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Overview

Follow the trail of the Silk Road through Gansu province. Start at the impressive Jiayuguan Fort, a key waypoint on the ancient trading trail. Then travel along the historic path, stopping on the way to explore a desert oasis, climb massive sand dunes and admire the incredible Mogao Caves.

Trip Highlights

The Gansu Corridor

See Gansu’s natural wonders

Explore the massive sand dunes of the Mingsha Mountains and travel by jeeps through Yadan National Park’s beautiful desert.

Understand Silk Road history

Visit Lanzhou’s informative Regional Museum and Jiayuguan Fort, learning about the ancient Silk Road which passed through Gansu.

Explore UNESCO-Heritage Caves

Spend a morning at Mogao Caves, admiring the impressive 1000-year old Buddha images, murals and frescos.

Itinerary

1

Arrival in Lanzhou

Lanzhou airport – Lanzhou city (approx. 30km): 25 min *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Welcome to Gansu province!

Kodachrome Mountains, endless grasslands, Silk Road history and rich culture abound in the Gansu corridor, a 450,000 square kilometer province located in China’s northwest.  At the crossroads of Eastern and Western China, Mongolia and Sichuan province, Gansu has played a pivotal role in the development of China’s trade and a meeting point for various cultures; Chinese, Hi, Dongxiang, Tu, Manchu, Kazakh, Mongolian and Tibetan all call the province home. 

Begin the tour in Lanzhou, the cultural, economic, and political capital of Gansu.  While neither a mega-city nor small village, Lanzhou offers a pleasant combination were ancient and modern mingle in a ‘countryside’ vibe. 

The city stands on the Yellow River, and hosts the first iron bridge to straddle the waterway - the Zhongshan Iron Bridge. Designed by American and German architects in 1907, the bridge was completed using only imported materials. It lies directly in front of the hill that hosts the White Pagoda Temple, a picturesque complex dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), accessible by steep stairs.

As Lanzhou is the exit-entry port of the Chinese Empire, it is of no surprise that the Regional Museum hosts over 70,000 cultural relics, including painted pottery, silk, and wooden sculptures.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Alternatively, pay a visit to the Taoist White Cloud Temple – close to the riverbanks. Fortune Tellers wait outside the temple to predict futures (service available on site at cost)

Spend the evening exploring the Night Market, offering delicacies prepared by Uygur, Hui, and Han in a circus-like environment; dinner can be casually consumed on site

2

Lanzhou - Zhangye

Lanzhou city- Lanzhou train station (approx. 9.4km): 22 min Zhangye Train station – Zhangye city (approx. 8.9km):18 min Zhangye city –Danxia Landform (approx. 41km):1h *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Transfer by High-speed train from Lanzhou to Zhangye

Train Station: Lanzhou - Zhangye

Train number: D55

Estimated departure time: 08:35

Estimated arrival time: 12:38

Second class tickets are included in the fare.

After arrival, a brief stop will be made to the hotel to freshen up; lunch will be provided in a local restaurant.

The main attraction of this city is the widely known huge Sleeping Buddha (over 34 meters). The largest in China, this Buddha is a must-see stop before heading onwards to the Danxia Colored Mountains, a unique type of geomorphology found in China. For a more comfortable visit (and to avoid the large crowds), transport is provided by private air-conditioned minivan. The visit will be around 2.5 hours.

Back in the city, the main plaza gets quite busy with locals. The nearby food market provides a unique glimpse into local life… and the different flavours of the region!

Overnight in Zhangye

3

Zhangye- Jiayuguan

Zhangye –Matisi(approx. 58km):1h Zhangye train to Jayuguan: 1h12m Jiayuguan Fort– Jiayuguan city (approx. 7.6km): 14min *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Continue exploring the Gansu corridor with a visit to Matisi – the Hanging Temple. A dramatic complex embedded in the face of a flat cliff, this temple features a series of buddhist grottoes lined with frescoes (partially damaged by treasure hunters and the Cultural Revolution.) For those who don’t mind climbing through narrow passages, the views are simply amazing.

Lunch will be had en route to the train station. Board the train to Jiayuguan.

Train Station: Zhangye - Jiayuguan

Train number: D2703

Estimated departure time: 13:17

Estimated arrival time: 15:02

Second class tickets are included in the fare.

Upon arrival to Jiayuguan, there will be an opportunity to climb the Last Tower of the Great Wall. For those who don’t mind the climb, the views and history of the site are quite incredible!

Transfer to the hotel

Overnight in Jiayuguan

4

Jiayuguan - Dunhuang

Jiayuguan city Wei/Jin Tombs (approx.20km): 40min. JIayuguan– Dunhuang City (approx. 360km):5h; by flight 50min Crescent moon lake/Mingsha- Dunhuang City (approx. 5.1km): 14min *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

The Jiayuguan Fort is the first pass at the far west end of the Great Wall. Built during the Ming Dynasty, the pass represented a key entry point of the ancient Silk Road. The Fort has a particularly interesting Museum, which is one of the most complete exhibitions on the Great Wall.

Lunch will be organised en route to the visit.

After lunch, pay a visit to the unique Wei-Jin Tombs (220-420 AD). A unique treasure of the area, these tombs are famous for their ornamental painted bricks.

Transport to the airport for the flight to Dunhuang.

Flight scheduled to Dunhuang (16:35 – 50min)

Dunhuang (Blazing Beacons) is a former garrison town situated on a stunning oasis on the edge of a vast desert: the town was named after the rammed earth towers which were set alight to warn of nomadic attacks.

Upon arrival, a guide and driver will be waiting to provide transportation to the first sight of the region. Known as the Mingsha Mountains, these massive sand dunes can reach 300 meters and provide some unique views of the surrounding Gansu corridor. An additional unique visit is the Crescent Moon Lake, a natural spring nearby. Enjoy some unique visits in the region, and, weather impending, enjoy a dramatic sunset from the peak of one of the dunes.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Enjoy a bird’s eye view aboard one of the gliders available at the park. Service provided on site at additional cost.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY:  Take a jeep to one of the highest dunes for a high glimpse over the ocean of sand. Service provided on site at additional cost.

In the evening, pay a visit to the Dunhuang night market, ripe with with local food and crafts. It is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the local atmosphere, before being transferred back to the hotel.

Overnight in Dunhuang.

5

Dunhuang

Dunhuang City – Mogao Caves (approx. 25.6km): 42min Mogao Caves –Yadan National Park (approx. 176km): 2h *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

After breakfast, transfer to Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This series of caves is ripe with murals and frescoes, displaying an array of Buddhist art that spans 1,000 years. Additionally, some of the site’s biggest caves host giant Buddhas- some of the largest in China.

Note: Please note that access to the Mogao Caves is limited to 100,000 visitors/day. Personal registration must be done at least 11 days advance (preferably 2 weeks in order to assure a successful booking). Modifying the dates will not be possible.

Visitors are required to bring their passport for security check upon their visit to the monument.

Foreigners are allowed to visit the Caves only during the morning.

Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant.

That afternoon, pay a visit to Yadan National Park (particularly stunning at sunset). The formations here have been developed over 700,000 years’ of wind erosion; a truly mesmerising natural site.

In order to guarantee a special experience, the visit will be conducted by private jeeps to cover more of the desert. Walking paths are available to freely explore the area.

Returning from Yadan National Park passing by the remains of the Han Great Wall, still visible on the side of the road.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY:  For dinner enjoy a simple (but delicious) barbecue on the dunes. Option to explore the dunes on foot. Quads are available on-site at an additional cost.

Overnight in Dunhuang.

6

Dunhuang – departure

Enjoy a morning breakfast on the terrace overviewing the desert’s dunes, before continuing to the following destination.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner).
  • English speaking guide(no shopping basis rates) (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals not mentioned
  • Visa for China
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and domestic flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.
  • All the services indicated as available on site at additional costs

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