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5 Days Zhangye to Dunhuang Highlights Tour by Bullet Train

Silk Road Brief Highlights

This is a fantastic trip of Silk Road art, culture, history and scenery, strongly recommended for those who want to experience the ancient Silk Road culture and enjoy spectacular diverse landforms of Danxia landform, desert, Gobi and Yardang landform, etc. You will visit Dunhuang and Zhangye, now two of the most popular destinations in Gansu, even the Silk Road of China. Start your Silk Road exploration from Zhangye where you will spend 2 days to see the Rainbow Mountain, Matisi Grottoes and other sites, then take a high speed bullet train to Dunhuang to visit the reputed Mogao Caves, Echoing Sand Mountains, Yardang Geo Park, etc. All attractions are well organized, without wasting of your time and money.

  • Type : Private Tour
  • Tour Code : CD-ZYDHT-05
  • Price : from $677
    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.
  • Theme : History / Culture / Photography
  • Physical Demands :

HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS TOUR

  • In-depth exploration of different Danxia landforms of Zhangye with morning visit to Binggou Danxia and afternoon visit to Danxia Geo Park (Rainbow Mountains) as well as beautiful sunset;
  • Learn about how the Buddhism originated and developed in China during your visits to the grand Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye and have a special visit to the cliff-side Matisi Grottoes;
  • Discover how the ancient skilled craftspeople hid superb arts of murals, sculpture and paintings in deep caves dug on the cliffs of Mogao Grottoes;
  • Interesting high speed bullet train riding through the vast and desolated land of northwestern China.
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Itinerary Day by Day (Can Be Customized)
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Day 1 Zhangye Arrival

Zhangye airport/train station pick up

Welcome to Zhangye, a key town of the Silk Road, the major thoroughfare of New Eurasian Land Bridge and national historical and cultural city! Your tour guide will meet you at Zhangye Ganzhou Airport (or railway station), then escort you to your hotel in a private vehicle. The rest of today is on your own to relax in this historical city.

Arrival Ideas: Zhangye is not a very popular transportation hub like Lanzhou and Xining. Currently, it is usually reached by flights from Xian, Lanzhou, Chengdu, Beijing and Guangzhou. You can also get there by high speed trains from Lanzhou (4 hrs), Xining (2hrs), Xian (7.5hrs), Dunhuang (4hrs), Jiayuguan (1.5hrs), Urumqi (8hrs), and so on.

  • Welcome to Zhangye (Drum Tower) Welcome to Zhangye (Drum Tower)

Day 2 Zhangye Danxia Sightseeing (B, L)

Today's Highlights: Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park, Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area

Zhangye is famous for its unparalleled Danxia Landforms which is a spectacular petrographic geomorphology landscape formed from red-colored sandstones and conglomerates. Among all the Danxia places in Zhangye, Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area and Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park (Linze Danxia) have most significant Danxia landscapes. Today you will go to explore both of them.

After breakfast, you will go to visit Binggou Danxia Landform first which is about 1 hour's driving from Zhangye downtown. Even though just being visited by fewer travelers, Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area has its own featured charms. If the Linze Danxia Scenery is a visual feast of colors, then the Binggou Danxia is a great joy to find how the Mother Nature became a sculptor who sculptured the mountains to amazing different shapes, like grand palaces, long corridors, giant pillars, etc. You will hike leisurely about 2 hours to look the spectacular landform closely.

In the afternoon, drive about an hour to visit the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park which 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 viewing decks for you to watch and shoot. You will visit one by one, and will be transferred by park buses from one deck to another.

You won't miss the precious opportunity to enjoy the amazing sunset. Viewing Deck No. 4 (七彩红霞台) is the best location to take sunset of the Danxia Landform. It's better to get there earlier to occupy a good location. After sunset, drive back to Zhangye downtown for accommodation.

Useful Tips: 1) Pack with sun creams, sunglasses, protective clothing and hat to protect from strong sunlight in summer; 2) sunset is the best time for taking photos which happen around 19:00~20:00 in summer and 18:00~19:00 in winter.

  • Zhangye Danxia Landform Views After Rain Zhangye Danxia Landform Views After Rain
  • Zhangye Danxia Landform Photography Zhangye Danxia Landform Photography
  • Binggou Danxia Landform Binggou Danxia Landform

Day 3 Zhangye Tour & High Speed Train to Dunhuang (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 Buddhas 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 (Horse Hoof Temple). 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. Legend has it that once a celestial horse drunk water and left its footstep on a rock here, which is the reason why Matisi Temple got its name. Matisi has four wonders - green mountains, clear water, precipitous peaks and fantastic grottoes. Among the four, the fantastic grotto groups are most attractive, stretching as long as 30 kilometers. The highlighting part is the 21 grottoes around the 5-storey Puguang Temple which is set in the side of a sheer mountain rock wall. The temple also has collected many magnificent relics, including Standing Buddha of Jin Dynasty (CE 266-420), imperial robe of Emperor Kang Xi, saddle of Emperor Qian Long, etc. Visitors can also experience strong sense of Tibetan culture here. Colorful prayer flags and white pagodas can be found at many places of the temple. In fact, there is a Tibetan village near the area. Before your visit, just be prepared to climb stairs inside the mountain and get through small openings from one temple to the next. Comfortable shoes are necessary. Because of its long history, Matisi Temple is praised as one of the Three Artistic Treasured Grottoes of Hexi Buddha Holy Land (the other two are Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Yulin Grottoes in Anxi).

After sightseeing at Matisi Temple, you will be transferred to catch your high speed train to Dunhuang (about 4hrs). 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 Matisi Temple is famous for Buddhist culture, grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and Tibetan culture
  • Giant Buddha Temple Giant Buddha Temple
  • China Discovery's Guests Visited Mati Temple China Discovery's Guests Visited Mati Temple

Day 4 Dunhuang Geology & Silk Road History Tour (B, L)

Today's Highlights: Echoing Sand Mountains, Crescent Lake, Yumen Pass, Ruin of Great Wall of Han Dynasty, Yardang National Geologic Park

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 - Ancient Sound of Dunhuang. Through the use of high-tech methods such as holographic projection and 3D visuals, it presents a fully immersive theatrical experience of both elaborate dances and unique performance of ancient musical instruments. (Notice: the Silk Road Show is not available during November to middle April of next year. The tickets of the show sell out quickly. If you want to watch the show, please let your travel consultant or tour guide know in advance.)

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.

  • Echoing Sand Mountains Echoing Sand Mountains
  • Beautiful Yardang National Geopark Sunset in June Beautiful Yardang National Geopark Sunset in June
  • Crescent Lake Tourist Crescent Lake Tourist

Day 5 Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes Art Tour & Departure (B, L)

Today's Highlights: Mogao Grottoes, Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center

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 long 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 extensive visit.

The rest of today is free for you to catch your flight/train to the next destination. Your Dunhuang Silk Road tour ends!

Useful Tips:

1. During peak seasons (May to October), there are usually a lot of visitors to Mogao Caves, so it is recommended to make 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.

  • Mogao Grottoes Mogao Grottoes
  • Mogao Grottoes Feitian (Flying Apsaras) Mogao Grottoes Feitian (Flying Apsaras)
  • Mogao Grottoes Giant Buddha in No. 96 Cave Mogao Grottoes Giant Buddha in No. 96 Cave

The quotation for this trip is from $677 Per Person

1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 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, 2025.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1=RMB 7.00. 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.

What's included?

  • Professional licensed English-speaking guide;
  • Admission tickets for all attractions listed in the itinerary;
  • Accommodation as listed in the itinerary (4-star standard);
  • Necessary vehicle transfers as listed in the itinerary;
  • Domestic flights (economy class) and high-speed trains (second class) as listed in the itinerary;
  • Airport (and train station) pick up and drop off;
  • Luggage Transfers: between airports (railway station) and hotels;
  • All meals as listed( “B” for Chinese and Western breakfast buffet in your hotel; “L” for Chinese Lunch in local restaurant; “D” for Chinese dinner in local restaurant.);
  • Accident insurance;
  • Our service charge, including tour planning, handling, operational and communication charges.

What's excluded?

  • China visa;
  • Personal expenses;
  • Accommodation not listed in the itinerary;
  • Single Room Supplement;
  • Tourist sites which are not listed in the itinerary;
  • Recommended optional activities;
  • Excess Baggage Charges;
  • Optional tips to guides, drivers, etc.

Check What our delighted customers are saying about our services

Dear Rita,

We have just arrived at our next destination in Thailand, and our Malaysian friends have arrived back home in Penang.

Thank you so much for all the arrangements, which was initiated over 4 years ago and disrupted by the outbreak of Covid 19. I am especially thankful that you have accepted my frequent request to add additional participants which eventually increased from 2 to 4 to 6 and finally to 7.

The tour itinerary was very comprehensive covering not just Tibet itself but also the two cities where Tibetans have strong influence, namely Xining and Shangri-La.

The only regret we have is not being able to take the train from Xining to Lhasa as this was to be one of the highlights of this trip, but the flight between these two cities was an excellent one with a beautiful view of the snow capped mountains.

I would certainly recommend China Discovery to anyone who would wish to visit China, especially the Tibetan region.

Thanks again.

Best regards,

Aki

Aki‚ Japanese, May 31, 2024

Hi Rita,

Thank you for the arrangement last time, my family had great times.

Susi

Susi‚ Indonesia, May 31, 2024

Hi Rita,

Apologies for my delay in responding. We only came home last week and have been busy with work getting back up to date.

We had a fantastic tour. David was an excellent guide. He was very knowledgeable about the area and responsive to our needs. He helped us with recommendations for food and shopping and we really enjoyed his company for the 8 days. He knew when to give us information about the area and also when to give us some space and quiet to enjoy the views.

The itinerary suited everything we were looking for. David also adapted it to the weather for the best views and experiences and arranged extra stops, at our request. We couldn't have asked for a better tour or guide. The driver and car was also excellent, very clean and comfortable. The hotels met our expectations and were really well located. Overall the tour exceeded our expectations and I would be happy to share my experiences anywhere you would like me to. I'll send on some photos separately this weekend that you can use as you wish.

In terms of any suggestions, it is just to give some extra information before your guests travel, as many things are quite different in China than in Europe or the USA. I suggest giving the following advices to clients when they book the tour:

• Bring a small backpack to carry snacks and water each day.

• There are limited food options within the national park, so you may wish to bring some favourite snacks from home. You can purchase snacks in the local town, however they may not suit your taste so it is good to have some familiar snacks to hand. Some fruit, chocolate, crisps and nuts are available locally.

• You will walk quite a bit during the trip (including steps), so make sure you have good walking shoes with you.

• Hotel rooms typically do not have travel safes in them, so be prepared to carry your cash/ valuables with you each day.

• Coffee is not popular in this region of China. There may be days that coffee is not available. We suggest bringing some coffee sachets with you if this poses a difficulty for you.

• We suggest to download the 'WeChat' app before travelling to China to communicate with your guide. WhatsApp, Google, Instagram, Facebook and many other apps and websites do not work in China.

• We recommend having some local currency with you for purchases in rural villages, as not all accept card payments or your card may not work as it does at home.

The final recommendation I would give is to include the fox fairy show and Huanglong cave in itineraries. Both were amazing and unlike anything we had seen before. Also on the coffee piece, Europeans drink a lot of coffee. In Furong there was nowhere in the old or new town to get coffee in the morning. It might be an idea for the guide to have some coffee that they could give to the tourists to make their own.

I hope that has been helpful and thank you again for making this trip one that we will never forget. I'll send the photos in a few days.

Regards,

Fiona

Fiona‚ Irish, May 30, 2024

Hi Leo.

We have ended our private tour today with you. Thank you so much for the wonderful arrangement.

All the 3 drivers and guide are very experienced and knowledgeable. We really get a deep understanding of Xi’an, Chengdu and Chongqing.

Vincent

Vinent ‚ Singapore, May 30, 2024

Feedback as below:

Leo was the fastest to reply. Efficient, patient and very responsive. He is very hard working!

Tour arrangements went smoothly. We appreciate the suggestions and the itinerary.

Definityly! 100% would recommend your service to our people.

The reviews online were exactly what we had experienced. If I were to travel China (Yunnan), I would like move off the beaten tours not major tourist attractions.

Amanda

Amanda‚ Singapore, May 29, 2024
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Our private transfer service guarantees you the highest comfort!

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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.

If you have already got an ideal hotel, please feel free to tell our travel consultants and they'll book the hotel for you.

Have good sleep in our well-selected hotels in all the destinations of China.

Meals & Dining

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We can satisfy all the dietary requirements no matter you want Chinese local food, western food, vegetarian food or muslin food.

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!

Photo gallery of this trip

  • Welcome to Zhangye (Drum Tower) Welcome to Zhangye (Drum Tower)
  • Zhangye Danxia Landform Views After Rain Zhangye Danxia Landform Views After Rain
  • Zhangye Danxia Landform Photography Zhangye Danxia Landform Photography
  • Binggou Danxia Landform Binggou Danxia Landform
  • Matisi Temple is famous for Buddhist culture, grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and Tibetan culture Matisi Temple is famous for Buddhist culture, grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and Tibetan culture
  • Giant Buddha Temple Giant Buddha Temple
  • China Discovery's Guests Visited Mati Temple China Discovery's Guests Visited Mati Temple
  • Echoing Sand Mountains Echoing Sand Mountains
  • Beautiful Yardang National Geopark Sunset in June Beautiful Yardang National Geopark Sunset in June
  • Crescent Lake Tourist Crescent Lake Tourist
  • Mogao Grottoes Mogao Grottoes
  • Mogao Grottoes Feitian (Flying Apsaras) Mogao Grottoes Feitian (Flying Apsaras)
  • Mogao Grottoes Giant Buddha in No. 96 Cave Mogao Grottoes Giant Buddha in No. 96 Cave

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