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For centuries the Silk Road was the thread that linked east and west. From as early as 200BC the silk merchants of Xian, China’s ancient capital, set off with their camel caravans on the long trek to distant Constantinople. They skirted the Gobi and the ferocious Taklamakan deserts, and crossed ‘the Roof of the World’, over the Pamirs and the Karakorams. This tour allows you to follow in their footsteps, to trace the legendary route taken by Marco Polo from west to east, with the inclusion of exotic places like Xiahe, and the dramatically-located fortified town of Jiayuguan.
Air China Business Class upgrades from £1695 return.
From £595 per person twin shared.
Further details on request.
The legendary path to the West
Depart London Heathrow at around 2025 on the non-stop Air China flight to Beijing.
Arrive Beijing around 1330 and connect to your onward flight to Xian. Stay at the Grand New World Hotel for 2 nights.
Day at leisure. Enjoy a hotpot dinner. (BD)
Take the train to Lanzhou, the ‘Golden City’ and an important citadel along the Silk Road. Stay at the Legend Hotel. (B Packed Lunch D)
Visit White Pagoda Hill Park with its 80ft high Buddha, and the Yellow River Mother Statue. Drive to Xiahe across grasslands and into a beautiful valley, with an en-route visit to the Liujiaxia Reservoir on the Yellow River, and a ferry ride to Bingling Temple, known as the ‘thousand buddha caves’. Stay 2 nights at the 2-star Labrang Aviation Hotel. (BLD)
Nick-named ‘Little Tibet’ Xiahe is the site of Labrang Monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery outside of that province. Also visit the Sangke grasslands, where Tibetan nomadic farmers herd their yaks and visit a local family in their camp. (BLD)
Drive back to Lanzhou and stay overnight at the Legend Hotel. (BL)
Early morning train to Jiayuguan. Transfer on arrival to the Plaza Holiday Inn. (B Packed Lunch D)
Visit the Great Fortress and the overhanging Great Wall that guards the mountain pass. Drive (4.5h) to Dunhuang, a strategic staging post on the Silk Road, at the end of the Great Wall. Stay 2 nights at the Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel. (BD)
Tour the Mogao Grottoes, an art gallery in the desert. The caves are lined with Buddhist frescoes and sculpted figures, said to be the finest examples of Buddhist art in the world. Mixing Indian and Chinese styles, they are a remarkable record of Silk Road civilisation. (BL)
Visit Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Moon Lake, set in an amphitheatre of sand dunes. For the adventurous, the optional ascent of these sand ‘mountains’ by camel offers truly breath-taking vistas. Fly to Urumqi and overnight at the Grand Mercure Hotel. (BD)
Visit the Xinjiang Museum then depart for Turpan (210km). This oasis town is famous for its melons and vineyards. Here Marco Polo first encountered spaghetti, an idea he took home to Italy. Visit the Emin Minaret, one of the finest buildings on the Silk Road. Inspect the remarkable 2000-year-old Karez underground irrigation system, and sample the ‘mare’s nipple’ grapes which Turpan used to ship to the Emperor’s court in Beijing. Stay at the Tuha Petroleum Hotel. (BLD)
Visit the ruined cities of Jiaohe and Gaochang. Continue to the Bezeklik Caves whose walls are adorned with Buddhist frescoes, and the legendary Flaming Mountains, then see the underground Tombs of Astana. Evening performance of traditional folk music and dance. (BL)
Morning at leisure before an afternoon drive back to Urumqi. Overnight at the Grand Mercure Hotel. (BD)
Fly to Kashgar and transfer to the Jin Jiang International Hotel. Hemmed in by deserts and the Pamirs, Kashgar is a fabled city embracing a rich mix of peoples and cultures, with Mosques and veiled women contributing to its Middle Eastern atmosphere. (BLD)
No visitor to Kashgar should miss the Sunday bazaar. In this teeming market, you can buy anything from herbal medicines to carpets, from a cradle to a camel. Lunch with a typical Uygur family, then walk through the old town, a warren of twisting alleys and white-washed walls. Visit the Tomb of Abakh Khoja, known as the ‘fragrant concubine’, and the vast Id Kah Mosque. (BLD)
Excursion to beautiful Lake Karakul, in the shadow of Mt. Kongur and Muztagh Ata. Return to Kashgar. (BLD)
Fly to Beijing. Stay a final night at the Langham Place Hotel. (B)
Air China flight to London, arriving Heathrow at around 1745 the same day. (B)
Just a 10-minute walk from Xian’s old city walls and West Gate, the 5-star Grand New World is a large, modern and comfortable hotel with rooms featuring IDD telephone, internet access, tea & coffee making facilities, cable TV, hairdryer and safe. There is also a beauty salon, massage, gym, indoor pool, sauna, business centre, restaurant and coffee shop. A good buffet breakfast is offered and both Chinese and western food is served in the hotel restaurants and coffee shop.
This hotel is designed in Tibetan Buddhist style and offers a total of 148 guest rooms which are equipped with modern amenities. The hotel’s Chinese restaurant provides guests with Sichuan, Hunan, Shandong, Cantonese and Tibetan cuisines. For recreation and relaxation, there is a fitness centre, foot massage, table tennis room, chess and card room, sunbathing area and beauty salon.
Situated against the backdrop of the picturesque Mingsha Sand Dunes in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, the hotel captures the essence of the Tang Dynasty with its unique architectural design - the large rooftops and winding corridors of the Han and Tang dynasties. The hotel offers a selection of rooms and suites with facilities including air conditioning, tea making facilities, mini-bar, satellite TV and mini-bar. There are 4 food and beverage outlets offering a variety of dishes.
Located in the downtown area, this international hotel has 250 comfortable and modern guest rooms. All rooms have air conditioning, safety deposit box, radio, TV, hairdryer, tea/coffee facilities and mini-bar. Dining options include International buffet, Chinese including local Xinjiang specialities, and Thai cuisine.
This comfortable international hotel has 323 guest rooms all with modern amenities. A range of dining options are available including a Chinese restaurant, Korean restaurant, and a coffee bar with International buffet selection. The lobby bar provides a place to relax and enjoy a tea or a cocktail, and the cigar bar offers a selection of wine and cigars. There is also a tennis court, gym and a swimming pool.
We are pleased to share feedback that we received from some of our valued clients.
I enjoyed the entire trip and would not have missed a minute of it...I would never do this trip with anyone other than CTS.
The Silk Road Expedition
I expected this trip to be a once in a lifetime visit and I wasn't disappointed.
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