Jiayuguan Fort, China

When people think of China, they often think of the Great Wall, rice terraces and pandas. The Silk Road, stretching from Xian all the way to China’s western border, is mostly overlooked. Too inaccessible, too remote, and why would you travel there if there’s so much to see in the East? But think again. Remote means less tourists and a chance to get off the beaten track. Plus, trains make it easy to travel in between cities.

The Silk Road has a lot to offer, from desert towns to Tibetan monasteries and natural wonders. Not convinced yet? Read on and I will show you the highlights along the Chinese Silk Road, from the Kyrgyz border all the way to Xian.…

Terracotta Warriors, Xian, Chengdu

Xian, China’s former capital in the west, is often considered the end of the Silk Road. It is one of the most interesting Chinese cities we traveled to, with its mix of Chinese and Muslin traditions, old buildings sprinkled throughout the city centre and the famous Terracotta Warriors nearby. It is easy to spend two or three days here, maybe even more, without running out of things to do.…

Panda, Chengdu, China

As we got closer to Chengdu, I got more and more excited. Over the past few days, we had talked about what to do in this city and the prospect of what lay ahead of us made me want to get there as quickly as possible. Pandas, the Chinese Opera, how could I not be excited about this city?

Chengdu did not disappoint. But see for yourself why you should visit the Sichuan capital.…

Crescent Lake, Dunhuang, China

Dunhuang was our first stop in China outside the province of Xinjiang. While it was still remote, we saw a sudden increase in tourists – and rightfully so. It is a city that can easily keep you occupied for two or three days. Once a large outpost on the Silk Road, it is famous for its Buddha caves and its sand dunes. But see for yourself:…

Grapes, Turpan, China

Have you ever heard of Turpan? No? I hadn’t either until I started researching the Silk Road. It is most likely the city’s remoteness that keeps it from being a tourist destination. Located in the province of Xinjiang in Western China, travellers need to spend many hours on a train to get here. Yet, I highly recommend a visit. In touristy China, you won’t find many places that you can enjoy to yourself. Plus, there are enough things to do in this city that make a trip out here worthwhile.…

Old Town of Kashgar, China

When thinking of China, Kashgar is not the first city that comes to anyone’s mind. Located in the west, close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, it was once an important stop on the Silk Road. Merchants who made it across the Torugart Pass would stock up on supplies before crossing the Taklamakan Desert.

These days, barely any travellers come to Kashgar. It is not on any itinerary for those visiting Eastern China, the political situation is difficult with an ethnic minority living in China’s west and Kashgar is so remote, you would have to fly or spend a long time on a train.

Those who make it, however, are rewarded with a unique cultural experience and a lack of other tourists.…