An epic tour that takes you from the east of China to the Tibetan plateau and back, this 15-day adventure is a tour of China’s most historic cities. From the primary city of commerce in Asia, and the stunning sights of this amazing city’s famous skyline, to the Jade Buddha, you will explore the ancient and modern together, before heading off to the panda capital of China, to visit the cuddly giant pandas of ancient Chinese mythology.
In Lhasa, after the long train expedition, you will see the most sacred temples in the world, and the most iconic symbol of Tibet, the Potala Palace. In ancient Xi’an, the Terracotta Army of the First Emperor stand guard over his tomb, and the ancient wall still protects this former Imperial capital. In the modern-day capital of China, Beijing, you can get the best view of the Great Wall, from on top of it, and visit the ancient Imperial Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven.
- Explore the delights of Shanghai’s old and new facets, and see the world’s most famous skyline from inside the city.
- Visit the cuddliest animals on the planet at the Chengdu Panda centers.
- Go down into the bowels of the Potala, the impressive but spiritless citadel of the Dalai Lamas.
- Join the shuffling, murmuring pilgrims around the shrines of the Jokhang, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
- Stand alongside history’s oldest clay army at the site of the Tomb of the First Emperor of China.
- Climb up to the Great Wall and feel the history of Beijing’s Imperial Palaces and ancient Temples.
Day 1: Arrive in Shanghai
When international flight lands in Shanghai, please take a taxi by yourself to our reserved hotel. The rest of the day free for you to be on your own.
Stay overnight in Shanghai.
Day 2: Shanghai Day Tour: Shanghai Museum, Yu Garden and the Bund
In the morning, visit Shanghai Museum. It is a large museum exhibiting the ancient art while featuring bronze ware, chinaware, calligraphy and painting. Then, travel to the Yu Garden, which is a famous classic garden of south region. The beautiful scenery and quiet atmosphere here make it a peaceful place in bustling Shanghai.
In the afternoon, we will transfer you to the Bund area for a short cruise on the Huangpu River. Standing on the cruise ship, you will see many western-style buildings from Shanghai's colonial days in Puxi area. While on Pudong side, rows of skyscrapers will come into view. The utterly different buildings are the best records of the development of the city. You will explore the Bund area and then visit an old street in Shanghai.
Stay overnight in Shanghai.
Day 3: Shanghai to Suzhou via Tongli Water Town
Today, we will head to Tongli Water Town, which is an ancient town with over 1,000 years. It is a short drive of about 1.5 hours. There you can have a leisure walk in the town and visit the popular sites, such as Tuisi Yuan, Pearl Pagoda, Triple Bridge and so on.
After a short trip in Tongli, we will move on to Suzhou. Upon arrival, you will firstly visit the Lingering Garden, where you can enjoy a classical beauty of the traditional Chinese gardens in this region. Then you will visit No.1 Silk Factory to learn more about the silk making process.
Stay overnight in Suzhou.
Day 4: Suzhou to Hangzhou by High Speed Train
In the morning, you will take a high speed train to Hangzhou from Suzhou. You will first visit the famous West Lake, the landmark of Hangzhou city. You can enjoy a leisure cruise there to appreciate the natural beauty with the ancient pagodas, bridges and temples.
After that, you will visit Lingyin Temple. With about 1700 years' history, the old temple hidden in the forest creates a calm atmosphere for you. You can slow your step and experience the peace of Buddhism. Not far from Lingyin Temple is the Feilai Peak, from which you can see many ancient Buddhist carvings.
The last stop is Meijia Dock Dragon Well Tea Village, where you can enjoy a cup of Dragon Well Tea and learn more about Chinese tea culture and tea making process from the China National Tea Museum.
Stay overnight in Hangzhou.
Day 5: Fly from Hangzhou to Chengdu
Today, we will first visit the Six Harmonies Pagoda before taking the flight to Chengdu from Hangzhou. Standing at the side of Qiantang River, the Six Harmonies Pagoda was built in 970 in Song Dynasty, and it is a masterpiece of ancient Chinese architecture.
Upon arrival in Chengdu, you will be picked up and transferred to the reserved hotel. You can have a good rest at your hotel and explore this land of abundance as you like.
Stay overnight in Chengdu.
Day 6: Chengdu Day Tour
In the morning, you will have a special date with the adorable giant pandas in Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. You could also learn more about the life and habits of the national treasure of China.
Then, head to visit the Wenshu Temple, Renmin Park and Jinli Street. As the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu, Wenshu Temple is famous for its exquisite gardens and halls. Renmin Park is a beautiful city park often filled with locals, and you can enjoy a cup of tea to experience the slow life of Chengdu there. In the end of today, you will walk along the Jinli Old Street to fully appreciate Sichuan’s customs and folk arts.
Stay overnight in Chengdu.
Day 7: Fly from Chengdu to Lhasa
Take a morning flight to Lhasa, and upon arrival our guide will welcome you with a warm Tibetan style greeting and present you with Hada (traditional Tibetan scarves). Then you will be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city at the comfort of your own private vehicle.
For most of the way, you follow the Kyichu River, you could see Tibetan homes with their trapezoid shaped windows and fluttering prayer flags, and Tibetans walking beside the roads wearing their distinctive national costumes. One of the first buildings you could see as you enter the city is the Potala Palace, sitting majestically on a hill dominating Lhasa.
Stay at the hotel after arrival for adapting to the high attitude. It is helpful to take things easy for the first few days, and try to drink more water.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 8: Lhasa Day Tour to Visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
The tour will begin from UNESCO World Heritage site - Potala Palace, which is also the winter palace of Dalai Lama. It's situated at 12,139 feet above sea level. It's a 13-story high building that contains over 1,000 rooms, various statues, stupas, murals and artifacts. Then continue to Jokhang Temple, another UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a spiritual center for Buddhists in Tibet. Next to the temple there is Barkhor Street, filled with pilgrims and street vendors, selling traditional Tibetan items such as prayer wheels and jewelry.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 9: Lhasa Day Tour to Visit Two Important Monasteries in Lhasa, Sera & Drepung
In the morning, tourists are going to visit Drepung Monastery which was one of the “three greet” Gelug monasteries of Tibet and was founded in 1416. Ganden palace is used as Dalai Lama’s palace in the Drepung before moving to the Potala palace. In the afternoon, Sera Monastery---It was one of the “three great” Gelug monasteries of Tibet and was founded in 1419. The highlight is the Monks debate at around 3 - 5 in the afternoon.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 10: Flight from Lhasa to Xian
Today, you will head to take the flight to Xi’an from Lhasa. Your guide will transfer you to the airport. It will take about 3 hours to get to Xi’an by flight.
The local guide will pick you up upon your arrival, and then take you to the reserved hotel. The rest of the day is for you to have a good rest.
Stay overnight in Xi'an.
Day 11: Xian Day Tour: Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Ancient City Wall, Muslim Quarter
In the morning, you will visit the Museum of Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, a must-see when in Xi'an. Around 8,000 ancient, life-sized figures were created to accompany the first Emperor of China to the afterlife and were part of his mausoleum. Each figure has a unique facial structure and expression as if they had been made from living people. The warriors were buried with the Emperor in 208BC and were not discovered until 1974.
After the warriors, you will head over to the Ancient City Wall of Xi'an for a leisure bicycle tour. The wall around the inner part of the city was built in the 14th century and is 14km long. It is an amazing example of ancient defensive structures. Then you will travel to the Muslim Quarter, the largest area of Muslim business in the city. It is the perfect place to buy souvenirs of Xi'an and China, with a wide range of local snacks and handicrafts.
Stay overnight in Xi'an.
Day 12: Xian Day Tour: Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Shaanxi History Museum; High Speed Train to Beijing
In the morning, you will continue exploring this fascinating city of Xi’an. First, you will visit one of the most popular sites in Xi'an, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Built in 652, the pagoda is a repository of Buddhist figures and scriptures brought to Xi'an from India by, Xuanzang, the first abbot of Daci'en Temple.
Afterwards, you will head to Shanxi History Museum, where you can take in the glory and ancient history of China. The museum holds artifacts that date back as far as the Paleolithic era, up to the more recent Qing Dynasty. The museum is packed with thousands of exhibits from all periods of history, and is a busy, popular attraction.
Finally, the guide will take you to the railway station for your high-speed train to Beijing. On arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel.
Stay overnight in Beijing.
Day 13: Beijing Day Tour: Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace
Today is guided tour to Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace which are the traditional must-see places in Beijing. These attractions presentto the visitors an image of how the ancient Chinese emperors manage the country, what their family life is, how they spent leisure time, how they sacrifice gods.
Overnight in Beijing.
Day 14: Beijing Day Tour: Mutianyu Great Wall, Bird's Nest and Water Cube from Outside
The Great Wall tour proves that China was one of the strongest country in its history. Stretching thousands of kilometers, the Great Wall protected the ancient Chinese against the invasion of the enemy from its north side for more than 1000 years, the Great Wall was listed as one of the world's eight wonders. Mutianyu Great Wall, featured “graceful”, enjoy the best quality among all Wall sections, 80km north-east of Beijing with 22 ancient watchtowers, about one every kilometer. (Cable car is optional if you do not want to walk)
After that, you will be transferred back to the hotel in downtown area. On the way, you will witness the remarkable Bird's Nest and Water Cube from the outside. Both designed as the main stadiums of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, they now become the popular landmarks of Beijing.
Stay overnight in Beijing.
Day 15: Beijing Departure
Today, you will be transferred to Beijing International Airport for your flight home or next destination.
1.Tibet Entry Permit
2. Comfortable, clean and safe vehicle depending on your group size with reliable local driver;
3. Admission fees of tourist sites listed in the itinerary;
4. Professional English speaking tour guide;
5. Accommodations depend on your preference. Please tell us your preferred accommodation class when submitting the enquiry, and we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.
6.All measl listed in the itinerary;
7.Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance
What’s not included?
1. International flight to and out of China;
2. Chinese Visa
3. Domestic flight / train not listed in the itinerary (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inruiry form.)
4.Meals not specified in the itinerary;
5.Tips to driver and tour guide, Tip as you wish
6.Personal expenses, such as laundry, phone call, optional tour activities and so on.
1. Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Travel Permit is a must for Tibet tour. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for the permit after you book a Tibetan tour with us. Shortly after we get your permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau, we will inform you and mail it to your hotel in China via express.
In some extreme cases, our staff will hand it over to you at the airport or railway station. In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.
Tibet is never known for its 5-star luxury resorts, though you can find some like Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise, St.Regis Lhasa Resort, Sheraton hotel, etc in Lhasa. Overall, the accommodation facilities and services are not as good as those in coastal and central parts of China. However, from cheap and clean youth hotel, to distinct Tibetan style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotel, you will find one that suits your interest and pocket in Lhasa.
We’ve handpicked cozy and safe hotels in the central area of Lhasa, where you will find Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street are just steps away from you. You can easily experience more of the local life and culture. Normally, as you travel to remote areas in some parts of Shigatse like Tingri, or EBC, Ngari, Nagqu, etc. the accommodation would be much poorer. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel;others may only have electric blanket in the guesthouses. And the food is also very basic.
3.Guiding and Tipping
Our English-speaking guides are natives of Tibet with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. Most are trained to offer Western-standard service. Throughout your stay in Tibet, we will minor your health and provide prompt help to you. If you run into any trouble, please do not hesitate to reach them or our customer service manager.
Travelers’s tipping to Tibetan guide and driver is taken as an extra gratitude to their good service, just like what you do in the west. Normally, a tipping of 7 USD/day is acceptable. The basic rule is good service for good pay.
Admittedly, to many western tourists, using toilets in Tibet is the most dreadful experience. So, please down play your expectation. If you take Tibet train to Lhasa, both western toilet and squat toilet are available in the train. If you stay in hotel above 3-star hotels in Lhasa, Shigatse, etc. you will have no complaining using standard western flash toilet.
However, if you visit some of the attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso, EBC outdoor, mostly you will see the smelly and filthy pit toilet.It's better to carry enough toilet paper.
5. Tibet Weather
One of the biggest features of weather on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the dramatic temperature change between day and night. The annual temperature in Lhasa is -2℃-- 12℃(spring), 9℃-- 22℃(summer), 7℃-- 19℃(fall), -7℃-- 9℃(winter). Do wear clothes properly such as thermal tops, fleece jacket, breathable underwear, down jacket, jeans, beanie, etc.
Of course, sun screen, lip balm, sun glasses are essential to shield you from powerful blinding sunlight on the plateau. Do drink more water and eat more vegetable as you travel in Tibet. It can prevent you from dehydration.
6. Acclimatization to the High Altitude
For the first timer to Tibet, either by flight or train, a good rest is a must for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Never rush to tour the street or attractions on your own. Walk slower and do not exert yourself like running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa is a good way to get acclimatized before heading to Shigatse or Namtso. If you have any discomfort, do tell it to your guide,and he will help you out.
7. Other Dos and Don'ts
Normally, taking photos is forbidden in the monastery. If you want to take photos of Tibetan pilgrims, a gentle ask of permission would be appreciated or you can do it from a long distance. Swimming and fishing are not allowed in holy lakes in Tibet; Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics; International tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet according to the policy; Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street; Never venture into the unknown trails; do as much as you can to protect the fragile eco-system in Tibet, etc.
As Tibetan Buddhism is deeply-rooted in every facet of Tibetans' life, always follow and respect the unique customs in Tibet. If you are uncertain about something, it’s advisable to ask your guide before you do it at will.