In the Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368) Marco Polo headed to China travel along the Silk Road. His book described Chinese politics, economy and culture in detail, which greatly aroused the desire of western to go to China and had a great effect on the European navigation. Tracks of Marco Polo Tour takes you on an epic and unforgettable journey from Xi’an through Gansu to Xinjiang. From the southernmost extents of the Silk Road at Xi’an, discover one of imperial China’s most iconic remains at the Terracotta Warriors. Explore the Muslim Quarter and feast on local Hui specialties. Aboard the flight to Lanzhou visit the holy Tibetan Buddhist monastic settlement Labrang Monastery. Stand on the wind-blasted ramparts of Jiayuguan Fort, the last major stronghold of imperial China, and tramp alongside westerly remnants of the Great Wall. The delightful oasis outpost of Dunhuang is one of China’s tidiest and most pleasant towns, with the mighty Singing Sands Mountains pushing up from the south, a scattered array of sights in the surrounding desert. The town also brings you into contact with perhaps China’s most splendid accumulation of Buddhist art, the spellbinding Mogao Caves. Hop aboard the train to Turpan for Gaochang Ruins and beautiful mountain Heaven Mountain. After that you will take a flight to Kashgar. It is the ultimate Silk Road town and today remains a unique melting pot of peoples.
Arrive in Xi’an, which is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. You are greeted by your guide at the airport and transferred to the hotel. The rest time is free at your own leisure.
Day 2__Xi’an City Tour
Xi’an City Tour including Terracotta Warriors, Ancient City Wall and Muslim Street.
Terracotta Warriors: is our first destination. It is the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages. The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively.
Ancient City Wall: is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. Muslim Street is a wonderful place to walk around; certainly we won’t miss this place.
Day 3__Xi’an City Tour
One day Xi’an city tour pay a visit to Shaanxi Provincial History Museum and Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
Shaanxi Provincial History Museum: displays Shaanxi's ancient history. The collection from the Han through the Tang (618 A.D. to 907 A.D.) and Song (960 A.D. to 1279 A.D.) dynasties shows the changes of art and craftsmanship.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda: is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists.
Day 4__Xi’an to Lanzhou
After breakfast, you will take flight to Lanzhou. Upon arrival, you will visit Zhongshan Iron Bridge, White Pagoda Mountain and Gansu Provincial Museum.
Zhongshan Iron Bridge: was built in the Qing Dynasty and renowned as the "first bridge on the Yellow River under the heaven".
White Pagoda Hill Park: on the far bank of the Yellow River, the White Pagoda Hill Park is a large, quiet area that was first established in 1958, rising 1,700 meters above sea level and covering an area of three million square meters.
Gansu Provincial Museum: is the biggest comprehensive museum in the province. It is one of the best sights in the city and a visit is well worthwhile. Built in 1956, the museum covers a total area of 18,000 square meters (about 4 acres). Designed by the soviet experts, this museum will provide visitors with a unique and memorable experience.
Day 5__Lanzhou to Xiahe
Today you will drive to Xiahe and visit Gongke Grassland.
Gongke Grassland: is located in southwest of Xiahe. Being a natural pasture of Tibetan nomadic peoples, Songke Grassland is famous for its superb grassland scenery. As you ride on horse you can listen to the pastoral song, and feast your eye on the beautiful flowers and blue sky.
Day 6__Xiahe to Lanzhou
Labrang Monastery: is one of the sit great monasteries of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is home to the largest number of monks outside of Tibet. The monastery today is an important place for Buddhist ceremonies and activities. From January 4 to 17 and June 26, to July 15, (these dates may change according to the lunar calendar), the great Buddhist ceremony will be held with Buddha-unfolding, sutra enchanting, praying, sutra debates, etc.
Day 7__Lanzhou to Wuwei
After breakfast, we will drive to Wuwei. And you will visit Leitai Han Tomb, Wuwei Wen Temple and Tianfo Temple Grottoes.
Leitai Han Tomb: where Brone Galloping Horse, the logo of China’s tourism, was excavated. It is a large ancient brick tomb of the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25 to 220). There you can learn about the buried custom in that time.
Wuwei Wen Temple: is called Wen Shrine or Confucius Temple, was first constructed in Zhengtong 4th year of Ming Dynasty (1439) and expanded in ensuing times. Facing south and against north, Wuwei Wen Temple was made up of three complexes: the eastern Wenchang Palace, the central Wen Temple, and the western Confucius School of Liangzhou Area. Presently, the first two are well preserved. Wen Temple, covering a total area of more than 1500 square meters, is a sacred place for ancient scholars to worship Confucius.
Tianfo Temple Grottoes: first constructed during Northern Liang of Sixteen Kingdoms Period and carved dynasties and dynasties, forms a grand-scale and owns much magnificent architecture. It is one of earliest grottoes carved in China and regarded as the "forefather of grotto" by researchers.
Day 8__Wuwei to Zhangye
In the morning, you will visit Wooden Tower of Sui Dynasty. And then we will drive to Zhangye, and visit Grand Buddha Temple on the way.
Wooden Tower of Sui Dynasty: originally built in the Sui Dynasty and restored in 1926, the wooden tower is 9 storied with a height of about 40 meters. It is an essence among the wooden towers in China.
Grand Buddha Temple: the largest indoor reclining Buddha of China, the Nirvan Buddha lies in this temple, which was built in Western Hsia period (1098). It is recorded that the premier of Western Hsia once discovered a Buddha covered by a bluish-green tile, thus the Grand Buddha Temple was initially built.
Day 9__Zhangye to Jiayuguan
Drive to Jiayuguan. You will visit the Suspended Wall and the Jiayuguan Fort.
The Suspended Wall: is a part of the Great Wall. The wall here was built on the ridge with the gradient of 45 degrees. It is high in the air and it looks as if it fell down from the top of the hill. So people refer to this section of the Great Wall as the 'Suspended Wall'.
Jiayuguan Fort: is the western end of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty as well as the most magnificent and best-preserved pass among the over thousand passes along the Ming Great Wall.
Day 10__Jiayuguan to Dunhuang
Today we will drive to Dunhuang and visit Yulin Grottoes.
Yulin Grottoes: These caves, with their murals and sculptures, are in a valley among Qilin Mountain, about 180kms from the Mogao Caves. The name is derived from the elms in the valley, and as you travel along the valley road you can easily imagine how it must have been to be a poet or brave solder in the distant past.
Day 11__Dunhuang to Turpan
Mogao Grottoes: constructed over a millennium, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, the caves hold the world's richest treasure house of Buddhist sutras, murals and sculptures. It is not allowed to take photos.
Crescent Moon Spring: is 6km south of Dunhuang in the Echoing-Sand Mountain and is quite literally an oasis in the desert. The spring's name derives from the crescent moon shape taken by the small pool of spring water between two large sand dunes.
Upon arrival, your guide will arrange your breakfast. After breakfast, you will visit Gaochang Ruins. In the afternoon, you will visit Grape Valley and Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves.
Gaochang Ruins: was founded during the first century B.C. and abandoned during the 15th century, an important point on the Silk Road. Now the desert is reclaiming its own. Donkey carts can take you among the ancient ruins, some identifiable, others disappearing into the dust. A few are partly restored and the outlines of the outer, inner and palace cities are clear. This desolate, ancient city evokes an overwhelming sense of history and the march of time.
Grape Valley: is a must see in Turpan. With its shady vineyards and trees, this provides a welcome place of relaxation amidst the hundreds of square miles of sand. Taking a walk along the grape corridor, you will find drying rooms on nearby slopes. Every year over 300 tons of raisins are made here.
Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves: were first chiseled in the Qu Gaochang State (499-640 AD) and have passed through the long period of the Tang Dynasty, the Five Era Period, the Song Dynasty and Yuan Dynasty, with only 83 still preserved. They are displayed in three layers among which more than forty are equipped with frescoes, with the total coverage of the preserved fresco about 1200 square meters.
Day 13__Turpan to Urumqi
Today you will visit Heavenly Lake.
Heavenly Lake: is a very beautiful mountain lake formed more than million years ago in the 4th glacial epoch, so the water in it is pure and icy. The altitude of the lake is up to 2150 meters above the sea level and got its fame as the "jewel in the crown". To the east of the lake stands the Bogda Peak-the highest peak in the east part of Tian Shan Mountain, which is capped by glacier and snow glistening in the sun, finely contrasted with blue lake water, forming fabulous scenery, steep forested hills and high meadows with snow peaks behind.
In the morning you will visit Erdaoqiao Bazaar. And you will visit Mt. Nanshan Pastures and Terai Camp.
Erdaoqiao Bazaar: is the largest in Urumqi. You'll find a bustling market filled with fruit, clothing, crafts, knives, carpets and almost anything that you can imagine. On Sunday, there are more stalls and more goods to buy than any other day. The old streets around the bazaar are really worth seeing.
Mt. Nan Pastures: is a typical area, where many Kazakhs continue their traditional way of life here, herding cattle and sheep. You can also visit a local house or yurt to sample Kazakh food and drink, including butter tea. Terai Camp is a special experience of Kazak nomad life here, have a cup of milk tea and taste some really local food.
Day 15__Urumqi to Kashgar
Take flight to Kashagar. Upon arrival, we will visit 15th century Id Kah Mosque. And then we will wander in Zhiren Street and Livestock Market.
Id Kah Mosque: As the biggest mosque in China, it is a group of old Islamic constructions with strong ethnic style and religious features. The whole complex occupies 16,800 square meters (about 4 acres) and consists of the courtyard, the Hall of Prayer, and the gate tower and as well as some other attached structures. It is said that this place was once a cemetery. The present Id Kah Mosque was built in 1442 as a very small structure. Several renovations and enlargements have created it with today's scale and style.
Zhiren Street: is close to Id Kah Mosque, an old street with an amazing range of goods being crafted for sale by hand, from strictly utilitarian cookware to exotic musical instruments.
Livestock Market: streets near this big market are choked on Sundays with farmers and buyers arriving by donkey cart, truck, bicycle, horseback, ute, motorbike or on foot, with their animals.
Day 16__Kashgar to Urumqi
After breakfast, you will visit Abakh Khoja Tomb. After that you will visit Kashgar Ancient City.
Abakh Khoja Tomb: is a tiled mausoleum holding the tomb of Abakh Khoja, who is a revered sufi preacher and political leader in the 17th century. There are 58 other tombs remaining of the original 72, including that of 'the Fragrant Concubine', a descendant of Abakh Khoja ,who was so loved by the Emperor Qianlong that he even built her a special Uighur style house in the Forbidden City. Her body was brought back to Kashgar by her sister-in-law, according to Uighur custom.
Kashgar Ancient City: is a really old city, located at the north of new Kashgar city area, we can’t miss this section. Compare to the modern society it still owns its special charm of long history. 'Kashgar' means 'colorful city' in Uygur language, although it is dusty and damaged now but it must be a colorful and wonderful city thousands years ago.
Your 17 Days Tracks of Marco Polo Tour is near the end. You will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
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