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Tourist Cities on the Silk Road

Today, the Silk Road is rathen a tourist road than a trade road. From Xian to Kashgar, the Silk Road connects nearly 50 cities and towns. Some of them has already existed more than one thousand years. Some of them are featured in spectacular landscape. Following is a list of popular tourist destinations along the Silk Road.

Tourist Cities on the Silk Road

1. Starting point of China Silk Road – Xian

Starting point of China Silk Road – Xian

Xian, the capital of 13 ancient China dynasties, is also the starting point of China Silk Road. From Chang’an(today Xian), the emperor Wu sent Zhang Qian as his envoy to unite countries in West Region, which recorded the first chapter of Silk Road. Xian is the perfect representation of Chinese history and dynastic culture. Filled with amazing historic wonders, Xian has some of the oldest and most spectacular museums and temples in China. There are many interesting things to do waiting for you to explore.Learning the dynastic changes, explore the tradition arts and crafts, tasting the local famous cuisine, every visit can take a special experience of traditional Chinese life style in this ancient capital city.

2. Ancient capital city - Luoyang

Ancient capital city - Luoyang

Luoyang, located in the west of Henan province in central China, is one of the cradles of Chinese civilization, and is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. During East Han Dynasty, Luoyang was the starting hub of Silk Road in China. Moreover, Luoyang is a charming city with 21 state-level cultural and historical heritage sites, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site - Longmen Grottoes, first Buddhist temple - White Horse Temple and the world-famous Shaolin Temple for Kungfu experience. The annual Peony Festival held here adds even more fame to the city.

3. Treassure of Buddhist art - Dunhuang

Treassure of Buddhist art - Dunhuang

Are you tired of traveling to common cities, architectures and nature sightseeing? If yes, Dunhuang is the best choice for you to experience something different. Dunhuang is a small city along the Silk Road, connecting central & eastern area of China with Western Region. The ancient grottoes, exquisite mural paintings and statues of Buddha make Dunhuang the Oriental Buddha Park. Many historical sites survive from the days of thousands years, such as Mogao Grottoes, Yumenguan Pass, Yangguan Pass, Ruin of Great Wall, etc. Besides, the magnificent desert and Gobi views attract millions of people to visit every year.

4. Beautiful plateau - Qinghai

Beautiful plateau - Qinghai

Qinghai Province, located in the inland northwestern China, is a mysterious pearl on the lofty Qinghai Tibet Plateau. It features both in stunning plateau natural landscape and longlasting ethnic and Buddhism culture and history. Qinghai abounds in natural beauty, with lush valleys around the capital of Xining, and miles of unspoilt wilderness around the Qinghai Lake which is the largest lake in China. It also houses one of the oldest and greatest Tibetan monasteries, Taer Monastery. Qinghai also provides the most important transportation access into Tibet - Qinghai Tibet Railway. Hurry up to discover it!

5. Yellow River coast city - Lanzhou

Yellow River coast city - Lanzhou

Lanzhou is located in a narrow valley stretching about 30km east to west. The Yellow River flows through the city. Since Chinese respect Yellow River as "the Mother River", many historic sites in Lanzhou are themed by the Yellow River, such as the Iron Bridge, Mother Statue, and Waterwheel Park. Lanzhou played a very important role in Chinese history. It used to be an important stop along the Silk Road as well as the head of the famous Hexi Corridor. Ancient travelers heading to Xinjiang from eastern China had to pass by Lanzhou. Lanzhou is not only a tourist city, but also a convenient transfer hub.

6. Stunning desert & Gobi - Turpan

Stunning desert & Gobi - Turpan

Both northern and middle Silk Road routes pass Turpan. This city has abundant travel resources of both nature and culture. Geographically as the lowest point in China and the hottest spot in China, Turpan suprises you with spectacular natural landscape - vast expansion of desert, lush and exuberant valleys of grape, tenacious desert plants, etc. Turpan is one of the oldest cities which can be dated back to more than four thousand years ago. Since West Han Dynasty, Turpan had been one of the political, economic and cultural centers of the Northwestern China as well as an important city along the Silk Road.

7. International Bazaar & Tianchi Lake - Urumqi

International Bazaar & Tianchi Lake - Urumqi

Urumqi, means beautiful pasture in Mongol, is the capital city as well as the transport hub and economy center of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Urumqi used to play a very important linking role on the ancient nothern Silk Road, and has created its own brilliant Western Region Culture of many different groups to minority and custom. On this furthest province from the oceans in China, there are the Centre of Asia Marker, Glittering and mysterious glacier, majestic mountains, pure picturesque Tianchi Lake, colorful bay...From Urumqi, you can travel to any other destinations in Xinjiang, such as Turpan, Kashgar, Kanas Lake.

8. Authentic Muslim culture center - Kashgar

Authentic Muslim culture center - Kashgar

Since located in the western corner of Xinjiang, near to Kyrghyzstan, Uzbekistan and India, Kashgar has been an important trade and cultural centre of Xinjiang as well as the Silk Road for more than two millennia. There is the largest bazaar in Asia with daily traffic of more than 100,000. The Middle Silk Road joined Southern Silk Road at Kashgar. There are many things to do in Kashgar, such as the famous Abakh Hoja Tomb, Id Kah Mosque, Old Town, Karakul Lake and Mt. Muztagata. Kashgar is also the transport hub for wetern and southern Xinjiang. You can travel to from Kashgar to Hotan and Kucha and Taklamakan Deser.

Other Recommneded Destinations on the Silk Road

Following places might be small, but have featured attractions on the Silk Road, such as Jiayuguan, Tianshui and Zhangye. Usually these destinations can be planned in Dunhuang, Xian tour packages.

First Pass of Great Wall -Jiayuguan

First Pass of Great Wall -Jiayuguan

Jiayuguan is now a small city locating in northwestern Gansu Province and near to Jiuquan City and Yumen City. It used to be a very important transport hub on the ancient Silk Road as well as a strong defense pass along the Great Wall. The emperor Shi Huang first built the Great Wall, and Jiayuguan was the starting point of Qin Great Wall. The Great Wall Museum teaches the istory of Jiayuguan and the Great Wall. Jiayuguan Pass consists of interior city, exterior city and moat, connected with Great Wall and beacon tower, form a military defense system.

Birthplace of Chinese civilization – Tianshui

Birthplace of Chinese civilization – Tianshui

Tianshui, one of the birth places of Chinese civilization. The best highlight here is the famous Buddhist cave - Maijishan Grottoes. The Maijishan Grottoes, together with Longmen Grottoes, Yungang Grottoes and Dunhuang Groggoes, are known as the "Four Greatest Grottoes in China." Caves were chiseled on a hill shaped like a stack of wheat. The ancient artisans carved more than 7800 Buddhist statues with different colors and size. The largest statue, Dongyan Giant Buddha, has a height of 15.8 meters.

Another good place to go is the holy Fuxi Temple which was built in Ming Dynasty(1483——1484) to worship the ancient legendary "Fuxi Emperor". Fuxi was very knowledgeable, and created the Eight Diagrams, which made a great progress in Chinese civilization.

Historical city & spectacular landform - Zhangye

Historical city & spectacular landform - Zhangye

Zhangye is a historical city on the Silk Road. The ancient Silk Road left Xian, divided into three routes which rejoined in Zhangye. Travelers can get to Zhangye from Lanzhou by train or road. Don’t miss its best highlights: Giant Buddha Temple and Danxia Landform.

Giant Buddha Temple is famous for having the largest indoor sleeping Buddha in Asia. This temple keeps many precious Buddhist scriptures and wall paitings. Danxia landform is a spectacular petrographic geomorphology landscape which is formed from red-colored 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.

Recommend Silk Road Discovery Tours

Interested in exploring the ancient Silk Road? Following tours are most popular Silk Road deals. All can be customized to meet your need.

6 Days Zhangye Jiayuguan Dunhuang(Silk Road Glory)
(Lanzhou / Zhangye / Jiayuguan / Dunhuang)
10 Days Classic Silk Road Tour
(Xian / Dunhuang / Turpan / Urumqi / Kashgar)
8 Days Xinjiang Silk Road Exploring Tour
(Urumqi / Turpan / Kashgar)
4 Days Silk Road Short Break
( Jiayuguan / Dunhuang)
5 Days Luoyang Xian Tour by Train
(Luoyang / Dengfeng / Luoyang / Xian)
9 Days Ancient Silk Road Treasure Tour
(Tianshui - Lanzhou - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang)
9 Days In-Depth Northwestern China Tour
(Dunhuang - Jiayuguan - Zhangye - Xining)
12 Days Silk Road Tour from Beijing
(Beijing / Xian / Dunhuang / Turpan / Urumqi)

Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once enquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.

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