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Silk Road Tours offer tailor made holidays through Central Asia, The Caucasus, Middle East and North Africa
The eastern end of the Silk Road crosses deserts and mountains and passes through bustling trading posts which are a melting pot of Central Asian society. Discover the lesser-known sights of China on this fascinating two-week tour.
The Bamboo Garden hotel is located in central Beijing on a quiet lane just west of the Drum Tower. The building was the residence of one of the ministers of the late Qing dynasty retains much of its original character with gardens dotted with rockeries and bamboo. All 40 rooms are decorated in a traditional Ming and Qing dynasty style and feature AC, satellite TV, Wi-Fi and western style bathrooms. The hotel features two restaurants specialising in Sichuan and Cantonese food as well as a quiet tea house set in the beautiful gardens. The Bamboo Garden hotel was one of the first boutique hotels to open in Beijing and remains one of the most highly rated making it a recommended place to stay when in Beijing.View Images
The Tang Dynasty Art Garden hotel is located in the Qujiang New District close to the Wild Goose Pagoda. This boutique property has been modelled on a Tang Dynasty house featuring rooms opening out onto interior courtyards and elegantly styled gardens. All rooms are en suite (shower only) with AC and cable TV. The hotel also features an a la carte restaurant, café and complimentary Wi-Fi. This unique boutique property makes for a thoroughly recommended stay when in Xian.View Images
The story of the Silk Road begins with the Chinese ambassador Zhang Qian’s journey into the Taklamakan Desert in 138 B.C. in search of political alliances. On his return to the old capital of X’ian 13 years later, along with stories of the ‘heavenly’ Ferghana horse, which became a prized weapon in the arsenal of the Chinese armies, he brought with him tales of the Sogdian love of silk, and so the Silk Road was born.
Today the Central Asian provinces of China west of X’ian are perhaps the most fascinating regions of China. They are a melting pot of Han Chinese, Uygur, Kirghiz and a host of other cultures whose roots stem from the ancient kingdoms that once existed here. The early 1st Millennium A.D. saw the rise of a number of Buddhist kingdoms, whose cultural impact can still be seen in the famous Buddhist caves such as at Bezelik and Mogao. The later Mongol invasions spread Islam across the region and saw the development of important Islamic centres such as Kashgar. The shifting sands of the Taklamakan desert have preserved remarkable historic cities such as Gaochang and Jiaohe, which still enchant today’s visitors to this little-known area.
The oasis towns on the edge of the Tarim basin continue to thrive using the ancient kharez irrigation systems which watered the melons and grapes so beloved the Chinese court. Farmers from across the region flock to sell their wares amidst a melee of carts, traders, acrobats and magicians in Kashgar’s famous Sunday market. Kashgar is also the starting point for journeys across the Torugart and Irkestan passes into Kyrgystan. Travelling along these ancient routes allows the modern traveller to follow in the tracks of the snaking caravans which passed the western end of the Great Wall at Jiayuguan and headed into the sunset along the Silk Road into Central Asia.
Time Zone – GMT + 8
Best Times to Visit – visitable all year round
Visas – UK passport holders obtain before travel, Letter of Invitation not required
Currency – Chinese Yuan (CNY) obtainable before travel