Great Silk Road Private Journey

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo from Xi’an to Kashgar

Great Silk Road Private Journey route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6995  
Length: 12 days
Arrive: Beijing, China
Depart: Beijing, China
Lodging: 10 nights hotels, 1 night sleeper train
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Walking
Trip Level: Cultural explorations and walking tours


  • Xi’an’s Tomb of the Terra Cotta Warriors
  • The Mogao Grottoes, with their repositories of fantastic art and murals
  • Kashgar's legendary Sunday market, one of Asia’s greatest gatherings of traders
  • Hike near Heavenly Lake in the Tian Shan mountains and enjoy a kebab-style lunch with Kazakh nomads

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

For 2,000 years, the Silk Road was the principal artery for caravans traveling between China and Europe laden with textiles, spices, gold—and ideas, philosophies, and religions. On this fabled road, follow the footsteps of Marco Polo from ancient Xi’an, cradle of Chinese history, to fabled Kashgar in China’s wild west, a vital hub when silk caravans passed this way a millennium ago. As you explore, you encounter a range of peoples, from Uighur traders to Kazakh nomads, and learn how their cultures and traditions are deeply tied to this desert and mountain realm. You also visit a dazzling array of epic archaeological sites, from the famed tomb of the Terra Cotta Warriors to the cliff-bound Mogao Grottoes, a priceless repository of Chinese Buddhist cave art long lost in the desert. There’s no other journey in the world quite like this adventure on the storied road across the Far East.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Beijing / Xi’an / Terra Cotta Warriors / Dunhuang

After meeting in Beijing, we fly to Xi’an, cradle of Chinese history. We visit the world-renowned Tomb of the Terra Cotta Warriors, with a special private entrance to the tomb’s lower terrace where only select visitors can go. Already 2,200 years old when it was accidently discovered in 1974, this World Heritage-listed tomb holds the 8,000 “buried warriors” of China’s first emperor, each life-sized figure unique. We also walk along Xi’an’s city walls, the most complete that survive in China, visit the Shaanxi History Museum, with its dazzling collection of artifacts from the Shang Dynasty (1750-1122 BC) to the Tang Dynasty (3rd century AD), and walk around the Muslim quarter. Late on Day 3, we fly to Dunhuang, a former terminal of the Silk Road set on the edge of the Takla Makan Desert.

Days 4-5
Dunhuang / Mogao Grottoes / Yangguan / Turpan

From Dunhuang, we head out to explore the remote Mogao Grottoes, where spectacular cliff caves are adorned with Buddhist paintings and sculptures from the 5th to 13th centuries, and take a sunset camel ride at the Mingsha Sand Dunes. In nearby Yangguan, we visit the small but interesting new Yangguan Museum, then enjoy the hospitality of a local Dunhuang family, relaxing in the family courtyard under the shade of a grape arbor, and sampling a delicious lunch cooked with fresh country ingredients. We also explore the Western Thousand Buddha Caves, located in a peaceful river canyon lush with willow groves. An overnight train ride brings us to Turpan.

Days 6-7
Turpan / Jiaohe / Gaochan / Urumqi

We visit the ancient city of Jiaohe, now a ruined fortress atop a 90-foot cliff on a high plateau, the Keraz Well, an ancient irrigation system from the Han Dynasty, and Gaochan (“King’s City”), set below a pass in the Flaming Mountains. In Urumqi, we visit the Xinjiang Regional Museum, with its archaeological treasures from the Silk Road and Xinjiang’s minority cultures.

Day 8
Urumqi / Heavenly Lake / Kashgar

Heading to Heavenly Lake in the Tian Shan Mountains, we enjoy a two-hour hike in the Bogda Shan range to a grazing area where Kazakh nomads live in yurts. After a kebab-style lunch with the Kazakhs, we head back to Urumqi for the evening flight to Kashgar.

Days 9-10
Kashgar / Sunday Market

A desert outpost with an end-of-the-world feeling, the Silk Road outpost of Kashgar is in the farthest reaches of western China. We visit the legendary Sunday Market, one of Asia’s greatest gatherings of traders, enjoying aromas of fresh-baked breads, cumin, pepper, and grilled lamb, and watch the spirited negotiations of traders bargaining over everything from camels to spices.

Days 11-12
Urumqi / Beijing

We fly back to Urumqi and connect with a flight to Beijing for overnight. Depart Beijing on Day 12.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 2, or easy to moderate, according to our trip grading system. It is an overland cultural adventure, and for the most part, physical activity is light but on certain days, you should be prepared for 2-3 hours of walking. We encourage you to get in good shape before the trip because travel requires some physical stamina. For most of the journey, we stay in four- or five-star hotels, or the best-available hotels in each destination. All breakfasts are in the hotel. For lunches and dinners, we dine in places that highlight the authentic local cuisine rather than going to tourist-oriented restaurants. Bottled water is provided throughout the trip.

Explanation of Trip Levels


When to go

May to October

For our Private Journey trips, you choose your own group and your preferred dates—there are no set departure dates. Private Journeys are available to groups as few as two people or as large as you like. Contact us for availability, questions, or to book your adventure!

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$6995 per person, double occupancy
Single supplement: $915
Internal airfare: $1795 (subject to change)
Overnight Train (Day 5): $195

Prices are not guaranteed until services are confirmed.
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Beijing Pre-trip Extension
   from: $1535

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Services of professional English-speaking private regional guides
  • Accommodations as indicated
  • All meals included except 1 dinner
  • Sightseeing as noted with entrance fees to sites and museums
  • Surface transportation in buses or vans
  • All land transportation, airport transfers for passengers as noted

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, internal airfare/taxes within China, transfers for independent arrival or departure, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, beverages at meals, international airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, hotels en route to/from Beijing and any additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

The Regent Beijing

The Regent Beijing

Day 1 (1 night), Beijing , China

The Regent Beijing enjoys a wonderful location, just a 15-minute walk from the Forbidden City. Spacious guest rooms offer contemporary style with a ...
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Hilton Xi’an

Hilton Xi’an

Day 2 (1 night), Xi’an, China

This 300-room hotel enjoys an ideal location, set within Xi’an’s City Wall and close to restaurants, shops, the Muslim Quarter, and many ...
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Grand Soluxe Hotel Gansu

Grand Soluxe Hotel Gansu

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Lanzhou, China

The Grand Soluxe Hotel Gansu has a great location in the heart of Lanzhou, close to restaurants and shopping. The rooms are comfortable and the ...
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Dunhuang-Turfan Sleeper Train

Dunhuang-Turfan Sleeper Train

Day 5 (1 night), Dunhuang, China

On this overnight train (operated by China Railways), you will have a private, air-conditioned compartment with upper and lower bunks. There are ...
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Tuha Petroleum Hotel

Tuha Petroleum Hotel

Day 6 (1 night), Turpan, China

The Tuha Petroleum Hotel is a well-appointed modern hotel with spacious rooms and public areas. Its central location, close to restaurants and a ...
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Sheraton Hotel

Sheraton Hotel

Day 7 (1 night), Urumqi, China

The Sheraton is located near the International Exhibition Center in Urumqi’s business district and offers comfortable rooms, a choice of ...
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Yue Xing Jin Jiang International Hotel Kashi

Yue Xing Jin Jiang International Hotel Kashi

Days 8 to 10 (3 nights), Kashgar, China

This large, modern western-style hotel is fairly new, and offers spacious guest rooms, a swimming pool, and gym.
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Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport

Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport

Day 11 (1 night), Beijing, China

This classy hotel, conveniently located just minutes from the airport, is a great place to relax before boarding flights home. Guest rooms are ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions option:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:


great wall china

Beijing Pre-trip Extension

The Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Summer Palace

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1