The Silk Road

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The Silk Road - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Ancient City of Jiaohe


    On a plateau at the confluence of two rivers, these impressive ruins lie in the Yarnaz Valley west of Turpan. The city, established as a garrison...Read More

  • 2. Bird Island

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    Bird Island is the main draw at Qinghai Hu, China's largest inland saltwater lake. The name Bird Island is a misnomer: it was an island until...Read More

  • 3. Forest of Stone Steles Museum


    Head here for a glimpse into what the ancient Chinese deemed important enough to set in stone. As the name suggests, there is no shortage of...Read More

  • 4. Gansu Provincial Museum


    The most famous item in this excellent museum's collection is the elegant bronze "Flying Horse," considered a masterpiece of ancient Chinese...Read More

  • 5. Heavenly Lake


    After a three-hour ride from Ürümqi you'll reach what is quite possibly the prettiest lake in China, surrounded by snow-sprinkled mountains...Read More

  • 6. Huashan


    A few hours east of Xi'an lies one of China's five sacred mountains, a traditional watercolor come to life. The 7,218-foot mountain has stunning...Read More

  • 7. Karakorum Highway

    Scenic Drive

    The Karakorum Highway (KKH), a spectacular road winding across some of the most dramatic and inhospitable terrain on Earth, traces one of the...Read More

  • 8. Kumbum Monastery

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The magnificent Kumbum Monastery lies 25 km (15 miles) southwest of Xining. One of the six great monasteries of the Tibetan Buddhist sect known...Read More

  • 9. Labrang Monastery

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    In the remote town of Xiahe, the monastery is a little piece of Tibet along the Gansu-Qinghai border. A world away from Lanzhou, Xiahe has...Read More

  • 10. Mogao Grottoes


    The magnificent Buddhist grottoes, considered by some to be the most famous in China, lie southeast of Dunhuang. At least 40 of the 700 caves...Read More

  • 11. Shaanxi History Museum


    Although museums in China are often underwhelming, this is a notable exception. The works in this imposing two-story structure, built in 1991...Read More

  • 12. Small Goose Pagoda

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Once part of the 7th-century Jianfu Temple, this 13-tier pagoda was built by Empress Wu Zetian in 707 to honor her predecessor, Emperor Gao...Read More

  • 13. Terracotta Warriors Museum


    Discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well, this UNESCO World Heritage site includes more than 7,000 terra-cotta soldiers standing guard over...Read More

  • 14. The Ruins of Gaochang


    These fascinating city ruins lie in a valley south of the Flaming Mountains. Legend has it that a group of soldiers stopped here in the 1st...Read More

  • 15. Thousand Buddha Temple and Grottoes

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    One of the best day trips is the Thousand Buddha Temple and Grottoes, about 80 km (50 miles) from Lanzhou. More commonly known by its Chinese...Read More

  • 16. Tomb of Abakh Hoja


    About 5 km (3 miles) northeast of the city lies one of the most sacred sites in Xinjiang. The sea-green tiled hall that houses the tomb—actually...Read More

  • 17. Xinjiang Autonomous Region Museum


    Don't miss the perfectly preserved mummies at this superb museum, located 4 km (2½ miles) northwest of the city center. The mummies—including...Read More

  • 18. Banpo Matriarchal Clan Village

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    About 5 km (3 miles) east of the city are the remains of a 6,000-year-old Yangshao village, including living quarters, a pottery-making center...Read More

  • 19. Bell Tower

    Notable Building

    Xi'an's most recognizable structure, the Bell Tower was built in the late 14th century in what was then the center of the city. It's still good...Read More

  • 20. Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    In a breathtaking valley inside the Flaming Mountains is this ancient temple complex, built between the 5th and 7th century by slaves whose...Read More

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