Follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and explore China’s oldest trade route and some of the country’s most dramatic sites and landscapes.
Why Go Now
The Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor, a 3107-mile stretch of this ancient series of trade routes, where silk, porcelain, spices, and other goods were exchanged and where civilizations converged, was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in 2014. Far from the bustle of Beijing, this remote section of China delivers the kind of sites worth traveling across the world to see. Start your trip in Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province with a visit to the incredible Terracotta Warriors of Qin Shihuang. Each of the thousands of warriors, created about 246 BC, is unique and possibly carved in the likenesses of the workers who created them. Outside of Dunhuang, an oasis town in Gansu Province, are the extraordinary caves of the Mogao Grottoes. Filled with Buddhist art dating from the 4th century AD to the 10th century AD, the caves are one of the most impressive sites in the country.
Xian is the main hub for the Silk Road and is a quick flight from China’s major cities. Opt to fly to other cities along the Silk Road. Distances are long and train and bus travel is arduous. U.S. travelers to China must have a visa and a passport with at least six months left before it expires. Visa regulations have been relaxed of late and U.S. citizens traveling to China can now apply for a ten-year long multiple-entry visa.
When to Go
The best time to visit is from early May to late October, when it’s warm and the blue skies and long days are optimal for exploring and photographing the area. It’s also high tourist season and a lot of festivals take place.