Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Lanzhou & Xiahe
History & Culture
The Hexi Corridor in Gansu is a historical grand passage bridging China with Central and West Asia. The constant flow of commerce left behind a rich legacy of Buddhist sculptures, paintings, beacon towers, forts, chunks of the Great Wall and ancient trading towns in its wake, serving as the foundation of the great Silk Road.
We start the trip from the oasis city of Dunhuang with its magnificent Mogao Grottoes, heading east to the rainbow coloured landscape of Zhangye, visit the rich historical collection of Lanzhou museum and dip into the Tibetan culture at Xiahe’s grassland.
Arriving in Dunhuang Airport, we will transfer to your hotel to rest. Dunhuang is the westernmost outpost of West Han Dynasty where trade, culture and religion were exchanged during the Silk Road times. This evening, you can explore the night bazaar at your own leisure.
Today, we explore the world-famous Mogao Caves (UNESCO), including special access to caves not normally accessible to the public. Enjoy a camel ride to view the lovely sunset in the Singing Sands Mountain. You will also visit the Crescent Moon Lake – a natural wonder in the Gobi Desert. Relax and enjoy a fantastic sunset dinner by the dunes.
Start the day with an artefact-rich journey from prehistoric to Qing Dynasty times at Dunhuang Museum (closed Mon). Transfer to Jade Gate Pass, a former military station of the Han Dynasty. Visit a section of Han Dynasty Great Wall and witness sunset bathing the ruined ruined city walls of Hecang Town in golden lights.
Drive 380km to Jiayuguan Pass. Visit one of the 1,400 Wei Jin Tombs with brick-wall paintings depicting scenes of everyday life. Continue to Jiayuguan, a Ming Dynasty fort marketing the Western end of the dynasty. Running north from the fort is the Overhanging Great Wall which offers a bird’s eye view of the endless Gobi desert and snow-capped peaks in the distance.
This morning, we drive approx. 225km to Zhangye, one of the four outposts in the middle of the Hexi Corridor, the name means “Extending the arm of the nation to its Western Realm”. Spend the afternoon to explore Zhangye Danxia Geopark’s colourful-layered rock formations. Take our private park vehicle to visit up to 8 viewing platforms and sundowner at a fantastic viewpoint.
Devote this morning to visit Mati Si (approx. 75km from Zhangye Danxia), or Horse’s Hoof Temple, famous for its grottoes and spectacular cave temples. Visit the Thousand Buddha Caves, one of the most accessible of the grottoes.
Embark an adventure to hike in the Pingshan Lake Grand Canyon, enjoy the red-layer geomorphology, mainly red and white and slightly gray colors of the low and gentle sandstone mountains.
Take the morning bullet train (09h38m-13h51) to Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province.
Visit the Provincial Museum (closed Mon) with intriguing Silk Road collection, including the graceful Eastern Han (25 BC-AD 220) bronze horse galloping upon the back of a swallow, which is now the symbol of China tourism. Spend some time for an orientation tour of the city landmarks such as Zhongshan Bridge, Water Wheel of the Yellow River and Statue of Mother of Yellow River.
Drive about 1.5 hours to visit the exterior of Liujiaxia Hydroelectric Power Station. After lunch, take a 40-minute private speedboat to Binglingsi Grottoes (or “Ten Thousand Buddha Caves” in Tibetan), carved on Jishi Hill. Return by boat to the Dam and drive 2 hours to the monastic town of Xiahe and stay in a luxury nomad camp (opens 1 May-15 Oct) at Sangke Grassland ringed by Himalayans foothills.
Start at Labrang Monastery, the spiritual heartbeat of Kanlho and one of the six great monasteries of the Geluk (Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Walk the world’s longest “kora” around the Monastery and observe the daily life of local monks, followed with a wonderful view of Labrang from Gong Tang Pagoda. Continue to the old Octagonal Town, where the Tibetan and Han people live from the ancient times until today. Return to the campsite to wind down over sauna, grassland horse riding, hiking, or visit to black yak textile studios. As the night falls, star gaze around a bonfire.
After a relaxing breakfast, we drive to Linxia Autonomous prefecture to visit its Grand Mosque and have a walk in the local market. Thereafter, we transfer to the Lanzhou airport for your flight home.
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel • Jiayuguan Hotel • Zhangye Hotel • Crowne Plaza Lanzhou • Norden Camp Xiahe
Situated against the backdrop of the picturesque Mingsha Sand Dunes, the hotel captures the spirit of the Tang Dynasty with its unique architectural design as well as replica of the late Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties furniture. (Opened: 1995; Rooms: 282)View More
A chain of InterContinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza hotels is a leading business hotel and the first international upscale hotel in Gansu province. Located along the Yellow River, some rooms come with panoramic view of Yellow River and the city. (Opened: 2012; Rooms: 440)
This luxury glamping on the Tibetan Plateau is one of China’s best-kept secrets, framed by snow-capped peaks and an 11-hectare rolling grasslands dotted with yaks and sheeps. You may choose to stay in a yak wool tent or a log cabin. (Opened: 2012; Rooms: 13 fully appointed cabins and tents)View More
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