Welcome to Lanzhou - city of Yellow River. Once your arrival at Lanzhong Zhongchuan Airport, you will be picked up by your local guide.Take the rest of the day to explore this fascinating city. Rafting on the Yellow River on the unique sheepskin rafts, Visit the gorgeous Zhongshan Iron Bridge and devour the delicious local snacks at the famous Zhengning Road night market.
(Hotel: 4-star hotel in Lanzhou City)
Day 2: Lanzhou – Xining - Qinghai Lake
(400km in total)
After breakfast, you will drive to Xining (260km, 3.5hrs) and visit the amazing 【Kumbum Monastery】, also called Ta'er Temple.
It is the best of the sights in the Xining area and generally acknowledged to be one of the six most important monasteries in China. Constructed on a slight mountain slope on the edge of a wide valley, the monastery consists of a number of different prayer halls, an exhibition hall, the monk's dormitories and various pagodas. There are a total of around 20,000 religious paintings and embroideries within, as well as numerous yak butter sculptures and idols of Buddhas past, present and future.
You'll drive through the 【Riyue Mountain】and stop for sightseeing and arrive the famous 【Qinghai Lake】in the afternoon.
Qinghai Lake is the largest lake in China, with a circumference of 360km and a surface area of over 4,500km squared. In ancient times the lake was known as the Western Sea, and in Tibetan it is known as Koko Nor. The lake has a number of attractions that draw travellers in this region in. Ornithologists, campers, hikers, botanists, swimmers, sailors, fishermen, loners and nomads all find areas of interest around the lake. The beauty here lies in its salty vastness and the remote peace that it instills.
Enjoy the stunning sunset, and stay overnight at Qinghai Lake.
(Hotel: local hotel by Qinghai Lake )
Note: The general acommondation conditions at Qinghai Lake is limited. We'll try our best to book the best place we could find. But may not be up to 4-star standard.
Day 3: Chaka Salt Lake - Back to Xining (450km in total)
Get up early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise at Qinghai Lake and experience cycycling around the lake.(80rmb/hour on your own expenses). Then you’ll head for the 【Chaka Salt Lake】. Situated in Ulan County, Qinghai Province, Chaka Salt Lake is actually a large salt flat, about 9 km long and 15 km wide embedded in the snowy mountains and verdant meadows. The snow-white lake bed and the crystal blue water against the azure sky win it the reputation of ‘Mirror of the Sky’.
After fully enjoyed the magical scenery, we'll head back to Xining. Be wowed by the splendid view of the vast grassland along the way.
(Hotel: 4-star or 5-star hotel in Xining City)
Day 4: Xining - Zhangye
(390km in total)
After breakfast, you’ll drive to Zhangye. Enjoy the gorgeous view of the Qilian Mountain and visit the 【Mati Temple】. Located in Linsong Mountain of Gansu Province, Mati Temple is one of the important Buddha grottoes in China built in 397AD. The 70 caves that make up the complex were hand-carved into the cliff-face of Linsong Mountain and can be separated into 7 grotto groups. The main Mati Temple is the most striking looking, as it features 21 grottoes arranged in 7 levels that were made to resemble the shape of a pagoda. The Bodhisattva Tara is enshrined inside this temple for visitors to worship. Stairwells, hidden passageways, and balconies lead to the many grottoes providing stunning views from both the ground and the dizzying heights of the upper caves. With the snow-capped Qilian Mountains behind and the jade-hued grasslands stretching out in front, the scenery surrounding the Mati Temple is unparalleled in its natural beauty. After visiting the Mati Temple, you'll head for Zhangye City and stay overnight there.
(Hotel: 4-star hotel in Zhangye City)
Day 5: Zhangye National Geopark - Jiayuguan
(260km in total)
After breakfast, you'll visit the 【Giant Buddha Temple】. Located in the southwest corner of Zhangye of Gansu Province, Giant Buddha Temple is famous for having the largest indoor sleeping Buddha in Asia. This temple was built in Xixia Dynasty(1098), and keeps many precious Buddhist scriptures and wall paintings. The Buddha statue was carved by woods with a length of 34.5 meters. His ears are as big as the space which 4 adults can sit side by side. The statue tells the story of Buddha’s Nirvana. The whole Temple is a large complex with regal arrangements. The Sleeping Buddha is the centrally seated, symmetric buildings situate along the sides.
Then, drive to the 【Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park】，also named the 【Rainbow Mountain】. Extending along the northern slope of Qilian Mountain in west China, Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park in Gansu is the best representative of China’s colorful Danxia landform and the largest Danxia landscape in the world with a wide variety of landforms. Undulating fiery-red ridges together with amazing multicolored mountain folds transform the park into an immense sea of fire with rolling waves, earning it the reputation of China's Rainbow Mountains and also one of the “Top 10 Geographical Wonders of the World” selected by the National Geographic.
(Hotel: 4-star hotel in Jiayuguan City)
Day 6: Jiayuguan - Dunhuang
(420km in total)
After breakfast, you'll visit the 【Wei & Jin Dynasty Tomb Murals】located on the endless expanse of the desert, 20 km away from Jiayuguan City. There are 1400 brick tombs of Jin and Wei Dynasties scattered here, and they were reputed as “world’s largest underground art gallery”. (You'll visit the beautiful
Populus Euphratica Forest during the National Day Holiday Group instead.)
After that, you'll drive to the 【Jiayuguan Pass】,where the city’s impressive fort and the western-most point of China’s Great Wall evoke an ‘end of empire’ flavour. This was where criminals and out-of-favour bureaucrats were once cast out of China and thrust into the barbarian lands of the west.You'll drive to Dunhuang in the afternoon and spend the night in the city. Enjoy the spectacular view of the Gobi desert during the road trip.
(Hotel: 4-star hotel in Dunhuang City)
Day 7: Echo-Sand Mountain & Crescent Moon Spring - Mogao Caves - Back to Lanzhou(by train)
After breakfast, explore the miracle of the desert: 【Echo-Sand Mountain & Crescent Moon Spring 】, one of the most attractive tourist spots along the legendary Silk Road. As a sand-crusted hill of dozens of meters high with an area of about 40km east to west and 20km south to north, Echo-Sand Mountain gets its name due to its natural phenomenon that sand roars like thunder which can be heard in the city in fine days. When tourists climb upon the sand-making Mountain and slide downward from the top, the sand can collapse with them and give out a pearl of loud sound. Surrounded by the Echo-Sand Mountain, Crescent Lake, also called Sand Well or Medicine Spring, is named after its crescent-like shape. With the reputation of the First Desert Spring under Heaven, Crescent Lake boasts its survival in the extensive dry desert after over thousands of years. Standing aside the dream-like spring, you can enjoy a wide prospect with sand ancient Chinese architectures, waving sand dunes and snaky footprints of camels and nomadic people.
The following attraction is the 【Mogao Caves】. Carved into the cliffs above the Dachuan River, the Mogao Caves south-east of the Dunhuang oasis, comprise the largest, most richly endowed, and longest used treasure house of Buddhist art in the world. It is famed as the “Louvre of East”. There are now 492 grottoes in which about 45000 square meters mural paintings and 2100 colorfully painted statues from which you can trace the development of Chinese art over 1600 years from one dynasty to the next because each dynasty built own caves to record its own features.
You'll take the night train and head back to Lanzhou City in the evening. (around 13hrs)