Silk Road

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This article is an itinerary.

The Silk Road crosses Asia from China to Europe. It is not really a single road, rather a collection of related trade routes. One poem calls it "The Golden Road to Samarkand" [1].



Caravans have been traveling the Silk Road for over 2000 years, and Chinese silk was reaching Rome before the time of Christ.

Ideas also traveled this road. Both Islam and Buddhism reached China by this route and some Silk Road areas have important relics of those religions. Various ideas from the East also reached the Islamic countries and sometimes Europe.

Marco Polo followed this route, reaching China overland via Khotan and beginning his homeward journey with a ship on the Maritime Silk Road from Quanzhou to Iran.

Many travelers today follow all or part of this ancient path by train, bus and private car. Some Wikitravel itineraries partly follow the Silk Road.


This is not an easy route or one for the novice traveler. Consult a travel medicine specialist about vaccinations and about medicine to take along. See also Tips for travel in developing countries.

If you are doing the full route, bring phrasebooks for at least Chinese, Russian and Persian.

Note that parts of this route may be difficult or impassable in winter, and various borders may sometimes be closed for political reasons. Check country listings for details.

Get in

You could start a Silk Road journey from anywhere in Europe or China, but the obvious jumping-off spots are the two ends of the historic road, Xian and Istanbul.

To explore just the central part of the road in Central Asia, it would be easiest to fly into a city in that area with good air connections — Tashkent, Almaty or even Urumqi.


Xi'an to Dunhuang

The main caravan route from China to the West

Around the desert

The caravan route splits to go around the Taklimakan Desert

Northern Silk Route

Middle Silk Route

Southern (Jade) Silk Route

The routes rejoin at Kashgar in the extreme west of China.

After Kashgar

After Kashgar, the main route goes:

Other routes

There were also


The traditional inns of the area are called caravanserai. They are built around a walled courtyard and have stables for the horses and camels. Some still exist; anyone traveling this road should try to stay in them at least once.

Stay safe

The whole area is Muslim which implies at least:

Some of the people are still nomadic herdsmen, and even in the cities tribal loyalties may run strong, which implies at least:

That said, with a bit of common sense and goodwill and a lot of flexibility on the part of the traveler, the risks are moderate.

See individual country and city listings for more.

Template:Usableitinerary Wikipedia:Silk Road

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