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Discover Another "Tibetan Land" Plus Gansu Sightseeing
Covering two popular travel destinations of northwestern China, this tour takes you to explore the profound cultural deposits of both Qinghai and Gansu. Start from the beautiful Qinghai Lake, and finish your tour at the Louvre of Buddhism - Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes.
Highlights of this tour
Welcome to Xining (2,261m), Qinghai Province in northwestern China. Once morning arrival at Xining Caojiabao Airport/Train Station, your tour guide will meet you, and then escort you to check in to your hotel by a private vehicle.
In the afternoon, drive about 26km to visit the famous Taer Monastery (2,696m) which is the birthplace of the Tibetan Buddhism master - Tsongkhapa who was the founder of Gelug (most important sect of Tibetan Buddhism). It is also famous as one of the6 monastery of Gelug. You must not miss the three bests of Taer Monastery which are murals, barbola and butter sculptures. After the monastery visit, drive back to Xining for accommodation.
Nightlife idea: go to enjoy a great dinner and stunning night view of Xining city on Pearl of Puning which is a 188 meters tall TV & Sightseeing tower alike Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.
After breakfast, drive around 2.5 hours to see the picturesque Qinghai Lake (3,200 m) from Xining via Huangyuan County, Riyue Mountain, Daotang River, etc. You won't feel boring along the driving journey since fascinate scenery of green grassland, blue sky, white clouds, clustered flocks and herds unfold like a photo gallery.
You will stop at the Erlangjian Scenic Area to enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake. As the largest inland and salt water lake in China, Qinghai Lake stretches 105 km at length, 63 km at width and occupies a water area of over 4,500 square kilometers. Attracting thousands of photographers to take photos every year, this plateau lake was elected as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China’s National Geographic. Surrounded by harsh mountain ranges in the distance, the lake has amazing blue waters, endless beautiful green grassland and distinctive white nomad tents dotted on vast “Sea of Rape Flowers” by the lakeside. The natural water and pastureland scenery and color scheme make it a truly magnificent painting. Meanwhile, Qinghai Lake is a sacred site where the Mongolian nomads who live nearby and devoted Tibetan Buddhists coming from afar to worship the lake each year.
Optional Qinghai Lake Cruise: enjoying a scenic ship cruise on Qinghai Lake, which lasts about 50 minutes and costs RMB 150 / pp. Note: 1) this price doesn't include your personal expense on the ship, such as drinking, food, etc. This boat cruise is only available during July ~ October.
After sightseeing, you will drive back to Xining to accommodate.
1. Qinghai Lake is famous as the Paradise of Migrant Bird. If you are planning a bird watching tour, you are suggested visiting the Bird Island during May and June; 2. From late July to early August is the best time to view the vast golden rape flower fields surrounding the Qinghai Lake; 3. If you are interested and time allows, you can take optional visiting to some interesting attractions along the driving between Xining and Qinghai Lake, such as Dangaer Ancient City, Riyue Mountain, Jinyintan Prairie, etc.
Today, you will drive to Tongren County, Qinghai, where the famous "Regong Art" originated. Visit the holy temple - Rongwu Monastery which is the third largest Tibetan monastery in south northwestern China, right after Labrang Monastery, Taer Monastery. It is now a Gelug monastery. Rongwu Monastery played a very important role during the history of Tibetan Buddhism in northwestern China. Many famous Buddhist master, scholars lived and studied Buddhism here.
After then, drive across the beautiful Ganjia Prairie to Xiahe - the Buddhism center of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Stay overnight in Xiahe.
This morning you will go to visit Labrang Monastery, the most influential monastery outside the Tibet Autonomous Region and also one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug (Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is also famous for having the most complete Tibetan Buddhism teaching system in China. The monastery is large in scale and magnificent in architecture style, enshrining a lot of huge Buddha statues and various exquisite sculptures, murals and magical instruments. Its pilgrimage corridor has over 2000 prayer wheels, as the longest of its kind in the world. In the southwest corner of Labrang Monastery, there is an ancient wooden bridge. Walking crosses the bridge and walking up to the hill, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Labrang Monastery and surrounding.
In the afternoon, you will take an excursion to Sangke Grassland which is a natural pasture of Tibetan nomads. The grass is lush like a blanket in summer and the cattle and sheep are herding in groups under the blue sky and white clouds. What a pastoral scenery. Every year on July 13th of the lunar calendar, the seven tribes of Sangke region will gather at Sangke Grassland and hold a horse racing festival here.
After Sangke Grassland visit, drive about 2.5 hours to Linxia, the capital of the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture. Check in to your hotel. The rest time is your free time to explore this beautiful city full of Muslim culture.
Today you will drive back to Lanzhou. On route, take a side trip to visit the Bingling Temple. You will first arrive at Liujiaxia Dam which is a major hydroelectric dam on the upper Yellow River. Then you will take a yacht on the dam to tour the Bingling Temple. Bingling Temple is a series of grottoes filled with Buddhist sculpture carved into natural caves and caverns in a canyon along the Yellow River. The sculptures, carvings, and frescoes that remain are outstanding examples of Buddhist artwork and draw visitors from around the world.
Leaving Bingling Temple, drive to Lanzhou and visit its landmark site - White Pagoda Mountain(1,720m). You will hike about 30 minutes to the top of the mountain to visit the Tibetan-style White Pagoda built in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and enjoy a panoramic view of Lanzhou city and Yellow River flowing through the city. Then walk down the mountain to the bank of Yellow River where you can stroll leisurely to see the First Bridge on Yellow River, Yellow River Mother Statues and Ancient Waterwheels Park.
Lastly, check in to your hotel.
After breakfast, you will take a morning high speed bullet train to Zhangye city from Lanzhou (about 4 hrs). Enjoy the beautiful landscape along the road. After arrival at Zhangye West Railway Station, you will be met by local tour guide. Let's get ready for trip!
In the afternoon, drive about an hour to visit the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park. The Danxia landform is a spectacular petrographic geomorphology landscape which is formed from red-coloured sandstones and conglomerates. The one in Zhangye was formed in the pre-Jurassic Age. Thousands of mountains and stiffs stretch like the colorful sunset glow. The barren mountains are covered by a red grit rock stratum. At the same time, some surfaces of mountains appear other colors, such as white, yellow, etc, and form many irregular lines and blocks looking like some abstract oil paintings. There are four viewing decks for you to watch and shoot. You will visit one by one, and will be transferred by park buses from one deck to another.
You won't miss the precious opportunity to enjoy the amazing sunset. Viewing Deck No. 4 is the best location to take sunset of the Danxia Landform. It's better to get there earlier to occupy a good location. After sunset, drive back to Zhangye downtown for accommodation.
1. Pack with sun creams, sunglasses, protective clothing and hat to protect from strong sunlight in summer; 2. Sunset is the best time for taking photos which happen around 19:00~20:00 in summer and 18:00~19:00 in winter.
After breakfast, you will go to visit the Giant Buddha Temple which is famous for having the largest indoor sleeping Buddha in Asia. This temple is a large complex with regal arrangements built in Xixia Dynasty(1098), and keeps many precious Buddhist scriptures and wall paintings. Its famous treasure is the Sleeping Buddha which is the centrally seated with symmetric buildings situating along both sides. The Buddha statue was carved by woods with a length of 34.5 meters, telling the story of Buddha's Nirvana. His ears are as big as the space in which 4 adults can sit side by side.
After visit the Buddha Temple, drive about 220km (2.5hrs) to Jiayuguan City and check in your hotel. Then you will go to visit "the First and Greatest Pass under Heaven", also the westernmost starting point of Great Wall of Ming Dynasty - Jiayuguan Pass. Start your exploration with an education visit to the Great Wall Museum to learn some interesting facts about both the Jiayuguan Fort and Great Wall, including history, old photos, relics, etc. Then enter the gate to explore the grandiose Jiayuguan Fort. It is a complex of towers, city walls and other military buildings covering more than 25,000 square meters. The city wall is nearly 11 meters high, and comprises an outer and inner wall. There are two large gates standing at the east and the west of the inner wall. Walkways lead to the top of the wall, allowing horses to climb up the wall.
If time allows and you are interested, you can take an optional visit to the Xuanbi Great Wall (Overhanging Wall) which is about 18km away from the Fort. The walls were built on lofty cliffs with incredibly large gradient looking like an overhanging cantilever. Climbing up to higher gives you excellent views of the surrounding land and mountains.
Today you will travel to Dunhuang from Jiayuguan in the early morning. On route, visit Yulin Grottoes which is known as the "sister caves" of Mogao caves. It is a Buddhist cave temple site located about 160 km east of the oasis town of Dunhuang and the Mogao Caves, and was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage sites as part of the Chinese Section of the Silk Road. There are 43 existing caves in the Yulin Caves, with a total of 5,200 square meters of murals and more than 259 colored sculptures. You can visit up to 6 caves in which you can admire magnificent mural paintings which are believed to be even more beautiful than those in Mogao Caves. There are also 3 “special caves” (No. 2, No. 3 and No. 25) with outstanding art value that you can visit with extra charges.
After arriving at Dunhuang city, check in to your hotel.
Nightlife Ideas: 1) Go out for a walk in the Shazhou Night Market where you can try some local food, relax in a drinking bar, or buy some interesting handcrafts, etc. 2) Enjoy the fascinating Silk Road Show - Silk Road Flower Rain which is a relaxing feast of unparalleled visual beauty with impressively elaborate dances performed by professional dancers wearing stunning costumes and an incredible set design.
After breakfast, drive about 10km from the Dunhuang city to visit the newly opened Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center before go to Mogao Grottoes. You will watch two short but well-produced educational documentary movies that introduce the history, arts, and other facts about Mogao Grottoes. After the movies, take the interzonal bus to Mogao Grottoes.
Mogao Grottoes is famed as the "Louvre of the East", which is outstanding for its exquisite mural paintings and statues. There are now 492 grottoes in which about 45000 square meters mural paintings and 2100 colorfully painted statues from which you can trace the development of Chinese art over 1600 years from one dynasty to the next because each dynasty built own caves to record its own features. There are about 40 common caves opened to the public. In the tourist area, you will be divided into groups by different tour guides who will accompany you to visit the caves (usually 7~8 caves during April~November and 12 caves during December~March) with great introduction. After that, if you want to visit more other caves, you can do it by yourselves or follow other tour guides. Besides, there are 10 special caves (with extra fees) available for your extensional visiting.
The following attraction is Mingshashan, the Echoing Sand Mountains. It is said, in the sunny days, the sand mountains echo like Orchestra music even if there is no wind. If you slide from the sand mountains, you can hear the echoing sound clearly. Your last thing to do for today is the Crescent Lake. Surrounded by the Echoing Sand Mountains, Crescent Lake is a beautiful oasis with some well decorated traditional Chinese architecture, some trees and flowers and a lake that has never dried up and shapes like a crescent moon.
1) It is necessary to make a reservation in advance for at least 7 days for Mogao Grottoes visit during May ~ October when there are usually a lot of visitors; 2) It is not allowed to take photos inside the grottoes; 3) in the summer, travelers can stay up to late night around 21:30 in Mingshashan Scenic Area to enjoy the cool time and beautiful sky of stars. It's usually very hot during 12:00~15:00. You can enter the park later when it is not that hot.
Nightlife Ideas: Enjoy the fascinating Silk Road Show - Silk Road Flower Rain
Today is free for you until your tour guide see you off at the airport/train station.
Tip: remember to check out your hotel before 12:00 and pack all your belongings carefully.
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1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
3. This price is only valid to March 31, 2022.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1= RMB 6.65. The final quote is based on current exchange rate. It may change according to the currency fluctuation, while the RMB quotation will be remained the same.
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After sending us an inquiry, one of our travel consultants will get back to you within 0.5~23.5 hrs. In the next few days, he/she will be working closely with you to formulate a customized tour plan, as well as providing professional suggestions based on your travel interests, time, and budget.
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We're working at Chengdu Bamboo International Tours, local based in Chengdu.
Our local guide in every destination is not only very friendly, enthusiastic but also very informative and knowledgeable.
Once you arrive in the destination, the patient and punctual guides will pick you up and take you to get under skin of the city at your own pace. By in-depth discovery and explanation, they’ll show you more about the history, culture, customs and authentic local life. Throughout the journey, they're not only expert guides who take care of all the details but also fellow travelers who are dedicated to help you explore in comfort and style.
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In each destination, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stay in a great location!
The hotels we choose are based on star rating, great locations, well-equipped facilities, cozy bed, high quality service and guests’ feedbacks. Choices are a lot ranging from luxury 5 star, comfortable 4 star to budget 3 star. You could decide where to stay to best suit for your budget and likes. Generally, the hotels have both Western and Chinese breakfast with a wide choices.
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Have good sleep in our well-selected hotels in all the destinations of China.
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The restaurants we will take you for lunch or dinner are all designated tourist restaurants approved by local tourist administration bureau. They have very good sanitary conditions and the food is prepared fresh and clean.
There will be some meals excluded in your itinerary as you like, and your private guide will be delighted to give you some suggestions and take you to the local restaurants to taste like Beijing Roast Duck, Xian Dumpling Dinner, Sichuan Hotpot, etc., if you are interested in local food tasting.
All the dining options will satisfy your stomach!
Qinghai Lake walking
Sangke Grassland - a natural pasture of Tibetan nomads
Take a boat on Liujiaxia Dam to visit Bingling Temple Grottoes
Bingling Temple Grottoes
Zhangye Danxia Landform Views After Rain
Zhangye Danxia Landform Photography
Giant Buddha Temple
Yulin Grottoes (No. 3 Cave)
Bustling Shazhou Night Market
Echoing Sand Mountains
Watch a documentary film in the Dome Theater of Mogao Grottoes Digital Exhibition Center
the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang
Thanks for asking. Overall it was a very nice experience. And Jerry did a fine job. It’s nice to be taken care of someone who is enthusiastic about showing strangers around in his country.
Well I don’t know if he is but we learned a lot from him.
Later more, when I have more time, we may want to do another mountain tour somewhere else later on
Me and my Wife (both of us living in Shanghai) wanted to get away from the city during Christmas, but due to Covid-19, options was limited. After talking to Johnson on China discovery, we had booked a fantastic 10 days trip through the yellow mountains and Guilin.
Johnson was fantastic with helping us, both when we changed our minds on elements of the trip, and when we forgot our passport at home before leaving for the trip. Everything was well planned and we felt safe and taken care of the whole trip.
Especially our “local mountain guide” April was fantastic, even introducing us to friends and tea tasting on Christmas Eve!
We are already planning two more trips with China discovery!
/Andreas & Joanna
Lijiang was lovely.
The driver is wonderful and extremely knowledgeable, so after I checked in he brought me to Songzanlin Monastery.
I'm enjoying the Monastery.
Here is our feedback.
1. Is your travel consultant of our company fast enough to answer your E-mail and patient enough to answer your questions?
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2. How do you comment your tour arrangements?
Very Good. Can consider 8.5 in a scale of 1 to 10.
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The guidance of your company is enough to decide for a package.
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So far this small tour, I found this is okay. But after a big tour I will suggest on this.
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Helen is INCREDIBLE! Love her energy and enthusiasm. Tour has been very good so far; now we are on our way to Yabuli. Oh it has been an absolute blast so far. Helen was a lifesaver in Ya Bu Li!
Ada was also very nice, but there was, unfortunately, a very big language barrier, as she had difficulty with English.
Thank you Wendy. Just finished the tour today; was a great trip overall.
Xining - Zhangye - Badain Jaran Desert
Lanzhou / Xiahe / Jiayuguan / Dunhuang
Dunhuang - Jiayuguan - Zhangye - Xining
[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >
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