One of the best options for traveling to Tibet is starting in the internationally renowned city of Honk Kong. With one of the world’s premier transport systems, and an immense amount of shops catering for every taste and desire imaginable, Hong Kong has it all and something for everyone. After Hong Kong you will move on to Chengdu, where you can see the amazing giant pandas in their nature reserve, and in Xining you can visit Qinghai Lake, the largest saltwater lake in China. The special train takes you across the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau using the Qingzang Railway, the first railway line into Tibet, and the highest railway in the world. And in Lhasa you will get to see the spectacular mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, as well as experiencing the unique Tibetan culture.
Itinerary Day by Day
Day 1: Arrive in Hong Kong
When you arrive in Hong Kong, our guide will meet you at the airport carrying a placard with your name. Once your luggage is collected, he will guide you to your hotel, where you can rest for the remainder of the day, or explore some of the sights around the hotel.
Stay overnight in Hong Kong.
Day 2: Hong Kong Tour: Aberdeen Harbor, Repulse Bay, Victoria Peak
The first part of the day will be spent at the Aberdeen Harbor floating community. This floating village is well known around the world, and is famed for its seafood restaurants. You can hire a sampan to explore the harbor area and take a stroll along the popular Aberdeen Promenade, which is like a little slice of seaside England in Asia.
After lunch you will be taken to Repulse Bay, where you can spend time on a beautiful tropical beach, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is also the site of one of the most expensive residential areas in Hong Kong, although it is not clear why the name changed from Chonghom Bay, which was the name originally given to the area in 1841.
Later, as the sun sets, you will visit Victoria Peak, the highest point of the island of Hong Kong. The tram can take you all the way to the top, but for the adventurous, you can take the hiking trail up. The views for the peak across Hong Kong harbor are absolutely stunning, especially at sunset.
Stay overnight in Hong Kong.
Day 3: Fly from Hong Kong to Chengdu and Visit Wide and Narrow Alley
In the morning you will take the flight to Chengdu, and on arrival you will be escorted to your hotel. After a nice local lunch, you will get to visit the Wide and Narrow Alley, where you can see the older houses of Chengdu’s downtown area. The alley is excellent for picking up locally made souvenirs, and has small tea shops where you can relax and taste the local snacks.
Stay overnight in Chengdu.
Day 4: Chengdu tour: Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center, Jin Li Street and Wuhou Shrine
Your second day in Chengdu will start with a visit to the unique Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. Catch the pandas at feeding time, when they are very active, and you may even get to see baby pandas, if there has been a recent litter of cubs. The center is the main hub of panda breeding and research in the world.
In the afternoon you will head back to downtown Chengdu, and will first visit Jin Li Street, a perfect replica of an old commercial center, in the style of the Qin, Han, and Three Kingdom dynasties. After a leisurely stroll along Jin Li Street, you can take in the famous Wuhou Shrine. The shrine tells the history of the renowned warriors of the Three Kingdoms, and is full of Chinese calligraphy and poetry.
Stay overnight in Chengdu.
Day 5: Fly from Chengdu to Xining
After the tours of Hong Kong and Chengdu, it is time to fly to Xining to get ready to take the train to Tibet. On arrival in Xining, our guide will transfer you to your hotel, where you can rest. Feel free to take in some of the sights of Xining, the gateway to Tibet.
At 2,275 meters above sea level, Xining is the ideal place to start acclimatizing to higher altitudes. While getting used to the increased elevation it is advised not to exert yourself too much, as this can bring on altitude sickness, even at the altitude of Xining. Rest, eat plenty of green vegetables and high energy foods; these are recommended when acclimatizing to a new altitude.
Stay overnight in Xining.
Day 6: Qinghai Lake Day Tour and overnight Train to Lhasa
Early in the morning you will take the short drive up to Qinghai Lake, the largest inland saltwater lake in China. The lake is the home to many different varieties of birds, and Bird Island, near the western shore of the lake, is a haven for both local and migratory species. The lake is elliptical in shape, and the crystal clear waters reflect the surrounding mountains and the clear blue sky. A great way to see the lake is from the deck of a boat, and 30-minute cruises are a popular attraction.
In the afternoon you will drive back to Xining, and will get to see the beautiful view of Riyue Mountain, known locally as “Sun and Moon Mountain”. Legend tells that it was on this mountain that Princess Wencheng lost a mirror called Sun and Moon, that allowed her to see her home in Xi’an, and the Datong River was born from her tears.
Later you will transfer to the Xining Railway Station, to begin the ride over the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Lhasa. Traveling along the most scenic railway in the world, you will experience sights that will leave you breathless, and cross a plateau with an average elevation of over 4,000 meters. Do not forget to check out the view as you go over the Tanggula Pass, the highest railway pass in the world at 5072 meters above sea level.
Tips: High Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can be avoided by resting and acclimatizing to the increased elevation. We recommend that you rest and eat plenty of high-protein foods and drink lots of water while you get used to the high altitude. It is also a good idea not to shower for the first two days to avoid catching a cold.
Stay overnight on the train.
Day 7: Enjoy Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Arrive in Lhasa
When you arrive in Lhasa in the mid-afternoon, our guide will greet you warmly with the phrase, "Tashi Delek", which means 'wish you all the best'. Your tour guide will meet you at the exit of the station, and a private car will transport you to your hotel to allow you to rest and acclimatize for the rest of the day.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 8: Lhasa Tour - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street
The following day your first stop will be the world famous Potala Palace, the winter palace of the Dalai Lama. Sitting atop Moburi (Red Hill), the palace looks down on the town of Lhasa from its 3,750-meter vantage point. The temple dates back to the 7th century, and houses artifacts and works of art from throughout Tibetan History. The palace also has the gilded burial stupas of the past Dalai Lamas, and below ground lies the ancient meditation cave of the 33rd King of Tibet.
After some lunch, you will head downtown to Jokhang Temple, the primary seat of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was built by the 33rd King of Tibet in 647AD, and is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest temple in Tibetan Buddhism. Inside sits the most precious object in the temple, a life-sized statue of Buddha Sakyamuni when he was just 12 years old. Adorned with many precious gems, this gilded statue is the most sacred object in Tibet.
Running around the temple is the famed Barkhor Street. As well as the route of the holy kora, or religious circumambulation, it is also the site of many sellers where you can buy authentic souvenirs from across the region. You can join the pilgrims on their clockwise walk around the temple.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 9: Lhasa Tour - Drepung and Sera monastery
The next morning you will leave early for a trip outside Lhasa, first to Drepung Monastery, one of the Great Three monasteries of the Gelugpa sect. Sitting at the foot of Gambo Utse, 5 kilometers outside Lhasa, it was founded by Jamyang Choge, one of the disciples of Tsong Khapa, in 1416. The Ganden Potrang, sited in the southwest corner of the monastery, was the former residence of the Dalai Lama, until the move to the Potala Palace.
In the afternoon you will travel back across the city to the northern suburbs, to visit Sera Monastery, another of the Great Three monasteries. Founded in 1419, the name, Sera, means "wild rose" in Tibetan, and was named because of the roses that were in bloom on the hill behind it when it was built. The main attraction of the monastery is the colorful and animated debating of the monks, held under the trees in the debating field every afternoon. Definitely something to watch, even if you do not understand what is said.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 10: Departure from Lhasa
On the last day of your tour, our guide will take you to the airport or train station, and help you with checking in and boarding.
- Tibet Travel Permit and all other necessary permit to Tibet
- Domestic train/flight tickets as indicated in the itinerary
- All lodging listed in the itinerary
- Meals listed in itinerary
- Entrance fees of all tourist sites listed in the itinerary
- Local Tour Transfers according to group size
- Excellent English-Speaking Tour Guide in China Tour and local Tibetan English-speaking guide in Tibet
- Government tax and travel agency service
- Chinese visa
- International flight to and out of China
- Domestic flight/train not listed in the itinerary
- Meals not specified the itinerary
- Tips and gratitude to tour guide and drive
- Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.
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