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5 Days Zhangye to Dunhuang Highlights Tour by Bullet Train

Silk Road Brief Highlights

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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.

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 Giant Buddha Temple, Matisi Grottoes and Mogao Caves;
  • Discover how the ancient skilled craftspeople hid superb arts of murals, sculpture and paintings in deep caves dug on the cliffs;
  • Interesting high speed Bullet train riding through the vast and desolated land of northwestern China.

Basic Trip Information

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

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Zhangye Arrival

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)
Day 2 Zhangye Danxia Sightseeing ( B, L )

Zhangye is famous for its unparalleled Danxia Landforms which is a spectacular petrographic geomorphology landscape formed from red-colored sand stones 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 five 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 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, sun glasses, 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 Photography Binggou Danxia Landform
Day 3 Zhangye Tour & High Speed Train to Dunhuang ( B, L )

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 (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 Qiang 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 Giant Buddha Temple China Discovery's Guests Visited Mati Temple
Day 4 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 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 Bao, 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. 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 Tips1) 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 Beautiful Yardang National Geopark Sunset in June Crescent Lake Tourist
Day 5 Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes Art Tour & Departure ( 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 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 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 7-8 caves among them 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.

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

Mogao Caves Visit Tips:

Useful Tips: 1) It is necessary to make a reservation in advance for at least 7 days for Mogao Grottoes visit during May ~ October when there are usually a lot of visitors; 2) It is not allowed to take photos inside the grottoes; 3) in the summer, travelers can stay up to late night around 21:30 to enjoy the cool time and beautiful sky of stars. It's usually very hot during 12:00~15:00. You can enter the park later when it is not that hot.

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

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