16 Days , 12 Cities
Nihao! Welcome to Beijing, China
Upon your arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by your guide, and transferred straight to the hotel. Your tour begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm in your hotel lobby where your guide will go over more details about your trip including meeting up with your guides in each city. After that, you will take an orientation walk followed by a Beijing Duck dinner.
Old & New Beijing
There will be a lot of walking today as well as using the subway to get around some of Beijing’s most famous sights. Tiananmen Square, one of the world’s largest public squares, is home to the Monument of the People’s Heroes and the Great hall of the People. From here enter the Forbidden City (built 1406-1420), the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for more than 500 years. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is listed by UNESCO as the most extensive collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
After the Forbidden City, we will stroll through the alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyards known as Hutong and experience the local lifestyle of Old Beijing.
Beijing Great Wall of China at Mutianyu
Travel about 2 hours out of Beijing to the Mutianyu Great Wall. This is one of the best-preserved and restored sections so it is easy to climb, but you can still appreciate the difficulty of its construction. Picnic lunch on the Wall is provided. Return to Beijing in the afternoon; you will have time for some free sightseeing or shopping before boarding the overnight train to Xian.
A Walking Tour of The Ancient City Wall
Arriving in Xi’an head to the hotel for breakfast. Start today with a walking tour of the ancient City Wall, the most significant and best-preserved wall extant in China stretching over 13 kilometers around Xian. Later, we will visit one of the best-preserved old residences in Xi’an, dating back 400 years. The courtyard was once home to seven generations of the Gao family –notable officials of the royal court and houses period furniture, pottery, porcelain, and paintings. Enjoy a performance of Chinese Shadow Puppets before meeting the artist behind the scene. If you are interested, try your hand at handling the puppets! Later, take a walk around the Muslim quarter, home to the Hui Muslim community for centuries. Stroll through these narrow streets dotted with small shops, halal butchers, sesame-oil factories, small mosques markets, and restaurants.
Discover The Terracotta Warriors
The Terracotta Warriors were buried for 2,000 years before being discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976. Three of the main pits, containing almost 2,000 of the 6,000+ warriors, archers, and chariots, are open to view. Each figure is individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, and even facial expressions – Highlights of Tibet stand in battle formation. After marveling at this incredible display we will lunch in a local village before returning to Xi’an city in mid-afternoon. The rest of the day is free for your own explorations.
Transfer with a Bullet Train to Xining
This morning catch a bullet train to Xining (around 4.5 hours). Xining is set on the northwest plateau of China, home to about 500,000 Chinese Muslims.
Upon arrival, we will head to the renowned Kumbum (Ta’er Si) Monastery, which is in a small town 30 km out of Xining. Kumbum, meaning “100,000 images,” is one of the six great Gelukpa Monasteries and was founded in the hometown of one of the most famous figures in the history of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism, Tsongkhapa. It is an enormous monastic university complex, and many great incarnate Lamas have studied here. You will view the stupas, Teaching Hall, as well as amazing butter sculptures – Highlights of Tibet.
Return to Xining in time to catch the overnight train to Lhasa (approximately 21.5 hours). Leaving Xining, the train climbs to cross the Changtang Plateau, and the sheer vastness of this landscape is not something you will quickly forget.
Across the Tibetan Plateau to Lhasa
Wake to find yourself well inside Tibet as you travel the world’s highest railway. The passes may be covered by snow at any time of year and in summer the lakes are surrounded by vast grasslands and are host to numerous bird species.
On arrival at Lhasa station, on the outskirts of the city, you are warmly welcomed with a1 white katak scarf (prayer scarf).
Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery
Drepung and Sera, both built on the lower slopes of the hills north of Lhasa. Drepung was founded by one of Tsongkhapa’s disciples in 1416 and once had up to 10,000 monks. The main assembly hall is incredible, and you will often have the chance to hear monks chanting here – Highlights of Tibet.
Nearby is Nechung, the temple of the Oracle, adviser to the Dalai Lamas, and powerful controller of Tibet’s destiny. In the afternoon, visit Sera where the monks practice lively philosophical debating in the afternoons (except Sundays).
Lhasa Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple
One of the most iconic structures ever built; the Potala Palace was the seat of the Tibetan government and winter residence of the successive Dalai Lamas. A visit is an awe-inspiring experience. Perched 130meters above the city, it is divided into two parts, the White Palace (secular) and the Red Palace (religious -home to chapels, shrines, and tombs of Dalai Lamas). Although you must stick with your guide whilst exploring, this in no way lessens the impact of seeing what is a true architectural wonder.
Later, visit the Jokhang; the spiritual heart and most sacred temple of Tibet which always attracts steady waves of pilgrims. Spend some time exploring this large World-Heritage listed site and learn of its rich history. According to legend, the temple was built over a lake after many failed attempts to build monasteries in other nearby locations. Feast your eyes on the golden Buddha which stands in the center. After the visit join the pilgrims walking around Barkhor Street (in a clockwise direction) considered a sacred kora by Tibetans. *Potala visit times are assigned when tickets are booked so may visit Jokhang first, Potala later depending on ticket time.
Khamba La, Yamdrok Tso, Karo La, Gyantse, Gyantse Dzong
Today we will drive to Gyantse. There will be many photos stops as this is a spectacular route. From the top of the Khamba-La (4750m) the views of the beautiful turquoise lake, Yamdrok Tso, are superb. Descent to skirt the lake before climbing again to the Karo-la (5045m) for a close-up view of the NojinGangzang glacier. Upon arrival, we will visit Pelkhor Choede Monastery, founded by the King of Gyantse in the C15th. It does not belong to a specific tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and whilst much reduced from its original size it remains a very active center. Within the complex stands Gyantse Kumbum (meaning 100,000 images), it is an eight-story structure containing a seemingly endless series of tiny chapels full of Buddhist images –Buddhas, demons, protectors, and saints.
We will also take a walk to the Dzong (fort) from where you will have fantastic views of the town and surrounding countryside.
A short drive through small villages to Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city. On the way, we shall visit a local family to glimpse their everyday Tibetan life.
Upon arrival, we will first visit the Tashilumpo Monastery, home to the Panchen Lamas. Tour the buildings, each with its own intricate decorations, legends, and religious imagery. After that, you can opt to do a “kora” around the monastery or visit the local market.
It is approximately 6 hours drive back to Lhasa, following the Yarlung Tsangpo River. The rest of the day is free for you for some shopping, join the locals in a teahouse, or follow pilgrims circuiting around the Barkhor.
Today is the end of our tour Highlight of Tibet.
The morning is free and includes a transfer to the airport for your departure.
Starting from $4,359 per person
Price per person in double occupancy
The rate is based on 4-star accommodation
Price excluding international flights
This trip is customizable for your private travel.
Request a quote for a trip fully customized to your preferences.
- Transportation by private/ public vehicle in each city
- Accommodations in hotels based on using the twin shared bedroom
- Meals: 11 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 3 dinners
- Entrance fees in each city
- One English-speaking local guide in each city
- On arrival and one departure transfer on a group basis
- Second-class fast train tickets: Xi’an-Xining,
- Overnight soft sleeper train ticket: Beijing -Xi’an, Xining-Lhasa
- Private vehicle: Lhasa-Gyantse, Gyantse-Shigatse, Shigatse-Lhasa
Sightseeing Highlights Included
- Visit Beijing;
- Explore Tiananmen Square
- the Forbidden City and Hutongs
- Great Wall of Chinaat Mutianyu
- Visit Xi’an;
- Xi’an City Wall
- Chinese Shadow Puppet Show
- Muslim Quarter
- Terracotta Warriors
- Visit Xining;
- Kumbum Monastery
- Visit Lhasa region Highlights of Tibet;
- Tibetan Plateau
- Visit Tibet
- Drepung Monastery
- Sera Monastery
- Lhasa Potala Palace
- Jokhang Temple
- Khamba La
- Yamdrok Tso
- Karo La
- Gyantse Dzong
- Small village of Shigatse
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