Geographically and culturally, Northwest China is about as far away from traditional China as you can get without crossing the border. The source of the Silk Road the ancient trade route that helped create the modern world is unlike anything youll find in Beijing or Xi’an, and this 18-day adventure crossing the country via rail takes you deep into the China few ever see. Otherworldly experiences abound, both on train and off: watch the sun rise over the dunes outside Dunhuang, explore the world of the Muslim Uyghurs, spend the night in traditional yurts near Urumqi, and venture into the Taklamakan Desert to Kashgar. Theres more, of course, but weve got to keep a few secrets, right?
Arrive at any time.
Take a guided tour of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City with free time in the afternoon to explore.
Visit the spectacular Great Wall of China. In the evening, board an overnight train to Xi’an.
Arrive to Xi’an and take an orientation walk. Later, visit the Terracotta Warriors. Opt to visit the Silk Road monument, cycle around the city walls, or explore the Muslim Quarter.
Enjoy a free day in Xi’an to enjoy the city and sights. Take an overnight train to Jiayuguan.
Arrive in Jiayuguan and visit the westernmost section of the Great Wall.
Take an express bus to Dunhuang for a guided visit to the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mogao Grottoes.
Opt to visit Mingsha Sand Dunes to see a beautiful sunrise, and enjoy a camel ride and some dune sledding. Make good use of free time before boarding an overnight train to Turpan.
Arrive in Turpan, the lowest point in Asia. Enjoy a city tour with a local guide, including the ancient Karez water system.
Enjoy a free day to continue exploring. Opt to visit the Flaming Mountains or Jiaohe ruins.
Drive into the stunning Tian Shan Mountains (Heavenly Mountains) for an overnight in a yurt with the local Kazakh minority people. Spend the day hiking, horseback riding, or just relaxing and soaking in the views.
Spend the morning enjoying nature before heading to Urumqi, the capital of the province.
Over the next two days, travel by train to Hotan, a small town in the Taklamakan Desert. Watch the scenery go by, make friends with the locals, and catch up on your reading.
Arrive in the evening to Hotan. Start exploring this small town.
Take a village tour by donkey cart to see what life is like in this small town. Enjoy free time in the afternoon to tour the market or check out some abandoned ancient towns and ruins.
Enjoy one last train ride to Kashgar, arriving in the evening.
Enjoy the Sunday markets in Kashgar, including the famous Sunday bazaar and fascinating animal market.
Depart at any time.