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Road trip from Mongolia to Southeast Asia via China
View in Google Map: Mongolia – China – Kyrgyzstan
Duration: 27 Days
Chinese history and religion, China’s capitals Beijing and Xi’an during several dynasties, The most famous and classic attractions such as the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors, Several UNESCO world cultural and natural heritage sites, Megacities and remote areas of china, The History of the Communist Party of China and the History of the Red Army, Tibetan areas, Tibetan Culture and Art Center Area, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Learn about Uyghur history and culture, silk road(Starting points and important stops)…
Day 1 Mongolia Zamyn Uud – Erenhot
Border and customs formalities,the cars/bikes usually needs to be left in the customs supervision warehouse for one night.
Day 2 Erenhot – Ulanqab or Somewhere before Beijing, 340km
Customs formalities, chinese driver’s license and number plates are usually done by noon. Let’s hit the road aferter lunch.
Day 3 Ulanqab – Great Wall of China, 300km
Arrive at the Great Wall of China. Visit the Great Wall in the afternoon.
Day 4 Beijing
We will arrive Beijing, the capital of China, around noon. There are so many attractions and activities in Beijing.
Day 5 Beijing
The Forbidden City: The Forbidden City in Beijing is the palace of 24 emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties of China. It is also the best place to learn about ancient Chinese architecture, history and culture. Learn about China’s long cultural traditions here, and as the largest and most complete ancient building complex in the world, its plane layout, three-dimensional effect, and majestic form can be said to be rare in ancient times, and it is therefore recognized by the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Cultural Affairs Bureau. Organization listed as “World Cultural Heritage”. Some palaces in the Forbidden City have also set up comprehensive historical art galleries, painting galleries, classified ceramics galleries, the Four Treasures of the Study Hall, and Qing Dynasty court regulations and cultural relics exhibitions, etc., with a large collection of ancient art treasures. It is not to be missed. The Forbidden City is the palace that witnessed the grand ceremonies held in ancient times, and the place where the emperors and empresses lived. The Forbidden City houses a large number of precious cultural relics, accounting for one-sixth of the total number of cultural relics in China.
We will visit Tiananmen Square and Jingshan park together with forbidden city.
The Temple of Heaven: It is famous all over the world for its rigorous architectural layout, unique architectural structure and magnificent architectural decoration. Visit the places where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifices to the heavens and prayed for a good harvest, and feel the majesty of ancient royal buildings. Cross the Danbi Bridge, a corridor running from north to south, explore the Circular Mound Altar and Huangqiongyu in the south, and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest and Huanggan Hall in the north. Witness the echo wall, three-tone stone, dialogue stone, etc. built using acoustic principles, and understand the advanced level of ancient Chinese architectural craftsmanship.
Day 6 Beijing – Datong, 340km
Yungang Grottoes: Located in the western suburbs of Datong City, Shanxi Province, China, the Yungang Grottoes were mainly built between the second year of Xing’an (453) and the nineteenth year of Taihe (495) in the Northern Wei Dynasty. It is the first large-scale grotto in China that was excavated by royal dignitaries. The whole cave group is divided into east, middle and west parts. There are more than 1,100 large and small Buddha squats and more than 51,000 large and small Buddha statues. The largest Buddha statue is 17 meters high, and the smallest Buddha statue is only 2 centimeters high. The largest grotto is Cave 6 (excavated by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty), which is 20 meters high from the ground to the top of the grotto.
Huayan Temple: Located in the ancient city of Datong. It is the most complete preserved Liao Dynasty temple. There are still monks practicing in the temple.
Shanhua Temple: Located in Xiaonan Street, Datong, it was built in the Tang Dynasty. It was called Kaiyuan Temple during Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty, it was renamed Dapuen Temple during the Later Jin Dynasty of the Five Dynasties, and it was renamed Shanhua Temple in the tenth year of Ming Zhengtong. It is the largest and most complete Liao and Jin style temple in China. The only colorful glazed five-dragon wall in Datong is preserved in the temple.
Day 7 Datong – The Hanging Temple in Hunyuan County, 80km
The Hanging Temple: This Temple is a temple integrating Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. The temple was first built during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-535), and the existing buildings were rebuilt during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The entire temple is built on the hillside of Cuifeng Mountain, relying on 27 wooden beams to support all the main buildings of the temple. From a distance, it looks like it is suspended in the air, so it is called Xuankong Temple.
Day 8 Hanging Temple – Yingxian Wooden Pagoda – Mount Wutai, 260km
Yingxian Wooden Pagoda: It is the oldest and tallest wooden pagoda in China. It is impossible to verify the exact date of its construction, but it can be confirmed from its architectural style and related cultural relics that it was built in the Liao Dynasty and was repaired many times in the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The tower has experienced several major earthquakes and was shelled in a warlord melee in 1926, but the tower never fell. The tower is 67.31 meters high, and the main structure is all wooden. The tower body has five floors, of which the first to fourth floors each have a dark layer as the base of the upper layer, and the top of the tower is made of iron. Tasha. There are statues of Buddha in the inner tank of each tower room, among which a 10-meter-high Sakyamuni statue is placed in the inner tank of the first floor, and murals are painted on the inner wall. Due to the complex structure of the wooden pagoda in Yingxian County, there are 54 different types of bucket arches in the whole pagoda. The maintenance plan of the pagoda has been in a state of controversy since the 1970s, and it was not until 2013 that the relevant plan was finally determined.
Keep driving to Mt. Wutai.
Day 9 Mt. Wutai
Mount Wutai is the only Buddhist monastery in China where Chinese Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism complement each other. It is said that Mount Wutai has 128 temples, and there are 47 existing temples in total. Among them, many temples were built by imperial decree, and many emperors came to pay homage. The famous ones are: Xiantong Temple, Tayuan Temple, Pusa Temple, Nanshan Temple, Dailuoding, Guangji Temple, Wanfo Pavilion, etc. Wutai Mountain has been officially included in the “World Heritage List”.
Nanshan Temple was first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The stone carvings and clay sculptures in the temple include Buddhist legends, Taoist allusions, and patterns of trees, flowers and plants, which are unique in Mount Wutai. Standing on the top floor of Youguo Temple, you can overlook the other four towers of Mount Wutai.
Xiantong Temple is the largest and oldest temple in Wutai Mountain. It is the earliest temple in China along with the White Horse Temple in Luoyang. In the bell tower in front of Xiantong Temple, there is the largest bronze bell in Wutai Mountain – the Changming Bell. On the surface of the bell is engraved a Buddhist scripture in regular script with more than 10,000 characters.
Inside the Tayuan Temple is the Dabai Pagoda, the landmark building of Mount Wutai. The tower is 56.4 meters high and the whole body is pure white. There are more than 200 copper bells hanging on the top of the tower, and the sound is crisp when the wind blows. The Sutra Pavilion is located on the north side of the Dabai Pagoda. It is a wooden structure building. There are more than 20,000 volumes of scriptures written in Chinese, Mongolian and Tibetan.
Bodhisattva Peak is the largest and most complete Tibetan Buddhist temple in Wutai Mountain. It is the main site of the Yellow Sect Dharma Association from the fourth to the fifteenth day of the sixth month of the lunar calendar every year. During this time, you can see the grand occasion of lamas “suppressing demons” when climbing the mountain. . Because the emperors of all dynasties have visited the top of the Bodhisattva, there are many steles and plaques inscribed by the imperial pen in the temple. In the hall and backyard of the east courtyard, there are two white marble steles with four prisms. The four sides of the stele are engraved with inscriptions written in four languages: Han, Mongolian, Manchu and Tibetan, all of which were handwritten by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty.
Day 10 Mt. Wutai – Pingyao Ancient Town, 300km
The ancient city of Pingyao was the financial center of China in the late Qing Dynasty, and has the most complete ancient county layout in China. Pingyao is also the birthplace of China’s banking industry. It was appraised as world cultural heritage by UNESCO in 1997.
Day 11 Pingyao – Yan’an, 350km
To understand the history of the Communist Party of China, the Red Army, and the Long March of the Red Army, you must visit Yan’an.
Day 12 Yan’an – Hukou Waterfall – Xi’an, 450km
The Hukou Waterfall is the largest waterfall on the Yellow River, the second largest waterfall in China and the world’s largest yellow waterfall.
Day 13 Xi’an
Xi’an used to be the political, economic and cultural center of China and the first city to open to the outside world. The famous Silk Road started from Xi’an; the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum, one of the “Eight Wonders of the World”, shows the city’s majestic and profound historical and cultural heritage. . The long historical and cultural accumulation makes Xi’an enjoy the reputation of “Natural History Museum”. The cultural relics are second to none in the country in terms of their variety, quantity, and value, and many of them are rare treasures that are unique in China and rare in the world.
Visits: Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang, Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Day 14 – 15 Xi’an – Labrang Monastery, 800km
Drive 2 days to Labrang Monastery. Labrang Monastery was founded in 1709 by Ngagong Tsunde (E’angzongzhe in Chinese), the first-generation Jamyang (a line of reincarnated Rinpoches or living Buddhas ranking third in importance after the Dalai and Panchen lamas), from nearby Ganjia. The monastery is one of the six major Tibetan monasteries of the Gelugpa order (Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism). The others are Ganden, Sera and Drepung monasteries near Lhasa; Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse; and Kumbum Monastery outside Xining in Qinghai.
At its peak, Labrang housed nearly 4000 monks, but their ranks greatly declined during the Cultural Revolution. Modern Labrang is again such a popular destination for young disciples that numbers are currently capped at 1800 monks, with about 1600 currently in residence, drawn from Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia.
Day 16 Labrang Monastery – Rebkong (Tongren), 110kms
This area is definitely the center of Tibetan Buddhist culture and art. Labrang monastery, then drive to Rebkong(Tongren), surrounding monasteries include Rongwo Monastery, Gomar Monastery (located in a fortress), Nianduhu Si(Nyendug Gompa, Gelugpa monastery), and the Upper and Lower Wutun monasteries in Wutun village.
Rebkong (Tongren) area is not yet a tourist-developed place, it is highly recommended to stay in this area for one night, people here including Tibetans and the various Muslim peoples are friendly and hospitable.
Day 17 Rebkong – Qilian, 440km, 6 hours
Driving through Hui Muslim Areas we arrive Qilian, a County in the middle part of the Qilian Mountains, the average altitude of 3169m.
Day 18 Qilian – Sunan – Jiayuguan, 344km, 8 hours
Travel through the hinterland of Qilian Mountains. Most of the time is off road. Arrive Jiyuguan pass, a key waypoint of the ancient Silk Road.
Day 19 Jiayuguan – Dunhuang, 370km, 4 hours
Jiayu Pass or Jiayuguan: The pass is located at the narrowest point of the western section of the Hexi Corridor. It’s the first frontier fortress at the west end of the Ming dynasty Great Wall. In the Ming period, foreign merchants and envoys from the Central Asia and West Asia mostly entered China through Jiayu Pass.
Overhanging Great Wall: Running north from Jiayuguan Fort, this section of the Great Wall is believed to have been first constructed in 1539, though it was reconstructed in 1987.
Keep driving to Dunhuang.
Day 20 Dunhuang
Mogao caves: Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route, at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. The Mogao Caves became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987.
Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Moon Spring: Legendary desert peak featuring an ancient crescent-shaped lake & traditional-style building.
Day 21 Dunhuang – Shanshan, 730km, 8-9 hours
Today we enter the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, long drives on the highway all day.
Day 22 Shanshan – Turpan, 90km, 2 hours
Turpan area is historically significant because nearby Gaochang was once the Uyghur capital and an important staging area on the Silk Road.
Turpan is the most original city near Urumqi with Uyghur ethnicity. It is highly recommended to leave the highway, take some country trails, and drive through Uighur towns and villages, where you can buy naan and various melons and fruits on the road.
German scientists conducted archaeological expeditions, known as the German Turfan expeditions, at the beginning of the 20th century (between 1902 and 1914). They discovered paintings and other art treasures that were transported to the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin.
Visit opportunity: Gaochang Old City, Baizikli Cave of Thousand Buddhas, Flaming Mountain
Day 23 Turpan – Urumqi, 200km, 3 hours
Visit opportunity: Turpan’s karez water system, Jiaohe ancient city
Day 24 Urumqi
Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the far northwest of China. Ürümqi developed its reputation as a leading cultural and commercial center during the Qing dynasty in the 19th century. With a census population of 4 million in 2020, Ürümqi is the second-largest city in China’s northwestern interior after Xi’an as well as the largest in Central Asia in terms of population.We think it’s worth staying for a day here.
Visit opportunity: Xinjiang Museum, Hongshan, International Grand Bazaar,
Day 25-Day 26 Urumqi – Kashgar
drive 2 days 1479km from Urumqi to Kashgar.
Day 27 Kashgar – Torugart Port or Irkeshtam Port – Kyrgyzstan
We leave early, go through several checkpoints, arrive at the border and complete exit procedures. Goodbye China, hello Kyrgyzstan.
crossing China from south to north; from the tropical rain forest to Gobi desert.
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