Great Civilizations Along the Silk Road Tour

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12 Days
Min Age : 18
Max People : 5
Travel Itinerary
Day 1-2: Travel from the USA to Beijing

Depart the USA on your international flight to China. Cross the international date line and arrive in Beijing the following day. Pass through customs and meet your local guide at the airport greeting area.Transfer to your hotel. The rest of this day is at leisure.

  • Accommodations: New World Beijing
  • Meals Included: Meals Aloft
Day 3: Beijing-Urumqi

Take a morning flight (approximately 4 hours) to Urumqi the capital of the Xinjiang province in western China. The story of the Silk Road unfolds at the Xinjiang Museum, which houses fascinating exhibits from more than 12 minority groups. Meet with the museum curator to learn about the priceless museum artifacts, including 3000 year-old mummies recently excavated from nearby sites. Among them is the perfectly preserved “Beauty of Loulan” that is more than 3800 years old.

  • Accommodations: Grand Mercure Urumqi Jualing
  • Meals Included: B,L
Day 4: Urumqi-Kashgar

This morning, tour Nanshan Pasture about 40 miles outside Urumqi and situated in the Kelawucheng Mountain range. Here Kazaks continue to herd sheep and horses as their ancestors did in a picturesque landscape of snow-covered peaks and emerald-green grasslands.

In the afternoon, visit the city historic district, where traditional Islamic life still goes on. Also, wander the lively market with endless stalls of handicrafts, silverware, jade artifacts, silk and garments.

For dinner, we enjoy the special opportunity to sample Uighur cuisine.

In the evening, fly to Kashgar (approximately 2 hours) and check into your hotel.

  • Accommodations: Yuexling JinJiang International Hotel
  • Meals Included: B,L,D
Day 5: Kashgar

Historically Kashgar was an important hub for the northern and southern Silk Roads, a quintessential caravan city.

This is the day to wander the Great Market, the quintessential central Asian experience, with its vast throngs of horses, traders, shoppers, hagglers, and the merely curious. The Great Market has been at the center of Kashgar’s commercial life since the Tang dynasty (600-900ADE).

Visit the Id Kah Mosque, an Islamic structure in the central Asian style. The grand main hall has intricately carved wood columns finished in flower patterns. So extensive are the facilities here that seven thousand worshippers can attend service at one time.

Admire the Aba Khoja Mausoleum, an impressive complex of four prayer halls, lecture hall, and mausoleum. The halls exude sophistication with the exquisitely painted wood beams supported by intricately detailed columns and capitals. The impressive minarets and dome are covered with floral and geometric patterns, scalloped edges, and finials.

If time permits, visit a local village.

  • Accommodations: Yuexling JinJiang International Hotel
  • Meals Included: B,L,D
Day 6: Kashgar-Urumqi-Turpan

Fly to Urumqi (approximately 2 hours) in the morning and drive to exotic Turpan via the freeway (approximately 3 hours). Turpanis situated 400 feet below sea level, one of the lowest elevations on earth. Because of the aridity an astonishing array of artifacts have survived in near pristine condition.

First, we make our way to the Thousand Buddha Caves hewn into the sides of the Sengim Gorge. Then, we let our imaginations soar amid the vast ruins of Gaochang, a city surrounded by 33 foot high walls. Gaochang was founded as a garrison town in the 1st century CE and by the 4th century had become the capital of the western Han Empire. It was abandoned during the early Ming era. The ruins are extensive, though in a diminished state after centuries of erosion.

  • Accommodations: Tuhua Petroleum Hotel
  • Included Meals: B,L,D
Day 7: Turpan-Dunhaung

Wander the site of Jiaohe, the ancient walled capital that originated in the Han dynasty. This was a fortress intended to protect against raids by the Xiongnu. The ruins date mostly to the Tang dynasty, and include a large Buddhist stupa.

Visit the karez irrigation site. Used throughout Xinjiang, this ingenious system of irrigation taps into natural underground water sources by using a network of subterranean tunnels that channel water to the fields.

Examine the collections of the Underground Museum at Astana. The museum director will give us an overview of the artifacts and contents of graves that provide such a fascinating window on the history of the Silk Road. Numerous expeditions in the 20th century, including one by Aurel Stein in 1914, have unearthed more than 10,000 objects.

Enjoy dinner at local’s home with a minority music and dance performance.

Tonight, settle in our cabin accommodations for the overnight train to Dunhuang. The unyielding austere desert outside the window reminds us of the interminable difficulties the Silk Road posed to travelers, difficulties that were only resolved in recent times.

  • Accommodations: Overnight Train, First Class soft sleeper
  • Meals Included: B,L,D
Day 8: Dunhuang

Arrive in Dunhuang in the morning and transfer to the hotel. Dunhuang is one of the world’s great repositories of religious art and provides an excellent window onto ancient life along the Silk Road.

After lunch, wander the local market and visit Dunhuang Museum with historic artifacts from the region.

It’s time to get out in the sun and nothing is more fun than riding camels over the sand dunes at Crescent Moon Spring.

  • Accommodations: Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel
  • Meals Included: B,L,D
Day 9: Dunhuang–Xian

In the morning, visit the Mogao Caves. They are cut into steep stone cliffs and so provide a secure shelter for the thousands of Buddhist murals and statuary within. We wander at our leisure through a succession of grottos, marveling at the interiors of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas unchanged since the Tang.

Meet with a scholar from the Dunhuang Research Institute to learn about recent excavations and the ongoing effort at cultural preservation. We’ll also investigate a newly built museum featuring replicas of ancient Dunhuang art and religious artifacts.

Afternoon flight (approximately 2 hours) to the ancient Tang dynasty capital of Xian, formerly known as Changan. Meet your local guides and transfer to your hotel.

Stroll the Muslim Quarter. Chinese Muslim culture traces its heritage from the flourishing Silk Road culture of the Tang dynasty. Evening is open for you to explore at your leisure and dinner is on your own.

  • Accommodations: Hilton Hotel
  • Meals Included: B,L
Day 10: Xian

Our second day begins with a viewing of the extraordinary 2,300-year-old terracotta warriors in the tomb of China’s first emperor, Qinshihuang. The warriors still stand on the original site where they were discovered by farmers in 1974.

In the afternoon, explore Shanxi History Museum and its artifacts spanning many dynasties. The curator will greet us and provide an introduction to the museum’s unique collections

Visit the Wild Goose Pagoda, where the ancient Buddhist sutras from Tang dynasty (600-900AD) are kept. During this dynasty, the famous monk Xuanzang traveled to India and brought back great amount of Buddhist classics. He toiled for years translating and organizing the scriptures at the temple.

Our day concludes with a dumpling banquet at Defachang Dumpling restaurant, where we’ll feast on over twenty kinds of Chinese dumplings, a Xian specialty.

  • Accommodations: Hilton Hotel
  • Meals Included: B,L,D
Day 11: Xian-Shanghai
Take a morning flight to Shanghai (approximately 2 hours). What strikes everyone about Shanghai is its vitality. Nothing restrains Shanghai in its immense ambition to achieve world-class status; and in only a few short years it has surpassed Hong Kong as the leading Chinese city.

Transfer to the hotel with lunch on one’s own. Enjoy an afternoon tour of the historic French Concession and walk the Taikang Market Street with boutique shops, galleries and cafes.

Enjoy a farewell banquet at Family Xi’s Garden Restaurant in a historic villa. After dinner explore Xintiandi—a stylish restaurant and shopping district designed by MIT architect Ben Wood. Filled with restaurants, clubs, and fashion boutiques, Xintiandi exudes artistic sophistication and is widely imitated throughout China today for chic redevelopment projects.

  • Accommodations: Radisson Blu Shanghai New World
  • Meals Included: B,L,D
Day 12: Shanghai-US

After breakfast transfer to Shanghai airport for flights home. Arrive in the USA on the same day.

  • Meals Included: B, Meals Aloft
Tour Destinations
  • Beijing
  • China
  • Dunhuang
  • Kashgar
  • Shanghai
  • Turpan
  • Urumgi
  • Xian
Tour Highlights
  • Camels
  • Great Market
  • Mogao Caves
  • Thousand Buddha Cave
  • Xinjan Museum

  • Chengde Imperial Resort Extension
  • Hong Kong Extension
  • Huang Mountains Extension

  • Airport transfers and all porterage
  • Domestic U.S. and international airfare
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Gratuities on extensions
  • Gratuities to national tour director
  • Liquor, wine, & beer, and other items of a personal nature
  • Meals not included in the tour
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa processing

  • All air and ground transportation within China
  • All meals listed in itinerary
  • All sightseeing, entertainment, and cultural activities listed in itinerary
  • Double occupancy accommodations
  • English-speaking Chinese local tour guides
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers on main tour
  • preparatory materials