8 Days In-depth Silk Road Culture Tour to Dunhuang and Zhangye

Trip name:

8 Days In-depth Silk Road Culture Tour to Dunhuang and Zhangye

Trip code:

LCT - Silk Road & Gansu - 8D-01

Trip length:

8 Days

Trip overview:

The moment you set foot on the land of Zhangye and Dunhuang, you are guaranteed of the marvelous landscapes of Gobi and Danxia Landform and rich Silk Road art and culture. Join this tour, you will navigate your way across two of the most important stopovers on the Silk Road, who house incredible scenery of the magnificent Rainbow Mountains and Echoing Sands, and the fine ancient Chinese art masterpieces of Matisi Grottoes and Mogao Grottoes. In this in-depth tour, you will have sufficient time to take photos of these precious wonders and dive deep in the unique culture of Silk Road.

LCT - Silk Road & Gansu - 8D-01-Ask for a quick response

  • Group size

* Note: This price is per person.

1.Take amazing photos of Rainbow Mountains and Binggou Danxia Landforms;
2.Reveal the Buddhist art center of Mogao Caves and Matifi Grottoes;
3.Witness the desert wonder of Singing Sand Dune and the Crescent Moon Spring;

4.Get lost in the Devil City of Yardan Landform.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Zhangye

    Welcome to Zhangye! Upon your arrival, a private car and driver will be sent to transfer you to your hotel. 

Day 2 Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park (Rainbow Mountains)

    After breakfast, your personal guide and driver will meet you at your hotel lobby and accompany you to explore the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. The park is composed of two major sights: Rainbow Mountains and Binggou Danxia Landform. The former one is more famous and more frequented by tourists, but the latter one is also peculiar and strange. You will have a whole day to enjoy the breathtaking sights in those two landscapes and take photos.

    The special Danxia landform is a kind of red-beds landform with peculiar peaks and strange stones formed by the long-term weathering and water erosion. It's mainly developed in the stones layers during Jurassic and Tertiary ages. Therefore, you will see a lot of red stones in different shapes, creating an extremely magnificent scene under the sun. If you happen to visit after the rain, the rainbow mountain will be more endearing and rich in color. The best time to shoot pictures is the afternoon when the mountains are best layered. There are many view platforms inside the park. No.4 platform is the best spot for sunset and sunrise, while the No.2 platform is the best for shooting a panoramic view of the mountains.

    Your personal guide and driver will escort you back to hotel in the tour end.

    Rainbow Mountains    Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park

Day 3 Matisi Grottoes, Train to Dunhuang

    After breakfast, your guide and driver will take you to explore the Matisi Grottoes. It takes about 1.5 hours to get there.

    Matisi Grottoes are located in the Mati Mountain of Sunan Yugu Autunomous County where there are ridges and peaks rising one after another, brooks gurgling, grass and flowers growing everywhere. In fact, it used to be a summer resort for Ayu Chanyu (chief of Xiongnu people) in Western Han Dynasty. It's still a great place to take resort in, but today, we come here not only for pleasure, but for culture. According to folk legend, when heavenly horse came to the human world, its one hoof trod on a rock here, leaving a mark of hoof mark. Hence the temple got its name. Matisi Grottoes are composed of seven small grottoes, including the Thousand-Buddha Cave, Southern and Northern Mati Temples, Upper, Lower and Middle Avalokitesvara Caves and Golden Tower Temple. The oldest grotto was built in Jin Dynasty by Guo Yu and his disciples. In the prime days, there were over 300 monks and disciples here.

    After visiting the Matisi Grottoes, you will be accompanied to the train station and head for Dunhuang where another driver will be waiting for you.

    Matisi Grottoes    Matisi Grottoes

Day 4 Dunhuang - Yulin Grottoes - Dunhuang

    Before we get to any sight in Dunhuang, you will pay a visit to Yulin Grottoes in Guazhou, another significant grotto in Gansu province. It’s about 160km from Dunhuang, which means you will have a 2.5-hour drive today. However, the Yulin Grottoes will not disappoint you.

    Yulin Grottoes are part of the Dunhuang Grottoes Art. It is consistent with the Mogao Caves in terms of Buddhist ideas, contents of murals, and expression methods. However, Yulin Grottoes were chiseled slightly later than the Mogao Caves, which is around the early Tang Dynasty and they underwent a long-term expansion and construction in eras of Five Dynasties, Song, Western Xia, Yuan, and Qing Dynasties. The Grottoes also have their own unique characteristics. For example, they have fully developed front rooms and long corridors, which you can't find in Mogao Caves. Inside the grottoes, you will also find a great amount of portraits of ethnic characters, painters and the wedding pictures in Han and Tibeten styles. In addition, some works of Yulin Grottoes, especially the Twenty-fifth Mural from Tubo period (around Tang Dynasty in central China) are very exquisite with simple figure, skilled and powerful lines, and bright but not foppish colors. What's more stunning is that the murals here are well-preserved, which means you can actually admire these fine arts.

    In the evening, you will be taken back to your Dunhuang hotel.

    Yulin Grottoes    Yulin Grottoes

Day 5 Mogao Caves, Singing Sand Dunes, Crescent Moon Lake

    After breakfast, your day tour commences.

    Your first sight today will be the reputed Mogao Grottoes, which comprise the largest, longest, richest and best-preserved treasure house for Buddhism study in the world. They were chiseled on the east cliffs of the Singing Sand Mountains, ranging 1680m from south to north. There are 735 caves built on the precipice in 15-30m. The whole site is composed of southern and northern area. In the southern area, there are 492 caves that contain 2,400 painted sculptures and 45,000 square meters of murals from dynasties like Northern Liang, Northern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Tang, Northern Song, Uighur, Western Xia and Yuan. While the northern area has 243 caves, most of which are for disciples to practice daily activities, accommodate and bury the deceased. Each cave in the southern area has contained various sculptures, murals, and niches, depicting the all aspects of the society including the politics, economics, culture, arts, religions, ethnic relations, and daily life.

    In the afternoon, you will have a visit to Crescent Spring and Singing Sand Dune. To get to the Crescent Spring, you have to pass the Singing Sand Dune.

    Completely piled by sands, the Singing Sand Dune stretches 40km in length and 20km in width. When the winds blows, the sands on the Sand Dune give out loud drumming sound. With the winds tending soft, there will be melodious and gentle sound. This is how the sand dune got its name. There are a few theories why the sand can make such interesting sounds. A legend has it that in Han Dynasty, when the Han Army and Huns were having a war, a gust came and bury them with their war-horses. Later, some people say that the sand sound is the sound of fighting armies. Truthfully, it’s just the result of electricity, resonance, and the sands friction.

    In the center of the Singing Sand Mountains, you will see a half-moon shape pond. This is the Crescent Lake. It's not very big, only 25 m in length and the deepest point is 5 meter. The lake is seated in the lowest point of the sand mountains, collecting the underground water all the time, which is probably why it wasn’t dried out in such a extremely arid place. However, it’s hard to explain why the lake stays clear with sands flowing everywhere around.

    Return to your hotel at the end of the tour.

    Mogao Caves    Crescent Spring

Day 6 Yardan National Park

    After breakfast, let’s head for the Yardan National Park.

    The park is located about 160km from the Dunhuang city, which takes about 3 hours to drive there. It is the largest Yardang landform in China and a national park with distinct Yardang geological feature. Such kind of landform is the example geomorphic type in extremely arid regions. It’s the creation of rains and winds in a time span of over 10,000 years. The soft parts of the earth were slowly eroded, leaving the hard rocks still standing there. There are many rocks in odd shapes, which earned them names like “Mongolian Bao”, “Camel”, “Stone Bird”, and “The Golden Lion Welcoming Guests”. Inside the park, you will find a lot of interesting sites, but one that you can’t miss is the Yardang Ghost Town where you will see the famous Aisikexiaer Castle.

    In the evening, your tour guide will take you back to Dunhuang hotel.

    Yardan National Park    Yardan National Park

Day 7 Dunhuang Museum

    There is only one place arranged for you, the Dunhuang Museum, which serves as a wrap up of this amazing Gansu tour.

    Dunhuang Museum is located in downtown Dunhuang. It's a museum dedicated to display the history and culture of Dunhuang city as an important stopover along the Silk Road and the relics excavated from the Mogao Caves. It's not as big as the internationally first-class museums, still, it's a great place to understand the art of Mogao Caves. The exhibitions inside the museum are classified into two types. The types one is for displaying the art of Mogao Caves, which contains the replica of undeveloped 45th grotto and some famous bamboo books, while the type two is to display the Silk Road Culture, in which the Brick of Kylin is the treasure of the museum.

    You can choose to visit the Dunhuang Museum either in the morning or in the afternoon and have the other half day free.

    Dunhuang Museum    Dunhuang Museum

Day 8 Departure Dunhuang

    Your Zhangye - Dunhuang comes to the end today. Your driver will pick you up at the appointed time and take you to the train station or airport.

Additional Information

What’s included:

Air-conditioned vehicles with experienced driver.
Licensed Chinese- English bilingual speaking tour guide.
Entrance fee for sights mentioned in the itinerary.
Bottled water.
2nd class high-speed train tickets and soft sleeper train tickets listed above

What’s not included:

Personal expenses or private entertainment items at sights.
Tips or gratuities for guide and driver if we did a good job (recommended)

What to take:  smile and a relaxed enthusiastic attitude.

Good to know:

1.This trip involves several cities that host mostly minority people, some of whom don’t even speak Mandarin, let alone English. They have their own languages. We can’t promise that the local guides will possess the English language skills as masterfully as the guides in big cities like Beijing, but we do promise that you will understand them. They will be very polite, enthusiastic, and eager to share what they know about their hometown.
2. As our customer, your time is very valuable to us. We will never take you to any factories or shops for shopping.
3. For lunch, we will take you to a nice local restaurant, where you can enjoy the local food at a fair price. Please inform us about your food preferences in case you have any allergies.
4. A regular day tour will last 8-9 hours. If you want a tour with a duration exceeding the working period of our tour guide and driver, we need to charge you for your extra hours at the standard rate of 100 RMB per hour.
5.The tour we provide you is based on days, not the hours. A regular day tour will last 8-9 hours. In case you only need our service for between 6 hours to 8 hours in one day, we will consider it a day tour.
6. Please be aware that your itinerary can be changed at anytime. Whenever you want to adjust it, we will help you with that.
7. What we provide are high-quality private tours, you will only be with your families or friends. There are no other people joining your tour.

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In case of any unexpected issue that you have to cancel this booking, your deposit is non-refundable. You are free to use it for your next trip with Lilysun China Tours or grand it to anyone else who travel with us.

If we already booked your train tickets or air tickets in advance, you will get some refund based on the amount that the train station or airline company charge.

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