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Grand Tour of China and Tibet

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Beijing to Lhasa on a stunning rail adventure

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2022 Tour code: CTG22

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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.