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China Holidays

Yak Tour

16 Night Itinerary from £4,3434,094$5,080

Private Individual Tour

 

Buddhist monk debates, prayer flags fluttering below Himalayan peaks and the Dalai Lama's palaces on the Roof of the World

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Tour Route>

Travel Highlights>

  • Our special in-depth cultural Tibet tour
  • Journey through China's dynastic past and understand its modern society in Beijing
  • Explore the mighty Forbidden City and walk on the Great Wall of China
  • Take the epic 22 hour train journey to Lhasa, passing mountain scenery
  • Visit the former residences of the Dali Lama in the Holy City of Lhasa
  • Venture further into Tibet to Shigatse, via sacred lakes and mountain passes
  • Discover Buddhist monasteries and palaces, full of fascinating tales of the past
  • Enjoy a once in a lifetime encounter at Mount Everest Base Camp
  • See baby pandas and the 71m high Giant Leshan Buddha at close quarters
  • Choose to extend your trip to Shanghai or Hong Kong

This itinerary can be modified and adapted to your preference with a specialst advisor, who can provide a guaranteed price, based on hotels, transport, excursions and flights.

Yak Tour
Tour Itinerary

Beijing & Great Wall - 4 Nights

Day 1 - Fly to Beijing

Day 2 - Welcome to Beijing

Day 3 - Beijing's past and present tour

Day 4 - Temple of Heaven and Hutongs

Day 5 - Hike the Great Wall

Day 1

Fly to Beijing

Depart on a direct overnight flight from London or regional airport to Beijing.


Day 2

Welcome to Beijing

Arrive Beijing in the morning. Your guide will transfer you to your chosen hotel for a 4 night stay and provide a walking orientation tour around your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure, or perhaps add an optional afternoon tour.


Day 3

Beijing's Past & Present Tour

Our tour provides a unique view of the city's history, culture and modern life, starting at Tiananmen Square and walk into the vast and mythical Forbidden City, home to 24 Chinese Emperors. Here you learn about China's dynastic past, before climbing Coal Hill for a view of Beijing. After an included lunch, we visit Confucius and Buddhist temples to understand China's two most important belief systems and their role in daily life. 


Day 4

Temple of Heaven and Hutongs

Early start at the Temple of Heaven, considered by UNESCO "a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design", to learn about Chinese philosophical beliefs, cosmogony, art, dynastic politics and sacrificial rituals. Here, elderly Beijingers gather to take communal exercises, sing, socialise and play musical instruments. After an included lunch at a family hutong home we explore the traditional narrow streets from a rickshaw and on foot. Enjoy cultural activities like calligraphy or cooking local Chinese dumplings. 


Day 5

Hike to Great Wall

We drive north of Beijing to trek the iconic Great Wall of China at a wild section away from the crowds. Here we can truly appreciate its full majesty of the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. We continue to the restored part of the wall at Mutianyu, allowing you a look at the wall in its original state and take a scenic cable car ride. Lunch is included today.

Penta Hotel

Beijing & Great Wall - First Hotel

Described as a "neighbourhood lifestyle hotel", the Penta is a distinctive 4 star contemporary hotel, close to the Temple of Heaven and a short walk from the subway. The laid-back hotel offers 307 ensuite rooms in a minimalist style, including family rooms, as well as the use of bikes and maps to explore the local area. The heart of the hotel is the bustling Pentalounge; an all-encompassing café, deli, noodle bar, library and games area that provides a meeting place where guests and locals come and go.

Hotel Cote Cour

Beijing & Great Wall - First Boutique

The Cote Cour is a renowned boutique hotel spread out around a traditional inner courtyard and nestled in an historic centuries-old hutong. Fully refurbished in 2016, the rooms and communal areas are decorated to a high standard with classic paintings, furnishings and details, evoking a timelessness and a deep connection with the long history of the structures. You will find all the modern amenities that you will need during your stay, as well as an attentive service and free internet access and bicycle hire.

Guests can relax on the rooftop space and perhaps choose to dine in the a la carte restaurant. For families, there is both a standard and deluxe family room.

 

Regent Hotel

Beijing & Great Wall - Deluxe Hotel

A multi-award winning luxury hotel close to Tiananmen Square and shopping streets, providing guests with outstanding service in opulent surrounds. 500 spacious rooms and suites are elegantly finished in traditional Chinese style, whilst floor-to-ceiling windows fill the rooms with natural light and afford panoramic views, including of the Forbidden City from some. Connecting rooms are available for groups and there is a choice of renowned restaurants, as well as an indoor pool and wellness centre.

Scenic train to Xining - 2 Nights

Day 6 - Summer Palace, Art District, fly to Xining

Day 7 - Overnight scenic train to Lhasa

Day 6

Summer Palace, Art District, fly to Xining

Today you will fly west from Beijing to Xining, capital of the Qinghai province. A late afternoon flight allows for more exploration of Beijing, and so we will visit the Summer Palace and the 798 Art District in the northern part of the city, en-route to the airport. Upon arrival in Xining you will be met by your guide and taken to your hotel for the night. 


Day 7

Overnight scenic train to Lhasa

The 22 hour scenic train to Lhasa departs at around 2pm, leaving this morning free to buy some supplies in the local area. You will be collected from your hotel and taken to the train station in plenty of time. During the epic journey you will enjoy a soft sleeper berth, the most comfortable available, which gives you a great vantage point from which to watch the mountain scenery roll-by. Not long after departure you will pass the glistening Qinghai Lake, the largest inland lake in China.

Please note that the train is not considered to be luxurious and cabins are arranged in groups of four. Hot food and drink is available on board, though it is a good idea to come prepared with your own snacks.

You will have a soft sleeper bed reserved, offering a higher level of comfort and privacy, though cabins are arranged in groups of four beds, so you may have to share with other travellers unless you prefer to book the whole cabin. Hot food and drink is available from the on-board restaurant. 

 

Lhasa - 2 Nights

Day 8 - Transfer to Tibet and Summer Palace 

Day 9 - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 8

Transfer to Tibet and Summer Palace

This morning you arrive at Lhasa railway station, where you will be met by our local guide and driver who will welcome you to the city and get you settled in to your chosen hotel for a 2 night stay. You will now be at high altitude so it is best to take it easy and drink plenty of water to help your body acclimatise. As a gentle introduction to Lhasa, we will visit the Norbulingka, the former summer residence of the Dalai Lama, set within relaxing landscaped parkland on the outskirts of Lhasa. Following an included lunch at a local restaurant you will have the afternoon free to relax and wander around the charming old town. 


Day 9

Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

We start today with a tour of the Potala Palace, the defining symbol of Lhasa and Tibet. The winter home to ten Dalai Lama's, the huge 17th century structure is one of the most poignant on the planet, telling the story of life here before the Dali Lama was forced to flee to India. The roof terraces house the former residences of the Dalai Lama and afford sweeping views of the city.

We then drive into the very heart of the old town and the centre of the Tibetan religious universe. The colourful Jokhang Temple is the most sacred place in Tibet, a destination for pilgrims from across the Buddhist world. It is encircled by the lively Barkor Street, around which pilgrims walk in a clockwise directions, spinning prayer wheels as they go or prostrating themselves fully on the ground. Watching their incredible devotion is a privileged experience for any visitor.

After an included lunch we conclude the day at the Sera Monastery, arriving in time for a guided tour, before the monks take to the courtyard for their afternoon debating sessions. Watching them express themselves so spectacularly, even without understanding the language, is a memorable experience. 

House of Shambhala

Lhasa - First Hotel

Full of endearing Tibetan charm and located in the very heart of the charming Lhasa old town, this 4* courtyard hotel is a wonderfully authentic base from which to explore the city. The 13 rooms are decorated in traditional Tibetan style, creating a warm and welcoming environment, with a good range of facilities and room sizes.

A simple breakfast, including eggs made to order, is served in the restaurant, which itself is rated as one of the best local eateries in Lhasa.

Head up to the rooftop area and find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the view across the rooftops of the old town, adorned with prayer flags in every direction.

St Regis

Lhasa - Deluxe Hotel

Starwood hotels follow their legacy of luxury accommodation with this fabulous 5 star hotel in Lhasa. 162 large sumptuous rooms and suites provide exquisite spaces in which to relax and unwind after a day exploring the high altitude city. These feature welcoming sofas, walk-in closets, powder room, study area and balconies, affording views over the city or landscaped gardens. Spacious bathrooms include a traditional Victorian bathtub, twin vanity counter and separate walk-in shower.

The hotels gold energy pool is the perfect place to refresh yourself, whilst guests can also join regular yoga classes.

Tibetan Heartland - 2 Nights

Day 10 - Sacred lake, glacier and Pelkhor Monastery

Day 11 - Tashilhunpo Monastery and Everest Base Camp

Day 10

Sacred lake, glacier and Pelkhor Monastery

To truly appreciate the beauty and rural culture of Tibet, we will head out of the city and take the scenic route through the mountains towards Shigatse. On the way we will visit at the beautiful and sacred Yamdrock Lake, stopping for photos at a lookout point and by the shore. We continue through high altitude mountain passes, giving us a spectacular view of the Karola Glacier, a brilliant white mass which tumbles down the mountainside.

We will then drive to the ancient town of Gyanste, paying a visit to the striking Pelkhor Monastery, climbing the unique circular stupa (Kumbum) for magnificent views across to the Gyantse Dzong fortress and old town. We arrive in Shigatse in early evening for our overnight stay. Lunch is included today.


Day 11

Tashilhunpo Monastery and Everest Base Camp

Shigatse is Tibet's second biggest city, situated in a fertile plain at the confluence of two rivers. It is home to a broad mix of ethnic minority groups and some wonderful Tibetan architecture. The most famous monument is the 15th century Tashilhunpo Monastery, a large gathering of chapels, halls and courtyards that together represent the largest religious site in Tibet. It is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, the second most important after the Dalai Lama and is home to a rich collection of important relics, as well as the largest gilded Buddha statue in the world.

After our visit to the monastery, we begin the drive south, eventually turning off of the Friendship Highway that runs to Nepal to enter the Mount Everest National Park and follow a winding newly paved road up towards the world's highest mountain pass. From here you might catch you first glimpse of Everest and the other towering Himalayan peaks in the distance. We then will drive onwards to reach the Rongbuk Monastery, the highest in the world at 4,980 metres above sea level, in time for dinner. You will stay overnight in either the basic monastery guest house or the large tents of the nearby campsite to give you the chance to see Everest at its best in the morning. Lunch and dinner are included today.

Mount Everest Base Camp - 1 Night

Day 12 - Everest Base Camp and Sakya Monastery

Day 12

Everest Base Camp and Sakya Monastery

Today we rise early to hopefully see the peak of the great mountain bathed in golden sunlight. We undertake the final 2 mile journey by shuttle bus down to the Base Camp, where your guide will give you a tour of the area and lead a short walk. A small hill affords a mesmerising view of Everest, with hundreds of colourful prayer flags fluttering at your side.

Will then head back to Shigatse for an overnight stay and on the way visit the impressive Sakya Monastery. Sakya differs to those already visited in Lhasa and Shigatse in that it is built in a fortress style, earning it the nickname of the 'Great Wall of Tibet'. It also hosts an astonishing collection of Tibetan prayer books, piled high they make for a spectacular sight. It is also possible to stay at Sakya overnight at a simple guest house, affording more time to visit and hike around the hills here, before returning to Shigatse. Lunch is included today.

 

Rongbuk Monastery Guest House

Everest Base Camp - Basic Hostel

The guest house offers both communal and a few private rooms, some of which enjoy clear views out to the world's highest peak. Rooms are decidedly basic, though they have electric blankets to keep you warm, sockets to charge your batteries and a supply of hot water. A traditionally-decorated communal area serves surprisingly good food and warming drinks, both at dinner and breakfast.

From here it is a short drive to the campsite and then a 10-15 minute shuttle bus ride to Everest Base Camp.

Outside of the winter months, visitors to the remote Everest Base Camp have two options to spend the night, before rising early to see Everest at its best. One option is this guesthouse, the other being the communal tents of the Everest campsite.

Everest Tents

Everest Base Camp - Basic Hostel

As an alternative to staying in the Rongbuk Monastery Guest House, you might choose to spend the night in one of the communal tents at the Everest campsite. These are surprisingly warm and spacious and are traditionally-decorated. A yak and sheep dung fire keeps the temperature up (you get used to the smell) and hot food and drinks are available.

The views of Everest from the campsite are glorious, as are those enjoyed from the Base Camp site, just a short shuttle bus ride from here.

Chengdu & Leshan Buddha - 4 Nights

Day 13 - Fly to Chengdu

Day 14 - Pandas and Dujiangyan Irrigation System

Day 15 - Leshan Giant Buddha

Day 16 - Return flight to the UK

Day 13

Fly to Chengdu

This morning you will fly from Shigatse to Chengdu, where you will be met on arrival by your guide for the next few days and transferred to your hotel for a 3 night stay. You'll have today at leisure, perhaps to relax in the large People's Square, taking tea at one of the large outside teahouses and observing local life. South of the river is the lively Jinli Street, lined with traditional buildings and shops and stalls selling locally created artwork, handicrafts, paper cuts and calligraphy. This is a great place to spend the afternoon shopping for gifts and souvenirs. 

 


Day 14

Pandas and Dujiangyan Irrigation System

No visit to Chengdu would be complete without going to the nearby Panda Research Base - the best place to see these charming and highly endangered animals up close. Designed to replicate the natural bamboo habitat of the panda to encourage breeding, the centre is respected the world over for its ongoing research and conservation efforts, not just for the giant pandas, but also for red pandas and black swans. We visit early in the morning to see the baby pandas at their most active, returning to the city for midday.

After an included lunch, we continue to the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. This extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage site was originally constructed back in 256BC, during the Qin Dynasty. It is the oldest irrigation system in the world and is thought to be the only major system of its kind not to feature a dam.  Another major feat of engineering is the magnificent Anlan Suspension Bridge which crosses the river. Surrounding the irrigation system are a number of impressive temples, halls, towers, statues and gardens. 


Day 15

Leshan Giant Buddha

Today we will drive around 2 hours south of Chengdu to visit the magnificent Leshan Giant Buddha. Measuring in at 71 metres high, the 1,200 year old Buddha watches over the confluence of three rivers and looks out onto the sacred Mount Emei. We will take a boat ride to enjoy panoramic views of the Buddha and then climb up the steps to come face-to-face with it, for a close up view. We will then return to Chengdu by road. Lunch is included today.


Day 16

Return flight to the UK

Transfer to the airport for your return flight back to London with Air France-KLM, via Amsterdam, arriving later the same day.

Buddha Zen

Chengdu & Pandas - First Hotel

Located close to the Wenshu Yuan Monastery, this spiritually themed 4 star hotel aims to give visitors an insight into traditional Buddhist life. It offers 35 tranquil rooms and well-equipped rooms, all thoughtfully and elegantly decorated in a style true to the spirit of the hotel. The courtyard-style building is filled with ancient paintings and statues and small details that are full of hidden meaning.

The Buddha Zen also invites guests to take a traditional 'Zen' afternoon tea in the  Jian Cha Teahouse and unwind in the harmonious Zi Zai spa, havens of peace and tranquillity in one of China's biggest cities.

The Ritz-Carlton

Chengdu & Pandas - Deluxe Hotel

As you might expect from a Ritz-Carlton, this hotel delivers luxury and service on an unparalleled level in Chengdu. Its collection of spacious and stylish rooms all offer fine city views of Chengdu's skyscrapers and offer a host of facilities and features including:

  • Twice-daily housekeeping attention
  • LCD TVs (at least 42 inches)
  • Exclusive Asprey bath amenities
  • Blu-ray disc/DVD player
  • iPod/iPhone/iPad docking station
  • In-bathroom TV
  • Bathtub and separate shower
  • Illuminated cosmetic mirror, hair dryer and scale
  • TOTO intelligent toilet
  • Ritz-Carlton signature linens and feather bedding
  • Plush terry robes
  • Walk-in closet
  • Complimentary overnight shoeshine
  • Fully stocked mini refreshment bar
  • Complimentary high-speed wired- and wireless Internet access
  • Multi-line telephone with voicemail
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • In-room safe

Guests can enjoy a choice of glamorous bars and four award-winning restaurants, including the renowned Li Xuan, which serves outstanding Cantonese & Sichuan-style cuisine. The large Ritz-Carlton Spa and Fitness Center complex includes an indoor swimming pool with underwater music and offers their signature tea-themed treatments.

Price Guidelines

Season Low Season High Season
Travel Dates Nov-Feb, Apr-May Jun-Oct
Travel Dates First Deluxe First Deluxe
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room £4,342 £4,805 £4,797 £5,368
Multiple Travellers - Own Room £4,763 £5,568 £5,349 £6,317
Single Traveller - Own Room £6,072 £7,249 £6,661 £8,039

Prices are a guideline and per person. Please request a quote for Special Events, Christmas, New Year's Eve & Easter.


What's Included

  • 16 days / 14 nights
  • International return flights (1 overnight)
  • 2 internal flights as shown
  • Soft sleeper beds on Xining to Lhasa train
  • 14 nights accommodation as shown on the itinerary
  • Meals as described on the itinerary
  • Transfers to and from airport
  • Excursions listed, all with expert, English-speaking guides and private vehicle
  • Prices are per person based on two sharing a room
  • Guideline price only - please request a bespoke itinerary for an accurate quote

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