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Tibetan Journey

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highlights
  • Experience one of the world’s greatest train journeys – the railway to the roof of the world, crossing incredibly mountainous and remote terrain
  • Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it first-hand with hours to explore the Great Wall
  • Get to know Lhasa, from the architectural wonder of the former home of the Dalai Lama to the incredible atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple, the holiest in the Tibetan Buddhist world
  • Every drive in Tibet seems more stunning that the last. Climb phenomenal passes, twist up thrilling peaks, and take in incredible views of skies and lakes, where the only way to tell their perfect blue apart is the towering mountains that separate them
The Tibetan Journey tour starts in Beijing and ends in Chengdu. The Tibetan Journey is an Explorer tour that takes 14 days taking you from Beijing to Chengdu and through other destinations in Asia.

It could be a combination of the mist rolling off the chilly peaks or the light breaching between the mountains, but there’s something that makes Tibet feel as if it’s caught in a hazy dream. In between the capital of China and the vast Tibetan Plateau, tiny, ornate villages share the Tibetan people’s inspiring sense of hope. Along the world’s highest railway en route to Lhasa, spirituality permeates through its remote monasteries, high mountain passes, homes and marketplaces. Delve into monastic rituals and marvel at the monolithic Mt Everest on this extraordinary journey.

ALTERNATE ITINERARY & CONTINGENCY FUND:
There have been recent cases where the Chinese Railway Bureau has not permitted foreign groups to travel from Beijing to Lhasa by train without any prior notice or specific reason. Please ensure you have access to your contingency fund of USD$500 in cash should your group be affected and needs to fly from Beijing to Lhasa. Please see Day 1 of your itinerary for details.
Nimen Hao! Welcome to Beijing, the capital of the most populous country on earth with plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where your insurance and next of kin details will be collected. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the meeting will take place. Any free time today in Beijing is at your leisure, so you can start your explorations of this vast city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Forbidden City - CNY 60
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY 530
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show - CNY 280
  • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY 25
  • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY 40
  • Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure - CNY 360
  • Beijing - Temple of Heaven - CNY 40
No trip to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Today you’ll take an early morning visit to one of the best-preserved areas featuring guard towers dating back to the Ming dynasty - , the Mutianyu section (approximately 2 hours). An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from the 'barbarians' of the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it is still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements. It's a 30-minute climb up some steep steps to the wall itself, but it’s well worth the effort. You will need good walking shoes for this. There’s also the option of taking a chair lift or cable car to the top and back if you’re after a more leisurely experience. Head back into the city in the afternoon, then this evening transfer to the Beijing West railway station (one of the biggest and busiest in the world!) to board the train to Lhasa (approximately 45 hours). This first night you'll pass through provincial towns, through Xi'an, and then directly into the mountains, sometimes through tunnels that can last for minutes at a time!

About overnight train in China:
We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). The Beijing-Lhasa train is one of the newest and best in China. Wherever possible, we will group our travellers together, but this will depend on group size and ticket availability. Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Safe, hot drinking water is always available. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins). The train has a dining car; meals are of better quality on the first day, as by the second day you are travelling at altitude, which makes cooking difficult! You may wish to purchase extra snacks of your choice before the journey to supplement food available on the train. Basic bathroom facilities with toilets and washbasins are situated at the end of each carriage. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's best to bring an emergency supply. It's usually impossible to upgrade to a different class while on the train, so it shouldn't be replied upon as an option.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train
The train to Lhasa is one of China's greatest recent engineering feats. It’s the highest railway in the world, traversing some incredibly mountainous and remote terrain. The journey takes you through the major cities of Xi'an, Lanzhou and Xining, and across the Qinghai Plateau before arriving in Lhasa. Luxuriate in the feeling of accomplishment without having to do anything – go to bed and wake up 1000 kilometres away. Stop briefly in Lanzhou, the crossroads of journeys along the Silk Road and the Tibet-Qinghai plateau, and head on past the immense city of Xining. On this second night you’ll climb in altitude and your breath with likely be taken away by the landscape outside the windows – snow-dappled black cliffs and mountain peaks illuminated by the moonlight.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train
The train will travel through a wide brown grassland complemented by terracotta foothills, with a speckling of grazing yaks, sheep and goats and the occasional punctuation of lakes and streams. This same landscape, only sparsely populated by clusters of brick village houses, treeless and vast, will accompany you nearly all the way to Lhasa, where you’ll arrive some time after lunch. The colourful and historic holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley, and for hundreds of years it was a mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world. Even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reached the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. While now welcoming tourists and much modernized, Lhasa remains an intriguing city with a deeply fascinating culture, sights and stories. Check in to your hotel and begin to get acclimatised with a free night tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Begin exploring Lhasa with an easy morning walk in the nearby area before joining a momo (Tibetan dumpling) making class for lunch. In the afternoon, take a visit to the Sera Monastery and witness the residing monks taking part in heated debates in the courtyards.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Begin seeing the sights of 'The Place of the Gods' with visits to both the imposing Potala Palace and Jokhang temple. As the former home of the Dalai Lamas, Potala Palace sits 130 metres (426 feet) above the city. The palace is divided into two parts – the secular White Palace, used for offices and the like and the religious Red Palace that boasts a number of shrines, chapels and tombs of Dalai Lamas. Although the palace cannot be explored freely and a strict viewing schedule has to be adhered to, this in no way hampers the impact of an adventure to one of the world's architectural marvels. The charming gold and jewel-filled rooms and views from the roof are usually bustling with Tibetan pilgrims and Chinese tourists making offerings at the altars, adding to the spiritual and cultural intrigue on your visit here. For the rest of the day, you can deepen your perspective of Lhasa's holy sites with a trip to the Ganden or Drepung Monasteries. Alternatively, perhaps visit the Norbulingka, the Summer Palace of Dalai Lamas. Your leader will help arrange activities for your free time.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Lhasa - Drepung Monastery - CNY 60
  • Lhasa - Ganden Monastery - CNY 145
  • Lhasa - Norbulingka - CNY 60
Today’s drive to Gyantse is spectacular, offering unforgettable views around every bend. Cross over several stunning passes as you twist through dramatic mountains and peaks that tower over the road. Take in the incredible views of Yamdrok Lake, mystically mirroring the sky above in near perfection, climb Khamba La Pass and see yaks plodding along the mountainside. Pass sheep herder villages scattered along the banks of the lake and be confronted by the soaring Noijin Kangsang, the peak of the Lhagoi Kangri mountain range. Stop at the town of Nangartse for lunch before climbing up to the Karo La pass, and then descending down to the town of Gyantse. The drive should take around 8 hours. The small rural town of Gyantse is famed for its wool carpets. While there’s still a feel of tradition and life continuing much as it has for centuries, Gyantse is also a great place to see contemporary Tibetan life in the backstreets, where pilgrims, pop music, cows, 'cowboys' on motorbikes, kids and monks all mingle in a lively mix of cultures. There are a number of interesting buildings in the town, including the Pelkhor Chode Temple complex, a unique structure built in 1414 that brought together 15 monasteries and three different orders of Tibetan Buddhism.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
This morning you’ll spend time in the unique Gyantse Kumbum, an impressive layered stupa designed as a kind of 3D mandala (symbol that represents the universe) before exploring a model of the Buddhist universe where each storey represents a step to enlightenment. If you have a head for heights, you can wind your way up the pilgrim circuit. Pass dozens of tiny painting-filled chapels and press on as the passages steadily get narrower as you get higher –the air becoming more and more intoxicating with incense and smoke from yak butter lamps. Later on, there’s the chance to enjoy a lunch at a local family home, offering a fantastic real life experience where you can help prepare the food while enjoying both Tibetan hospitality and interesting tales. You will then drive to Tibet's second-largest city, Shigatse, on a 90-kilometre (55 mile) drive that takes at least 2 hours. Translating to ‘all fortune and happiness gathered here’, Shigatse is a busy, mountain-clasped city that’s rapidly modernising. There are still strong reminders of Tibetan culture, such as the Tashilhunpo Monastery which you’ll visit later on this adventure. Perhaps ask your leader for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world’s largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel meanwhile, is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks preparing for ceremonies.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Continue west to the town of Sakya (approximately 3-4 hours). Sakya's monastery and town buildings are quite unique. Originally, there were two monasteries in Sakya – the Northern and the Southern – but the former was completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The Southern Monastery is built in a medieval 'Mongolian' style, and rather than being whitewashed, the secular buildings are painted in red and while stripes. With its high imposing walls, the monastery is sometimes nicknamed the ‘Great Wall of Tibet’. You’ll have time to explore inside the Sakya monastery. At first the halls may seem similar to other monasteries you’ve visited, but after spending time here and soaking in the atmosphere you'll soon realise that Sakya has a subtle ancient beauty that’s like no other. After the monastery tour, you can choose to climb the hill through the Tibetan Village to see what's left of the original Northern Monastery complex. Make sure you pick your way through the ruins and remaining buildings in a clockwise direction as this is a kora route (a circumambulation around a sacred site). You can also hike a little further to visit the friendly nuns at the Nunnery high on the hill overlooking the town. Tonight for dinner, consider tasting some spicy food at one of the little restaurants run by Sichuanese immigrants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
With an early start today, travel to Everest National Park, (approximately 5-6 hours). Cross the spectacular 5,050 metre Pangla Pass on the way to Rongphu Monastery, the highest monastery in the world. On a clear day, you’ll have giddy views of the Everest range. On a clear day you may even get a photo of the monastery's chorten against the backdrop of mighty Everest, or Qomolangma as it is called in Tibetan. A relatively modern monastery by Tibetan standards, Rongphu was built in the early 1900s and originally housed more than 500 monks. Today around 50 monks and nuns remain. They unusually share the same prayer hall, although they have separate residences. Enjoy a warm welcome from the monks and nuns here and perhaps join them for their evening prayers, if possible. Continue to the tent compound where the groups will spend the night before preparing for tomorrow’s 2 hour return hike to the base camp on China's side.

In the summer months, you stay near Rongphu in the Tent City that lies along the road to Everest Base Camp. Here nomad-style tents accommodate up to seven people with basic mattresses and bedding provided, but a sleep sheet and warm clothes for cool evenings are recommended. There are basic pit toilets nearby. A yak dung stove in the central open area of each tent provides heat. Being so close to the tallest mountains in the world more than makes up for the basic sleeping conditions. In colder months when the Tent City is not operational, you’ll stay in the monastery guesthouse or in a nearby town. Rooms here are quad-share with very simple, shared facilities.
Accommodation
  • Permanent Tent Camp/Guesthouse
Return to Shigatse (approximately 7-8 hours), which will feel like a bustling metropolis after the remote scenery from the last few days. Today will be a long day of travelling, but the constantly incredible scenery will make the journey worthwhile. There will be plenty of stops along the way for photo opportunities and to stretch the legs.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Before embarking on a return trip to Lhasa, visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the few in Tibet to have come out of the Cultural Revolution virtually unscathed. Sheltering expansive territory inside its thick stone walls, it’s almost like a town in itself – you’ll get the opportunity to explore the area further on a guided walk. Perhaps join the pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a 1-hour walk around the perimeter of the monastery while taking in splendid, atmospheric views. Travel back on the same jaw-dropping road that you took a few days ago, allowing you to experience the incredible scenery of Yamdrok Lake and the Khamaba La Pass from every angle. There’ll be stops along the way for snacks and a few final photos of the mountains. When you return to Lhasa, the rest of the day is free. Perhaps follow the pilgrim path around the Potala Palace or take photos of the busy scene from the main square. Spend your last Tibetan night here in Lhasa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Say goodbye to Tibet and your Tibetan leader and catch a flight from Lhasa to Chengdu (approx 2 hours). It might be one of China's biggest cities, but Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional flavour. The capital of Sichuan Province is most famous for two things – the pandas living in the mountains and the food. Its hot, spicy dishes are considered by the Chinese to be the best cuisine in the whole country. In such a food-loving country, this is no mean feat. Maybe sample a spicy Sichuan hotpot together this evening for your final dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Chengdu - Sichuan Opera
Your adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
what’s included
Accommodation
  • Hotel (9 nights), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (2 nights), Permanent Tented Camp/Guesthouse (1 night)
Transport
  • Overnight Sleeper Train , Private Bus , Public Bus , Plane
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Mutianyu Great Wall
  • Lhasa - Sera Monastery
  • Lhasa - Momo cooking class
  • Lhasa - Jokhang Temple
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace
  • Gyantse - Pelkor Chode Monastery
  • Gyantse - Kumbum
  • Gyantse - Tibetan family visit & lunch
  • Sakya - Monastery
  • Everest National Park - Base Camp Monument (Chinese side)
  • Shigatse - Tashilhunpo Monastery
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to Beijing and from Chengdu are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this Tibetan Journey tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Booking Type Instant Booking  
Duration 14 days
Tour Type Group Tour - Max 12 participants
guiding method Live guide/instructor
Guide Language English
Starts/Ends Beijing/ Chengdu
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Tibetan Journey
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Good to know
Payment

A deposit of 400 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 57 days before departure. For any departures within 22 July 2019 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Tibetan Journey tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Tibetan Journey tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this Tibetan Journey tour. You can cancel the tour up to 58 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 57 days of departure.
Trip Details
  • Last modified (date)

    22 May 2019

  • Trip title

    Tibetan Journey

  • Trip code

    CBSO

  • Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019

  • Introduction

    It could be a combination of the mist rolling off the chilly peaks or the light breaching between the mountains, but there’s something that makes Tibet feel as if it’s caught in a hazy dream. In between the capital of China and the vast Tibetan Plateau, tiny, ornate villages share the Tibetan people’s inspiring sense of hope. Along the world’s highest railway en route to Lhasa, spirituality permeates through its remote monasteries, high mountain passes, homes and marketplaces. Delve into monastic rituals and marvel at the monolithic Mt Everest on this extraordinary journey.

    ALTERNATE ITINERARY & CONTINGENCY FUND:
    There have been recent cases where the Chinese Railway Bureau has not permitted foreign groups to travel from Beijing to Lhasa by train without any prior notice or specific reason. Please ensure you have access to your contingency fund of USD$500 in cash should your group be affected and needs to fly from Beijing to Lhasa. Please see Day 1 of your itinerary for details.

  • Style

    Original

  • Themes

    Explorer

  • Transport

    Overnight Sleeper Train,Private Bus,Public Bus,Plane

  • Physical Rating

    4

  • Physical preparation

    You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable. In some locations it may be possible to hire porters at extra expense paid locally. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.

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  • Joining point description

    King Parkview Hotel is centrally located in Beijing, close to many historical and cultural landmarks, including Jinshan Park, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square and the National Art Museum, and the hutong areaThe hotel offers comfortable rooms including en-suite bathroom, TV & AC. Hotel rooms may include a vanity pack which are not complimentary. You will be charged at checkout if you open or use the vanity pack.

  • Group leader

    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

  • Visas

    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

    CHINA VISA:
    Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. Tibet is is a province of mainland China and so you will require a Chinese visa for this trip. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.

    INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    For our Tibet trips you will be provided with documentation for your visa application that will NOT match your true itinerary. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit. Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected, so you must instead use the general China itinerary that we provide to you.

    Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
    Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.
    606 InterChina Commercial Building
    33 Dengshikou Street
    Dongcheng District
    Beijing 100006
    +86 10 6406 8022

    DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    * Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.
    * Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.
    * Photocopy of your passport
    * Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required)
    * Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

    DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TIBET PERMIT & TICKET BOOKINGS:
    The following must be sent at the time of booking or no later than 30 days prior to travel:
    * Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
    * Clear, colour scanned copy of your Chinese visa
    If we do not receive these documents from you in time you will not be able to travel to Tibet.

    WARNING – TRAVEL TO TIBET:
    Please be aware that this is a politically sensitive area of China which has in the past been closed to foreign travellers without warning. A change in the political situation can also lead to unforeseen delays in issuing visas and permits. We aim to keep our travellers as up to date as possible with any changes, however these are often made without any official announcement by authorities and as such are out of our control.

  • Is this trip right for you

    This trip visits places that are over 3,500 metres above sea level, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health.

    Strong and sturdy walking shoes are essential, especially for activities such as hiking the Great Wall (the Mutianyu section is quite steep in places) and the walk at Everest Base Camp.

    Though there is a long 2 night train journey on this trip, it is through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The train to the roof of the world travels at high altitude, including the Tanggula Pass (5,072m), Fenghuahan tunnel (4,095m). Altogether over 80% of the section between Golmud to Lhasa is at elevations of over 4000m.

    As important cultural and historical sites, there are visits to many monasteries and temples on this itinerary. Some travellers find that they can get 'templed out' quickly as there's just so much information to take in. Be sure to stop and rest when you have the chance and to take up opportunities to do varied activities when available.

    There are some nights in more basic accommodation on this trip (including some nights camping or in simple multishare rooms) and at some of the hotels hot water may not be available. Patience and flexibility will go a long way to ensuring you have a good experience when travelling here!

    There have been recent cases where the Chinese Railway Bureau has not permitted foreign groups to travel from Beijing to Lhasa by train without any prior notice or specific reason. Please ensure you have access to your contingency fund of USD$500 in cash should your group be affected and needs to fly from Beijing to Lhasa. Please see Day 1 of your itinerary for details.

  • Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY:
    When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

    CHINA
    The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao). ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and look for ATMs with your card logo. You may find that your card does not work in certain ATMs, so we recommend purchasing some CNY in your home country so you have some cash for your first day.

    Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

    Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

    Budget for meals not included: 180.00

    CONTINGENCY FUNDS:
    We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

    TIPPING IN CHINA:
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

    In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

    - Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.
    - Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.
    - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.
    - Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

    Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

    Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

  • Climate and seasonal

    CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
    Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.

    Here are the major holiday periods in China:
    Chinese New Year: Feb 4-10 2019, Jan 24-30 2020
    Qingming Festival: Apr 5-7 2019, Apr 4-6 2020
    May Day: May 1 2019, May 1-3 2020
    Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 7-9 2019, Jun 25-27 2020
    Mid Autumn Day: Sep 13-15 2019, falls within National Day holidays 2020
    National Day: Oct 1-7 2019, Oct 1-8 2020

  • A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

    Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

    The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

    By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

    If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

  • Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

    TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
    Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on our different trips than your own.

    CHECK-IN TIME
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

    PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

    CHINA
    HOTEL ROOMS:
    Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue.

    SMOKING ROOMS:
    Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

    WIFI:
    WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.


    HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:
    We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles. While we aim to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. Those travellers opting for a Soft Sleeper Upgrade (where available) may need to board the train from a separate waiting area and be in another carriage from the rest of the group. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.

    Please note, the standard of accommodation in Tibet varies considerably and can be basic at times, especially out of Lhasa. Hot water and power supply can be sporadic, and the facilities can be old due to the lack of development in the region as well. At the tent 'city' (our stay at the EBC section of the trip), we will be staying in a seasonal tented camp. The tents are spacious, well-equipped 8 person sized, which come with dormitory style single beds, solid flooring and a central heating stove. There are no showers here and the toilet facilities are a little primitive but the view of the north face of Everest should make up for the lack of creature comforts!

  • Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

    SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

  • Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES:
    Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:
    A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

  • Accommodation

    Hotel (9 nights),Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (2 nights),Permanent Tented Camp/Guesthouse (1 night)

  • Alternate Joining point description

    Located almost right in the heart of Beijing, King’s joy hotel offers great convenience for your stay in Beijing. Hotel is closed to Qianmen Hutong Area with 2 min walk, only 1km away from Tian’anmen Square & Forbidden City, 2km to Temple of Heaven.
    Metro is also nearby, Qianmen Station (前门站) for Line 2 is only 5 minute walk which gives you easy access to the all the major sites in Beijing.

    Free WIFI and no-smoking room are available. 24 hours front desk service is provided. Rooms are equipped with en-suite bathroom, A/C, and other basic facilities. In the private bathroom basic show facilities are available. Other services like bike hire, internet, and laundry are also available. A fine selection of Chinese food and local Beijing cuisine can be enjoyed at the restaurant on site.

  • Important information

    1. In order for us to apply for your Tibet entry permit and purchase your train ticket to Lhasa you must provide a scanned, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport and Chinese visa to your booking agent no later than 35 days prior to the start date of your trip.
    2. Please be aware that in recent years there have been times when restrictions on nationalities being able to travel on specific departures have been implemented or Tibet has been closed to foreign tourists without warning.
    3. This trip has an increased deposit due to non refundable train tickets from Beijing to Lhasa.
    4. You must bring an emergency fund of 500 USD in cash with you on this trip, which you may need to use in case when foreign groups are denied of purchasing Beijing to Lhasa train tickets due to government decision.
    5. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes (above 3000 meters/ 9800 feet), a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.
    6. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilets (squat/western) are available in each carriage, but there are no shower facilities. 4-berth 'soft-sleeper' upgrade is available to purchase on this trip. Please consult your booking agent if you are interested.
    7. Please note while traveling through China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
    8. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding the overnight train (Day 2, 3) and the stay at the Mt. Everest National Park.
    9. When applying for Chinese visa it is imperative not to mention travel to Tibet. You must first apply for your Chinese visa as instructed and Intrepid will then apply for the Tibet permit on your behalf.
    10. It's a criminal offence for anyone to carry images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag - doing so may lead to confiscation of the items, detention, arrest or imprisonment by Chinese authorities.
    11. There's not a lot of extra time planned in Beijing and Chengdu. We highly recommend you plan extra time in Chengdu for further exploration esp. if you would like to visit the Panda Breeding Center as there's no time to visit when we arrive in Chengdu. Please consult your booking agent for booking extra nights in the city.

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How our Travel Expert Service Works
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