Tibet and South Western China

Destinations: Chengdu, China, Dali, Kunming, Lijiang, Tibet

Trip Duration: 16

Max Group Size: 5

Minimum Age: 18

Tibet and South Western China Itinerary

Day 1-2: Travel from the USA to Chengdu
Depart the USA on your international flight to China. Cross the international date line and arrive in Chengdu the following day. Pass through customs and meet your local guide at the airport greeting area. Transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Accommodations: Fraser Suites
Meals Included: Meals Aloft

Day 3: Chengdu
This morning, visit Chengdu Panda Breeding Center beautifully landscaped with lush plants and lakes. Meet with 20 some pandas and their caregivers. The highlight is to see the panda cubs at the kindergarten where they play with each other, climbing up and down trees, rolling, pushing and kicking like Kungfu masters. Also, visit the Small Red Panda Center with 40 small pandas in residence who roam freely.

In the afternoon wander the People’s Park where throngs of locals gather to practice Taiji, fly kites, or do synchronized dance. See the lovely Bonsai Garden in the park with beautiful tropical and native plants grown for decades in large ceramic pots.

Visit Kuanzhaixianzi, a traditional district with restored courtyard houses from Qing dynasty. Lining the old alleyway, beautiful teahouses, art galleries, bookstores, boutique shops, and restaurants make this area a popular destination for locals.

For dinner, enjoy Sichuan hotpot at Tanyutou Hotpot Restaurant on the old market street. Afterwards, enjoy an entertaining and beautiful Sichuan opera performance.

Accommodations:  Fraser Suites
Meals Included: B,L,D


Day 4: Chengdu
In the morning drive to Dujiangyan Panda Preserve (about 2 hours). Operated by Wolong Panda Preserve, this is the only place in China that allows panda volunteer work. Volunteers can spend a morning working side by side with the panda caretakers. Cleaning the panda enclosures, preparing panda cakes, and feeding the pandas. At 11:00am, people can take photos with a panda. We will send you the application and health exam forms for your checkup and doctor’s signature required by the center.

In the afternoon, visit the Wuhou Temple and Jinli Cutural Street. Wander the surrounding area, immersing in traditional shops and local activities. Drop by a teahouse, enter a traditional Chinese medicine shop, and watch locals playing mahjongg on the streets and eating Sichuan snacks. Evening is at leisure with dinner on own.

Accommodations: Fraser Suites 
Meals Included: B,L

Day 5: Lhasa
Please note, Lhasa is at an elevation of 11,995 feet and passengers can experience altitude sickness. Asia Sublime recommends consulting with your physician to see if you are healthy enough to travel to Tibet.

Today fly (about 2 hours) to Gongga Airport in Tibet. Upon arrival, meet your Tibetan guide and transfer to Lhasa.

After adjusting to the altitude, enjoy an optional walk around Barkhor Street, the marketplace of old Lhasa is still amazingly evocative of old Tibet. The Barkhor is a pilgrim circuit where hundreds of pilgrims on any given day make their ritual circumambulations. It is also a thriving market; and traditional stone-block architecture forms the backdrop for the sale of prayer flags, prayer wheels, thanghas paintings, classic sutras, jewelry, & Tibetan knives.

Accommodations: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Meals Included: B,L,D


Day 6: Lhasa
A full day of sightseeing includes the Potala Palace, once the seat of government and the winter residence of the Dalai Lama. It remains today the abiding symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. The complex includes the White and Red Palaces, situated in the center of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3700m. It rises over 13 stories and has thousands of rooms.

Take a short drive to Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s former summer residence. Constructed in the 18th century, it is a masterpiece of Tibetan architecture and contains several palaces and chapels.

Visit Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s holiest shrine, filled with altars, halls, and galleries. The finest Tibetan art treasures are found here, though some originals were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.

Accommodations: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa 
Included Meals: B,L,D

Day 7: Lhasa
In the morning visit Drepung Monastery, the largest monastic complex in Tibet. Located at the foot of Mount Gephel, the monastery is home to approximately 300 monks.

After lunch tour Sera Monastery, one of the three great monasteries of the Gelugpa sect and founded in 1416 by a disciple of Tsongkhapa. The great ceremonial hall holds thousands of Tibetan sutras in cubicles along the wall. In the afternoon, hundreds of monks continue to practice the Buddhist dharma, including historic debating rituals.

Later in the day, stop by and visit with a local Tibetan family.

Accommodations: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Meals Included: B,L,D


Day 8: Lijiang
In the morning, depart for the Lhasa airport. Fly to Lijiang (about 2 hours), meet your guides and transfer to your hotel.

This afternoon, visit the 1,000 years old Dayan Old Town. The Naxi minority people still inhabit this ancient town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander the old pebble stone alleyways, stone bridges, traditional style courtyard homes and boutique shops, bars, cafés and restaurants.

Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant featuring Lijiang cuisine.

Accommodations: Inter-Continental Lijiang Hotel 
Meals Included: D

Day 9: Lijiang
Take a cable car up to the magnificent Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. This small cluster of mountains has only been summited once by an American expedition and offers breathtaking views of the valley below. Once on the summit, wander the Yak Meadows where local Tibetans still roam their yaks, sheep, and goats.

Enjoy a minority show “Impression Lijiang Snow Mountain,” performed in the outdoor theatre with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as the backdrop. The show was directed by Zhang Yimou who orchestrated the 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony.

In the afternoon, visit the Baisha Murals. Created during the Ming dynasty, these murals once numbering in the hundreds have eroded over time to only fifty-five in total. The figures reflect different religious cultures and artistic forms of Buddhism, Lamaism, Daoism, and the Naxi Dongba religion.

Tour Yuhu Village, a traditional Naxi township whose buildings are comprised of “monkey head stone,” a unique mixture of rock and mud that blends in naturally with the mountain landscape. See Dr. Joseph Rock’s former residence. Dr. Rock was an Austrian-American explorer, geographer, linguist, and botanist who was one of the first outsiders to record the history and language of the Naxi people. His former residence stands both as a memorial to his work and as the current headquarters of the US National Geographic Academy. Visit a local family and enjoy a cup of Yunnan’s famous Pu’er tea.

After dinner, enjoy a traditional Naxi music performance by the local musicians.

Accommodations: Inter-Continental Lijiang Hotel
Meals Included: B,L,D


Day 10: Lijiang
This morning, visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge. With a maximum depth of 12,434 feet, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most spectacular river canyons in the world and is known as the “Grand Canyon” of China.

After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Tibetan Zhiyun Monastery. Located by the mirrored lake Lashi. Zhiyun is one of five famous temples in Lijiang. Built during the Qing dynasty, this temple is known for its numerous pillars creating a hall almost 40 feet in height.

The evening is open for you to explore at your leisure and dinner is on your own.

Accommodations: Inter-Continental Lijiang Hotel
Meals Included: B,L


Day 11: Lijiang-Dali
In the morning, drive to Shaxi Ancient Town (2 hours). Nestled deep in the Himalayan foothills, halfway from Lijiang to Dali, Shaxi is home to a beautifully preserved traditional way of life that offers a glimpse into a forgotten era. Here lies the tranquil Shaxi valley, a sun drenched, fertile plain that follows the gentle Heihui River, a lesser known branch of the Mekong. There is no pollution, airports, or traffic jams, but instead you will find quiet cobbled streets, spectacular local architecture, and impressive courtyard homes. Shaxi has been protected from mass tourism due to its remote location.

Continue your travels to Dali, upon arrival, meet your local guide and transfer to your hotel. Dinner is at the hotel.

Accommodations: Linden Center 
Meals Included: B,L


Day 12: Dali
This morning, take a guided Market Tour of Xizhou Village to purchase fresh local ingredients for an afternoon cooking class. Visit with a local merchant and rice pancake workshop. Meet with villagers and farmers. An oral historian (village elder) may be available to pass along the rich history of this area.

Take a horse cart to Erhai Lake. Shaped like an ear, the lake’s Chinese name means “ear-shaped sea.”

After lunch take a short rest before going out for a nice walking tour of Xizhou Village. Return to the Center to take part in a private Three-Course Tea Ceremony.

Later this afternoon, participate in a cooking class and learn how to cook local dishes using the ingredients purchased at the market earlier in the day.  Enjoy dinner with your own home-cooked dishes!

In the evening, take an optional class on how to play Chinese Mahjong.

Accommodations: Linden Center 
Meals Included: B,L,D


Day 13: Dali
This morning, take a guided Biking Tour to the local villages and temples, including a visit with a local farmer’s family.

In the afternoon, visit the Three Pagodas located at the foot of Mt. Cangshan facing Erhai Lake. As its name implies, the Three Pagodas are made of three ancient independent pagodas forming a symmetrical triangle. A new, grand Buddhist Temple compound with beautiful architecture was recently built behind the Pagodas.

Visit Dali Old Town, established in 1382AD as the capital of the Dali Kingdom, with old city walls and gates still standing. Dali residents are primarily the Bai minority people with colorful traditional garb. Walk the lively market streets and visit the Dali Museum.

This evening, join the locals in the village for traditional Bai style dancing.

Accommodations: Linden Center 
Meals Included: B,L,D


Day 14: Dali-Kunming
In the morning, depart for the Dali airport. Fly to Kunming (about 1 hour). Meet your local guides and transfer to your hotel.

After you are settled, take a private motor coach to visit the Stone Forest. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features a cluster of tall limestone stalagmites, which appear as a great forest of trees made of rock.

Visit the Dounan Flower Market. As the largest flower producer in China, Kunming sells millions of flowers daily and the Dounan Flower Market contains over 500 florist shops with local and exotic specimen.

Tonight, enjoy a group dinner featuring Yunnan cuisine

Accommodations: Green Lake Hotel Kunming
Meals Included: B,D


Day 15: Chengdu
In the morning, fly from Kunming to Chengdu (approximately 1.5 hours). Meet your local guide and transfer to your hotel. The rest of this day is at leisure.

Accommodations: Fraser Suites
Meals Included: B


Day 16: Chengdu-USA
Travel to the airport in Chengdu to board your flights back to The USA, arrive the same day.

Meals Included: Meals Aloft

Dalai Lama
Tea Ceremony
Tibetan Market
Zhang Yi-mo

All air and ground transportation within China
All meals listed in itinerary
All sightseeing, entertainment, and cultural activities listed in itinerary
English-speaking Chinese local tour guides

Domestic U.S. and international airfare
Excess baggage charges
Gratuities to national tour director
Liquor, wine, & beer, and other items of a personal nature
Meals not included in the tour
Travel insurance
Visa processing

Chengde Imperial Resort Extension
Hong Kong Extension
Huang Mountains Extension


from $6799
per person

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