Silk Road

A journey along the Silk Road is an opportunity to discover an altogether different side of China. Here merchants have been trading their goods for over two thousand years and nowhere more than at the famous Kashgar market. Ideas and religion were exchanged too with Muslim and Buddhist beliefs featuring prominently in this part of the country.

Kashgar

Kashgar sits in a remote corner of western China but has thrived for two millennia as a crossroads on the Silk Road. The city is rightly famous for its Sunday Market with tens of thousands of people buying produce ranging from local fruits to traditional clothing and live animals. The local inhabitants are Uighur Muslims and the Islamic influence is present at the Id Kah Mosque, the Abakh Khoja Tomb and the many bustling bazaars. You will also notice a difference in the local food which is similar to that in Central Asia.

Turpan

Turpan is an oasis city which is cleverly irrigated by the karez system of underground channels that diverts water from the base of the Tian Shan Mountains. This provides ideal growing conditions and the city is famous within China for its grapes, raisins and wine.

The area around Turpan has a long and important history which can be seen at the ruins of ancient Gaochang city and the murals of Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves.

Dunhuang

Dunhuang is a small city that clings to the edge of the Taklimakan Desert. It is best known for the Buddhist sculptures of the Mogao Grottoes and the large collection of ancient manuscripts that were found here. While in Dunhuang, experience the desert by visiting the Singing Sand Dunes and the oasis of Crescent Moon Spring, and maybe riding a camel.

Jiayuguan

The highlight of Jiayuguan is the fortress constructed in 1372 during the Ming Dynasty to protect this remote outpost of the Chinese empire. It remains one of the largest and best preserved forts in China. Jiayuguan marks the western extremity of the Great Wall of China, which you can climb on a section known as the Overhanging Great Wall.

Heavenly Lake

Travel to the far reaches of the Silk Road and you will pass through the gateway city of Urumqi. While here don’t miss a day trip to Heavenly Lake, a beautiful world of lush forest, sparkling water and snow-capped peaks. Heavenly Lake, known locally as Tian Chi, is at an elevation of 2,000 metres in the Bogda Shan range of mountains. Enjoy the scenery on a boat ride across the lake or by walking around the shore.

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