Great see sights on China

The unmoving landscapes of the Silk Road have enchanted travellers for millennia. Sights along the route have lasted down through the ages, from a time when monks travelled these roads bringing Buddhism back from south Asia, and traders exchanged silk for goods and spices.

Made up of a series of roads connecting Chinese capitals with south Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean, a voyage down the Silk Road remains one of China’s most epic journeys. Travelling the length of this route today, with its flaming red mountains, towering sand dunes and alpine lakes, still offers a very real sense of what ancient traders experienced. And in 2014, UNESCO listed the entire 5000km Tian Shan Corridor as a World Heritage Site.

Luckily, the Silk Road is ever-more accessible from the rest of Chinathanks to the opening of a new high-speed rail line through Xinjiang. This train will eventually connect the furthest reaches of China’s northwestern province to Xi’an, Beijing and beyond. Here we explore a must-see list of its east-to-west sights.

 

Army of Terracotta Warriors

Painstakingly cast as guardians for Qin Shi Huang’s – the first emperor of China – safe passage into the afterlife, the Army Of Terracotta Warriors was discovered in 1974. Since then, thousands of warriors, archers and chariots have been unearthed and remain on display just outside the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province. Xi’an is the first stop along an itinerary of the Silk Road from east to west – it was the capital of Chinese empires variously in ancient periods and its strategic north-central location on the Guangzhong Plain makes it a gateway from eastern China to the wild west. Today, Xi’an is a busy provincial capital home to numerous ethnic minorities, mainly Hui Muslims.

 

Labrang Monastery

One of the most important monasteries in the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Labrang Monastery in Xiahe was once home to 4000 monks and echoes of a time when Buddhism passed through this part of the world on its great journey through China, from south Asia to the Far East. Today, Labrang Monastery is home to 1800 monks and its grand prayer halls and intricate yak-butter sculptures remain a draw for visitors and monks alike.