20 days China Silk Road tour and Tibet explorer
This West China tour starts with a memorable Silk Road trip, where you can explore the ancient civilizations in Xinjiang and Gansu province. Next up with a comfortable train ride on the highest plateau of the world from Xining to Lhasa. Visit the famous monasteries in and around Lhasa to learn about the Tibetan Buddhism and make a day excursion to the holy lake of Tibet, Namtso Lake. This tour help you get an in depth understanding of West China.
Start your wonderful journey with a flight to Kashgar via Urumqi. Located in the west of Xinjiang, Kashgar is a famous border city which has more than 2,000 years history. Upon arrival, the local guide and driver will pick you up at the airport and drive you to the hotel. The rest of the day is left flexible to have a break.
Morning drive to the Karakul Lake, which is located 196 km. (122 mi.) from Kashgar, near the junction of the Pamir, Tianshan, and Kunlun Mountain ranges. The drive will take over 3 hours, but the scenery along the way is breathtaking. Karakul Lake is a plateau lake at the foot of "the Father of Glaciers" – Muztagata Mountains, and people believe that it was formed from the glacial movements.
Once get to the lake, spend couple hours to walk along the lake and view the picturesque scenery. The lake is so clarity as you can even clearly see the reflection of the snow mountains surrounding the lake in the water. The air is so fresh as you can even smell the soil mixed with flowers fragrant. Immerse yourself in the unspoiled natural landscapes of Karakul Lake before you drive back to Kashgar in the late afternoon.
Spend today to visit the highlights in Kashgar city. Kashgar is one of the largest gathering residences of Uighurs as you can explore their unique culture with a visit here. The first spot is Sunday Market, which is an ancient market attracts locals and merchants from all over Xinjiang and nearby countries such as Pakistan and Kirghizstan. The market is jammed with many small shops for selling numerous commodities, traditional scarves, leathers, clothes, and souvenirs. Walk around this market for some really good bargains.
Next up with a visit to the Apak Khoja Tomb, which houses the coffins of five generations of the Apak Khoja family, including what is purported to be the body of Xiang Fei, a famous concubine in Qing Dynasty. The pillars in the Tomb decorated beautifully and its designs are especially outstanding.
After lunch, have some free time to walk around the old Kashgar town. Then visit the Id Kah Mosque, which is the largest and busiest mosque in China, as well as a must see sight for travelers. At midday on on every Friday over 10,000 Muslims will gather here to pray and study the Koran. In the evening, drive to the airport for the flight to Urumqi.
After breakfast, say farewell to Urumqi as you drive to Turpan, an oasis city located 183 km. (114 mi.) from Urumqi. Upon arrival, head to the Sugong Pagoda, which was built by the ruler of the Turpan Prefecture, to honor his father in 1811. The architecural style of this pagoda displays the typical design of Uygur features.
In the afternoon, visit Karez Well, a unique irrigation system of wells connected by underground channels invented and built by ancient farmers from the various ethnic minorities of Turpan. It is regarded as one of the three great ancient projects in China. Here you are allowed to walk along the channels below ground for a first-hand view, most of which are still maintained and functioning now.
The last sight you will visit today is the Ruins of Jiaohe, which is located 8 km. (5 mi.) west of Turpan. This is an ancient city which is over 2,300 years old. The prosperous city has already diclined with time passing by, now you can only see the magnificent ruins followed by desert and mountains.
Continue the trip in Turpan today. First head to Gaochang City, another famous ancient ruin in Turpan. Along with Jiaohe, Gaochang also stands in the boundless desolate Gobi desert of Xinjiang. Due to the dry and hot weather, the ancient city of Gaochang has been well preserved as you can clearly see the outline of this city.
Afterwards, drive to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves for learning about the Buddhism culture along the ancient Silk Road. These caves were built on the legendary Flaming Mountains, which are the barren, eroded, red sandstone hills in Tian Shan Mountain range. Stop at here for seeing the memorable spectacle of the hills looking like a fiery dragon. Next up with a visit to Tuyuk Village, a traditional village of vineyards, orchards, narrow streets and irrigation channels tumbling between ancient mud brick houses and shady trees.
Drive back to Turpan in the late afternoon or evening for taking the soft train to Dunhuang. More sights in Dunhuang await to be explored in the following days.
Upon arrival in Dunhuang in the early morning, be greeted by your local guide and driver as they assist you to register at the hotel. The morning is left free to allow time to wash up from the train ride.
your destination today is the Mogao Grottoes, a World Heritage Site on the Silk Road. these grottoes were built during the period from the 4th to the 14th centuries, now this ancient Buddhist site contains 492 decorated caves temples, 45,000 sq. m. (11 ac.) of wall paintings and over 2,400 colored sculptures. These precious treasures form a rich heritage of classical Chinese art. Next you will have a camel ride to the Mingsha Hill and Crescent Spring to see the sunset over the desert, which is spectacular and majestic. In the evening, drive back to Dunhuang for a break.
Drive to the Yumenguan Pass in the morning, and visit the Great Wall of Han Dynasty. Compared with the Ming Dynasty Great Wall in Beijing, the Great Wall in Yumenguan Pass is much more ancient. During over 2,000 years, it has witnessed the prosperity of business transactions along the Silk Road. Now the Great Wall lost its original function of serving as a post station for businessmen, military generals and ambassadors. Only the eroded rectangular castles and bean towers scatter sparely in silence in the Gobi desert, speaking volumes about its past and glory.
In the afternoon, drive back to Dunhuang for taking the overnight train to Lanzhou, you will arrive Lanzhou tomorrow morning.
Upon arrival in Lanzhou, be greeted and driven to Xiahe, a county famous for it grassland. The county is 190 km. (118 mi.) from Lanzhou, and the drive will take about 3.5 hours. Once you get there, the rest of the day is free to explore this town or take a break, tomorrow you will visit the grassland.
Morning make an excursion to the Sangke Grassland. Stop at Labrang Monastery for a visit as you drive to the grassland. Even it is not located in Tibet, you still can find out the Tibetan architectural style at every corner of this monastery.
Afterwards, spend couple hours to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Sangke Grassland. The grassland got its named from the summer-blooming Sangke flowers that form a natural carpet extending to the far horizons. Sangke Grassland is also famous for its Tibetan amorous feelings, explore the the nomadic life of the Tibetan people and experience Tibetan food while visiting there.
After breakfast, say farewell to Xiahe as you drive to the last destination, Tongren. Stop at Ganjia Grassland to visit the Tibetan nomads. After 3 hours of drive, arrive Tongren at noon, the whole afternoon you will visit two famous sights in this city, Thangka Artists Village and Upper Wutun Monastery.
Thangka is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity. During your visit in Thangka Artists Village, you will see numerous beautiful thangkas and learn how to draw them. Next up head to the Upper Wutun Monastery, a classically styled temple which is filled with ancient Tibetan treasures.
Have a visit to Rongwu Monastery, another Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Tongren in this morning. After lunch, drive through many breathtaking grasslands to Xining, the capital of Qinghai province. The drive will take over 3.5 hours, upon arrival, be met by your local guide and assisted to check in the hotel.
Today you will visit Kumbum Monastery in Xining city. The monastery is about 27 km. (18 mi.) southwest of Xining downtown, and It is regarded as one of the two most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside Tibet itself. Local people and many Tibetan Buddhists believe that the monastery was originated from a pagoda that marked the birthplace of Tsong Kha-pa, the founder of Gepugpa Sect in 1379.
In the afternoon, take the overnight soft-sleeper train for your journey to Lhasa. The Cabins are pressurized and double glazed for the comfort of the passengers as it ascends into the high altitude of Tibet.
On the train to Lhasa, you will have a perfect glimpse of the magnificent Tibetan Plateau, see groups of nomads with their yaks and the cruel but beautiful Kekexili Nature Reserve. Arrive Lhasa in the afternoon, then be assist to your hotel by the local guide to take a good rest for acclimatizing the high altitude.
Since today is your first day of sightseeing on the highest plateau of the world, you will only be arranged to visit two highlights within Lhasa City, Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, two of which are regarded as the landmarks of Lhasa. In the morning, head to the Potala Palace, which is an architectural miracle even by modern standards. The palace once was the chief residence of the Dalai Lamas. It rises 13 stories and contains more than 1,000 rooms. However, it is not simply one building with many rooms, you can see various different palaces all built into one, magnificent and mysterious.
In the afternoon, visit Jokhang Temple at the heart of Lhasa. The temple has over 1,300-year history, and is considered to be the spiritual center of Tibet, attracting millions of Tibetan Buddhism believers and travelers every year. The circuit around the temple is called Barkhor, it is a popular devotional place for pilgrims and locals. The street is also the largest market where you can see lots of shops selling traditional souvenirs. Walk along the street for some good bargains.
Lots of Tibetan people believe in their unique Tibetan Buddhism, and there are many monasteries for them to learn the Buddhism Scripture. Today you will visit two near Lhasa city, Ganden Monastery and Sera Monastery. Morning drive to Ganden Monastery which is located 36 km. (22 mi.) from Lhasa. This monastery is one as well as the first of the great three Gelugpa Sect monasteries. Now there are about 170 monks living and studying here. Ganden Monastery is famous for its Kora.While wanking along the path, you will see many pilgrims and monks offering prayers, rubbing holy rocks and prostrating themselves.
In the afternoon, head to the Sera Monastery for a visit. This monastery is well known for its debating tradition. The debating is usually set within a stone walled natural courtyard every afternoon, where you will see some monks clap their hand and debate the Buddhism scriptures.
Start today with a drive to Gyantse, a small town which is noted for its wood and wool productions. The drive will take 6 to 7 hours, and you will see numerous breathtaking landscapes along the way. First stop at Kambala Pass for viewing the spectacular scenery of Yamdrok Lake, which is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. In clear weather, you will see the lake is a fabulous shade of deep turquoise.
Next up with a drive along the Friendship Highway, which is a road from Lhasa to Kathmandu, Shortstops at Kara La Pass (5,100 m) which is overlooked by Mt. Nyenchen Kangsa glacier. Upon arrival in Gyantse in the afternoon, visit the stupa, Gyantse Kumbum, the largest kumbum which has 9 tiers and, according to the Buddhist tradition, 108 chapels. Afterwards, take a walk around the old town of Gyantse to witness the life of local people.
Continue your overland trip in Tibet by driving from Gyantse to Shigatse in the Morning. The drive takes about 1.5 hours, once you get there, head to the famous Tashilhunpo Monastery, which once was the seat of the Panchen Lama. The monastery is also famed for its Grand Hall, which houses the opulent tomb of the fourth Panchen Lama.
In the afternoon, take a walk to the Old City Market in Shgatse city. Compared with Barkhor Area in Lhasa, the souvenirs in this market tend to be much cheaper. Walk around here and see if there are anything you want to buy.
Say farewell to Shigatse as you will drive to Namtso Lake in the morning. Namtso Lake is the third lake you will visit in this tour, and along with Yamdrok tso Lake, it is also listed as one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. Once get there, take several hours to walk along the lakeside and enjoy the charming natural scenery of this highest salt lake of world. Namtso Lake is also called as sky lake by locals as you will see the majestic Nyenchen Thanglha snow mountain ranges and Northern Tibetan grassland in distance. You will spend the night at a local tent guest house by the lakeside of Namtso.
You need an early breakfast to see the spectacular scenery of the Sunrise in Namtso Lake. After that, spend some time to hike on Tashi Dor, which is a peninsula in Namtso Lake. Next up with a 4-hour drive back to Lhasa city. En route you will stop to visit one nomad family, explore the local life and enjoy some local food.
After breakfast, be assisted to the airport and ready for the departure. Wish you have a pleasant journey home. If you have any requirements on this tour, please let us know and we can adjust it to meet all your needs.