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Silk Road Whirlwind: From Urumqi to Turpan

Get swept up by history by this six-day whirlwind tour from Urumqi to Turpan. This Silk Road journey will fill you with awe over and over again. Bask in the stunning natural beauty of the mountain-hemmed Tianshan ‘Heavenly Lake’ as you float atop her crystal-clear, cool waters.  Let your imagination take you way back as you learn of the region’s rich history, visiting museums and historic sites like the ancient Jiaohe ruins. Break bread and interact with Kazakh villagers in their yurt village amongst rolling green pastures.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Dive into the history of the Silk Road with museum tours in Urumqi and Turpan
  • Be enchanted by the mystical beauty and legend of Tianchi’s ‘Heavenly Lake’
  • Explore the ‘Southern Pastures’ and interact with the local Kazakhs in their yurt villages
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Touch down in Urumqi - a driver will be waiting to sweep you away for a midday meal before starting your tour. Begin your adventure by diving into the region’s history. A curator will take you on a privately-guided tour of the Xinjiang Regional Museum that houses such artifacts as 3000-year-old mummies and hundreds of comprehensive exhibits. Round off your first day with dinner at Miraj Restaurant, which boasts the best menu in Urumqi.

Day 2

After breakfast, take a scenic drive to Tianchi’s ‘Heavenly Lake.’ Quite deserving of its name, the glacial lake’s crescent-shaped shoreline is hemmed by a snow-covered mountain ridge. Cross the clear blue waters by boat, and take in the majesty and mystery of this legend-laced lake. Following the boat ride, take a scenic stroll to a nearby Taoist Pagoda, and enjoy lunch with a Kazakh family at their yurt. Return to Urumqi to take in a few more sights before dinner.

Day 3

Two hours south of Urumqi lay vast, yurt-dotted grasslands inhabited by Kazakh people. Today you will visit the region referred to as the “Southern Pastures,” and interact with the villagers, learning of their customs and breaking bread in a traditional yurt home. Take a tour – by foot or horseback – led by a local Kazakh guide. You may choose to overnight in a Kazakh yurt, or return to the hotel in Urumqi.

Day 4

Bid farewell to Urumqi and enjoy the sights along the 3-hour drive to Turpan. Stop at the ancient ruins of Jiaohe and tour the archaeological site. Check into your Turpan hotel and freshen up for dinner at the Herembag Restaurant

Day 5

Enjoy an early breakfast before setting off for the Flaming Mountains, enroute to the village of Tuyoq. Here, explore an ancient village whose quaint streets are covered by arched grapevines. Next on today’s tour are the ancient ruins of Gaochang City and Astana, the ruined city’s graveyard. The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves is the last stop before lunch. Prepare to be amazed by the ingenuity behind the Karez wells and the stunning architectural feat that is the Emin Minaret. Round off your busy day with a hilltop sunset overlooking Turpan.

Day 6

There is time for one more stop before the tour is out. After breakfast, visit the Turpan Museum. The newly-remodeled facility hosts an impressive selection of over 5,000 artifacts. Return to Urumqi for onward flights.


Suggested Accommodations

Sheraton Urumqi

Sheraton Urumqi

The newest luxury hotel in the Silk Road region, the Sheraton Urumqi Hotel is located just 20 minutes from Urumqi Airport and sits near a collection of universities and local attractions. Each of the Sheraton’s 380 guest rooms and suites feature in-room safes, air-conditioning, the signature Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, separate bath and shower stall, satellite channels, and fabulous views of snow-topped mountains and the city. In addition, butler service is available on the Executive Floor. The hotel also boasts a business center, a luxurious spa and health club. There are a number of restaurants located within the Sheraton, including Yakexi Halal, which serves Middle Eastern cuisine; Café Oasis, an all-day eatery that serves international and regional specialties; Shanghai on 2, which serves southern Chinese specialties; and House of Treasures, which offers Cantonese and numbingly spicy Sichuanese and Hunanese dishes.
Silk Road Lodges - The Vines

Silk Road Lodges - The Vines

Welcome to the Vines, a must-stop lodge on the Silk Road. Located in a traditional Uighur village between the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts, just over a mile from Turpan, this boutique hotel combines lush surroundings and world-class service to deliver a luxury experience on this historic trek. From the front door of the lodge, guests steps into daily village life, and can explore the local vineyard and orchards amid the cows, chickens, market stalls, and donkey carts that surround the property. Guests may choose between five different rooms ranging from twin beds to a king bed, each with air conditioning and personalized service. Breakfast is served in the hotel’s picturesque courtyard, and the friendly hotel staff may recommend local restaurants for lunch and dinner, where it is truly farm-to-table. 

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Our co-founder & COO Jay Tindall is a former China resident and a true China expert. He loves visiting remote rural areas and meeting China's ethnic minorities.
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