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17 days Xining and Tibet in-depth Tour by Train

17 days Xining and Tibet in-depth Tour by Train

(XTT004) Xining - Qinghai Lake - Gansu - Lhasa - Tesdang - Gyantse - Shigatse - Lhasa


If you are keen to explore Tibetan Buddhism, learn more about ancient Chinese culture, and really passionate about photography, this epic 17-day Xining and Tibet tour is exactly the one you are looking for. The first part of the tour covers the highlighted attractions inside Xining and its surroundings, and later tourists move northwestward to visit the stunning Buddhist grottoes, ancient well-known military fortress, and other geological wonders.

After a brilliant loop tour around Xining, tourists will board Qinghai-Tibet train to Lhasa. They will visit the most iconic and eminent Tibetan monasteries in Lhasa and tour Tsedang, the cradle of Tibetan civilization and pass historic and idyllic Gyantse County to reach Shigatse, the second largest city of Tibet.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Xining

After our clients arrive in in Xining airport or railway station, the guide will be greeting you and later get you transferred to your hotel. The rest of the time is at leisure. You can have a good rest or walk around in the city.

Stay overnight in Xining

Day 2: Xining Tour: Ta’er Monastery, Riyue Mountain, Qinghai Lake

In the morning, we are about to visit Ta’er Monastery, one of the must-see religious sites in Xining. Located 25km to the northeast of Xining City, Ta’er Monastery is also called “Kumbum Monastery”. It’s one of the major Gelugpa monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism and the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, well-known Tibetan Buddhist master. You can see many devoted Tibetan pilgrims doing full-body prostration to the Buddha, magnificent Buddhist hall and exquisite murals and Tibetan butter flowers, etc.

After lunch, you will drive about 2.5 hours from Xining to Qinghai Lake, the largest inland saline lake in China. On the way to this charming lake, you can get a view of Riyue Mountain. The ellipse-shaped lake looks like a huge poplar leaf sitting on the alpine prairie. Scenery in Qinghai Lake varies according to seasons. Summer and autumn have the most comfortable weather conditions and the lake's scenery is most beautiful during these seasons. The most charming and attractive place in Qinghai Lake is the Bird Island. It situates on the western shore of the Lake. Cruising for about 30 minutes is a popular way to appreciate the lake.

Stay overnight in guesthouse in Heima River village

Day 3: Chaka Salt Lake, Zhuo'er Mountain via Gangca County

In the morning, we will head to Chaka Salt Lake, a stunning salt field and salt production factory with over 3000 years’ history. The lake filled with high salinity resembles a gigantic mirror, reflecting the blue sky and fluffy clouds above the air. As you walk in the shallow lake, you feel as if you walk in the fictional world. It’s one of the magical places for landscape and portrait photography. You may also see the small shuttle trains near the lake, used for carrying salt. Due to the strong solar reflection, do be careful with sun burn.

Then, the tour group will travel a long way to enchanting Zhou’er Mountain in Qilian County. It’s a must-see attraction in Qilian County. The bare rock face features red-colored sandstone and it forms a sharp contrast with the vibrant yellow grassland and stunning rapeseed flowers. Each year, plenty of photographers and painters, and other artists will come to here for the picturesque landscape. June would be the best season to come when Qinghai Lake and Zhou’er Mountain will be surrounded by rapeseed flowers in full blossom.

Stay overnight in guesthouse in Zhuo'er Mountain

Day 4: Biandu Kou, Mati Temple, Zhang Ye Danxia Wonders

In the early morning, we will move from Zhuoer’Mountain to Biandu Kou via Ebo village. Historically, Biandu Kou has been the south gateway of ancient Silk Road. Now it becomes a paradise for photographers for its alpine farmland and spectacular rapeseed flowers and engravings on the rock face. We would stop sporadically at the roadside for tourist to take photos and keep moving to Mati Temple.

The stunning Mati Temple is set against beautiful scenery with rolling hills. The grottoes are awe-inspiring and tourists need to climb the cramped stairs to reach the top of the temple. Each level of the caves, statues of Buddha can be found. It’s amazing to see the engravings and Buddha that monks spend their lifetime to finish.

Later, we will enjoy the sunset at Zhangye Danxia Geopark. The geological wonders feature different layers of colorful standstones, esp. the red ones. Simply another photography heaven for photographers.

Stay overnight in Zhang ye City.

Day 5: Jiayu Pass, Xuanbi Great Wall

After around 2hours’ drive, we will arrive in Jiayu Pass. Nicely restored and decorated, Jiayu Pass is the first pass at the west end of the Great Wall. Tourists can climb to the top of the Jiayu Pass and enjoy the magnificent architectural wonders by ancient Chinese craftsman and learn how ancient Chinese warriors design moat and other military sites.

Afterwards, we will tour Xuanbi Great Wall (or Overhanging Great Wall), which is not far away from Jiayu Pass. Tourists can explore the Xuanbi Great Wall and enjoy the vast and sprawling desert. Finally, we are expected to move to Dunhang.

Stay overnight in Dunhang.

Day 6: Duhuang Mogao Grottoes, Crescent Lake, Mingsha Sand Dune

In the morning, we will visit world renowned Mogao Grottoes, which is considered as the great treasure house of Buddhist arts in existence. The Buddhist arts including vivid and colorful murals and sculptures in numerous Buddhist caves are displayed in the most elaborate and exquisite way.

Having finished touring Mogao Grottoes, we will move to Crescent Lake, the breathtaking oasis in the desert and tour Mingsha Sand Dune. The enchanting oasis and exquisite pagoda surrounded by boundless and lifeless desert form surrealistic scenery. In the evening, we will tour the Shazhou Night Market, a gourmet market in Dunhuang and taste the local snacks there. Tourists can buy many exotic souvenirs.

Stay overnight in Dunhang

Day 7: Ancient Town of Dunhuang, Yadan National Geological Park

In the morning, we will visit the Ancient Town of Dunhuang, now being a big film-making set of Chinese movies. Many famous martial arts movies were filmed here. You may dress in traditional costumes of ancient Chinese warriors and have fun there.

Then we will tour another geographical wonders, i.e. Yadan National Geological Park. The fascinating landscape is almost situated on the silk road that the merchants, warriors in the past had probably stepped into this region. Lots of imaginative scenes could be made.

Stay overnight in the guesthouse in Dacaidan

Day 8-9: Board overnight Golmud-Lhasa Train to Tibet and Arrive in Lhasa: Scenery View of Tibet Railway

In the morning, we will move to Golmud and later in the afternoon take the overland train from Golmud to Lhasa. A full day window sightseeing along Qinghai-Tibet Railway, you will see land of snows, desert, immense grassland, ice mountain, beautiful lakes which will fairly entertaining.

Shortly after your arrival in Lhasa in the late afternoon of next day, you will be warmly received by your tour guide who would say Tashi Delek, which means wishing you all the best and transferred to your reserved hotel in Lhasa. You can have a good rest to acclimatize the high altitude.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

Day 10: Lhasa Tour - Potala Palace, Johkang Temple, and Barkor Street

Today's tour will first bring you to the Potala Palace which is the winter palace of the Dalai lama. It was put to use since the 7th Century by the 33rd great king of Tibet. The most valuable collections of Potala Palace are the gilded burial stupas of former Dalai Lamas and meditation Cave of the 33rd great king of Tibet.

Then after lunch, tourists head to Jokhang Temple which was founded by the 33rd great king of Tibet in the 7th century, in order to promote the Buddhist religion. Inside you can see the statue of Buddha Sakyamuni at the age of twelve, perhaps the only most venerated object in Tibetan Buddhism. Around the temple is Barkhor street where you can do kora (a religious circle of a building or mountain) with pilgrims and locals, in the meantime you can buy souvenirs.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

Day 11: Lhasa Tour - Drepung and Sera Monastery

In the morning ,you are going to visit Drepung Monastery which is one of the “great three” Gelug monasteries of Tibet, founded in 1416 by Jamyang choge, one of the Tsongkhapa’s main disciples. Ganden palace used to be Dalai lama’s palace in the Drepung before he moved to the Potala palace.

In the Afternoon, Tourists will visit Sera Monastery which is another one of the “great three” Gelug monasteries of Tibet, founded in 1419 by Jamchen Chojey, one of the Tsongkhapa’s main disciples. The hot attraction is the Monks debate at around 3 - 5 in the afternoon.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

Day 12: Lhasa (3650m) to Tsedang (3100m) and Visit Samye Monastery(B)

Today, you will have a 290 km driving along the Yarlung Tsang (Brahmaputra River), the Sand Mountain, the high mountain meadow, and the wide rivers accompany you heading to Samye Monastery. The Samye Monastery is the Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery, built in 8 century in Tibet and it is the first monastery of its kind which houses three Buddhist jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Then we drive to Tsedang, the capital of Shannan Prefecture, located in Yarlung Valley.

Stay overnight in Tsedang.

Day 13: Tsedang Tour (3100m) - Yombulakhang Palace and Trandruk Monastery (B)

Tsedang is reputed to be "the cradle of Tibetan Civilization"". In the morning, tourists can visit Yumbu Lhakhang, the first imperial palace built on the rocky hill for the first Tibetan king and you could have a nice view of the whole valley from there.

Then tourists head to visit Trandruk which has a history of 1,300 years, one of the oldest monasteries one couldn’t afford to miss.

Stay overnight in Tsedang.

Day 14: Tsedang (3100m) to Gyantse (3950m) via Yamdrok Lake and Karo Glacier (B)

Today, we have to drive to Gyantse. On the way, the group will pass over the Gampala pass (4790 m), and tourists will have a glimpse of Yamdrok Lake (4400m). The Lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and in the distance you have spectacular views of Holy Mount Nojin Khangsar, (7191m) the highest mountain near Lhasa. Shortly after we pass turquoise Yamdrok Lake, tourists can enjoy the massive Karola Glaciers, situated extremely close to the highway.

Finally, we would head westward along the lake and drive towards Gyantse. Gyantse was historically Tibet's third largest city (after Lhasa and Shigatse). It is the most idyllic old city between Shigatse and Lhasa.

Stay overnight in Gyantse.

Day 15: Gyantse (3950m) to Shigatse (3900m) (B)

In Gyantse, we will visit the famous Pelkor Monastery and the renowned Kumbum Stupa inside the religious compound. The Kumbum has nine floors and each tier has unique chapels. It is considered the largest stupa in Tibet.

In the afternoon we drive to Shigatse, which is the second largest city in Tibet. You can go to see Local Tibetan Market.

Stay the night in Shigatse.

Day 16: Shigatse (3900m) to Lhasa (3650m)(B)

In the morning, tourists will visit Tashilunpo Monastery of Gelug Sect, the seat of the Panchen Lama built in 1447. The monastery houses a giant statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the biggest gilded statue of Maitreya (Buddha of the future) in world and a tomb of all the Panchen Lama containing masses of jewels and gold.

In the afternoon, we will drive back to Lhasa on the friendship Highway. The distance between these two places is almost 280 km and it takes 6 hours along the Yarlung Tsangpo River / Bhamaputra River (the Longest and largest river in Tibet).

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 17: Departure from Lhasa

The guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and help you get on board.

Service Guide

Service Included:

  • Tibet travel permit and all other necessary permits to Tibet;
  • All entrance ticket fees for all tourist sites listed in the itinerary;
  • Personal knowledgeable English-speaking Tibetan local tour guide;
  • Personal comfortable, clean and safe vehicle with reliable Tibetan local driver; vehicle ranging from 4WD land cruiser to minibus depending on your group size;
  • All lodging listed in the itinerary; it’s your decision about the accommodation class: luxury 5-star international hotel, comfortable 4-star hotel, economic 3-star hotel or budget hostel, guesthouse or tent. Please tell us your accommodation preference when submitting the enquiry; we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.
  • Domestic flight/train tickets listed in the itinerary;
  • All meals listed in the above itinerary;
  • Tourist accident/casualty insurance;
  • First aid kit;

Service Excluded:

  • International flight to and out of China;
  • Chinese visa (Note: we could help you with the Chinese visa application, like providing the invitation letter, presenting the hotel or domestic flight reservation copies, etc that you may need. )
  • Domestic flight/train not listed in the itinerary. (We can provide you the domestic flight/train ticket booking service at the BEST discount price; please contact us our travel experts for the details.)
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary; usually it costs about USD3-15 per person for one meal in TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region).
  • Tips and gratitude to tour guide and driver;
  • Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks (please do the best to avoid the alcoholic beverages during your Tibet trip), optional tour activities, etc.

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