Arrive in Beijing, meet and greet at the airport and private transfer to the hotel. Accommodation at the hotel.
Start exploring China with its most famous sight - the Great Wall. Stretching for 4,500 miles, the wall is over 2,000 years old and remains an architectural wonder rarely matched. In the afternoon, a 17-hour train ride takes you through the beautiful Chinese countryside to the city of Xi’an.
Arrive in China’s ancient capital Xi’an and transfer to the hotel. A city tour will take you to the magnificent Big Goose Pagoda, built to store the manuscripts collected by the Buddhist monk Xuan Zang on his famous pilgrimage; the City Wall dating back to the Ming Dynasty rule; and the Forest of Stone Steles Museum. In the evening, enjoy a dinner accompanied by a Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) song and dance show.
Today you will visit the amazing Terra-Cotta Warriors, whose recent discovery surprised the world and where excavations continue to this day. More than 6,000 terra cotta clay soldiers surround the tomb of the first Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuangdi and are armed, dressed in uniform and ready for battle. In the afternoon, complete your tour of Xi’an with a visit to the Shaanxi Provincial Museum.
The morning is free to explore the city on your own. You will be taking an afternoon flight to Lhasa, the exotic capital of the hidden land of Tibet. Transfer to the hotel and dinner at your hotel.
Start your day by taking a city tour including a visit to Potala Palace, the seat of Dalai Lama. After lunch, you will go on a guided tour of the 1,300-year-old spiritual center of Tibet, Jokhang Temple, the every day destination of many Buddhist pilgrims. Walk Barkhor Street, a sacred pilgrim path and a site of a nomadic bazaar, and visit the Sera Monastery (“The Wild Rose Garden”) for a collection of murals and sacred statues. The rest of the day is free to spend as you please.
Today you have a long and exciting drive by coach through the Himalayan Mountains across Karola Pass to the second largest city in Tibet, Shigatsu. Arrive in Shigatsu and accommodation at the hotel. The evening is free for you to relax.
This morning’s city tour of Shigatsu takes you to the Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1477 by the first Dalai Lama. Stroll the city streets for a chance to meet and observe the lifestyles of local people. Weather permitting, drive to the mountains for breathtaking views, including the Northern slope of Mount Everest. Return to Lhasa, check into a hotel and share impressions of the day with your fellow travelers at dinner.
After a morning tour of Robulinka (the Summer Palace) and a lunch at your hotel, you are transferred to the airport for an afternoon flight back to Beijing. Upon arrival in Beijing you check into a hotel and go out for a late dinner in a quaint local restaurant.
On this day you will board the Trans-Mongolian Express for a 30-hour train ride to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Enjoy breathtaking scenery as the train makes its way through the northern part of China to the Mongolian border. You will have a chance to stretch your legs as the bogies are changed and a Mongolian dining car replaces the Chinese one.
Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar you are met at the train station and transferred to the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing includes the former Winter Palace of Mongolian rulers and the Museum of Bogd Khan.
You depart on a flight to the beautiful Lake Huvsgul, whose crystal clear waters are framed by a ring of luscious green forests and rolling hills. You’ll meet the nomads, observe their lifestyles and enjoy this day in the wild riding horses, fishing and hiking. Overnight in gers.
Take a full-day trip in an all-terrain vehicle to visit a family of reindeer breeders and observe their livestock. Spend the night at the ger camp.
After a morning flight back to Ulaanbaatar, you will check into your hotel and then depart on a tour of the Gandan Monastery, the main Buddhist temple in Mongolia. Stroll the monastery grounds and see the magnificent 82-foot tall statue of Migjid Janraisig, “Lord who looks in every direction”, decorated with pure gold and dressed in silk and precious stones. Continue sightseeing with a visit to the National History Museum. Tonight enjoy a dinner of traditional Mongolian cuisine accompanied by a folklore show featuring horse dancers, throat singers and contortionists.
Start your day with a visit to the Natural History Museum featuring a fascinating collection of historic artifacts and even dinosaur fossils, and then later an excursion to the Museum of Religion, a former Buddhist monastery built in the Chinese-Tibetan style. These are perfect places to buy souvenirs before your departure from Mongolia.
In the morning you are transferred to the airport for a flight to Beijing. After arrival in Beijing and accommodation at the hotel, you will have a free afternoon to rest up for the adventures ahead.
Meet your guide in the morning for a comprehensive tour of the Chinese capital. You will learn about the country’s ancient history while walking through the city’s palaces and courtyards, as well as its more recent history through visiting the Tiananmen Square and the National Museum. The tour will take you to the Forbidden City – a place where for centuries only emperors were allowed. You will see the Summer Palace of the last Chinese Empress and have a lunch of traditional Chinese cuisine in a quaint local restaurant. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner with your travel companions.
You are transferred to the airport for your flight home.
Tibet is known as the seat of the Dalai Lama. The word Dalai was first used in the title of the 3rd lama of the Gelugpa order of monks who came to power in Tibet in the 15th century, and whose lamas were supposed to be reincarnations of their predecessors. “Dalai” means “Ocean” as in “Ocean of Wisdom”.
Besides the popular tourist destinations in and around Lhasa, Tibet has many small monasteries in more remote locations. It is also a popular destination for trekkers visiting the Mount Everest region.
Summertime is the time of folk festivals in Tibet. In June, the Buddha Unfolding Festival is held in Shigatse. Different hand-embroidered portraits of Buddha on silk or satin are unfolded during the 3-day festival in a beautiful ceremony accompanied by religious chanting. In August, the Shoton Festival, also referred to as the Tibetan Opera Festival, takes place in Lhasa. You can watch live performances by opera and theatrical troupes and visit a trade fair. August is also the month when the Nakchu Horse Races take place in Northern Tibet. Herdsmen gather there to compete in horseback racing and archery, and the event is accompanied by folk song and dance performances.
Land of Mysteries: China, Tibet and Mongolia