Unveil the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism and culture in Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyangze with stops in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai.
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Locked away in its mountain fortress of the Himalayas, Tibet (Xizang or ‘Western Treasure" in Chinese), has always exercised a unique hold on the imagination of the outside world intrigued by life on the “Roof of the World”.With its increased exposure to modernity and economic development, the magical Buddhist kingdom is more accessible than ever before for today’s travelers. Yet, Tibet still retains much of the mystery that entranced early adventurers to the region. The spiritual life of most Tibetans is still centered on a unique type of Buddhism. The Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, and Sera Monastery together house the sacred treasures of Lhasa, dating back centuries.
Day 1 Depart North AmericaFly to China from your nearest airport and via the best routing.
Day 2 Arrive BeijingArrive at Beijing Capital Airport, one of the largest and newest in the world. You are met by ACT service staff and transferred by vehicle to your hotel. Meet your fellow travelers at the Evening Reception and learn more about the upcoming activities.The Regent Beijing (Evening Reception)
Day 3 BeijingYour tour in Beijing starts in Tiananmen Square – the world’s largest. Visit the futuristic “Egg” National Performing Arts Center. Next, tour the Forbidden City, the magnificent imperial palaces of the Ming and Qing dynasties which were built almost 600 years ago. After lunch, take an excursion to the extraordinary Great Wall of China. The more rugged and scenic Mutianyu section exemplifies the Ming era’s defensive wall construction. Return to the hotel for relaxation. Enjoy a welcome banquet featuring Peking Duck this evening.The Regent Beijing (B-L-D)
Day 4 Beijing – XianAfter breakfast in the hotel, transfer to the airport and fly to Xian, an ancient capital of China. Upon arrival, visit the extraordinary 2,200-year-old Terracotta Warriors of China’s first Emperor, Qin Shihuang, discovered by local farmers in 1974. This archaeological site is a stunning exhibition of more than 7,000 ancient terracotta life-size statues of Qin soldiers, officers, horses, chariots and other artifacts. Tonight, enjoy a special Xi’an Cuisine Dinner in an elite local restaurant.Hilton Xi'an (B-L-D)
Day 5 Xian – LhasaThis morning, enjoy a tour of the massive ancient City Walls and the Big Goose Pagoda, which was first built in the Tang Dynasty and has since survived centuries of war and earthquakes. Transfer to the airport to board an early afternoon flight to Lhasa, capital of Tibet’s Autonomous Region. The scenery over the snowy mountains is simply breathtaking. Upon arrival at Gonggar Airport, you are met by your local Tibetan guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in and altitude acclimation. You are now on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Lhasa’s elevation is 3,650 meters (about 12,000 feet) above sea level. It takes some time for most people to adjust to the thin and dry air, so be sure to slow down, drink plenty of water, and avoid exertion. The St. Regis is the only five star hotel in Tibet.St. Regis Lhasa (B-L)
Day 6 LhasaBegin your sightseeing at the magnificent Jokhang Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This golden-roofed shrine is 1,300 years old. Its labyrinth of rooms contains a beautiful golden statue of Buddha Sakyamuni, the most venerated in Tibet. Many of the finest Tibetan arts are on display here illuminated by yak butter candles. Exiting the Jokhang, you emerge in the center of the fascinating Barkhor area, lined with the stalls of a big outdoor street market selling all manner of goods including saddles, thangka paintings, turquoise and silver jewelry, blankets, felt chuba robes, fur pelts, carpets, and tin utensils. Next, see the Sera Monastery, founded in 1419 by Sakya Yeshe, a prominent disciple of Tsongkhapa, founder of the Yellow Hat Sect (Gelupa) of Tibetan Buddhism. We may also witness some young monks practicing debating skills in the courtyard. A large portion of the Tibetan male population have devoted their lives to practicing as Buddhist monks. Enjoy a Tibetan Song and Dance Performance after dinner this evening.St. Regis Lhasa (B-L-D)
Day 7 LhasaToday, after breakfast we visit the monumental Potala Palace, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. An imposing white and ochre fortress with gilded roofs, Potala Palace has heralded the marvels of the holy city to travelers for over three centuries. Once the seat of Tibetan government and winter residence of the Dalai Lama, the great 13-story hilltop palace encloses over 1,000 rooms, private quarters as well as prayer halls, chapels and shrines where monks chant and devotees offer ceremonial scarves or yak butter lamps. When you reach the top level, the view of the city sprawling below is fantastic. Take an afternoon excursion to the extraordinary Drepung Monastery, which was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, a leading disciple of Tsongkhapa. Visit a Tibetan family in an old neighborhood and hear their life stories. Back to the hotel, the balance of the day is free for your own relaxation or exploration in the city.St. Regis Lhasa (B-L-D)
Day 8 Lhasa – ShigatseLeave Lhasa today and travel by vehicle with your guide to Shigatse. This journey goes through high mountain passes and along the beautiful shorelines of azure Yamdrok Tso Lake. You have the opportunity to visit several Tibetan villages on the way. Arrive at Gyangze in the afternoon and visit the historic Gyangze Dzong, the fortress where three hundred Tibetans put up a fierce fight against the invading British-Indian troops led by Major Francis Younghusband in 1904. All but three were killed in the futile struggle to keep out invaders. If time permits, also tour Gyangze Kumbum for its fine architecture and 15th century murals. Continue this long journey by high alpine road and arrive in Shigatse before dusk. Check in at your hotel and have dinner before relaxing in the evening.Shigatse Hotel (B-L-D)
Day 9 ShigatseShigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and is a popular destination for both pilgrims and tourists. This city is even higher than Lhasa, sitting at 3,850 meters (12,650 feet) in the Yalongzangbu valley. After breakfast, head west of the town to view the gleaming golden roofs of the magnificent Tashilunpo Monastery. The traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, it was founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup, Tsongkhapa’s nephew and disciple, who was later recognized as the first Dalai Lama. The monastery has some of the most fabulous chapels outside Lhasa. In the afternoon, visit a local carpet factory where exquisite Tibetan carpets are produced by hand. Tour the Samdrubse Dzong, an ancient fortress destroyed during the Cultural Revolution that has now been restored through private donations. Finish the day with a stroll in the town’s market and wander through the alleyways of the old section of the city before a local cuisine dinner.Shigatse Hotel (B-L-D)
Day 10 Shigatse – ShanghaiAfter breakfast, travel by vehicle towards Lhasa following the national highway winding through towering peaks and the tranquil valley scenery of the Yaluzangbu River. If time permits, we will visit a Tibetan village and its temples on the way. Arrive in Lhasa Gonggar Airport in the afternoon and fly back across the width of central China to Shanghai via Chengdu. Shanghai is China’s most cosmopolitan city. You will be met by your local tour guide and transfer to the exquisite Art Deco style Fairmont Peace hotel on the Bund. Dinner is on your own.Fairmont Peace Hotel (B-L)
Day 11 ShanghaiStart your exploration in Shanghai by visiting the exquisite Yuyuan Garden, old town market and the European Art-Deco architecture of the Bund. Look across the Huangpu River at several of the world's tallest buildings in the Pudong Economic District. After lunch, visit Shanghai Museum. Its galleries contain world-class collections of ancient Chinese art and artifacts dating back millennia. Enjoy free time for your own exploration. Tonight, enjoy a special Shanghai Cuisine farewell Dinner.Fairmont Peace Hotel (B-L-D)
Day 12 Return HomeEnjoy breakfast in your hotel. Transfer to the airport and board your homebound flight. Arrive in North America on the same day.
Beijing, Xian, Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyangze, Shanghai
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