Tibet and Silk Road Adventures
13-Day China Orient Express Group Tour
*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.
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
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
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
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
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
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
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)
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)
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!
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.
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.
Beijing, Lhasa and Shanghai trip
I experienced a lot in a short time, all being perfectly arranged by advisor Liberman and excellently managed by tour guides Ethan in Beijing, Yushi in Lhasa and Kris in Shanghai. They all were very kind, patient, ready to answer any question, helpful with my needs. I really enjoyed the trip!more
Oct 2023, Michela T
An Unforgettable Tibetan Adventure - Qinghai Train Ride Y971
I recently embarked on an unforgettable journey to Tibet, a land steeped in mysticism and rich cultural heritage. My train trip on the famous scenic Qinghai route on train Y971 Lhasa played a significant role in making this trip an extraordinary experience.Upon my arrival in Lhasa via an overnight train, I was warmly welcomed by the guide assigned Tenzin Lhatse. He had waited for more than 3 hours as he was not informed there was a change in the train schedule. Nontheless, it did not dampen his warm attitude and the seamless transferfrom the train station to the hotel set a positive tone for my stay.The highlight of my stay was undoubtedly the visit to the iconic Potala Palace. The sheer grandeur and architectural brilliance of this historic site left me in awe. The guidance of my knowledgeable tour guide, who revealed the stories behind each shrine, enriched my experience. However, the strict visitor limits and rules underscored the importance of preserving this ancient marvel. The Old Barkhor Street Walking Tour was a journey through time. From Jokhang Temple to the bustling local market, each stop offered insights into Tibetan daily life and folk customs. The Pandatsang Compound's history and the cup of Tibetan sweet tea at Ani Tsangkhung Nunnery added unique flavors to the tour.Overall, my journey through Tibet was an incredible odyssey into a world of spirituality, culture, and natural beauty. I'm glad to have taken this step with my wife to challenge the train ride which was totally worthy of this lifetime.more
Sep 2023, GOH-family-tours
Fourteen (14) days of summer vacation in celebration of our 25th could not have been better spent, 12 days on the Tibetan plateau as arranged by China Highlights was really an experience of a lifetime. Altitude effects people differently. 2 full days in Xining provided a great introduction to the culture while the overnight train to Lhasa allowed for acclimation to the altitude to help assure our tine would be spent with minimal potential down time. Within Tibet, the experience was outstanding. Our guide, Tenzin Lhatse was the perfect companion for the entire trip providing an excellent understanding of the history and the culture while allowing for some day-to-day flexibility to keep the tourist volume relatively level. His 18 years of guide experience was definitely a benefit as the movement through the Potala Palace and all of the monasteries, temples, and natural landmarks was second nature. There was never a drive to just get through the process and instead there was always an ability to stop at a point of particular interest in order to receive a little more focus. The vast knowledge amassed over history combined with the unparalleled spirituality proved to establish the condition for an amazing experience; working through China Highlights for sure elevated everything to an incredibly high level. Much thanks to China Highlights with special mention to Tenzin. Rob & Tess McBeanmore
Aug 2023, Tess M
Great way to explore tibet
Amazing experience exploring Tibet with China Highlights Our guide was Manos! He is amazing! Great person so knowledgeable! He is patient and makes a great effort to accommodate the group needs I booked this with Maggie in china highlights and she was very helpful to accommodate my plansmore
Aug 2023, PrettoMauricio
Bucket list item achieved
In case you didn't know, ALL foreigners MUST be on an organized tour to visit Tibet. However, what was great about this China Highlights tour was that we were givenq the choice of what kind of hotel to stay in (3 or 4 stars), and though the days were planned, our tour guide gave us a lot of flexibility (on day seven he let us decide as group if we wanted to see another monastery... we had had our full by then!) and the evevings were always free. The culture, the scenery and the people of Tibet are almost indescribable, and I was moved so many times and in multiple places. That said, what really made my time traveling aacoss Tibet so fulfiling was our tour guide, E. Ten Zin. He dealt with seven different personalities with professional ease, communicated clearly what was happening at all times (there are multiple check points, so he needed to take our passports frequently), had an answer for every question and topic, and quickly learned what each of us liked and gave us more of that... I was quietly fascinated by some farmland, and E. Ten Zin took me aside, took my camera and said "you need a photo here". And when we arrived at Everest and she was hiding behind some clouds, he sat down, patted the ground beside him for us to join him and told us "just wait. You will see"... half an hour later, he was right, and Everest was spectacular. This was not my first time with China Highlights, and it won't be my last. Highly highly recommended.more
Aug 2023, Simon Shikongo
Albee Ning is a star!
Absolutely delighted with the service given by Albee Ning in planning my holiday this coming autumn. Nothing was too much trouble for her, and she has a lovely way of letting me know when my suggestions don’t work! I’m looking forward to making the trip and will DEFINITELY use Albee again for 2024!more
Aug 2023, Hilary Phillips
My trip to tibet was a great…
My trip to tibet was a great experience. The booking agent worked fast and was easy to communicate with. The guide was very knowledgeable about every aspect of Tibetan religion and doctrines. He is very fluent in 3 languages and made everything very accessible. The drive was kind enough to have me visit his family home for lunch. I enjoyed seeing all the monasteries and temples all over the Himalayasmore
Aug 2023, Jose Solares
Overall great experience
The tour guide, Kunchok, was very knowledgeable about the history of the monasteries and the statues found in all of them. The driver Tubden was kind enough to have me visit his family and have lunch with them so I could see traditional Tibetan lifestyle and culture. There are monasteries all throughout the mountains and everything looks beautiful. The statues and structures inside the palaces and monasteries are unlike anything you can see anywhere else.more
Jul 2023, Jose S
Great time, amazing sights, kind people
Breathtaking views, fascinating temples and palaces, amazing wildlife. Special thanks to Maggie at China Highlights, to Phurpu and Champa, and to all the Tibetan people who went out of their way to be so kind and helpful!more
Jul 2023, Arkansas Traveler
Amazing Lhasa Trip by China Highlights
Hi, I’m very satisfied with my China Highlight tour in Lhasa, Tibet. Our guide Kamshang was really nice to us. Although we’re all having difficulties adjusting with the thin air, but everything went smoothly on scheduled. She suggested an authentic Tibetan restaurant, and it was excellent. It was the first time we tried Yak Burger, and we loved it We visited Potala Palace, Norbulingka, Jokhang Temple, Drepung and Sera Monastery in only two days, and she managed the time perfectly. In addition to that, we still had our shopping time in Barkor Street, and she helped us bargaining and showing some very good Tibetan local shops.more
Jun 2023, Mila
Outstanding Travel Planning with Roger
Planning a trip to Lhasa has been made seamless with the help of our guide, Roger! His expertise, patience, and insightful suggestions have been invaluable in crafting the perfect itinerary. Roger has been diligent in addressing all our queries, making this planning phase a breeze. Highly recommend his services!more
Jun 2023, Weiyao Xiao
Revisiting Lhasa with Lhapka
17 years after our first visit, we came back to Lhasa with high expectations. We were keen to see how it had changed and adapted to the supersonic development of China. Our guide Lhapka sensed our wishes quickly and gave us a superb tour that included all the cultural highlights and explanations we were looking for. Thank you so much!more
Jun 2023, Marc D
Tibet - culture and nature
This time I decided to go on a small group trip to Tibet. All formalities were completed in due time, and the proposed route met my expectations. Immersing yourself in the Tibetan culture with local guide Phurbu was a real pleasure. The views of Mount Everest and Tibetan nature were breathtaking.more
May 2023, Joanna i Piotr Kuzebscy
No matter where we wish do go…
No matter where we wish do go, my lovley Alisa from China Global Highlights helps every type of travel. Not only find the trip that’s right for us, but also gets the best value every time. I appriciate so much your pofessional service. Looking forward our next trip to Tibet.more
Apr 2023, Lina
Lhasa Tibet Adventure
Coco helped us plan our ideal trip to recent trip Tibet. She was informative, patient, and helped us tailor the trip to our own needs. She made excellent suggestions and supported us with the permits, travel itinerary, and even flights. She is an incredible asset to the China Highlights Team! Our local guide Tenzin was also excellent and flexible with us each day. I was hit with some altitude sickness and Tenzin helped me get oxygen and medicine needed. He worked with us each day to help us eat local foods and recommended ideal times to visit sites to minimize wait times. We were able to see everything on our list and eat excellent food. Thank you Coco and Tenzin!more
Oct 2021, Samantha Jane
Spiritual connection brought me back to Potala
Potala Palace mesmerizes me with its charm since 1997 when I first laid eyes on a photograph hung onto a wall at a monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. From then on, I dreamt of visiting this place before I leave this world. The only thing that held me back choosing from my other favorite travel destinations that I travelled to in the past, is the fear of high altitude sickness and breathing difficulty. Once I step foot onto it, I felt a spiritual connection to this place. I climbed up to the top at the peak without any issue and gazed at Lhasa city from the top. It was a rare and wonderful experience.more
Jul 2020, paulinelyepohlinl
Lhasa - what a special place
Lhasa welcomed us with sunshine, but Sonem with an even brighter smile. It was a great pleasure to have him as guide - an exceedingly kind person. With his profound knowledge and experience, he gave us deep insights in the daily life of a Tibetan. The highlight of our stay was, of course, the visit of the Potala Palace, but we also wouldn’t have missed the discussion of the monks or the Yoghurt Festival. Thank you, Sonem, for the perfect organization.more
Sep 2019, S-T-Travelling
Top of the World!
From our welcome at the airport with the traditional Tibetan scarves to our departure 3 days later, out time in Lhasa was nothing short of fabulous! Our guide, Tenzin was exceptionally energetic, knowledgeable and friendly. He made sure our time was spent experiencing the many wonderful sites as well as learning about the history and culture of this exciting place. Potala palace is magnificent inside and out. Be sure to return to the nightly fountain show... the icing on the cake! The monasteries were very interesting and the location of many is breathtaking. We enjoyed Barkhor Street, especially at night when the lights create a serene atmosphere, a great contrast to the hustle and bustle during daylight. Outside the city, the drive to Yomdrok Lake is beautiful and the lake itself amazing. Stopping along the way to see the prayer flags flying in the wind left no doubt that you are in a special place. Thank you to China Highlights and their local partners, in particular our fabulous guide Tenzin for organizing and executing a most wonderful trip!more
Aug 2019, anaI39VU
Great time with the Best Guide Norbu
I can’t say enough good things about China Highlights as they organized everything for us - the visa, guide and itinerary. When I asked for changes to make sure we saw the debates (none on sundays) they made the change. When my daughter was suffering from altitude sickness itinerary was adjusted to give her more time to recover. We had a fantastic guide - Norbu. His background was as interesting as Lhasa. While all of the guides we have had so far have had good English command, some are harder to understand than others making it hard work at times. Norbu’s English is embarrassingly good (as I have no capability in any other languages and am dependent on others learning English). He was very kind to my daughter while she was struggling. I highly recommend you ask for him as he will add to the enjoyment of your tripmore
Jul 2019, 913WorldTraveler
LHASA - TIBET WITH KELSANG FROM CHINA HIGHLIGHTS
KELSANG was our Guide Tour in LHASA - TIBET. His English was great and he was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Since he picked us up from the airport till we left LHASA, KELSANG had always a smile, showed us his heart and soul and accommodate all our needs. We had a great time with KELSANG! All places mentioned above are unique and very special! Our experience in Tibet was stunning and we will not forget it for the rest of our lives! We will highly recommend KELSANG as your local guide tour in TIBET and ask for ALISA when contacting China Highlights as she will organize your tours as no one else will! Believe me!more
Jun 2019, Fabian D