Follow in the footsteps of adventurers by journeying along one of the world's most famous trading routes, the Silk Road. Beginning in ancient Xian, venture across this vast land to reach the fascinating outpost of Kashgar and its famous Sunday market.
Our Silk Road Explorer tour will see you exploring the most iconic sites, delving into deep-rooted culture and dining on delicious cuisine.
Come face to face with Xian's most famous army, the Terracotta Warriors
See the exhibits of Buddhist paintings, statues and sculptures
Visit the striking red sandstone Flaming Mountains and the elegant Emin Minaret
Relax and unwind at the alpine banks of placid Heavenly Lake
Our Silk Road Explorer Tour has been thoughtfully designed and thoroughly researched to bring you a range of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, many of which are entirely exclusive to us.
Sample Tibetan foods and flavours with a traditional Tibetan lunch, featuring 'momos', the tasty steamed and stuffed dumpling whose popularity has spread from the Tibetan Plateau throughout Asia.
Visit a traditional, nomadic home of a family of the Kazakh minority community, and spend some time with them, learning about their culture, and get a glimpse of life living in a yurt.
Wander amongst the packed stalls of the atmospheric Shazhou Night Market in the Silk Road frontier city of Dunhuang, browsing delicious foods, fascinating local wares and a wealth of souvenirs.
This tour is ideal for those with an extensive amount of time available and who are interested in touring the main sights and cities on the famed China section of the Silk Road. This tour incorporates road and train travel which allows you to witness the stunning scenery of this area, but also experience the different modes of travel, making your tour more immersive.
Fly overnight to Xian, the ancient former capital. Depending on your time of arrival, the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture.
Gaze over the ranks of warriors and horses, each one unique, whilst your guide introduces you to these life-like soldiers' fascinating story. Later, enjoy a gentle cycle ride that will take you the nine miles around the ancient city wall and take a walking tour of the narrow and winding streets of the Muslim Quarter. Tonight, enjoy a traditional dumpling dinner and take an optional 'Xian by night' tour.
Start the day with a visit to Xian Museum and the Little Wild Goose Pagoda. Later, board the bullet train to Lanzhou.
Begin today with a leisurely walk along the Yellow River and then head to the hilltop Baita Temple for a moment of tranquillity. Along the river and in Baita Park you can see locals practising tai chi. Later, tuck into some delicious Lanzhou-style noodles made with hand stretched dough. The next day, cross Liujiaxia Lake by speed boat and head into the green hills around Liujiaxia to explore the extraordinary Thousand Buddha Caves of Bingling Temple and their wealth of Buddhist murals, statues and sculptures. Also visit the statue of Maitreya.
Conquer the scenic Jishi Mountain Pass to arrive at Tibetan Xiahe and spend time acclimatising to the altitude.
Giving a taste of the mysteries of Tibet, Labrang Monastery is a fascinating maze of prayer wheels, chapels and chortens. Dine on traditional Tibetan food for lunch, including Tibetan dumplings, known as momos.
Return to Lanzhou and take the speedy bullet train to Zhangye, once an important commercial town along the Silk Road.
Rise early this morning to witness the sunrise over the kaleidoscopic mountains in Danxia National Park. Return to Zhangye and visit the Giant Buddha Temple before boarding your bullet train to Jiayuguan.
Seen as China's western gateway, Jiayuguan is the perfect place to get to grips with your Silk Road history. Visit the Jiayu Fortress and take a walk on the western extremes of the magnificent Great Wall for panoramic views over the starkly beautiful Gobi Desert.
Drive to Dunhuang. Located on a major trade and cultural crossroads, Dunhuang, known as the 'City of the Sands', sits in a verdant oasis on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. Visit the Shazhou Night Market where you can wander amongst the stalls.
A system of temples and sanctuaries, visit the Mogao Grottoes that exhibit wonderful examples of Buddhist paintings and statues that span thousands of years.
Visit Crescent Moon Spring, nestled amongst rolling dunes and the famous Singing Sand Dunes, a phenomenon produced by the wind blowing through grains of sand.
Take the bullet train to Turpan, a lush green oasis set in a barren landscape. An easy-going town famed for its grapes, its pleasant streets are lined with lush vine trellises.
Visit the ruins of ancient Jiaohe and see the elegant Emin Minaret, the tallest in China.
Learn about the fascinating 2000-year-old Kerez irrigation canals and drive to Kurla.
Over the next three days travel along the original Silk Road through the Xinjiang Region, viewing ruins and sights largely unvisited by tourists. Start with a visit to see the ruins of Subashi, before arriving in Kuqa to see the Kyzil Thousand Buddha Caves. Continue travelling to Aksu, and on to the fabled city of Kashgar.
Its skyline punctured by minarets, Kashgar feels a million miles from China – in fact, it feels a million miles from anywhere! Although now a modern city, the sights and sounds of Kashgar's bazaar have remained unchanged for millennia. Sightseeing today includes a visit to Abakh Hoja Tomb, Id Kah Mosque and stroll through the narrow atmospheric alleyways around Id Kah Square.
Dive headlong into Central Asia's largest bazaar. Within this riot of textures, vivid colours and traditional dress, you can browse hundreds of stalls selling anything from spices and carpets to boots and blenders. Later, fly to Urumqi.
Escape to the tranquillity of Tianchi (Heavenly Lake), formed in a crater. Visit a Kazak minority family in their yurt and spend some time learning about their way of life.
Make a short visit to the Xinjiang Museum before flying to Beijing, China’s historic capital.
This morning is dedicated to China's most iconic sight – the Great Wall. In the afternoon, enjoy the idyllic landscapes of the Summer Palace as you wander through traditional Chinese gardens and see the exquisite architecture.
Head to Beijing's symbolic heart, Tiananmen Square and into the sprawling magnificence of the Forbidden City where you will find a complex full of imperial treasures. Soak up the ambience of the Temple of Heaven before visiting Yandaixiejie, where you will have some free time to wander the hutongs. This evening, dine on Peking duck and enjoy a Chinese acrobatic show.
Fly to New Zealand, arriving home the same or following day.
We draw from a wide range of hotels on our holidays, each one is chosen to suit the tour you are travelling on meaning your accommodation can range from a smart business hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. Here are some examples of the type of hotel you can expect to find on this tour.
Places Visited: Xian (2N) - Lanzhou (3N) - Xiahe (2N) - Zhangye (1N) - Jiayuguan (2N) - Dunhuang (3N) - Turpan (2N) - Kurla (1N) - Kuqa (1N) - Aksu (1N)- Kashgar (2N) - Urumqi (2N) – Beijing (3N)
If the dates we have available for this tour don't suit your needs or you prefer travelling with your own personal guide, contact us to arrange this as a Private Tour.
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There are no dedicated Solo departures for this year. You can enjoy any of our tours with no Single Supplement on our Happy to Share option or explore the solo departures in other years.
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