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Home China Tours Chengdu Tours 8-Day Chengdu Pandas, Sichuan Cuisine and Lhasa Tibetan culture Tour

8-Day Chengdu Pandas, Sichuan Cuisine and Lhasa Tibetan culture Tour

This tour is recommended for a first-time visitor who seeks a tour containing the most important features of Chengdu and Lhasa: Pandas, Sichuan cuisine, holy temples and picturesque landscape.


the giant panda Say hello to the giant pandas in the Panda Breeding and Research Center
Chengdu market Take up a food challenge at the city’s last farmers’ market
Sichuan cuisine cooking Step into an experienced chef's kitchen and cook real Sichuan cuisine together.
Lhasa temple Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims at the Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street
lake tamdrok Enjoy a picnic at picturesque Lake Yamdrok
Day 1Chengdu Arrival

Your private guide will meet and greet you at the arrival hall of the airport or at the train station's exit. A comfortable private car (non-smoking) with an experienced driver will transfer you directly to your hotel, where your guide will help you check-in.

Hotel options:
Tibet Hotel Chengdu
Minshan Lhasa Grand Hotel

Chengdu Landmark Square Chengdu Landmark Square

Day 2 Chengdu Pandas, Farmers’ Market and Cuisine

A Morning Date with the Pandas (2 Hours)

Visiting the city’s panda base can be a challenge as it is easily accessible and has various animals. We’ve designed a smart route to beat the crowds while matching the pandas’ active period as much as possible for you.

If you travel in late summer, you will have a chance to see baby pandas .

A Food Challenge in an Original Farmers’ Market (1½ Hours)

Chengdu was named as the first city of gastronomy in Asia by UNESCO, and the local delicacies are rooted in close-to-life market.

Try some snacks, such as pickled dishes, century eggs, Chinese rice wine, and so on.

Learn some local skills: how to bargain like a local and how to wrap Chengdu dumplings — learn this from the shopkeepers who can easily make 100 perfect dumplings in minutes.

Learn Sichuan Cuisine Recipes from a Local Chef (2½ Hours)

It is very hard to travel like an insider when you are surrounded by thousands of tourists in incredibly crowded tourist areas. Instead, a visit to a local chef’s home will be one of the best ways to get a taste of local life.

Unearth the secrets of Sichuan cuisine as you cook three typical Sichuan dishes with the chef and invent your own recipe. Try to play mahjong in the living room as well if you want to.

Learn to cook classic Sichuan cuisine Learn to cook classic Sichuan cuisine
Mother panda and its baby Mother panda and its baby
Day 3 Chengdu Teahouse, Theater Backstage and Landmark Square

Be Like a Chengduer in a Local Park (2½ Hours)

Chengdu is probably the laziest city among China's new first-tier cities.

There has always been a teahouse on every corner in the city. The daily ritual of stopping at a teahouse to meet friends and chat began in Chengdu at least 1,000 years ago. Take a seat and sip a cup of tea. Your guide will explain the etiquette to you of how to drink tea and the intentions you express when you put the lid, bowl, and tray in different places.

Square dancing is already a part of the locals’ lifestyle and the dance form nowadays is much more interesting and uniquely Chinese. Feel the good vibes and join in with line dancing, a waltz, or a little Chinese salsa if you want to.

You will also see some vibrant scenes that may only happen in Chengdu: desperate parents are posting messages in a marriage market looking for a partner for their unmarried offspring; a local man is enjoying a traditional teahouse strong>ear massage with a metal rod in his ear; Chengdunese are playing mahjong everywhere in summer — even in the river.

Relaxing Chengduer Relaxing Chengduer
Ear massage Ear massage

Go Behind the Scenes When You Venture Backstage at the Theater (1 Hour)

Chengdu is the main home of Sichuan opera. A lot of old fans visit the grassroots opera house that we recommend every day. After lunch, follow your guide for the chance to go backstage to see how the actors and actresses do their makeup and have a chat with them.

Enjoy a Panda Afternoon Tea and a Bird’s-Eye View of Tianfu Square (1½ Hours)

Chengdu was inhabited over 4,000 years ago and was once the center of the ancient Shu culture. It is a miracle that you can still trace its cultural features today in the city.

Tianfu Square is the geographical center and important landmark of Chengdu. From above, it looks like a huge tai chi pattern depicting yin and yang, and you can see the image of a flying sunbird in the center, which is the emblem of the city.

There is a strong link between the city’s historical functions and street names. Your guide will tell you the most featured and interesting city street names and the stories behind them.

Panda afternoon tea Panda afternoon tea
Visit the backstage Visit the backstage
Day 4Lhasa Arrival(elevation 3,650 m)

Your private driver and guide will be ready for you when you arrive in Lhasa. Sit back in a comfortable vehicle, leave the hassles to your guide, and enjoy a trouble-free transfer to your hotel.

Day 5Lhasa: Norbulingka, Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery

Visit the Summer Palace for the Dalai Lamas in Tibet(1½ Hours)

Enjoy an unhurried Western breakfast, such as bread, hot coffee, and salad. In the morning, you will visit Norbulingka, stroll in the park, and get used to the altitude.

Later, you will be driven for about 15 minutes to Drepung Monastery where you will climb the stairs up to the hill and visit the delicate temples. If you are lucky, you will hear the monks chanting together, which sounds just like singing.

Have lunch in a local restaurant and choose Tibetan food, Western food, or even spicy Sichuan food. Your tour guide will help you to order.

Monks debate at Sera Monastery (1 Hour)

In the afternoon, you'll watch monks debating over age-old scripts in a courtyard of Sera Monastery. When debating, the monks will do a lot of gesturing. Enjoy their 'dance” and guess what it means.

Norbulingka Norbulingka
Monks debate Monks debate
Day 6 Lhasa: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street

Visit the Most Holy Temple to Buddhists (2 Hours)

Visit the Jokhang Temple in the morning. You will find a lot of devoted pilgrims prostrating themselves near the front gate. The Jokhang Temple Square is also an interesting place. You can write down your wish and hang your prayer flags on the tall praying pillar.

Barkhor Streetstrong> is like a backstreet around the Jokhang Temple. Walk clockwise and join the local people's kora (circle for religion). There are many interesting shops in the street.

Visit the the Winter Palace for the Dalai Lamas (2 Hours)

The Potala Palace is built on a mountain and before entering the palace you will need to climb about 360 steps. This is your third day in Tibet so you should be ready to do it.

Once you get into the palace, you will be surprised by the exquisite wall paintings and glorious chambers. Listen carefully as your guide is going to explain a lot of Buddhist culture.

The Potala Palace The Potala Palace

Day 7 Yamdrok Lake (elevation 4,500 m)

After breakfast, drive for about 2 hours to reach the holy lake, Lake Yamdrok, it's one of the top four Buddhist holy lakes in Tibet.

If the weather permits, we will prepare a picnic by the lakeside and you will have sandwiches, vegetables, and fruit.

The lake is decorated by many islands and natural resources. As a major waterbird habitat in Tibet, it's also a great place to see hundreds of swans and gulls in summer.

Yamdrok Lake Yamdrok Lake
Lakeside pinic Lakeside pinic
Day 8Lhasa Departure

After breakfast, your private guide and driver will take you to the airport for your departure.

Trip Notes

1. Customizing the Tour — According to Your Needs

This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extending or shortening it to suit your price, interests, and schedule.

2. Tibet Travel Permit

You will need a Tibet Entry Permit. 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 your permit once you book a Tibetan tour with us.

In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.

3. Altitude Sickness

Before your trip, ask your doctor for any suggestions in relation to altitude sickness and take some medicine with you, just in case. The most popular altitude medicine among foreigners is Acetazolamide/Diamox. We recommend that during the first 2 days after arriving in Tibet, you should keep warm, avoid taking a bath, and refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol.

Drink plenty of water (more than 4 liters per day) before you go out and when you have reached a higher altitude, and eat lots of vegetables and carbohydrates. Slow down, even if you feel energetic. Moving slowly is the best way to avoid altitude sickness.

If you don't feel well after entering Tibet, go and see a doctor as soon as possible. There are doctors in major hotels in Lhasa, and you can call your tour guide for help at any time. We offer a free oxygen bag in the car.

4. General rules for visiting temples in Tibet:

Cameras are not allowed in the temples or in the debate field, but taking photos with a cell phone is acceptable.

When entering a temple, please take off your hat and sunglasses to show respect. Your shoulders should be covered and you should not wear shorts.

Walk clockwise when visiting Barkhor Street.

From USD1,659 p/p

based on 2 persons and 4-star hotel

Service Includes
  • 1-1 consultancy from an experienced travel expert
  • Private air-conditioned business car with big windows and ample space
  • English speaking local guide
  • Activities, hotels, and meals listed in the itinerary
  • 24/7 helpline for while you are traveling

Trip Advisor 559+ Excellent Reviews
We went to Chengdu on our way to Lhasa. I didn't expect much, but I was wrong. We were met at the airport by our super nice guide, Jenny Tong. She could not have been better. She took us to our hotel, made sure that we did not have any problems checking in and met us the next day to take us to see the pandas. She then, got us tickets to the opera and bought us food we had said we liked, on her. I can't say enough about China Highlights and its guides and organization. If you book with them, you won't regret it.
- Leticia E from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania