Departure Dates: Oct. 12, 2003-2004,
May 15, July 14, Sept. 15, 2003-2004
Tour Costs: US$2,999 per person from San Francisco or Detroit.
Land Only: US$2,399 per person.
Single Supplement: US$499.
Sample airfare add-ons:
12days, visit Beijing (entrance & exit), Chengdu, Lhasa, Tsedang, Gyantse, Xigaze (Shigatse), overland in the heart of Tibet, rarely visited by foreign tourists. Exclusively offered by a Chinese government owned tour company.
A. TOUR ITINERARY:
Day 1 SAN FRANCISCO to BEIJING
Your journey begins as you board your early morning United Airlines flight to Beijing. Move your watch ahead as you cross the International Dateline.
Day 2 ARRIVAL in BEIJING
We arrive in the Chinese seven-century old capital of Beijing in the afternoon. Beijing is the political and cultural center of the world's most populous nation. After clearing customs, we will be taken to the Beijing Millennium Hotel or similar. Relax the balance of the day to adjust to Asia time.
Day 3 BEIJING to CHENDU
View Chinese art and architecture in the Forbidden City, where two dozen emperors lived from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century. See the numerous priceless treasures at the Palace Museum. Forbidden to all but the highest nobility, it was closed to the common people for centuries, and only opened to the public in 1949. Visit historic Tiananmen Square, the largest public plaza in the world, where Mao Tse Tung first raised the flag of the Peoples Republic.
Afternoon flight to the "gateway to Tibet", Chendu, in beautiful Sichuan Province. An ancient city of tree-lined boulevards & traditional Chinese architecture, Chendu has long been a haven for the arts and culture. Following an afternoon city tour, tonight we sample authentic Sichuan cooking. Overnight at the 4 star Lhasa Hotel or similar
Day 4 CHENDU to LHASA to TSEDANG
Board an early morning flight to Gonger Airport. High on a plateau between two Himalayan ridges, Tibet covers an area as large as Western Europe. Your first view of Tibet as the aircraft passes over spectacular mountain ranges and sweeps down into beautiful valleys will be the first of many unforgettable images of this remarkable region of the world. Tibet is a rich land with an average altitude over 4000 m (3,120ft) above sea level. Over two million people inhabit this land of ancient cultures. People living on the Tibetan plateau have their own ways of marriage, burial, and other ceremonies. Festivals in Tibet are in big variety. We continue our journey by road to Tsedang. The second largest town in Tibet, Tsedang (3550 meters) is located 183 km south east of Lhasa. The balance of the day is free to relax and adjust to the high altitude.
Day 5 TSEDANG
Tsedang, the motherland, was Tibet's pre-Buddhist center of culture. Gangpo Ri Mountain has a special significance for Tibetans as a legendary birthplace of their people. Legend tells us a story of Avalokiteshvara, descended from the heaven, to the Land of the Snows in the form of a monkey. He was meditating in a cave when Sinmo, a white demoness, drew him from his solitude. She got his attention by sitting outside his cave and weeping. One thing led to another and before too long the had six children - the beginning of the Tibetan race.
We will visit the tombs of the Tibetan kings. The tombs in some ways represent one of the few historical sights that show evidence of a pre-Buddhist culture. It is thought that the burials were probably accompanied by sacrificial offerings. Today, for the dead, sky burials, water burials, cremations, and stupa burials are practiced. The sky burial is the most common. We will visit the ancient fortress of Yumbu. The Dzong, or fort can be seen clearly from the Chongye burial mounds. It was once one of the most powerful forts in central Tibet.
Day 6 TSEDANG to GYANTSE
Today we drive approx. 286 km south via Gonger and Nagarzc. Enjoy spectacular scenery enroute as we pass thru the mountain passes of Karo La and Kamba La. You will appreciate the stunning views. Enjoy the most wonderful scenic spot , the holy lake, Yomdrok Lake. We arrive in Gyantse, (3950 meters) 254 m southwest of Lhasa; one of the least Chinese influenced towns in Tibet. The town's main attraction is the Kumbum Stupa. This magnificent tiered structure is now unique in the Buddhist world.
Day 7 GYANTSE to XIGAZE (Shigatse)
We continue our journey to Xigaze (Shigatse). Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447, was once inhabited by over 4,000 monks. Today, only 600 remain there. This monastery is one of the few that weathered the stormy seas of the Cultural Revolution relatively unscathed.
It is the home of the Yellow-Hat Panchen Lamas and one of the most beautiful remaining ensembles of Tibetan architecture. The Grand Hall contains the tomb (containing more than 85kg gold and lots of jewels) of the 4th Panchen Lama. Explore the ruins of old fort Xigaze. A stop is planned at the unique local bazaar
Day 8 XIGAZE to LHASA
Following the northern course of the Yarlung River, we arrive in Lhasa. Locked away in its mountain fortress of the Himalayas, Lhasa is an isolated outpost open to foreigners in 1984. Its 1,300 year history has put it in the center of politics, economy, culture, and religion in Tibet since ancient times. Upon arrival, we transfer to the 3 stars Tibetan Hotel for our three-night stay.
Day 9 and 10 SIGHTSEEING AROUND LHASA
Tibet is traditionally a spiritual place where Buddhism infuses all aspects of life, as it has for thirteen centuries the people in China's Tibet have devoutly worshipped Tibetan Buddhism for more than 1,300 years. We see this influence today at the 17th century Potala Palace. Built on the sides of the Red Hill, rising more than 1,000 feet above the valley floor, this immense architectural wonder was once the residence of the Dalai Lama. The Potala Palace consists of two palaces the Red Palace and the White Palace, resembling a magnificent castle in the heaven. It is now a state museum with more than 1,000 rooms housing 2,000,000 precious Buddha images.
Jokhang Temple is an intriguing complex of chapels, courtyards, and sacred Buddhist art that attracts pilgrims day and night. Surrounding Jokhang is Barkhor, a plaza lined with chanting monks, street performers, and vendors selling carpets, hats, prayer shawls, jewelry, and yak sculls.
Located in the heart of the old city, Jokhang Temple dates back to the 7th century and are the holiest place in Tibet as well as the spiritual center of the country. One story tells that in ancient times, before Buddhism had established itself in Tibet, there was a lake where the temple now stands. Tibet itself was considered to be an enormous demon, and the lake was its heart. The Buddhists decided to use the direct approach against the demon and to subjugate it, drained the lake and built the temple on it. Its architectural mixes of Tibetan, Indian, Nepalese, and Chinese styles will still fascinate you.
Notice the outgoing Tibetan people. The elaborate headdresses and bright, showy jewelry the Tibetan women wear belie their otherwise austere existence. The Drepung Monastery, once the largest cloister in the world, still houses a community of monks. It once was the sprawling home to 10,000 yellow hat monks. Most of the buildings are decorated in the maroon and white motif common to Tibetan religious architecture. There is a richness of gold decoration on the rooftops.
Sera Monastery. Sera means "Hailstone" in Tibetan, and legend says that it hailed during the foundation of this famous monastery. Sera was the last of the three principal Yellow Sect monasteries to be built in Lhasa. Golden minarets atop the monastery shine like beons to the pilgrims who still seek its spiritual guidance.
Norbulingka means "jeweled garden" a fitting title for this 200-year-old park. It served as the ruler's summer palace. The Dalai Lamas handled political affairs and practiced religious activities here. Beautiful frescoes, including one that depicts the union of the three worlds - that of heaven, earth, and human beings - cover the walls of the 370-room palace. On the park's grounds boast a rich bounty of arbors, pavilions, trees, and flowers. The small lake is dotted with boats. It is known as the "park within the park".
Day 11 LHASA to BEIJING
Fly to Beijing. Upon arrival we transfer to Millenium Hotel. Visit the beautiful Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven, built in 1420, where emperors prayed for good harvests and one of the most photographed buildings in the world for its elegant beauty and symmetry. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner of Peking Duck.
Day 12 BEIJING to USA
Return home on United Airlines. Take with you many memories you will cherish forever.
B. YOUR TOUR INCLUDES:
C. PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
D. GROUP LEADER'S WORDS:
This is a rare opportunity and privilege to visit Tibet on the "Roof of the World", once forbidden to tourists. Tibet is the Shangri-La of myth, the legendary "Forbidden Kingdom" long sought by travelers throughout the centuries in spite of its remote setting on one of the highest plateaus in the world.
With rolling mountains and range upon range of snow peaks, the Tibetan Plateau is a land of great beauty and mystery. When you step on Tibetan soil, put on a beautiful Tibetan dress, listen to the charming pastoral songs, taste a mouthful of aromatic sweet Tibetan barley beer, drink a cup of specially flavoured yak- butter tea, eat some tasty finger foods, enjoy the music from the Zhamunie, a six stringed lute, and explore the mysterious, open spaces, the holy mountains, palaces, fortresses, royal mausoleums and sacred lakes, you will have an overwhelming and intoxicating experience on this twelve day tour. You will never have a more unforgettable good time in your life.
Join me on this amazing tour of Tibet. Escorted from North America, the price includes air on United Airlines or Northwest, to Beijing, internal airfare within China and Tibet, first class hotels, all meals while in mainland China and Tibet, all sightseeing, services of a local English speaking tour guide, and more.
PLEASE NOTE: this tour is of a more difficult pace. There may be many steps and a fair amount of walking. Due to the high altitudes of Tibet, it is advisable to check with your doctor. The maximum number of people on this tour will be 20.
Pack your bags. I am ready to go! Let's go to Tibet!
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E. THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
To open Tibet to the outside world, China first needed to conquer physical barriers, which had kept the land in such splendid isolation. Roads were built linking Lhasa with surrounding provinces and airline service was increased. There is spectacular scenery between the Lhasa airport and the city itself.
Because of the high altitude in Lhasa, we must take extra care in acclimatizing ourselves. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, please consult your doctor for medical clearance.
Therefore the first day of our visit is spent in rest and the rest of the days while in Tibet, will be in a relaxed manner.
The climate is mild in August, temperatures averaging in the upper 60's, low 70's in Tibet. Travel temperatures in May and October average in the low to mid 60's. So it is very comfortable for travel.
The local handicrafts sold in the noisy, colorful bazaars are perhaps the best material souvenirs of your visit. They offer rugs, yak leather boots, wooden bowls, and ornamental cutlery and jewelry, be sure if purchasing antiques, they have the proper Chinese stamp.
For your information...
For most Tibetans, the Dalai Lama is the highest being in the world, holy and most revered. Even a photo is considered sacred and of course a great treasure. The Dalai Lama lives in exile in India, together with thousands of Tibetan refugees.
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