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Silk Route

Xi'an - Ulaanbaatar

41 DAYS THROUGH China, Mongolia
RATING:
PRICE FROM:
$4,060 (USD) + 1,410 KITTY (USD)
DURATION:
41 days
TRANSPORT:
Overland expedition vehicle, Taxi, Metro
CREW:
2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew
ACCOM:
30%
70%
PHYSICAL CHALLENGE:
LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE:
TRIP CODE:
EXU
DEPOSIT:
$350 USD

Highlights

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

  Stay overnight in a Lijiashan cliff-side guesthouse built into a cave

  Visit the beautiful and ornate Black Dragon temple near Lijiashan

  3 nights in Pingyao to explore sites such as Mian Shan Mountain Resort and Zhangbi Underground City

  Explore the myriad of temples at Wutai Shan

  2 nights to explore Datong's Hanging Monastery and the stunning Yungang Caves

  Fully explore the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China at Jinshanling

  Discover the varied and interesting history of China at the National Museum

  Enjoy a guided visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing

  Take the Beijing metro to the centre's famous Tiananmen Square

  SHOW MORE HIGHLIGHTS  

Itinerary

Day 1 - Xi'an ( 24th Apr 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'!

There will be a group meeting today at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.

This afternoon 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.

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

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 2 - Xi'an ( 25th Apr 2019 )

Today we will have a free day to explore the city of Xi'an, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

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 40

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

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

CNY 80

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

CNY 80
Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057
CNY 50
Day 3 - Yan'an ( 26th Apr 2019 )

Today we make our way to the city of Yan'an. Yan'an is famous for being the ending point for those on the 'Long March', and became the CCP headquarters for a brief period. During our time here we have an included visit to the Revolutionary Museum and the CCP Headquarters site.

In Yan'an we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 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!).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the Revolution Museum and the Yangjialing Headquarters site, the former headquarters of Mao Tse Tung's Communist Party during the revolution

Included in Kitty
Day 4 - Lijiashan ( 27th Apr 2019 )

Today we continue our journey to visit the ancient village of Lijiashan, famed for settlement of cave dwellers and still home to more than 600 families.

In Lijiashan we will stay in a cave room, run by a local family and set up for guests.

Please note that some caves include a traditional 'Kang Stove bed'. The Kang bed is a hollow platform made from bricks that is used both as a bed and as a work area, these are common in remote villages in Northern China. In winter a coal fire can be lit under the bed, providing a huge amount of warmth day and night and it is very common for the whole family to sleep on one large bed. This means there may be times that members of the group may have to share 1 large bed with others in the group.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Stay overnight in a local guesthouse built into a cave, in the cliff-side village of Lijiashan
Included in Kitty
Day 5-7 - Pingyao, Lijiashan ( 28th Apr 2019 to 30th Apr 2019 )

We will set off early this morning for an included visit to the Black Dragon Temple just outside of Lijiashan. We will then drive to China's best-preserved ancient walled town, Pingyao.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

We will stay for 3 nights in Pingyao, giving us plenty of time to explore this ancient town and surrounding sites such as the Mian Shan Mountain Resort and the Zhangbi Underground City.

In Pingyao we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the beautiful and ornate Black Dragon temple near Lijiashan

Included in Kitty

Freely explore the old town of Pingyao, a well preserved walled city that offers a fantastic glimpse into 'Old China'

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 incredible Shuanglin Temple near Pingyao, with its 2000 colourful sculptures of various gods and warriors

CNY 25

Visit the 10th-century Zhenguo Temple, one of the oldest wooden buildings in China

CNY 25
Take a day trip out to the impressive Wang family compound and the Zhang Bi underground village near Pingyao
CNY 205
Take a day trip to the photogenic Mian Shan Mountain Resort, and explore the incredible array of buildings and scenery there
CNY 160
Day 8-9 - Wutai Shan ( 1st May 2019 to 2nd May 2019 )

This morning we continue to the stunning mountainous area known as Wutai Shan, one of the holiest sites of Chinese Buddhism and a major centre of pilgrimage in the country.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore the area and visit its incredible array of temples and religious sites.

In Wutai Shan we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the myriad of temples at Wutai Shan, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Chinese Buddhism

Included in Kitty
Day 10-11 - Datong ( 3rd May 2019 to 4th May 2019 )

Today we will drive to the city of Datong. We will have an included visit to the incredible Hanging Monastery en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

On the following day we will head out of Datong in the truck on an included visit to the awe-inspiring Yungang Buddha Caves. 

In Datong we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

2 nights to explore Datong's Hanging Monastery and the stunning Yungang Caves

Included in Kitty
Explore the phenomenal site of the Yungang Caves, a network of 252 caves containing over 51,000 incredibly crafted sculptures of Buddha from the 5th and 6th centuries
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 beautiful and ornate Nine Dragon Screen, a screen of glazed tiles depicting nine multi-coloured interweaving dragons
CNY 10
Day 12 - Jinshanling ( 5th May 2019 )

This morning we will drive to one of the world's most incredible sights - the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China! We will have time this afternoon and the following morning to thoroughly explore and walk along the Great Wall.

In Jinshanling we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Fully explore the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, one of the most spectacular stone sections of the wall

Included in Kitty
Day 13-14 - Chengde ( 6th May 2019 to 7th May 2019 )

This morning we will spend some more time exploring the Great Wall of China. We will then continue with a short drive to the city of Chengde.

Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore the Puning Temple and the famous Imperial Summer Resort.

In Chengde we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the Imperial city of Chengde, summer home to the Emperor's family

Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible Imperial Summer Resort in Chengde, a vast park with a variety of gardens, pagodas, temples and palaces from various regions of China
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 beautiful Putuo Zongcheng Temple, modelled after the famous Potala Palace in Tibet
CNY 80
Day 15-16 - Beijing ( 8th May 2019 to 9th May 2019 )

Today we complete our journey to China's chaotic and evocative capital, Beijing!

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

On the following day we will head out on the Beijing metro to the city centre's famous Tiananmen Square, which we will walk through and then take a tour of the Forbidden City. We will then have a free afternoon to fully explore the many sights, sounds and flavours of Beijing.

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

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

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

Discover all about the varied and interesting history of China at the National Museum, with its huge collection of over a million artifacts

Free

Head out to see an acrobatic or martial arts show in Beijing, always an incredible mix of athleticism and choreography

CNY 250

Explore the Ming Tombs

CNY 60
Explore the vast Temple of Heaven, once the site of an annual religious ceremony conducted by the Emporer to pray for a good harvest
CNY 10
Visit the beautiful Tibetan-style Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple) in Beijing
Free
See the iconic modern 'Bird's Nest' Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games
CNY 50
Day 17 - Beijing ( 10th May 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Beijing, you will most likely enter China at Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA code: PEK).

There will be a short group meeting today at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting. The rest of the day will be free to explore the incredible city of Beijing!

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Beijing 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 Beijing.

In Beijing 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.

Explore the Ming Tombs

CNY 60

Guided visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing

CNY 60

Discover all about the varied and interesting history of China at the National Museum, with its huge collection of over a million artifacts

Free

Head out to see an acrobatic or martial arts show in Beijing, always an incredible mix of athleticism and choreography

CNY 250
Explore the vast Temple of Heaven, once the site of an annual religious ceremony conducted by the Emporer to pray for a good harvest
CNY 10
Visit the beautiful Tibetan-style Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple) in Beijing
Free
See the iconic modern 'Bird's Nest' Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games
CNY 50
Day 18 - Erlian ( 11th May 2019 )

Today we leave the Chinese capital behind us as we begin our overland journey towards Mongolia. Today will be a long drive day to reach the border town of Erlian.

We will either wild camp outside Erlian or stay in a basic local hotel, depending on weather conditions and group preferences.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-12 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!).

Day 19 - Sainshand ( 12th May 2019 )

Border information: Exit China at Erlian, enter Mongolia at Zamyn-Uud.

This morning we cross the border into Mongolia. Please be aware that border procedures can take around 5 hours here. Once we have made it into Mongolia we will continue our overland journey north.

We will aim to wild camp near the town of Sainshand tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

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

Visit the Khamaryn Khiid Monastery near Sainshand, dedicated to Danzan Ravjaa, a 19th-century religious leader of the 'Red Hat' branch of Buddhism
Free
Visit the modern working Buddhist monastery of Dechinchoinkhorlin Khiid, near Sainshand
Free
Day 20 - Ulaanbaatar ( 13th May 2019 )

This morning we may have the opportunity to visit the Dechinchoinkhorlin Monastery in Sainshand before we continue our drive to Mongolia's vibrant capital of Ulaanbaatar (please note this is not always open for visitors).

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Day 21 - Ulaanbaatar ( 14th May 2019 )

Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport.

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, but please do not be alarmed if the note is not there as this is often a travel day for the tour leader and they may arrive in the afternoon. If you arrive early, the rest of the day will be free to explore the Mongolian capital!

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Day 22 - Ulaanbaatar ( 15th May 2019 )

This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights, including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum.

This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into peoples lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.

Day 23 - Ögii Lake ( 16th May 2019 )

Today we drive out of the city and into the vast plains of Mongolia. We hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon.

Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period in about 1000CE, and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era.

After our visit to the ruins we will drive to Ögii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The Lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans.

In Ögii Lake we will stay in a local nomadic ger-tent camp set up for guests. These are large gers, each usually containing 2 or 4 beds.

Please note that we cannot give any accurate drive time estimations for our Mongolia trip as the journey times are heavily dependent on the state of roads, which is in turn heavily dependent on the weather. The roads in Mongolia are mostly dirt tracks in very poor condition, which means that an even greater degree of flexibility is needed for this trip in all regards.

Day 24 - Kharkhorin ( 17th May 2019 )

Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram).

Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin.

Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area.

In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp.

Day 25-26 - Orkhon Valley ( 18th May 2019 to 19th May 2019 )

Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley. We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim!

We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight.

The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests.

After our visit we will wild camp nearby.

Please note that on occasion it is impossible to rech the Tuvkhon Monastery due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot.

Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangable, depending on the road conditions.

Day 27-28 - Tsenkher ( 20th May 2019 to 21st May 2019 )

Today our trip heads north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach an area that Mongolians call 'The Paradise of the Horse Herders' due to its lush grasses and open valleys.

We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82°C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak.

The following day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers in the region. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horseback.

In Tsenkher we will stay at a ger camp.

Day 29 - Tsetserleg, Tamir River ( 22nd May 2019 )

This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market. If time permits, we will also visit the provincial museum.

We will then continue our journey north past the Tamir river, and will wild camp tonight.

Day 30 - Chuulut Canyon ( 23rd May 2019 )

Today we continue noth past Taikhar Chuluu (a massive rock which is connected to local mythology) and the Chluulut Canyon to arrive at our ger camp near the Khorgo volcano.

In Khorgo we will stay at a nearby ger camp.

Day 31 - Khorgo ( 24th May 2019 )

This morning we will take a hike to the top of the Khorgo Volcano and take in the incredible views over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon.

We will then return to the truck and continue our journey north. We will aim wild camp tonight in the remote plains north of Khorgo.

Day 32-33 - Mörön, Zuun Lake ( 25th May 2019 to 26th May 2019 )

Over the next few days we continue driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks! We will pass by the beautiful alpine Lake Zuun en route. 

We hope to arrive at Mörön, the provincial capital, the following afternoon. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum. If we don't have time on this section of the trip, then we can visit the town after coming back from Khövsgöl Lake.

We will aim to wild camp near Zuun Lake and near the town of Mörön.

Day 34-35 - Khövsgöl Lake ( 27th May 2019 to 28th May 2019 )

This morning we will drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, the stunning Khövsgöl Lake.

Khövsgöl Lake and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan, also known as 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees - however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration.

The following day we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650m above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100m, the waters of Khovsgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'.

In Khövsgöl Lake we will stay at a ger camp.

Day 36-38 - Bulgan, Selenge River ( 29th May 2019 to 31st May 2019 )

We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back towards the capital of Ulanbaatar. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes.

We will aim to wildcamp in the plains east of Mörön on the first day of this journey, by the Selenge River on the next day, and on the outskirts of the town of Bulgan on the day after that.

Day 39 - Amarbayasgalant Monastery ( 1st Jun 2019 )

This morning we will try to visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930s. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the classic Tibetan style.

Tonight we will wild camp near the monastery.

Day 40 - Ulaanbaatar ( 2nd Jun 2019 )

Today we have a full day drive from northern Mongolia back to the city of Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax and explore, and to have a well-earned final meal and drinks in one of the city's many restaurants!

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in our comfortable joining hotel.

Day 41 - Ulaanbaatar ( 3rd Jun 2019 )

Border information: If you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely exit Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport.

Today is a free day to further explore the city of Ulaanbaatar.

Please note that if you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, today is the last day of the trip and there is no accommodation included tonight.

 

DATES & PRICES

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Trip Notes
Departing: 24 Apr 2019
Returning: 3 Jun 2019
Duration: 41 days
Route: Xi'an - Ulaanbaatar
$4,060 USD + $1,410 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 8 Jun 2019
Returning: 18 Jul 2019
Duration: 41 days
Route: Xi'an - Ulaanbaatar
$4,060 USD + $1,410 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 14 Jun 2019
Returning: 24 Jul 2019
Duration: 41 days
Route: Ulaanbaatar - Xi'an
$4,070 USD + $1,410 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 26 Jul 2019
Returning: 4 Sep 2019
Duration: 41 days
Route: Ulaanbaatar - Xi'an
$4,070 USD + $1,410 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 29 Apr 2020
Returning: 8 Jun 2020
Duration: 41 days
Route: Xi'an - Ulaanbaatar
$4,435 USD + $1,410 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 19 Jun 2020
Returning: 29 Jul 2020
Duration: 41 days
Route: Ulaanbaatar - Xi'an
$4,435 USD + $1,410 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 10 Jul 2020
Returning: 19 Aug 2020
Duration: 41 days
Route: Ulaanbaatar - Xi'an
$4,435 USD + $1,410 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available

WHAT OUR PASSENGERS SAY

First "overland" trip for me. Will not be the last!
Katharine D
Enjoyed most China, bush camping and staying in Ger tents in Mongolia.
Clare M