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Welcome to China and the start of your adventure with On the Go Tours! We'll be there at the airport to greet you and transfer you to your hotel where the remainder of the day can be spent at leisure.
This morning we explore the heart of Beijing, China's pulsating capital, including the vast Tiananmen Square where Chairman Mao’s tomb lies and various monuments to the people are located. Dominating the city centre is the Forbidden City, a centre of power for five centuries and seat of the emperors. Entering through the Gate of Heavenly Peace (replete with Chairman Mao’s portrait), we enjoy a guided tour of this old city within a city. Later we take an exciting rickshaw ride through the Hutongs of Beijing, weaving through old back lanes, traditional courtyards and compact houses, gaining a fascinating snapshot of the city’s traditional way of life.
Don some comfortable shoes, today as we walk a section of the famous Great Wall at Mutianyu. Zig zagging some 6000 kilometres, ducking and weaving through mountain peaks and lush terrain, climbing the Great Wall is one of those ‘must do’ experiences! Afterward we visit a cloisonne workshop, viewing the unique art of decorating copper with colourful enamel.
This morning we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Urumqi (HU7245, 0735/ 1145). Capital of Xinjiang, a largely desert and grassland province fringed by some of the highest mountains in the world, Urumqi sits amidst beautiful scenery with the snow-clad Tian Shan range to the city’s east. We enjoy an excursion to Tian Chi (Heaven Lake), located at an altitude of 2,000m among the Tian Shan Mountains, which rise to nearly 6,000m. We also visit the local Xinjiang Museum.
This morning we fly to Kashgar (CZ6811, 0800/ 0945). Lying at the foot of the Pamir mountains in the far west of Xinjiang, Kashgar’s importance grew from its location as an oasis at the point where the northern and southern routes of the ancient Silk Road converged, forming a gateway to the mountains leading to India and Russia. From the 10th - 18th centuries Kashgar was part of the Islamic world, until the Chinese reconquered the region. See the Id Kah Mosque, Aba Khoja Mausoleum - where the local cemetery filled with distinctive mud and brick tombs is still used by the local Uighur peoples and the colourful Old Town. A visit is made to Kashgar’s local market with free time to explore.
Today enjoy a full day's excursion to Lake Karakuli. At an altitude of 3,600m it is the highest lake of the Pamir plateau and is surrounded by mountains which remain snow-covered throughout the year. The lake is popular among travellers for its beautiful scenery and the clarity of its reflection in the water, with colours ranging from dark green to azure and light blue.
Departing Kashgar we transfer to the airport for your flight back to Urumqi (CZ6885 , 1155/ 1335). Upon arrival we continue by road to Turpan. Located on the northern Silk Road, Turpan is a rural Uighur settlement. The Uighur descended from nomadic Siberian and Central Asian tribes who settled the region in the 9th century.
Today enjoy some sightseeing beyond Turpan. Driving to Bezeklik past the Flaming Mountains which due to sun and shadow at certain times of the day seeming to flicker as though glowing poker-hot. You’ll also visit the Bezeklik Caves which are situated in a desert gorge high above the Sengim River and once formed part of a Buddhist monastery between the 6th and 14th centuries. Beyond here are the Astana tombs and the impressive ruins of Gaochang city, founded as a garrison city in the 1st century AD. Tonight enjoy a traditional show of song and dance.
Enjoy a visit to Imin Ta (Imin Minaret) constructed in 1778, before heading beyond Turpan to the Jiaohe Ruins. Occupying a spectacular position on a steep plateau, the ancient street plan, thanks to the many ruins of this former garrison town, is still evident. A stop is also made at some 2,000-year-old Karez water channels, an irrigation system that many Silk Road cities and towns relied upon; the idea for which came from ancient Persia. Tonight take an overnight sleeper train to Liuyuan.
Arrive Liuyuan and continue to remote Dunhuang, a small and strategically important desert oasis town on the Silk Road, a stone’s throw from the end of the Great Wall. Visit Yueya Quan (Crescent Moon Lake), a small spring-fed lake surrounded by gigantic sand dunes, that has been a vital source of water here for millennia. If feeling energetic, the giant dunes can be climbed if inclined! Enjoy a camel trek around the dunes.
Today visit the UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves. The colourful cave paintings which were the legacy of travelling pilgrim monks, merchants and nobles form the most fascinating repository of Buddhist art in China.
Depart Dunhuang and visit the awesome Jiayuguan Fort - the farthest outpost of the Great Wall which was built here by the Ming in 1372, over 5,000km from the wall’s easternmost point at Shanhaiguan. This was literally the final defence of the Chinese empire, the spot where China ended and beyond which lay an uncharted, terrifying wilderness. Situated between striking mountain ranges, everything that travelled between the deserts of central Asia and the fertile lands of China, be it goods traders or armies had to file through the Jiayuguan Pass. Later this afternoon we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Lanzhou (MU2417 ,1650/ 1800). On arrival transfer to hotel for overnight.
Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu Province and a former staging post on the Silk Road. Enjoy a boat ride on the 5,487 km long Yellow River (2nd longest in China after the Yangtze) and a visit to Bingling Temple, a series of grottoes filled with Buddhist sculpture carved into natural caves and caverns in a canyon along the Yellow River. The grottoes date back to 420 CE and represent the typical artwork of the dynasty that were designed during.
The morning is at leisure in Lanzhou. Opt to hire a bicycle and ride the scenic route from the Yellow River Bridge to the Mother Statue (book and pay locally). We later transfer you to the railway station for your train journey to Lhasa, capital of Tibet. Overnight will be spent on board.
Much of today will be spent riding the impressive railway line to Lhasa. Arriving late afternoon we will be waiting at the station to transfer you to your hotel in Lhasa where the rest of the afternoon can be spent at leisure.
Sightseeing today includes a visit to the beautiful Potala Palace. This immense building is a masterpiece in design and was both the residence of the current Dalai Lama and tomb of the former heads of state. The Potala is full of elaborate art work and frescos that tell many stories. Sightseeing also includes the Sera Monastery and Norbulinka monastery - the Dalai Lama's summer palace which is set in beautiful grounds with fountains, chapels and pools, Norbulinka is located on the outskirts of Lhasa. Sera Monastery is still a working retreat, 600 years after its foundation as a main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa 'universities' once housing more than 5500 monks.
Another full day of sightseeing in the fabled city of Lhasa, visiting the 15th century Drepung Monastery, formerly one of the largest monasteries in Tibet, once housing 10,000 monks and bustling Barkhor Street. The highlight of the day is a visit to Jokhang Temple, the most sacred and important temple in Tibet and also the most captivating. There is an electric atmosphere as crowds of pilgrims travel around the chapels, praying and prostrating themselves.
Today after breakfast you will drive to Tsedang via Samye Monastery. Samye Monastery was founded in the 8th century during the reign of King Trisong Detsen with the help of the Indian Buddhist masters Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, whom the king had invited to Tibet to help spread Buddhism. The first Tibetan monks were ordained here after examination, and are referred to as the Seven Examined Men. Over the centuries Samye has been associated with various schools of Tibetan Buddhism and today Tibetans of all traditions come to worship here. Continue to Tsedang for overnight.
Today we visit Yumbulakhang, the oldest palace in Tibet. It was believed that King Nyatri Tsenpo descended from heaven to build this palace in 2nd century BC and myths says it is the founding of Tibetan civilization. Yumbulakhang is constructed at the perfect crest of the hill divided into three different components; the tower, the chapel and monks quarters. Not very far from Yumbulakhang, is Tandruk Monastery, situated at the road side. It’s said that renowned figures in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, such as Padmasambhava and Milariba, had practised Buddhism nearby after it was built and the remaining relics are sacred land for the devotees.
After breakfast and hotel check out we will transfer you back to Lhasa where you can spend the day independently exploring this mythical city further.
Morning at leisure. This afternoon we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Beijing (CA4111, 1600/2140). On arrival transfer to your airport hotel where you can enjoy a night's sleep before your flight back home tomorrow.
Transfer to your designated terminal for your return flight back to London.
About 100km northwest of Lijiang in Yunnan province is where the Yangtze River’s upper reaches, the Jingsha Jiang, channel with ...