Discover China away from the tourist trail. From the home of the famed Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an we make our way up to the Tibetan Plateau and the pilgrimage site of Xiahe. From here we journey to Jiayuguan and the end of the Great Wall, some 3,000 miles from Beijing. After a visit to the ancient silk route oasis of Turpan, it is time for an alpine respite at Heavenly Lake before again heading towards the desert, skirting its edges across to the famous market city of Kashgar. This adventure will leave you with amazing memories of a part of the world very few get to see.

Start
Xi'an, China
Finish
Kashgar, China
Countries
China
Themes
Overland
Code
CDOL
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4, Max 22
Carbon offset
902kg pp per trip

Travel from historic Xi’an to the oasis town of Kashgar


Highlights

  • Visit the Great Wall’s western-most pass
  • See ancient carvings at the Binglingsi Caves
  • Discover the quaint Tibetan town of Xiahe
  • Relax by Heavenly Lake
  • Explore the oasis town of Dunhuang
  • Be entranced by Mount Kongtong

Itinerary

Begin this incredible journey in the ancient town of Xi’an. Learn about the Terracotta Warriors and visit the site of this phenomenal discovery. Marvel at the extraordinary terracotta sculptures that date back to 200 BC.
Head out to Pingliang to visit the impressive Mount Kongtong, one of the sacred mountains of Taoism. Be mesmerised by the scenic surrounds as you explore the mountain.
Drive west to the capital of the Ganzu Providence. Once known as ‘The Golden City’, historic Lanzhou is home to several Buddhist temples. Soak up the atmosphere as you stroll the city streets.
Reach Xiahe in time to watch the sun set over this enchanting Tibetan town. Take a guided tour of Labrang Monastery where you can see Tibetan monks performing their daily rituals and chants, or go horse riding in the nearby grasslands. This is also the place to try some delicious (really!) yak butter tea.
Visit the Binglingsi Caves en route to Liujiaxia. Also known as the Bingling Temple, this series of Buddhist caves are filled with stunning sculptures. Feel the presence of departed souls as you follow winding walkways and narrow stairs around this ancient site.
Journey towards Jiayuguan in Ganzu’s northwest. Experience true wilderness en route, pitching tent at a bush camp.
Nestled on the western edge of the Gobi desert, the Great Wall’s western-most pass (or fort) is most commonly referred to as Jiayu Pass. Standing eleven metres high, the pass and surrounding wall protected Ming Dynasty China from the ‘barbarians’ of the north.
Begin the day with a visit to the magnificent Mogao Caves. Not far from the oasis town of Dunhuang, these caves exhibit 1000 years of Buddhist art. In the afternoon, explore Dunhuang or venture out on a camel ride through picturesque sand dunes.
Wake with the sun and travel west out towards the ancient town of Turpan. Sleep under desert stars tonight.
Explore Turpan and the surrounding area. Don’t miss the famous Jiaohe ruins in the nearby Yarnaz Valley.
Located on the border between China and North Korea, Heavenly Lake is situated atop Baekdu Mountain. According to local legend, it is also home to the Lake Tianchi Monster. Keep your eyes peeled as you relax by the lake and take in the magnificent surrounds.
Skirt the edge of the Taklamakan Desert on the overland journey from Heavenly Lake out towards historic Kashgar. Camp in the desert en route.
The western-most city in China, Kashgar sits just north of the Kirzlesu River. Perhaps wander round the famous Sunday market or meander through the Old City – it’s considered one of the best-preserved Islamic cities in Central Asia – before this grand China tour comes to an end.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (5 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights), Hotel (12 nights), Yurt (2 nights)

Dates

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Notes

Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.

Local Partner:
Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.

Important notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trips notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes