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BT-01 Silk Road Explorer


15 nights from UK £ TBC per person

Price based on 2 people travelling. This price is to give guidance and final quotes vary by date, exchange rates and are subject to availability. Trip runs year round.
Please note that this is a private tour (not a group tour). It can be tailored to your requirements and we can also book your international flights if required.

From URUMQI, in China’s far flung West begin journey along the Silk Road stopping at TURPAN, DUNHUANG, JIAYUGUAN, LANZHOU and the tang Dynasty capital of XIAN, a city that owes much of its former wealth and cultural traditions to the Silk Route and often overlooked LUOYANG.

Visit deserted desert cities, fabulous Buddhist Grottoes, towering sand dunes, remote forts and the ranks of the Terra Cotta army. The trip finishes in China’s capital of BEIJING.

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Day 1 - Urumqi to Turpan

Arrival in Urumqi With a Drive Through the Desert to the Oasis of Turpan

Arrival in Urumqi, the furthest city from the sea in the world, from where you will be transferred by directly the 190 km to your hotel in Turpan. This desert oasis is famous for it’s grapes, scorching summer temperatures and for being the second lowest point on earth at 154 meters below sea level. It was also an important stop on the Silk Road and it is this rich history that draws adventurous travellers today. Check-in to your hotel with free time for the rest of the day.

Meals Included: None today.

Day 2 - Turpan

Visit Ancient Gaochang, the Flaming Mountains, Thousand Buddha Caves, Karez Irrigation System & Emin Minaret

The sights of Turpan are mainly outside of the city and so we head into the desert today to explore these. We visit ancient Gaochang – a thriving city set up in the 1st century BC but abandoned in the Ming Dynasty – and the dramatic Flaming Mountains on the way to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, the ancient dwellings of the modern day Uygur people.

Returning back towards Turpan we stop at the The Karez Irrigation System, an engineering achievement up there with Great Wall as one of China’s ancient wonders and Turpan would not exist today without its ability to collect water from the Tianshan mountains to feed this oasis. Our final stop is the Emin Minaret built in 1777 and is the largest old tower in Xinjiang built in honor of the heroic Turpan general Emin Khoja.

Return to Turpan and your hotel to overnight.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 3 - Turpan to Dunhuang

Free Morning Before a Bullet Train on to Dunhuang

A free morning in Turpan to relax or explore the town before a transfer to the station for a bullet train through the desert to Dunhuang arriving late afternoon. Dunhuang flourished during the Han and Tang dynasties and had considerable military importance as a stop on the Silk Road.

Transfer to your hotel which almost feels like a tourist sight itself. Free time to relax before tomorrow’s tour of the area.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 4 - Dunhuang

Surreal Crescent Lake & Its Towering Sand Dunes & Spectacular Mogao Caves

This morning we visit Crescent Lake, 5 km outside of the city where huge sand dunes abruptly rise from the flat desert. Nestled amongst the dunes is the small lake and a temple in this extraordinary setting.

In the afternoon visit the UNESCO recognised Mogao Caves containing a vast repository of Buddhist art which began to be accumulated here nearly 2,400 years ago and was added to over a period spanning 1,000 years. There are nearly 500 caves with murals covering 450,000 square feet although much is off limits to visitors at any one time to help preserve the paint.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 5 - Jiayuguan to Lanzhou

Day Train on to Jiayuguan Garrison Town & the Tomb of Weijin & the Hanging Great Wall on Black Mountain

After an early breakfast transfer to the station for a train to Jiayuguan. This little visited but prosperous city is the symbolic Western end of the Great Wall and so one of the defining points on the Northern Silk Road. This was where the power of Han China dissolved into what the Chinese believed were the barbarian lands to the West.

Early afternoon arrival with a tour to the small but atmospheric Tomb of Weijin and the very steep Hanging Great Wall on Black Mountain, a restored section of the 2,000 mile Great Wall system that starts at Jiayuguan and stretches to the coast east China near Beijing.

Continue to your hotel to overnight.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.

Day 6 - Jiayuguan to Lanzhou

The Vast Fort & Bullet Train on to Lanzhou

Today you have a full day tour of this fascinating area of the Northern Silk Road starting with the Ming Dynasty fort built in 1372 in what became known as the “mouth of China” or it’s Western entrance. To be cast out of the magnificent fort here into the unknown was considered a fate worse than death for corrupt officials and other criminals who would be leaving Chinese civilisation behind forever.

After the tour a transfer to the station for a bullet train to Lanzhou. Evening arrival in Lanzhou with a transfer to your hotel. Lanzhou, capital city of Gansu province, has been an important garrison town for centuries due to its position along the Silk Road as well as being located on the Yellow River, one of China’s most important waterways.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 7 - Lanzhou

The Superb Bingling Si Grottoes

Today you head out of the town to the fabulous Bingling Si, a set of buddhist caves on the Yellow River in a setting that could be right out of Indiana Jones! The caves are reached by boat making the journey as much of the experience as the caves and statues themselves. Altogether there are 183 caves, 694 stone statues, and 82 clay sculptures. Return to the city to overnight.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 8 - Lanzhou to Xian

Highlights of Lanzhou Including the Excellent Gansu Provincial Museum Before a Bullet Train to Xian

Today spend time in the city with a tour visiting Wuquanshan Park, the White Pagoda Hill with its Yuan Dynasty pagoda, the Water Wheel park and the fascinating Gansu provincial Museum which is considered one of China’s better museums and a must for anyone with an interest in the history of the Silk Road.

After the tour a transfer to the station for a bullet train to Xian arriving in the evening. Xian was once golden city of Emperors, soldiers, arts, culture and the capital of the prosperous Tang Dynasty. Your guide and driver will meet and transfer you to your hotel to overnight.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 9 - Xian

The Terra Cotta Army, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, City Walls & Muslim Quarter

Today visit one of China’s most extraordinary sights, the Terra Cotta Army built by China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 246 BC. Several thousand of the life-sized soldiers are on display and, with no two soldiers looking alike, make for a truly impressive spectacle.

We also visit a relic of the Tang Dynasty, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, home to some of the most famous Buddhist scriptures in China. It is possible to climb the pagoda – you will need to buy a ticket locally if you wish to do this – for views over Xian. Continue to the 14 km Ming Dynasty City Walls which are up to 18 meters thick at the base and 12 meters in height. It is possible to hire bicycles and ride some sections of the wall – local rental payment required.

Finish the day with a wander through Xian’s vibrant Muslim quarter, including a visit to the Great Mosque, unusually built entirely in the Chinese architectural style. This area is an excellent place to souvenir shop and eat – just ask your guide for recommendations.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the evening free or just ask us for suggestions of shows or cultural activities.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 10 - Xian

Calligraphy Class, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Shaanxi Museum & Forest of Steles

Today’s tour is based on the history and creativity of the Tang Dynasty. Start with a basic calligraphy class, more than just writing in China and an art form in itself. Visit the Shanxi History Museum, regarded as one of China’s best, reflecting the rich past of this province. Continue to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda which at 14 stories and 43 meters is an architectural wonder built in 700 AD.

Finish at the Forest of Steles, a fascinating museum housed in the former Confucian Temple containing the largest collection in China steles and sculptures in China offering a unique insight into how the imperial government communicated with its population.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the evening free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 11 - Xian to Luoyang

Bullet Train on to Luoyang & the 100,000 Buddhist Carvings at the Longmen Grottoes

After breakfast a transfer to the station to catch a bullet train on to Luoyang. Late morning arrival with lunch and then a visit the important Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO recognised masterpiece of Buddhist rock carving 13 km south of of Luoyang. The carvings date from around AD 500 when Luoyang was the capital of China. Over 100,000 were sculpted from tiny buddhist statues just centimeters high to the 17 meter high statue of Buddha in the Ancestor Worshipping Temple, the face of which was supposedly modeled on that of Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty who happened to pay for this temple!

Continue by car into Luoyang city to check-in to your hotel with a free evening.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 12 - Luoyang

Visit the World Famous Shaolin Temples & Their Martial Art Training Schools

Today leave Luoyang for a full day tour up into the Song Mountains to the Shaolin Monastery Temple complex, famous the world over for the practice and teaching of martial arts. The Monastery was founded in AD 497 to teach the Mahayana branch of Buddhism. Since then it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. We visit the main temples, will see a martial arts display and explore the unusual Forest of Pagodas, a cemetery of 246 pagodas of various sizes containing the ashes of prominent monks.

Return to your hotel in Luoyang with the rest of the day free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 13 - Luoyang to Beijing

Bullet Train on to Beijing With a Visit to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City & Views From Jingshan Park

A final bullet train takes you to China’s capital of Beijing. Late morning arrival in China’s capital. Beijing has it all – history, imperial majesty, modern masterpieces, delicious cuisine, and a vibrant local culture. Transfer to your hotel by private car and English speaking guide.

This afternoon a private tour to the vast Tiananmen Square, the largest city square in the world and home to the Mao Mausoleum and Monument to the People’s Heroes. To the north of the square is the equally vast palace complex of the Forbidden City. We’ll walk up the middle axis from South to North taking in the splendour of the most important central buildings before finishing in the ancient small garden by the north gate.

Directly north of the Forbidden city is Jingshan park where we will climb the beautifully landscaped “Coal Hill” for one of Beijing’s best views over the Forbidden City. Return to your hotel with the evening free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 14 - Beijing

The Great Wall at Stunning Mutianyu & the Ming Tombs

Today we will be showing you one of China’s most famous sights – the Great Wall. We visit the dramatic and less crowded Mutianyu section 70 km from Beijing set amongst spectacular mountain scenery. Dating back to the 6th Century and largely rebuilt in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty, it is one of the best preserved sections of the wall largely due to the high standard of construction. Today’s tour includes the cable car up and down from the Wall.

After, drive to the Ming Tombs, the burial place of 13 Ming Dynasty Emperors between 1368 to 1644AD some of whom oversaw the construction of the wall section you saw earlier. The tombs are approached along the scared way guarded by giant marble figures and animals.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the evening free or just ask us for suggestions of shows or cultural activities.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 15 - Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace & Explore Old Beijing by Cycle Rickshaw Stopping at Prince Gong’s Mansion

Today’s tour starts with the Temple of Heaven considered by many to be the most beautiful building in China. Perfectly symmetrical, its primary purpose was as a prayer hall the Emperors visited to ask the Gods for good harvests. Set inside a large park popular with Beijingers, you are likely to see cultural activities such as kite flying, Tai Chi classes, singing and ballroom dancing.

Continue on to the tranquil Summer Palace west of Beijing built in 1750 by Emperor Qianlong. Dominated by Kunming lake, dotted with peaceful pavilions and gardens, it is as popular an escape from the city for today’s residents as it was for the Imperial court.

This afternoon step back in time with a trip by cycle rickshaw through some of Beijing’s ancient residential Hutongs – the heart and soul of the city. The Hutongs surround the Forbidden city and the closer you lived to the Emperor the more important you were socially. Today the Hutongs are preserved in the centre of Beijing and provide a fascinating insight into traditional Chinese city life. There is also luxury in the Hutongs and we visit Prince Gong’s Mansion, an extravagant residential complex of gardens and pavilions built in 1777.

Return to your hotel with the rest of the evening free.

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast & Restaurant Lunch.

Day 16 - Depart Beijing

Depart China With a Wealth of Memories of This Unique Destination

Free time for any final sightseeing or last minute shopping for souvenirs if time. Your local guide will have arranged a time to meet in the hotel lobby for a transfer to the airport in good time for your flight out of China. We sincerely hope that you have had a fantastic China experience full of all the memories which make this country such a fascinating destination that continues to inspire us!

Meals Included: Hotel Breakfast.


The hotels & accommodation used for this trip are from our hand picked selection and all are excellent for their class. We also offer upgraded hotels in most locations. Click here to explore additional hotel options and let us know of any changes you wish to make.


What is included?

Transport between destinations as described.

All accommodation as specified under the accommodation tab

All private transfers and any other transportation as described

All meals as specified in the itinerary

All tours as specified in the itinerary

All entrance fees to sights toured in the itinerary

24 hour emergency assistance

Visa Paperwork required in order to obtain the visas

Financial Peace of Mind as your trip is protected

What is not included?

International Airfare to / from the start / finish of your trip – we can book these flights on request

The Chinese visa – we can advise and partner with VisaCentral

Travel insurance to cover any medical treatment – we recommend Citybond Suretravel (UK residents only)

Discretionary gratuities to drivers and guides

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