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Xi'an to Bishkek
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  • Duration: 42 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites
  • Physical rating: Demanding
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: EEXT2/201112
  • Starts: Xi'an, China
  • Finishes: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
You will Visit
  • Xi'an
  • Qinghai Hu
  • Overnight Train to Lhasa
  • Lhasa
  • Gyantse
  • Shigatse
  • New Tingri
  • Rongbuk
  • Pingliang
  • Lanzhou
  • Xiahe
  • Liujiaxia
  • Bingling Si
  • Zhangye
  • Jiayuguan
  • Dunhuang
  • Turpan
  • Heavenly Lake
  • Bayanbulak
  • Aksu
  • Kashgar
  • Lake Karakol
  • Tash Rabat
  • Kochkor
  • Bishkek

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Xi'an

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

There will be a group meeting at 6:00pm in our hotel in Xi'an - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details 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.

02

Day 2: Xi'an

Today we will head out for an included visit to the awe-inspiring world-famous Terracotta Warriors. We will have free time to independently explore the Xi'an on our return to the city.

03

Day 3: Qinghai Hu

Today we will take a short local flight to the small city of Xining in China's mid-western Qinghai province. On arrival we will make a visit to the vast and starkly beautiful Qinghai Hu Lake. The population of this part of the Tibetan Plateau is thinly spread and mainly comprises of Kazakhs, Moguls and Hui.

We will stay in a local hotel in the city of Xining.

 

04

Day 4: Overnight Train to Lhasa

Today we will board our overnight train to Lhasa - the train takes the 2000km-long Qinghai-Tibet railway, a masterpiece of railway engineering opened in 2006. The train takes us over the 5,072m Tanggula Pass (a crossing that makes the railway the highest in the world) on its spectacular and scenic journey across the mountains and the Tibetan Plateau, arriving in Lhasa the following day. Please note that there are several trains a day, so our departure and arrival times for the train journey will be flexible. 

Tonight we will have sleeper tickets on the train and will sleep on basic bunk beds on the train.

05

Day 5: Lhasa

Today we will arrive in the famous and evocative city of Lhasa, the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet. We will have free time to independently explore the city and soak up its unique atmosphere on our arrival.

In Lhasa we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

06

Day 6: Lhasa

Today we will have an included visit to the Jokhang Palace, located in the central Barkhor square and considered the holiest temple in all of Tibet. In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Sera Monastery, one of the most important schools for the Gelug school of Buddhism. 

07

Day 7: Lhasa

Today we will visit the world-famous Potala Palace, once the home of the Dalai Lama and an iconic symbol of Tibet. The rest of our time today will be free to independently explore the city and some of its other important Buddhist sites.

08

Day 8: Gyantse

Today we will start our land journey through southern Tibet with a stunning drive over the Kampa La Pass (4,794m) to the historic town of Gyantse.

In Gyantse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

09

Day 9: Shigatse

This morning we will have an included visit to the Palcho Monastery in Gyantse before continuing our journey to Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city. On arrival in Shigatse we will have an included visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

In Shigatse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

10

Day 10: New Tingri

Today we continue our journey with a drive over some more high mountain passes to reach New Tingri (also known as Shegar), where we will meet the junction for the road to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. This is usually a fairly long day's drive, but the stunning views and scenery make this one of the world's most visually fantastic journeys!

In New Tingri we will stay in a local guesthouse.

11

Day 11: Rongbuk

From New Tingri we make the journey to the Rongbuk Monastery and Everest Base Camp.

The drive is not an easy one, passing over another 5,200m pass, but the views are sensational and (weather permitting) we should have excellent views of Mount Everest.

Once we have reached the Rongbuk Monastery, it is about a 2 hour walk further to Everest Base Camp (please note that this is the Base Camp from the northern Tibetan side, not the famous southern equivalent on the Nepalese side that lends its name to the popular trek).

We will usually camp here in Tibetan tents which take six to eight people.

12

Day 12: New Tingri

Today we will spend some more time exploring the Everest Base Camp area before returning to New Tingri for the night.

13

Day 13: Shigatse

Today we will return to the city of Shigatse. If time allows we may be able to detour to visit the 11th-Century Sakti Monastery, the centre of the once-dominant Sakti school of Buddhism.

14

Day 14: Lhasa

Today we will return to Tibet's capital, Lhasa.

15

Day 15: Xi'an

Today we will board an internal flight back to our starting point of Xi'an, where we will have free time to explore on arrival.

16

Day 16: Xi'an

17

Day 17: Xi'an

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.

18

Day 18: Xi'an

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.

19

Day 19-20: Pingliang

Today we will drive to the small 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.

20

Day 21: Lanzhou

Today we will head to the chaotic capital city of Gansu province, Lanzhou. We will have some free time this evening to explore the city.

In Lanzhou we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

21

Day 22-23: Xiahe

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 2 nights. We will have an included visit to the incredble Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 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.

22

Day 24: Liujiaxia

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 - 3-4 hours.

23

Day 25: Zhangye

Today we will drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we'll spend some time exploring the region before heading off to wild camp nearby.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

24

Day 26: Jiayuguan

Today we continue our journey with a drive to Jiayuguan, where 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 abode, unlike the more famous stone sections further east.

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

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

25

Day 27-28: Dunhuang

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.

26

Day 29-30: Turpan

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

Estimated Drive Time - 10-12 hours.

Please note that sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, wild camping in between - in this case we will have 1 less night in Pingliang towards the beginning of the trip.

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

In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.

27

Day 31-32: Heavenly Lake

Today we will continue on to Heavenly Lake, a beautiful lake set in the Tian Shan mountains.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

We will stay here for 2 nights, and will have many opportunities to relax in the incredible scenery and walk around the lake.

In Heavenly Lake we will stay in local yurts with very basic facilities.

28

Day 33-34: Bayanbulak

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

Please note that occasionally the police insist that we do not camp in times of political tension - in this case we will stay in local hotels in the small towns en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours each day.

29

Day 35-37: Kashgar

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.

30

Day 38: Kashgar

Border Information: if leaving in Kashgar, you will most likely exit China at Kashgar Airport (IATA code: KHG).

If leaving the trip in Kashgar, today is a free day to further explore the city before leaving. If you are continuing on our trip into Kyrgyzstan, we will leave for Lake Karakul today.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kashgar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

31

Day 39: Kashgar

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.

Today we will set off on a stunning journey along the Karakoram highway to Lake Karakol. The drive takes us up past some truly incredible mountain scenery and underneath a few 7000m peaks, including Mustagh Ata.

Near Lake Karakol we will stay in local nomadic yurts, sleeping 6-8 people per yurt. Provisions here are very basic, but the scenery is incredible and it is an interesting glimpse into the way of life of the local Uighurs.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

32

Day 40: Lake Karakol

This morning we have a chance to spend a little time at Lake Karakol before starting our journey back along the beautiful mountain road to Kashgar.

The evening will be free to explore the old town.

In Kashgar we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

33

Day 41: Tash Rabat

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.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

34

Day 42: Kochkor

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.

35

Day 43: Bishkek

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).

Inclusions:
    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
    • Journey west through the lower realms of the Tibetan Plateau to the remote Qinghai Lake
    • Explore the Jokhang Temple, the centrepiece of Lhasa and the most sacred and important temple in Tibet
    • Visit the stunning Sera Monatery, and witness one of the fascinating debating sessions between the monks
    • Take a guided tour of the incredble Potala Palace, the former winter residence of the Dalai Lama and the most famous symbol of Tibet
    • Visit to the stunning town of Gyantse and Baiju Monastery
    • Stopover in Shigatse and visit to Tashilhunpo Monastery
    • Overnight at Everest Base Camp, crossing Tibetan passes of 5200 metres en route
    • 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
    • Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples
    • See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge
    • Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains
    • Journey down the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan Fort, our first stop at the Great Wall
    • Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang
    • Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan
    • 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
    • See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan
    • Enjoy a tranquil yurt stay at the beautiful Heavenly Lake
    • Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market
    • Take in the spectacular mountain scenery on our drive along the Karakorum Highway to Lake Karakol
    • Stay overnight in a traditional yurt owned by Kyrgyz and Tajik families near the beautiful Lake Karakol, set amongst the 7500m-high mountains of the Tian Shan range
    • Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border
    • Cross into Kyrgyzstan via the stunning and remote Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains
    • Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village
    • See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here
    Accomodation
    • 10% Camping - 90% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • History & Culture