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Itinerary: China Silk Road Odyssey

Abercrombie & Kent | Great Wall of China

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Abercrombie & Kent has just released this 12-day tour of the ancient Silk Road in China. You will traverse this vast hinterland of Asia, the rugged and desolate landscapes and once-flourishing oasis cities, and trading outposts. Visit sites important to both the Buddhist and Uighur culture, and explore the cities of Urumqi, Turfan and Kashgar – places that have captured the imagination for centuries.

Day 1

Xian

Arrive into China’s ancient imperial capital where you will be transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours to settle in and admire the panoramic city views from your room.

Day 2

Xian

Thanks to its Silk Road heritage, Xian boasts a wealth of history. Today you will start your journey by heading out to the Muslim Quarter to visit the Great Mosque, one of the most interesting sites in a city teeming with attractions. The next landmark you will visit today is the impressive Ming period city wall, which encircles the Muslim Quarter, and is one of the most complete ancient city walls in China. The afternoon is at leisure before drinks this evening to welcome you on this journey, and a special Chinese dinner.

Day 3

Xian

Today, Xian’s most famous attraction awaits – the Terracotta Warriors. First discovered by farmers digging a well outside the city in 1974, the terracotta army is regarded by many as the most sensational archaeological discovery of the 20th century. Each of three pits serves a different military purpose including the vanguard and side flanks, military encampment, and strategic headquarters. On this excursion you’ll visit each of the pits as well as the bronze chariot hall and a newly opened theatre in the round which shows a short film on the history of the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty (206–220 B.C.). After your time exploring this extraordinary site, you will return to the hotel with the afternoon at leisure.

Day 4

Xian – Dunhuang

Today you’ll board a flight west to Dunhuang, an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. Here, you’ll admire the vast collection of artifacts in the Dunhuang Museum including many from the Western Han period as well as some remaining scrolls from the famous Mogao Caves which we’ll visit in the coming days. This evening, you will dine on the roof top of your hotel overlooking the dunes of the Gobi Desert.

Day 5

Dunhuang

Today on your exploration of the Mogao Caves you will be accompanied by experts from the Dunhuang Academy who will share their in-depth knowledge on the site. Also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, this is the most well-preserved repository of Buddhist art in the world and your visit includes special access to some which are normally closed to the public.

This evening, before dinner, there is time to explore the central market area on your own. This is the largest outdoor market in Dunhuang and specialises in fresh produce and local handicrafts.

Day 6

Dunhuang

Your focus today is the Buddhist Yulin Caves to the east, which have a magnificent setting on a cliff face above a dry river gully. The caves vary in quality of mural preservation but there are some outstanding examples including some from the 11th century. Then tonight after dinner, soak up the local atmosphere of the bustling night market.

Today the journey takes you northwest to Yumen Guam, or Jade Gate Pass, so named for the precious commodity transported by merchants from Hotan in the southwest. The pass was a strategic point on the ancient Silk Road and a gateway from central China to the western regions. Nearby is a 2,000 year-old remnant of the Great Wall from the Han Period built from layers of stamped earth, sand, straw and brushwood. The wall here is 3.5 metre high and is in reasonably good condition. You will then arrive into Urumqi, where your luxury accommodations await this evening.

The destination today is the oasis town of Turpan where we visit the impressive ruins of the ancient city of Gaochang. Built in the 2nd century B.C. as a garrison town it became a key point on the Silk Road. There is time to explore the ruined temples, palaces and ramparts before heading back to Turpan’s 18th century Emin Minaret built of brick and designed in the style of Iran’s pre-Savafid architecture. You’ll have a wonderful cultural interaction today when you are welcomed into a local Uighur home for a traditional lunch under a trellis of grapevines with local musicians performing.

You will have a special introduction to the Xinjiang Museum this morning with a museum expert revealing the two permanent exhibitions: the north wing focuses on archaeological treasures from the Silk Road, and the south wing on Xinjiang’s minority culture. On display are fragments of silk, brocade, embroidery, wool carpets and simple pottery and Han-dynasty pieces from the sites of the Loulan and Niya. Board an afternoon flight to remote Kashgar, in the far west of the country. This is the last great oasis town before reaching the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia. It has been a trading centre for millennia with a captivating spirit. Uighur craftsmen and artisans still hammer and chisel away in side alleys, traders haggle over deals in the bazaars and donkey carts trundle through the streets.

  • Stay at Yue Xing Jin Jiang International Hotel (Executive Room)
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Your introduction to Kashgar starts at the Tomb of Abjak Hoja, a family funerary compound first constructed in the 16th century to honour the holy mystic and regional warlord, Abjak Hoja, who claimed direct ties to the prophet Muhammad. A highlight today is the great Sunday Market, a centuries old tradition when local farmers meet to trade livestock and stall holders sell spices, silk, tea, carpets, handicrafts, fresh produce and much more. After lunch, you will visit the Id Kah Mosque, the largest in China, which dates to the 15th century. It is the centre of religious life in Kashgar with an open courtyard and prayer hall that can accommodate over 3,000 devotees during festivals. Stretch your legs this afternoon and stroll through the quiet alleys of Kashgar’s old city. Tonight, you are invited as honoured guests into the home of a local Uighur family sampling the typical sweet tea and dried fruits of the region.

  • Stay at Yue Xing Jin Jiang International Hotel (Executive Room)
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

A visit to Artush Village reveals the imposing tomb of Sultan Bughra Khan, one of the first Turkic rulers to convert to Islam. Relax alfresco in a local fig garden where drinks and local delicacies are shared. Tonight you will farewell new travelling companions over dinner in a family home with traditional Tajik and Uighur entertainment.

  • Stay at Yue Xing Jin Jiang International Hotel (Executive Room)
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Today you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight.

  • Breakfast

China Silk Road Odyssey

Travel Dates 2018

  • May 10, 2019 – May 21, 2019
  • Sep 6, 2019 – Sep 17, 2019

Prices

  • AU$9,785 per person

For more information and to enquire about this tour visit: www.abercrombiekent.com.au

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