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Holiday Overview


  • Visit the world famous treasure house of Buddhism—Mogao Grottoes.
  • Drive across the Gobi desert to visit the important relics on the silk road- Yumen Pass (Jade Gate Pass).
  • Visit the natural miracle in the desert – Sand Dunes and Crescent Moon Lake
  • Visit Zhangye Danxia Geopark, which enjoys the honors of "The world's top ten magical geographical wonders".
  • Hiking along the north part of Danxia Landform, enjoying the great view of Qilian Shan and memorable sunset.
  • Visit the 910-year-old Giant Buddha Temple, where the biggest indoor sleeping Buddha in China is well-preserved.
  • Visit the Labrang Monastery, one of China’s six great monasteries of the Yellow Hat Sect.

The cities and beautiful landscapes of China’s western expanse are often forgotten by many travelers. Our CAT Silk Road Tours give travelers like you the chance to see China in an off-the-beaten path way. This Cultural Expedition program will give you an opportunity to experience a different and interesting Chinese Culture and Outdoor Landscape in Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Yugu, Xining, Xiahe, and Zhangye.

This tour will take you to part of the mysterious and attractive historical Silk Route in old China, where you will visit Mogao Grottoes, hike on Jiayu Guan Great Wall, and visit the Rainbow Mountains China, several Buddhism temples, and beautiful ancient Chinese historical ruins. You also will be very welcomed by the local Yugu minority groups and dancing with them in the last day. .You also will be visit the famous location like Sand Dunes and Crescent Moon Lake. Additionally, if the weather permits, during the train trip from Lanzhou to Jiayu Guan you will see the splendid cole flower fields. It is really A Must see PLACE!

Note: All the time and distance shown here are approximate and indicative only, if there is inconsistency, it will depend on the weather, local road condition and other actual situation.

Brief Itinerary

  • Arrival in Dunhuang (L)
  • Dunhuang (BL)
  • Dunhuang-Jiayuguan (BL)
  • Jiayuguan Hiking (BL)
  • Zhangye Danxia National Geopark (BL)
  • Danxia -Zhangye (BL)
  • Zhangye-Mati Temple-Yugu village (BL)
  • Yugu-Zhangye-Xining (BL, by train)
  • Xining(Kumbum monastery)--Xiahe(Labrang monastery) (BL)
  • Xiahe- Bingling Buddhist caves -Lanzhou departure (BL)

Map & Itinerary

Holiday Itinerary

  • Arrival in Dunhuang

    Our guide will pick you up at Dunhuang airport and transfer to the hotel. After lunch we will visit the world famous treasure house of Buddhism—Mogao Grottoes. Constructed over a millennium, from the 4th to the 14th centuries, the caves hold the world's richest treasure house of Buddhist sutras, murals and sculptures.Cameras are not permitted. They are the greatest and most consummate repository of historical and cultural collection over a thousand years between China and other nations. The most noted collections are many pilgrims painted murals, Clay statues and 50,000 manuscripts written in many languages.

    • Accommodation 4 star hotel

    • Meals L

  • Dunhuang

    After breakfast we will drive across the Gobi desert to visit the important relics on the silk road- Yumen Pass (Jade Gate Pass) it was a strategic fort on the ancient Silk Road. it protected Dunhuang against invasion from the west. Visit the best preserved Han Dynasty Great wall,It was build for defending the nomadic Xiongnu during the Han Dynasty (206 BC--220 AD), Yadan Landform.
    • Accommodation 4 star hotel

    • Meals BL

  • Dunhuang-Jiayuguan

    Visit the natural miracle in the desert – Sand Dunes and Crescent Moon Lake after breakfast, where you can enjoy the camel riding like the traders on the ancient Silk Road. The lake and the Sounding Sand Dune which can make sounds when the wind passes are located in the place where the sand and the oasis meet. Drive to Jiayuguan in the afternoon

    • Accommodation 4 star hotel

    • Meals BL

  • Jiayuguan Hiking

    After breakfast, we will first visit Wei-Jin Tombs, about 10 km (20 minutes driving) east of Jiayuguan City. It is a big tomb group with more than 1,000 tombs of Wei and Jin Dynasties. You may find it a wonderful experience to explore the ancient era in border land. The ground floor of its murals and brick Graves as "the world's largest underground gallery". Known as the ‘First and Greatest Pass under Heaven’ and best preserved and most magnificent military fort in China, Jiayu Guan (Jiayu Pass) was the western end of the Great Wall built in Ming Dynasty. It is the key waypoint of the ancient Silk Road. We will start our hiking from the No.1 Beacon Tower, visit Jiayu Guan and the Great Wall Museum, hiking further on to the Overhanging Great Wall or more further if the time is available. 
    • Accommodation 4 star hotel

    • Ascent 110

    • Descent 106

    • Distance hiking10km

    • Meals BL

    • Time hiking 4-5hrs

  • Zhangye Danxia National Geopark

    After breakfast in the hotel, make a 3-4 hour drive to Zhangye Danxia Geopark, also named as the Rainbow Mountains, which enjoys the honors of "The world's top ten magical geographical wonders". Upon arrival, have a picnic lunch at Danxia. Start Hiking along the north part of Danxia Landform, enjoying the great view of Qilian Shan and memorable sunset. China Rainbow Mountains are magnificent with gorgeous colors, which developed at about 200 million years ago. You will see lots of precipitous red cliffs, most of which are several hundred meters high, and multicolored ridges of weathered strata, sometimes stretching to the horizon. It is the best place for photography. 
    • Accommodation 4 star hotel

    • Ascent 112m

    • Descent 126m

    • Distance hiking: 20km ; driving: Jiayu Guan/Danxia 260km

    • Meals BL

    • Time hiking: 4-5hrs ; driving: Jiayu Guan/Danxia 3-4hrs

  • Danxia / Zhangye

    Try to get up early, drive into Danxia for the magnificent and stimulating sunrise at 5:00-6:00 am in the morning. After breakfast, trend to south part of Danxia and start hiking around Binggou Danxia Park viewing the red terrestrial classic rock landform. Binggou Rock has totally different landscape and absolutely worth a visit. The formations are quite interesting that really do look like ice sculptures melting, which rings true to its name Bing which means ice in Chinese. It is about an hour to out next stop Zhangye. After lunch in Danxia, we’ll drive to Zhangye, visit the 910-year-old Giant Buddha Temple, where the biggest indoor sleeping Buddha in China is well-preserved. 
    • Accommodation 4 star hotel

    • Ascent 331m

    • Descent 322m

    • Distance hiking: 20km ; driving: Danxia/Yecheng 40-50km

    • Meals BL

    • Time hiking: 4-5hrs ; driving: Danxia/Yecheng 1hr

  • hangye / Mati Temple / Stay in Yugu

    After breakfast in Zhangye, drive to the Grottoes of the Mati Temple Complex, which consist of various Temples and the Caves with their Deities and Murals. Set within the beautiful Green Foothills of the Qilian Mountains and along a cool and refreshing river, the Caves and surrounding Park are unique giving plenty of opportunity to hike around and exploring the surrounding trail and paths. First visit south part of Mati Si and hike (6km/1-1.5hrs) along Thousand- Buddha Cave (the Qianfo Grottos). After lunch, sightseeing and hiking (20km/3-4hrs) in north part of Mati Si, one attraction you must see is Thirty-three Heavens Grottos. Carved in origin Puguang Temple, it has 7 floors and 21 grottos with exits to each other. With a shape of pagoda, this construction is rather infrequent and characteristic. All Buddhists believe that anyone who can reach to the thirty-third heave comes to a successful life. Then go for fascinating Yugu Folklore, a unique nomadic minority of Gansu. Enjoy a nice local dinner with folk song and dancing in the evening.
    • Accommodation Local Guest House

    • Ascent 707m

    • Descent 657m

    • Distance hiking: 26km ; driving: Zhangye/Matisi 65km

    • Meals BL

    • Time hiking: 4-5.5hrs ; driving: Zhangye/Matisi 1.5hrs

  • Yugu / Zhangye / Xining

    After breakfast in Yugu Minority Village, go for a hike on Gaoshancaodianzi, south part of Qilian Mountains, breathing in the fascinating nature. After that, with the splendid view of Qilian Mountains along the road, proceed to the downtown of Zhangye for about 1.5 hours and enjoy your lunch there. Then drive to Zhangye train station to take a bullet train to Xining. 
    • Accommodation Local Guest House

    • Ascent 734m

    • Descent 730m

    • Distance hiking 20km ; driving Zhangye/Xining 340km

    • Meals BL

    • Time hiking 3-4hrs ; driving Zhangye/Xining 5hrs

  • Xining(Kumbum monastery)--Xiahe

    We will spend the morning visiting Tibetan area famous Kumbum Monastery, one of Tibetan area’s six great monasteries of the Yellow Hat Sect, their golden roofs capped with traditional images and their fine interiors dimly lit by yak-butter lamps then drive to Xiahe country in the afternoon. 
    • Accommodation 4 star hotel

    • Meals BL

  • Xiahe- Bingling Buddhist caves -Lanzhou departure

    This morning we will visit the Labrang Monastery, one of China’s six great monasteries of the Yellow Hat Sect.  The Tibetan-style temples are lovely, then do a boat trip on the Yellow River to the Buddhist caves at Bingling Temple Grottoes. Listed as part of the ancient Silk Road for the World Heritage candidate, Bingling Temple Grottoes, filled with stupas, murals and Buddhist sculpture carved into natural caves, were a work in progress between the 4th and 10th centuries. After visit, drive to Lanzhou Airport or train station, see off.
    • Meals BL


This price includes

1.      Entrance Fees: to scenic spots as listed in the itinerary

2.      All the activities fee mentioned in the itinerary

3.      Private Transfers: Transfers between airports, hotels and scenic spots while sightseeing during the trip by private air conditioned vehicle with a driver.

4.      Meals: All meals( 9 breakfasts, 10 lunches) as indicated in the itinerary (B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)

5.      Guide: as outlined in the itinerary an English-speaking guide will be provided.

6.      Hotel: hotel fees are based on two people sharing one room with twin-bed. All hotels as listed in the above itinerary serve daily western or Chinese breakfast

7.      Trains

8.      Arrangements: the tour cost includes planning, handling, operational, tax, and communication charges

9.      Travel Agency Liability insurance.

The price does not include

1.      Airfare or train tickets to enter or leave Gansu

2.      China entry visa fees

3.      Excess baggage charges

4.      The medicine for the sickness or accident while on the way

5.      Personal expenses: expenses of a purely personal nature such as laundry, drinks, fax, telephone calls, optional activities, sightseeing or meals which are not included in the tour itinerary

6.      Meals: any meals which are not specified in the tour itinerary

7.      Single room supplement (for those who want accommodation on a single basis)

8.      Please notice that the price will be much higher during the festival of Labors’ Day, National Day, spring festival

9.      Tips to tour guide and driver (recommended CNY50-80/guest/day).

10.    Supplementary trips, entrance fees and services not mentioned, and extra costs due to unforeseen circumstances

11.    Tourist accident insurance. NB - you are strongly suggested to buy travel and health insurance before you start out from your home country.


Holiday Information

Enough films and batteries, Sun-cream with the protection index of 40-60, sunglasses with a sun protection factor of 15, the lip creams and balms with SPF rating, towel, toothpaste, electric torch, Snack foods.

Cloth that you bring must be warm enough and can be removed easy enough according to the weather, including Jacket, hat, Cotton underwear, Socks, Long-sleeve Shirts, T-shirts and Pants (Shorts are not appropriate at any time while hiking), comfortable shoes, rain gear (long rain coat is better).

In addition to the normal medications for traveling, just like the Aspirin and medicine for diarrhea, siriasis,sunstroke and carsickness.

US$ is acceptable only in a very limited range, e.g. tips. However, for convenience, Chinese currency is the best choice. If you want to change US$ to Chinese currency in the tour, you can change it in the Hotel you stay or in the Bank of China. You could draw cash only from Bank of China in the big city, the ATM there doesn't always work properly and the bank is not easy to find. Please bring some cash at hand to use.

a) Eating is an important part of your China experience. Generally breakfasts are included in the itinerary and offered by hotels. China Highlights recommends local Chinese restaurants that are popular with local people for lunch. You can order dishes with the help of your guide. We usually leave dinner for your own choice — Western food can be found in most large cities.

b) We have tried to arrange various food in different cities. But you may still think the food is simple and not as delicious as in the big cities especially while trekking in the mountains and villages. If you have any priority of the food (eg. If you are vegetarian or you are allergic to MSG, peanut oil, fish and peanut, etc) please inform us early, we will try to alternate the food accordingly. At the same time please prepare some of your favorite snacks and substitution food in case of need.

c) Meals in the home stays will be different from the cities but clean, which leave you a good chance to experience the ethnic minority culture. We will pack a breakfast for you of cold cereal, milk, toast, fruit, and jam for the home stay. d) It is very important to drink a lot of water and eat enough fruit in your tour especially while trekking in the mountains and villages. You are advised not to drink tap water.

Hotels in China are bound by Government laws which mean that air conditioning is switched on nationally in May and the central heating in November (this may vary slightly depending on the region).

In some remote areas, sometimes shower maybe not available in the home stay. A married couple is not allowed to share a room in the Miao's home-stay due to the local customs.

It is customary to tip service providers in the travel industry in Asia, depending on the service. Tipping is expected — though not compulsory — and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Recommendations for tipping drivers (3 USD per person per day as a guideline) and local guides (8 USD per person per day as a guideline) would depend on the quality and length of the service.

We use comfortable sedans or vans with air-conditioning. The comfort and safety of our customers is of utmost importance, so we ensure that all of the vehicles we use are well maintained and always very clean. Our drivers take pride in their vehicles.

It is a must before going, please provide us the confirmation of insurance company when sign up.

In some provinces with many minorities (like Guizhou, Guangxi, Tibet, Xinjiang and etc.), the customs and habits of local people are different from place to place. The local guide will inform you what should care. Respect the local customs and religions. The people are very kind and hospitable. You can feel free to talk with them. But there are some rulers you should go by! 
a. Do not photo them without getting the permit, please show the respect to them! 
b. Don't talk the sensitive topics like the political and the religion matters!

When you sign up for the trekking tour, you acknowledge that there are risks involved in trekking in high altitude and confirm that you are fully aware of and accept these risks. It is customer's responsibility to determine whether the tour he/she choose is suited to his/her physical condition. Customers are responsible for the cost of any medicines or medical care they may require during the trip for any reason. Please make sure you have adequate personal medical insurance to meet any medical emergency which might arise. In some cases, if you need medical care during the tour, you may be required to pay for it at the time it is rendered and seek reimbursement from your insurer after you return home. Please check with your medical insurer for details. In the event of a medical emergency, we will make every effort to assist you in obtaining necessary care. Also, please tell us in writing if you suffer from any allergies or other physical conditions which might affect you during the tour (if you hasn't tell us in writing before going, you are supposed to be healthy enough to take the tour). Finally, please check with your doctor to find out what inoculation may be recommended for the areas you will be visiting. It is your responsibility to obtain all necessary inoculations. We reserve the right to decline to accept any person as a member of the tour, or to decline to retain any person, if such person's physical condition, mental well-being or behavior interferes with the operation of the tour. There will be no refund in such cases.


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