10 days Urumqi - Turpan - Dunhuang - Xiahe and Chengdu Giant Panda Tour
Upon arrival at Urumqi airport, to be picked up and transferred to your hotel. From there you'll have the chance rest up and refresh in the comfort of your lodging accommodations. Once settled, feel free to take a walk into the mind-boggling Xinjiang Grand Bazaar, where you'll find everything from entertainment to local fare and unique goods from different cultures in and around the region.
You'll begin with a morning drive to visit the aptly named Heavenly Lake. This beautiful and serene body of crystal water has the ability to bring renewed energy to even the weariest of travelers. In the afternoon, you'll enjoy a drive to the oasis city of Turpan for the night. In this region of the China Silk Road, you will find a sparse population, fertile soil that boasts one of the countries greatest grape growing abilities and plenty of ancient ruins and relics to gaze upon.
Morning visits the Gaochang Ruins- the ancient remnants of a 2,000-year-old city, the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves- a beautiful labyrinth of ancient art, and the Flaming Mountain- named for the bright red, orange and yellow rock that causes a flame-like effect across the desert sky. Then view the stunning architecture within the Ancient city of Jiaohe. Surprisingly well preserved, Jiaohe is thought to be the oldest city in the world. Last but certainly not least, you'll visit Emin Minaret. An impressive structure, this tower looms at 44 meters (144 feet) tall and is the largest minaret in all of China.
Your morning begins with visiting the intricate Karez underground irrigation system. An important source of life to all of Turpan, this system of caves, reservoirs, canals and wells is an impressive 5,000 km (3100 miles) in total length. From there, you'll head to the train station drop off and take the train to Dunhuang (D2708, 12:46-16:41, around 4 hours). Upon arrival at Dunhuang, you'll be taken to your hotel. Rest up and enjoy the Shazhou Nightly Market or some traditional Chinese performance art at the Dunhuang Theater.
You'll enjoy a morning visit to the breathtaking Mogao Grottoes, including a visit to the Dunhuang Grotto protection and Exhibition center. Here you will witness the awe of ancient Chinese cave paintings and artwork, and also learn some history about the region. Later you will visit the beautiful Crescent Lake and Echoing Sand Mountains, where even a breeze in the air causes the dunes of multi-colored sand to echo with a magical, musical tune.
Transfer to board the flight to Lanzhou, the capital city of the Gansu Province in northwest China. Upon arrival at Lanzhou, you'll be picked up by a local guide and driver. Your entourage will then head to Xiahe (about 4 hours' drive). You will then have the rest of the day to freely explore the wonders of Xiahe on your own. A harmonious and colorful city, Xiahe is populated primarily by Buddhists, as it is sacred land and home to the famous Labrang Monastery.
Your first exploration will be a morning visit to the Labrang Monastery, one of the six main Gelupa monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism. Then you will head to the Sangke grasslands for a short visit to view some of the local nomadic groups and beautiful grasslands. From here you will be arranged to visit a local nomad family and experience a rarely seen side of Tibetan culture. Then a late afternoon drive back to the Lanzhou airport for the flight to Chengdu.
Here you'll embark on a one-day excursion trip to see the Leshan Grand Buddha statue. Believed to be built sometime between 713 and 803, the giant statue is an incredible sight to behold.
You'll enjoy a half-day tour to visit the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center where you'll get to see a feeding, learn about daily life and habits of the Giant Panda and witness them in their natural habitat. Then an afternoon journey to explore the dazzling city of Chengdu, including People's Park- a historic and unique area, the park is green and lush, with lakes and many features to explore. Kuaizhai alley is next on the tour- as the cultural center of Chengdu, the alley is home to tea houses, hostels, shops and plenty of phoenix trees. Then to the magnificent Qingyang Palace. The palace is one of the oldest Taoist palaces in existence and is home to many ancient relics and intriguing cultural art.
This is where we send you off, knowing your experience was unforgettable! We'll see you once you book the next tour!