China travel map - China Silk Road In-depth Discovery Tour

Explore the mystery ancient Silk Road by taking this trip from the starting point Xian to the most China west point Kashgar. Visit the wild west of China and see the sandy deserts, snow covered mountains and lakes at its foot. Step in local people's life and learn the colorful Uiguhui Costumes. Museums, grottoes and archeological ruins on the Silk Road will offer you best  oppotunities to study history of culture and trade exchange via the Silk Road. 

Duration: Family, Seniors, Historians, Archeologists

Duration: 15 days & 14 nights

Destinations: Xian - Dunhuang - Turpan - Urumqi - Khotan - Kashgar - Kucha - Xian

Travel type: Private tour - Flexible & Free to customize


• Main sites from Xian to Kashgar on ancient Silk Road
• Top archeological sites from Mogao Caves to Jiaohe Ruins
• Vary landforms from desert, oasis to highland lakes
• Experience different minority people's lifestyle

Customize Your Tour:
☑  Travel Dates  ☑ Your Interests  ☑ Your Travel Style


Xian was the starting point of the Silk Road in ancient China, and it is also the most important hub now to connect central and east China to west China and further to middle East and Europe. There are around 20 cities out of China operate direct flights to Xian.

Upon arrival Xian, you will be welcomed by your guide and then transfer to hotel. Free at leisure for rest of the time to relax after long flight journey or take a soft walk around hotel to have a glance of the city.

Visit the must-see Terracotta Warriors Museum in the morning with a one hour drive out of the downtown. You will visit the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses and they are still under excavated. Return to downtown in the afternoon and visit Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The pagoda was built in Tang Dynasty and one function was to keep sutras and figurines of Gautama Buddha brought back to China from ancient India by Xuanzang via the Silk Road. Later, go to the Muslim Quarters to visit the Grand Mosque, a mosque in Chinese style. The area is also a famous snack street for foodies.

Meal: B, L


Transfer to airport for flight to Dunhuang, which located at the entrance to Hexi corridor from the west. After a short rest in hotel, you will go to visit the desert right at the edge of the city – Echoing Sand Dunes or Mingsha Mountain. Visit Crescent Lake first and then ride camel to top of the dunes for sun-set view. After the visit, go to Shazhou night market for dinner and free shopping.

Meal: B, D

Mogao Grottoes

Visit Mogao Grottoes, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. Then go to Dunhuang Museum, which reflects the flourishing social development and cultural exchange between China and the West during the time when Dunhuang was a major center along the Silk Road. Take late afternoon train to Turpan.

Meal: B, L

Terracotta Warriors Museum

After breakfast, you will drive 70km east out Turpan city to Tuyoq (or Tuyugou Valley), an ancient oasis-village in the Taklamakan desert. It is well noted with the seedless grapes and Buddhist meditation caves. Later, you will visit Astana Ancient Tombs, the graves are the cemetery of the ancient Gaochang residents. 456 tombs have been excavated since 1950's, and more than 10000 pieces of archaeological finds were discovered here. Continue drive to Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves,which is located at northwestern side of the Flaming Mountain, they are complex of Buddhist cave grottos dating from the 5th to the 13th centuries. These caves were built on a cliff face fronting a river valley.

Meal: B, L

Visit Emin Minaret and Karez Irrigation System this morning. Emin Minaret is an existing largest minaret in Xinjiang with a circular shape. It is 44 meters high with a diameter of 10 meters. The huge structure was built of grey bricks and earth in 15 different decorative patterns such as waves, flowers or rhombuses. Karez Irrigation System was created by ancient Uygur people at the second half of 18th century. If connecting all these underground channels together, the total length will reach more than 5000 km, so it is regarded as one of ancient China's greatest public projects. Later, check into the hotel. Today’s highlight is Jiaohe Ruins (Yarkhoto), a ruined city in the Yarnaz Valley. Jiaohe was the capital of the Anterior Jushi Kingdom (108BC - 450AD). It was an important site along the Silk Road trade route leading west, and was adjacent to the Korla and Karasahr kingdoms to the west. After the visit, drive 3hrs to Urumqi.

Meal: B, L

Taklamakan Desert

This morning, you will visit Heavenly Lake, 90km east to Urumqi and located at halfway of the mountain below the Bogda Peak. The lake is 1,907 meters above sea level, and the deepest point is 105 meters. Take a walking around the lake and view the sacred Bogda peak at 5445 meters. Return to Urumqi and visit Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum, the best museum to study culture, custom of Xinjiang area and Silk Road. Time permitting, you can go to Erdaoqiao Bazaar for a free shopping.

Meal: B, L

Heavenly Lake

Transfer to airport and fly southwestward over the vast Taklamakan Desert to Khotan, a major oasis town in southwestern Xinjiang. It is situated in the south edge of Tarim Basin and back to the Kunlun Mountains at its south. Khotan was an important station on the southern branch of the historical Silk Road. This afternoon, you will go to visit Rawak Temple Ruins, which is a Buddhist stupa on the southern rim of the Taklamakan Desert. It is an important archaeological site to study the history of ancient Khotan and Silk Road cutture.

Meal: B

Abakh Hoja Tomb

Morning drive to Qiraa county Damoko site(140km), a world famous archaeological site at the edge of the Taklimakan desert. At the ends of 19th century, many explorers such as  British Aurel Stein, Swedish Swenheden, French Paul pelliot, Japanese  Ottano etc.  came to the village and took many precious artifacts out of the country and almost lost their lives there. Among them, the wooden inscribed statue with characteristic of Persian and Gandharan art style (currently showed in the British museum and Guimet art museum of Paris) drew the attention of global specialists all over the world. You will take a walk in the village to learn local lifestyle and visit the most little monastery in the world. After lunch in the village, return to Khotan, visit local family workshops of tie-dyed silk, jade carving and silk carpet market.

Meal: B, L

Visit Hotan Museum and go to Moyu County to see traditional Mulberry Paper Making. Transfer to the train station for train to Karshgar (6.5 hours). Be met at the train station in the late afternoon and transfer to check in hotel.

Meal: B, L

A full day trip to Karakul Lake, the lake is popular among travellers for its beautiful scenery and the clarity of its reflection in the water, whose color ranges from a dark green to azure and light blue. Pay a visit to Kirgiz Yurt to meet the local people and talk with them. Picnic lunch included.

Meal: B, L

Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves

After breakfast, you will go to visit Abakh Hoja Tomb, which is also known as the Fragrant Concubine's tomb, as it is the burial place of one of Afaq Khoja's descendants, Iparhan, who is believed to be the legendary Fragrant Concubine. Later, you will visit the famous Sunday Bazaar, which is regarded as one of the biggest in Central Asia and especially famous for live stock trade. For centuries, the Bazaar has been a meeting place for locals, merchants and travelers along the Silk Road. In the afternoon, take a stroll at the old town of Kashgar to the lifestyle of local people. Its center is Id Kah Mosque, which is the largest mosque in China. Take late evening train to Kucha.

Meal: B, L

Kashgar Sunday Market

This morning you will be transferred to visit Tianshan Grand Canyon, a canyon near Keziliya Mountain formed by wind and rain over billions of years. It is as long as 5.5 kilometers from east to west with an average depth of 1,600 meters. In the afternoon, visit Subashi Ruins, a ruined Buddhist temple 20km north of Kucha in the Taklamakan Desert. The temple witnessed the development of Buddhism in central Xinjiang and reached it's peak during the sixth and eight centuries in the Sui and Tang dynasties.

Meal: B, L

Tianshan Grand Canyon

First drive 75km to visit Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves. The caves are said to be the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in China, with development occurring between the 3rd and 8th centuries. Transfer to airport for flight Xian (direct flight or via Urumqi).

Meal: B, L

Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves

Free at leisure for a rest of go to take a walk on the Ancient City Wall before being transferred to the airport for your flight back to sweet home

Meal: B

End of service.

What's included

  • 1-on-1 Travel Consultant

    Your China based expert listens to your wishes carefully, provides professional advice, ensures unlimited itinerary revisions before done and 24/7 helpline service while traveling.

  • Private Local Guide and Driver

    Your guides are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable, and your drivers are professional, polite and patient. They are very flexible to accommodate your personal needs and happy to show you the local attractions, history, culture, foods and real life. 
    Private transfers from hotel to attractions, airport or train station are also included.

  • Accommodation to Suite Your Preference

    In each place, we hand pick hotels ranging from luxury 5 star, superior 4 star to comfortable 3 star. Luxury or cozy boutique hotels and budget guesthouses are also among your choices. You could decide where to stay to meet your taste and budget.

  • Gourmet Meals

    Most of the hotels we select offer both Western and Chinese buffet breakfast. Lunch and dinner included are arranged in selected restaurants to taste authentic Chinese cuisine and local specialties. Thus you may also have a unique food tour.
    Meals specified in itinerary as B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner.

  • Attractions and Activities Listed on the Itinerary

    Our China tour packages have included the (first/main) entry to all attractions and the expenses of activities on the itinerary (except the optional activities).

  • Internal Transportation

    Based on your needs, we could make bookings of internal transportation, including domestic flights, inter-city trains, long-distance bus, etc.

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