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The SILK ROAD AND TIBET

Buddha's Statue at Mogao Cave

Trip Summary 

 

"7 days on the Silk Road and 8 days in Tibet"

  • Trip starts and ends: Starts from Lanzhou of Gansu province, ends in Lhasa of Tibet, or extends to Nepal

  • Lodging: 4 star hotel / hostel, with decent and clean facilities, hot shower, western style toilet.

  • Meals: local cuisine. Please let us know if you have any allergies or if you are vegetarian.

  • Guide:  One of our experienced tour leaders and cultural specialist. 

  • Transportation: 4WD car / van, and train with air conditioner.

  • Attitude: The trips begins at the attitude of 1000 m from the northeastern margin of Tibet plateau, and gradually elevated to 4300 m. In summary, the attitude on Silk Road is between and , while the attitude in Tibet elevated from to . You'll lodge at the attitude between , and the highest points being Dangla Pass (གདང་ལ) that the train passes at night, and Mt. Everest base camp. 

Why combine the Silk Road and Tibet?

This trip is going to take you to see the famous Silk Road and its connection with Tibet from a less known angle. 

 

If you look at the map, you'll find that the Silk Road in China took its shape along the Hexi Corridor between Tibetan Plateau and Mongolian Plateau. The Mt. Qilian (Tibetan: མདོ་ལ་རི་རྒྱུད།  Dola Riwo) range at the northeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau is home of many rivers which have nourished the oases and basin along the Hexi / Gansu Corridor.

Over the thousands of years, the ancient China and Tibet had interacted on this long and narrow passage of vital importance, among other civilizations, with the military forces, diplomatic dialogues, and most importantly, with the enduring spreading of Buddhism. Leaving behind now a rich collection of historical and cultural sites for us to linger and appreciate. 

Spending first half of the trip on the northern Silk Road will give you not only a rich cultural experience, but also the chance to acclimatize for the second half of the trip to Tibet. You'll take the Qinghai-Tibet railway from Gulmud, the city on the Gobi desert in western Qinghai. Your following trip will consist of a string of magnificent cultural and religious sites in Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Sakya. Sakya lineage has been the primary force that once unified a scattered Tibet, swayed significant tires with Yuan Dynasty of China and further on, left the strong imprints in Hexi Corridor, which we have explored in previous days. Then the journey brings you to the amazing up close view of Mt. Everest from its base camp. At this point, you'll return to Lhasa to wrap up the wonderful trip of lifetime, or the trip can be extended further to Kathmandu of Nepal from Mt. Everest.

Brief Itinerary:

 

Lanzhou - Wuwei - Zhangye - Jiayuguan - Dunghuang - Gulmod - Lhasa - Gyangtse - Shigatse - Sakya - Mt. Everest base camp - Lhasa / or extend to Nepal.

Highlights:

 

  1. Great trip for young student explorers, as well as people who are keen to learn about the cultural and historical contacts of different civilizations.

  2. Great trip to witness the transmission of Buddhism from India, China and Tibet, and how the early and later eras of Buddhism have made the imprints of different styles in the sculptures, murals, and architectures.

  3. Great trip to visit the ruins of Great Wall and the entrance-guiding forts, as well as the sites of the militant clashes and diplomatic negotiations.

  4. Hop on the train from Golmud, the word highest railway will take you to cross the expanse of the Tibet Plateau and reach the holy city of Lhasa.

  5. Classical guided tour of Tibet's most prominent palace, temples and monasteries.

  6. Mingle in local markets on the silk road and in the back streets of Lhasa.

  7. Amazing up close view of Mt. Everest 

Itinerary

 

Day 01 / Lanzhou
Arrive in Lanzhou, the capital city of the Gansu Province in western China and the
east end of Hexi Corridor on the northern Silk Road. You will be welcomed at the airport

by your tour leader and driver. Transport to your hotel in Lanzhou which is 90km away.
from the airport. Orientation dinner at local beef noodle restaurant (Chin: Niu Rou Mian).

Day 02 / Lanzhou - Wuwei

After the breakfast at the hotel, you will visit Gansu Provincial Museum with excellent

collection of unearthed fossils, ancient potteries and Buddhist artifacts, explaining well

the prominent role of Lanzhou and Gansu on the Silk Road. It'll be a good entry point for the rest of the journey.

In the afternoon we'll drive to Wuwei city, Liangzhou as its old name. Wuwei is an interesting place for its role as the business and transportation hub along the Silk Road, as well as the site for peace negotiation between Tibet and Mongolian Yuan Dynasty.  You'll visit the White Pagoda founded by the great scholar Sakya Pantida Kunga Gyaltsen, who unified and ruled Tibet at the time. His nephew, Sakya Phagpa, stayed in Liangzhou from the age of ten, and later became the royal advisor of the Mongolian emperor, and designer of the Mongolian new script and capital city of Beijing. Overnight in Wuwei.   
Day 03  / Wuwei - Zhangye
After breakfast, we'll drive toward Zhangye city, Gan Zhou as its old name, and the word Gan (sweet) is the name of the province Gansu originated from. Zhangye, in Chinese means "extended arm", as in "to extend the arm of the county through the western realm" in ancient Chinese phrase. In Tibetan, it's called Drongyul (འབྲོང་ཡུལ) in Tibetan, the land of wild yaks, depicting that the area was once roamed with wild yaks. Another important site along the Silk Road, for its bridging position, and a melting pot of different ethnicities. This blessed place is abundant in harvests and natural resources,  renowned for the horse ranges and wetlands.  We'll first visit ancient Dafo Si Temple located right in the middle of the city. The 35 meter's long Dafo (the Great Buddha, also as the Reclined Buddha), depicting Guatama Buddha's attianment in nirvana, was built at early 12 century during Western Xia era. The hall contains the Buddha image is one of the rare survivors of the original wooden structure of Qing Dynasty.

 

After lunch, we'll then drive north for one hour, to visit the Mati Si monastery in Sunan Yugur Autonomous County. Mati Si (the monastery of Horse Hoof), was built over 16oo years ago, consists a group of 70 caves with hundreds of shrines, sculptures and grottoes, carved out of the colored rock cliffs. It was once a Chinese Buddhist Temple, but later converted to Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Growing over many generations, stretching over 30 km long, the collective sites of caves displayed an astonishing diverse styles of Buddhist arts. Less known to the world than the Dunhuang Mogao Caves, therefore less visited, but it's definitely a must-see in a beautiful valley covered by forestry and the snow-capped Mt. Qilian in sight.  Return and overnight in Zhangye.

Day 04 / Zhangye - Jiayuguan 

Leave Zhangye behind, en route to the famous Jiayuguan Pass, we'll first make a stop at the scenic Zhangye National Geopark for its unusual Danxia landform, also called as the Rainbow mountains. Afterward, we'll continue to drive another hour and half to the Jiayuguan, the frontier fortress at the west end of Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty, strategically located at the narrowest west end of the Hexi Corridor. This militant structure is the only intact surviving Pass on the Great Wall. You'll then take a walk on the Overhanging Great Wall (Xunbi Changcheng), built in 1539 along the mountain range, attempting to lock off from the invasions. Overnight in Jiayu Guan.
Day 05 / Jiayuguan  - Yulin - Dunhuang

Today we'll head toward Dunhuang along the Mt. Qilian Mountains range, but first make a stop at the Yulin Caves (Yulin Ku). Located in Anxi County and hidden in the desert, this Major National Historical and Cultural site was among the first to be designated for protection. The 43 caves sporadically scattered through the canyon cliffs, house some 250 statures and 4200 square meters of wall paintings, dating from Sui Dynasty to Yuan Dynasty, that is, from 7th to 14th centuries.  Overnight in Dunhuang.

Day 06 / Dunghuang

Today you'll visit the Mogao Caves, a shrine of Buddhist art treasures, 26 km (16.5miles) from downtown Dunhuang on the eastern slope of Echoing-Sand Mountain (Mingsha Shan). According to Tang Dynasty records, a monk had witnessed onsite a vision of thousand Buddhas under showers of golden rays. Thus inspired, he started the caves construction work that spanned ten dynasties. Mogao Caves are commonly known as the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas. The clay statues placed in front of the cave walls, carved relief murals as backdrops, the sidewalls and ceilings painted with art decors. The largest statue is 34.5 meters (113 feet) high and the smallest a mere 2 centimeters (0.79 inches) high. The traces of Indian Buddhist art were shown in the earlier works. Artists in each dynasty painted with their distinctive palette. The Buddhist arts came with secular scenes depicting the time, activities, and noble figures along with commoners. Famous as it is, you may have read, watched films, seen pictures of Dunhuang, but only when you stands inside of the caves, to feel the freeze of the time, be completely at awe of the human imaginations, and surrender to its artistic achievements.
Day 07 / Dunghuang - Golmud (evening train)

Today will be the end of your trip on the Northern Silk Road along the Hexi Corridor. Your next phase of the journey begins by driving further westward, cross the provincial border, cruise along the Chadam Basin and arrive Golmud, the city on the Gobi desert, once a militant post and now the entrance point to TAR along the Qinghai-Tibet railway. You'll take the evening train. Sleep on train.


Day 08 / Arrive in Lhasa
You will be welcomed by the local team and join our welcome dinner at Tibetan hotpot place with local folk Nangma music performance. Overnight in Lhasa  

Day 09/ Lhasa
Guided tour to Drepung in the morning, visit Sera monastery and the summer palace ( Norbulinka ) in the afternoon
Day 10 / Lhasa
Guided tour to Potala Palace in the morning, afternoon the old town and Jokhang temple, Barkhor market.

Day 11 / Lhasa - Gyatse - Shigatse
Drive from Lhasa to Gyangtse (Tib: རྒྱལ་རྩེ། Chin: Jiang Zi)  - Shigatse (Tib: གཞིས་ཀ་རྩེ། Chin: Ri Ga Ze)  / 370kms / 8 hrs

Little early departure from Lhasa to Gyangtse, en route we will visit the Yamdrok lake, a scenic stop at Norjing Gangsang glacier, arrival in Gyangtse, touring the Palchor Chode monastery including the Kumbum, late afternoon continue our driving through the Nying Chu river valley, passing a lot of local Tibetan villages, we will visit local families as well, arrival in Shigatse in the evening, hotel stay ( 3800m )

Day 12 / Shigatse - Sakya - Shekar

Spend the morning touring Tashi Lunpo monastery (the main seat of Panchen Lama )\. Continue driving toward to Sakya Monastery. you will visit Sakya Monastery and surroundings. Afternoon leave Shigatse, continue our overland trip on the friend-ship highway to Shekar with stops an route, hotel stay in, hotel stay in Shekar ( 4300m ), hotel stay

Day 13 / Shekar - Rombuk

Early departure, drive to Rombuk, crossing Gyawu la passs where we have sun-rising panoramic view of the greatest part of the Himalaya, continue overland trip to Romuk, afternoon excursion to of Rombuk monastery and view of Mt. Everest, spend most part of this day in Rombuk, overnight at Rombuk monastery guest house or tented guest house ( 5000m )

Day 14 / Rombuk - Kyirong - Raso

After breakfast, we enjoy the sun-rising over Mt. Everest, further excursion and enjoy the scenery, late morning we leave Everest, head to Old Tingri, where we can have lunch break and then continue our scenic drive with Mt Cho O Yu view, drive pass by local villages, view of Mt. Shisha Pangma ( 8012m ) and Paiku Tso lake to Kyirong (Tib:སྐྱིད་གྲོང་།  Chin: Ji Long) , Overnight at Kyirong hotel

Day 15 / Kyirong / Kathmandu

After breakfast at the hotel, we continue our drive down the valley to Raso where we clear the immigration and cross border into Nepal, you will be received by Nepali driver and clear Nepali immigration and then continue driving to Kathmandu, Arrival in Kathmandu ( End of the tour )

Find more at our recent blogs on the Hexi Corridor on silk road 



                                              Departures: 
                                              5 May 2020

                                             3 Sept 2020

Please email us for any further questions 

White Pagodas in Wuwei built 

Sakya Padita's relics Stupa built in 13th century

White Pagoda at Giant Buddha Temple in Zhangye 

Giant Buddha 

Matisi Temple

Old painting at Matisi Temple

Rainbow Mountains

Dunhuang Caves

Potala Palace

Mt Everest from airplane  

Shigatse City and Tashi Lunpo Monastery

Sakya Monastery. The head of Sakyapa Tradition