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Transportation on The Silk Road

The ancient China silk road trade route covers several major cities: Xian - Lanzhou - Jiayuguan - Dunhuang - Urumqi - Turpan - Kashgar.   

Air Links
Along the Silk Road, Xian, Lanzhou and Urumqi are the top three entry cities for air flights. Secondly is Dunhuang and Kashgar. Frequency of flights can vary from several times each day to once a week. Airplanes are the most efficient, comfortable to all of China's open cities and areas, a list in constant flux but generally expanding.
As Xi'an is located in the heartland of China, it takes no more than 2 hours fly from Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA: XIY) to  to most major Chinese cities. Located 40 km northwest of the city centre, the airport is the largest one in the northwestern part of China and maily used by Chang'an Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.
Domestic flights are available to Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dunhuang, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Harbin, Hangzhou, Hohhot, Kunming, Lhasa, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Urumqi, Wuhan, Xining and Zhangjiajie within China. International flights are available to Bangkok, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Osaka, Pusan, Sapporo, Singapore, Seoul, Taipei and more major cities in Asia.  

Urumqi International Airport is one of China's six major airports with flights to West Asian and European countries. Centered on Urumqi, domestic air routes radiate out to Lanzhou, Xi'an, Beijing and Shanghai. Closer to home, routes within Xinjiang itself serve Hami, Korla, Kuqa, Hetian, Kashi, Aksu, Yining, Karamay, Fuyun, and Altay.

Flights from more than 20 cities depart and arrive at Lanzhou Zhongchuan Airport (IATA: LHW).
Daily flights to Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dunhuang, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hangzhou, Jiayuguan, Kunming, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Urumqi, Wenzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi'an and Zhengzhou.

Dunhuang Airport (IATA: DNH) is 13km east of town center. Flights are available to Beijing, Lanzhou, Urumqi, and Xian.

From Urumqi to Kashgar, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines runs morning, afternoon and evening flights a day. The frequency of flight increases during summer and decreases during winter. The Kashgar Airport has an international two-weekly routine flights from Urumqi to Kashgar then to Islamabad, of Pakistan.  

Railway Connection
Railway along the Silk Road is connected with the Xian-Lanzhou Railway and Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway. The project that China's third drive to upgrade train speeds across the nation covers the two sections of railway. There are over 31 trains vary from 6 to 8 hours through Xian and Lanzhou.  

The Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway runs more than 2,000 kilometers from Lanzhou City in Gansu Province  in the east to Alataw Pass, the westernmost point of the Chinese section of the second Eurasian Link. This principal artery enables Lanzhou link to Jiayuguan, Dunhuang in Gansu and Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar and other cities in Xinjiang; as well as Gansu, Xinjiang link to the rest of China.

A dual-track section of the Lanzhou-Urumqi railroad is already operational and construction of the Korla-Kashi section of the Southern Xinjiang Railroad, also a major project, is in full swing. Works to the value of 2.4 billion yuan have been completed in the westward extension of the Southern Xinjiang railroad and the northern section of Wusu-Ala Pass railway.

The Lanzhou Urumqi rail line was completed in 1963, ending Xinjiang's economic isolation, with the completion of the railway between Urumqi and Kashgar made the train travel on the Silk Road more extended. So far train tickets are not possible to booked or purchased outside China.Once you are in China you can purchase it easily directly from the main train station (be prepared that you may have to stay in a long line in high seasons.Alernatively, We can book it for you and make it available to you on your arrival.For which you have to pay US$ 6 as a service fee for per ticket.

There are several ticket options are available :
1. Hard Seat - A bald seat, only slightly more expensive than a bus ticket, which is the most crowded, sometimes with unassigned seats unless you buy your ticket at the train'st originating station.

2. Hard Sleeper - A hold sleeper, consisting of open compartmems with six berths, is usually the most difficult to obtain, roughly the cost equals to the one forth of the Airfare for the same distance.

3. Soft Sleeper - is ail enclosed compartment containing four berths similar m Eastern European coaches, The price is roughly equals half the price of the Airfare for the same distance.

Soft Sleepers are not very difficult to purchased as it was before (when you have to obtain special permits to get the Soft Sleeper - as they are reserved for the Government Officials). Still on high seasons seats may seaily sold out. During the train journey, boiled water and expensive mediocre food are available on the train; drinks and snacks can be purchased at most station.

By Road
Buses, the most inexpensive method of transportation, tend to be slow moving, especially in Xinjiang, where they regularly depart one or two hours behind schedule, or the desert sucks the life out of everything thing that moves or attempts to do so the three-day' bus ride from Urumqi to Kashgar (with overnights in Korla and Aksu) is highly recommended for the hardy traveller, offering spectacular views of the Hear only Mountains and interesting glimpses of the oasis towns along the northern rim of the Taklamakan Desert. Note that in Gansu, foreigners are required to purchase an insurance policy (Y20 FEC) and to produce the receipt when buying subsequent tickets, Bus company employees are fairly figid about this rule. which seems to be non-existent west of Jiayuguan.

Another option is to hire a land cruiser or mini vail, enabling you to visit sites far from cities or towns that would othervise be inaccessible. Costs can be minimized if you are in a group. Prices should be based on the number days hired and kilometers travelled.

Urumqi to Turpan
It takes 3.5 hour's bus or nearly 2.5 hours train from Urumqi to Turpan.

Turpan to Korla
It takes 5 hour's bus or nearly 10 hours train from Turban to Korla.

Korla to Kuqa
It takes 4 hour's bus or nearly 5 hours train from Korla to Kuqa.

Kuqa to Khotan
It takes 12 hour's bus or nearly 20 hours train from Kuqa to Khotan.

Khotan to Kashgar
It takes 11 hour's bus or nearly 10 hours train from Khotan to Kaghgar.

Kashgar to Urumqi
It takes 1.5 hours fly or at least 30 hours train from Kashgar to Urumqi.

For further details, please view the transportation guide on the following cities on the Silk Road: