Tibet Tour for Tibet Culture Beijing-Xi’an-Lhasa-Guilin-Yangshuo- Shanghai 13 days 12 nights Luxury tour package
- On this luxury tour, you will get the deluxe treatment, staying in the best hotels possible while also enjoying premier entertainment and dining. You will get to travel to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and home to the renowned Potala Palace (home of the Dali Lama), and Jokhnag Monastery, the holiest temple in Tibet.
- In addition to Lhasa you’ll experience two great cruises, the Li River and the Yangtze River. Your cruise on the Li River, an 83-kilometer-long waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo is like an artist's masterpiece, and the Yangtze River is the world’s third longest, and home to the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam.
- After touring Beijing, Xi'an, Lhasa, and the Li and Yangtze River, you will be taken to the largest city of China; Shanghai. Here you can see the New China resides. While driving through Shanghai, you will be taken to the old parts of Shanghai, visiting the Jade Buddha Temple, the Yuyuan Garden and Shanghai Museum. These are the historical sites of Shanghai before it became the fastest growing city of China.
(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Day 1 arrive in Beijing
Upon arrival at the Beijing airport, you will be me by your local English-speaking guide, and he/she will take you to your hotel, the Beijing International Hotel, a 5 star hotel located in downtown Beijing. If time permits, we can get started with some sightseeing, but if not, you are free to spend the night at your own leisure, and resting up for the days ahead.
Day 2 Beijing (B, L, D)
After breakfast in the hotel, we’ll make the short drive outside the city to the Great Wall at Badaling. Badaling was the first section of the Great Wall to be opened to the public in 1957, and is therefore the best known among visitors. Badaling was the site of U.S. President’s Richard Nixon’s visit to the Great Wall on his historic trip to China, and is a popular choice for celebrities, foreign dignitaries and leaders (U.S. President Obama visited Badaling in November of 2009). Badaling also offers incredible views of the wall winding and twisting along the hills. After a delicious lunch we will make the short journey by minibus to the Ming Tombs.
The Ming Tombs, about 50 km/31 miles from Beijing, are where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are buried. This site was carefully chosen for its feng shui principles by the third Ming emperor Yongle (who also moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing and began construction on the Forbidden City). The tomb we will visit, Dingling, is the tomb of the Wanli Emperor. It is the only one of the Ming Dynasty Tombs to have been excavated. It also remains the only imperial tomb to have been excavated since the founding of the People's Republic of China. After viewing the tombs, we will head to the “Shenlu”, or the Spirit Way. The Spirit Way leads into the complex, lined with statues of guardian animals and officials, with a front gate consisting of a three-arches, painted red, and called the "Great Red Gate". The Spirit Way, or Sacred Way, starts with a huge stone memorial archway lying at the front of the area. Constructed in 1540, during the Ming Dynasty, this archway is one of the biggest stone archways in China today.
For the evening you will enjoy a delectable dinner o Peking Duck, Beijing’s signature culinary dish. Then, for the evening’s entertainment, you will be able to watch Beijing Opera (sometimes known as Peking Opera). Beijing Opera of China is a national treasure with a history of 200 years. In the 55th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1790), the four big Huiban opera Troupes entered the capital and combined with Kunqu opera, Yiyang opera, Hanju opera and Luantan in Beijing's theoretical circle of the time. Over a period of more than half a century of combination and integration of various kinds of opera there evolved the present Beijing Opera. Beijing Opera is the most significant of all operas in China, and it has a richness of repertoire, great number of artists and audiences, that give it a profound influence in China and plays a large role in Chinese culture.
Day 3 Beijing (B, L, D)
After breakfast in the hotel we will head over to the center of Beijing, Tiananmen Square. The largest public square in the world, Tiananmen Square is seen as China’s political center. Its grounds have seen some turbulent moments, from the May 4th Movement of 1919 to the political turmoil of 1989. The south of the square is marked by the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, while the center of the square is dominated by the Monument to the People’s Heroes, an imposing 10-story granite obelisk. To the east is the National Museum of China, and to the west is the Great Hall of the People, home to China’s legislative bodies. The north of the square is dominated by the Gate of Heavenly Peace, known for its iconic portrait of Mao Zedong, and is the national emblem of China.
After walking across the street, we will enter what is perhaps the greatest attraction in China, the Forbidden City. After walking across the square we will enter the Forbidden City (known in Chinese as Gu Gong), the largest surviving palace complex and the former home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. The Forbidden City is one of the greatest attractions in the world. Built by the third Ming emperor between 1406-1422, the Forbidden City served as the official residence to the Emperor of China until the last emperor, Puyi, was forced to evacuate in 1924. The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Consisting of 980 buildings and with 8,707 bays of rooms, the Forbidden City is the best example of classical Chinese architecture in the world, and is a wonder to behold.
To continue our theme of imperial royalty, we’ll go from the Forbidden City to the royal family’s retreat from the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace. Being northwest of the city center, the Summer Palace has the largest royal park and being well preserved, the Summer Palace is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, UNESCO listed it as one of the World Heritage Sites. Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force of 1860 and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining.
Highlights not to be missed are climbing Longevity Hill, viewing the Empress Dowager Cixi’s extravagant Marble Boat, and talking a walk down Suzhou jie, a canal meant to resemble the beautiful river city of Suzhou.
Day 4 Beijing-Xian (B, L)
Following breakfast we’ll make the short drive to the Temple of Heaven park. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The Temple of Heaven park is best known for the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, an iconic building famed for its magnificent triple-gabled circular roof. You will also have an opportunity to walk the same imperial walkway that the same emperors walked hundreds of years ago in their holy rites. You will also see Beijing’s senior citizens using the park grounds for everything from tai chi and ballroom dancing to bullwhip practice!
Next you will have the chance to get on some of the legendary Beijing shopping with a visit to the silk Market at Xishuiyu Street. Xiushui Street is one of the famous clothing markets in Beijing. It attracts domestic and foreign tourists with varied styles, colors and materials as well as an inexpensive price. Remember to always haggle, as you can regularly get 50% off the asking price. If you need some help your guide is more than happy to help!
In the afternoon, you’ll be taken to the airport, and you will fly on to Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province in north-central China. Upon arrival you’ll be met at the airport by your local English-speaking guide. For your stay in Xian you will be lodging at the 5 star Sheraton Hotel.
Day 5 Xian (B, L, D)
Following breakfast you’ll then be taken to Xian’s greatest attractions, and one of the greatest sites in all of China, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum is the result of the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometers east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum. Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those days of pomp and vigor.
The museum is divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China's National Day, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back. No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, contains over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994. Archeologists came upon No. 3 Pit also in 1976. It is the command center of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.
Following our visit with the Terracotta Warriors, we’ll then step back to an even earlier time at the Banpo Neolithic Museum. Located in the eastern outskirts of Xi’an city, the Banpo Museum is the first prehistoric excavation site museum in China. Banpo (half slope) Village was a typical Neolithic Matriarchal community of the Yangshao (Respect Splendid) culture (5000-3000 BC) around 6000 years ago. The Yangshao culture was named after the first discovery of this civilization in Yangshao, Henan Province. About 400 sites of this type have been discovered around the Yellow River Basin, and the Banpo site is the largest one. The site was discovered in 1953 during the construction of a power plant. The excavation work lasted four years, and the Banpo site was first opened to the public in 1958. Since then, two million people have visited it.
For dinner, you’ll have a real treat in store for you in the form of the Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show. The Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show, a wonderful performance of the ancient music and dance, is a must when you visit Xian. The city, which was formerly known as Chang'an has a very long history, and was the imperial capital during 13 dynastic periods. Of these, the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) was the most prosperous and glorious of all.
The Tang Dynasty Music and Dance Show is an outstanding exponent of this ancient stable and prosperous society, keeping alive its splendid culture and providing an insight into the peaceful life style of the period. As an art form, the show has its roots in folk fetes, when dances were first performed by people as part of rituals of prayer for a good harvest or a better life. Combining poetry with the skilled playing of musical instruments, singing, dancing and also stunning costumes, the modern presentation is certain to give you an impressive view of ancient China including its splendid history, brilliant arts, distinct traditions and customs.
Day 6 Xian-Lhasa (B, L, D)
After breakfast we’ll make the short drive to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, a pagoda surrounded by a still functioning Buddhist temple (named Da Ci’en Temple). The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China. The Pagoda was built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) for the study of Buddhist scriptures. Although it has been attacked by centuries of weather, war and seismic activity, which destroyed most of the original material of the structure, a pagoda by this name and style still exists on the site. The Tang regime gave orders to build a chamber for the translation of Buddhist scriptures in an effort to have the then widely renowned Master Xuanzang agree to be the head of the temple. Xuanzang was a Buddhist monk who traveled to India, translated Sanskrit scriptures and developed theories of consciousness, karma and rebirth that were adopted by some later popular schools of Buddhism.
The hallowed pagoda is an architectural marvel. It was built with layers of bricks without any cement. The bracket style used in traditional Chinese architecture was also used in the construction of the pagoda. The seams between each layer of bricks and the " prisms' on each side of the pagoda are clearly visible. The grand body of the pagoda with its solemn appearance, simple style and high structure, is indeed a good example of Chinese traditional architecture.
Then you can unwind a bit by taking a leisurely stroll on the Xi’an City Wall. It's the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. Xi'an City Wall was erected in the 14th century Ming Dynasty, under the regime of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. When Zhu Yuanzhang captured Huizhou, long before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, he was admonished by a hermit named Zhu Sheng, who told him to "build high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor." If you like, you have the option of renting a bike or a rickshaw on the wall in order to cover more ground in a shorter time.
In the late afternoon, you’ll be driven to the Xian airport, where you’ll fly on to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Upon arrival you’ll be met at the airport by your local guide. During your stay in Lhasa your lodging will be at the 5 star Brahmaptura Grand Hotel, which is the best hotel in the city (and all of Tibet). We suggest that for your first night here that you take it easy in order to acclimate yourself to the sharp change in altitude. For dinner, an a la carte meal will be arranged for you by a famous local restaurant.
Day 7 Lhasa (B, L)
Today will be a full day of touring the best sights in Lhasa. After breakfast, we will go to the Potala Palace, which is the most renowned highlight of Lhasa. The world famous Potala Palace is located on Moburi (Red) Mountain, to the west of old Lhasa. It is a huge treasure house of materials and articles from Tibetan history, religion, culture and art. The palace is widely known for the precious sculptures, murals, scriptures, Buddha statues, murals, antiques, and religious jewelry housed within. They are of great cultural and artistic value. In 1994, the Potala Palace was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. It was originally built in the 640s, during the reign of King Songtsan Gampo of Tibet. The Potala has been a sacred place for hundreds of years. Thousands of pilgrims from Tibet, other parts of China and abroad come every year to pay homage. Their devotion is shown by the difficult journeys they have to make to reach “the City of the Gods".
Then we will head over to the Sera Monastery, the last of the three principal Gelupka, or Yellow Hat, Buddhist monasteries to be built in Lhasa. The Sera Monastery has been listed as one of the China's National Cultural Relics since 1982. Sera comprises a great sutra chanting hall, a college and 32 sections. It once housed nearly 10,000 monks, and is proud of its glorious history during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Sera means hailstone in Tibetan, and legend tells that it hailed during the foundation of this famous monastery.
In the afternoon we will get to visit Norbulingka, Tibet’s Summer Palace. Norbulingka was built in 1755 and became the place where the successors of the seventh Dalai Lama dealt with affairs, held celebrations, spent the hot season, rested and conducted religious activities. In mid-March every year, the Dalai Lama would move here from the Potala Palace, and stay until the end of October, when he would return to the Potala Palace. So, Norbulingka is called the Summer Palace and the Potala Palace the Winter Palace. The garden covers an area of 46 acres (19 hectares) and the palace has 370 rooms of different sizes. In the garden visitors can worship Buddha, relax and study the Tibetan-style palaces.
Day 8 Lhasa (B, L)
Following breakfast in the morning we will visit the Jokhnag Temple. Located in the center of old Lhasa city, Jokhang Monastery is the prime seat of the Gelugpa (Yellow) Branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It was originally built in 647 AD. It is said the site was chosen personally by the wife of King Songtsan Gampo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng. The princess perceived Wutang, a lake in Lhasa, to be a “devil’s heart”, a source of evil, and had it filled in and the temple built on the site to counteract evil forces. It was built by craftsmen from Tibet, China and Nepal and thus features different architectural styles. Jokhang means "House of Buddha". Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims.
A short walk from the Jokhang Temple is the Barkhor Bazaar. The Barkhor (pilgrims’ circuit) is found in the heart of Lhasa encircling the Jokhang Temple. It is the earliest remaining street in Lhasa. It bustles with activity and is always jam-packed with traders and hawkers. It is a "must" for souvenir-hunting tourists. Many people call the Barkhor "the window of Tibet" as it exhibits a typical Tibetan life. The old circumambulation circuit is always crowded with pilgrims from everywhere. Some are monks, and some are businessmen from Kham, a region encompassing East Tibet and part of Sichuan Province. Here you will find people from all over Tibet. You can experience different styles of dress and languages. Even the similar-looking clothes of the monks vary depending on the different branches of Buddhism they practice.
Following our walk through the Barkhor Bazaar we will pay a visit to the unusual and fascinating Tibetan Medicinal an Astrological Institute. The central herbal and traditional medicine centre in Tibet, the Institute treats around 500 patients/day (up to 1000 in winter). This is a fascinating introduction to Tibetan medicine, the ‘tree thangkas’ and traditions over 2000 years old that are still working today.
As you may know, Tibet has had an interesting and turbulent history. We will attempt to learn more about Tibet’s past at the Tibet Museum. An attractive modern building in Tibetan style, there’s a wonderful variety and quality of items on display here illustrating the rich history, traditions and customs of Tibet, both ancient and modern.
Next we’ll browse one of the signature products coming from Tibet, carpets, at the Lhasa Carpet Factory. The Lhasa Carpet Factory produces traditional Tibetan rugs that are exported worldwide through Guangzhou. Although the actual weaving and finishing is done by hand using old-style vertical looms, many of the stages of the process are now mechanized and the dyeing is not done at the factory. It is a modern factory; the largest manufacturer of rugs throughout Tibet employing some 300 workers. Traditionally Tibetan women were the weavers, men the spinners, but both work on the rugs today.
The factory has developed into the most productive in the Tibet Autonomous Region with an annual output of 30,000 miles of carpet. The rugs manufactured in Lhasa are typically smaller with bold designs and bright colors and a deep even, pile -about 60knots per square inch. Rug weaving is an ancient craft in Tibet but because it was not for sacred purposes it is not considered an art. As a result there are no rugs verifiable earlier than 1800.
Day 9 Tibet-Guilin (B, L, D)
Before you leave for your Li river cruise, you will have a rare treat, a visit to a local Tibetan family! You will be entertained with food, song, wine, and dancing. It is a matter of honor for Tibetans to make their guests visit enjoyable. When you enter the Tibetan family’s home you will be offered wine as a greeting. The food they offer is the same as their daily fare and features all of the staples found at every dinner table. There might even be the singing of traditional songs and dancing. You are encouraged to join in. Usually hesitant at first, those who do yield and join in the dancing end up having so much fun that they hate to see their visit end.
Afterwards you’ll be taken to the airport, where you’ll fly to Guilin, the capital of Guangxi province in southwestern China. You’ll be met by your English-speaking guide upon arrival, and you will stay at the 5 star Merryland Resort, which is located downtown.
Day 10 Guilin-Li River Cruise-Yangshuo-Guilin (B, L)
Today you will be cruising down one of the world’s most stunning rivers, the Li. Gorgeous karst peaks give you surprises at each bend of the limpid river under the blue sky. Water buffalo patrol the fields, peasants reap rice paddies, school kids and fisherman float by on bamboo rafts. With its breathtaking scenery and taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the scenery along the Li River become one of China's top tourist destinations. Some of the highlights you will see on your 7-8hour cruise will be Elephant Trunk Hill, a hill resembling an Elephant taking water from its trunk, Pagoda Hill, just a few minutes away from the Elephant Trunk Hill, Daxu Town, an ancient river town, and of course you will also see local fisherman and workers over their normal course of work. The cruise down the Li River offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the local population here.
Our cruise will terminate at Yangshuo, a lush and exotic county that is surrounded by mountains and a place that includes ethnic groups from all over Asia. In the afternoon we will rent bikes and ride onto the country roads, lanes, and tracks, through the paddy fields orchards that surround the misty mountains. You will also have the chance to visit the home of a local farmer, and from this you’ll learn about what local life is like in these parts.
In the evening we will make the drive back to Guilin, and you will again stay at the Merryland Resort Hotel.
Day 11 Guilin-Shanghai (B, L)
Before leaving for Shanghai you’ll get in a bit of sightseeing by visiting the Reed Flute Cave. The Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan) is a fascinating gallery of natural sculpture (limestone cave formations), now enhanced by multicolored lighting, which has been one of Guilin’s many interesting attractions for over 1200 years. It rates as one of the top four tourist sites in the city. The cave is about 240 meters long and a tour lasts about one hour. Along the u-shaped route, you will have ample time see the oddly shaped rocks and stone pillars while the guide narrates interesting stories about them. Illuminated by the colored lights, the cave looks like a dazzling underground palace. That’s why the cave is also known as the Nature’s Art Palace.
You’ll next be driven to the Guilin airport, where you will fly on to Shanghai. When you arrive you’ll be met by your guide, and you’ll be transferred to your hotel, the 5 star Grand Pacific Hotel.
fter a bit of relaxing at the hotel, your first stop on today’s touring will be the Bund, Shanghai’s most famous and recognizable landmark. The Bund is a waterfront embankment and has been regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It affords marvelous views across the river of the Pudong district and its numerous towers. The most famous and attractive sight which is at the west side of the Bund are the 52 various buildings of different architectural styles including Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Classicism and the Renaissance.
Across the river we’ll visit he Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the most distinctive landmark of the Shanghai skyline. From the top of the tower you can get marvelous views of the Bund and the east bank of Shanghai.
Day 12 Shanghai (B, L, D)
Following breakfast, we’ll start our day in Shanghai with a visit to the Jade Buddha Temple. The Jade Buddha Temple is one of the richest and most frequented Buddhist Temples in Shanghai. Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai is an active temple, with 70 resident monks at the last count. The 70 monks who live and work there can sometimes be seen worshiping. inside, the centerpiece is a 1.9-meter-high white jade Buddha, which was installed here after a monk brought it from Burma to Zhejiang Province in 1882. The seated Buddha, encrusted with jewels, is said to weigh about one thousand kilograms. A smaller, reclining Buddha from the same shipment lies on a redwood bed. In the large hall are three gold-plated Buddhas, and other halls house ferocious-looking deities. Artifacts abound, not all on display, and some 7,000 Buddhist sutras line the walls.
Afterward you’ll have a chance to stroll along Yuyuan Garden. Yuyuan Garden is a famed classical garden, and even though it may be small, it contains numerous pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters, and all have unique characteristics. There are six main scenic areas in the garden: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the Inner Garden. Each area features several scenic spots within its borders.
Following a Chinese lunch we’ll cap off our day of touring with a visit to the city premier museum, the Shanghai Museum. The Shanghai Museum is a world famous museum of ancient Chinese art and culture. The exterior design of the round dome and the square base symbolizes the ancient idea of a round heaven and a square land. The museum is divided into eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The eleven Galleries cover most of the major categories of Chinese art: Ancient Bronze, Ancient Ceramics, Paintings, Calligraphy, Ancient Sculpture, Ancient Jade, Coins, Ming and Qing Furniture, Seals, and Minority Nationalities. The museum is a wonderful primer on ancient Chinese culture, and is a must-see when coming to Shanghai.
In the evening in addition to a splendid dinner if Shanghai cuisine, you’ll be treated to a performance of Chinese acrobatics.
Day 13 depart Shanghai (B)
Following your breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport, and you will fly on to your next destination, ending your nearly two week sojourn through China.
Jessica Rivers, Edmonton, Alberta, CAN:
I have reached Xiamen in good order, although a little delay at the Shenzhen Airport. Today it is hard to get back to work after so many impressions.
I have enjoyed my trip to Tibet very much. There were very limited effects on me due to the altitude, none in Lhasa .The itinerary was fine. The visiting times to the sites was quiet enough due to the limited visitors in low season. You truly feel like walking around centuries ago. Although I completely understand, it was a pity that there were no possibilities to capture that feeling on camera inside the Jokhang Monastery and Potala Palace.
Of course the Li River was also very lovely, and Xian was another great way to experience Chinese history. Overall, it was a wonderful trip, as it let me see a good overview of the complete China.