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Overview

The Silk Road has connected China to the West since 138 BC, when merchants steered caravans through high mountain passes and vast deserts. From the first Buddhist missionaries to Marco Polo, Silk Road pioneers left their marks on the imagination and in magnificent grottoes carved into deep desert caves. The route for the modern traveler is among China's most breathtaking. To be savored along the way are the Mogao caves of Dunhuang, with Buddhist art dating back to the fourth century; nearby Crescent Lake with its singing sands and camel rides; Jiayuguan, with its Ming Dynasty fort heralding the western end of the Great Wall; the oasis of ...

The Silk Road has connected China to the West since 138 BC, when merchants steered caravans through high mountain passes and vast deserts. From the first Buddhist missionaries to Marco Polo, Silk Road pioneers left their marks on the imagination and in magnificent grottoes carved into deep desert caves. The route for the modern traveler is among China's most breathtaking. To be savored along the way are the Mogao caves of Dunhuang, with Buddhist art dating back to the fourth century; nearby Crescent Lake with its singing sands and camel rides; Jiayuguan, with its Ming Dynasty fort heralding the western end of the Great Wall; the oasis of Turpan, home to the Uighur people; the ancient ghost towns of Gaochang and Jiaohe; Urumqi and spectacular Tianchi, Heaven's Lake, where Kazakhs welcome travelers into their yurts; and Kashgar, where the Silk Road leaves China and a medieval bazaar still convenes on Sundays. On the northern side of the Silk Road is Inner Mongolia, where nomadic Mongols ride the grasslands, Genghis Khan lies in his mausoleum, and adventurous tourists set out from Hohhot and Baotou to explore China's frontier.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Occupies the northeastern border of China, to the North it borders Mongolia and Russia
  • Language: Mandarin, Mongolian
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Silk Road | Inner Mongolia
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring or late fall for the Silk Road, August for Inner Mongolia