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Weaving traditional chinese silk arts and crafts

Along the Silk Route – Kyrgyzstan to China



20 Days

Prices Start from

£4,500pp (ex. flights)

This holiday follows the northern Chinese Silk Route, journeying eastwards from the mountains of Kyrgyzstan to the terracotta warriors in Xian, travelling by road, rail and air.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan 1

Dramatic landscapes

Soak up the spectacular lake, mountain and desert landscapes of Kyrgyzstan.

Burana Tower, Kyrgystan 2

Burana Tower

Visit this 11th Century minaret, all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun.

Kyrgyz man at Kashgar Sunday animal market, Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, China 3

Kashgar Sunday market

Explore the famous Sunday market in Kashgar, at the foot of the Pamirs.

Terracotta soldiers and horses in a trench. 4

Terracotta Warriors

See the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, eastern terminus of the legendary Silk Road.

Why we like it

This is a glorious trip packed with breathtaking scenery and fascinating history. Starting amidst the mountainous countryside of Kyrgyzstan in the heart of Central Asia, this trip traverses the spectacular Tien Shan Mountains to Kashgar, skirting the northern edge of the magnificent Taklimakan Desert via Turpan and Dunhuang before culminating in Xian, eastern terminus of this once great trading route.

Explore the itinerary

Train Journey
Internal Flight
  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
    Bishkek - Karakol
  • Day 4
    Karakol - Naryn
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
    Naryn - Kashgar
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
    Kashgar - Turpan
  • Day 9 - 10
  • Day 11
    Turpan - Dunhuang
  • Day 12 - 13
  • Day 14
    Dunhuang - Jiayuguan
  • Day 15
    Jiayuguan - Xian
  • Day 16 - 17
  • Day 18
    Xian - Beijing
  • Day 19
  • Day 20

Now for the details

Road between Sary Tash and Irkeshtam border, southern Kyryzstan
Road between Sary Tash and Irkeshtam border in Kyrgyzstan

The Silk Route

The Silk Road was the most well known international trade route for the Chinese Empire. Starting at Chang An, or Xian as it is known today, the Silk Road meandered across China, skirting the Taklamakan Desert to Kashgar and then across the Tien Shan mountains into Central Asia or south across the Karakorum mountains into Pakistan and Persia. For centuries the domain of adventurers and merchants trading their wares, the ancient Silk Route covers some 4,000 miles.

Kashgar Market, Kashgar, China
Kashgar market

Silk Caravans and Spice Traders

A fabled trading post at the foot of the Pamir Mountains, Kashgar’s position gave it huge strategic importance during the Silk Road era. The vast emptiness of the inhospitable Taklamakan desert to the east assured that the city was a welcome sight for travellers from either direction. Although modernity is gradually eating away at Kashgar’s history and isolation, its famous old town remains, along with its bustling bazaars which harks back to a time of silk caravans and spice traders.

Its famed market sells carpets, pashminas, brassware, inlaid handled knives, traditional hats, silks and spices with many of the goods on sale little changed since Marco Polo’s time. The art of haggling remains an important skill for anyone looking to buy. Packed during the weekend, when Kashgar’s population swells by up to 50,000 people, the market is much quieter on weekdays.

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Wide panoramic view valley with caravanserai at the base and snowy peaks in distance.
Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan

Tash Rabat Caravanserai

Located close to the border with China, Tash Rabat Caravanserai is thought to have been built in the 10th century to protect silk road travellers and caravans from bandits and bad weather, although its precise history is unknown. The largest stone structure in Central Asia it is situated in a beautiful mountainous valley with a small river running through it. After your visit you will stop for a traditional lunch at a nearby yurt camp offering a chance to experience some local hospitality.

Emin Minaret, Turpan, Xinjiang, China
Emin Minaret

The Oasis Town of Turpan

Located on the northern edge of the inhospitable Turpan Depression – the second lowest place on earth – Turpan is a historic oasis town. Famous for its remarkable ‘Karez’ irrigation system the town is fed by a network of wells, connected by underground channels which were constructed over 2,000 years ago. It is also the hottest place in China and famed for the grapes that grow here.

Visit the Emin Minaret, dating from 1777 with exquisite brick work in an Afghani style. Also visit the ancient city of Jiaohe which was established as a fortified outpost during the Han Dynasty but reduced to rubble by Genghis Khan’s forces.

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Let’s chat

Speak to our experts

Our team is waiting to help you tailor a trip that will leave you with stories for a lifetime. Call us on

01285 601 784

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Complete our enquiry form and start your next journey.


The design and operation of this holiday was excellent and took us to places that we had hardly heard of. A great experience and opportunity to sample " Old China" before it becomes overcrowded. We were very happy with the whole procedure.


A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
From £4,500 Per person

When to travel

China in January

Around Beijing and the mountainous areas such as Tibet, winter can get very cold, with some snow. However, there are also many crisp days with clear skies across the country.

China in February

Chinese New Year takes place in late January or Early February, and is the biggest event in the calendar. Fireworks and lanterns light up the night sky, but be aware that public transport and accommodation may be hard to come by.

China in March

The start of spring see temperatures rise across the country and fruit trees start to blossom. Although not as widespread as Japan, the blossoms in rural China can still be stunning.

China in April

The spring blossoms are in full swing, and the countryside is lush. The north and mountainous areas may still be chilly, but generally, spring is a good time to visit most places.

China in May

A very good time to visit many places in China. Southern regions are getting very warm, but there is an increased chance of rain. The northern and mountainous regions are pleasantly warm but lack the humidity of the summer.

China in June

A very good time to visit many places in China. Southern regions are getting very warm, but there is an increased chance of rain. The northern and mountainous regions are pleasantly warm but lack the humidity of the summer.

China in July

The ideal time to get out into the mountains of Tibet and Yunnan province. The alpine landscape is verdant and enjoys long hours of sunshine. Temperatures can be sweltering, especially in the south.

China in August

The hot weather prevails throughout the country as it is the peak of summer. Many places, especially in the south are unpleasantly hot and humid to travel. The mountains are the perfect place to escape the heat.

China in September

Temperatures decline gradually, but it is less humid and wet than summer in many regions. The mountains are still a good place to hike in, especially as snow has receded as far as possible. This makes it an excellent time for journeying along the Silk Road.

China in October

The majority of October is perfect for travelling, with widespread mild temperatures and little rain. However, it is worth avoiding the first week of October, as it is a national holiday.

China in November

This is the time to take in the beautiful autumn colours, especially in the northern and central regions. Snow may begin to fall in the north, but the tourist hotspots are much less busy as locals don’t tend to travel at this time.

China in December

It is cold in most of China at this time, but it is a great time to visit Beijing and surrounding areas. There are many cold and crisp days, and the tourist hotspots will be much quieter. Western China is bitterly cold though and Southern China is milder but damp.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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