KASHGAR TO HONG KONG – Cross the Taklamakan Desert & Explore & Amdo (Upper Tibet) and Southwestern China

                                                                                                                 Section 4


Dates:                                                October 18 – November 16, 2016 
Length:30 days 
Countries to be visited:                   China
Total distance:                                  ±7813 km 
Per person price:                             USD$11920 (based on twin-share)  
USD$2850 (single room supplement)


Day 01, Tuesday, October 18                       Arrive Kashgar, China
Upon arrival in Kashgar, the west-most city of China, you will be transferred to hotel and rest.
Welcome dinner.
D Chini Bagh Hotel

Day 02, Wednesday, October 19               Kashgar
Kashgar, the largest oasis city in China and Central Asia, used to be the last outfitting station on the centuries-old Silk Road. Today we explore this exotic city by visiting the Great Id Kah Mosque and the tomb of Abakh Hoja. 
B/L/D Chini Bagh Hotel

220  193

Day 03, Thursday, October 20                     Kashgar – Tashkorgan
Our vehicles will have to go through a lengthy examination to be permitted to drive in China. We will leave the vehicles in Kashgar. A locally hired vehicle will take us on a 2-day excursion to Tashkurgan, on the Pamir Plateau, along the famed Karakoram Highway.
Tashkurgan means "Stone Fortress" or "Stone Tower" in the Turkic languages. It is where caravans from the West met to trade with those from China.
Tashkurgan has a long history (over 2000 years) as a stop on the Silk Road. Major caravan routes converged here leading to Kashgar in the north, Yecheng to the east, Badakhshan and Wakhan to the west, and Chitral and Hunza to the southwest (modern Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan).
B/L/D Local hotel

Day 04, Friday, October 21                           Tashkorgan – Kashgar
After spending the night in Tashkurgan visiting the surrounding area, we will walk up to the ruined fort just on the city’s outskirts. Beyond are grasslands when yaks and camels join the standard horses, cows and sheep. The hills around are arid and angular, and the higher among them are capped with snow, even in this height of summer. Looking very much like Afghanistan. Tashkurgan provided the backdrop for most of the filming of The Kite Runner.
Return to Kashgar in the evening.
B/L/D Chini Bagh Hotel

Day 05, Saturday, October 22                      Kashgar
The day will be at leisure.
A city of bazaars, two-wheeled carts, dusty streets and 4000 mosques, Kashgar reveals a strong Islamic influence. Its narrow maze of alleyways and open air markets display all the myriad faces of Central Asia with Uygur, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Kazakh merchants and locals, all busy haggling over camels and sheep, brightly coloured fabrics, fur hides and hats, handmade carpets and knives. Trade remains timeless still, especially on Sundays, when the entire community gathers at the one of the world's liveliest markets.
Our vehicles’ formalities should be done by now.
B/D Chini Bagh Hotel

Day 06, Sunday, October 23                         Kashgar – Yecheng (Karghalik)
(driving distance: 244 km)
Morning visit the Sunday animal market. After lunch, drive to Yecheng, or, Karghalik in Uygur language, located on the Yarkland River. Overnight at a local hotel.
B/L/D local hotel

Sunday Bazaar 2Sunday Bazaar 3







Day 07, Monday, October 24                       Yecheng – Khotan (driving distance: 258 km)
Drive to Khotan, the capital of jade.
On the southern part of the Silk Road, Khotan was an early centre for the spread of Buddhism from India into China. It fell to the Arabs in the 8th century and grew wealthy on the proceeds of the caravan trade that travelled the route between China and the West.
We will visit a local village, a jade market and Khotan Museum where a desert mummy is in display.
B/L/D West Lake International Hotel

Day 08, Tuesday, October 25                       Khotan Minfeng (driving distance: 288 km)    
 Drive from Khotan to Minfeng, a small town right by the massive Taklamakan Desert. We will get ready for crossing the desert the next day, going to bed early is recommended.                                                                
B/L/D Niya Hotel

Day 09, Wednesday, October 26               Minfeng Korla (driving distance: 780 km)                                                         
Drive from Minfeng to Korla crossing the Taklamakan Desert from south to north along the longest desert highway in the world.  Upon arriving in Korla, the sense of achievement is quite overwhelming.          
B/L/D Loulan Hotel

Day 10, Thursday, October 27                     Korla Turpan (driving distance: 390 km)                                                               
Drive from Korla to Turpan.
Turpan is located in the Turpan Basin at the southern foot of the Tianshan Mountains. The city has a population of nearly 200,000, most of whom are Uygurs. The Turpan Basin is the lowest area in China, in which the Aiding Lake, with its surface being 154 meters below sea level, is the second lowest spot in the world, next only to the Dead Sea.
B/L/D Tuha Petroleum Hotel

Day 11, Friday, October 28                           Turpan                                                                                                                                   
>Visit to the Kan-er Waterwell, and the ruins of Jiaohe City, now on the list of UNESCO's historical and cultural sites, which protects the Tang Dynasty ruins of homes, garden walls, government offices, pottery kilns, temples and pagodas, all of which are still easily recognizable.                                                   
B/L/D Tuha Petroleum Hotel

Day 12, Saturday, October 29                     Turpan Dunhuang (driving distance: 840 km)                                                    
Depart Turpan early in the morning, leaving the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. After lunch at Hami, we enter Gansu Province and arrive Dunhuang in the evening. Dunhuang was once an important junction on the Silk Route, where it split into different branches, this oasis in northwest China, on the edge of the Gobi Desert, is surrounded by sand dunes. By the 4th century AD, the route had brought the city both commercial prosperity and a growing Buddhist community.                                                              
B/L/D Dunhuang Sun Grand Hotel

Day 13, Sunday, October 30                       Dunhuang                                                                                                                         
This morning, take a bus tour to visit the Mogao Grottoes, a series of 500 caves which contain the world's most valuable display of Buddhist art - manuscripts, some 2,400 painted sculptures and 45,000 square metres of frescoes. In the late afternoon, tour the Singing Sand Hill and Crescent Moon Lake. Be prepared for a camel ride over the sand dunes!                                                                                                        
B/L/D Dunhuang Sun Grand Hotel

Day 14, Monday, October 31                      Dunhuang Jiayuguan (driving distance: 520 km)
Drive to Jiayuguan and visit the Jiayuan Pass - the western end of the Great Wall.                                        
B/L/D Holiday Inn Jiayuguan

Day 15, Tuesday, November 01                 Jiuquan Zhangye (driving distance: 400 km)                                                          
Drive to Zhangye and visit the Zhangye Museum. This museum is located in the Giant Buddha Temple, which is the largest architectural relic in Gansu Province, of the Western Xia (1038-1227) period. China's largest reclining Buddha is well preserved in this temple. Marco Polo spent one year in the town of Zhangye.                                                                                                                                                                         
B/L/D Jiaheng Grand Hotel

Day 16, Wednesday, November 02          Zhangye
Zhangye is known for its Danxia National Geological Park, presenting an amazing landscape — Red Rocks and Rainbow Ridges. We will take the day hiking into the park with some of our local friends.
B/L/D Jiaheng Grand Hotel

Day 17, Thursday, November 03                Zhangye Xining (driving distance: 337 km)                                                    
Today we start to head towards Amdo, Qinghai Province, the Upper Tibet region. We will drive over a mountain pass nearly 4000m above sea level. En route visit a small “Hui” village.
Arrive Xining in late afternoon.
Referred to as China's Summer Resort Capital, Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, is located on the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the upper reaches of Huangshui River.
The activities of human beings in this region can be traced to 2,100 years ago. During the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, owing to its developing agriculture, Xining was paid more attention due to its economic and martial significance. As well as being the important hinge between the central plains and the western part of China in ancient time, Xining was the most common passing channel of the Silk Road. Until now, it is still the only road by which to enter the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
B/L/D Xining Hotel

Day 18, Friday, November 04                     Xining – Ta’er Monastery – Xining
We will visit the Ta’er Monastery today.
Ta'er Monastery, or Kumbum Monastery, was built in 1560 on the site of the birthplace of Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), founder of the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located 25 km outside of Xining. Ta'er Monastery is a working monastery, with several hundred monks in residence, where visitors can experience the living Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Some of the monastery buildings were restored in modern times.
B/L/D Xining Hotel

Day 19, Saturday, November 05                Xining – Tongren (driving distance: 181 km)
We drive to the town of Tongren today.
Lying in the southeast of Qinghai Province, Tongren County borders Xiahe County of Gansu Province to the east, Guide County to the west, Zeku County to the south and Xuanhua and Jianzha counties to the south, and is 181 kilometres from Xining.
Tongren was a place for nomadic ethnic minorities in history. Situated at the transitional zone between the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Loess Plateau, the Longwu River runs across the city from south to city. Belonging to the cold-temperate arid climate zone, Tongren is a natural summer resort. It abounds in mineral resources and wild plants and animals, and rare medicinal herbs as well.
Tongren County is also the birthplace of the Regong Art. As an important art school of Tibetan Buddhism, Regong Art has a history of more than 700 years. The Tangka, barbola and sculptures of Regong Art feature refined craftsmanship and fancy colors, and enjoy great fame in the Southeast Asia, America and Germany, etc. Regong, which means "golden valley", is the appellation for Tongren area in the Tibetan language. Most of the murals, barbolas and sculptures in Tibetan areas were the works of Regong artists here.
B/L/D Regong Hotel

Labreng Monastery

Tibet girl


Day 20, Sunday, November 06                  Tongren – Langmu
(driving distance: 359 km)           
Enjoy the scenic drive to Langmu, a very colorful township with many ethnic groups living side by side. Upon arrival, we will check into a local guesthouse and visit the Langmu Monastery.
B/L/D Local Guesthouse

Langmu  Langmu2 

Day 21, Monday, November 07                 Langmu – Songpan
(driving distance: 241 km)       
Today’s drive will be long and arduous.  Leaving Gansu Tibetan region, we will drive into Sichuan Province and overnight in Songpan.
Located in the northern part of Sichuan, Songpan is a small colorful minority town worthwhile exploring. With the ethnic minorities people of Hui, Tibetan and Qiang inhabiting there, Songpan itself is very lively. Songpan is also a historic town, featured by a peace-craving political marriage of Princess Wencheng in the 6th century BC of Tang dynasty and the Songpan Battle in the famous 25,000km Long March (1934 to 1936) of Chinese Red Army. A sculpture and a monument was built in Songpan to memorize the historical events respectively.
Rest and visit the town center and historical monuments.
B/L/D Songpan Hotel


Day 22, Tuesday, November 08                                 Songpan – Chengdu  (driving distance: 322 km)           
Drive southbound to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.
Chengdu has a long history. A recent archeological excavation  shows  that Chengdu was an important gathering place for people tracing back to 4,000 years ago. There are many great stories that come from this ancient city.
Chengdu also has the country’s largest Giant Panda Research Centre. We will visit the centre today.
B/L/D Chengdu Hotel

Day 23, Wednesday, November 09                          Chengdu – Chongqing  (driving distance: 311 km)           
Drive to Congqing, China’s biggest city with a population close to 30 million.
By the mighty Yangtze River, Chongqing has been a very important city in China’s history. We will check into a hotel in the city and enjoy some very tasty Sichuan food!
B/L/D Hongya Dong Hotel

Day 24, Thursday, November 10                                Chongqing – Zunyi (driving distance: 239 km)           
Zunyi is situated between the provincial capital Guiyang to the south and Chongqing to the north, also bordering Sichuan to the northwest. Along with Guiyang and Liupanshui, it is one of the most important cities of the province.
Zunyi is known for being the location where Mao Zedong was first elected to the leadership of the Communist Party of China during the Long March. After this famous Zunyi Conference,  Mao Zedong and other two leaders formed a group to control the procedure of the Long March. Chinese tourists come to take photographs in the meeting hall where this historic election took place. This historical meeting hall once belonged to a local warlord and after being occupied by the Red Army served as the temporary headquarters.
Zunyi is also known for its fiery hot local cuisine, including yangrou fen (spicy hot rice noodle soup with lamb and bean curd) etc. We will walk around the old town to taste a large variety of its local street food.
B/L/D Zunyi  Hotel

Day 25, Friday, November 11                      Guiyang – Kaili – Xijiang Miao Village (driving distance: 268 km)       
Drive to Kaili visiting some colorful ethnic villages en route. After lunch in Kaili, where we will have lunch and visit the ethnic cultural museum.
Drive through the mountains into a hidden Miao Village and overnight. We will need to pack an overnight bag, leave the car outside of the village and enter it on foot.
B/L/D Miao Village House


Miao peopleMiao people2

Day 26, Saturday, November 12                Xijiang Miao Village – Congjiang (driving distance: 246 km)           
Drive to Congjiang,  enroute enjoy the scenery of the green tea plantations and winding rivers.


Passing through Congjiang town, we will enter a very unique village – Basha. Basha is one of the few ethnic villages in southeast Guizhou province. It is home to the last gun-hunter tribe of China.
Upon arrival, check in the local guesthouse for the night.
B/L/D Gufengzhai Guesthouse

Day 27, Sunday, November 13                   Congjiang – Yangshuo, Guangxi
(driving distance: 284 km)           
Along the Congjiang River, we will leave Guizhou Province and enter Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Zone. Drive pass Guilin, we will arrive the very scenic town, Yangshuo. Check into hotel by the river.
B/L/D Yangshuo Hepan Riverside Resort


Day 28, Monday, November 14                 Yangshuo             
Today enjoy the river rafting along the Yulong River.
B/L/D Yangshuo Hepan Riverside Resort

Day 29, Tuesday, November 15                 Yangshuo –Shenzhen
(driving distance: 622 km)           
Leaving Guangxi, we will drive along the highway to Guangdong Province and check into hotel in Shenzhen, 18 km to Hong Kong. This is our final driving destination.
Dinner and celebration.
B/L/D New Times Hotel

Day 30, Wednesday, November 16          Shenzhen – Hong Kong. Depart Hong Kong for home city          
Transfer to Hong Kong airport for your onward flight.
If you wish to have some extended time in Hong Kong, a separate arrangement can be arranged.
End of the Silk Road drive!

What’s included in AAST’s services:

  • 4WD vehicle throughout the journey (3-4 people per vehicle).
  • Petrol charges, toll fees, maintenance and repair of the vehicle.
  • Leadership of experienced group leaders including mechanical support.
  • Local sightseeing tours with entrance fees (sometimes via chartered van or coach).
  • Accommodation: 3 & 4-star hotels in major cities, local guest houses or best available in remote areas.  
  • Hotel taxes and service charges.
  • Meals which are indicated in the day-by-day itinerary (B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner)
  • Arrival and departure transfers.
  • Cross-border handling.
  • Banquets, parties and special events.
  • Travel manual and educational materials.
  • Use of travel accessories (GPS, maps, GMRS Radio Walkie-Talkie, tools, general emergency kit)

What would be your extra cost:

  • Your international flights and related taxes.
  • Personal travel insurance (mandatory) .
  • Visa fees.
  • Vaccinations (not mandatory).
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls, use of internet, laundry, shopping.
  • Cash payment (5 euro or 6 dollars per traveller, per day). This will cover all gratuities and incidentals. The group leader will collect this cash payment at your trip’s starting point.


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