Lost Buddhist Civilizations Tour

For complete details, see chapter 6 Focus: Touring the abandoned Buddhist grottoes of the Silk Routes Length: 14 days

Highlights: The scenic haystack mountain and diverse statuary of Maiji Shan Shiku; the peerless Mogao Shiku cave-temple complex outside Dunhuang; the abandoned kingdoms of Gaochang and Jiaohe outside the relaxed, grape-trellised oasis town of Turpan; the dramatic but seldom-visited Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, near the Uighur oasis settlement of Kuqa

Route & major stops: Spend days 1 and 2 exploring Xi'an; on day 3 travel to Tianshui; on day 4 explore Maiji Shan Shiku, then take an evening train to Dunhuang; on day 6 arrive at Dunhuang; on day 7 explore the Mogao caves; on day 8 take an evening train to Turpan; on day 9, after an early-morning arrival in Tur-pan, explore Gaochang, with an optional side trip to the Uighur town of Tuyoq; on day 10 explore nearby Jiaohe, then take an afternoon train to Kuqa; on day 11, after arriving in Kuqa early in the morning, explore the markets and mosques of old town; on day 12 visit Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves; on day 13 take a very early train to Kashgar; on day 14 explore Kashgar old town (if possible, arrive on Sun for the bazaar).

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