- The Potala Palace
See the Dalia Lama’s former winter palace.
- Giant Pandas
Watch Giant Pandas at Chengdu’s famous Panda Base.
- Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Admire this majestic mountain, overlooking the Black Dragon Pool.
- Jokhang Temple
This important temple in Lhasa is part of the Barkhor Circuit pilgrimage route.
- Kunming Stone Forest
This limestone ‘forest’ is home to peaks up to 40 metres high.
- The 56 minorities of China
Enjoy the chance to meet people from the Bai and Naxi ethnic groups.
- The Three Pagodas
These remarkable pagodas in Chongsheng Temple are over 1,000 years old.
- VIP door to door
Discover western China and the ancient capital of Tibet
Step into another world on this fascinating new tour which takes you to Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in west China, and Lhasa – capital of Tibet.
Your tour starts in Kunming, capital of Yunnan – a land of mountains and valleys, where many of China’s remaining ethnic communities still reside. With its ‘laid-back’ vibe, temples, and extraordinary ancient Stone Forest, you can also enjoy a taste of the region as you try the city’s famous dish of ‘Across the Bridge’ noodles! Your next stop takes you north west to the city of Dali, where you’ll explore the town and visit the beautiful Erhai Park and Lake. You’ll also meet the Bai People at a local market in Xizhou town before visiting Dali’s famous Three Pagodas – all over a 1,000 years old.
Afterwards, you’ll head for Lijiang, home of the majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Look forward to travelling part of the way up the mountain by cable car, as well as visiting a monastery and village, and exploring the famous old town of Lijiang – UNESCO World Heritage Site. From here, you’ll fly to Lhasa, capital of Tibet and home of the Potala Palace – the winter residence of the Dalai Lama. This extraordinary and iconic building lies on raised ground within the town and is a spiritual hub for Buddhists and a popular place of pilgrimage. You’ll visit the palace during your stay in Lhasa, taking in some of the 1,000 rooms including prayer halls and temples. You’ll also see Norbulingka – the summer palace famed for its gardens.
Your tour winds to a close as you fly from Lhasa to Chengdu and visit the world famous Chengdu Giant Panda Base. Here you’ll see these beautiful animals in a natural setting, as well as visiting a tea house and famous Jinli Street. From the glorious mountain scenery of Yunnan and ancient pagodas of Yunnan to the ethereal world of the Potala and the natural world of the pandas, this new and exciting tour offers a memorable ‘taste’ of western China.
12 nights in hotels, and 1 in flight
28 meals: 12 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 6 dinners
- Included travel insurance
- Return flights and transfers
- Saga tour manager
- Porterage at all hotels
Excursions and visits
- Tour of Kunming Stone Forest
- Kunming City Tour
- Visit to Erhai Park
- Tour of Dali Old Town and the Three Pagodas
- Visit Xizhou and meet the Bai people
- Dongba Cultural Museum in Lijiang
- Walking tour of Lijiang Old Town
- Cable Car ride to Spruce Meadow on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
- Visit to Baisha village and Yufeng Monastery
- Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery in Lhasa
- Visit the Potala Palace and Norbulingka Palace
- See the Giant Pandas at Chengdu Giant Panda Base
- Visit a tea house and enjoy a tasting
Use of audio headsets on guided tours
Day 1 UK-Kunming
Depart on your overnight flight to Kunming in Yunnan Province.
Day 2 Kunming
Arrive in Kunming where you stay for the next two nights at the locally rated 4-star Jinjiang Hotel (4Q) (or similar). Situated in the business area of the city, facilities at the hotel include a choice of restaurants, a bar, and fitness centre. Each of the 320 air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a television, telephone, safe, and hairdryer. Look forward to enjoying a welcome drink and dinner at your hotel this evening. D
Day 3 Kunming
This relatively relaxed city is the capital of Yunnan province.
It’s often referred to as the ‘city of spring’ because of its temperate climate and green spaces. Today look forward to enjoying a short city tour where you’ll see some of the highlights which may include some of the city’s temples and beautiful views. You’ll also visit the Stone Forest situated around an hour-and-a-half’s drive to the west of the city. This extraordinary ‘karst’ landscape forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site which in total spreads over some 235 square miles covering four provinces. With its towering limestone peaks which can rise to over 40 metres, gorges and caves this ‘stone forest’ is an extraordinary natural ‘wonder’.
Enjoy exploring this unique area before returning to the city. This evening, look forward to sampling the famous regional dish of ‘Across the Bridge Noodles’ – a bowl of heated broth into which is added noodles and a variety of ingredients. B, L, D
Day 4 Kunming-Dali
After breakfast you depart for Dali, a journey of around five hours.
During medieval times Dali was capital of the kingdom of the Bai people, who still reside here. Today it is a popular centre with a fascinating old town, situated between the mountains of Cangshan and Erhai Lake. Upon arrival look forward to visiting the breathtaking Erhai Lake and Park. This beautiful, ear-shaped lake lies at nearly 6,500 feet above sea level and is some 25 miles long. With its scenic backdrop, islands and surrounding villages, you’ll see the lake from Erhai park which was created in 1975 and features a variety of flora as well as lawns, a pavilion and temple.
Afterwards visit the old town area of Dali when you’ll take in sights including the city gate, the Dali Museum and Foreigner Street, with its huge variety of shops ranging from local crafts and jewellery, as well as restaurants.
You’ll spend the next two nights at the locally-rated 3.5-star Landscape Hotel (3Q), Dali (or similar). Situated in Dali old town, facilities at the hotel which is designed in traditional Bai style, include two restaurants, a bar, and sauna. There are 160 air-conditioned rooms each equipped with a television, telephone, safe, and hairdryer. B, L
Day 5 Dali
Today you head for the town of Xizhou which lies to the north of Dali.
The town is made up of a series of villages and is a hub for the Bai people. The Bai are one of some 56 ethnic groups which are recognised by China. Distinguished by having their own language, a strong tea ceremony tradition, and a distinctive traditional dress, look forward to the opportunity to meet and mix with the Bai as you visit the local market at Xizhou, as well as taking in a traditional Bai house and partaking in a ‘three course tea ceremony’. The Bai are also known for their technique of ‘tie-dying’ fabric and you’ll also visit a tie-dye workshop in Zhoucheng.
After lunch look forward to visiting the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple which lie to the north of Dali city. These extraordinary pagodas are all over 1,000 years old. The central pagoda – differentiated by its design from the other two – is the oldest and was built during the first half of the 9th century. Standing some 225 feet high, it is made up of sixteen storeys each containing a marble statue of Buddha. The other two pagodas – small by comparison at around 140 feet high, were built during the 10th century. All three have withstood the ravages of time and lie in front of the Chongsheng Temple complex which includes a monastery, various Halls, and also the ‘Reflection Pond’ in which the pagodas can been seen. B, L
Day 6 Dali-Lijiang
Transfer to Lijiang today – a drive of around three hours – where you will head for the Dongba Culture Museum.
This museum is dedicated to the culture of the Naxi people – a cultural ethnic group concentrated in Lijiang City, known for its literary heritage, pictographic script and religion. Today you can also look forward to the chance to explore Lijiang Old Town. This historic town was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site by virtue of its architecture and the merging of cultural influences over the centuries. With its mountain backdrop, canals, distinctive timber-framed houses and cultural heritage, look forward to exploring the town.
Visit the Black Dragon Pool, offering what is regarded as one of China’s finest views. Built in the 18th century and situated at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, this vast and beautiful pool with its elegant bridge, pagoda and backdrop of snow-clad mountain peaks provides a memorable vista. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is made up of a range of peaks, the highest of which is over 18,000 feet. Extending for some 21 miles, the peak permanently shrouded in mist and snow, the mountain took its name from a shape resembling a recumbent dragon that can sometimes be spotted in the clouds.
Look forward to getting a better view of the mountains, as you next take the cable car up Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the level known as Spruce Meadow and enjoy the fine views on offer. Afterwards, you’ll head for Baisha Village where you can enjoy the change to meet and mingle with the Naxi people. At this ancient village with its collection of temples and large square, enjoy time to soak up the atmosphere before continuing to Yufeng Monastery situated at the foot of the mountain.
Stay for the next two nights at the Palace Hotel (3Q) or similar. The locally rated 3-star Palace Hotel (3Q) is situated in the old town area and facilities include a restaurant and bar. Each of the 140 air-conditioned bedrooms features a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe and free Wi-Fi. B, L
Day 7 Lijiang
Spend the day at leisure. B, L
Day 8 Lijiang-Lhasa
Depart Lijiang for your flight to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet situated at an altitude of approximately 3,600 metres (11,800 feet).
After arriving, transfer to your hotel – the locally rated 4-star Four Points by Sheraton Hotel (3Q+) (or similar) where you’ll stay for the next three nights. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant, and free Wi-Fi in the public areas. Each of the 102 air-conditioned rooms features a television, telephone, safe, fridge and tea and coffee-making facilities. Enjoy time to relax for the rest of the day, as you acclimatise to the high altitude. B, L, D
Day 9 Lhasa
Set off today on the Barkhor Circuit – a pilgrimage route which takes in the Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery.
Barkhor Street itself is said to have arisen as the result of pilgrims walking around the Temple and as you walk it yourself, you’ll see ‘pilgrims’ walking clockwise along this old street lined with shops. The Jokhang Temple lies at the heart of the circuit and has its origins in the 7th century with later additions up until the the 16th century. Regarded as a place of great spiritual importance, visit the temple before continuing to the Sera Monastery. This vast monastery with its variety of buildings is where monks train and study, and within it lies a main hall divided up into a variety of chapels, as well as a college and monks living quarters.
Relax this evening and enjoy a Tibetan show with dinner. B, L, D
Day 10 Lhasa
Regarded as the most important building in Tibet, the Potala Palace sits on raised ground within the city of Lhasa.
It has acted as the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace is of outstanding architectural value, made up of a series of different palaces and has enormous significance for Tibetan Buddhism. Look forward to visiting the Palace today, taking in some of the main areas including the ceremonial hall, prayer halls, apartments, glittering murals, decoration and statues. Afterwards, you’ll continue to Norbulingka – the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Forming part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Norbulingka was built in the 18th century and is known for its beautiful garden and surrounding buildings including a palace. B, L, D
Day 11 Lhasa-Chengdu
Bid Tibet goodbye today as you fly to Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China.
Transfer to your hotel – the locally rated 5-star Tibet Hotel (4Q) (or similar) where you will stay for the next three nights. Facilities at the hotel include two restaurants, a bar, coffee shop, fitness centre, beauty salon and spa (charges apply). Each of the 271 air-conditioned bedrooms is equipped with a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe and hairdryer. B, L
Day 12 Chengdu
Set off today for Chengdu’s famous Giant Panda Base.
This world-renowned centre began in 1987 with just six pandas, and by 2008 its captive population had grown to 83. The 600-acre centre is a non-profit organisation and plays a vital role in helping to save the giant panda from extinction. As well as the giant panda, the centre also has programmes to help red pandas, white storks and other rare animals and birds. There are usually around 30 pandas here, and visitors are able to get close to these beautiful animals, so be sure to have your camera with you!
Afterwards look forward to visiting a tea house and enjoying a tea tasting before taking a stroll down the ancient street of Jinli with its fascinating buildings and tempting shops. B, L
Day 13 Chengdu
Relax and enjoy a day at leisure today.
Alternatively perhaps treat yourself to an optional tour to see the Leshan Giant Buddha and Huanglongxi old town, dating back to the Qing Dynasty. This evening look forward to enjoying a farewell dinner. B, D
Day 14 Chengdu-UK
Depart early in the morning for your return flight to the UK, arriving in the evening for your included UK door-to-door travel service home. B
Changing Face Show
Changing faces, sword-hiding and spitting fire are among the magic and unique skills performed by the Sichuan Opera.
Optional on 13 nights itinerary
Leshan Giant Buddha and Huanglongxi
The Leshan Giant Buddha is regarded as the largest Buddha in the world. Carved into a cliff face of the Lingyun Mountain overlooking the meeting point of three rivers, see this extraordinary sculpture before continuing to the ancient town of Huanglongxi, known for its quintessential Qing Dynasty architecture.
Optional on 13 nights itinerary
Important visa information
Chinese authorities now require fingerprints on visas so we can no longer supply them. If you are aged 70 or below you will need to have your fingerprints taken and pay for the visa, (currently £151) at the Chinese visa application centre in London, Manchester or Edinburgh. We will send you the application pack approximately 8 weeks before departure, with clear instructions of what you need to do, and how we can continue to help. We will be refunding you the £151 visa fee to reflect this change.