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5 Days Amdo Tibetan Culture Experience Tour from $829

Authentic Tibetan Culture

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You may have no idea that the whole Tibetan Region includes three separate areas - Tibet Autonomous Region, Kham and Amdo. Each of them shares the routine tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, but also has own features. Generally speaking, Amdo area is more mysterious than Tibet and Kham due to lacking of reporting and advertising, which is an idea region to explore authentic Tibetan culture, including its grand monasteries and devout people.

Starting from Xining, this 5 Days private tour takes you to visit the sacred Tibetan monasteries in Amdo areas, such as Rongwo Monastery and Labrang Monastery, and explore unique Tibetan culture and art. To enrich your experience, you will also have a relaxing day at the picturesque plateau lake - Qinghai Lake and discover an ancient Buddhist grottoes site near Lanzhou where your tour ends.

Highlights of this tour

  • Experience authentic Tibetan Buddhist and living style in Tongren and Labrang Monastery, two most important parts of Amdo Tibetan Region, and get amazed by the fancy Regong Art created by monks and villagers;
  • Be enchanted by the beautiful and largest salt lake in China - Qinghai Lake;
  • Take a boat on the Yellow River to find an incredible pure land full of gorgeous Buddhist artworks – Bingling Temple.

Basic Trip Information

Price:
from $829
  1. 1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one double-bed room in a 4-star hotel and traveling in low seasons;
  2. 2. This price is subject to change according to your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate.
Travel Route:
Xining - Tongren - Xiahe - Linxia
Travel Length:
5 Days and 4 Nights
Tour Code:
CD-QG-05B
Group Size:
You, your family, friends or group
Experience:
ArchitectureCultureReligious
Departure:
Any day you want

Full Itinerary Day by day

Day 1 Xining Arrival

Welcome to Xining (altitude: 2,261 m), the capital city of Qinghai Province in northwestern China. Upon arriving at Xining Caojiabao Airport (or Xining Railway Station), your tour guide will meet you and escort you to your hotel in the downtown by a private vehicle. After checking in, the rest of today is on your own to acclimate to the elevation and explore this historical city of China.

Arrival Ideas: You can take a flight to Xining from Beijing (about 2hrs), Shanghai (about 3hrs), Xian (about 1.5hrs), Chengdu (about 2hrs), Guangzhou (about 3.5hrs), Dunhuang (about 1.5hrs), etc., or get to Xining by high speed bullet train from Xian (about 4hrs), Lanzhou (about 1.5hrs), Zhangye (about 2hrs), Jiayuguan (about 3~3.5hrs) and other connected cities in China.

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.

Xining Railway Station
Day 2 Xining - Qinghai Lake - Xining (B, L)

After breakfast, drive around 150 km (2.5 hours) to see the picturesque Qinghai Lake from Xining via Huangyuan, Riyue Mountain, etc. You won't feel bored along the driving since the fascinating scenery of green grassland, blue sky, white clouds and clustered herds unfold like a photo gallery. As the largest inland lake, as well as the largest salt water lake in China, Qinghai Lake (3200 m) stretches 105 km in length, 63 km in width and occupies a water area of over 4,500 square kilometers. It was elected as the Most Beautiful Lake in China by China’s National Geographic, attracting thousands of photographers to take photos every year.

You will spend a wonderful time appreciating the beauty of Qinghai Lake in Erlangjian Scenic Area - the essence of the whole scenic area of Qinghai Lake. It shapes like a long and narrow sword inserting into the lake. Walking on the plank road, you will be delivered a far-reaching panorama of the sea-like lake. Due to the different salt content of different parts of the lake, the water presents different colors in the refraction of sunlight. More than the lake view, the scenic surrounding - endless grassland and rapeseed flower lands, soft sand beaches as well as flocks of grazing sheep, horses and yaks also make you enjoy yourself to the fullest. On a clear day, you will feast your eyes on a charming vista of the snow-capped mountains in the distance as well as the huge sand dunes of Sand Island on the far shore. At the same time, Qinghai Lake is a sacred Tibetan Buddhist site. There are many devoted Buddhist coming from afar to worship to Qinghai Lake each year.

Optional Qinghai Lake Cruise: Taking a cruise allows you to admire Qinghai Lake from a different perspective. There are two kinds of cruises available in Erlangjian Scenic Area: High Speed Cruise and catamaran. The former offers a 25 minutes’ single trip from Erlangjian Wharf to Erlangjian Peninsula at the cost of CNY140. The latter offers a 50 minutes’ round trip at the cost of CNY180. This price doesn't include your personal expense on the ship, such as drinking, food, etc. This cruise is only available during the period from May to October.

After sightseeing, drive about 10 minutes to Viewing-deck in Nanshan Mountain for a panoramic view of Qinghai Lake. The beautiful shoreline is seen clearly and the water takes on bluer color. Then, drive back to Xining for accommodation.

Warm Tips: 1) It is available to visit Qinghai Lake all the year around, but May to October is the best time because of the most comfortable weather. If you want to savor the sea of rape flowers, remember to visit in July and August. 2) The sunlight is very strong in Qinghai Lake, and it is necessary to bring hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc. to protect your skin from sun burn especially in summer. 3) Few people get serious high altitude sickness in Qinghai Lake, but it is important to be wary of high altitude sickness if it's your first time to enter the high plateau. Avoiding strenuous exercise and drinking more water will be helpful.

Rape flowers Blooming around Qinghai Lake in July Qinghai Lake Cruise Seagullings in Qinghai Lake (Erlangjian Scenic Area) Beautiful Galsang Flowers Blossom in Erlangjian in September
Day 3 Xining - Tongren - Xiahe ( B, L )

After breakfast, drive about 165km (2.5 hours) to Tongren, which is located in the southeastern upland of Qinghai Province.

Start exploration with a visit to Longwu Monastery which is one of the three most influential Tibetan monasteries in Amdo region with a history over 700 years, but barely visited by big tourist groups so that you can enjoy a peaceful Tibetan Buddhism inspiration here. Explore the resplendent Buddhist palaces, temples, halls, academies, stupa, and beautiful Thangka paintings to get inspired by the most authentic Tibetan culture in the region.

Move on to Wutong Monastery which outstands in a Tibetan village. It is in Wutong Monastery that the brilliant Regong Art originated and flourished. What makes the temple even more respectful is that Wutong Monastery has been teaching villagers of the area to create Regong Art for centuries, which helps Tongren become the Buddhist center of Amdo Tibetan region. So what is Regong Art? It is a collective art type which includes Thangka, Duixiu(embroidery), sculpture, architectural paintings, butter flowers and many other local art forms. The artists also attach great importance to originality. All the pigments are refined from mineral and plant juice. As the mother of Regong Art, Wutong Monastery collects numerous exquisite Regong art masterpieces. Next, you will go to a local Regong Painting School to observe closely how the teachers and students create Regong Art delicately.

After the meaningful Tibetan culture and art exploration, keep driving about 110km (2.5 hours) to Xiahe for accommodation.

A Tibetan monk was painting Mandala in Wutong Monastery Tibetan monks' living in Longwu Monastery in Tongren
Day 4 Xiahe - Labrang Monastery - Linxia ( B, L )

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.

Labrang Monastery Sangke Grassland - a natural pasture of Tibetan nomads
Day 5 Bingling Temple - Lanzhou Departure ( B )

Today you will drive about 2.5 hours to visit the Bingling Temple, a Buddhist cave with a long history of over 1,600 years. First, you will drive about 1.5 hours to Liujiaxia Dam, a big national hydroelectric reservoir on the upper Yellow River. From the dock, you need to take a speed boat to get to Bingling Temple. During the 40-50 minutes’ boat ride, you can see a different section of Yellow River, very limpid and clear unlike the muddy sights in Lanzhou, and layered, red-colored huge Danxia landforms along the river side, without coverage of any plantations.

After getting off from the boat, walk several minutes to the entrance of Bingling Temple. The temple is actually a site of Buddhist grottoes filled with ancient Buddhist frescos and sculptures caved into the rocks, along a long narrow valley of the Yellow River. Dating back to West Qin Kingdom, the cave preserves about 183 caves, 694 stone statues, 82 clay sculptures and more than 900 square meters murals. You will tour the most spectacular Lower Temple Area, seeing the 27-meter giant sitting Buddha, many colored Bodhisattvas in different gestures and remaining murals from Wei, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Though some figures have been damaged by earthquakes, erosion, these relics are unquestionably outstanding Buddhist artworks revealing previous Buddhism prosperity and remarkable architecture and carving art of ancient China.

After sightseeing, leave Bingling Temple and drive back to Lanzhou to catch your flight or train to the next destination.

Tips: 1. Bingling Temple in remote mountain area can only be reached by waterway in summer and autumn via Liujiaxia Dam. 2. Additional fees will be charged for visiting special caves. 3. Be careful when walking up the serpentine plank trail on the cliff.

Take a boat on Liujiaxia Dam to visit Bingling Temple Grottoes Bingling Temple Grottoes Bingling Temple Buddhist Mural

Recommended Add-on Options

+2 more days to explore cultural and natural miracles in Dunhuang

Located in the northwest of Gansu and the westernmost of Hexi Corridor, Dunhuang is the most brilliant pearl along the ancient Silk Road. The city has sealed huge art treasury and created oasis in the desert. You can closely see the fantastic Buddhist sculptures, murals in World Cultural Heritage - Mogao Caves, visit Crescent Lake surrounded by Mingsha Mountain, view unique Yardang landform, ancient passes and more impressive scenery here.

You can take a 2-day brief trip to Dunhuang covering top highlights. On the day 1, you can go to Echoing Sand Mountain and Crescent LakeE together, witness the wonder of nature, try some exciting activities, like desert camel riding, sand sliding, motorcycling, etc., later return to Dunhuang city to hunt for local flavors at Shazhou Night Market. Day 2 is fully for your Mogao Caves tour. First watch introduction movies about the caves in the Digital Exhibition Center, and then visit specific caves in Mogao Grottoes one by one, learning Buddhist story, Chinese culture and history, which you can’t help admiring this precious land of art.

the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang
+2 more days to see the rainbow mountains in Zhangye

Zhangye is located in central Gansu along the Hexi Corridor between Lanzhou and Jiayuguan. It is full of history and legends, and diverse in natural scenery. Here you can see the world famous Rainbow Mountains (the Danxia Landform), beautiful deserts, mysterious canyons, vast grasslands, lofty snow mountains, etc.

You can take an in-depth Danxia landform exploration with morning visit to Binggou Danxia and afternoon visit to Danxia Geopark in the Day 1; On the Day 2, you can visit the Giant Buddha Temple first, then go to visit Matisi Temple. After that, you still have enough time to take a flight or train to next destination.

Zhangye Danxia Geopark - the Rainbow Mountains

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