Upon arrival at Lanzhou Airport/Railway Station, you will be greeted by our Asia Senses Travel representative then provided with a transport to your hotel for check in.
Lanzhou is the capital city of northwest China's Gansu Province with a history of more than 2000 years. It has been an important garrison and transport hub on the ancient “Silk Road” since ancient times. Starting in the Qing Dynasty, merchants and traders traveling from Xi'an to central Asia and then on to the Roman Empire, or the other way round, broke their long journey at Lanzhou. As soon as your arrival in LANZHOU, you will be impressed by Lanzhou with its harmonious combination of the modern and the old.
Start our sightseeing tour in Lanzhou with a visit to Zhongshan Iron Bridge which was built in the 33rd year (1907) of Emperor Guangxu’s reign in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This bridge is awarded the title of “the First Iron Bridge over the Yellow River”. From the bridge, head to White Pagoda Mountain (Baitashan) to visit its seven-story pagoda with a height of 17 meters (about 55.8 feet). On the top of the pagoda, you will have a bird's eye view of the whole of Lanzhou city.
Our next destination is Gansu Provincial Museum, commonly called Gansu Museum, one of must-visit sites for every foreign visitor coming to Lanzhou on their trip to the ancient Silk Road in China. It has a collection of over 350,000 items, including historical and cultural relics, modern cultural relics, ethnic cultural relics, paleontological fossils and specimen.
In the evening, free to explore Lanzhou night market and enjoy local delicacies prepared by Uygur, Hui, and Han. Overnight in Lanzhou.
Check out in the early morning, and be transferred back to railway station to catch the high-speed train of D2741 (07:25 – 10:30) to Zhangye (without guide). Upon arrival in ZHANGYE, your local guide and driver will transfer you to the hotel for check in and freshen up. Have your lunch at a local restaurant.
Following the lunch, embark on a sightseeing tour to some of the main attractions Zhangye has to offer. Our first destination is the Giant Buddha Temple (Dafo Temple) which houses the largest clay nirvana Buddha of Asia.
We then drive to Zhangye Danxia National Geopark Park to visit the Rainbow Mountains, one of the world’s top ten magical geographical wonders. The mountains are full of unbelievable colours, changing tones depending on the height of the sun; extraordinary is the sunset! Climb up the mountains and enjoy the masterpiece created by nature. There are four viewing decks for you to watch and shoot. You will visit one by one, and will be transferred by shuttle buses from one deck to another.
In the evening, free at own leisure and pace to visit the food market where you can enjoy the different flavours of the region. Overnight in Zhangye.
This morning, enjoy a 60 km drive toward Matisi Temple (also called Horse Hoof Temple), one of the Three Buddhism Sanctuaries in the Gansu Corridor (or Hexi Corridor) area, beside the other two being the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang and the Yulin Grottoes in Anxi County. Around the main hall of the Matisi Temple are stairwells leading to beautiful balcony views, temples, caves and winding passageways. Your lunch is served at a local restaurant.
After that, you will be transferred back to the Zhangye Railway Station to catch the high-speed train of D2671 (14:30 – 15:50) to JIAYUGUAN.
Your local guide and driver will pick you up and transfer you to the Last Tower of the Great Wall which is 6km southwest of Jiayuguan City. This tower is the first beacon tower of the Great Wall and also the western starting point of the Ming Great Wall, as one of the important parts of the Jiayuguan Great Wall defense system. It is the most dangerous beacon tower of the world as it stands at the summit of the 80 meters deep valley.
After the visit, continue to your hotel in Jiayuguan to check in and relax. Overnight in Jiayuguan.
Start the morning with a visit to Jiayuguan Pass (Jiayuguan Fort), the furthest outpost of the Great Wall built by the Ming dynasty in 1372. In the past, it was the key entry point of the ancient Silk Road and known as “the First and Greatest Pass under Heaven”, and best preserved and most magnificent military fort in China. The pass consists of three defense lines – an inner city, an outer city and a moat. Along with Juyongguan and Shanhaiguan, it is one of the main three passes along the Great Wall. During the visit, there is an opportunity to see Great Wall Museum of Jiayuguan where you can learn all the things about the Great Wall, not just the section of Jiayuguan but all sections in China.
Following the lunch, pay a visit to the unique Wei-Jin Tombs, 20 km away from the northeast of the Jiayuguan city. There are 1400 brick tombs of Jin and Wei Dynasties scattered here, built between the 3rd century and 5th century during the Wei and Jin dynasties. The tombs lie on the desert just like waves in the sea.
Afterward, you will be transferred to the airport for a domestic flight to DUNHUANG. Upon arrival, follow your local guide and driver to the Mingsha Mountains (or Echoing Sand Mountains) where massive sand dunes can reach 300 meters. If you slide from the sand mountains, you can hear the echoing sound clearly.
Continue with a visit to Crescent Moon Lake, a beautiful oasis with some well decorated traditional Chinese architecture, some trees and flowers and a lake that has never dried up and shapes like a crescent moon.
OPTIONAL: Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the region by choosing to board one of the gliders available at the park. Alternatively, take a jeep to one of the region’s highest dunes continued by a walk to peek over the ocean of sand. Service provided on site at additional cost.
After the day’s explorations, pay a visit to the vibrant Shazhou Night Market with local food and crafts. Enjoy the local atmosphere before being transferred back to the hotel.
Overnight in Dunhuang.
After breakfast, drive about 25 km to visit the UNESCO-celebrated Mogao Caves, an oasis strategically located at a religious and cultural crossroads on the Silk Road. It is famed as the “Louvre of East”, which is outstanding for its exquisite mural paintings and statues. There are now 492 grottoes in which about 45,000 square meters mural paintings and 2,100 colorfully painted statues from which you can trace the development of Chinese art over 1000 years. The caves are also known for the giant Buddhas which are tucked inside the expansive caves.
NOTE: During peak seasons (May to October), there are usually a lot of visitors to Mogao Caves, so it is recommended to make a reservation in advance for at least 10 days. Foreigners are allowed to visit the Caves only during the morning. Passport check upon the visit to the monument.
In the afternoon, pay a visit to the weird eroded desert landscape of Yadan National Park, located in the middle of the awesome zone of the Gobi desert. The formations of the park developed from 700,000 years of natural wind erosion. In order to guarantee a special experience, the visit will be conducted by private jeeps to cover more of the desert. Walking paths are available to freely explore the area. Returning from the Yadan National Park, pass by the remains of the Han Great Wall, still visible on the side of the white road.
OPTIONAL: For dinner, you can enjoy a simple but fascinating barbecue on the dunes.
Overnight in Dunhuang.