Great Rail Journeys
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Grand Tour of China and Tibet

Beijing to Lhasa on a stunning rail adventure

From £ per person

Experience an epic journey across the 'Roof of the World' and explore the Himalayan Kingdom of Tibet, one of the most iconic nations in Asia. Start your holiday in Beijing, China's vibrant capital, before traversing varied and diverse landscapes, climbing to the magical city of Lhasa on board one of the most remarkable railways in the world.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights

What’s included

Day 1 - London to Beijing

Fly overnight from London Heathrow to Beijing, via Hong Kong.

Day 2 - Beijing

We arrive on Day 2 where you'll be met by an English-speaking guide before transferring to your hotel for the next three nights.

Day 3 - Tiananmen Square

We begin Day 3 with a visit to Tiananmen Square, the city's political heart, and home to Chairman Mao's Mausoleum. Next, we explore the mysteries of the Forbidden City, a labyrinthine complex of palaces from where the Imperial dynasties once ruled, then, after lunch, we continue to the incredible Summer Palace.

Day 4 - Great Wall of China

Day 4 takes us to one of the country's most famous attractions, the magnificent Great Wall of China. Stretching an astonishing 5,500 miles from Dadong all the way to Lop Lake, the wall was originally built as a defence against the steppe hordes of Eurasia. The Great Wall and its original foundations are over 2,300 years old and enjoy UNESCO World Heritage status. After a thrilling ascent by chair lift, we enjoy the chance to walk along one of the quieter sections of the wall, marvelling at the captivating mountain scenery and sweeping valleys below. Back in Beijing this evening, we drive past the marvellous Bird's Nest and Water Cube arenas, venues for the 2008 Olympic Games, on our way to a local restaurant where we get to sample Beijing's signature dish, Peking duck.

Day 5 - Xi’an

We make a visit to the Temple of Heaven this morning before boarding the high-speed train to Xi'an, a bustling megalopolis of different cultures that sits at the end of the once-famous Silk Road.

Day 6 - Terracotta Warriors

Day 6 takes us to the city's most renowned attraction, the Terracotta Warriors. One of the greatest archaeological finds of the modern era, this clay army is made up of over 8,000 soldiers, as well as horses and chariots, and was buried alongside the tomb of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang to protect him in the afterlife. Back in Xi'an this afternoon, we enjoy a private tour of the city, seeing the great city walls, the Grand Mosque, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and the local bazaar. This is followed by an authentic dumpling-making lesson and dumpling banquet.

Day 7 - Xining and across the ‘Roof of the World’ to Lhasa

Transferring to the airport for an early morning flight to Xining, we set out on a guided tour of the city on arrival. After lunch at a nearby hotel, we're transported to the station to join the overnight sleeper train to Lhasa. Travelling on the highest railway on earth, this pioneering route is a testament to the ingenuity of the engineers who designed it and features magnificent views of glaciers, mountains and Himalayan villages as we climb towards Tibet across the 'Roof of the World'.

Day 8 - To Lhasa

Waking to spectacular views on Day 8, our train crosses the Tangula Pass, home to long haired yaks, multicoloured prayer flags and frosted peaks, before beginning the descent into colourful Lhasa. After transferring to our hotel, the rest of your day is free.

Day 9 - The Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

We start our day at Lhasa's ancient Jokhang temple, made up of different chapels decorated in glorious colours and with ornate motifs. We also see the bustling Barkhour circuit, a fascinating rectangle of streets that form a pilgrim circuit around the temple. After lunch, we visit the Sera Monastery, a remarkable complex of delightful colleges and temples. As an educational institute, the monastery is responsible for teaching up to 3,000 monks from the ages of seven upwards.

Day 10 - Potala Palace

Our explorations continue on Day 10, with time at the dazzling Potala Palace, the former residence of the Dalai Lama. Featuring over 1,000 rooms, we ascend the distinctive zig-zagged stairs to discover the regal living quarters and meditation rooms before continuing to the Norbulingka Palace. A summer resort boasting the largest gardens in Tibet, soak in a cornucopia of colour as we admire the golden structures and blooming floral displays.

Days 11 - Gyantse

Leaving Lhasa, we travel by coach through the mountains to Gyantse. On the way, we stop at glorious Yamdrok Lake, said to be populated by powerful deities. Lying several hundred feet below the road, the tranquil waters are a brilliant shade of turquoise, contrasting with the sandy inlets that surround it. Later, we check into our hotel in Gyantse for the night.

Day 12 - Shigatse

On Day 12, we make our way to the striking Palkhor Chode Monastery. This famous gold-domed monastery complex has 108 chapels as well as one of the largest Kumbum towers in Tibet, the Kumbum Stupa. From Palkhor Chode, we continue by road to Shigatse and check into our hotel. Shigatse has an important role in Tibet's history, having, in the past, been the centre of Tibetan military and political power. Nowadays, it's a fine example of modern urban life, with vibrant streets and multi-hued flags on each corner. 

Day 13 - Shigatse and Chengdu

We get to know some of its grand landmarks on a sightseeing tour on Day 13, visiting the Tashilhunpo Monastery in the Old Town, founded by the first Dalai Lama, ahead of our flight to Chengdu.

Day 14 – Panda Research Institute

Today we come face to face with one of nature's most lovable animals - the giant panda. The Giant Panda Breeding Research Institute is home to more than 100 of these magnificent creatures, allowing us to see them at close range as they enjoy go about their everyday lives.

Day 15 - To London

On Day 15, we transfer to the airport for our flight back to London Heathrow, via Hong Kong.

Day 16 - London

We land in the UK on Day 16.

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.


Departure Dates

All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.

'Roof of the World' Railway
'Roof of the World' Railway

Opened in 2006, the 'Roof of the World Railway' is a masterpiece of modern engineering, connecting Xining, in mainland China, to Lhasa in Tibet, travelling at the highest elevation of any train globally. Whilst parts of the route were completed in 1984, the extension into Tibet was finished in 2005, and opened to the public the following year. Our journey passes over the Tibetan Plateau, a region which features permafrost that melts and refreezes as the seasons change, and which proved a challenging feat of engineering to overcome during the railway's construction.

Soft sleeper

For our overnight rail journey we use a "soft sleeper" service, the best available in the region, which offers a basic but reasonably comfortable and private overnight journey, although without the modern amenities you might expect on a European sleeper service. For daytime journeys, we travel in air-conditioned 'soft seat' class, which, whilst more basic than European trains, offers a fascinating insight into local life and local rail travel, as well as a superb way to see the stunning scenery in this part of the world.

Novotel Xinqiao, Beijing
Novotel Beijing Xinqiao

Located near the Beijing New World Centre in central Beijing is our hotel, the 4-Star Novotel Beijing Xingjao. This modern building has some excellent amenities, including a range of restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, a bar, a fitness centre, a beauty salon, and a massage centre that offers a range of different therapies. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and come with a flat-screen television, a hairdryer, an in-room safe, free Wi-Fi, and tea & coffee-making facilities.

Tibet Hotel, Chengdu
Tibet Hotel, Chengdu

The 4-Star Tibet Hotel Chengdu is conveniently situated five minutes from the nearest railway station. The hotel was built in 1988 and boasts more than 25 years of history, accommodating guests with 276 well designed and comfortable rooms this hotel has plenty to offer, attractive on the outside as it is within. The hotel has two restaurants, laundry facilities, sauna, fitness room and a beauty salon amongst other excellent facilities on offer. 

Gyantse Hotel, Gyantse
Gyantse Hotel, Gyantse

Celebrated as one of the best hotels in the area, the Gyantse Hotel is ideally placed in the southern half of the ancient town of Gyantse. The hotel boasts superb dining facilities, including three restaurants catering to Western, Chinese and Tibetan cuisine, as well as a bar and a coffee shop. There is also a shop on the premises, and both Western and traditional Tibetan-style rooms are on offer. All rooms are en-suite and have a telephone, cable television and a writing desk.

Four Points by Sheraton, Lhasa
Four Points by Sheraton, Lhasa

Attractive, modern and well-placed accurately describe the Four Points by Sheraton. It is located in the heart of Lhasa, with a host of authentic cultural attractions just ten minutes away. The hotel boasts a stylish interior, with comfortable, well-appointed rooms throughout the hotel. Facilities include an international restaurant, using only the freshest ingredients and recipes from around the world, as well as a cocktail bar. Every room is en-suite and well equipped with satellite television, telephone, desk, minibar, tea/coffee making facilities, safe and individual climate control.

Tashi Choeta Hotel, Shigatse
Tashi Choeta Hotel

Offering comfortable and modern accommodation among the stunning mountain views of Shigatse, the Tashi Choeta hotel is built taking traditional Tibetan architecture and style into account. Sat at the heart of Shigatse's business centre, the Tashi Choeta is an excellent base from which to venture out into the surrounding town. With 3 restaurants, various shops and a bar, there are a range of amenities here to help you relax, and each room has an en-suite bathroom and a television.

Grand Mercure Renmin Square, Xian
Grand Mercure Renmin Square, Xian

Set within the ancient walls of Xian, the 4-Star Superior Grand Mercure Renmin Square, Xian combines chic Chinese design with modern touches. Among the hotel's many facilities is a restaurant serving both Chinese and western cuisine, a bar and lounge, a fitness centre and a wellness centre offering massages. The rooms are air conditioned and come with a television, telephone, minibar, safe, Wi-Fi and tea & coffee making facilities. A laundry service is available at the hotel.


We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!

London Hotels
London hotels

Spending a night in London before your tour can make such a difference to the first day of your holiday - you can arrive in the capital in good time, relaxed and ready to join your Tour Manager the next morning. You may even want to take in a show on the West End, or dine in one of London's famous restaurants. Perhaps on your return to London, you would like to break your journey with an overnight stay before continuing home.

We are able to book a wide range of hotels in central London or, for our holidays beginning with a flight, at Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester Airport for the night before or after your holiday. The hotels listed below are some of the more popular hotels our customers book in Central London, others are available on request.

Hotel       Room Rate From Price 
The Ambassador Hotel      From £65 per person

Above prices are approximate, subject to availability, and per room per night based on two people sharing. If you require a quote for single occupancy at any of the hotels please contact us on 01904 734 805. 

UK rail connections
UK train tickets

Buying tickets for UK train services can be a tricky business - there are so many fares to choose from, each with different rules and restrictions. As you are connecting with an international departure, we strongly recommend that you book a fully flexible ticket to ensure that should the departure times for your holiday change, your rail ticket can allow for these changes.

We can book fully-flexible UK rail tickets from your local station to join your holiday whether this be a European holiday from St Pancras or a UK holiday. The prices are competitive and tickets are not restricted to a particular train or time of day, and in most cases offer you a free choice of routes.

For an up to date quote from your local station, please ask one of our Tour Advisors.

This page was printed from on 18 May 2022.
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