This is a one-of-a-kind China adventure travel itinerary designed for seasoned travellers eager to explore China in depth. It is not a new tour someone just dreamed up to test its reception in the marketplace. In fact, we have been offering it for more than 12 years. Our customer, Elana Andersen from Scotts Valley, California, wrote in October 2005:
“After these many years I finally made my journey into China and traveled with Laurus Travel, a Canadian tour operator that specializes in China and small group adventures. The focus of the trip was Tibet and the Silk Road. Every day of the journey was filled with wonder and making connections with the people and places visited…”
Beijing – Xian – Dunhuang – Turpan – Urumqi – Kashgar – Urumqi – Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse – Lhasa – Kunming – Xianggelila – Lijiang – Chengdu – Shanghai
Follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo to rediscover the glorious Silk Road era, from the eastern terminus of the ancient trade route to the western-most tip of China. Highlights include the Mogao Grottos in Dunhuang, the Tarim Mummies in Urumqi and the scenic drive to Karakul Lake on winding Karakoram Highway whose route traces one of the many paths of the ancient Silk Road.
Imagine climbing up the stairs to the Potala Palace and watching pilgrims worshipping lake fairies at holy Yamdrok – a visit to Tibet can be a profound spiritual experience. Most tours to Tibet only go to Lhasa, the big city and capital of Tibet, but we go beyond that by including Gyantse and Shigatse – two places of great historical importance.
Next the trip takes you to exotic Yunnan Province where you will visit Lijiang, Shangri-la (Zhongdian) and Kunming. Biologically diverse Yunnan boasts stunning scenery. Twenty-four of China’s 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities reside in Yunnan including native tribes with no presence elsewhere.
This is a physically demanding soft adventure tour with basic accommodations in certain locales. It is suitable only for those who are not only fit but also free of any medical condition that may be complicated due to high altitudes. The highest points during the tour are 5,020 metres or 16,470 feet above sea level requiring participants to treat altitude sickness seriously.
- Expert guides hand-picked by company owners.
- Small group size (20 maximum).
- No forced shopping stops.
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers included.
- Quality meals at non-tourist restaurants.
- Unlimited supply of bottled water.
- Family visits in Kashgar, Shigatse and Zhongdian.
- Free Wi-Fi in all hotels.
- Special cultural activities.
- Great Wall visit at Mutianyu with cable car.
- Scenic drive to Karakul Lake on winding Karakoram Highway leading to Pakistan.
- Visit to Yunnan – one of the most diverse botanical hot spots in the world.
- and so much more!
Meal Code: B = buffet breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
|“We had a great time on this tour and we were highly satisfied with Laurus. We appreciated staying at the best hotel available in each centre and having guides of consistently good-excellent quality. All the travel arrangements – with one exception which was quickly rectified – worked perfectly. Eating in local restaurants was a plus, as was freedom from the compulsory shopping stop.”
Don and Ella B
Day 1/Thu: Departing for Beijing
Your China adventure begins with transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. The international airfare is not included. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Fri: Arrival in Beijing
Meet the driver on arrival for transfer to the hotel. You’ll have the balance of the day at leisure. The guide will get in touch with you tonight.
Day 3/Sat: Beijing (B/L/D)
Capital of China, Beijing is a world-class cultural and educational centre with a population of 21.7 million (early 2017), ranking it China’s second biggest city behind Shanghai. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates – treasures that make it the most popular tourist city in China by the number of visitors it receives every year.
We begin today with a visit to the Forbidden City. Officially known as the Palace Museum, the Forbidden City was the place where the emperors of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) Dynasties lived and carried out their administration. Construction of the Forbidden City took 14 years (1406-1420) to complete. The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 hectares or 180 acres. The Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1912 but the royal family was allowed to continue to live in the Forbidden City till 1924, when the last emperor, Pu Yi, was driven out of the imperial palace. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, this is the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Next up is Tian’anmen Square. Located in the heart of Beijing, the square measures 880 metres from north to south and 500 meters from east to west. Said to be the largest public plaza in the world, Tian’anmen Square has the capacity to hold one million people. The imposing Tian’anmen Tower sits at the north end of the square while the Monument to the People’s Heroes dominates the centre. The square is flanked by The Great Hall of the People (west) and the National Museum (east). Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum and Qianmen (Front Gate) are located in the south of the square. One of the top 16 tourist attractions in Beijing, Tian’anmen Square is also the witness of the Chinese people’s great struggles for democracy and personal freedom since 1919.
Afternoon sightseeing at the Temple of Heaven, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in southeastern Beijing the Temple of Heaven is China’s largest extant sacrificial temple where, during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the emperors conducted the elaborate and most exalted sacrifices addressed to “the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.” Construction of the temple started in 1406, during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, and took 14 years to complete. The temple was expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong (1736-1796) and Jiaqing (1796-1820). Occupying 2.73 square kilometres (roughly 1,700 by 1,600 metres), the area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the Forbidden City.
The famous Hongqiao Pearl Market, the largest pearl market in the world, is right across the street from the Temple of Heaven. Recommended by numerous guidebooks for freshwater pearls, Hongqiao teems with domestic and international shoppers. If you are interested, please ask the guide to drop you off there. However, you’ll need to get back to the hotel by taxi, which costs about 50 yuan or US$8.
Today we enjoy a delicious dinner at a popular Peking Roast Duck restaurant. Peking Roast Duck is a famous Beijing dish prized for the thin and crispy skin with authentic versions serving mostly the skin and little meat, sliced in front of the diners. The meat is wrapped in a thin layer of pancake (Chinese tortilla) together with shredded scallion, cucumber, and a sweet and salty sauce made of wheat flour. Condiments may also include pickled garlic and white sugar.
Day 4/Sun: Beijing (B/L)
After an early breakfast we embark on a full-day excursion to the legendary Great Wall at Mutianyu, 75km northeast of the city.
Zigzagging over 6,000 kilometres from east to west along undulating mountains, the Great Wall was built to hold off tribal invaders from the north. As history shows, the Wall failed the Chinese rulers miserably, especially in the case of Kublai Khan whose cavalrymen swept across China from the Mongolian steppe, thus the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368).
Construction of the earliest sections of the Wall started in the 7th century B.C. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368 and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today in Beijing is almost exactly the result of this effort.
Day 5/Mon: Beijing – Xi’an (B/L/D)
We begin our sightseeing today with a visit to a traditional hutong neighbourhood. Hutong refers to an ancient alleyway with siheyuan or ”4-sided courtyard house” on both sides. The name hutong dates back to the Yuan Dynasty (1279 – 1368 A.D.). According to some experts, the word originated from the Mongolian language, in which it is pronounced as hottog and means “well.” In ancient times, people tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of hutong should be “a place where people live around”.
Next on our schedule is the Summer Palace, a well preserved UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The imperial resort was first named Garden of Clear Ripples, which was burnt down by the allied forces of Great Britain and France in 1860 at the end of the Second Opium War (referred to as Arrow War by the British). Reconstruction started 25 years later and was completed in 1895 when the name was changed to Yi He Yuan (Garden of Good Health and Harmony). The design gives prominence to Longevity Hill, and Kunming Lake south of the hill. The sprawling complex covers an area of 290 hectares and the buildings inside consist of over 3,000 bays.
We travel to Xian by the high-speed train (#G87, 14:00/18:23). The 4-hour-23-minute rail journey through fertile farmland dotted with villages provides the visitor an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful countryside. The track we travel on between Beijing and Zhengzhou is part of the new 2,298km high-speed railway linking Beijing and subtropical Guangzhou and is also the longest high-speed rail line in the world. In the past 20 years China has been on a building spree expanding the country’s rail network and upgrading existing railways. Its new high-speed rail service rivals France’s TGV and Japan’s “shinkansen” in terms of safety, speed, comfort and punctuality.
Day 6/Tue: Xian (B/L)
With a history going back over 3,000 years, Xi’an served as China’s capital of several ruling dynasties including the Han (206 BC – 220 AD) and the Tang (618 – 907). It is home of the famous Terracotta Army and the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Road – a network of trade routes connecting China proper with regions as far as the Mediterranean beginning in the Second Century BC.
Morning visit to the Terracotta Army. Built on the excavation site, the museum is located 30km east of the city. Designed to follow the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) into eternity, the Terracotta Army represents one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
After lunch we return to the city for a stroll on the ancient city wall. Declared a national treasure by the State Council in 1961, the wall first built in 1370 encircles an area of 14 square kilometres. It runs 13.7 kilometres long and measures 12 metres in height with a thickness at the base between 15 to 18 metres.
Day 7/Wed: Xian (B/L)
Morning sightseeing begins at Shaanxi Provincial Museum. The modern, well-organized museum was completed in 1992 and traces the history of Xian from prehistory to Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The extensive galleries and exhibitions offer the visitor an excellent introduction to the area that greatly improves understanding of the numerous historical sites in and around the city.
We then visit the grand mosque in the old town centre and the adjacent Muslim bazaar. The mosque was established in the 8th Century but the majority of the complex was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was further expanded in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, this mosque is completely Chinese in architectural style. It has neither domes nor traditional minarets.
Day 8/Thu: Xian – Dunhuang (B/L/D)
Our morning flight to Dunhuang takes 2.5 hours.
Dunhuang, a major link on the ancient Silk Road, is an oasis city once known as Shazhou or ‘City of Sands’. The single biggest attraction of Dunhuang is the nearby Mogao Grottoes, which along with Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang and Yungang Grottoes in Datong, forms the three most famous Chinese grottoes of Buddhist sculptures – all on UNESCO’s list of World Cultural Heritage Sites.
Afternoon sightseeing takes in Dunhuang Museum and a food market.
Please note that the number of direct flights between Xi’an and Dunhuang is very limited and scheduled flights are frequently adjusted every season. It is likely that we may be forced to fly in the afternoon or evening. If so, sightseeing in Xian and Dunhuang will be modified accordingly. We do not take the express train, the fastest available, because that would take over 8 hours.
Day 9/Fri: Dunhuang (B/L)
Morning sightseeing introduces us to the brilliant murals and sculptures inside Mogao Grottos, one of the most celebrated legacies of the Silk Road era. Situated at a strategic point along the Silk Route, at the crossroads of trade as well as religious, cultural and intellectual influences, the 492 cells and cave sanctuaries in Mogao are famous for their statues and wall paintings, spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art. In the afternoon, we visit the Crescent Moon Lake and Singing Sand Dunes.
Day 10/Sat: Dunhuang – Urumqi (B/D)
Free morning to explore on your own.
Afternoon flight (1 hour 40 minutes) to Urumqi.
Our sightseeing in Urumqi includes Red Hill Park and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum where the famous Tarim Mummies are on display.
Please note that the number of direct flights between Dunhuang and Urumqi is very limited and scheduled flights are frequently adjusted every season. At the moment there is no morning flight available. In we are forced to fly in the evening, sightseeing in Dunhuang and Urumqi will be modified accordingly. The overnight train should be avoided because it is not very comfortable.
Day 11/Sun: Urumqi – Turpan – Urumqi (B/L/D)
Enjoy a day trip to Turpan by high-speed train (1 hour 8 minutes each way).
Situated on the northern route of the Silk Road, Turpan is a fertile oasis where crops and vineyards are irrigated by an underground water canal system called Karez. Ethnic Uyghurs make up 70% of the total population.
Sightseeing in Turpan features Jiaohe Ruins (Yarkhoto, an ancient garrison town), the Karez museum and the Bezeklik Buddhist Caves in the Flaming Mountains.
Day 12/Mon: Urumqi – Kashgar (B/L/D)
Free morning to explore on your own. Noon or early afternoon afternoon flight (2 hours) to Kashgar.
Located at the westernmost tip of China, Kashgar, also known as Shufu in the old days, is a vibrant kaleidoscope of Central Asian cultures. An oasis 1200 metres above sea level, Kashgar is a remarkably prosperous and pleasant place, despite remaining, in part, an essentially medieval city.
Day 13/Tue: Kashgar (B/L)
Our morning schedule today includes the Old Town centre, Abakh Hoja Tomb (also known as Fragrant Concubines’s Tomb) and Ida Kah Mosque.
We spend the afternoon visiting a local Uighur family and the extraordinary Sunday Bazaar where half of Central Asia seems to converge. The market now called Central Asia International Grand Bazaar is open every day except for three days during the three-day holiday known as Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice).
Day 14/Wed: Kashgar – Lake Karakul – Urumqi (B/L)
After breakfast we embark on a full-day excursion to Karakul Lake, 198 kilometres southwest of Kashgar.
Accessed via legendary Karakoram Highway leading to Pakistan, the lake, 3,600 metres above sea level, sits on the laps of Muztagh Ata and Kongur, two towering peaks of the Pamir Mountains. The scenery along the way is simply stunning. As we drive higher and higher into the mountains, farmland along the river valley on the edge of the desert gradually gives way to high mountain pastures nibbled by camels and yaks tended by yurt-dwelling Kirgiz and Tajiks.
The Karakoram Highway is the highest paved international road in the world, connecting China’s Xianjiang region with Gilgit-Baltisan region of Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an elevation of 4,693 metres. The highway was built by the government of Pakistan and China. It was started in 1950 and opened to the public in 1979. About 810 Pakistanis and 200 Chinese workers lost their lives during the construction of the highway, mostly in landslide and falls.
We return to Urumqi by evening flight.
Day 15/Thu: Urumqi – Lhasa (B/D)
Due to lack of non-stop flight between the two cities, the air travel today may take up to 7 hours including a layover in Xining or Lanzhou. Depending on flight schedule, sightseeing may be arranged in Urumqi. No activity is planned in Lhasa even if we get there early because getting acclimatized to the high altitudes requires rest.
Situated in a wide, mountain-fringed valley on the north bank of the Kyichu River, Lhasa (elevation 3,650m) is a rapidly expanding city with a population of over 540,000. An important settlement for well over a thousand years, Lhasa was originally called Rasa, but was renamed by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century when he moved his capital here from the Yarlung Valley. Following the collapse of the Yarlung dynasty two centuries later, power dispersed among local chieftains and the city lost its pre-eminence. It was not until the 17th century, with the installation of the Fifth Dalai Lama as ruler by Gushri Khan, a Mongolian prince and later leader of the Khoshut Khanate, that Lhasa once again became the seat of government.
Day 16/Fri: Lhasa (B/L)
Morning visit to Norbulinka, literally meaning jeweled park. First built in 1755, Norbulingka served as the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until the 14th Dalai Lama’s exile in 1959. Covering an area of 89 acres and a short distance to the southwest of the Potala Palace, Norbulingka is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace.
This afternoon we tour grand Sera Monastery, where lively debates held Monday to Saturday from 3 to 5 pm between resident monks often draw a large audience. Sera Monastery is one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet – the other two are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery.
Day 17/Sat: Lhasa (B/L)
This morning we visit the Potala Palace. This was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. It is now a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. The 5th Dalai Lama started its construction in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. The palace sits on the site of an earlier fortress built by King Songtsen Gampo. The main building measures 360 metres east-west and 140 metres north-south. Thickness of the exterior granite walls varies between 2 and 5 metres.
Afternoon sightseeing at Jokhang Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist buildings in Tibet and a remarkable combination of Tibetan, Indian, Nepalese and Han Chinese architectural styles. No visit to Jokhang Temple is complete without checking out the Barkor Street bazaar outside the temple.
Day 18/Sun: Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse (B/L/D)
Following breakfast, we drive along the Southern Route to Gyantse (265km).
Highlights of the scenic drive include Kambaba Pass (4700 metres/15416 feet above sea level) and the holy lake Yamdrok Yumtso. Every summer throngs of Tibetan pilgrims come to the lake to pray for blessings by the lake fairy.
Afternoon sightseeing in Gyantse takes in the Fortress of Gyantse Dzong and Pelkhor Choede. We continue on to Shigatse (90km) in late afternoon arriving at the second largest city in Tibet around dinnertime.
Day 19/Mon: Shigatse – Lhasa (B/L)
This morning we tour Tashilunpo Monastery, the religious and administrative headquarters of the Panchen Lama – paramount leader of the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. We will also visit a local Tibetan family.
After lunch we drive back to Lhasa via a different route – better paved Northern Route (295 km). Vast pastureland, barren mountain slopes, snow-capped peaks, blue skies, white clouds, scanty population, and ubiquitous prayer flags – these images combine to conjure a sense of solitude and mystery.
Day 20/Tue: Lhasa (B)
Free day to explore on your own. For a small fee, we can organize a visit to a local elementary school or hospital of traditional Tibetan medicine.
Day 21/Wed: Lhasa (B/L)
Today’s schedule includes Drephung Monastery, Tibet Museum, and Chakpori Hill which on a clear day provides the best spots to photographing the Potala Palace.
Day 22/Thu: Lhasa – Kunming (B/L/D)
We board a morning flight for Kunming (3.5 hours including a brief layover).
Capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming is known as the “city of eternal spring” due to its temperate climate. Sitting at 1,900 metres above sea level in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, Kunming long profited from its position on the caravan roads through to Southeast Asia, India and Tibet. During the Second World War, Kunming became the terminus on the Chinese side of the famous Burma Road and also served as an airbase for the Allied Forces.
Our sightseeing this afternoon includes the historic Western Hill Scenic Area and Huating Temple.
Day 23/Fri: Kunming – Stone Forest – Kunming (B/L)
Enjoy a full-day excursion to Stone Forest. Located 126km southeast of Kunming, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a massive collection of gray limestone pillars created by water erosion. The tall rocks seem to emanate from the ground in the manner of stalagmites, with many looking like trees made of stone.
Day 24/Sat: Kunming – Xianggelila (B/L/D)
We spend the morning exploring on our own. A stroll through Green Lake Park is recommended.
We fly to Zhongdian, known as Xiangelila nowadays, in the afternoon and then spend the rest of the day getting acclimatized to the high altitudes (3,160 metres/10,400 feet above sea level).
Day 25/Sun: Xianggelila (B/L/D)
In the 1933 novel Lost Horizon, the British author, James Hilton, describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains. Some scholars believe that the Shangri-La story owes a literary debt to Shambhala, a mythical kingdom in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which was sought by Eastern and Western explorers. Because of this remote association, the local authorities in Yunnan applied to the State Council, the Chinese equivalent to the cabinet of a Western federal government, to have their county’s name changed from Zhongdian to Shangri-La (Xiangelila in Chinese pinyin) for the sake of tourism promotion. The application was approved in late 2001 and the name change soon went into effect.
We spend the morning exploring Pudacuo National Park. Stops include Bita Lake and Shudu Lake surrounded by virgin alpine forests. Designated as a national park on June 25, 2007, Pudacuo covers an area of 1,300 square kilometres. It is the first national park in China that meets the standards established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The park contains more than 20 percent of China’s plant species, about one-third of its mammal and bird species and almost 100 endangered species. It is notably home to vulnerable Black-necked cranes, many rare and beautiful orchids, and Himalayan Yew – a coniferous tree whose extracts are a source of the anticancer drug, paclitaxel.
Afternoon sightseeing takes in a Tibetan village, the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery and a local market. Located 5 kilometres from the town of Zhongdian, the Ganden Sumtsenling Monastery, also known as Sungtseling, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery first built in 1679. Situated at 3,380 metres above sea level, it is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province and is sometimes referred to as Little Potala Palace in reference to the Dalai Lama’s Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
Day 26/Mon: Xianggelia – Lijiang (B/L)
After breakfast we embark on an overland journey to Lijiang. The day-long drive covers 200 kilometres of country road snaking through scenic river valleys and high mountains dotted with villages of various ethnic nationalities. The highlight of the drive is a stop at the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the first bend of the Yangtze. The gorge is a 15-kilometre scenic canyon on the Jinsha River, a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River. With a maximum depth of 3790 metres, the Tiger Leaping Gorge is believed to be the deepest river canyon in the world.
Day 27/Tue: Lijiang (B/L)
Lijiang is home to the ethnic Naxi people whose intriguing Dongba religion and unique customs coupled with the region’s enchanting scenery combine to make Lijiang and its vicinity a fascinating place to explore. Joseph Rock, the Austrian-American explorer, geographer, linguist and botanist, spent almost three decades researching this part of China. The old town of Lijiang known as Dayan is protected as a UNESCO-designated World Cultural Heritage Site. We spend the rest of the day at leisure to get acclimatized to the high altitudes.
We begin today with an excursion to Yunshanping or Spruce Meadow, an alpine pasture surrounded by virgin forests at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. While there, we’ll attend a live performance called Impression Lijiang. Directed by Zhang Yimou, Wang Chaoge and Fan Yue, Impression Lijiang is a song and dance extravaganza that takes place on location at 3,100 metres above sea level, in a spring-like city in Southwest China. Premiered on July 23, 2006, the hour-long show has been performed on a regular basis averaging over a million spectators per year.
Later today we visit an ancient village on the way back to the city. In the afternoon we enjoy a walking tour of the old town (this may be moved up to the day before depending on flight schedule).
Day 28/Wed: Lijiang – Chengdu (B/L)
Free morning to explore on your own. We fly to Chengdu in late afternoon. Depending on flight availability, we may need to fly to Chengdu in the morning. In that case, sightseeing will be arranged on arrival in Chengdu.
Chengdu is capital of populous Sichuan Province. The ancient city has a population of 14 million with half of that within the urban centre and the remainder in the surrounding districts. A top livable city, Chengdu is one of the most important economic, transportation, and communication hubs in Western China. The fertile Chengdu Plain, on which Chengdu is located, is also known as “Country of Heaven”, a phrase also often translated as “The Land of Abundance”. The discovery of the Jinsha site suggests the area of Chengdu had become the centre of the Bronze Age Sanxingdui culture around the time of the establishment of the state of Shu, prior to its annexation by Qin in 316 BC.
Morning sightseeing at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The giant panda, unrelated to lesser or red panda, is a bear native to south central China, living in mountainous regions. It is easily recognized by the large, distinctive black patches around its eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda’s diet is over 99% bamboo. The giant panda has an insatiable appetite for bamboo. A typical animal eats half the day – a full 12 out of every 24 hours – and relieves itself dozens of times a day. Giant pandas are solitary creatures. They have a highly developed sense of smell that males use to avoid each other and to find females for mating in the spring. After a five-month pregnancy, females give birth to a cub or two, though they cannot care for both twins. The blind infants born white weigh only 5 ounces (142 grams) at birth and cannot crawl until they reach three months of age. The panda is a conservation reliant endangered species. Recent statistics show 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. Estimates of the wild population vary from 1,000 to as high as 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of pandas in the wild is on the rise.
We spend most of the afternoon at Jinsha Museum built on the excavation site. A significant archaeological discovery in modern China, construction workers chanced upon it in February 2001. The site flourished around 1000 BC and shares similarities in burial objects with the Sanxingdui site located 50 km from Chengdu. Objects made of ivory, jade, bronze, gold and stone were unearthed at the site. Unlike the site at Sanxingdui, Jinsha did not have a city wall. Jinsha culture (1200–650 BC) is believed to be a final phase of Sanxingdui culture and represents a relocation of the political center in the ancient Shu Kingdom.
Day 30/Fri: Chengdu – Shanghai (B/L)
Free morning to explore on your own.
Afternoon flight to Shanghai (3 hours).
With a population of 24 million (2015), Shanghai is China’s biggest city, which delights the visitor with its futuristic skyline and historical landmarks. Rapid economic growth in the past 30 years has again turned Shanghai into a leading global city with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport.
Day 31/Sat: Shanghai (B/L/D)
Following tour orientation we visit Jade Buddha Temple located in an old neighbourhood, the famous waterfront promenade known as the Bund, and the Yu Garden in the old town centre. We wrap up the day with a drive through the glitzy financial district of Lujiazui on the opposite side of the Bund across Huangpu River.
Day 32/Sun: Shanghai (B)
Free day to explore on your own. We recommend Shanghai Museum and the Urban Planning Exhibition Center nearby. Shanghai Museum, a great place to explore on your own (audio guide available for a fee), is frequently cited by visitors as one of the best of its kind in China with a treasure trove collected from around the country.
Day 3/Mon: Return Home (B)
Your tour ends this morning. Transfer to the airport any time for return flight. Guests flying back to North America will regain a day upon re-crossing the International Date Line, thus arriving home the same day as departing from Shanghai.
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|Beijing||3||Sheraton Beijing Dongcheng||luxury|
|Xi’an||3||Sheraton North City||luxury|
|Dunhuang||2||Wan Sheng Int’l||4-star, best available|
|Urumqi – firs stay||2||Hongfu Hotel||luxury|
|Urumqi – 2nd stay||1||Hongfu Hotel||luxury|
|Lhasa – first stay||3||InterContinental||luxury|
|Shigatse||1||Jumuyamei or similar||4-star, best available|
|Lhasa – 2nd stay||3||InterContinental||luxury|
|Lijiang||2||Hilton Garden Inn||luxury|
Dates and Prices
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