Welcome to Xian! Your tour guide will meet you at Xian Xianyang International Airport (or railway station), then escort you to your hotel in a private vehicle. The rest of today is on your own to explore this ancient capital of China.
You will have an educational visit to Hanyangling Museum first. Compared with the Terracotta Warriors, Hanyangling is much less crowded so that you can enjoy a quiet lesson in archaeology. Here you can find many mini terracotta figures of not only warrior and horses, but also maidens and other animals. You actually walk on glass over top of the archaeological site, which gives an intriguing perspective. (Optional activity: Trying on the Hanfu which is the solemn costume of the emperors and their families, the ministers and the noble in the ancient dynasties of China to take some memorable photos in Hanyangling Museum) After Hanyangling visit, drive about an hour to visit Da Ci'en Temple, a famous Buddhist sutra translation site during the Tang Dynasty. Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is the most famous building in the temple. The pagoda, rising to a height of 64.5 meters, was built by the famous Buddhist master Xuanzang to preserve classic scriptures he bought back from India during the early Tang Dynasty. Xuanzang was the prototype character for Tang Seng in the famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. (Note: It costs an extra 30 RMB if you want to climb up the Big Wild Goose Pagoda)
Lastly, go to check in your hotel. The rest of the day is on your own to explore this ancient capital of China.
Arrival Ideas: Xian is only about 2~3 hours flying from majority of big cities in China, such as Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, etc. You can also get to Xian by high speed trains from Beijing (5.5hrs), Shanghai (6-7hrs), Guangzhou (8.5-9hrs), Hangzhou (6.5-7hrs), Pingyao (3hrs), Zhengzhou (2hrs), and so on.
After breakfast, drive about 40 km to discover one of the greatest man-made wonders in the world - the Terracotta Warriors and Horses, built by the first emperor of China Qin Shihuang to protect him in his afterlife. Over 8,000 life-size warriors, horses and chariots, buried in 3 pits for more than 2,000 years until uncovered by a local farmer in 1974, form an ancient military army with complete battle units of infantry, cavalry, etc. Standing in front of these figures, one can't help being amazed not only by the ambition of Emperor Qin Shihuang but also by the fabulous artistic skills of ancient Chinese artisans. (Before the Terracotta Warriors Museum visit, you will have a rare opportunity to make a miniature Terracotta Warrior on your own under the instruction of a local potter.)
After lunch, return to Xian to take a wonderful stroll on the Ancient City Wall, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. Enjoy panoramic views of modern Xian while you leisurely examine this well-maintained city wall which is 12 meters high and 18 meters wide with a total circuit of nearly 14 kilometers. Rent a bike (extra cost: 45RMB) to enjoy a relaxing cycling on the Wall is strongly recommended. The cycling routes and duration are flexible. Feel free to discuss with your tour guide. Leave the City Wall, then go to wander leisurely around bustling and lively Muslim Quarter, a place where you can try different local snacks and explore Muslim culture. Don't miss the Great Mosque of Xian which is a fusion of Chinese culture and Islamic culture, a sacred religious site with huge ancient architectural complex, also a surprisingly quiet land away from the bustling Muslim streets. After the Great Mosque visit, you will be escorted back to your hotel. (If you want to stay more time at the Muslim Quarter for dinner and relaxing, or want to explore the nearby Bell & Drum Towers on your own, please let your tour guide know)
Optional activities: Enjoy a wonderful Tang Palace Dance Show (usually from 8pm to 9pm) after (or without) a hearty dumpling dinner at a local restaurant.
This early morning, your tour guide will see you off at the airport for your flight to Dunhuang (about 2.5 hrs). Upon your arrival at Dunhuang Airport, our local guide and driver will pick you up and then transfer you to check in your hotel. Have a short rest before going to visit Mingshashan, which is only about 10 km from downtown. You will start sightseeing in the afternoon when it is not very hot and the sunburn is low.
The magic Mingshashan (Echoing Sand Mountains) and Crescent Lake are located in the same scenic area. On the sunny days, the sand mountains echo like Orchestra music even if there is no wind. If you slide from the sand mountains, you can hear the echoing sound clearly. There are many exciting activities for you to try (at your own expense), such as sand skiing, viewing from glider or helicopter, motorcycling, etc. Riding a camel through the desert is very popular. Surrounded by the Echoing Sand Mountains, Crescent Lake is a beautiful oasis with some well decorated traditional Chinese architecture, some trees and flowers and a lake that has never dried up and shapes like a crescent moon. After sightseeing, get back to Dunhuang city.
Optional Mingshashan desert camping experience:
If you like, you can camp for a night in the desert of Mingshashan, which will be a one-of-a-kind experience to get closer touch with the desert. During the camping, there are a lot of activities and programs for you to have fun, such as sand skiing, desert motorcycles, bonfire parties, etc.
After breakfast, you will be taken to explore the remote wild Gobi Desert landscape as well as several legendary historical sites. Drive westwards about 100 km, you will firstly arrive at Yumen Pass (Jade Gate Pass) which used to be a military defensive pass as well as an important border for international trading along the ancient Silk Road. It is said that the jadewares from West were imported to China through this gate, which is how the name Yumen was given. About 5 km from Yumen Pass is the Ruin of Great Wall of Han Dynasty which was built to fight against Xiongnu in the ancient time. Keep driving more 80 km, you will get to Yardang National Geologic Park. It is also called Devil City in that you will hear the sound just like the devil screaming when the strong wind goes through the desert. The park is featured Yardang landforms in distinct shapes like Mongolian Bao, Stone Bird, Peacock and others. Make full use of your imagination, you may find some rocks with some miniatures similar to famed architectures, like the Potala Palace in Tibet, Heaven Temple in Beijing or something else.
Leave Yardang National Geologic Park, and drive along the coming way back to Dunhuang. On route, you will take a side trip to visit Yangguan Pass which was the gate to another branch of ancient Silk Road.
Nightlife Ideas: 1) Go out to go for a walk in the Shazhou Night Market where you can try some local food, relax in a drinking bar, or buy some interesting handcrafts, etc. 2) Enjoy the fascinating Silk Road Show - Silk Road Flower Rain which is a relaxing feast of unparalleled visual beauty with impressively elaborate dances performed by professional dancers wearing stunning costumes and an incredible set design.
Optional Mingshashan desert camping experience
If you like, you can camp for a night in the desert of Mingshashan, which will be one-of-a-kind experience to get closer touch with the desert. During the camping, there are a lot of activities and programs for you to have fun, such as sand skiing, desert motorcycle, bonfire party, etc.
Useful Tips: 1. Pack some food and water for the long driving on the desert; 2. get fully prepared for the strong sunlight and high temperatures in the daytime.
After breakfast, drive about 10 km from Dunhuang city to visit the newly opened Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center before going to Mogao Grottoes. You will watch two short but well-produced educational documentary movies that introduce history, arts, and other facts about Mogao Grottoes, which will be very helpful when you visit the grottoes. After the movies, take an internal bus to Mogao Grottoes.
Mogao Grottoes is famed as the "Louvre of the East", which is outstanding for its exquisite mural paintings and statues. There are now 492 grottoes in which about 45000 square meters long mural paintings and 2100 colorfully painted statues from which you can trace the development of Chinese art over 1600 years from one dynasty to the next because each dynasty built their own caves to record its own features. There are about 40 common caves opened to the public. In the tourist area, you will be divided into groups by different tour guides who will accompany you to visit the caves (usually 7~8 caves during April ~ November and 12 caves during December ~ March) with a great introduction. After that, if you want to visit more other caves, you can do it by yourselves or follow other tour guides. Besides, there are 10 special caves (with extra fees) available for your extensive visit.
The rest of today is free for you to catch your flight/train to the next destination. Your Dunhuang Silk Road tour ends!
Useful Tips: 1. During peak seasons (May to October), there are usually a lot of visitors to Mogao Caves, so it is recommended to make a reservation in advance for at least 7 days. 2. If you want to see the Special Caves (excluded from the regular visit, and only open for limited individual visitors or small groups with reservations), you can contact our travel consultants or your tour guide to arrange for you, but you have to pay the extra admission fee for each cave. 3. It is not allowed to take photos inside grottoes.
The quotation for this trip is from Request P/P
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
Professional licensed English-speaking guide;
Admission tickets for all attractions listed in the itinerary;
Accommodation as listed in the itinerary;
Domestic flight from Xian to Dunhuang (second class seat);
Necessary transfers as listed in the itinerary;
All meals as listed( “B” for Chinese and Western breakfast buffet in your hotel; “L” for Chinese Lunch in local restaurant; “D” for Chinese dinner in local restaurant.);
Our service charge, including tour planning, handling, operational and communication charges.
Accommodation not listed in the itinerary;
Single Room Supplement;
Sightseeing not listed in the itinerary;
Recommended optional activities;
Flights or trains not listed in the itinerary;
Optional tips to guides, drivers, etc;
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