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Kashgar To Xi'an

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. On this incredible trip, you'll discover a different side to the fascinating country of China, a side that is far away from the usual tourist trail in the far and remote western provinces. Beginning at the famous Uighur market town of Kashgar, you'll follow an incredible route along the old Silk Road, skirting the edge of the isolated Taklamakan Desert, visiting the stunning Heavenly Lake and arriving in the oasis of Turpan. We will visit the phenomenal ancient Buddha statues at the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang before going to the remote western end of the Great Wall of China at Lijiashan, a part of the wall that very few westerners ever see. From here, our route goes past the other-worldly rainbow-coloured mountains of Zhangye Danxia, before climbing up to the Tibetan Plateau and the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Xiahe. Finally, we visit the stunning Buddha caves of Bingling Si and the spectacular Confucian Temples of Mount Kongtong before descending to the colossal historic city of Xi'an, home of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors. Join us on this wonderful and unforgettable overland experience on the Silk Road through China!


Duration: 22 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Parks & Nature Reserves, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158083
Starts: Kashgar, China Finishes: Xi'an, China
You will Visit
  • Kashgar
  • Aksu
  • Bayanbulak
  • Heavenly Lake
  • Turpan
  • Dunhuang
  • Jiayuguan
  • Zhangye
  • Liujiaxia
  • Xiahe
  • Bingling Si
  • Lanzhou
  • Pingliang
  • Xi'an

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Kashgar

Border Information: if joining in Kashgar, you will most likely enter China at Kashgar Airport (IATA code: KHG).

Welcome to Kashgar, one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route! If you are joining in Kashgar, you are free to explore the city, and there will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm. Please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the tour leader and they will often arrive in Kashgar mid-afternoon.

If you are arriving by truck to Kashgar, we will drive from Lake Karakul and the Karakoram Highway back to the city, arriving mid afternoon.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kashgar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kashgar.

In Kashgar we will stay in a hotel with good facilities.

02

Day 2-3: Kashgar

Today we will visit the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar.

The following day we will have a free day to explore the town, the central Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square, while your crew finalise the customs procedures for our truck to continue further into China.

03

Day 4-5: Aksu

Our journey through China begins as we leave Kashgar and head east through the Taklamakan Desert! Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to wild camp near Aksu on our first night and near Korla or Bayanbulak on our second.

Please note that occasionally the police insist that we do not camp in times of political tension - in this case we will stay in local hotels in the small towns en route.

Estimated Drive Times - 8-9 hours each day (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

04

Day 6-7: Heavenly Lake

Today we will complete our drive through the Taklamakan Desert and arrive at Heavenly Lake, a beautiful lake set in the Tian Shan mountains.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

We will stay here for 2 nights, and will have many opportunities to relax in the incredible scenery and walk around the lake.

In Heavenly Lake we will stay in local yurts with very basic facilities.

05

Day 8-9: Turpan

Today we will travel to the oasis town of Turpan, where we stay for 2 days exploring the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

06

Day 10-11: Dunhuang

Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the city of Dunhuang.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours.

Please note that sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, wild camping in between - in this case we will have 1 less night in Pingliang towards the end of the trip.

The following day we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it’s surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda!

In Dunhuang we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

07

Day 12: Jiayuguan

Today we continue our journey with a drive to Jiayuguan, where we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note the Great Wall in this area is adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further to the east.

We will wild camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

08

Day 13: Zhangye

Today we will drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we'll spend some time exploring the region before heading off to wild camp nearby.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

09

Day 14: Liujiaxia

Today we will drive onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan plateau and reach the small city of Liujiaxia. 

In Liujiaxia we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

10

Day 15-17: Xiahe

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. There may also be a chance to go trekking, horse riding or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.

In Xiahe we will stay in a local Tibetan-owned hotel.

11

Day 18: Lanzhou

Today we will leave Xiahe and head to the chaotic capital city of Gansu province, Lanzhou. We will have some free time this evening to explore the city.

In Lanzhou we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

12

Day 19-20: Pingliang

Today we will drive to the small town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

The following day we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain. 

In Pingliang we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Please note that if the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang was split over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.

13

Day 21: Xi'an

Today we will journey to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free afternoon to fully explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

14

Day 22: Xi'an

Border Information: if finishing in Xi'an, you will most likely exit China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

This morning we head ouf Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour.

We will return to Xi'an for the afternoon, where we'll have a free afternoon to further explore this incredible city.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Xi'an. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Explore Kashgar's vast Sunday market and the fascinating and atmospheric animal market
    • Enjoy a tranquil yurt stay at the beautiful Heavenly Lake
    • Explore the fascinating ruined natural fortress of Jiaohe, the seat of several rulers from 100BCE until it's eventual invasion by Genghis Khan
    • Learn about the Karez water system, the ingenious method of irrigating the area that was developed by the Han Dynasty and allowed Turpan to flourish as an oasis town
    • See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan
    • Explore the awe-inspiring Mogao Caves, a series of temples containing some of the finest Buddhist art spanning a period of a thousand years
    • Visit the magnificent Jiayuguan Fort, the Ming Dynasty fortress that marks the western end of the Great Wall of China
    • Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains
    • See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge
    • Explore the stunningly beautiful Mount Kongtong, one of the sacred mountains of Chinese Taoism
    • Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew and 1 Chinese crew
    Accomodation
    • 20% Camping - 80% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • History & Culture
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Overland Journey


Reviews (10)
Kirsten D Posted on: 

The trip was excellent overall. Gino was great overall, and Jim was a spectacular driver.

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Julia S Posted on: 

Claire was very helpful and I enjoyed spending time with her.

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Clifford K Posted on: 

Claire was always on top of things and showed an enthusiasm for her job, she definitely added to the trip.

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Kathryn Jane W Posted on: 

A great team, made the whole trip swing.

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Huu Truc C Posted on: 

The trip and truck were amazing. The itinerary was spot on and the included activities were all interesting. Domingo, Euan and Claire were great and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them.

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Elizabeth M Posted on: 

A great team! They proved it pays to match up crew that get along really well together.

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Charleen K Posted on: 

Our local guides were excellent, smart, informative and helpful.

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Peter R Posted on: 

Claire in China was a very enthusiastic, young guide who was especially good when organising group meals, confirming arrangements and attending to problems and misunderstandings. Both Dom and Euan were excellent leaders!

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Joseph K Posted on: 

I was continually amazed at Domingo's persistent optimism. He kept us informed and told us truthfully and accurately what we could expect as we traveled. He was a competent and fun group leader. Euan Park is one of the most delightful people I have ever met, I found his driving excellent and my conversations with him quite enjoyable. I would see Euan working on the truck from time to time - when I asked him if anything was wrong, he would say something like, "I'm just making sure everything is the way it is supposed to be. I'm a big believer in preventive maintenance." Wonderful travel companion. Our guide in China was Claire. She was pleasant and efficient. She assisted us with buying tickets, placing complicated dinner orders, and assisted with special requests from the travellers. She provided brief descriptions of the sights we visited, and answered any any questions asked of her. She interacted well with the group.

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Elva B Posted on: 

Clare was very helpful, supportive and most considerate - and fun too.

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