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Old Road Tours offers a variety of tours to fit your traveling needs - from short 1 day trips to 20 day treks into the heart of Xinjiang.  If you can't find what you're looking for, we can modify most listed tours or you are welcome to "Build Your Own Tour"  You decide the places to go and adventures to experience!

Silk Road Explorer Tour - 20 Days

Go back in time to experience the Silk Road as you've never imagined it! From big cities like Beijing, Xi'an and Urumqi to the rustic sites of Karakul Lake and Turpan, you will be amazed at all the Silk Road has to offer!
    * Prices vary according to group size and season.

Tour Overview

From the capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region to the ancient capital of China in Xi'an and on to the current capital of Beijing, this tour will show you many great sites along the famous Silk Road.

Cities to Visit

Urumqi, Ili (Ghulja), Narat, Bayinbolak, Kuqa, Kashgar, Karakul Lake, Yarkant, Hotan, Turpan, Dunhuang, Xi'an, Beijing, Xinjiang, China, tour / travel

Sites and Specialties

Local Markets, Bazaars, Minority Life, Yurts, Silk Road Religions, History

Cities to Visit

Urumqi, Ili (Ghulja), Narat, Bayinbolak, Kuqa, Kashgar, Karakul Lake, Yarkant, Hotan, Turpan, Dunhuang, Xi'an, Beijing, Xinjiang, China, tour / travel

Day 1

Today you will arrive in Urumqi, the capital of the Uyghur Automous Region in Northwest China. Our driver will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel for you to rest and get ready for your tour.

Day 2

After breakfast, our driver and guide will take you to the Xinjiang Regional Museum where you gain a greater understanding of Xinjiang, its minorities, history, and culture.
Then after lunch we will visit Red Hill park where on a clear day you have a great view of the city. From there we will visit the International Grand Bazaar. If you like we can attend a buffet dinner here with minority performances. Otherwise we will enjoy dinner at the night market here.

Day 3

After breakfast, our driver will take you to the airport where you will fly to the remote outpost of Ili (Ghulja) on the Kazakhstan border. Our tour guide will pick you up from the airport and accompany you to your hotel - either the 3 Star Ili Te Hotel or 3 Star Hong Fu Hotel. Following lunch in the famous Aynuri Uyghur restaurant, we will visit the Kore Bell Tower and Kore ancient city. Dinner will be beside the Ili River Bridge in the Garden Restaurant - a lovely tranquil place to enjoy the river scenery and dine on local Uyghur food.

Day 4

Today's events will begin with a visit to the Baytullah Mosque (Baytulla Medrisi). Before the mosque was built in 1773, it was once a Medrisa, hence the local name, and today it is one of the largest mosques in Xinjiang. Also, there is a large Hui Mosque in the city (one of the only Chinese architectural buildings in the city of Ili) that was built in 1781.

Afterwards, we will head to the Sunday Market, known locally as Hanzu Baziri. Though there is a market everyday, Sunday is always the most lively. Thousands of people traveling by donkey or horse cart come to sell their produce wherever they can find space. After the market, we will arrange your lunch in the famous horse meat restaurant and in the afternoon you will have free time to explore the city at your own leisure. Dinner will be in your hotel’s Chinese restaurant.

Day 5

Today, we will drive to the rolling pastures of the Narat Grasslands, nestled among the lush hills of the Tian Shan Mountains. En route, we will stop at Chaychun village to visit a local Uyghur family to eat a traditional Uyghur lunch. After lunch, we will take a walk around the village to watch local farmers at work in their fields. Then we will drive on to Narat. The major people group living in the Narat Grasslands are the Kazakhs whose homes are yurts. All are shepherds and the areas name is also known as deer part. The pasturelands are especially beautiful from May to the end of September when everywhere is awash in blooming flowers. This trip is a great chance to taste nomadic life in the mountains and we will spend the night in a Kazak yurt and join them for dinner before sleeping. Free time will also be available to ride horses or hike through the surrounding mountains.

Day 6

Narat grassland - Bayinbolak (200 km/125miles)

After breakfast we will drive to Bayinbolak, stopping off on the way for photos at the Mongol Tombs. Sometimes we can still see how the Mongols pray at their tombs, providing an interesting insight into the lives and culture of the nomadic life. At Bayinbolak, you will witness the fantastic scenery of the Tian Shan Mountains and Swan Lake. Bayinbolak is the biggest grassland in the Tian Shan Mountains and we will stay overnight in a hotel there or in a Mongol Yurt. You will have a chance to taste Mongol traditional food and to learn some useful words from them.

Day 7

Bayinbolak - Thousand Buddha Caves - Kuqa (320 km/199miles)

Today we will drive to Kucha along a new mountain road through the incredible landscape typical of this part of Xinjiang. On the way there, we will visit the Kizil Thousand Buddha caves and Beacon Tower (Kizil Kaga Monari in the Uyghur language). The caves date back to the 3rd century CE and took around 500 years to complete. They form one of the highpoints of Uyghur civilization and a proud part of our heritage.

The caves are divided into eastern and western sections. The eastern sections were generally painted the same and include many descriptions of Buddhist legends. The western sections describe the life of Sakyamuni (The historical Buddha). Our tour guide can help you learn more about the history of this fascinating place. Moving on, we will arrive in Kucha City and check-in at the Kucha Fandian (Hotel) or any other hotel you request.

Day 8

After breakfast, we will visit the Ancient city of Subash and Tongguzbashi, two of the best-preserved heritage sites near to Kuqa. Following that, we move on to Kuqa market where many farmers and traders come for business. This is one of the largest and most famous markets in Xinjiang and the best time to visit is from 9:30am to 3.00pm local time. In the afternoon you will have free time to walk around Kuqa old town near the Grand Mosque. Your dinner will be with a Uyghur family in the old part of the town and after a short time to let dinner settle we travel to the train station for the overnight soft sleeper to Kashgar.

Day 9

In the morning, our tour guide will pick you up from the train station and accompany you to your hotel, either the 3 Star Seman Hotel or 3 Star Qinibagh Hotel. After a lunch in the building of the former British Consulate (till 1949), we will visit the Id kah Mosque which was built in 1442. The Id Kah is one of the biggest mosques in China and is the heart and soul of Kashgar city. From there, we will take a walk down the popular local Handicrafts Street where many Uyghur experts openly make musical instruments, knives, pots, cradles, kettles, copper tools, cooking utensils and so on. Dinner will be in the famous Intezar restaurant.

Day 10

Kashgar Sunday Market

Today is market day in Kashgar and time for the famous Sunday market. Before we reach there however, we will first pay a visit to the tomb of Apak Hoja which is one of the best examples of Uyghur Muslim architecture in Xinjiang. Built in 1640, the tomb contains four buildings. One is a large mausoleum with 58 tombs from five generations buried there. Then we will visit the Sunday Market.

No visit to the Sunday Market is forgettable when up to one hundred thousand people gather to shop, browse and sell. There is a very real reason this market is known as the biggest in Central Asia. The livestock market is especially interesting as the way of business still clings to a time long past. In any business transaction, the middleman is the independent adjudicator responsible for fair play in a sale and an equitable agreement between both parties. Sales can often get quite rowdy, yet a rough handshake and beaming smile at the end of each says it all.

Your lunch will be at the popular Orda Polohanisi (Palace Palau house in Uyghur). In the afternoon we’ll visit Kashgar Old Town, which is perhaps the most interesting part of Kashgar with over 2000 years of history. A traditional dinner will be served with a Uyghur family in the Old Town consisting of local delicacies. After dinner we will stroll back down the back streets to your hotel through the atmosphere and history that make Kashgar so alluring.

Day 11

Kashgar - Karakul Lake (190km/118miles)

Today, we will drive along the Sino-Pakistan Friendship High Way, part of the world famous Karakorum Highway to Pakistan across the Pamir Mountains. Following the Ghez River we travel until the Kum tagh (Sand Mountain). The scenery along the way is spectacular and only continues to get better the further we travel. Snow capped peaks of every hue and color tower above a road dotted with amazing view spots, Kyrgyz villages, Silk Road inns (Caravan Kunalgu) and the friendly smiles of locals.

Our drive culminates in the awesome vista of Karakul Lake. Karakul is one of the highest lakes in the world at 3600m above sea-level. At either end, the lake is dominated by two monster peaks that rule over it: the 7546m Muztagh Ata (Father of the Ice Mountains) and 7719m Kongor peak which each attract many high-profile climbers each year to their slopes. At the lake you can ride horses and camels and dine in friendly local yurts on exquisite Kyrgyz food. Today’s visit is an incredible chance to learn about the nomadic Kyrgyz and their ways. Night will be spent in a Kyrgyz yurt.

Day 12

Karakul Lake - Kashgar (190km/118miles)

After breakfast, you’ll have free time to hike around Karakul Lake on your own until lunchtime. Lunch will be in a Kyrgyz village with local Kyrgyz food and afterwards we will head back to Kashgar. In Kashgar we will stay in the Seman Hotel.

Day 13

Kashgar to Hotan (540km/336miles)

Our driver and experienced Silk Road guide will meet you at your hotel at 8:00am local time and drive you to Hotan. First stop is at a Yengisar Knife Factory in the famous knife town whose quality and workmanship are renown throughout Xinjiang.

Pushing on we will have lunch in Yarkant, a former capital of Uyghur Kingdoms in the Past. In Yarkant, we will visit the Golden Mosque, Amannisahan Tomb (a famous musician in 16th Century.), Tomb of Kings during the Seidiye Kingdom and an interesting graveyard for locals in the Town. During the time of the Silk Road, Yarkand was a developed city and a major transportation hub. Throughout history, many musicians from India and Kashmir came here to learn.

After lunch, we will visit the old town and then drive on to Hotan. On the way, we will stop in Kargilik (Yecheng in Chinese) to see the Jamma Mosque and local market. We should arrive in Hotan at 5:00pm local time and check into the 3 Star Muztag Hotel.

Day 14

Today, you will visit the Ancient city of Malike Awat , the Kara Kax (Black Jade) River - where locals still hunt for jade to this day. We will also see Silk and Atlas (a local cloth make from silk) workshops and a traditional carpet factory. Lunch will be in the Laghman Fast food restaurant. During the afternoon, we’ll visit the 1000 year old Walnut and Fig trees. From then on, the rest of the afternoon is free time available for you to explore Hotan at leisure.

After dinner in the hotel Chinese restaurant, you will take an evening flight to Urumqi where our tour guide will meet and escort you to Turpan where we will check-in at the 3 Star Turpan Hotel.

Day 15

Today, you choose which sites to visit in Turpan: famous Karez System, the Bizeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Ancient Cities of Idkut (Gaochang) and Yargul (Jiao He) and the Astana Tombs.

We will have lunch with a local and a special dinner in the Turpan Grape valley with a Uyghur song and dance performance before we return back to the hotel.

Day 16

After breakfast, we visit the Emin Tower and Flaming Mountains followed by lunch with a Uyghur family in the village of Tuyuk. Tuyuk is an excellent place for walking and exploring the ancient Uyghur lifestyle of the Taklamakan. For dinner we will dine on traditional Uyghur food in the ancient homes of the village and end the day with a relaxing evening stroll. Later on, you’ll take an evening train to Dunhuang where you will arrive the following morning.

Day 17

By the time you arrive at Dunhuang train station this morning our guide will already be waiting for you and be ready to escort you to either the 3 Star Silk Road hotel or the 3 Star Dunhuang Fandian Hotel. After time to relax for an hour after your journey, we will begin the day’s tour with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Mogao Grottoes, the echoing sand dunes of the Mingshan Mountains and Crescent Lake. Lunch will be in a local restaurant and in the afternoon, we will visit the Dunhuang Museum. The rest of the day is free time. Dinner will be in a famous Chinese restaurant in Dunhuang.

Day 18

Morning flight to Xian and transfer to the 3 Star Melody Hotel or 4 Star Bell Tower Hotel. Following a one hour rest, we’ll visit the world renowned Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. Then as time allows we will visit Hui Min Jie (Chinese Muslim Street), the City Wall and the city’s Great Mosque (Hui Chinese Muslim Style). Dinner will be the “yang rou po mo” (a lamb stew) in a Hui Nationality restaurant; it is a typical food of Xi'an that you cannot find any other place in China.

Day 19

We will take the morning flight to Beijing where we will be picked up from the airport by our guide and transferred to our Hotel. Today we visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven. A fantastic Beijing Duck dinner then awaits us at the Quan Ju De Restaurant. After dinner we’ll take an evening stroll together and then return to the hotel. (A trip to the Great Wall may be substituted here)

Day 20

Our tour guide will see you off at the Beijing International Airport. Our time together must sadly end here at the Beijing airport. We pride ourselves on providing the best experience possible and hope our time together is a memory you will long cherish from your short time in China.

Tour Destinations

Tour Overview

From the capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region to the ancient capital of China in Xi'an and on to the current capital of Beijing, this tour will show you many great sites along the famous Silk Road.

Cities to Visit

Urumqi, Ili (Ghulja), Narat, Bayinbolak, Kuqa, Kashgar, Karakul Lake, Yarkant, Hotan, Turpan, Dunhuang, Xi'an, Beijing, Xinjiang, China, tour / travel

Sites and Specialties

Local Markets, Bazaars, Minority Life, Yurts, Silk Road Religions, History

Build Your Own Tour

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Tell us what cities and attractions you would like to visit, and we'll create for you a personalized Xinjiang tour!

Build Your Own Tour!