Clients in search of a different way to see China can join
Seattle-based TCS Expeditions on its 15-day Ancient Silk Road
program in which travelers tour the country via the chartered China
Orient Express train.
The itinerary, which departs May 9, follows the legendary trade
route from Beijing to Urumchi near the Mongolian border, then on to
Chengdu and back to Hong Kong.
The China Orient Express, which carried important delegations
through the country in the 1950s and 1960s, features six sleeping
carriages, each with eight private, ornately decorated cabins.
Chefs prepare traditional Chinese dishes, and classical piano is
played for entertainment.
This departure also features a team of three lecturers. They
include an author and expert on East Asian art, a geologist who
describes the topography along the Silk Road route and a former
State Department official who is an expert on the politics and
economy of Asia.
In Beijing, travelers spend the first night at a deluxe hotel
near the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, both of which are on
the next day’s itinerary. Chairman Mao’s mausoleum and the Great
Hall of the People are also visited.
In Beijing, a full day is spent exploring the Great Wall of
China. On another morning, travelers see the Temple of Heaven,
before an afternoon departure aboard the China Orient Express.
Travelers dine and spend the night on the train, which winds its
way alongside the Wei River to Xian. In Xian, stops include the
Shaanxi Provincial Museum, the Wild Goose Pagoda and a city wall
that dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
A full day is spent in Xian touring the tomb of China’s first
emperor, Qin Shihuangdi. The tomb is home to famed terra-cotta
warriors and horses, discovered by archaeologists in the 1970s.
Following Xian, travelers board the China Orient Express again
for the journey to Jiayuguan, whose Ming fortress is the western
terminus of the Great Wall. While in town, travelers visit the
Underground Gallery and the city’s outdoor market.
The following day, travelers board the train and head to Liuyuan
then disembark for the 80-mile drive to Dunhuang, a town long known
as a supply stop for caravans traveling south. Sightseeing includes
a visit to the local museum and a camel ride through the sand dunes
to nearby Crescent Lake.
The next day is also spent in Dunhuang visiting the Mogao Caves,
decorated with sculptures and murals dating from as far back as the
4th century. After Dunhuang, the train heads to Jihaoe, a town
destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century, and Turfan, a Gobi
Desert city in one of the deepest waterless depressions on earth.
Travelers visit an 18th-century minaret and a bazaar before heading
to Urumchi for dinner and an overnight stay.
After Urumchi, travelers fly to Chengdu, perhaps best known for
being home to the world’s largest panda preserve. Travelers visit
the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center and spend the night in
Chengdu before flying to Hong Kong for an overnight. The trip
concludes on May 23 with a flight from Hong Kong back to the United
The Ancient Silk Road program starts at $7,990 per person,
double, excluding domestic and international air. TCS offers
negotiated airfares from a variety of home cities.
Included in the rate are accommodations, special events,
excursions and all meals. TCS pays agents 10%.
Web site: www.tcs-expeditions.com.