Follow the path that Marco Polo once trod. Travel on the Great Silk Road. This trading caravan is a veritable feast of historical and cultural delights that will provide you with deeper insights into China and its connection to the Western world. A tour of the Great Silk Road will surely be an experience you will never forget. Savor and see for yourself the Silk Road's magic and mystery, which offers ruins, amazing architecture, and great highlights along the way. It served as a link to two very different worlds – East and West, Asia and Europe.
The Great Silk Road is thus named as its first item of trade is Chinese silk. When we speak of the Silk Road, we refer to the trade routes that connected China and the Roman Empire. These routes are over 2,000 years old! They cover over 7,000 kilometers, span the ancient capitals of Xi'an and Luoyang, on to the Yellow River, and down to a stretch of mountains and deserts. It wends its way along the Gan-Sun corridor, up the Tien-Shan and Pamir ranges, and into Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and further on to Europe. There are actually many routes, the main one going through China territories, the basin of Tarim, on through Central Asia, Afghanistan, and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Because of the trade routes, various towns and settlements were established along the way. It has also spurred the golden age and, sometimes, the decline of many cultures and nations.
Once, merchants rode on caravans of camels and horses, bearing precious goods – silk, furs, jade, ivory and much more. In return, the Chinese obtained spices and goods such as sesame, walnut, alfalfa, figs and many others. It is also along the routes that the Chinese learned new skills in making wine using grapes. They also traded for precious stones from India, ceramics, slaves, silver, and other precious goods. It is safe to say that the ancient civilization of China was further enriched because of the Great Silk Road and the trade and commerce they had with other cultures.
The Great Silk Road highlights include the towns of Xi'an, Luoyang, Gansu and Xinjiang. Xi'an boasts of the terracotta warriors that is one of the greatest archaeological finds in the world. The gigantic vaults contain thousands of life-sized terracotta statues of soldiers accompanying their emperor into the next life. Other attractions of Xi'an include the Bell Tower, the Forest of Stele Museum, Huashan Mountain and the Ancient City Wall.
Moving on, you get to Luoyang, where you can find the White Horse Temple (with its many Buddhist statues and artifacts). There is also the Museum of Ancient Tombs, Luoyang Museum and the Longmen Grotto. Another key point in the route is Dunhuang, which belongs to the Gansu province's Hexi Corridor's western end. Stop by the Mogao Grottos, the Crescent Moon Spring and the Mingsha Sand Dune.
Other attractions include the Jiayuguan Pass, the Great Wall Museum, the Binhe Road Greenery Corridor (Lanzhou), plus the Grand Buddha Temple and Shengrong Temple in Zhangye. In Xinjiang, you can visit the Heavenly Lake and Xinjiang Museum in Urumqi. Xinjiang also boasts of Aiding Lake, Flaming Mountain, Abakh Khoia Tomb and the Kakakuli Lake.