At the eastern terminus of the Silk Road sits Xi’an – the root of Chinese civilization. For those exploring the rich and complex history of the far east, this far flung region is an essential stop.

With more than 3,000 years of history, Xi’an served as the capital of the country through 13 dynasties, and saw the rule of 73 emperors. While the powerful families rose and fell, Xi’an and it’s surrounds were left with innumerable relics and ruins, to the delight of modern historians and explorers.

Xi’an is home to the world’s largest city wall – wide enough for five bicycles to ride atop it – and a staggering collection of museums and ancient artifacts. One of the country’s most intriguing discoveries is also found here – the famed army of terracotta warriors buried to protect the first emperor of China, totaling over 8,000 soldiers on display in pits near the emperor’s mausoleum.

China’s vast northwest provinces are more rugged and rural, isolated from the more modern cities close to the Pacific coast. It was a connection to the Silk Road that brought the region into the first truly significant global network, giving the city a primitive cosmopolitanism that has grown into something far more sophisticated.

Trace the route of the ancient Silk Road through the modern-day Gansu, Xinjiang, and Shaanxi provinces. Two sections of the route once converged at Kashgar in the Taklamakan Desert and the city remains an important trade hub today, hosting the largest bazaar in Asia.

Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi Province, has a collection of temples and museums making it a great companion city to Xi’an as you explore the northwest reaches, and meander along Silk Road.

Contact Ker & Downey’s expert consultants for the perfect itinerary incorporating the authenticity and history of the northwest into your China adventure.