The Silk Road, China Itinerary

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Traveling the Silk Road:The Ancient Pathway
to the Modern World
September 12-29, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 / Fly Nonstop San Francisco to Xi’an
1:35 pm Depart on UA # 853 (You could fly September 10 with 2 extra days)
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 / Arrive Xi’an
5:30 pm Arrive Xi’an. Meet Gerald Hatherly and transfer to the Sofitel Legend Hotel.
Ancient X’ian was the starting point for caravans leaving China for the arduous trek west into death-defying deserts and over impassable mountain ranges.
Evening: Short briefing, drinks and light dinner.
Sofitel Legend Hotel, Grand premium rooms
Meals: D

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 / Arrive Xi’an
5:30 pm Arrive Xi’an. Meet Gerald Hatherly and transfer to the Sofitel Legend Hotel.
Ancient X’ian was the starting point for caravans leaving China for the arduous trek west into death-defying deserts and over impassable mountain ranges.
Evening: Short briefing, drinks and light dinner.
Sofitel Legend Hotel, Grand premium rooms
Meals: D
Thursday, September 14, 2017 / Ancient Xi’an
Breakfast at hotel and morning briefing
X’ian served as China’s capital during the reign of the first emperor of China. The legendary, life-size, 6,000 man terracotta army created to protect his tomb, was discovered in 1974. Gerald will give a presentation of this breathtaking archaeological find and our day of special visits. Our visit includes a special viewing from ‘Er Tai’, the lower level platform, and an exclusive visit to the Restoration Lab to see excavated figures being put back together- this is closed to the public! Professor Wang Xueli, former director of the archeological excavation site, will explain what is being done in this lab. We also visit Pits 1,2,3; the Bronze Chariot Museum; and a special film on the history of the Terra-Cotta site.
Lunch- Defachang Dumpling Restaurant

In the afternoon we will enjoy visits to the Shaanxi History Museum, housing objects dating 1.7 million years old. We will meet with the director and have a special tour of the Tang dynasty imperial murals and the Tang Silver and Gold collection. Gerald will explain the relevance of these collections to the history of the Silk Road. Next, we tour the Old City Quarter exploring its direct links to the Silk Road. The Great Mosque visit includes a special meeting with the Imam or his son.

Dinner at Hai Shi Restaurant
Sofitel Legend Hotel, Xi’an

Friday, Sept 15, 2017 / Xi’an to Tianshui
Breakfast at the hotel
Depart for station
8:24 am     Depart X’ian train #117
11:54 am   Arrive Tianshui

Afternoon visit to the Dadiwan Neolithic Excavation site.
Dinner and Overnight: The Feitian Meiju Hotel (Deluxe Rooms, Meals: B L D)
Visit the “Night Market” in Tianshui

Saturday, Sept 16, 2017 / Tianshui to Lanzhou
Breakfast at hotel
Morning visit to the Maijishan Buddhist Grottoes named “Wheat Stack Mountain” in Chinese. The Buddhist grottoes here are important for their age (4th century) and their strategic location. Maijishan represents a crossroads both for west to east trade and the southern link to Chengdu and eventually India. Buddhist images and murals show Indian and SE Asian influence and forms.
3:55 pm     Depart Tianshui Train # 307
8:06 pm     Arrive Lanzhou
Lanzhou was former caravan stop on the Silk Road and an historic transit point for the wool, silk and tea trades.
Wanda Vista Hotel, Lanzhou
(Deluxe Rooms) Meals: B L D

Sunday, Sept 17, 2017 / Lanzhou
Breakfast at the hotel
Depart for the Liujiaxia Dam (1 hr) by private boat via the Yellow River. Visit the Binglingsi Grottoes Buddhist site.
Return Wanda Vista hotel for dinner and the night market.
Meals: B L D

Monday, Sept 18, 2017 / Lanzhou to Jiayuguan to Dunhuang
Breakfast at hotel
Transfer to airport (1 hour)
9:25 am Depart Lanzhou 3U #8771
10:50 am Arrive Jiayuguan
Upon arrival in Jiayuguan visit the Jiayuguan pass fortress constructed during the Ming dynasty. This landmark marks the end of the Great Wall during the Ming period.
Visit the Wei Jin Tombs, 3rd and 4th century sites, with their remarkable records documenting early Chinese daily life: farming, festivals etc.

Fly from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang

Silk Road Hotel, Dunhuang (Deluxe Rooms)
Meals: B L D
Dinner and drinks on the balcony of the hotel

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 / Mogao Caves and Dunhuang
Breakfast at the hotel and briefing by Gerald
Dunhuang was a major crossroads on the Silk Road where Indian, Chinese and Central Asian monks and pilgrims mixed with merchants, traders and camel caravans. Today you will visit the world’s greatest Buddhist sight– the Thousand Buddha Caves with nearly 500 grottoes containing 1,000 years of Buddhist sculpture, art and murals. (No, we will NOT visit them all—except those handpicked by Gerald). Once at the Mogao Caves, we will meet with the director of the Dunhuang Academy who will give us a special access tour of select caves led by specialist guides from the Dunhuang Institute.
Lunch on site
This afternoon enjoy the Dunhuang Museum and a city market.
At dusk those with interest embark on a special sunset camel safari to the towering Mingsha “Singing Sands” dunes, and enjoy a champagne toast.
Dunhuang Silk Road Hotel
Meals: B L D

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 / Great Wall and Urumqi
Breakfast at the hotel
Depart this morning for the Han dynasty Great Wall and the Yumen Pass Fortress. Both of these iconic sites, near Dunhuang, are vitally important to the history of the Silk Road.
Lunch at the hotel
Depart hotel for the Liuyuan Station
3:04 pm     Depart on high speed train to cross the Gobi Desert (2 ½ hours) First class seats
7:38 pm     Arrive Urumqi
Vista Hotel (Deluxe Rooms)
Meals: B L D

Thursday, September 21, 2017 / Nanshan and Urumqi
Breakfast in hotel
Today we travel to Nanshan (1 hour) to visit the nomadic Kazakh family encampment where we see traditional summer/fall yurts, traditional Kazakh horse races and acrobatics, as well as visit with local families.
Upon our return to Urumqi, we will have a special access tour of the Xinjiang Archeological Institute, which is closed to the public. Here we see one of the most important archeological discoveries of the 20th century—400 well preserved Caucasoid mummies including Yingpan man, found in the Taklamakan Desert. (Figure to the right) Following we visit the Er Dao Qiao Bazaar (largest in Urumqi).
Dinner at a local Uighur Restaurant
The Vista Hotel, (Deluxe rooms)
Meals: B L D

Friday, September 22, 2017 / Turfan–the Lost Silk Road

Breakfast at the hotel
Traveling overland to the oasis city of Turfan (2.5 hours) we will observe its mix of Ulghur, Han Chinese and Hui peoples.  Gaochang (Karakhoja), an ancient city state, is our destination followed by the Astana Tombs (Gaochang promises to be a trip highlight).

Lunch at a private Uighur compound with traditional Uighur music and dance.

Continuing our excursion, we visit the 180 foot Suleman Minaret and the 18th century mosque, one of the best preserved in China.  Jiaohe (Yarkhoto) is next–another ancient city site and excavation.  Finally, we will see the Karez, irrigation channels developed 2000 years ago by the Uighur using snow from the Tian Shan Mountains to mitigate the extreme heat and cold in the desert landscape.  This system is one of the three great ancient engineering projects in China.

The Turfan Hotel

Meals:  B L D

Saturday, September 23, 2017 / Turfan/Urumqi/Kashgar
Breakfast at the hotel
Depart Turfan for Urumqui airport (2 ½ hrs)
1:50 pm Depart Urumqi CZ # 6805
3:40 pm Arrive Kashgar
Transfer to the Jinjiang Hotel followed by a walk in the old town with tea in a traditional Uighur compound. Dinner in the city at a traditional Uighur Restaurant
Jinjiang Hotel, Kashgar
Meals: B L D

Sunday, September 24, 2017 / Kashgar Markets and More
Breakfast at hotel
Today we visit the world famous Kashgar Market, another highlight of this journey. Each Sunday thousands of people—Uighurs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Han Chinese converge to trade and socialize. Goods and services of every description change hands in one of the last great markets where you can experience both the livestock and general sundries. Following this morning of exploration, we will visit Abjak Hoja’s Tomb and Mausoleum (a 16th century holy man and local leader), the Id Kah Mosque (the largest in China) and the bazaar and handicraft street.
This evening we will enjoy a roast lamb, Xinjiang style, with music and traditional dance at Chini Bagh, the original garden and home of Lord George Macartney, British envoy to Kashgar from 1890-1918.
Jingiang Hotel
Meals: B L D

Monday, September 25, 2017 / Karakorum Highway and Lake Karakuli
Breakfast at the hotel
Enjoy a full-day excursion on one of the most scenic drives in all the world. The Karakorum Highway will take us out of the desert and into the Tamir Plateau. Linking China and Pakistan, we follow it to Lake Karakuli, one of the greatest natural wonders in western China. Viewing Pakistan and its famous Kongur Tagh peak at 25,088 feet, will delight our senses. A picnic lunch, a walk along the lakeshore, meeting Kirgiz nomads, all make a splendid day. In the late afternoon return to Kashgar for dinner.
Jinjiang Hotel, Kashgar
Meals: B L D

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 / Kashgar to Chengdu
Breakfast at hotel
10:45 am Depart CZ #8526
12:35 pm Arrive Urumqi
Lunch in Urumqi Airport
2:40 pm Depart Urumqi
5:50 pm Arrive Chengdu
Transfer to Ritz Carlton Hotel
Briefing on Chengdu at the Ritz followed by dinner
Ritz Carlton Chengdu (deluxe rooms)
Meals: B L D

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 / Chengdu
Breakfast at hotel
We complete our journey with a visit to the city that opened the southern silk road trading route—Chengdu in Sichuan. But first a morning spent at the Giant Panda Breeding Center makes for a memorable day. A zoologist will explain the sensitivities of the life-cycle of the pandas, allow us to enter the enclosure and participate in feeding. Near this area is where they are
releasing them slowly back into the wild to continue to study their survival skills in native habitat.
Lunch at the Six Senses Resort
Afternoon visits include exploring Sichuan traditions still very active in the Peoples Park. like tea drinking ceremonies, personal massage and more practiced for many eras in the Peoples Park today. This is exceptional “culture-watching”! Following visit the Jinsha Museum which dates to 1,000 B.C. and includes a cache of ancient bronze and ivory work. Finish the day in Jinli Street filled with last minute surprises.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant followed by a “Face Changing” Sichuan performance.
Ritz Carlton Hotel
Meals: B L D

Thursday, September 28, 2017 Leshan
Breakfast in the hotel
Drive overland to Leshan (85 miles) to visit the largest Buddha in the world, known as The Giant Buddha (233 ft) and dating to the Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Return to Chengdu followed by evening farewell dinner.
Ritz Carlton
Meals: B L D
Of course you can also enjoy the Ritz for the day or a day of leisure in Chengdu

Friday, September 29, 2017 Fly Chengdu to San Francisco
Breakfast at hotel
Transfer to Chengdu Airport
9:50 am Depart UA #8
8:20 am Arrive San Francisco (same day)
Welcome Home!

This Art of Travel itinerary has been custom designed by world-renowned A&K Resident Tour Director, Gerald Hatherly, exclusively for our guests. Gerald has been designated a Conde Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist in China since 2003.

Land Only includes: 16 nights hotel, all sightseeing and entrances, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, overland by bus and 2 train trips, all transfers, admissions, fully guided by Gerald Hatherly daily, Art of Travel tour escort, Susan Mammel.

Excluded: Domestic air within China (lower range is $1600 to higher range $1900 until ticketed), international nonstop air from San Francisco to X’ian/ Chengdu to San Francisco, trip cancellation/interruption insurance based on 10 (group insurance from $667 and not based on age) and gratuities.

Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance Group insurance is offered through Travel Safe for this trip based on 10 travelers. Rates per person from $667 based on cost of trip.

If you would like to sign up for this trip, follow this link to print out our trip application:

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