- 3 June
- 2 September
- 1 June
- 31 August.
This enormous country has long been an enigma to the rest of the world, and some of its regions are even more so, far removed from what most people would think of as ‘China’. Our small group tours and tailor made holidays in China concentrate on two very different parts of this Asian giant. The remote province of Xinjiang is a land intricately tied in to the history of the Silk Road, with the ruins of ancient civilizations bearing testament to the importance that the region once held and belonging more to Central Asia than China.
At the other end of the country, nestled up against South East Asia lies Yunnan, a region of stunning beauty and incredible ethnic diversity, where traditional dress is often worn and wild elephants roam. Well away from the tourist crowds that can plague other parts of China, both Yunnan and Xinjiang offer real opportunities for adventure and new discoveries. Forget what you think you know about China and visit two of its most breathtaking regions with us. We visit the renowned Sunday market at Kashgar, spend the night at Lake Karakul amidst stunning scenery and uncover the Buddhist heritage that played such an important role in the history of the Silk Road. A very different side of China.
Day 1: Beijing. Arrive in Beijing and transfer to the hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you may have time to explore the city. Overnight at Xiaoxiang Hotel or similar.
Day 2: Urumqi - Kashgar. Fly west across northern China to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang province. We have time to visit the Erdaoqiao bazaar before taking another flight over the Taklamakan Desert to Kashgar, an important trading center for merchants from all over Central Asia. Overnight at Qiniwak Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 3: Kashgar. Kashgar’s Sunday Market is famed as the largest and most important trading center in the region, with traders coming from surrounding countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan to sell their wares. We have a full day to take in the sights and sounds of this amazing spectacle. Overnight at Qiniwak Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 4: Lake Karakul. We drive on the famed Karakoram Highway to Lake Karakol, an icy blue lake at the foot of the Pamir Mountains. We can take hikes around the lake to meet local Kyrgyz families, and spend the night in a typical Kyrgyz yurt. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Kashgar. Drive back to Kashgar. We visit the 15th century Idkah Mosque as well as the Abakh Hoja Mausoleum. The streets around the mosque offer a great snapshot of Uighur life, and we spend some time walking through them. Overnight at Qiniwak Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 6: Khotan. Drive to Khotan, on the southern fringe of the Taklamakan Desert. We visit its bazaar and see how jade is carved by local craftsmen. Overnight at Khotan Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 7: Melikawat – Desert Camp. Drive to the ruined city of Melikawat, once an important Buddhist center on the Silk Road. After exploring the site we drive into the forbidding Taklamakan Desert where we set up camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: Kuqa. After watching the sun rise in the desert we continue our drive across the Taklamakan to Kuqa. On arrival we visit the ruined city of Pilang. Overnight at Kuqa Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 9: Kuqa. Continue our discovery of the lost cultures of the Silk Road by visiting the Subashi Ancient Buddhist Complex, and the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves. Overnight at Kuqa Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Turpan. A long drive to Turpan, through the spectacular scenery of the Tian Shan Mountains. Overnight at Turpan Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Turpan. Excursion to some of the many intriguing sites surrounding Turpan. We visit the oasis of Grape Valley, the Flaming Mountains, the ruins of the ancient city of Gaocheng, and the Kerez irrigation system. Overnight at Turpan Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 12: Turpan. Visit the ruined city of Jiaohe and the 18th century Emin minaret before heading off to Heavenly Lake. We take a cruise on the lake, and spend the night in traditional yurts. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13: Urumqi - Dunhuang. Spend the morning hiking around Heavenly Lake to meet semi-nomadic Kazakh families. We then drive to Urumqi, to board the train for the journey to Dunhuang. Overnight Dunhuang Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 14: Dunhuang. Visit the museum at Dunhuang and then the Mogao Caves, site of the first Buddhist temples in China which contain fantastic examples of ancient artwork. We then take a short camel ride into the sand dunes to visit the Singing Sand Dune, reputed to make a humming noise at times, and Crescent Moon Lake. Overnight Dunhuang Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 15: Jiayuguan. Drive to Jiayuguan, known as the end of the Great Wall. We visit the 14th century fortress which signified the end of China’s empire, built by the Ming dynasty. Overnight Oriental Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 16: Jiayuguan - Beijing. Visit the Hanging Wall, an overhanging section of the Great Wall and the Wei-Jin tombs, with excellent frescoes depicting everyday life from the 3rd century. Later we fly back to Beijing for our final night. Overnight Xiaoxiang Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 17: Beijing. Tour ends. Includes: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
Asia China Local Culture Cultural Journey Archeology/History