Trade routes don’t come more evocatively named than the Silk Road. This ancient trade route linked Rome with China, and was the means by which these two great civilisations exchanged goods and ideas. Named for the silk that made its way from China to the west, it’s a name that evokes exotic images of the past. You can relive a little of the journey the traders took with an adventure of your own, travelling from Xi’an to Urumqi on the Chinese stretch of this iconic route. These are some of the places you should visit along the way.

The Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an

????????????????????????????????????

Once part of the Silk Road, Xi’an is famous for the awe-inspiring Terracotta Warriors nearby, a statue group that depicts the army of the first emperor of China. Unearthed in the 1970s by farmers digging a well, they were buried with the emperor in the late 3rd century BC. It was believed that these thousands of life-size terracotta soldiers, chariots and cavalry horses would protect the emperor in the afterlife.

Lanzhou

P1010350

In the heyday of the Silk Road, Lanzhou was known as the ‘Golden City’. Located on the banks of the Yellow River, it was a major stop on the ancient trade route. These days, you can enjoy a walk along the river and climb White Pagoda Hill for fantastic city views, but an even more memorable site lies hidden underground some way from the city itself. The Bingling Si Caves are a series of isolated carved grottoes, the oldest dating back to AD 420, and they can only be reached by boat – and only in the summer. The Buddha carvings inside span numerous dynasties and corresponding periods of art history, so it’s well worth the journey.

Jiayuguan

S.Turpan

Rugged and remote, Jiayuguan can be reached by overnight train from Lanzhou. The snow-capped Qilian Mountains are juxtaposed against the reddish sand of the Gobi Desert to create a stunning and unusual contrast. Get the best view by visiting a remote but well-preserved stretch of the Great Wall of China: a section, built in the 1300s, that’s visually very different from the eastern parts of the wall, using rammed earth instead of bricks.

Gaochang and Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves

????????????????????????????????????

Gaochang was once a garrison town on the Silk Road, and it’s now on the World Heritage List as one of China’s most important archaeological sites. Not far away from Gaochang, you’ll find the even more enigmatic Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves in the Flaming Mountains. Once the setting for a priceless assortment of Buddhist cave art spanning AD 400 to 1300, the caves have sadly been plundered of many of their murals over the last few centuries. However, the paintings and carvings that remain offer a fascinating glimpse of the people who once occupied the area, so it’s still a worthy stop on your journey.

Heavenly Lake, Urumqi

????????????????????????????????????

High in the Tianshan Mountain Range is a beautiful alpine lake that no Silk Road traveller should leave without seeing. Aptly called Heavenly Lake, its crystal-clear water is a beautiful sight and a complete contrast to the cities of modern China. The region isn’t far from the borders with Mongolia and Kazakhstan, and traditional yurts scattering this area make Urumqi and its environs feel like a place where cultures meet – an apt way to end your journey along a route that once connected entire civilisations.

Image credits courtesy of Insider Journeys

Other great places in China include:

Jiuzhaigou national park

Zhangjiajie national forest park

Ice festival in Harbin

Guilin China
Guilin China

How to Hold a Panda in Chengdu Panda Park, China

Great wall of china in Beijing

Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!

I use HeyMondo. You get INSTANT quotes. Super cheap, they actually pay out, AND they cover almost everywhere, where most insurance companies don't (even places like Central African Republic etc!). You can sign-up here. PS You even get 5% off if you use MY LINK! You can even sign up if you're already overseas and traveling, pretty cool.

Also, if you want to start a blog...I CAN HELP YOU!

Also, if you want to start a blog, and start to change your life, I'd love to help you! Email me on johnny@onestep4ward.com. In the meantime, check out my super easy blog post on how to start a travel blog in under 30 minutes, here! And if you just want to get cracking, use BlueHost at a discount, through me.

Also, (if you're like me, and awful with tech-stuff) email me and my team can get a blog up and running for you, designed and everything, for $699 - email johnny@onestep4ward.com to get started.

Do you work remotely? Are you a digital nomad/blogger etc? You need to be insured too.

I use SafetyWing for my digital nomad insurance. It covers me while I live overseas. It's just $10 a week, and it's amazing! No upfront fees, you just pay week by week, and you can sign up just for a week if you want, then switch it off and on whenever. You can read my review here, and you can sign-up here!

sep-icons
teach-blog

So if you’re ready to…..

1) Change your life
2) Travel the world
3) Get paid to travel
4) Create a positive influence on others
5) Be free of offices and ‘real world’ rubbish

Then Sign Up Below and Let’s Get Started!

Follow me on Instagram @onestep4ward