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China Silk Road Travel FAQs and Tips 2021

The ancient Silk Road is no longer used, but the prosperity of the silk road has left many relics for people to remember. The whole silk road is very long and it contains many branches. If you travel in China, the route starting from Xi'an, passing through Lanzhou, Zhangye, Dunhuang, the edge of Taklimakan desert to Kashgar in Xinjiang is the most popular silk road route for tourists. To help you better plan your trip along the Silk Road in China, here are some practical travel tips.

Best Time to Visit the Silk Road

The most extensive climate area that the land silk road passes through belongs to the temperate continental climate. Starting from Chang'an (Xi’an) and traveling westward, through Central Asia and West Asia, most of the routes are temperate continental climate. It is extremely cold in winter and hot in summer. The annual temperature difference is very large, and the daily temperature also varies a lot. Because this silk road area is far away from the sea, it is dry with little rain with large evaporation. It is dry all year round, and the precipitation is relatively concentrated in summer, and the characteristics of the four seasons are not obvious. It mainly has two seasons, namely summer and winter, while spring and autumn are very short.

Generally, the best time to travel along the silk road is from mid-April to mid-October. Since mid-April, the temperature has become more and more comfortable. A large number of tourists, photography enthusiasts and hiking enthusiasts flock to enjoy the flowers and beautiful scenery of spring. The accommodation has also become very tight and needs to be booked in advance. However, in April, there may be sandstorms in southern Xinjiang and Hexi Corridor, and please pay attention to the weather forecast. In summer, when fruits and melons are ripe, it is another peak season to visit the silk road with many tourists. It is very hot and dry in the daytime. From September, it cools down and the temperature becomes more comfortable. At the same time, the leaves of Populus euphratica in Tarim Basin become golden, and the scenery is very charming. Also, from late October to mid-November every year is the best time to cross the Taklimakan Desert. 

From November to March, the whole Silk Road area goes into the cold winter, the snowfall in the scenic area increases, and some scenic areas are closed. For long-time outdoor activities, attention should be paid to keeping warm. If you are a ski lover, there are many ski resorts opening in Urumqi and Altay for tourists with nice service.

What to Pack for the Silk Road

You need to be fully prepared to travel along the silk road. At least the following important items should be included in your luggage.

The most important items are valid documents like passport and visa which are the must to book a hotel and buy tickets along the cities of silk road. 

The silk road traveling involves a lot of hiking, and sometimes the walking time in the field may exceed your expectations. Comfortable hiking shoes, breathable clothes and pants are needed.  Long sleeve clothes and long trousers are a must, since you may need to cover your exposed skin from the strong UV as much as possible when you are doing outdoor activities. The daily temperature difference varies a lot, and the weather changes rapidly. Even in summer, you should carry a down jacket to keep warm at night.

You need to bring spf50 + sunscreen in the desert area. Sunhats, masks and light scarves should also be carried.

A compass or GPS is necessary. If you get lost in the wild, it will be very dangerous.

Due to the large evaporation and dry weather in the Silk Road area, we need to drink more water. In addition to daily drinking water, we should also carry a big water bottle. Skincare products, lip balm, hand cream, and lotion can also be brought for moisturizing your skin.

Accommodation Tips for the Silk Road

The Silk Road passes through Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Xinjiang and other provinces and regions from east to west, covering a large area of northwest China. In Luoyang, Xi'an, Lanzhou, Xining, Urumqi and other major cities, the accommodation conditions are good, with both star-rated hotels and comfortable stays; In Dunhuang, Hami, Korla, Turpan and other traditional tourist cities, there are also many featured hotels to choose from to meet the needs of all kinds of tourists; However, if you need to explore the Silk Road in depth, you need to go to some remote towns where the accommodation conditions are generally very basic and can not be compared with the hotels in cities that we mentioned before.

The silk road has charming scenery. Different national festivals are held every year, such as Kashgar Eid al Fitr in July, Ili apricot blossom festival, grassland Festival in April, Turpan Grape Festival in August, Luntai Populus euphratica festival in October, etc. In addition to festivals, the annual summer break and national large-scale holidays (National Day Holiday and Labor Day Holiday) are also the peak tourist seasons for the Silk Road area. At this time, the hotel rate around the scenic spot and the railway station airport will rise. If you need to go during these periods, you need to book a hotel in advance.

Transportation Tips for the Silk Road

For more than 2000 years, these long silk routes across mountains, Gobi, deserts and finally to Africa and Europe have been an important connection for economic, political and cultural exchanges between the East and the West. Although it was a long and dangerous journey in ancient times, there have been numerous caravans, explorers and travelers walking on this long and lonely journey for more than 2000 years.

Now, urban transportation along the silk road is very developed. Railway, air and long-distance bus transportation are the most important means of transportation on the silk road. Air lines can directly reach major cities at home and abroad, and railways lead to most cities in China. With the help of cars, trains and planes, travelers can easily travel between major cities along the silk road.

Important Airports Along the Silk Road

At present, all major cities along the silk road have airports, and there are important airports along the Silk Road listed for your reference.

Xining Caojiabao Airport (XNN), an important air traffic hub on the Qinghai Tibet Plateau, is now navigable with more than 20 cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Xi'an, Urumqi, Golmud, Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Haikou, Sanya, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Changsha, Fuzhou, Hefei, Jinan, Nanchang, Ningbo, Nanjing, Qingdao, Tianjin, Wuhan Xiamen, Zhengzhou, etc.

Golmud Airport (GOQ) is about 20km away from Golmud City, and there are flights to and from Shanghai and Xining.

Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (XIY) is an important air gateway to Xi'an and Northwest China. It not only opens more than 80 routes to more than 60 cities in China, but also routes to Tokyo, Nagoya, Niigata, Hiroshima, Osaka and Fukuoka in Japan, Seoul and Busan in South Korea, Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand.

Luoyang Airport (LYA) is about 10km away from the city center. The airport has opened more than 20 routes to and from Urumqi, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hohhot, etc.

Dunhuang Airport (DNH) is about 12km away from Mogao Town of Dunhuang City, and has regular flights to Beijing, Xi'an, Lanzhou, Chengdu and Urumqi.

Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport (LHW) is about 70km away from the urban area and has opened direct flights to dozens of cities such as Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Urumqi, Xi'an, Xiahe, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Changsha, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Kunming, Lhasa, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xiamen, etc.

Urumqi Diwobao Airport (URC) is the largest airport in Xinjiang. There are 99 domestic routes and 14 international routes, reaching 15 countries, 27 foreign cities and 54 domestic cities.

Kashgar Airport (KHG) is located at the western edge of Taklimakan Desert, about 10km away from Kashgar City Center. It is the second largest airport in Xinjiang. At present, and there are more than ten routes of China and there are flights to and from Urumqi all year round.

Yining Airport (YIN) is located in Yili River Valley, about 10km away from Yining City. Now it mainly carries out direct flights between Yining and Urumqi.

Important Railway Stations Along the Silk Road

The transportation routes along the Silk Road are relatively developed, operating high-speed bullet trains and overnight normal trains connecting different railway stations in silk road cities, among which Xi'an railway station, Urumqi railway station, Lanzhou railway station and Xining railway station are the most important hub stations. There are many trains and it is very convenient to travel between cities. Click the link below to read more about these train stations in detail.

Xi'an Railway Station | Luoyang Railway Station | Lanzhou Railway Station | Xining West Railway Station | Urumqi Railway Station | Kashgar Railway Station | Turpan Railway Station

Traveling Along the Silk Road by Car

There are well-developed road networks in cities along the silk road, and most scenic spots are scattered near county roads, provincial roads, national roads and other roads. After arriving at the destination by train or flight, we recommend you rent a car to go to the nearby scenic spots. Although the silk road area is vast and sparsely populated, don't drive too fast. In addition, the terrain of the Silk Road area is complex, so it's best to go with an experienced driver. Especially during the wintertime, the road may be frozen and the visibility is low with fog.

We do not recommend that you rent an illegal private car for travel. At any time, this way of travel has potential dangers and troubles. There will also be taxis in counties and cities along the silk road. However, in many cities and towns along the Silk Road, some drivers only know dialects or speak in minority languages, so you may have communication problems with the drivers. It is suggested that you could choose a well-known and reliable travel company like us. With a professional licensed driver and tour guide, you do not need to worry about the Xinjiang routes' conditions. You can just focus on sightseeing with both flexibility and safety of your silk road journey.>>contact us now.

How to Travel Safely Along the Silk Road

Traveling along the Silk Road in China involves various environmental and climate changes, and health issues should not be taken lightly. The medical facilities in major cities are relatively complete, and there is no shortage of pharmacies and health centers in counties and townships. You can see a doctor and get medicine easily, but if you go deep into remote deserts and pastoral areas, the medical conditions along the way are very limited. The most likely problems for travelers include gastrointestinal diseases caused by food hygiene, fever caused by large temperature difference. Accidents and diseases may occur at any time during the journey, especially when you go to special areas to carry out adventurous activities, such as mountain climbing, desert crossing, ancient road hiking, etc. Even if you are physically strong, you are not recommended to go alone. If you are sure that there is a tourism area, you'd better buy relevant insurance and be accompanied by a professional guide.

Other Tips for Traveling Silk Road on Payment, Shopping, Taboos, and Time Difference

Payment: You can use Alipay and WeChat pays in most of the regions. Some scenic spots and high-speed toll stations can only be paid in cash, so you may need to bring some CNY cash. Credit cards are not recommended as a way of payment in this area.

Shopping: When purchasing tourist souvenirs in the bazaar (market), please negotiate and counter-offer after confirming the purchase. Bargaining behavior without purchase may piss off the seller.

Taboos: There are many ethnic groups along the silk road, and many of them are Muslim. Please respect their tradition and religion. Do not talk about taboo meals such as pork, and it is best not to drink or smoke in their restaurants; It is forbidden to take photos in religious areas. Pay attention to words and deeds to avoid unnecessary trouble.

Time Difference: Beijing time is also used in all cities in China's Silk Road region, but because Xinjiang is located in the very west area of China, people's daily working hours are different. Usually, the working time is 10:00-13:00 in the morning and 15:30-19:00 in the afternoon. People there usually have lunch after 13:00 and sleep at 24:00 at night.

How to Plan a China Silk Road Travel

Major Destinations to Go: Xian, Luoyang, Dunhuang, Zhangye, Jiayuguan, Lanzhou, Qinghai, Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar, Kucha, Hotan, Tianshui, Ningxia...

Top Tourist Attractions to Visit: Xian Terracotta Warriors, Dunhuang Mogao Caves, Zhangye Danxia Landform - Rainbow Mountains, Qinghai Lake, Heavenly Lake, Jiaohe Ancient City, Kashgar Old Town, Karakul Lake...

Best Time to Go: Generally, months from April to October are the best time, because the temperature is moderate and pleasant, the weather is good and the natural scenery is the most beautiful during this period.

The ancient Silk Road is a long tourist travel route involving lots of Chinese destinations, mostly located in Northwest China. A Silk Road travel can be flexibly customized according to travelers’ length of vacations, departure city, individual preferences and budget. It can take a few days to a few weeks and months.

If you have a tight schedule with only several days (4 ~ 5 days), you’re advised to make a brief Silk Road tour from the starting point - Xian, and visit Luoyang nearby or Dunhuang, the legendary treasury of Buddhist art, history and culture. If you have visited Xian and would like a deeper exploration, then Gansu’s Hexi Corridor (Zhangye, Jiayuguan and Dunhuang) - essence of ancient Silk Road is the best recommendation and a classic trip takes about 6 days.

☛ 6 Days Zhangye Jiayuguan Dunhuang Discovery Tour
☛ 5 Days Silk Road Tour from Xian to Dunhuang by Flight
☛ 5 Days Luoyang Xian Tour by Train

Travelers with 7 ~ 8 days can visit more Silk Road destinations. You can explore the Hexi Corridor with neighboring Qinghai, enjoy beautiful Qinghai Lake and other stunning landscapes and cultures, or travel farther to Xinjiang, unveil the mysterious Western Regions in top destinations - Turpan, Urumqi and Kashgar. Depending on your pace, you can even take some side trips, such as travelling to Karakul Lake from Kashgar.

☛ 7 Days Miraculous Land Tour from Dunhuang to Zhangye Xining
☛ 8 Days Classic Xinjiang Tour including Urumqi Turpan Kashgar Tashkurgan

A holiday of 10 ~ 15 days and a longer length is suitable to cover major destinations along the Silk Road in China. You can flexibly arrange an itinerary based on your interests. The most classic Silk Road tour covers Xian, main destinations in Hexi Corridor and Xinjiang, and takes just 10 days. Qinghai and Ningxia are popular regions for an in-depth Silk Road adventure. If time allows, you can visit the holy land of Tibet (Lhasa, Shigatse, Mount Everest, Mt.Kailash...) which has impressive Buddhist and Tibetan culture and plateau vista, and other destinations in China to experience the vast and diversity of China.

☛ 10 Days Classic Silk Road Tour (Xian/Dunhuang/Turpan/Kashgar)
☛ 11 Days In-depth Wild Silk Road Adventure Tour
☛ 12 Days Epic Silk Road Tour including Qinghai Lake and Zhangye Danxia
☛ 15 Days Classic Ancient China Silk Road Tour with Bullet Train Experience
☛ 19 Days Silk Road & Tibet In-depth Tour

China Silk Road Travel Our customers Cameron Family from New Zealand visited Terracotta Warriors in Xian in July, 2021. China Silk Road Travel Our customers Erin family from USA visited Zhangye Danxia Geopark in Gansu in August, 2020. China Silk Road Travel Kashgar Old Town ©骆小洛的世界 / mafengwo

Travel to Silk Road with China Discovery

Since most destinations along the ancient Silk Road are located in the remote Northwest China and some attractions are scattered far from the cities, it’s best to travel with a local professional travel agency, like China Discovery, to enjoy a Silk Road adventure. We will not only help you plan a suitable travel itinerary, but also arrange all the services you need, including tour guides and drivers, transfer vehicles, hotels and tickets, meals, etc., to make sure you make an educational cultural and historical travel with relaxing visual enjoyment. You can find more inspiration from our Most Popular China Silk Road Tours or contact us to customize a special one.

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

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