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Silk Road

The Caravan Trails, over difficult terrain, started in 206 B.C, are today known as the “Silk Road”. From ancient China to Central Asia and Europe, these trails not only helped develop trade, but started an interesting cultural mix among the people of varied ethnic origins. In the 13th Century, Marco Polo made his epic journey. Centuries later, Western explorers rediscovered many of the ancient art treasures and ruined cities buried in the sands, including thousands of manuscripts from the oasis of Turfan. This tour offers the golden opportunity of traveling this historic route, exploring its rich cultural, commercial and religious heritage that shows how different peoples dwelt together for many centuries. You can see the famous terracotta soldiers of Xian, explore the oasis town of Turfan, shop at the famous Sunday Market in exotic Kashgar, and mingle with the people of Xinjiang – Uyghur, Kazaks, Tajiks and others.

 

Day 1 Los Angeles/Beijing

Day 2 Beijing (D)
Arrive Beijing. Visit the Temple of Heaven, the imperial temple where emperors pray for good harvest. In the afternoon you will visit the Forbidden City, which was home to emperors of last two dynasties, the Ming and the Qing.

Day 3 Beijing - Xian (B, L, D)
Visit the Great Wall, built by Qin Shi Huangdi, the emperor who unified China in 2 century BC. Visit the Summer Palace, a retreat built exclusively for the Dowager Empress Cixi. Later walk along Hutongs, the traditional narrow alleys where you will get a sense of people’s daily life and history. In the evening board your overnight train bound for Xian.

Day 4 Xian (B, L, D)
Arrive Xian in the morning. Xian is also renowned for being the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and for the location of the Terracotta Army from Qin Dynasty. The city has more than 3, 100 years of history. Start your tour with the Old City Wall built on the foundations of the Tang Forbidden City 600 years ago. Drive to the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, the archeological treasure. Return Xian to visit the Big Goose Pagoda. With the trade along the fabled Silk Road, Xian became home to motley of Nestorian Christians, Buddhists, Jews and Muslims. You will enjoy a visit of the Great Mosque, first built on the site as early as the 700s AD.

Day 5 Xian - Dunhuang (B, L, D)
In the morning visit Shaanxi History Museum, one of the best museums in China. Later transfer to the airport for your flight to Dunhuang. Upon arrival in Dunhuang, you will be taken to the Crescent Lake and the towering Gobi Desert sand dunes.

Day 6 Dunhuang - Liuyuan – Turfan (B, L, D)
Visit Mogao Grottoes which hold some of the greatest collections of Buddhist art. Then you will take an overnight train to Turfan.

Day 7 Turfan (B, L, D)
Arrive Turfan in the morning. The lowest point in China, Turfan lies at 500 feet below sea level. You will visit the ruins of Gaochang, the Uighur capital when they arrived in Xinjiang via Mongolia. Huoyan Shan or the Flaming Mountains lie north of Gaochang and gain their name because they seem on fire in the light of the mid-day sun. Past the mountains are the Bazelik Thousand Buddha Caves.

Day 8 Turfan - Kashgar (B, L, D)
Continue your exploration of Turfan and the surrounding area. Visit the Emin Minaret on the eastern edge of town. You will also visit the Jiaohe Ruins and learn karez system of irrigation and visit a grape farm. Late afternoon drive to Urumqi airport to connect your flight to Kashgar.

Day 9 Kashgar (B, L, D)
Today you will explore the traditional Sunday Bazar. You will also visit some of the local homes and traditional workshops. Later visit the famous Apak Khoja Mausoleum

Day 10 Kashgar (B, L, D)
Fullday excursion to Karakul lake, 120 miles from Kashgar. The lake is known for its beautiful scenery and the clarity of its reflection in the water, whose color ranges from a dark green to azure and light blue.

Day 11 Kashgar - Urumqi (B, L, D)
Fly to Urumqi. In the afternoon visit the Xinjiang Museum. Later climb up the Red Hill to enjoy the panoramic view of Urumqi.

Day 12 Urumqi – Beijing (B, D)
Fly to Beijing. Time permitting, visit Lama Temple.

Day 13 Beijing/Los Angeles (B)


Trip dates:
May 7 - 19, 2016
September 3 - 15, 2016

Trip Price:
including flights $ 5,370 per person
excluding flights $ 4,250 per person

INCLUDED
Flights, tour coordinator/guide,
accommodation on full meal basis
Monument admission fee
Ground transportation, internal flights

EXCLUDED
Insurance, visa, additional programs, gratuities

FLIGHTS
Los Angeles/Beijing/Los Angeles

HOTELS
First class hotels or best available