Border Information: if joining in Beijing, you will most likely enter China at Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA code: PEK).There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting. The rest of the day will be free to explore the incredible city of Beijing!Please note that many of the optional activities will only be possible for those with extra time in Beijing before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Beijing.
Today we will head out on the Beijing metro to the city centre's famous Tiananmen Square, which we will walk through and then take a tour of the Forbidden City. We will then have a free afternoon to further explore the many sights, sounds and flavours of Beijing.
This morning we will start our journey with a drive to the city of Chengde.
Today we will have a full day to explore the Puning Temple and the famous Imperial Summer Resort.
This morning we will have a short drive to one of the world's most incredible sights - the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China! We will have time this afternoon to thoroughly explore and walk along the Great Wall.
Today we will drive to the city of Datong in China's Shanxi province.
On the following day we will head out of Datong in the truck on an included visit to the awe-inspiring Yungang Buddha Caves.
This morning we continue to the stunning mountainous area known as Wutai Shan, one of the holiest sites of Chinese Buddhism and a major centre of pilgrimage in the country. We will have an included visit to the incredible Hanging Monastery en route.
Today we will have a full day to explore the area and visit its incredible array of temples and religious sites.
Today we will drive to China's best-preserved ancient walled town, Pingyao.
We will stay for 2 nights in Pingyao, giving us plenty of time to explore this ancient town and surrounding sites such as the Mian Shan Mountain Resort and the Zhangbi Underground City.
Today we will have another free day to explore Pingyao and its surroundings.
Today we continue our journey to visit the ancient village of Lijiashan, famed for settlement of cave dwellers and still home to more than 600 families. We will stop en route for an included visit to the Black Dragon Temple just outside of Lijiashan.In Lijiashan we will stay in a cave room, run by a local family and set up for guests.Please note that some caves include a traditional 'Kang Stove bed'. The Kang bed is a hollow platform made from bricks that is used both as a bed and as a work area, these are common in remote villages in Northern China. In winter a coal fire can be lit under the bed, providing a huge amount of warmth day and night and it is very common for the whole family to sleep on one large bed. This means there may be times that members of the group may have to share 1 large bed with others in the group.
Today we make our way to the city of Yan'an.Yan'an is famous for being the ending point for those on the 'Long March', and became the CCP headquarters for a brief period. During our time here we have an included visit to the Revolutionary Museum and the CCP Headquarters site.
Today we will drive to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city of Xi'an, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.
This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour. We will return to Xi'an for a free afternoon to further explore this diverse city.
Border Information: if joining in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).Welcome to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free day to explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.Please note that many of the optional activities listed will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.
This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour.We will return to Xi'an for the afternoon, where we'll have a free afternoon to further explore this incredible city.
Today we will drive to the town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism.
Today we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain. Please note that if the group and leader prefer to split the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.
Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights.
The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants.
On your second free day there may also be a chance to go trekking, horse riding or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.
Today we will leave Xiahe behind us to reach the small city of Liujiaxia. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.
Today we will have a full day's drive towards Zhangye. This evening we will find a place to camp in the hills surrounding Zhangye.
Today we will have a short drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we will spend some time exploring the beautiful scenery, before continuing our drive on to Jiayuguan where, tomorrow, we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note that the Great Wall here is adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further easy.
Today we will continue our journey westwards to reach the city of Dunhuang.
Today we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it's surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda!
Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the oasis town of Turpan.Please note that due to the political tension in Western China there are many police checkpoints that we must go through to show our passports in the Xinjiang province. Sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, finding a local hotel in between to break up the travel day.
Today we will have a free day to explore the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.
Today we will continue on to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province.
On the second day we will have an included visit to Heavenly Lake to enjoy the incredible scenery in the Tian Shan Mountains and walk around the lake.
Today our journey continues westwards through the Taklamakan Desert. Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to stay in local hotels near Korla or Bayanbulak on our first night and Aksu on our second.
On our second day travelling through the Taklamakan Desert, we plan to stay the night near Aksu.
Today we complete our journey to the far west of China, arriving in Kashgar, once one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route!
We will spend 3 nights in Kashgar, during which time there will be lots of opportunity to explore the city and its central Id Kah Mosque. We will also have an included visit to the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar.
We have a free day in Kashgar for optional activities.
For everyone that is continuing with us to Kyrgyzstan, there will be quick pre-departure meeting in the early morning in order to explain the next 6 days until Bishkek, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section.In the afternoon we will do an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world!Tonight we will stay in a good quality local hotel
Border Information: Exit China at Torugart, enter Kyrgyzstan at Torugart.Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan! We will head just over the border to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt.We will spend 2 nights in Tash Rabat. On the second day we will have time to explore the local area. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
We will spend 2 nights in Tash Rabat. On the second day we will have time to explore the local area.
Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.Please note that if nobody from this group is leaving in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a 2-3 hour drive from Tash Rabat). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily on the next section and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat this morning.
Today we have a short drive to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city.In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (from Kochkor).
Today there will be a group meeting at 10:00am for the next section of the trip towards Tashkent. The rest of the day will be free to further explore the city.