China's Silk Road

Trip Code: CBSZ

Why we love it

Follow the route of the ancient Silk Road, travelling in the footsteps of countless generations of nomads and traders, Discover the unreal, ancient rainbow-coloured landscape of Zhangye, a UNESCO site that looks like countless pots of bright paint have been spilled across sandstone mountains. You won't be able to put your camera away!, Learn about the rapid development happening in western China as you travel between ancient regional centres and modern cities., Ride a camel across the sand dunes in Dunhuang in search of Crescent Lake, a desert oasis that has to be seen to be believed., Visit the frontier town of Kashgar and take in the animal market before sipping tea at a 100-year-old tea house., Explore the famous Mogao Caves, which have been called home by Buddhist monks since the fourth century AD.

Is this trip right for me?

This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on sections of the journey and by high-speed rail where available. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to travel long distances and come face-to-face with the country and its people.

You’ll be crossing one of the largest countries in the world, from the west coast along the ancient Silk Road route of the central plains to the remote frontier province of Xinjiang, so be prepared for some long travelling days.

The Livestock Market we visit in Kashgar is an authentic experience of a market where local people go to buy and trade livestock for breeding, meat or as working animals. It's important for travellers to be aware that conditions and handling of animals may be different from in your home country. As animals here are being sold for meat it is likely you may also see butchered animals in parts of the market. If you would prefer to opt out of this activity please let your leader know. 

This is a politically sensitive part of the country with similar issues and tensions to in Tibet. We advise doing some reading on the current situation on the Uyghur people in China before your departure and to be aware that local perspectives on ethic tensions may be very different to what is able to to be discussed in foreign media.

This trip finishes in Kashgar. Kashgar Airport is domestic only. For international connections you will need to book a flight from Kashgar to Urumqi - the closest international airport, and onward travel from there.

If you are interested in continuing your journey along the Silk Road and into Central Asia, consider booking our The Great Silk Road (CBSAC) trip.

Important information

1.A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 4 and Day 11 (Sleeper train) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.
Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles.
If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks.
A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.
You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

Essential:
- Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites.
- Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential.
- Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, flight tickets and trip notes. Photocopies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
- small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice.
- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt
- Sun protection like a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Recommended:
- Refillable water bottle (1.5-litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1-litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
- Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug
- Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and a small towel
- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Torch or flashlight esp. for stay at local guesthouses or homestays

Optional:
- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low.
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Earplugs to guard against street noise and snorers.
- A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives.

Other things to consider:

- Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing
- Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash

Physical rating

3

You need to have a good level of fitness and be in excellent health to take part in this trip. It's important that you are able to carry your own luggage (pack light!) as there is a lot of local transport on this trip and you will need to be able to take it on and off vehicles and trains as well as negotiate steps and train platforms etc.

You also need to be able to cope with extremes in temperature (up to 45C) and some long, hot travel days.

Joining your group

Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆酒店, 81, Meishi Street 地址:北京市西城区煤市街81号, Xicheng district, Beijing, CHINA, Phone: +86 1052171900

Located almost right in the heart of Beijing, King’s joy hotel offers great convenience for your stay in Beijing. Hotel is closed to Qianmen Hutong Area with 2 min walk, only 1km away from Tian’anmen Square & Forbidden City, 2km to Temple of Heaven.
Metro is also nearby, Qianmen Station (前门站) for Line 2 is only 5 minute walk which gives you easy access to all the major sites in Beijing.

Free WIFI and no-smoking room are available. 24 hours front desk service is provided. Rooms are equipped with en-suite bathroom, A/C, and other basic facilities. In the private bathroom basic show facilities are available. Other services like internet and laundry are also available. A fine selection of Chinese food and local Beijing cuisine can be enjoyed at the restaurant on site.

Joining instructions

Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3. For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to http://en.bcia.com.cn/

An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through your booking agent.

If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with us, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with our company logo on it and your name.

If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. If you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk near your exit and ask them to call Ms Qi at (+86) 13671299816.

In any case, please take a printed copy of your hotel name and address in Chinese as shown in the joining point hotel section with you. Below are hotel information in both English and Chinese:

Hotel name: Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆饭店
Hotel address: No. 81 Meishijie, Xicheng District 北京市西城区煤市街81号
Hotel contact number: +86 10 5217 1900

If you are making your own way to the joining hotel:
By taxi (the easiest option): Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. You can follow the airport signs to reach to the official taxi stand. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and should cost around CNY120 (include CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI DRIVERS WHO DON'T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE FOR CLIENTS AND APPROACH YOU IN THE QUEUE CLAIMING THEY USE METER**

By airport express and taxi:
You can follow the airport signs to reach to the airport express station. Take the airport express (CNY25, service time: 06:20 to 22:50) to Dongzhimen station. It is suggested to hail a passing by taxi to go to your hotel. It will cost around CNY30 from Dongzhimen Station to your hotel. Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown in the Joining Point Section. **THERE IS NO TAXI LINE AT THIS STATION. AVOID USING TAXIS THAT ARE WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE STATION EXITS. THEY DON'T USE METER AND TEND TO OVERCHARGE. **

Finishing your trip

Kashi Tianyuan International Hotel 喀什天缘商务酒店, 8 East Renmin Road 人民东路8号, 近解放路, Kashgar, CHINA

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 

FOOD IN CHINA:
What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste:
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/

VEGETARIANS & VEGANS:
Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat-free options on menus including vegetable, tofu, and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang, and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/

DIETARY NEEDS:
Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten-Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel.

ALLERGIES:
For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling.

Climate & seasonal information

CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.

Here are the major holiday periods in China:
Chinese New Year: Feb 11-17 2021, Jan 31- Feb 6 2022
Qingming Festival: Apr 3-5 2021, Apr 3-5 2022
Labour Day Holiday: Apr 30- May 2 2021/2022
Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 12-14 2021, Jun 3-5 2022
Mid-Autumn Day: Sep 19-21 2021, Sep 9-11 2022
National Day: Oct 1-7 2021, Oct 1-8 2022

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below:

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +861064067328

Accommodations

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.

CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:
We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles. While we aim to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.

Transportation


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