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Silk Road Tours FAQ
Prepare a Silk Road Tour
1. Could you tell me how the Silk Road was formed, when it reached its heyday and why it was declined?
As early as 2nd century BC during the Han dynasty, China¡¯s borders were frequently invaded by Xiongnu. As Han was not powerful enough to wipe out Xiongnu¡¯s army, emperor Han Wudi sent Zhang Qian to the Western Regions to seek allies. However Zhang Qian was captured by Xiongnu on his way and was detained for about 10 year. After escaped, he traveled to the middle Asia to continue his mission, but unfortunately the rulers there are refused to be the allies of Han Empire as they are not invaded by Xiongnu. Though the mission failed, the information and technology Zhang Qian brought back and vice versa, made people desire goods produced in the other. From then on, the trading route was formed. Among the goods, silk was the main commodity as it was favored by Persians and Romans.

By the mid 8th century during the Tang dynasty, trade on the Silk Road reached its height, 30% of the trade on the route was about silk. At that time, China was in a prosperous station, and the Tang government issued lots of favorable policies which stimulated and encouraged the exchange of East and West. Meanwhile, various religions had been spread in the world range. Therefore more and more merchants, diplomats and missionaries reached to east or west by this road. And as a result, the Tang dynasty fortunately regarded as the best flourishing period of the Silk Road.

Silk Road was greatly affected by the fall of Tang dynasty, and declined sharply after Mongols conquered parts of Europe and extended the contacts between East and West. This created a demand for Eastern goods especially silk, voile, etc., which stimulated people to find another East-West way with a larger capacity, less cost and danger. Then in the late 15th century a sea rout was discovered, and from then on many goods was transferred through the sea route. In addition, the demand for silk also reduced after the Persians had mastered the art of silk making.
As time goes by, the bustling streets, wealthy cities and solid ramparts along the Silk Road were gradually covered by the desert. Today, people can only trace its splendid history in the endless ruined and dilapidated remains.



2. What does Silk Road mean?
Silk Road refers to the east-west trade route which is first traveled by Zhang Qian as a diplomat to the Western Regions during the Han dynasty. The name ¡°Silk Road¡± was given to the route by Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, a German scholar in late 1800. It is regarded as the greatest trading route and information super highway of its age.



3. When is the best time for me to join a Silk Road tour?
Three provinces and several cities are covered in the Silk Road tour. Among them, Xian which belongs to the Shaanxi province; Lanzhou, Jiayuguan, Dunhuang etc. which belongs to Gansu province are suitable to be visited any time of the year. While for the cities like Turpan, Urumqi, Kashigar etc, May to October is the best time to visit there, especially June to September the harvest time of this area, when you could taste the delicious fruit and experience the country life.



4. What should I wear and bring during my visit to Xinjiang?

Generally Xinjiang is a place which have sufficient sunshine, but the temperature differs greatly during the daytime and nighttime. The average difference is up to 12¡æ (about 54¨H). Also the temperature changes greatly in different season. Our suggestions are as follows:
If you visit the area during Summer, we suggest you bring the following items:

It is hot in summer, so we suggest you wear short pants, shirts with short sleeves most of the time. still you may need to wear jeans when you go to mountainous places in case it is a bit cold there. You are suggested always bring a jacket just in case the chilly weather it may becomes.
Things like hats, sunglasses, sun block cream which could help to protect you from sunburns are essential
Things like scarf which could protect you from sand especially in desert areas are a must
Since you will walk a lot and sometimes camel rides are required, a pair of comfortable shoes will be good for you.
Enough water, we will also provide bottle waters for you.
If you visit Xinjiang during other seasons, the followings are what we suggest:

You are suggested to bring enough clothes to keep you warm. During spring and autumn you need to bring sweaters, jeans, wind coats etc, down coats, hats, gloves and scarf are essentials during winter. You are also suggested to bring extra clothes you could put on when it becomes cold.
Things which could help to protect you from sunburns and things which could protect you from windburns.
High-cut shoes with hard tread. We also suggest you to bring your rain gear, and medicines etc.



5. What kind of medicines should I bring during my Silk Road tour?

We suggest you to take three kinds of medicine, medicines which could make you feel better from mountain sickness, like anti-nausea medicine, travel pill;
Medicines for preventing you from sunstroke when traveling in summer; Medicines for fever, cold, diarrhea, carsickness etc.
Also people who are sensitive to dry temperature should bring some nasal ointment and throat-moistening pills.
Kind notice: do not drink tea after eating lots of fruits, otherwise you will easily get diarrhea.




6. What should I pay more attention when traveling in Xinjiang£¿

Xinjiang is a place with vast territory and several minorities. Most minorities there believe in the Islam, so you should neither eat pork, and the meat of dog¡¯s, Donkey¡¯s or mule¡¯s, nor drink alcohol in Muslim restaurants or even talk about it; you should not enter Mosques without being properly dressed; Women dressed in skirt or dress are forbidden to enter the Mosques, women are not allowed to enter some mosques in south of Xinjiang; if you don¡¯t want to buy please don¡¯t bargain with the seller.





Take a Silk Road Tour
1£®What itinerary would you recommend for my Silk Road tour?
We have several well designed Silk Road itineraries, please kindly click "http://travel.chinavista.com/packages.php?class=6" to chose the one you like. Please feel free to ask for change if there is no itinerary that suits you perfectly.



2. Is there also a time difference between Beijing and Xinjiang?

Yes, there is a two-hour difference between Beijing and Xinjiang. The time of Xinjiang is about two hours behind that of Beijing, which is GMT+6. Although Xinjiang use the standard Beijing time which is GMT+8, still you may need to adjust yourself to get used to it.




3. Should we join a private tour or an organized tour?
We suggest you to join an organized tour since Xinjiang is a place with vast territory, changeable weather (you may experience four seasons in one day), many minorities with different customs and other unexpected factors. If you join an organized tour, all the travel need will be arranged before your departure and your guide will give you lots of useful advice during the tour to avoid unnecessary troubles.



4. Someone told me that people may get mountain sickness in Xinjiang, is that true?

Yes, it is true. As lots of places in Xinjiang are over 2,000 to 3,000 meters(6,561 or 9,800 feet) above sea level, it is easy to get mountain sickness. Here are some suggestions for you to avoid it:


Bring enough water or drinks and fruits. Snacks with high caloric content, like chocolate.
Bring some medicines which could make you feel better from mountain sickness, like anti-nausea medicine, travel pill.
Have a rest when you can and brisk walking and running are not advised.
We suggest you do not smoke nor drink alcohol too.
Do not take showers or bathes too frequently.
If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you need to tell your guide about this. Your guide could send you to the best hospital available in the area.



5. What is the transportation like on Silk Road?
The transportation between cities on the silk road are mainly by road, and sometimes you need to take train between two cities, since only Xian, Lanzhou, Dunhuang, Urumqi, Kashigar and Yili on silk road have airports, and among those, only Xian and Urumqi have international air connections.
Though the roads in Xinjiang are as normal as in other cities, but the ride may still bumpy in some rural areas because the poorly maintained road condition and takes relatively long time between cities as the vast desert territory, marshy grassland, valleys and forests.



6. What is the food like in Xinjiang? Is it sanitary to eat in restaurant in Xinjiang?

There are many specials in Xinjiang like Xinjiang Kebabs, Xinjiang Noodles (Lamian) Zhua Fan (Rice Eaten with Hands), Milk Tea. There are also Han restaurants and western restaurants.
Food in star hotels or big restaurant are all well prepared, so don¡¯t worry about the sanitary there. But if you love to taste local snacks or you are traveling in some remote areas we suggest you have prior vaccination against hepatitis since the food in some small restaurant may not be properly sanitized.

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