Any day you want

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Dunhuang Railway Station/Airport 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. You can also get to Dunhuang by 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 & Silk Road History Tour (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 Mogao Grottoes Art Tour & High Speed Train to Turpan (B, L)

After breakfast, drive about 10 km from the Dunhuang city to visit the newly opened Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center before go to Mogao Grottoes. You will watch two short but 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.

Mogao Caves Visit 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 the extra admission fee for each cave. 3. It is not allowed to take photos inside grottoes.

In the afternoon, you will be taken to train station to catch your high speed train to Turpan. After about 4.5 hours' ride, you will arrive at Turpan and get picked up by our local tour guide. Go to check in your hotel.

Mogao Grottoes Mogao Grottoes Feitian (Flying Apsaras) Watch a documentary film in the Dome Theater of Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center
Day 4 Turpan (B, L)

In the morning, your guide will meet you at your hotel and then start your Turpan exploration today. You will firstly discover the brilliant project of Karez System. Together with the Great Wall and Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, Karez System is regarded as one of China’s Three Greatest Ancient Projects. It is a special kind of irrigation system consisting of vertical wells, underground canals, ground canals and waterlogging pond. The vertically dug wells are linked together to channel the water which occurs during summer rain season, or be melted from snow mountains of Tianshan range to desired farmlands on the desert area. Visiting Turpan Karez Museum, you will not only see the pictures and models detailing the history of Karez System, but also visit the real underground tunnels.

Next, turn to Turpan Museum, an informative museum with great collections as well as a good place to avoid summer heat. The first floor has the exhibits (like dinosaur fossils, terracotta figurines, clothing, utensils, weapons…) from prehistoric ages to Tang Dynasty (618 ~ 907) on the history of Turpan. There are also many Silk Road displays from which you will understand why Turpan plays a crucial role on the Silk Road for trading, water and agriculture. Getting to the second floor, you will be awed at the millennia-old mummies well-preserved as to how they were found in their tombs.

Your last stop is the famous relic - Jiaohe Ancient City - an ancient city that was strategically located along the ancient Silk Road. Perching on a plateau, it acted as a natural barrier from the attacking enemies in the old times. Now, it is renowned as the best-preserved earthen architecture in the world. The interesting sculptures, videos and some other displays in Jiaohe Cultural Village Museum will give you an appreciation of the history of Jiaohe City before you start exploring. Then, take a shuttle bus to the core scenic area. Walking up along the pathway uphill, and you can see many historical structural remains, including the residential area, official area and Buddhist temples. It is also available to walk to the central platform for a more awesome view of the whole park. When the night drops, you will feast on a breathtaking sunset over the ruins.

Accommodate in Turpan this night.

Warm Tips: 1) Turpan is known as the grape capital of China, and don't forget to taste the delicious grapes, drink the fruit juices and buy some dried grape seeds. 2) Be ready for the hot weather in Turpan, especially in summer, and it is advised to wear long-sleeves, sunhat, sunglasses, etc., drink more water.

Vertical Well of Karez Turpan Museum Architecture First Glimpse of Jiaohe Ancient City Jiaohe Anicent City Sunset
Day 5 Turpan - Urumqi (B, L)

After breakfast, you will be taken to have a cultural visit to Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, a group of grottoes with rich murals. They are high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley of Flaming Mountain. Originally drilled in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 ~ 589), the caves have gone through about 15 centuries. There are 57 existing caves, and about 40 of them are preserved with brightly-colored murals on the stone-walls. Appreciating the glorious murals in an artistic style and listening to the old Buddhist legends, you may imagine how Buddhism spread to mainland China via Xinjiang.

After enjoying the cultural relics in Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, you will drive to Tuyu Valley along Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon, which condenses the essence of the landscape of Flaming Mountain - the hottest spot in Turpan. Flaming Mountain is immortalized in the Chinese classic Journey to the West as a blazing mountain that the monk Xuan Zang has to pass through. Finally, they use a magic fan to extinguish the blaze and go on with their trip. Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon splits the whole mountain in half and you will clearly admire the unique landform - red sandstones looking like flaming fire, distinctive rocks showing the uncanny workmanship of nature and deep gorge with crisscross valleys. The magnificence, strangeness, danger, and elegance of Flaming Mountain are fully shown here.

The winding road on the cliff of Flaming Mountain will soon lead you to Tuyuk Valley (Tuyugou in Chinese) which is a Uighur valley with lots of historical sites. Mazar Village, the oldest existing Uighur village with a history of over 2,600 years, is a big highlight of the valley. Mazar Village holds a significant status in Buddhism and Islam. It is said that 6 Muslims came to China and started preaching there, so Mazar Village is called Eastern Mekka. Before Islam, it once was a Buddhist center as well. Many Buddhist caves can be found in the village, but the statues and murals failed to survive. The villagers still live peacefully in the village and you can clearly see how they run their daily lives in the old mud adobe houses. Some villagers kindly ask the travelers to visit their vineyards and taste their fresh grapes or preserved fruits.

Sightseeing ends. You will be escorted back to Urumqi as well. Stay overnight in Urumqi city.

Turpan Flaming Mountain Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves Traditional Mud Houses in Mazar Village

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