Top 10 China tours 2024/2025 for first visits and returns: embark on a lifetime experience. Learn more

18-Day Golden Triangle & Tibet by Train

Golden Triangle & Tibet by Train

We make it possible to combine a visit to Tibet with the Pandas and classic sights of the Three Great Cities: Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai on this multi-destination tour.


  • Overnight Train from Lanzhou to Lhasa
  • Climb the Great Wall for a breathtaking view
  • Magnificent underground Terracotta Army
  • Vast grasslands at Xiahe
  • Memorable tour of Tibet
  • Meet the lovely pandas in the Panda Breeding and Research Center
  • See breathtaking skyline on top of Shanghai World Financial Center

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 Beijing Arrival

On your arrival for your epic journey you will be met at the airport by your personal guide, who will take you to the hotel. If you need any advice, tips or help please just ask your guide. Our car and driver take care of your luggage and make sure you arrive more refreshed.

Day 2Beijing: Mutianyu Great Wall

Your first day starts as early or late as you desire, your guide will pick you up in a private vehicle and take you to the Mutianyu Great Wall section, the most popular section with overseas tourists. The drive is quite long but the views of countryside are charming, and your guide will use the time to tell you about the historical aspects, so you can just take it in when you get the top. A cable car ride is available, or you can take a chair lift. Hepingmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant has a great reputation for their take on this classic dish, we would have made a reservation and duck order for tonight.

Mutianyu Great Wall Mutianyu Great Wall
Day 3 Beijing: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Hall of Clocks and Watches, Temple of Heaven

The day is packed with the best Beijing has to offer, starting with the enormous Tiananmen Square, where human size seems to shrink next to the mausoleum of the venerable Mao. The Forbidden City continues to make dwarfs of men, astounding not only with its size, but the intricate decorations rich with symbolism. Your guide will tell you more. There is also the Hall of Clocks and Watches, an altogether more earthly collection of the last Emperors, beautifully displayed and set to chime together at certain times of the day.

The Temple of Heaven ends the eventful day, the afternoon sun peaking through the ancient pine trees and glistening on the white marble of the ceremonial walkways and gilded roofs of the temple buildings.

The Forbidden City The Forbidden City
Day 4Beijing: Hutong Tour, Flight to Xi'an

Before settling of to your next destination, Xi'an, you have time for a visit to a local family in the Hutong district. The rickshaw ride lets you take in the narrow alleyways in comfort, and stop to look at doorways and hear the stories of what the designs mean, unlocking knowledge of the first owner.

Front Door of a Courtyard House Front Door of a Courtyard House
Day 5Xi'an: Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Big Wild Goose Pagoda

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses guarded the emperor's tomb for two millennia before they were discovered, and there is still much to be unearthed in this burial complex. The warriors each have unique features and are exquisitely detailed; yet they are only clay. The riches yet to be found must be unparalleled.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda is an ancient symbol of Xi'an, made famous by centuries of pilgrims to the nearby Da Ci'en Temple.

Terra Cotta Army The Terracotta Army
Day 6Xi'an: Shaanxi History Museum, Ancient City Wall, Great Mosque

Shaanxi History Museum tells of the history in this ancient capital of the nation through beautifully displayed artifacts. Your guide will explain how different eras link together. The Ancient City Wall on the other hand emphasizes the strategic importance of this Silk Road destination through its size; it's more a road on top of a castle than a mere wall. A bike or rickshaw ride lets you see more in shorter time.

The Great Mosque is truly remarkable due to combining of Chinese architecture with Islamic tradition. The descendants of the merchants on Silk Road still worship here.

The Great Mosque The Great Mosque
Day 7Flight to Lanzhou

Transfer to the airport and take flight to Lanzhou, which takes about one hour. Upon arrival, meet your local guide and transfer to hotel for check-in.

Day 8Drive to Xiahe, Labrang Monastery, Songke Grassland

The visually stunning Yellow Hat Sect of the Tibetan Buddhism has its most important monastery in Xiahe, the Labrang Monastery. We will arrange an English speaking monk will show you around the halls and explain the stunning works of art housed here. The view of yaks roaming in the Songke Grassland amid green pastures is something to behold. In this area nomadic people still can be found singing their traditional songs, this is often one of the highlights of any visit to Tibet.

Labrang Monastery Labrang Monastery
Day 9Drive to Lanzhou, Overnight train to Lhasa

The day is spent getting from Xiahe to Lanzhou in a private car and then boarding an overnight train to Lhasa early evening. Your guide will see you settled in for the journey before saying goodbye.

Day 10Arrival to Lhasa

You will arrive in Lhasa late in the evening and can relax in the safe knowledge that you will be met at the station by a friendly guide who will take you straight to your hotel.

Day 11Lhasa: Norbulingka, Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery

Norbulingka was the summer palace of Dalai Lamas, and has largest garden in Tibet. Sera Monastery, founded in 1419, is one of the main monasteries and houses the 'daily debates', where novice monks learn doctrines. Drepung Monastery was founded around the same time and was he home to Dalai Lamas in ancient times. The famous Shonton Festival is held here.

Monks debate at Sera Monastery Monks debate at Sera Monastery
Day 12Lhasa: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street

Potala Palace is the defining feature of Lhasa; the red and white palaces create a formidable sight looming over the city. Jokhang Temple, although smaller, is just as impressive as the religious center of Tibetan Buddhism, and where visitors flock to light yak butter lamps. Barkhor Street surrounding the temple is not only a pilgrim path but a hub of activity, with shops and stalls selling all manner of goods. There is no better place to observe people from different areas of Tibet, all in their distinct clothing.

Jokhang Temple Jokhang Temple
Day 13Drive to Shigatse, Yomdrok Lake, Palgor Chorten

On the drive to Shigatse, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, you will pass Yomdrok Lake. It is a brilliantly blue alpine sanctuary, where thousands of swans stop each summer. The Palgor Chorten, also called Palcho Monastery, is a unique design among other monasteries, and has one of the most famous stupas, a religious structure built to house relics.

Yomdrok Lake Yomdrok Lake
Day 14Shigatse: Tashilunpo Monastery, Drive to Lhasa

Tashilunpo Monastery is historically and culturally significant because Panchen Lama, the second highest of Lamas, resides here, and a priceless gilded bronze Buddha statue resides here.

Tashilunpo Monastery Tashilunpo Monastery
Day 15Fly to Chengdu

Your guide will escort you to Lhasa airport for your flight to Chengdu, where you will have some free time after transfer your hotel.

Day 16Chengdu: Wu Hou Temple, Jinli Old Street, Panda Breeding Reserve

Wu Hou Temple has lovely gardens surrounding the delightful halls celebrating the memory of Zhu Geliang, an imperial grand councilor in ancient China. Jinli Old Street has been known since ancient times as a commercial hub and celebrates tradition with shops full of food and local delicacies. Visit to Panda Breeding and Research Center is the reason why many people come to Chengdu; these delightful creatures are sure to not disappoint.

Good to Know:

The Panda Breeding and Research Center has a donation program which allows you to take pictures holding a panda for about one minute by donating CNY 2,000 Yuan (for reference only). Only 20 tourists are allowed to hold pandas a day. If you want to hold a panda, please tell your travel advisor or tour guide in advance because you must book it at least one week in advance. This program is subject to the availability of pandas on that day. Please bring enough CNY cash as payment by credit card is not accepted there.

Giant Pandas Giant Pandas
Day 17Flight to Shanghai, Nanjing Road, The Bund

After your morning flight to Shanghai, your guise will take you to lunch, and then to explore two of the most famous roads: Nanjing Road and the Bund. The former is a shopper's paradise, the latter a living museum of the city's European influence. We recommend staying in the Bund to wait for dusk; the view is quite spectacular.

View from the Bund View from the Bund
Day 18Shanghai: Yuyuan Garden, Jade Buddha Temple, Yuyuan Market, Shanghai World Financial Center

Yuyuan Garden is a slice of Ming Dynasty elegance in the middle of metropolis. Once a private garden of a high ranking official, it is now a haven of green for ordinary people. Yuyuan Market in the surrounding streets celebrates the common hobby of people here: shopping. City God Temple is a Taoist complex, somehow very appropriately named. Jade Buddha Temple is named after two statues of Buddha, carved from rare single blocks of white jade adorned with precious stones, is extremely popular, and therefore a great place to people watch and observe customs. The Shanghai World Financial Center celebrates the success of modern Shanghai, and has a viewing deck at 474m above ground for fabulous views of the cityscape.

Jade Buddha Jade Buddha
Day 19Depart Shanghai

The grand exploration of China has come to an end, with scores of memories banked and memory cards full. Your guide will look after you until your safety at the correct airport check-in desk.

Trip Notes

1. Tailoring your tour

This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extend or shorten it to suit your price, interest and schedule. Feel free to tell us your requirements, and we are happy to help you arrange with our professional knowledge and experience.

2. Taking trains in China

Arrive at the correct train station at least 30 minutes before departure time. You are required to do a security check before entering the train station, and there's a 5-8 minute walk from ticket gate to the platform. There may be long stairs and slopes without escalator, so it is suggested that you pack light.

Bring some food and drinks for the ride, which come less in varieties and higher in prices on the train. Bring toilet tissues as it is not provided onboard.

Keep your train ticket in place. It might be checked again during the ride and at the exit of train station.

3. Traveling in Tibet

Besides a China visa, you will need to apply for Tibet Travel Permit to enter and tour Tibet. Working with approved Tibet tour operators, China Highlights is able to assist you to obtain all of the above documents if you book a Tibet tour with us.

Monasteries: Smoking is not allowed when visiting monasteries. Dress properly, not in shorts or sunglasses. Do not touch the heads of people with your hands. Do not try to debate with lamas about their lives and religions. Do not enter monasteries without permission.

Photography: Taking photos of Buddha statues is not allowed in most Tibetan monasteries. Ask for permission first before taking pictures of other people in the Barkhor areas. Sometimes they will ask you for money, but most of the time it is ok to give them a little gift.

FromUSD 4,850p/p Based on a private tour for 2 people. Price varies depending on program, travel date, number of people and chosen hotel

Price includes:

  • 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

Your 1:1 travel consultant will reply within 1 working day.

Number in your group

What's your hotel choice?

I am also available on:

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

Sign up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to receive exciting updates, exclusive promotions, and valuable travel tips from our team of experts.

Click to Sign up

Why China Highlights

Customize Your Tour

Customize Your Tour

  • Travel Advisors Rooted in China
  • Instant Response, No More Waits!
  • Direct Connections, Supreme Values
Maximize Your Flexibility

Maximize Your Flexibility

  • Your own personal guide and ride.
  • Explore at your own pace.
  • Unparalleled flexibility, impossible on a group tour.
Ensure Your Satisfaction

Ensure Your Satisfaction

  • The Top 20% nationwide guides at your service.
  • 20% more space on your group's transportation.
  • 24/7 emergency support.
Live Your China Story

Live Your China Story

  • Authentic local culture and lifestyles.
  • Understand the culture by living it.
  • Uncover fascinating histories and witness New China.
Rated 5 out of 5 | 98.8% Excellence
China Highlights International
Travel Service Co., LTD
Featured on
China Highlights was featured on these medias.

Address: Building 6, Chuangyi Business Park, 70 Qilidian Road, Guilin, Guangxi, 541004, China