Ancient Silk Road from 2nd to 16th April 2024

Please note that this is not a photography trip. It’s an adventure and discovery trip of the
Ancient Silk Road

The Ancient Silk Road was an extensive network of trade routes that connected various regions
of Asia and Europe, facilitating the exchange of goods, culture, and ideas. One of the most
significant stretches of this historic trade route ran from the city of Xi’an to Kashgar, covering
a vast distance across the diverse landscapes of China and Central Asia.
Xi’an, located in present-day Shaanxi Province, was the eastern starting point of the Silk Road.
It served as the capital of multiple dynasties in ancient China, including the Han, Sui, and Tang
dynasties. As a cultural and economic hub, Xi’an played a crucial role in the exchange of goods
and knowledge between East and West. It was from this city that caravans embarked on their
arduous journey westward.

The route from Xi’an to Kashgar encompassed approximately 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles)
and traversed through a variety of terrains and climatic zones. Caravans would navigate
through the deserts, mountains, and oasis towns of China’s western provinces before reaching
the borders of modern-day Xinjiang, an autonomous region of China.

Leaving Xi’an, the Silk Road travellers ventured westward, passing through the Hexi Corridor, a
narrow strip of fertile land flanked by the towering Qilian Mountains to the south and the Gobi
Desert to the north. This corridor acted as a vital gateway between the agricultural heartland
of China and the vast expanse of Central Asia.

Continuing along the route, the caravans would reach the city of Dunhuang, which served as a
pivotal oasis stop on the Silk Road. Dunhuang was renowned for the Mogao Caves, a UNESCO
World Heritage site, housing a treasure trove of Buddhist art and manuscripts. The city was a
melting pot of cultures, with merchants, scholars, and pilgrims from various backgrounds
converging there.

Beyond Dunhuang, the Silk Road diverged into two main branches. The northern route
traversed the inhospitable Taklamakan Desert, known as the “Sea of Death.” Caravans had to
endure the harsh desert conditions, often relying on well-organized and resourceful camel
caravaneers to navigate this treacherous landscape. Along this northern route, travellers
encountered significant oasis towns such as Turpan, famous for its grapes and unique irrigation
systems called Karsk, and Kucha, an important centre of Buddhist learning.

The southern route, although longer, offered a safer passage by skirting the southern edge of
the Taklamakan Desert. This path followed the foothills of the towering Pamir and Tian Shan
mountain ranges, offering breathtaking scenery and milder climates. The southern route
passed through cities like Kashgar, Hotan, and Kargilik, which were crucial centres of trade and

cultural exchange. Kashgar, in particular, held great significance as a bustling hub connecting
the Silk Road routes from Central Asia, India, and China.

Kashgar, situated in the westernmost part of China, was a melting pot of different cultures,
religions, and ethnicities. It served as a crucial crossroads where merchants from various
regions came together, bringing goods such as silk, spices, precious stones, and other
commodities from the East. At the same time, it acted as a gateway for Western merchants to
access the riches of China.

The Ancient Silk Road from Xi’an to Kashgar was not merely a commercial route. It fostered an
exchange of ideas, languages, religions, and technologies. Buddhism, Islam, Nestorian
Christianity, and Zoroastrianism all spread along this route, leaving traces in the diverse
cultures that thrived along its path. The Silk Road played a significant role in shaping the history
and development of civilizations, leaving a lasting legacy that still resonates today.

I have been fascinated by the stories and myths of the Silk Road since I was young. I had always
wanted to journey along this Ancient Silk Road. About 14 years ago, I journeyed along the Silk
Road for the first time starting from Xian, China. I have since travelled along both the Northern
and Southern routes for more than 5 times ending up in Kashgar.

There are two mountain passes from Kashgar, the Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains
leading from China to Central Asia and Europe via Kyrgyzstan and the Khunjerab Pass along the
Karakorum Highway to Pakistan and India. I have journeyed through this Torugart Pass all the
way to Dushanbe in Tajikistan. This is the route that Marco Polo took in his travels to China.
The other route is through Khunjerab Pass through the Karakorum Mountains via the
Karakorum highway to Pakistan and then to India.

The famous Tang Dynasty Monk, Xuan Zang went through this Pass to India to look for Buddhist
scriptures. The Silk Road is notoriously long and tedious to navigate. The plan is now to
commute by flight, high-speed trains, and buses from town to town. We will arrive at Xian, the
beginning of the Silk Road journey. From here, we will fly to Dunhuang and then by high-speed
train to Turpan.

We will board our bus at Turpan for the rest of the trip to Kashgar. We will allocate two seats
for each participant for a more comfortable ride. That is why we are restricting the number of
participants on this trip.

We will visit the towns north of the Taklamakan Desert. From Turpan, we will journey to Korla,
Kuqa, and Alaer. From Alaer, we will journey across the largest desert in China, the Taklamakan
Desert. This is one of the harshest deserts in the world, and many brave people have lost their
lives here. We will reach the town of Hotan, an oasis town famous for its jade trade on the
south of the Taklamakan Desert.

We will be journeying to the south of the desert to Kashgar. Kashgar is a very important town
on the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road. From Kashgar, we will take a flight to Urumqi, the
capital of Xinjiang. We will take another flight from Urumqi back to Xian where our journey
ends. We will be staying at 3 to 5 stars hotels throughout our journey.

How do we get there?
Before the pandemic, AirAsia flew directly from Kuala Lumpur to Xian. However, only airlines
in China like Xiamen Airlines and Southern Airlines fly to Xian via another stopover in China.

Difficulty of the trip
This is an easy trip. There is not much walking involved other than walking at locations. Please
note that there is a 20kg limit to luggage allowance for domestic flights. Power banks should
not exceed 10,000 mAh each.

It is Springtime along the Silk Road. The temperatures range from 8 to 23 deg C. Please be
prepared for these temperature fluctuations.

Meeting place
We will meet in Xian, China, the starting point of our tour. We will provide pick-up at Xian

You can find both halal, non-halal, vegetarian, and other food all along the Silk Road. Most of
the locals consume mutton as only goats can survive very well in this harsh environment. There
will be one meal a day on your own. This will give you the flexibility to try out other local

Chinese Visa
Our Chinese Travel Agent will assist in issuing a letter of invitation and other documents
necessary for the application for the Chinese Visa. Visa Fees are not included

Day 1 – 2nd Apr Arrive at Xian (no meals)

  • Arrived at Xian
  • Meet and pick up at Xian Airport
  • Check-in hotel
    Day 2 – 3rd Apr Xi’an (B,L)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit Terra-cotta Army – a UNESCO Heritage SITE
  • Lunch
  • Banpo Village. An ancient village that was about 6,500 years old.
  • Back to the hotel
  • Xian cultural show (optional)
    Day 3 – 4th Apr Xian-Dunhuang (B,D)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit the Muslim morning market
  • Visit the Xian Grand Mosque
  • Transfer to the airport and fly to Dunhuang,
  • Visit the Sand dunes and crescent moon lake.
  • Dinner
  • Encore Dunhuang – the history of the Silk Road – (Optional)
  • Visit the night market at night.
    Day 4 – 5th Apr – Dunhuang-Turpan (B,L)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit the Mogao Grottoes in the morning,
  • Lunch
  • Drive to the Liuyuan for high-speed train D55 to Turpan (16:35-19:56)
  • Arrive at Turpan
  • Check in hotel.
    Day 5 – 6th Apr – Turpan (B,L)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit the Karez Museum. A traditional 2,000-year-old irrigation system of wells and
    underground channels.
  • Drive to Tuyud Village, an ancient village along the Silk Road
  • Lunch in a local family’s house.
  • Drive back to Turpan
  • Free and easy

Day 6 – 7th Apr – Turpan-Korla – 400km (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Drive to Korla(the second largest city in Xinjiang),400kms,
  • 5 to 6 hours’ drive including stops on the way.
  • Pear tree planting area is large, so Korla is also often called “the town of pear”, due to
    it’s good ecological environment,
  • Swans from Siberia make this place their annual winter resort.
  • Lunch along the way
  • Check-in at Korla Hotel
  • Free and easy
    Day 7 – 8th Apr – Korla-Kuqa (300km) (B,L or D)
  • Breakfast
  • Depart for Kuqa (300km) about a 4 hours drive.
  • Visit the Tianshan Mysterious Grand Canyon
  • Kizil Grottoes – work here lasted from the 3rd to the 8th century.
  • Check-in at hotel in Kuqa
    Day 8 – 9th Apr – Kuqa-Alaer (330Km) (B,L)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit old town and bazaar in Kuqa
  • Lunch on the way
  • Drive to Alaer, the town at the northern tip of the Taklimakan Desert
  • Overnight at Alaer
    Day 9 – 10th Apr :Alaer-Hotan ( 425km) (B,L or D)
  • Breakfast
  • Alaer is famous for China’s desert reclamation project.
  • Drive to Hotan across the Taklamakan Desert, the largest desert in China. This is about
    6 hours’ drive
  • Upon arriving at Hotan, check-in hotel
  • Visit night market in Hotan for dinner
    Day 10 – 11th Apr Hotan-Kashgar (500km) (B,L)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit the unique jade trading market in Hotan
  • Lunch
  • Drive to Kashgar (500km; about 6 hours’ drive)
  • Check-in Hotel in Kashgar

Day 11 – 12th Apr – Kashgar (B,L or D)

  • Breakfast
  • Kashgar is one of the most important Oasis towns along the ancient silk road. It is from
    here that travellers travel to India through the Khunjerab Pass or to Central Asia through
    the Torugart Pass.
  • Visit the old town of Kashgar,
  • Visit Id-Kah Mosque the largest mosque in Xinjiang.
  • Visit a local Uyghur family and have a meal there.
  • Visit the Kashgar road market.
  • Free and easy
    Day 12 : 13th Apr – Kashgar(B,L or D)
  • Breakfast
  • Drive to the Kala Kule Lake (3,600m) on the Karakorum Highway to Pakistan.
  • Experience the snow-peak mountains on the Pamirs.
  • Tajiks are the main residents of this area.
  • Drive back to Kashgar
    Day 13 – 14th Apr – Kashgar-Urumqi (B,L)
  • Breakfast
  • Visit the 2,000-year-old ancient animal trading market
  • Transfer to the airport for the flight to Urumqi (1.5 hours flight)
  • Transfer to hotel at Urumqi
  • Visit the Grand Bazaar if we have the time
    Day 14 – 15th Apr – Urumqi(B,L) 8th April
  • Breakfast
  • Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang
  • Drive to visit Heavenly Lake in the Tianshan mountains.
  • Lunch
  • Drive back to Kashgar

Day 15 – 16th Apr – Urumqi-Xian-Departure (B,L)

  • Breakfast
  • Take the morning flight back to Xian (2hours flight)
  • Visit Tuanjiacun Village in Xian and have lunch there.
  • Take a shower before leaving for airport for flight home.
  • End of trip

If you are interested in this trip, please email: [email protected] for enquiries.

Photo Gallery

Crescent Lake, Dunhuang
Pull noodles at a Uighur house
Meals with local Uighur families
Id Kah Mosque, Kashgar
Animal trading market that is over 2,000 years old in Kashgar
Flaming Mountains, Turpan
Kala Kule Lake on the Karakorum Highway
Tuyuh Village, Turpan
Traditional Uighur dances
Terracotta soldiers
Wall city, Xian
Lunch at a Uighur house, Turpan