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Tian Shan, Taklamakan & Lower Tibet Xi'an - Bishkek

Trip Overview

This 27 day overland tour journeys from Xi'an to Bishkek through China, Kyrgyzstan
27 DAYS THROUGH China, Kyrgyzstan
RATING:
of 2 reviews
PRICE FROM:
$3,210 (USD) + 850 KITTY (USD)
DURATION:
27 days
TRANSPORT:
Overland expedition vehicle, Public bus, Boat
CREW:
2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew
ACCOM:
10%
90%
PHYSICAL CHALLENGE:
LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE:
TRIP CODE:
EEX
DEPOSIT:
$350 USD

Highlights

  Wild camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan

  Explore the colourful natural phenomenon of the Rainbow Mountains

  Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

  Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat

  Guided tour of Xi'an's world famous Terracotta Warriors

  Stay overnight in a traditional yurt owned by Kyrgyz and Tajik families

  Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan

  Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang

  Cross the northern end of the Tibetan Plateau

  Explore Xiahe - one of Tibets most historic cities

  SHOW MORE HIGHLIGHTS  

Itinerary

Day 1 - Xi'an ( 24th Jul 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

Welcome to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free day to explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset

CNY 50

Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China

CNY 30

Learn about the fascinating history of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an at the Shaanxi History Museum, without doubt one of the finest museums in China

CNY 30

Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures

CNY 90

Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057

CNY 75

Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world

CNY 90

Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties

CNY 90
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens
Free
Day 2 - Xi'an ( 25th Jul 2019 )

This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour.

We will return to Xi'an for the afternoon, where we'll have a free afternoon to further explore this incredible city.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife

Included in Kitty
Day 3-4 - Pingliang ( 26th Jul 2019 to 27th Jul 2019 )

Today we will drive to the town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain. 

In Pingliang we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Please note that if the group and leader prefer to split the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

Included in Kitty
Day 5-7 - Xiahe ( 28th Jul 2019 to 30th Jul 2019 )

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. 

Estimated Drive Time - 9 -10 hours.

The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. There may also be a chance to go trekking, horse riding or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.

In Xiahe we will stay in a local Tibetan-owned hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

3 night detour to the Tibetan town of Xiahe, one of the main pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Climb up onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan Plateau

Free
Take a day trip up into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau surrounding Xiahe
CNY 400
Day 8 - Liujiaxia, Bingling Si ( 31st Jul 2019 )

Today we will leave Xiahe behind us to reach the small city of Liujiaxia. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.

In Liujiaxia we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time: 4-5  hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge

Included in Kitty
Day 9 - Zhangye ( 1st Aug 2019 )

Today we will have a full day's drive towards Zhangye. This evening we will find a place to camp in the hills surrounding Zhangye. 

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

Day 10 - Zhangye, Jiayuguan ( 2nd Aug 2019 )

Today we will have a short drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we will spend some time exploring the beautiful scenery, before continuing our drive on to Jiayuguan where, tomorrow, we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note that the Great Wall here is adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further easy. 

We will camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan.

Estimated Drive Time: 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Journey down the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan Fort, our first stop at the Great Wall

Included in Kitty

Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains

Included in Kitty
Day 11-12 - Dunhuang ( 3rd Aug 2019 to 4th Aug 2019 )

Today we will continue our journey westwards to reach the city of Dunhuang.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On the following day we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it’s surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda!

In Dunhuang we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Stopover and time to explore historic Dunhuang

CNY 20

Take a camel ride at Crescent Moon Lake.

CNY 240
Day 13-14 - Turpan ( 5th Aug 2019 to 6th Aug 2019 )

Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the oasis town of Turpan.

Estimated Drive Time: 10-13 hours.

Please note that due to the political tension in Western China there are many police checkpoints that we must go through to show our passports in the Xinjiang province. Sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, finding a local hotel in between to break up the travel day. 

On the following day we will have a free day to explore the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan

Included in Kitty

Learn about the Karez water system, the ingenious method of irrigating the area that was developed by the Han Dynasty and allowed Turpan to flourish as an oasis town

Included in Kitty
See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

See the Emin Minaret, a beautiful Uighur mosque built in the 18th century which is the tallest minaret in China
CNY 30
Explore the ancient oasis city of Gaochang, once a bustling trading trading centre along the Silk Road
CNY 40
Day 15-16 - Heavenly Lake, Urumqi ( 7th Aug 2019 to 8th Aug 2019 )

Today we will continue on to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province.

Estimated Drive Time: 4-5 hours.

We will stay here for 2 nights on the 2nd day we will have an included visit to Heavenly Lake to enjoy the incredible scenery in the Tian Shan Mountains and walk around the lake.

In Urumqi we will stay in a local hotel. 

Day 17-18 - Bayanbulak, Aksu ( 9th Aug 2019 to 10th Aug 2019 )

Today our journey continues westwards through the Taklamakan Desert. Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to stay in local hotels near Korla or Bayanbulak on our first night and Aksu on our second.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours each day.

Day 19-21 - Kashgar ( 11th Aug 2019 to 13th Aug 2019 )

Today we complete our journey to the far west of China, arriving in Kashgar, once one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route! 

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

We will spend 3 nights in Kashgar, during which time there will be lots of opportunity to explore the city and its central Id Kah Mosque. We will also have an included visit to the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar.

In Kashgar we will stay in a hotel with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the finest example of Islamic architecture in Kashgar and the centre of religious life in the city

CNY 45

Discover the history of the ancient Silk Road at Kashgar's Silk Road Museum

CNY 45

Visit the mausoleum of the 17th-century religious leader Afaq Khoja, considered the holiest site in Xinjiang Province

CNY 30
Day 22 - Kashgar ( 14th Aug 2019 )

For everyone that is continuing with us to Kyrgyzstan, there will be quick pre-departure meeting in the early morning in order to explain the next 6 days until Bishkek, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section.

In the afternoon we will do an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world!

Tonight we will stay in a good quality local hotel

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Included in Kitty

Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world. 

Included in Kitty
Day 23-24 - Tash Rabat ( 15th Aug 2019 to 16th Aug 2019 )

Border Information: Exit China at Torugart, enter Kyrgyzstan at Torugart.

Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan! We will head just over the border to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.

In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt.

We will spend 2 nights in Tash Rabat. On the second day we will have time to explore the local area. 

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border

Included in Kitty
Cross into Kyrgyzstan via the stunning and remote Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains
Included in Kitty
Day 25 - Kochkor ( 17th Aug 2019 )

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Please note that if nobody from this group is leaving in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a 2-3 hour drive from Tash Rabat). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily on the next section and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat this morning.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village

Included in Kitty

See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt!
KGS 1000
Day 26 - Bishkek ( 18th Aug 2019 )

Today we have a short drive to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (from Kochkor).

Day 27 - Bishkek ( 19th Aug 2019 )

Today there will be a group meeting at 10:00am for the next section of the trip towards Tashkent. The rest of the day will be free to further explore the city.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Begin our journey in picturesque Bishkek

Free

Freely explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market

Free
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square
KGS 150

DATES & PRICES

This group overland journey has multiple departures.
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Trip Notes
Departing: 24 Jul 2019
Returning: 19 Aug 2019
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,210 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: Full Payment
limited
Departing: 19 Aug 2019
Returning: 14 Sep 2019
Duration: 27 days
Route: Bishkek - Xi'an
$3,210 USD + $820 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: Full Payment
limited
Departing: 4 Sep 2019
Returning: 30 Sep 2019
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,210 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: Full Payment
available
Departing: 3 Jun 2020
Returning: 29 Jun 2020
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,260 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 29 Jun 2020
Returning: 25 Jul 2020
Duration: 27 days
Route: Bishkek - Xi'an
$3,260 USD + $820 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 29 Jul 2020
Returning: 24 Aug 2020
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,260 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 19 Aug 2020
Returning: 14 Sep 2020
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,260 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 24 Aug 2020
Returning: 19 Sep 2020
Duration: 27 days
Route: Bishkek - Xi'an
$3,260 USD + $820 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 2 Jun 2021
Returning: 28 Jun 2021
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,340 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 28 Jun 2021
Returning: 24 Jul 2021
Duration: 27 days
Route: Bishkek - Xi'an
$3,340 USD + $820 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 28 Jul 2021
Returning: 23 Aug 2021
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,340 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 18 Aug 2021
Returning: 13 Sep 2021
Duration: 27 days
Route: Xi'an - Bishkek
$3,340 USD + $850 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 23 Aug 2021
Returning: 18 Sep 2021
Duration: 27 days
Route: Bishkek - Xi'an
$3,340 USD + $820 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available

REVIEWS FROM OUR PASSENGERS

Made entirely wonderful by Gino, Jim and Claire.
Kathryn Jane W
The design of the vehicle was well thought-out - as for camping and cooking, we had everything we needed!
Timothy Mark D