What cures us most when we get exhausted in modern fast-paced life? In our opinion, it’s our Mother Nature. Here is the best cure Mother Nature has prepared for you in Xining and Zhangye.
Ease into the simple joys of natural travel that you can only find in northwestern China – vast plateau lake, mirror-like salt lake, rainbow mountains, hanging temples stretching out from caves… this is what our 6 days dramatic tour will bring to you. Start your trip at Xining, an exotic city where Chinese culture blending with Tibetan culture and Muslim culture, then have 2 incredible days to explore Qinghai Lake and Chaka Salt Lake, two spectacular plateau lakes with different wonders. Take a fast and comfortable high speed train through the vast plain and high mountains to Zhangye where a huge range of rainbow mountains and a cliffside Buddhist temple of over 1600 years old waiting for your exploration. What an eye-refreshing trip it is! Valuable and fully-inclusive private tour package which covers private guide, transfer, hotels, meals, interesting activities...
Day 1 Xining ArrivalXining airport/train station pick up
Welcome to Xining (altitude: 2,261m), the capital city of Qinghai Province in northwestern China. Upon arriving at Xining airport/train station, your private guide and driver will pick up you, and then drive about 26km (1 hour) to visit the famous Taer Monastery (or Kumbum Monastery) (2,696m) which was the birthplace of the Tibetan Buddhism master - Tsongkhapa who was the founder of Gelug (the most important sect of Tibetan Buddhism). It has a high prestige among not only China but also Southeast Asia, attracting hundreds thousands of pilgrims to visit each year. Its temples, halls, courtyards, pagodas combine architecture styles of both Tibetan and Han styles, blending into a harmonious whole. Appreciate the exquisite architectures, admire the charm of Three Best Arts of Taer Monastery - Murals, Butter Sculptures of Buddha and Barbola, and watch an interesting Buddhism Debating if time is right.
After the monastery visit, drive to Xining downtown. You will then be taken to visit Dongguan Mosque, the largest mosque in Qinghai. The mosque is a sacred sanctuary for Muslims, one of the four greatest mosques in Northwest China and the highest-level institute of Islamic study. Originally built in the early Ming Dynasty, it is a large building group occupying 13,602 square meters which combines traditional Chinese architectural art and Islamic features. The Worship Hall can accommodate 3,000 Muslims at one time. The pale mint-green exterior is very pretty and chic. You may see lots of Muslim disciples worshiping and attending Muslim event here.
Check in to your hotel in Xining downtown. Take a good rest for tomorrow's Qinghai Lake trip.
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.
- White buddhist stupas in Taer Monastery
- Dongguan Great Mosque is the Biggest Islamic Sanctum in Qinghai
Day 2 Xining – Qinghai Lake - Chaka (B, L )Today's highlights: Qinghai Lake (Erlangjian Scenic Area), Grasslands, Mountains...
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.
Lastly, drive about 150km (3 hours) to Chaka Town (3,100m) for accommodation. The first half of the driving takes the beautiful lakeside roads while the second half takes you to go through and over high mountains and grasslands.
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.
- Riyue Mountains
- Rape flowers Blooming around Qinghai Lake in July
- Herd of Tibetan nomads around Qinghai Lake
- Enjoy a cruise on Qinghai Lake
Day 3 Chaka Salt Lake - Xining (B, L )Today's highlights: Sunrise, Chaka Salt Lake, Sightseeing Train Ride
If weather permits, and you don't mind walking about 3km (1 hour) to the sunrise location, you can get up early to watch the breathtaking sunrise (around 6am) at Chaka Salt Lake.
With an altitude around 3100m, Chaka Lake is a rare geographic wonder as well as an important salt production center on the ancient Silk Road. The salt products here were transported alone the Silk Road to Tibet, Xinjiang even middle Asia. For tourists, Chaka Lake is the perfect place for photography, romantic escapades and refreshing experiences. On the clear days, it is silhouetted by the azure sky, floating clouds and lofty mountains in the distance, which looks like a natural mirror beyond your imagination. Looking to the distance, you are unable to find the boundary between sky and lake, and you cannot tell whether the sky is a part of the lake or the lake is the supplement of the sky. It’s so marvelous and serene.
There are many ways to explore Chaka Salt Lake. To maximize your best experience, you will take a sightseeing train directly to the hinterland of the lake to escape the possible crowds, then explore from the hinterland to the entrance leisurely by walking (The walking costs about 40mins. If you don't want to walk, you can take the sightseeing back, which needs extra payment). Visitors are allowed to walk on the salt crystalline lake. It is like stepping into a picture. It is recommended to wear shoe covers to protect your feet from the aggressive salt water. Some other optional activities (with extra costs): a. take a relaxing boat trip along the water canal which is used to transport salt; b. enjoy a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding from the Sightseeing Tower. If you want to experience these optional activities, feel free to let your tour guide arrange for you.
Some useful tips:
1) Best time for photography at Chaka Lake - 8am~10am and 4pm to 8pm.
2) In order to take the best reflection photos on the lake, you can wear something bright colors, such as red, yellow, blue, etc.
3) The ultra-violet radiation is very strong. Try to get your face, arms, necks and legs covered when you are not taking portrait photos. Sunglasses are necessary.
Leaving Chaka Lake, you will be transferred back to Xining (about 300km/3.5~4 hours). Feel free to ask for stops along the way for resting and take photos. Accommodate in Xining.
Available Plan B Itinerary:
You may not get the best experience if you happen to visit Chaka Salt Lake during holidays and peak season when the lake is usually crowded with tourists. You can go to the nearby Sky No.1 Scenic Area which has similar lake scenery and experience to Chaka Salt Lake but not many tourists as many as in Chaka Lake. Feel free to discuss adjusting itinerary with your tour guide.
- Chaka Salt Lake - Mirror of Sky
- Wearing cloth of bright color to take fantastic photos
- Sightseeing train travel at Chaka Lake
Day 4 Xining - High Speed Train to Zhangye (B, L )Today's highlight: Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park
After breakfast, you will take a morning high speed bullet train to Zhangye city in Gansu Province from Xining (about 2hrs). 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 the 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.
After watching sunset at Zhangye Danxia Landform Geographical Park, drive about 30km to Linze County for accommodation. Tomorrow morning, you are going to visit another Danxia Landform.
Useful Tips: 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.
- Zhangye Danxia Landform Views After Rain
- Zhangye Danxia Landform Photography
Day 5 Binggou Danxia - Matisi - Zhangye (B, L)Today's highlights: Binggou Danxia Landform, Matisi Temple
After breakfast, you will go to visit Binggou Danxia Landform. Even though just being visited by fewer travelers, the Binggou Danxia Landform Scenery Area has its own featured charms. If the Linze Danxia Scenery is a visual feast of colors, then the Binggou Danxia is a great joy to find how the Mother Nature became a sculptor who sculptured the mountains to amazing different shapes, like grand palaces, long corridors, giant pillars, etc.
Finishing the tour at Binggou Danxia Landform Scenic Area, you will drive about 105km (2 hours) to visit the Matisi Temple (Horse Hoof Temple). Built in Northern Liang period (A.D. 397 - A.D.460), Matisi Temple blends Buddhist culture, grotto art, Qilian Mountain landscape and Tibetan culture together in a single site. Legend has it that once a celestial horse drunk water and left its footstep on a rock here, which is the reason why Matisi Temple got its name. Matisi has four wonders - green mountains, clear water, precipitous peaks and fantastic grottoes. Among the four, the fantastic grotto groups are most attractive, stretching as long as 30 kilometers. The highlighting part is the 21 grottoes around the 5-storey Puguang Temple which is set in the side of a sheer mountain rock wall. The temple also has collected many magnificent relics, including Standing Buddha of Jin Dynasty (CE 266-420), imperial robe of Emperor Kang Xi, saddle of Emperor Qiang Long, etc. Visitors can also experience strong sense of Tibetan culture here. Colorful prayer flags and white pagodas can be found at many places of the temple. In fact, there is a Tibetan village near the area. Before your visit, just be prepared to climb stairs inside the mountain and get through small openings from one temple to the next. Comfortable shoes are necessary. Because of its long history, Matisi Temple is praised as one of the Three Artistic Treasured Grottoes of Hexi Buddha Holy Land (the other two are Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Yulin Grottoes in Anxi).
After sightseeing at Matisi Temple, drive back to Zhangye City.
- Binggou Danxia Landform
- Giant Buddha Temple
Day 6 Zhangye Departure (B, L)Zhangye airport/train station drop off
Today is free for you to relax until your tour guide escort you to catch your flight/train to next destination. Currently, you can take high speed trains to Jiayuguan, Dunhuang, Lanzhou, Turpan, etc. from Zhangye, or take flights to Xian, Chengdu, Lanzhou, etc.
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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, 2023.
4. Reference exchange rate of USD 1=RMB 6.85. 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.
I have tried to leave the following review with tripadvisor several times now but somehow it is not accepted, I do not know why.
"Just back from our 9-day trip to Yunnan, long planned and waited for. It was our second time with China Discovery Tours. Once again they tailored the tour according to our ideas and interests - and succeeded in surprising us! Thanks to the local guides we learned a lot about history, traditions and customs, and, of course, food. We always felt in safe hands and the organization was just perfect with enough on spot flexibility. Big thanks to Jack who figured it all out so well and to the next time with China Discovery! Johannes (GER) & Elizabeth (GRC)"
Thanks again for an excellent trip, best regards, Johannes&Elizabeth
It's was great, we loved it! Our tour guide Frank was very kind, informative, and funny :) We loved how easy it was and how much we got to see in a day, I will definitely recommend to our friends!
we will be happy to when we get back to Shanghai It was a great trip and Kevin was a wonderful guide!
Absolutely fantastic trip. We enjoyed every moment and the guides were all really good.
I might only have one more year in China and I would like to see more. I believe that the best way for me is smaller trips leaving Thursday evening and returning Sunday.
Thank for our trip. Well organised. Driver & guide were super ! We have been lucky to have a sunny weather and the lantern festival! And not toooooo cold, only if you compare to the week before !
We are one of the few China travel agencies who have kept active and received lots of feedbacks and reviews during pandemic years
"Highest Standards of Quality and Honesty" is the core value of each specialized team at China Discovery.
Eveyone in our company is working hard for only one goal, which is to ensure the highest level of service, luxury, and attention to detail from the minute you begin planning your trip, to the day you return home.
Our travel consultants are professional, experienced and responsible, helping you from the very beginning to the end of your China trip!
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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If you have already got an ideal hotel, please feel free to tell our travel consultants and they'll book the hotel for you.
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!
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