Home > Things To Do > Things To Do in Urumqi > [5-Day Tour] Turpan-Dunhuang-Jiayuguan (Private, 4-star)

[5-Day Tour] Turpan-Dunhuang-Jiayuguan (Private, 4-star)


With Accommodation | Private Tour



Kumtag Desert | Asanta Graves | Gaochang Ruins | Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves | Jiaohe Ruins | Sugong Tower | Karez Water System | Mogao Caves | Mingsha Hill & Crescent Moon Spring | Jiayuguan Fort
Overnight at: Urumqi Orient Dynasty hotel | Turpan Sun Holiday hotel | train | Dunhuang hotel

Welcome to Silk Road country! The famous ancient trading route left a vibrant melting pot of people and a fascinating cultural landscape in its wake as it worked its way across the western reaches of China and into central Asia. Desert scenes at Kumtag, the astonishing Thousand Buddha Bezeklik Caves and archaeological wonders of Turpan, including the ancient Jiaohe Ruins, the singing sands of Dunhuang and Jiayuguan, China's last frontier against the barbarian hordes of old, are just a few of the highlights of this tour of China's most fascinating region.


Day 1 Urumqi airport pickup

Stay overnight at the Orient Dynasty Hotel or similar.

Day 2 Urumqi-Turpan (includes breakfast & lunch)

Kumtag Desert (库木塔格沙漠) (about 1.5 hours)

The Kumtag Desert forms the eastern boundary of the Taklamakan Desert's Turpan Basin, about 90 km (56 mi) east of Turpan. A vast expanse of arid landscape and sand dunes, it's a hauntingly beautiful sight.

Asanta Graves (Asītǎnǎ Gǔmù, 阿斯塔那古墓) (about 40 minutes)

The Astana Graves, nicknamed "The Underground Museum", and located 6 km (4 mi) from the ancient city of Gaochang, is the final resting place for over 1,000 inhabitants of Gaochang, both commoners and locals. The tombs cover over ten sq km (six sq mi), having been used for over 600 years between 200 CE and 800 CE.

Gaochang Ancient City (Gāochāng Gǔchéng, 高昌古城) (about 30 minutes)

The ancient city of Gaochang is a sublimely impressive sight, likely to spur thoughts of the grand sweep of history and the insignificance of one little tourist standing in the middle of the vast desert, snapping digital photos of crumbling ruins that date back to the 1st century BC. Unless, of course, you visit at the same time as a huge Chinese tour group, in which case sublimity is likely a lost cause. Even then, Gaochang is worth a whirl, whether you walk or drop RMB 20 on a donkey cart from the entrance gate.

Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves (Bózīkèlǐ Qiānfódòng, 柏孜克里千佛洞) (about 30 minutes)

The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are on the northwestern side of the Flaming Mountains facing a river valley about 15 km (9 mi) north of the ruins of the ancient city of Gaochang and 45 km (28 mi) east of modern Turpan. These caves are one of the largest Buddhist grotto complexes in Xinjiang, with 77 shiku (caves carved to house Buddhist images) containing frescoes and statuary ranging from the naïve to the masterly.

Stay overnight at the Hongxin Hotel or similar.

Day 3 Turpan-Dunhuang (includes breakfast & lunch)

Jiaohe Ruins (Jiāohé Gùchéng, 交河故城) (about 50 minutes)

The ancient ruined city of Jiaohe lies 10 km (6 mi) to the west of Turpan, situated on an island in the middle of river waters flowing through the Yarnaz Valley—the name itself means "at the confluence of two rivers." Abandoned in the thirteenth century after Genghis Khan's Mongol hordes laid it to waste, the ruins of this once-prosperous Silk Road city make for a fascinating day trip out of Turpan. The island rises some 30 m (98 ft) above the surrounding desert and, along with the river waters, provided a natural defensive barrier against attacks; hence the city, unlike so many of its time, was built without a protective wall.

Sugong Tower (Sūgōng Tǎ, 苏公塔) (about 35 minutes)

The Sugong Tower, also known as "Turphan Tower" or "Emin Minaret", this is the largest Islamic minaret in China. You'll also visit the amazing ancient karez system which brought water and life to Turpan and beyond from the 1st century BC, as well as a steady stream of traders, adventurers, soldiers and merchants.

Karez Water System (Kǎnrjǐng, 坎儿井) (about 40 minutes)

The system was both the reason for Turpan's prosperity and its key to development as an essential stopover on the ancient Silk Road, skirting the Taklamakan Desert. An irrigation system similar to that which originated during the Han Dynasty, this system is a series of vertically-dug wells, linked by underwater canals to collect water from the runoff from both the Tian Shan Mountains and the Flaming Mountains.

After dinner, board the night train (T70 or T194) to Dunhuang.

Day 4 Dunhuang (includes breakfast & lunch)

8:00 a.m. Arrive in Dunhuang by train in the early morning and head out for a day of sightseeing.

Mogao Caves (Mògāo Kū, 莫高窟) (about 2.5 hours)

The Mogao Caves, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas (Qiān Fó Dòng, 千佛洞), are a group of 492 cave-temples in southeast Dunhuang. These astonishing caves, or grottoes, were dug out of the bedrock and cliffs sometime in the fourth century. The story goes that a Buddhist monk named Lè Zūn had a vision of a thousand Buddhas bathed in golden light, inspiring him to build a cave there.

Mingsha Hill (Míngshā Shān 鸣沙山) & Crescent Moon Spring (Yuèyá Quán, 月牙泉) (about 2 hours)

Mingsha Hill is known as one of the "Eight Great Landscapes" of Dunhuang. This 40 km (25 mi) long mountain is made up of huge mounds of sand, with the highest point reaching 250 m (820 ft). Also known as the Echoing-Sand Mountain, or Singing Sand Dunes, an old tale describes this site as a once beautiful oasis in ancient times. A war between two armies supposedly ended here, with the troops being buried by strong sand winds, their cries still echoing from the mountain. Though unlikely to be the cries of those poor lost souls, the dunes do in fact make a noise as the wind whips the sand from their peaks, a natural sound known as the "singing sand" phenomenon. Singing and stories aside, these sand dunes really are a spectacular sight, especially if you can catch them on the perfect day.

Crescent Moon Spring is a natural lake in the form of its namesake, a half moon. The lake has miraculously never dried up, thanks to its landform and the continuous source of water underneath it. The lake is home to many fish and medical plants, often said to be the ingredients one needs to live forever!

Stay overnight at the Dunhuang Hotel or similar.

Day 5 Dunhuang-Jiayuguan departure (includes breakfast & lunch)

After breakfast, drive to Jiayuguan, once an important Bhold in feudal China's line of defense against the barbaric tribes beyond its western-most borders.

Jiayuguan Fort (Jiāyùguān Chénglóu, 嘉峪关城楼) (about 1 hour)

Once considered the end of the "civilized" world, Jiayuguan Fort was Imperial China's westernmost stronghold at the end of the Great Wall. Beyond the fort's walls; primal fears in the forms of elemental demons and barbarian armies waited to ambush disgraced officials and exhiled poets cast out through the Gate of Conciliation (Róuyuǎn Lóu, 柔远楼). On the opposite side of the fort, the Gate of Enlightenment (Guānghuá Lóu, 光化楼), where law-abiding citizens of the empire could come and go as they pleased.

At about 3:00 p.m. you'll be transferred to the airport for departure.

Price Includes and Excludes

What is included?

1) Train Ticket: Turpan-Dunhuang soft sleeper

2) Accommodation

3) English-speaking tour guide

4) Admission fees, meals and transportation as listed in the details

What is excluded?

1) Personal expenses, optional items and anything else not specifically mentioned

Important Notes

1.Please call or email Ctrip if you need to cancel your booking. Free cancellation for bookings cancelled at least 3 days in advance. If you cancel 2 days or less before your visit, a 100% cancellation fee will be charged per booking. Besides the cancellation fee, penalties from airlines or train companies apply if air or train tickets are issued.

2.You will be contacted before 11:00 p.m. the day before your scheduled activity to confirm pickup information regarding your driver and/or tour guide. Please call Mike @(+86)13579800900 for any urgent matters.

3.Currently payment is only accepted by credit card. Once payment clears, Ctrip will send you a confirmation email with your booking details. If payment fails, your booking will automatically be canceled. To ensure a smooth payment process, we recommend you contact your credit card provider in advance.

4.Time arrangements described in itineraries are subject to change. Guides reserve the right to change arrangements according to weather, transportation and other variable conditions.

5.If you opt to join only part of this activity, you forfeit the right to join subsequent parts, as well as the right to receive a refund for any part of the activity that you miss.

6.All listed meals are Chinese food unless otherwise noted. Please notify us ahead of time for any dietary restrictions (allergies, vegetarian, kosher, etc.).

7.By default 2 people will share a room. For groups of odd numbers, 3 people will be required to share a room unless single supplement is paid. To request a single room, please make a note in the "additional request" section while booking online or inform us by email at thingstodo@ctrip.com.

8.Please ensure personal and travel information is entered correctly. Ctrip will not refund any losses that result from incorrect and missing information.


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- Children: 2-12 years old and shorter than 1.2m (3 ft 11 in)

- Each child must be accompanied by at least 1 adult.

- Minimum 2 travellers for the tour to run

- Prices for group products are fixed. For private products, the bigger the group the lower the price per person.