Meet our representative and transfer to your luxurious hotel for check-in. Xīnjiāng's capital, Ürümqi is a modern and lively hub for trade across Central Asia. As such, the city offers a diverse populace and an interesting mix of cultures. Kickstart your journey with a sumptuous welcome dinner at the hotel.
Today, we will visit the renowned Provincial Museum in Urumqi, famous for its mummies and artefacts, some as old as 1,500-4,000 years. This well-preserved selection tells the unique history of the region and is thus known for being one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in a hundred years. There is also a fine collection of silk articles and other artefacts from various eras of history, as well as written materials in different languages.
Historic Detour at Kashgar
Our next stop will be at the Old City of Kashgar, which dates to over 2,000 years. Uygur people have lived here for generations and the Old City was renowned as the central point where the southern and middle Silk Roads met in the past. Today, the place is undoubtedly a treasure of history where you can’t help but step back in time.
Start your day at the Kashgar Sunday Bazaar – an extraordinarily remote yet central market for the region. The population of Kashgar reputedly increases by 100,000 every Sunday for this market. But due to its remoteness, only a small number of these visitors are foreigners, making this an authentic space to experience local life in its rawest form.
Today, we visit Turpan, home of the Flaming Mountains. Begin at the Jiaohe Ancient City, one of the best-preserved ancient cities in China featuring temples, civilian dwellings and government offices, workshops and residential houses laid out on streets that will take you back in time. In the afternoon, visit the world-famous underground irrigation system at Karez. This ancient system has successfully fed the rich orchards and vineyards of the area for centuries. And is considered as one of the three great projects of China, next to the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. End your day by visiting a Uygur family, enjoying an ethnic dance performance over some local snacks.
Explore the stunning sand dunes around Dunhuang on a camel ride through the Gobi Desert. On route, you will discover Crescent Lake, which has sustained life in this region for millennia. In the small oasis city of Dunhuang, we will visit the fascinating Magao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex. This impressive site contains almost 500 grottoes, carved between 700 and 1,700 years ago; and an amazing collection of beautiful sculptures and murals depicting the evolution of Buddhist religious art over 1,000 years.
The Jiayuguan Pass, Great Wall
Visit the Jiayugaun pass, the first pass at the west end of the Great Wall of China and one of the largest and most intact passes of the Great Wall. This isolated pass was once an important military fortress and a traffic fort along the Silk Road. After lunch, visit the Overhanging Great Wall, which was constructed in 1539 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). If you can make it to the top of the wall, you will find panoramic views of the desert and oases, with snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Ethnic Diversity in Xining
This historic and multi-ethnic region is home to an incredible 37 different nationalities with a history that can be traced back 2,100 years. Experience the distinct traditions of the region, beginning at the Buddhist Kumbum (Ta’er) Monastery, followed by the local Shuijingxiang market, which features over 3,000 fixed stalls selling everything from food and drink to articles for daily use. Look out for lotus roots and wild rice stems, as well as seafood from the coast.
High Passes, Qinghai-Tibet Railway
We start early in the morning today to board the high-altitude Qinghai–Tibet railway from Golmud to Lhasa. This extraordinary 14-hour journey traverses the “roof of the world” along a 1,142km line that summits at Tangula Pass at 16,640ft, making this the world’s highest railway pass. The ventilation system onboard pumps out extra oxygen supply for the high altitude. Personal oxygen masks are also available if required. Upon arrival in Lhasa, you will be transferred to one of the most coveted hotels of the area for a three-night stay.
Literally translating to “place of the gods”, Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world at an altitude of 11,975ft. It is also the traditional seat of the Dalai Lama with over a thousand years of cultural and spiritual history. We will spend two days exploring the spiritual roots and historic significance of this place. Begin at Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace, where the grounds offer a peaceful retreat from the city. Later, spend some time exploring the city at your own pace.
Begin your day at the 13th century Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s holiest shrine and the adjacent Barkhor market, the oldest market in the capital. Later, we stop by for a local meal accompanied with traditional folk music. We will also visit the Potala Palace, former seat of the Tibetan Government. Perched upon Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the palace is the greatest monumental structure in Tibet and one of greatest in the world. Come evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel.
After breakfast, depart from the hotel for your journey back home.