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Guides / Itineraries

A Silk Road journey to northwestern China

By Minjun Xu

July 22

The Silk Road was an important ancient network that linked the East and West and facilitated momentous commercial and cultural interactions.

The Silk Road was an important ancient network that linked the East and West and facilitated momentous commercial and cultural interactions.

Interested in ancient Chinese culture? The landscapes and history on this northwestern China journey are sure to inspire your wonder.

Day 1 : Qinghai Lake 青海湖

Qinghai Lake [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Han Jiajun]
Qinghai Lake [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Han Jiajun]
Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Qinghai Province, Qinghai Lake – China’s largest lake – is known for the gorgeous summertime blossoming of its surrounding flora and a magnificent bird migration from May to July.

Transport: Erlangjian(二郎剑), one of Qinghai Lake’s main scenic spots, is 151 kilometers from Xining, the capital of the province. You can take a regular bus to nearby Chaka Town (茶卡镇) from the city center.

Entry: 50 yuan/person (May.16-Oct.19); 100 yuan/person (Oct.20-April.15)

Day 2 : Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park 张掖丹霞国家地质公园

Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Yuan]
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Zhang Yuan]
Considered one of China’s seven most beautiful Danxia landforms, Zhangye Danxia Park has long been a paradise for photographers. Breathtaking mountains and hills made of red sandstone will leave you with unforgettable memories.

Transport: Take a regular bus from the west bus station in Zhangye. The first and last departures are 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Entry: 40 yuan/person

Opening hours: 7:00-18:00 (summer); 7:30-17:00 (winter)

Day 3 : Jiayu Pass 嘉峪关

Jiayu Pass [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/He Dongping]
Jiayu Pass [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/He Dongping]
Built during the Ming Dynasty, Jiayu Pass was the first key pass in the western part of the Ming Great Wall and a formidable Silk Road fortress. Jiayu Pass has an inner and outer city, a moat and a watchtower from which you can see the snow-capped Qilian Mountains(祁连山).

Transport: Jiayu Pass is six kilometers southwest of Jiayuguan You can take Bus No. 4 or No. 6 from the city center.

Entry: 120 yuan/person (May-Oct.); 100 yuan/person (Nov.-April)

Opening Hour: 8:30-20:00 (May-Oct.); 8:30-18:00 (Nov.-April)

Day 4 : Yueyaquan (Crescent Lake) 月牙泉

Yueyaquan [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Qiong]
Yueyaquan [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Qiong]
Six kilometers south of Dunhuang, in Gansu, Yueyaquan is a crescent-shaped lake surrounding by a small oasis.

Transport: Take Bus No.3 at the Dunhuang bus station on Mingshan Road in Dunhuang City and get off at the gate of scenic spot to start your visit.

Entry: 120 yuan/person (April-Oct.); 80 yuan/person (Nov.-Mar.)

Opening hours: 5:30-21:30 (April-Oct.); 7:30-19:30 (Nov.-Mar.)

Day 5 : Mogao Caves 莫高窟

Mogao Caves [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Qiong]
Mogao Caves [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Qiong]
The Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, are famous for their exquisite frescos and sculptures. Perhaps the most important site for Buddhist art in the world, the Mogao Caves bear witness to a millennium of Buddhism in China.

Transport: You can take a regular bus at Dunghuang Hotel in Dunghuang City during May to October and take a taxi during November to April.

Entry: 260 yuan/person (May-Oct.); 130 yuan/person (Nov.-April)

Opening Hour: 8:00-18:00 (May-Oct.); 9:00-17:30 (Nov.-April)

Day 6: Flaming Mountains 火焰山

Flaming Mountains [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/ Jiang Xiaoming]
Flaming Mountains [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/ Jiang Xiaoming]
The Flaming Mountains, located near Turpan in Xinjiang, are well-known as the setting of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. In summer, erosion of the red sandstone combined with high temperatures make the mountains look flaming.

Transport: You can take a bus to Flaming Mountains Scenic Spot from the Turpan bus station.

Entry: 40 yuan/person

Opening hours: 8:00-21:00 (April.21-Oct.20); 10:00-18:30 (Oct.21-April.20)

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