Silk Road Explorer

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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.

Places Visited

New Zealand - 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) - New Zealand

Days 1-2: Fly to Xian
Fly to Xian. Depending on your time of arrival the rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture. (D)
Days 1-2: Fly to Xian
Day 3: Terracotta Warriors
Housed in three immense hangars, the ranks of the Terracotta Army stand sentinel in their subterranean necropolis, constructed to protect China’s first Emperor in the afterlife. Gaze over the warriors and horses, each one unique, whilst your guide introduces you to these life-like soldiers’ fascinating story. Later, enjoy a gentle cycle around the ancient city wall and take a walking tour of the narrow and twisting streets of the Muslim Quarter. Sample the delicious, freshly cooked snacks and gain an insight into the city’s fascinating culture. Tonight, dine on Xian’s traditional and delicious dumplings. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Terracotta Warriors
Day 4: Train to Lanzhou
Start the morning with an optional visit to the local park to see Xian’s residents taking part in Tai Chi and dancing. Visit the Xian Museum and the Little Wild Goose Pagoda. Later board the train to Lanzhou. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Train to Lanzhou
Days 5: Explore Lanzhou
Enjoy a moment of tranquillity at the hilltop Baita Temple and tuck into some noodles made with hand stretched dough. Visit the Yellow River night markets. (B,L,D)
Days 5: Explore Lanzhou
Day 6: Bingle Temple
Head to Liujiaxia Lake to explore the extraordinary Thousand Buddha Caves of Bingling Temple and their Buddhist murals, statues and sculptures. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Bingle Temple
Day 7: Journey to Xiahe
Conquer the scenic Jishi Mountain Pass to arrive at Tibetan Xiahe. Take some time to acclimatise to the higher altitude. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Journey to Xiahe
Day 8: Labrang Monastery
Labrang Monastery is a fascinating maze of prayer wheels, chapels and chortens. Dine on traditional Tibetan food for lunch, including momo dumplings. There will also be time to wander through Xiahe Township. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Labrang Monastery
Day 9: Travel to Zhangye
Return to Lanzhou by road and take the bullet train to Zhangye, once an important commercial town along the Silk Road. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Travel to Zhangye
Day 10: Rainbow Mountains
Rise early to witness sunrise over the kaleidoscopic mountains in Danxia National Park. Return to Zhangye and explore the Giant Buddha Temple. Later, travel by bullet train to Jiayuguan, an ideal location to expand your knowledge of Silk Road history. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Rainbow Mountains
Day 11: Great wall at Jiayuguan
Visit the Jiayu Fortress and take a walk on the western extremes of the Great Wall for panoramic views over the beautiful landscape of the Gobi Desert. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Great wall at Jiayuguan
Day 12: City of Sands
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 a silk carpet museum and the Shazhou Night Market. (B,L,D)
Day 12:  City of Sands
Day 13: Mogao Grottoes
A system of temples and sanctuaries, the Mogao Grottoes exhibit wonderful examples of Buddhist paintings and statues that span thousands of years. (B,L,D)
Day 13: Mogao Grottoes
Day 14: Singing Sand Dunes
Visit Crescent Moon Spring, nestled among strolling sand dunes, and the famous Singing Sand Dunes, a phenomena produced by the wind blowing through the grains. (B,L,D)
Day 14: Singing Sand Dunes
Days 15: Turpan
Catch 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. (B,L,D)
Days 15: Turpan
Day 16: Explore Turpan
Visit the ruins of ancient Jiaohe and the striking red sandstone Flaming Mountains. (B,L,D) The next day, see elegant Emin Minaret before visiting a typical home in grape valley. Also learn about the fascinating Keraz irrigation canals. (B,L,D)
Day 16: Explore Turpan
Day 17: Journey to Kurla
Learn about the fascinating Keraz irrigation canals. Travel to Kurla. (B,L,D)
Day 17:  Journey to Kurla
Day 18: Subashi Ruins
Continue along the Silk Road to the ruins of Subashi, before arriving in Kuqa for an overnight stay. (B,L,D)
Day 18:  Subashi Ruins
Day 19: Thousand Buddha Caves
Discover the Kyzil Thousand Buddha Caves before travelling to Aksu in the early evening. (B,L,D)
Day 19: Thousand Buddha Caves
Day 20: Kashgar
Continue the journey by road to Kashgar, a fabled Silk Road city, its skyline punctured by many towering minarets. (B,L,D)
Day 20: Kashgar
Day 21: Kashgar
Although now a modern city, the sights and sounds of Kashgar’s bazaar have remained unchanged for millennia, as it continues to be an integral trading post as in its Silk Road heyday. Explore Abakh Hoja Tomb, Id Kah Mosque and the atmospheric alleyways around Id Kah Square. (B,L,D)
Day 21: Kashgar
Days 22: Kashgar to Urumqi
This morning, Old Street, Craftsmen Street and a local bazaar. Later, fly 1 hour and 40 minutes to Urumqi. (B,L,D)
Days 22: Kashgar to Urumqi
Day 23: Discover Urumqi
Today, travel to Tian Chi (Heavenly Lake), formed in a crater atop Baekdu Mountain, where yurts nestle on its grassy banks. The journey will take 2-3 hours, changing to the local ‘environmental buses’ where necessary to reach the lake. Visit a Kazakh Minority family in their yurt to learn about their way of life. In the evening, enjoy local Uyghur lamb skewers for dinner (B,L,D)
Day 23: Discover Urumqi
Day 24: Urumqi to Beijing
Enjoy a short visit to the Xinjiang Museum which houses collections of costumes, historical relics and mummies. Later, fly 3 ? hours to Beijing and transfer to your hotel (B,L,D)
Day 25: The Great Wall
This morning is dedicated to China’s most iconic sight – the Great Wall. Taking a walk on this incredible structure is the best way to appreciate its sheer magnificence. Jade has been long cherished by the Chinese – at a jade factory you can understand and appreciate the delicate process of carving the stone and buy a piece if you wish. In the afternoon, savour the idyllic landscaped beauty of the Summer Palace. (B,L,D)
Day 25: The Great Wall
Day 26: Imperial Beijing
Stroll across Tiananmen Square and into the sprawling magnificence of the Forbidden City where you’ll find a complex full of imperial treasures. Soak up the ambience of the Temple of Heaven before visiting Yandaixiejie, where you’ll have some free time to wander the hutongs. Sit down for lunch with one of the families who call the hutongs home. This evening dine on Peking Duck and enjoy a Chinese acrobatic show. (B,L,D)
Day 26: Imperial Beijing
Day 27: Depart Beijing
This morning is at your leisure before you are transferred to Beijing airport to board your flight to New Zealand, arriving home to same or following day. (B)
Day 27: Depart Beijing

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:


Single Supplement from $1,760
Land Only (Xian to Beijing) 26 days from $6,780 per person
Additional charges: Customary tipping - RMB1130 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
14 Apr, 15 Sep, 22 Sep & 06 Oct 2019 and 12 Apr, 03 May, 06 Sep, 20 Sep, 27 Sep & 04 Oct 2020 departures coincides with Golden Week celebrations and sightseeing may be affected
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular in China and you will find high quality coverage. China has active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have wifi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and China is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.
 
For independent passengers, or group passengers with pre/post tour arrangements, you should allow USD5-10 per person per day.
 
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure, and China has a vast array of shopping opportunities for those who love to seek out a bargain. From hand carved jade to local silk products or pearls from the South China Sea – the variety and choice can seem endless.
 
In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.
 
We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. 

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost.
 
Breakfast is served in the hotel and usually includes western dishes. As is traditional in China, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on a ‘Lazy Susan’ so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. In China all the dishes are served in various styles and brought out to the table for everyone to share. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.
 
Each individual place setting will consist of a bowl of fan (rice), a pair of chopsticks (you may request western cutlery if you prefer), a flat bottomed soup spoon and a saucer. Chinese food is usually served in courses where a typical meal will consist of rice, one to four meat or fish dishes, two vegetable dishes, and one soup dish. Almost all food is cut into bite sized pieces. The centre of the meal is the fan or rice. The meats and vegetables that we think of as the focus of the meal are known as ts’ai, which roughly translates as ‘side dishes’. Fish is not always available, particularly outside of the bigger cities.
 
The Chinese are also not big on desserts with meals normally complemented with fruit to clean and refresh the palate.
 
Sichuan cuisine is distinguished by its use of ginger, chilli and the ‘Sichuan peppercorn’ called the fagara. Each meal will usually have some mild dishes but many of the local speciality dishes will be hot. If your group find there are not enough mild dishes served, please inform your National Escort/Local Guide so that they may resolve the problem for the next meal.
 
If you would like to drink beer, soft drink or bottled water with your meals, payment is to be made directly to the restaurant staff. Beer is traditionally consumed in small glasses; not the larger pints glasses that you may be used to.
 
Green tea is sometimes provided complimentary. All other drinks will be at your own expense.
If you have booked a tour that does not include all meals, your local guides will be able to recommend a variety of restaurants to meet your taste and budget.
 
It is possible to buy snacks in supermarkets within major towns or cities. Alternatively, you may also like to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars, and tea/coffee from home.
 
Any food/diet requests MUST be specified at the time of booking and you should mention it again to the National Escort/ Local Guides when you meet them – they will do their utmost to cater for any special requests, such as vegetarian meals or food to be avoided in case of allergies.

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Why Book This Tour?

Follow in the footsteps of intrepid adventurers by journeying along one of the world's most famous trading routes, the Silk Rad. Beginning in ancient Xian, venture across this vast land to Kashgar. Expect long journeys on this tour.

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