UK - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your overnight flight to Beijing.
Upon arrival, we transfer to the Landmark Hotel (4T). Our explorations start this afternoon in ‘a masterpiece of Chinese landscape’ - the beautiful Summer Palace, said to be the best preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest in existence in China.
Tian’anmen Square is a vast, empty space filled with the echoes of revolution, overseen by a 20ft portrait of Chairman Mao at Tian’anmen Gate, one of the four entrances to the Forbidden City, which we also explore. This collection of over 900 ancient buildings was the home of two dynasties of imperial rule, until the last, Puyi, was overthrown in 1912. The afternoon is free, with options to take an excursion through Beijing’s hutongs (old lanes), and to see a Chinese martial arts show in the evening.
Our full-day tour takes us to the Great Wall of China, built in several stages and reinforced with towers and fortresses. We also see the Sacred Way, the 7km-long route believed to lead to heaven; and the Olympic Games village to view the exterior of the Bird’s Nest stadium.
Beijing - Xi’an
We take a flight to Xi’an, where we stay at the Golden Flower Hotel (4T+). This afternoon we visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, created to house Buddhist sutras brought back from India by prominent Buddhist scholar Xuanzang. Later, you can choose to explore Xi’an by night, when shops and streets come alive under the glow of neon, evening food markets pop up and the spectacular musical fountain, the largest of its kind in Asia, dances in the North Square.
Today we see one of the world’s most incredible archaeological discoveries - the Terracotta Warriors. The thousands of unique clay soldiers, were discovered in 1974, alongside clay horses, wooden chariots and pristine weapons. They surround the tomb of the First Emperor of Qin Xi’an, yet to be excavated. Later, we visit the Tangbo Art Museum, which exhibits beautiful Shaanxi folk arts, calligraphy, decorative masks and paper silhouettes used in shadow plays. For this evening, there is an optional Tang Dynasty Show.
Xi’an - Kunming
Today we fly to Kunming and make our way to the Stone Forest, a vast landscape of vertical stones that create a magnificent natural labyrinth, the inspiration of many legends. We stay at the Jin Jiang Hotel (4T) in Kunming, the ‘City of Eternal Spring’.
Kunming - Dali
The ancient Yuantong Temple is the most important Buddhist temple in Yunnan Province, a working sanctuary with rare treasures including an incredible stone staircase carved into the cliff which is adorned by ancient writings. We also visit beautiful Green Lake Park, a city retreat with exquisite pavilions, and a large Bird and Flower Market. We drive to Dali this afternoon, and the Landscape Hotel (4T).
Xizhou - Dali
We spend today in the Bai people’s town of Xizhou. Gain an understanding of this small ethnic group at a traditional house and enjoy a San Dao Cha ceremony - singing and dancing with three courses of tea. We also visit the local market and a tie-dye workshop before heading to the Old Town of Dali and the Three Pagodas, containing ancient medicinal ingredients, Buddhist readings and many sculptures of Buddha made of gold, silver, wood or crystal.
Dali - Lijiang
Today we drive to Lijiang and the Lijiang Palace Hotel (4T). We visit the exquisite Black Dragon Pool, named after an ancient legend of ten evil dragons; the Dongba Culture Museum, which exhibits relics of the Naxi People, a national minority with a grand culture; and Mu’s Mansion, the huge residence of 22 generations of Tusi Mu, the ruler of Naxi, a rival to the Forbidden City. We spend further time in the UNESCO-protected Old Town of Lijiang, which tells more of Naxi heritage.
Visit the Residence of botanist Dr Joseph Rock at Yuhu village, one of the first westerners to travel here, and who wrote a lot about these regions, introducing the Naxi culture to the western world. We also visit the Yufeng Monastery, a symbol of peaceful coexistence of religions with Buddhists, Taoists and Naxi Dongbas worshipping here. We then see the fresco at Baisha, a village of the ancient Miao tribe, mostly cut off from China’s modernisation; and the old town of Shuhe (Dragon Spring Village), a well-preserved town along the ancient tea route, said to be the birthplace of Naxi.
The Yangtze River connects eleven provinces, major cities and beautiful countryside. We visit the first bend of the Yangtze River, a scenic 90-degree bend cutting through rough, rocky terrain. We then see one of the world’s deepest gorges, Tiger Leaping Gorge, a staggering 3,790m at its deepest point. This beautiful viewing point got its name from a tale of a tiger evading a hunter by bounding across the gorge.
Lijiang - Lhasa
Fly to Tibet’s beautiful capital, Lhasa and transfer to our hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton (3T+). After a Tibetan dinner, we see a show of folk songs, dances and Tibetan operas, performed in beautiful costumes.
Lhasa translates as ‘Place of the Gods’, which befits its status as a holy land of Tibetan Buddhism. The whitewashed old quarter still observes traditional Tibetan life, despite the threat of the Cultural Revolution. We visit iconic Potala Palace, the spiritual home of political and religious leader, the Dalai Lama, and Jokhang Temple, the holiest pilgrim destination, holding a bejewelled life-size statue of Sakyamuni. As we make our way there along trinket-filled Bakhor Street, you can witness pilgrims walking or crawling on their spiritual journey.
We take a tour to Drepung Monastery, the huge mother temple of Dalai Lamas, four of whom resided here. Next is the important Sera Monastery, where monks of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism expand their philosophical knowledge; and Norbulingka Palace, the former summer residence of the Dalai Lama.
Lhasa - Lhasa Express
We transfer to the railway station and board the overnight Lhasa Express to Xining. With 80% of the journey taking place at an altitude of over 3,900m, it is the world’s highest passenger railroad, an engineering wonder that spans the most incredible scenery.
Xining - Shanghai
We disembark in Xining and transfer to the airport for a flight to Shanghai, and on to the Hotel Equatorial Shanghai (4T).
Today we discover Shanghai, an influential city of multicultural flair, fascinating heritage and ultra-modern dreams. We visit the Bund, a bank of grandiose colonial architecture; the beautiful Yu Garden, thought to have been built some 400 years ago; and Xintiandi, a stylish pedestrian road known as Oriental Paris. Tonight there is an optional Acrobatic Show, one of the oldest performing arts.
Day 19 Shanghai - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.