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Retracing the Northern Silk Road from Urumqi to Dunhuang

by fangrace

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Visit the pristine Heavenly Lake outside of Urumqi and take in the areas dramatic scenery.

Explore the Xinjiang Regional Museum with its fascinating collection of mummies, pottery, weapons, and religious works.

Travel to the oasis city of Turpan and visit the ancient ruins of Jiaohe, once an important city on the Silk Road (Silk Road tour).

Marvel at the Mogao Grottoes, which mark the heigh of Buddhist artistic development in China.

Imagine long caravan lines stretching across vast sanddunes and weary travelers relaxing in the shade of a desert oasis. The Silk Road evokes these types of exotic images. Itwas a route that lead tradesmen and monks, spreading their foreign goods,languages, inventions and beliefs, through mountains, deserts and seas fromEurope to Asia. Oasis settlements wereincredibly important in the functioning of this road ad they provided restingspots for travelers seeking food, water, shelter, and rest. This commercialsystem not only aided the spread of goods, and therefore the enrichment ofcountries, but also enabled people's religious beliefs (Buddhism, Islam,Christianity) and theories to become more widely known. This meant moretolerance among warring nations who often fought without understanding theiropponents. Also, the circulation of inventions, such as the compass andgunpowder pushed science forward tremendously.

Today, the Silk Roadis no longer the important commercial route it once was, but it still providestravelers with a stunning desert landscape that seems to change continuously,as well as with an abundance of religious treasures. Oasis towns like Dunhuang,Turpan, and Urumqibecame centers of trade for spices, silk, and other fineries. Starting in Urumqi, we move on to the ancient ruins of Turpan,where we can begin to imagine the past glory of these oasis outposts.

From Turpan we travel on to Dunhuang,the terminus of our journey, where we visit the Mogao Grottoes (top attraction for top China tours), one of the richest collections of ancient Buddhist murals and statues in China.

Featured Trip Plan:

Day 1: Arrive in Urumqi and travel to Heavenly Lake. Return to Urumqi for dinner and an evening stroll through the city's night market.

Day 2: Visit the Xinjiang Regional Museum with its fascinating collection of mummies. Drive to Turpan and visit the Bezelik Caves.

Day 3: Tour the ancient ruins of Jiaohe near Turpan. Visit the Keraz Well and then head to the Sugong Tower. Return to Turpan and visit the city's famous bazaar and then end the evening with a meal and a Uygur dance performance. Take an overnight train to Dunhuang.

Day 4: Arrive in Dunhuang and visit the Mogao Grottoes. At dusk travel of China to the Mingsha Sand Dunes and take a camel ride to the Crescent Moon Lake. Return to Dunhuang and explore the Shazhou Night Market.

Day 5: Depart Dunhuang.

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