Cultural Excursion

China Essentials & The Silk Road

Beijing, China

We customize every trip

Prices From: $5,380 per person

China may be modernizing at a break-neck pace, but the quicksilver skyscrapers and bullet trains are a thin veneer. The world's oldest continuous civilization is bound to pull a cultural artifact or two out of its hat. Ponder the legends surrounding the Forbidden City, let your imagination fly on the Great Wall and dive into a culture thousands of years in the making.

Follow up your tour of well-known eastern China with a trip west. Here the Muslim world has influenced culture for hundreds of years as the Silk Road created a bridge between worlds. Discover a side of China few foreigners ever get to see.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Beijing Arrival

Welcome to China! Upon arrival in Beijing, you will be met at the international airport by our local representative, and transferred to your overnight accommodations.

Overnight: Sunworld Hotel

Day 2 - Beijing City Tour

Your guide will meet you at your hotel this morning after breakfast, and take you on a full day tour of the city, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Hutong District.

Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the center of Beijing, named after the Tiananmen (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several key events in Chinese history. As the world's largest city square and enduring symbol of China's national pride, it is surrounded by many imposing buildings including the Heavenly Gate (entry to the Forbidden City), Museums, government buildings and Chairman Mao's Mausoleum.

The Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors between 1368 and 1911. This "city within a city" is a World Heritage Site, and is the largest and the best preserved ancient imperial architecture complex in the world, with great square, halls and gates contrast with intricate halls, gardens, courtyards and quarters.

Hutong is a maze of historic alleyways with old single storey traditional courtyard houses, which are now fast disappearing. In this one hour tour, you can hop on a rickshaw to ride through the narrow alleys as well as visit a local family.

Overnight: Sunworld Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 3 - Beijing: Mutianyu Great Wall

Today your guide will drive you out to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. This less-crowded section is a about 2.5 hours' drive from downtown Beijing. A cable car takes you to a good section (avoiding a very steep climb), where you can walk along the wall, through the watch towers and enjoy superb views as it snakes across the hills and mountains. You can return by cable car, walk down or walk along the wall for about an hour to descend by chairlift.

Overnight: Sunworld Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 4 - Beijing: Temple Of Heaven - Xian

This day will begin very early, but you may forget this inconvenience when you enter the Temple of Heaven. Built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, the Temple is a complex of Taoist buildings where emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties visited for annual ceremonies of pray for good harvests. Located in the south of Central Beijing, it covers an area of 273 hectares.

After lunch, you will go to the northwest of Beijing to visit the Summer Palace. Otherwise a simple Imperial garden, the site was completely renovated by Emperor Qianlong during the 18th century to become one the most important sites of the capital. Back in the day, the members of the Imperial Court would flee the summer’s insufferable heat in Forbidden City to lounge on Palace’s immense lawn.

This evening, you will be transferred to the train station to board your overnight train to Xian. Settle in, and get ready to meet the next day in a new city!

Overnight: Grand Noble Hotel Xian (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 5 - Xian: Terracotta Warriors & Ancient City Wall

This morning, your driver will meet you at the train station and transfer you to your local hotel to check in and freshen up. This morning you will first visit the Terracotta Warriors. Discovered accidentally in 1974, this incredible army of over 7000 soldiers, archers, horses and chariots in full battle array has guarded Emperor Qin's tomb since 210BC. Each figure is unique, and the painstaking repair and excavation continues in 3 pits which are protected inside huge hangars.

Later today, you will visit Xian's city wall. The walls, ramparts, gates and watchtowers form one of the oldest and most complete city defenses still around. Built in the 13th century on the foundations of the original Tang Forbidden City, it surrounds the city center. You can walk or pay extra cost to rent a bike (CNY40 per person), rickshaw (CNY45 per person for 45 minutes) or an electric cart (CNY80 per person) around the full 14km circuit, with great views of the city on either side. If the weather is not good for biking on the city wall, we will substitute a visit to the Bell Tower. Your guide will be very glad to take you the Bell Tower after you have been to look at the city wall.

Lastly, you will visit the fascinating Muslim Quarter, which lies 100 meters west of the Bell tower in downtown Xian. The 500 meters long avenue paved by bluestones are dotted with many unique stalls, souvenir shops, café and bars which are mostly run by Muslim people.

Overnight: Grand Noble Hotel Xian (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 6 - Xian: Big Wild Goose Pagoda - Dunhuang

Before leaving Xian today, you will visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. A major Buddhist site, the simple, elegant brick Pagoda stands in the grounds of the attractive Da Ci'en Temple. The Pagoda was built in the 7th century to house the Buddhist materials that Xuanzang (Tripitaka) brought back from his epic journey to India. The Temple complex has several large halls with some great Buddhist statues and murals.

You will then be transferred to the airport in good time to board your flight northwest to Dunhuang, the first step on the Silk Road.

Overnight: Dunhuang Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 7 - Dunhuang: Echoing Sand Mountain

Today you and your guide will explore the beautiful nature around Dunhuang, beginning with Echoing Sand Mountain. Near where the dune meets the surrounding oasis, one can hear the dune make distinctive sounds. The nearby Crescent Spring is a beautiful oasis. The spring's name derives from the crescent-shaped lake formed by the spring water between two huge sand dunes. Later you will visit the Mogao Caves. On this group tour, you will see about ten of the thirty total caves.

Overnight: Dunhuang Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 8 - Dunhuang Exploration - Turpan

This morning you will drive to Yumenguan Pass, one of the west gates out of the country during the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). The pass itself has deteriorated over the years due to sand movements, but this is still a beautiful place worth the trip. You will also visit the Great Wall of the Han Dyanasty, which was built earlier than the more famous sections of the Wall to defend against the nomadic Xiongnu.

Tonight you will board an overnight train to Turpan.

Overnight: Huozhou Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 9 - Turpan: Ancient City Of Jiaohe

After being transferred from the train station to the hotel for check-in. After freshening up from your overnight train, you will drive with your local guide to the ruins of the Ancient City of Jiaohe. Jiaohe was built by the ancient Cheshi people during the Qin and Han dynasties. Located in the Yarnaz Valley five miles west of Turpan, it was dug out and constructed from the yellow-grey parched ground of a narrow, vertical-sided island in the river. From this vantage point, one can observe the surrounding landscape of vineyards and orchards followed by desert and mountains.

In this same region are the Karez Wells, an irrigation system connected by underground channels considered to be one of the three great ancient projects of China. The famous fruit and vineyards of these hot, dry desert communities owe their existence to the Karez Wells, which tap into the snowmelt from surrounding mountains.

Overnight: Huozhou Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 10 - Turban - Urumqi - Kashgar

On the way to Kashgar today, you will stop at Urumqi to visit Heavenly Lake, a beautiful blue mountain lake. The water is finely contrasted with steep forested hills, high meadows and snowy Heavenly Mountain peaks behind. Here you can cruise, hike, or take cable cars to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Continue onto Kashgar, where you will board your flight to Kashgar. Here you will be met and transferred to your overnight accommodation.

Overnight: Barony Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 11 - Kashgar: Mosque & Bazaar

At these western limits of China, one clearly sees the intermingling worlds of China and the Muslim world. Begin today by visiting the Id Kah Mosque. This 15th century mosque is one of the largest and busiest in China. At midday on Fridays around 10,000 people will gather to pray and study the Koran, and prayer 5 times/day on other days. You'll be asked to remove your shoes before entering the Main Hall, which has traditional Islamic pillars, carvings and rugs strewn over the floors. Women are advised to cover upper arms and legs, a scarf is not compulsory, but is seen as a mark of respect.

Next you will visit Kashgar's bazaar. Famous throughout Asia, this ancient market attracts locals and merchants from all over Xinjiang and nearby countries such as Pakistan and Kirghizstan. There are numerous commodities, like dried fruit and delicacies, clothes, shoes, leather, textiles, rugs and carpets as well as scarves, souvenirs and other goods in an eclectic mix that appeals to traveler and native alike.

Overnight: Barony Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 12 - Kashgar - Urumqi - Beijing

On your return to Urumqi today, you will visit Lake Karakuli. Karakuli Lake is a sparking glacial lake located at the foot of "the Father of Glaciers" – Muztagata Mountains. A railway connnecting China with Pakistan goes by the lake. The lake is famous for its beautiful scenery and clarity.

You will be transferred to the airport in good time to board your flight across the width of China to Beijing. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your overnight accommodations.

Overnight: Sunworld Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 13 - Beijing Departure

This morning you will be transferred to the airport in good time to board your international flight out of China!

Accommodation Information

Sunworld Hotel

The Sunworld Hotel is located in the center of downtown Beijing at the corner of Wangfujing and Dengshikou (the “Golden Street” and “Silver Street” of Beijing). The hotel is near many famous historical and cultural landmarks, including the Forbidden City. There are many commercial buildings and shopping malls in close vicinity of the hotel and transportation is very convenient.

With 308 luxuriant rooms and suites of various kinds decorated with simple and modern style, Sunworld Hotel will provide a warm and elegant trip for you. All room are equipped with board Wide Band internet service and “Spa” amenities products for guests.

Grand Noble Hotel Xian

Grand Noble Hotel, Xian is a luxurious property offering comprehensive facilities and services for leisure and business stays. It is conveniently located in the commercial center, shopping and entertainment area of Xian’s downtown, neighboring a lot of popular tourist attractions. Only 40 minutes away from Xi’an Xian Yang International Airport and 5 minutes way from Xian Railway Station.

Dunhuang Hotel

The Dunhuang Hotel (Dunhuang Fandian) offers various guestrooms outfitted with broadband internet access. This Dunhuang hotel's restaurant serves Sichuan, Cantonese, Hunan and local cuisines. During their spare time, guests can relax at the beauty salon, or make full use of on-site fitness facilities.

Huozhou Hotel

Turpan's newest and best hotel enjoys a central location next to an attractive lake park in the heart of town. Rooms are tastefully styled in muted tones and have decent sized beds and modern dark-wood furnishings. Bathrooms are also good and have small tubs. Surprisingly for a hotel in this category (and in the middle of the desert), most rooms don't have fridges.

Barony Hotel

The Barony Hotel Kashgar is the only four-star hotel in Kashgar City, Xinjiang Province. It is adjacent to the famous Aitgar Mosque, about 10 minutes's drive to the Kashgar Railway Station and Kashgar Airport.

The Bangchen Hotel Kashgar offers a total of 108 guest rooms and suites. All rooms are provided with IDD/DDD phone and safe box and other service amenities. As for dining service, there is a muslim restaurant in the hotel providing Uygur food. A Chinese restaurant which provides Sichuan, Shandong and Cantonese cuisines and a lobby bar providing western and Chinese dishes are also available.


Region: Asia - North and East



Breakfast Breakfast

Day Tours Day Tours

Hiking Trekking Hiking Trekking

Archeology Indigenous Archeology Indigenous

General Information

Price Includes

  • Accommodation as shown
  • Meals as shown
  • Domestic Flights
  • Cell phone for use in China**
  • Private Transfers between hotels scenic spots while sightseeing by private air conditioned vehicle with a driver and Englishspeaking guide (as listed above).
  • Tours/activities as shown (Private Basis)
  • Private Local Englishspeaking guide and driver will be provided in each city. Our full day private tour packages provide a guide and van for a maximum of 8 hours.
  • Entrance fees to scenic spots as listed in the itinerary
  • Luggage Transfers
  • Full telephone support from Englishspeaking staff in China, including 24/7 emergency line
  • **Our free cell phone package includes one cell phone and SIM card (with prepaid value of CNY 50), delivery and collection in China. Return the phone to your guide when you depart.

Price Excludes

  • International Airfare or Train Tickets to enter or leave China
  • China Entry Visa Fees: All travelers to mainland China require a valid China visa.
  • Travel insurance (ask us for a quote)
  • Meals other than those detailed
  • Expenses of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, fax, telephone call, optional activities, sightseeing or meals which are not included in the itinerary
  • Taxes & Fees
  • Gratuities, Tips to Guides or Drivers
  • Optional activities
  • Other services not mentioned