Walk along two sections of the Great Wall, stare down the Terracotta Warriors, ride a camel through sand dunes, learn about the Uyghur culture, stay in a traditional Kazakh yurt, bargain at Kashgar's Sunday bazaar
Geographically and culturally, Northwest China is about as far away from “traditional China” as you can get without crossing the border. The source of the Silk Road—the ancient trade route that helped create the modern world—is unlike anything you’ll find in Beijing or Xi'an, and this 17-day adventure takes you deep into the China few ever see. Otherworldly experiences abound: watch the sun rise over the dunes outside Dunhuang, explore the world of the Muslim Uyghurs, spend the night in traditional yurts near Urumqi, and venture into the Taklamakan Desert to Kashgar. There’s more, of course, but we’ve got to keep a few secrets, right?
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Take a guided tour to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. On Day 3, visit the Great Wall of China. Opt to take in a kung fu show or Chinese acrobats show. Afternoon options include shopping, a hutong tour or more sightseeing. Overnight train to Xi'an.
Guided tour of the Terracotta Warriors. Opt to visit the Silk Road monument, cycle around the city walls or visit the Muslim Quarter. Day 5 is a free day in Xi'an to enjoy the city and sights. Overnight train to Jiayuguan.
Visit the westernmost section of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan.
Public express bus to Dunhuang. Guided visit to the famous Mogao Grottoes. On Day 8, opt to visit the unique Mingsha Sand Dunes for sunrise and a camel ride through the dunes. Day 9 is a free day before the train to Turpan, the first stop in Xinjiang province.
Arrive to Turpan, the lowest point in Asia. Enjoy a city tour with a local guide including the ancient Karez water system. Day 11 is a free day to continue exploring.
Private van to Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Province. From here, drive into the stunning Tian Shan Mountains (Heavenly Mountains) for an overnight in a yurt with the local Kazakh minority people. Spend the day hiking, horseback riding or just relaxing and soaking in the views.
Drive back to Urumqi and catch a flight to Hotan, a small town in the Taklamakan Desert.
Village tour by donkey cart to see what life is like in this small town. Free time in the afternoon to tour the market or check out some abandoned ancient towns and ruins.
Full travel day with a scenic ride through the desert by private bus to Kashgar. Enjoy a short orientation walk. Day 16, visit Kashgar's famous Sunday bazaar and animal market.
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