Bicycles of the Ancient Silk Road and its Travelers

The Silk Road is a special term which describes the trade route between the Central Asia and China. From about 100 BC, a network of overland trade avenues developed to carry goods between Asia and Europe. The initial, most direct and most heavily used route China’s silk road economic belt had become known as the Silk Road, for the precious Chinese cloth was traded in abundantly on it. Throughout the Old, extending over 4, 000 miles, the street served as the primary gateway for contact between East and Western side. After the discovery of a sea route from Europe to Asia in the late 15th century, the land avenues were gradually abandoned in favor of ocean-borne trade.

The Silk Road extended through northwestern China and it was all deserts so people used camels to carry their goods. Today, the Ancient Silk Road left not only mysteries and memories but also so many things to see, feel and touch, such as the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, the wild desert Taklamakan, and ancient cities as Turpan, Kashgar and Khotan with a rich taste of cultural gifts of the Silk Road.


Fa-hsien was the first Chinese Buddhist pilgrim-traveller who traveled abroad to Nepal, The indian subcontinent, and Sri Lanka to accumulate Buddhist scriptures between 399 and 412; he was also a greatest vacationer and translator of the 5th century. At the age of sixty-five (AD 399), Fa-hsien practically walked from central China’s Chang’an (today’s Xian), across the Taklamakan desert (Xinjiang), over the Pamir Level of skill, and through The indian subcontinent down to the mouth of the Hoodly, in the local of Tamluk, The indian subcontinent. He visited as many of the Buddhist holy shrines as he could. From Tamluk he took a ship and returned by sea to China, going via Ceylon (Srilanka) and Sumatra, across the Indian Sea and the China Sea, and finally reaching Shandong, China, in AD 412.

Fa-hsien traveled through 29 countries in the fourteen-year journey. He was bringing with him what he went for — books of the Buddhist scriptures and images of Buddhist deities. Then he devoted the rest of his life to converting and editing the scriptures he previously collected. His journey is described in his work “Record of Buddhist Countries”, known as the “Travels of Fa-Hsien” today. It is a superb geographic account of his journey along the Silk Road s, and a comprehensive report of the history and customs of Central Asia and The indian subcontinent at the turn of the 6th century CE.

Marco Polo

Marco Polo, a Venetian investor and explorer who gained fame for his worldwide travels, was one of the first Westerners to visit the Silk Road to China, probably the most famous Westerner traveled on the Silk Road.

Polo, at the age of teen, along with his father Niccolò and his big brother Maffeo who traded in with the East, set out from Venice on their journey to the east. They passed through Armenia, Persia, and Afghanistan, over the Pamirs, and all along the Silk Road to China. The Polos spent the next teen years in China and traveled the whole of China. Marco became a confidant of Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty. He told Kublai Khan about the interesting stories and observations about the countries he traveled. Kublai Khan appreciated Marco so much that she sent Marco on many diplomatic quests throughout his empire.

In 1291 Kublai Khan grudgingly entrusted Marco regarding his last duty to a Mongol princess Kokachin to get married to to a Persian king, Arghun. The party traveled by sea. This terrible sea trip started from the the southern area of port city of Quanzhou, passed through the South China Sea to Sumatra and then to Persia, via Sri Lanka and The indian subcontinent, and finally docked at Hormuz. In 1293 the Polos reached the Ilkhanate, then moved to Trebizond on the Black Sea shoreline, by way of Constantinople, and sailed back to Venice in 1295. Chances are they settled in Venice where they became a sensation and attracted throngs of attendees who had difficulties assuming their reports of faraway China.

Marco Polo’s book, Il Milione, was reveal account of his travels in the then-unknown parts of China. His account of the wealth of Cathay (China), the might of the Mongol empire, and the exotic customs of The indian subcontinent and Photography equipment made his book the bestseller right after and translated into many Western european dialects and is known in English as the Travels of Marco Polo.

The trip also showed Europeans the value of the Silk Road in talking this travel; however, the use of the Silk Road actually declined markedly within about a hundred and fifty years after Marco Polo’s expedition, due to the opening of sea avenues from Europe to Asia in the late 15th century.


Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, vacationer, and translator who brought up the interaction between China and The indian subcontinent in the early Tang period.

He traveled across the Tarim container via the upper route, Turfan, Kucha, Tashkent, Samarkand, Bactria, then over the Hindu Kush to The indian subcontinent. He deceased the Tang capital Chang’an (Today’s Xian) in 627 and returned via the the southern area of route in 643.

Xuanzang became famous for his seventeen year overland trip to The indian subcontinent and back, which is recorded in more detail in his autobiography and a biography, and provided the inspiration for Journey to the Western side, an unbelievable novel well-known throughout China. He also contributed an exact and colorful account of those unfortunate countries along the Silk Road.

Click here for the portraits of the travelers as well as their travel route maps.

ChinaTouristMaps contains an extensive bunch of informative China maps, ranging from general reference maps to thematic and specific maps created for every purpose. Along with Useful information on travel, topography and climate of China, the maps are considered to be very useful guides for travelers visiting China.