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13-Day Tibet and Silk Road Adventures on the China Orient Express (Group Tour)

Tibet and Silk Road Adventures

13-Day China Orient Express Group Tour

Itinerary Details

*The Qinghai-Tibet railway:
The Qinghai-Tibet railway (at a total length of 1,956 kilometers) stretches from Xining in the east to Lhasa in the south, just like a huge dragon spanning the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Known as the "Sky Road", the Qinghai-Tibet railway is also a marvel in the history of human engineering and construction. A 960-kilometer section of the railway is more than 4,000 meters above sea level, and 550 kilometers has permafrost.
The highest elevation of the railway across the Tanggula Mountains is at 5,072 meters. It is a plateau railway with the world's highest elevation, longest distance with permafrost, and world-class difficulty.

*China Orient Express:
Let the world's unique train – China Orient Express (also known as the Shangri-La Express) – take you to the Silk Road, which dates back to over 1,000 years, so that you can explore the best attractions of the ancient Silk Road in 2019!
With its fabulous design and the intimate services offered on China Orient Express, as well as the various haunting sights along the Silk Road, we promise that you'll be dazzled.

Day 1 Arrive in Lhasa

Lhasa is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Upon arrival, you will be met by your guide who will present you with a Hada, a white scarf, which is the traditional Tibetan way to wish you good luck.

Then you will be transferred to your hotel to rest so you can acclimatize to the high altitude.

Inter Continental Lhasa Paradise or same class

Day 2 Explore the Holy City of Tibet
breakfast, lunch, dinner

Following breakfast, you will begin your exploration of the famous Potala Palace, perched on the northern side of Red Mountain. Throughout the ages, it had been the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas. Its name means 'sacred Buddhist site' in the Tibetan language.

This palace-like complex of buildings was first built in the 7th century AD by King Songtsen Gampo to mark his marriage to the Tang princess, Wencheng, as well as to house the Buddha images brought by Princess Wencheng and the Nepalese princess, Bhrikuti Devi.

The palace also houses priceless artifacts and artworks. Continue on to Jokhang Monastery, situated in the center of Lhasa. It was first built in 674 AD to celebrate the marriage of King Songtsen Gampo with Princess Wencheng and Princess Bhrikuti Devi, both devout Buddhists.

This monastery underwent expansion over the years and its four-level main hall now sports a gilded roof and has a blend of Han Chinese, Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian architectural styles.

Proceed to Barkhor Street in the old city, which offers you glimpses of the traditional Tibetan lifestyle.

Watch the people chant and circumambulate around Jokhang Monastery. In this circular street, there are also shops selling a wide variety of crafts, such as Tibetan knives, bangles, shoes, and more.

Inter Continental Lhasa Paradise or same class

Potala Palace Potala Palace
Jokhang Monastery Jokhang Monastery
Day 3 See the Breathtaking Scenery of Yamdrok Lake
breakfast, lunch, dinner

Following breakfast, you will depart for Shigatse. Along the way, you will pass Yamdrok Lake, whose name means 'swan lake'. It is wedged between two mountains, resembling a swan spanning its wings.

The crystal-clear lake, located over 4,000 meters above sea level, has an area of 638 square meters. It is the largest freshwater lake in Tibet, with a depth of up to 59 meters. Afterward, continue on to Shigatse.

Shigatse Hotel or same class

Yamzo Lake Yamzo Lake
Day 4 Discover the Largest Monastery of the Gelug Sect in Tibet
breakfast, lunch, dinner

In the morning, visit the famous Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, where you can see the largest, well-preserved statue of Jampa (the future Buddha) in the world. This monastery, whose beauty is on a par with that of the Potala Palace, is located 2 kilometers west of Shigatse.

It was founded by the first Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa, in 1447 AD. Its name means 'all fortune and happiness gather here'. The Main Chanting Hall houses the Panchen Lama's throne and several chapels, including a Sakyamuni chapel, Bodhisattva chapel, and Tara chapel.

Don't miss the tenth Panchen Lama's stupa. The tenth Panchen Lama was a highly respected Tibetan Buddhist leader. You will then head back to Lhasa.

On the way, you can enjoy scenic views of the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon and the Brahmaputra River, which is the longest and largest river in Tibet. You will stay overnight in Lhasa.

Inter Continental Lhasa Paradise or same class

Tashi Lhunpo monastery Tashi Lhunpo monastery
Monks are going for chanting Monks are going for chanting
Day 5 Enjoy the Scenic Journey on the World's Highest Railway
breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast, enjoy some free time until it is time to board the train on the world's highest railway. Begin the scenic train journey through the highest point in the world.

Along the way, you will pass magnificent sights. These include snowcapped mountains, such as Yuzhu Peak and the Kunlun Mountains, the Kekexili nature reserve, and the Tuotuo River, which is the source of the Yangtze River.

Other magnificent sights are the Fenghuo Mountain Tunnel, which is the world's highest mountain tunnel, Tanggula Railway Station, which is the world's highest railway station located at 5,072 meters above sea level, and the Qiangtang Grassland.

Over Night Train of Qingzhang (soft sleeper for 4 guests)

Scenery on the Tibet Plateau Scenery on the Tibet Plateau
Qinghai-Tibet Railway Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Day 6 Meet the Three Treasures of Ta'er Monastery
breakfast, lunch, dinner

Enjoy the fabulous scenery during your train trip. You will arrive at Xining Railway Station and visit Ta'er Monastery, the name of which means '10,000 Buddhas'. Its construction began in the Ming Dynasty during the Jiaqing period.

In 1560 AD, it was one of the six principal temples of the Tibetan Buddhist Yellow Hat sect. Don't miss its three treasures, which are of high artistic value.

Buttered figurines, sculpted from colored butter, are lively and realistic depictions of stories, nature, and humans, while colorful murals adorn the monastery's walls.

The third treasure is a collection of satin appliques in the shape of Buddha and subjects from nature, which are filled with cotton or wool and sewn onto large pieces of fabric.

Afterward, you will depart on the night train to Xining. Then you will be escorted to the hotel so that you can check in.

Sanwant Hotel Xining or same class (5 starts)

Ta'er Monastery Ta'er Monastery
Day 7 Visit the Oldest Irrigation Tool of the Yellow River
breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast, visit Zhongshan Bridge, also called the first bridge over the Yellow River.

In 1907, under the proposal of local officers in Lanzhou and Gansu and with the help of a German businessman, the Qing government began to build this first iron bridge over the upper reaches of the Yellow River.

All materials, even the rivets, were transported from Germany to China using ships, trains, carts, and any other means possible. The bridge was completed in 2 years and named 'Lanzhou Yellow River Iron Bridge'.

Next, you will be driven to Lanzhou to visit the Waterwheel Garden. Originating in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), the waterwheel is the oldest irrigation tool in the Yellow River area of Lanzhou. The Waterwheel Garden is a theme garden exhibiting the waterwheel culture.

There, you can appreciate how the waterwheel is driven by the flowing water all year round to collect water from the river or cofferdam.

At 4:30pm, you will take the China Orient Express train to Jiayuguan. Have a nice night on the train with wonderful evening and morning views of the local countryside.

China Orient Express

Waterwheel Garden Waterwheel Garden
Twin share cabin on China Orient Express Twin share cabin on China Orient Express
Day 8 Explore the Western End of the Great Wall
breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast, visit Jiayuguan (Jiayu Pass), which is the western end of the Great Wall that was built in the Ming Dynasty. It is known as 'the First and Greatest Pass Under Heaven', and is the best-preserved and most magnificent military fort in China.

Then you will be driven for 7 miles to visit the Overhanging Great Wall. It got its named due to hanging on a mountain ridge at an angle of 45 degrees and it resembles a huge dragon.

Holiday Plaza Hotel Jiayuguan or same class (5 stars)

Jiayuguan (Jiayu Pass) Jiayuguan (Jiayu Pass)
Day 9 Discover the Beautiful Desert Oasis
breakfast, lunch, dinner

After a pleasant breakfast, take this deluxe train to Dunhuang at 10am. We have arranged for Dunhuang experts and professors to introduce this exotic city in detail to you.

After arriving in Dunhuang, you will visit the beautiful Crescent Lake and the Singing Sand Mountains. Crescent Lake is an oasis in the Gobi Desert, surrounded by numerous sand dunes that reach a relative height of 250 meters (820 feet).

The Singing Sand (Mingsha) Mountains were named because of the sound created by the wind whipping off the dunes.

Dunhuang Hotel or same class (4 stars, the best local hotel)

Crescent Lake & Singing Sand Mountains Crescent Lake & Singing Sand Mountains
Day 10 Visit the World Cultural Heritage Site: the Mogao Caves
breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast, visit the world-famous Mogao Caves, an area that was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for having 1,600 years of accumulated cultural, architectural, and art treasures. There are 492 cave temples and 45,000 square meters of frescoes remaining there.

According to Tang Dynasty records, a monk had witnessed onsite a vision of 1,000 Buddhas under showers of golden rays. Thus inspired, he started construction of the caves and this work spanned across 10 dynasties. The Mogao Caves are commonly known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas.

At 5pm, you will begin your journey on the China Orient Express charter luxury train to Turpan.

China Orient Express

Statues in Mogao Grottoes Statues in Mogao Grottoes
Mogao Grottoes Mogao Grottoes
Day 11 Visit the 6,000-Year-Old City in the Hottest Place in China
breakfast, lunch, dinner

It's a day for sightseeing in Turpan! Visit the Karez Well System at 7am to witness the wisdom of the Uyghur people. The irrigation system is especially designed for its desert location.

If all of these underground channels are connected, the total length would reach more than 5,000 kilometers, so it is regarded as one of the three engineering miracles of ancient China, along with the Great Wall and the Jing-Hang Grand Canal.

Afterward, you will move on to the Flaming Mountains, well-known by Chinese people because of the legendary story Journey to the West. It is regarded as the hottest place in China.

Next, you will be driven to the ancient city of Jiaohe, an island-shaped plateau situated in Yarnaz Valley. It is the largest, oldest, and most well-preserved earth-structured city in the world, with a history of 2,000–2,300 years.

Grand Melia Xian or same class (5 stars)

Karez irrigation system Karez irrigation system
 Jiaohe Ancient City Jiaohe Ancient City
Day 12 Explore Heavenly Lake and a Graceful Prairie City
breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast, visit Heavenly Lake of Tianshan by way of a boat tour. The mountain lake is 1,980 meters above sea level and features picturesque scenery of snowcapped peaks.

It is very pleasurable to take a boat trip across Heavenly Lake, which is covered with a layer of magical color, and to hear many beautiful myths and legends. Then head for Urumqi and visit the Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar.

Grand Melia Xian or same class (5 stars)

 Heavenly Lake Heavenly Lake
Xinjiang International Bazaar Xinjiang International Bazaar
Day 13 Time to Say Goodbye to Your Unforgettable Silk Road Trip

It is time to say farewell to your memorable Silk Road trip and the unique China Orient Express. After a pleasant breakfast, enjoy some free time until it's time for your transfer to the airport for the flight back to your hometown or next destination. Bon voyage!

Trip Notes

1. This is a group tour, with about 25 travelers per group.

2. Prices are subject to change without any further notice.

3. Gratuities are not included. The current rate for all services is 150 USD per person.

4. Accommodation and tour itineraries are subject to change at any time due to circumstances beyond our control.

5. We reserve the right to distribute passengers who are sharing cabins.

6. Children under 11 years old will be credited the difference on hotel room costs.

Cancellation Policy

A non-refundable 10% deposit per person is required at the time of booking.

A cancelation received 45 days prior to the group departure will result in the forfeit of 25% of the land costs and the deposit.

A cancelation received from 44 to 30 days before the group departure will result in the forfeit of 90% of the land costs and the deposit.

A cancelation received within 30 days before the group departure (including "no shows") will result in the forfeit of 100% of the land costs and the deposit.

After the trip has commenced, we are unable to refund any amount for unused services due to your unwillingness/inability to participate, early departure, late arrival, or missed days on tours.

Tour Price

FromUS 3,299 p/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

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