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Why everyone wants to travel the Silk Road this year

The legendary Silk Road has long fascinated travellers, and destinations along the ancient trade route are on many people’s travel bucket lists.

The Mogao Caves are a highlight on the Silk Road
The Mogao Caves are a highlight on the Silk Road

With the the increasing popularity of cultural heritage tourism, Silk Road destinations are among this year’s hotspots – especially with travellers who like to stay ahead of the curve. That’s the view of Elaine Yau, manager at Silk Road Travel, a company that specialises in cultural and leisure tours along the the famous thoroughfare that connected China to Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and, finally, Europe.

Here, Elaine shares the history and highlights of some key Silk Road destinations.

China

Xian is seen as the starting point of the Silk Road
Xian, home to the legendary Terracotta Warriors, is seen as the starting point of the Silk Road

Xi’an

“Capital of Shaanxi Province and one of the oldest cities in China, Xi’an is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and home to the famed Terracotta Warriors. It’s also considered the starting point of the Silk Road, dating back 2,000 years to when Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty dispatched his diplomat Zhang Qian to seek allies in the west. Zhang’s travels opened up China to many new parts of the world.”

Try it: 8 Days Silk Road Highlights

Silk Road Dunhuang Culture Hotel
Silk Road tour groups stay in a culture hotel in Dunhuang, which is designed in the style of the Han and Tang dynasty

Dunhuang

“This city in northwest China was one of the major rest stops on the Silk Road and also significant as a spot where Buddhism flourished. Silk Road Travel guests stay at The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel, designed in the style of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Other highlights in Dunhuang include the Mogao Caves, Mingsha sand dunes and the Jade Gate Pass.”

Try it: 5 Days Dunhuang Desert Exploration

The ancient Jiayuguan Fort on the Silk Road
The ancient Jiayuguan Fort

Hexi Corridor

“The ancient Silk Road trade route passed through cities along the famed Hexi Corridor. This is part of the Northern Silk Road and was at one time the only route from North China to Central Asia. Places of interest here include the Jiayuguan Fort and the Giant Buddha Temple.”

Try it: 7 Days Hexi Corridor

The bustling International Grand Bazaar on the Silk Road
The bustling International Grand Bazaar

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

“Xinjiang is a vast land of diverse cultures and stunning natural scenery. The best-known route of the historical Silk Road ran through this territory from the east to west, including cities like Hami, Turpan, Urumqi, Yining, and Kashgar. Drawcards include the International Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest Islamic bazaar, and the breathtakingly beautiful Heavenly Mountain.”

Try it: 10 Days Xinjiang & Guangzhou

Central Asia

Silk Road: Almaty in Kazakhstan
Tourism to places like Almaty in Kazakhstan is expected to be boosted by the World Expo this year

Kazakhstan

“Located between two different regions of Eurasia – Central Asia and Siberia – Kazakhstan has a long and fascinating history, with ancient settlements dating back to the Stone Age. It was once an important gateway on the Silk Road and played a key role in fostering cultural exchange between east and west. The spotlight is on Kazakhstan this year, as its capital, Astana, is the host city of Expo 2017, with the theme of “Future Energy”. Places of interest include the Central Mosque, Green Bazaar and Ascension Cathedral.”

Try it: 8 Days Kazakhstan Tour – Almaty & Astana (Expo 2017)

Uzbekhistan on the Silk Road is known for its striking architecture
Uzbekhistan on the Silk Road is known for its striking architecture

Uzbekistan

“Landlocked Uzbekistan in Central Asia boasts a diverse cultural heritage, and includes three of the Silk Road’s most important cities – key stop-offs for traders. The architecture is breathtaking, with minarets and colourful mosaics. Travel highlights include Tilla Sheih Mosque, Chorsu Bazaar, Registan Square and the Kalta Minor Minaret.”

Try it: 10 Days Uzbekistan Tour – Tashkent, Samarkand & Bukhara

Middle East

Persepolis is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran on the Silk Road
Persepolis is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iran

Iran

“Formerly known as Persia, Iran has a rich history on the Silk Road. The early Persian Empire was formidable, occupying a vast plateau rimmed by mountain ranges. It was invaded by Arabs, Turks and Mongols, but at one point was the largest empire in the Middle East. Famed sights include the Golestan Palace Complex in Tehran, Imam Square in Isfahan, and Chehel Sotun.”

Try it: 9 Days Iran Tour – Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan & Kashan

Silk Road Travel runs culture and leisure tours that can be customised to suit individual needs and interests. For further information, contact travel@the-silk-road.com.

2736 8828 | the-silk-road.com

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