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9-Day Dunhuang Jiayuguan Zhangye Xining Silk Road Tour

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Overview

Tour Type: Private Tour: Flexible Travel Date & Travel Routes
Guide & Driver: Chinese-English-speaking guide & air-conditioned
  • Experience an in-depth look at some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures of China at the Mogao Grottoes, the Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan Pass, Zhangye Geopark and more;
  • Enjoy amazing desert views along the ancient Silk Road;
  • Witness vast grasslands, forests and an everchanging, beautiful landscape while traveling from Zhangye, Gansu to Xining, Qinghai;

Itinerary Day by Day

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Day1  Arrival in Dunhuang
Welcome to Dunhuang, home of the western end of the Great Wall of China! Upon your arrival at the Dunhuang airport or train station, your local guide and driver will meet you to escort you to your hotel. You will have the rest of the day to rest and relax from your trip to Dunhuang, or you can begin to explore this small city on your own.

Accommodation:Overnight in Dunhuang

Day2  Dunhuang: Yardang National Geopark, Mingsha Shan, Crescent Lake
We will get an early start this morning as we pick you up from your hotel – so much to see and do today! We will start off by driving to the Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark that features fantastical rock formations created by nature over hundreds of thousands of years. Along the way we will have time to stop at Yumenguan (Jade Gate Pass), a gate that named for the many jade carvans that passed through it on the ancient Silk Road. The gate was originally built during the Han Dynasty (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.) around 121 B.C. as part of the western end of the Great Wall of China and as the final outpost of Chinese territory for caravans traveling on to India, Parthia (now northeastern Iran) and the Roman Empire.

After visiting the geopark and a nice lunch, we will visit the Mingsha Shan (Singing Sand Mountains), with the name coming from the sound that the sand dunes make when the wind blows just right, or when sliding down the sand dunes. From there we can visit the fascinating Crescent Lake – a beautiful oasis in the desert surrounded by sand dunes all around. It is amazing to see this little lake sitting in the middle of a vast sea of sand.

After visiting Crescent Lake, we will drive back to Dunhuang to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Dunhuang

Yardang National Geopark

Crescent Lake

Day3  Dunhuang – Mogao Grottoes, Jiayuguan
After breakfast at your hotel, we will take a short drive outside of the city to visit the ancient Mogao Grottoes (aka Thousand Buddha Caves), an incredible repository of ancient Chinese art and Buddhist scriptures created between 366 and 1368 A.D. A visit to the Mogao Grottoes begins with a stop at the Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center where you will have the opportunity to view two excellent educational documentaries that introduce the history and culture of the manmade caves, providing you with a great foundation for a better understanding of what you are about to see. The first caves were dug out of the side of the cliffs around 366 A.D. as places for Buddhist meditation and worship, and at one point there were more than one thousand of these caves. Some have been lost over the centuries and there are reportedly 735 caves that still exist at Mogao; the best-known ones are the 487 caves located in the southern section of the cliff which are places of pilgrimage and worship. 248 caves have also been found to the north which were living quarters, meditation chambers, and burial sites for the monks. The caves at the southern section are decorated, while those at the northern section are mostly plain. About 40 of the caves are open to the public, and due to the method of handling tourists at Mogao, you will be able to visit 7 or 8 caves with a group, and possibly visit others on your own. There are also 10 “special” caves with extra fees that are available for visiting.After this exhilarating visit to the Mogao Grottoes, we will travel on to Jiayuguan to check into our hotel, passing through stunning Gobi Desert landscapes along the way.Travel tips for visiting the Mogao Grottoes:1) During the peak tourist season from May to October, it can be very crowded so it is recommended that you make a reservation at least 7 days in advance.2) If you want to see the Special Caves that are restricted to a limited number of individuals or small groups with reservations and are not included in the regular visit, please contact our friendly travel consultants who can help arrange this for you.3) Photos are not allowed inside the grottoes to protect the ancient artwork.

Accommodation:Overnight in Jiayuguan

Day4  Jiayuguan Great Wall of China – Zhangye
This morning we will have the opportunity to visit the western-most pass of the Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan. Jiayuguan was constructed as more of a fort than a simple gate with three lines of defense consisting of an outer city, an inner city, and a moat. Jiayuguan has both an east gate and a west gate with both sides of the pass connected to the Great Wall. Built during the early Ming Dynasty around 1372 A.D., Jiayuguan is the most intact ancient military building among all of the passes on the Great Wall of China. There is also a museum on site where you can learn all about the history of Jiayuguan and the Great Wall of China.

After lunch, we will drive on to Zhangye to visit the Zhangye National Geopark, with its spectacularly-colored landforms and unique topography. Covering an area of 322 square kilometers (124 square miles), these amazing, rainbow colored mountains developed over millions of years as deposits of sandstone and different minerals were deposited. There are four different viewing platforms scattered across the park, and you will get to visit each of them as shuttle buses are arranged for transport between all of them. After plenty of time for viewing the incredible mountains and cliffs, we will check in to our Zhangye hotel to spend the night. Today’s travel tips:
1) As you will be outside all afternoon, be sure to use plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, protective clothing and hats to protect yourself from the strong sunlight at the higher altitude.
2) Sunset is the best time for taking photos, with the sun setting around 7 – 8 p.m. during the summer and 6 to 7 p.m. during the winter.

Accommodation:Overnight in Zhangye

Day5  Zhangye – Mati Temple – Zhangye
This morning we will travel about 65 kilometers (40 miles) outside of Zhangye to visit another of the area’s main attractions at the Mati (Horse Hoof) Temple. The Mati Temple is no ordinary temple – it is more of a complex of hanging cliff cave temples, grotto carvings and fantastic mountain landscapes combined with the unique culture of the Yugur minority people. The Yugurs are descendants of nomadic tribes from Mongolia that were under the control of Tibetan kings, and they are known for their unique music, dancing and fantastically colored and embroidered clothing. The temple also houses many ancient and historical relics, including the Standing Buddha from the Jin Dynasty (266 – 420 A.D.), an imperial robe of Qing Dynasty emperor Kangxi, a saddle from Qing Dynasty emperor Qianlong, and much more.

After a full day of exploring the Mati Temple area, we will return to Zhangye to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Zhangye

Day6  Zhangye - Dafosi - Board the high speed train to Xining
This morning we will have the opportunity to visit the Dafo (Great Buddha) Temple, the home of the largest indoor reclining Buddha in all of China. This huge Buddha measuring 35 meters (115 feet) long was constructed of of clay over a wooden frame sometime around 1100 A.D. It remains largely unaltered since the days of the Western Xia Dynasty (1038 – 1227 A.D.) and it is amazing that it has survived intact for more than 900 years. The temple also houses around 6,000 ancient Buddhist scriptures and a Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 A.D.) mural that depicts the story of the famous Buddhist monk Xuanzhuang riding a horse with the monkey king Sun Wukong kneeling on the ground.

After a nice local lunch, we will take you to the Zhangye train station for the high-speed (bullet) train to Xining. The train journey will only take about 2 hours as you speed through the amazing scenery along the way. Your local tour guide will greet you at the Xining train station to escort you in a private car to your downtown Xining hotel. The rest of the day will be free for you to explore the local area around your hotel on your own, or just rest and relax in your hotel room.

Accommodation:Overnight in Xining

Day7  Xining - Qinghai Lake - Xining
We will get an early start today to take you on the scenic 2 ½-hour, 130-kilometer (80 mile) drive to reach the beautiful and massive Qinghai Lake. This lake is the largest lake in China, and it is classified as an alkaline salwater lake. Sitting at an altitude of 3,205 meters (10,515 feet), Qinghai Lake has a surface area of 4,317 square kilometres (1,667 square miles); an average depth of 21 metres (69 feet), and a maximum depth of 25.5 meters (84 feet). The lake is considered to be a holy Tibetan Buddhist site, so you can often see many pilgrims walking along the lakeshore. We will take you to the Erlangjian Scenic Area, where you can walk out on a long pier over the calm waters to enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake. Enroute we will pass through some fascinating landscapes of vast grasslands, wide open blue skies, herds of yaks and sheep, and a view of Riyue (Sun & Moon) Mountain so it is an interesting drive getting there and coming back. If you are interested, we can add in some optional sites such as the Dangaer Ancient City or the Jinyintan Prairie along the way.

Due to Qinghai Lake’s location and massive size, it serves as a popular stopover point for many species of migrant birds, particularly on the aptly named Bird Island. The best time to visit for bird watching would be during May and June. Another great time to visit is from late July to early August to see the amazingly beautiful rape flower fields that surround Qinghai Lake.

After a full day of exploring around Qinghai Lake, we will drive back to Xining to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Xining

Day8  Xining Full Day Tour – Ta’er Monastery, Qinghai Museum
This morning we will take you on a pleasant half-hour drive to one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism – the Ta’er Monastery. This monastery was founded in 1583 A.D. on the foundations of some earlier temples that were built to mark the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug (“Yellow Hat”) sect of Buddhism, who was born in 1357 A.D. This huge complex contains ancient relics of the Yellow Hat sect including a silver tower covered with precious gems and wrapped in ten layers of silk, and a tower reportedly made of pure gold and containing the ashes of Tsongkhapa. Ta’er Monastery is also known for its barbola embroidery, impressive murals and yak butter sculptures known as “suyouhua”.

After visiting the monastery, we will drive back to Xining and explore the Qinghai Provincial Museum, which traces the 2,100-year history of Xining as well as the more ancient history of the Qinghai area. There are numerous exhibits featuring the art and culture of the regions various cultures that have inhabited the area for thousands of years.

After learning all about Xining and Qinghai at the museum, we will transfer you back to your hotel for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Xining

Day9  Morning Tour of Dongguan Great Mosque - Departure from Xining
This morning after breakfast at your hotel, we will take you to visit the Dongguan Mosque, the largest mosque in Qinghai. Originally built in 1380 during the Ming Dynasty, the Dongguan Mosque is regarded as one of the “Four Great Mosques” in China. Proper dress is required, so no shorts or tank tops are allowed, but it is an interesting place to visit if you have the time. You will then have the rest of the day free until it is time to take you to the airport or train station for your departing flight or train on to your next destination.

Accommodation:None

What's Included

Private professional English-Speaking local tour guide
Licensed Vehicle with experienced driver
All accommodations listed in the itinerary
Meals specified in the itinerary as "B, L, D".
Entrance tickets listed in the itinerary
Tourists Accident/Casualty Insurance
A container of Oxygen for emergency use in Tibet
All taxes, fees and handling charges
Lodging and meal allowance to the guide & driver
2 bottles of drinking water per person per day
International flight to and from China.
China visa.
Sightseeing not listed in the itinerary.
Meals not listed in the itinerary.
Personal expenses such as laundry, drink, fax, telephone call, optional tour activities, etc.
Tips to guides, drivers, bellboys, etc.
Entrance tickets not listed in the itinerary
Single room supplement.

Additional Info

Alterations of Itineraries

The travel date, service items, itinerary and number of visitors, visitors’ ID information, etc. can be modified free of charge 30 days or more before the trip. If the visitor needs to make a second modification, an additional service fee of 5% of the deposit will be charged. Every time the content of the travel contract is modified, the company reserves the right to re-quote.

Cancellation Policy

Once the deposit is paid, your trip is confirmed. If you need to change or cancel your itinerary, please contact your travel consultant by email, phone, instant messenger, etc. There will be a charge for Cancellation or modification. The policy is as follows:

1. Notice of trip cancellation due to personal reasons before the trip starts
Cancellation 30 days or more before the trip starts, 10% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 29-15 days before the trip starts, 20% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 14-7 days before the trip starts, 30% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 6-2 days before the trip starts, 50% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation within 48 hours prior to the trip starts, no refund of your deposit.

2. Trip cancellation due to irresistible factors before the trip starts

If you have to cancel the itinerary due to irresistible reasons such as traffic, weather, politics, etc., the deposit will be fully refunded by the company (for loss related to air ticket/train ticket, please take reference of the first item).

Reviews

 Elaine
Travel Date:Dec. 12th 2018

I cannot praise the Asia Odyssey Travel operation highly enough, from the applying of permit to the expertise of our guide. Everything was well arranged. Our guide, Puktso, was both personable and knowledgable, and yet was able to keep things moving. I will definitely go back to Tibet again!

 booyunhan
Travel Date:June 6, 2019

I had a wonderful 9 days trip in tibet. I enjoyed very aspect of this trip. Registration and organisation was very easy, and the driver was very kind and enthusiastic, so we weren't bored even during long distances. The food was great, and I especially enjoyed the purple sweet potato. The staff were polite and did their best to make us feel comfortable and listen to our needs.

I felt comfortable with everyone I met on this trip. I truly felt as if I had experienced and witnessed the lifestyle of Tibet, and I definitely recommend this place to other travelers. If the chance arises, I would like to go on this trip once again.

Thanks Amy, Tashi; he was a fantastic guide and my sweet driver; he made me laugh a lot. Oh, don't forget to bring a lot of headache tablet you might need a lot.

 beno v
Travel Date:June 30, 2019

I had an amazing, memorable trip with Amy/Odyssey: 9 days incl. Lhasa, EBC and Namtso Lake. Amy's service was excellent. From our first contact until after the trip all communication and organisation was very fast, clear and exhaustive. Our guide, Sun, made the whole trip even better. He is a really great, funny and laidback guy, proud Tibetan with very good knowledge of all relevant topics. Take into account that the pronounciation of English by Tibetan people/guides is of a different level than that of native speakers, and when you listen a bit more active than you normally do everything will be clear. The hotels were of a higher standard then expected which was really nice to start and finish the day. I recommend Amy/Odyssey to anyone planning a trip to Tibet! I will definitely go again with them on my next Tibet trip. June was a great time for weather and Tibetan festivities which made trip even more special.

 Pol
Travel Date:May 06th 2018

Highly recommend the tour. We visited Tibet and had Lomsang as our guide. This was one of the most special trips I had taken in my life. Our guide told us the culture of the Tibetan people, we met with breathtaking sceneries. Our guide was adept with great driving skills. We felt safe sitting in the vehicle. Lomsang was one of the best guide we have ever had. he was extremely organized, patient, and attentive to the group. I was so impressed with his capabilities. Overall, excellent service and excellent experience.

 A TripAdvisor China Member
Travel Date:January 3, 2019

Most beautiful place to go! Tour guide very funny and knowledgeable. Tour guide very good on taking picture. Suggest more site seeing and less temple. Suggest to eat hot pot every night. We reach the tallest point of 5248. Make sure not to fall to sleep. Make sure to take high altitude sickness bill and travel sickness bills before going. This trip is not for everyone, but for those whose are health and want to have some advantages. Make sure to bring flu and cold medicine with you since you can get sick very easily during winter. Very cold during the winter and make sure to bring enough cloths. Bring lotions, sun glasses and gloves. Make hot water every night in hotel and put it into the drink bottle to warm your bed. Best if you take the train to go in and plane to get out. But check the weather first, if snowing make sure to take the train. Once snowing, all plane will stop flying. Most beautiful place to go! Tour guide very funny and knowledgeable. Tour guide very good on taking picture. Suggest more site seeing and less temple. Suggest to eat hot pot every night. We reach the tallest point of 5248. Make sure not to fall to sleep. Make sure to take high altitude sickness bill and travel sickness bills before going. This trip is not for everyone, but for those whose are health and want to have some advantages. Make sure to bring flu and cold medicine with you since you can get sick very easily during winter. Very cold during the winter and make sure to bring enough cloths. Bring lotions, sun glasses and gloves. Make hot water every night in hotel and put it into the drink bottle to warm your bed. Best if you take the train to go in and plane to get out. But check the weather first, if snowing make sure to take the train. Once snowing, all plane will stop flying.

 Teoh chin kok
Travel Date:June 15th 2018

With the accompaniment of our experienced driver and guide-Lomsang. I forgot the name of our driver. Terribly sorry. He did a great job. Our guide is fluent in English, we had no problem in communicating. He made us laugh during the long drive and took care of my daughter. We had altitude sickness when we were at the tent of Everest Base Camp, he didn’t sleep well also in order to look after us. He also explained tibetan culture clearly which I find it pretty interesting. We would like to thank him for making our trip in tibet extraordinary. We were lucky to book a tour with Tibet odyssey tours.