Mysterious Tibet 16-Day Tour (CIT008)
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|Potala Palace, Lhasa
(photo by Ondřej Žváček)
Day 1: U.S.A. – Beijing
Today you will board a plane bound for China, where you will witness the vicissitudes of China’s five thousand-year history. Your tour will begin with the dynamic capital city of Beijing, a city that encompasses the vast range of China’s cultural styles.
Day 2: Arrival in Beijing
Today, after arriving in Beijing, you will be greeted at the airport by CIT’s professional bilingual tour guide and escorted to the hotel where you will be staying overnight.
Beijing Accommodations: Grand Gongda Jianguo Hotel 工大建国 (5-Star) or equivalent
Day 3: Beijing
After breakfast, you will visit Tiananmen Square. Originally the front entrance of the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Tiananmen (“the Gate of Heavenly Peace”) was built in the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Yongle. When it was renovated during the Qing Dynasty, its name was changed to Tiananmen to suggest the idea that the emperor’s mandate to pacify and rule the nation came from heaven. You will make a special trip to see the National Centre for the Performing Arts, whose exterior looks like an enormous eggshell, earning it the nickname “The Egg.” Next, you will tour the Forbidden City, which served as the royal palace for 24 consecutive emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There you can explore art exhibits from every dynasty, exhibitions of Qing Dynasty cultural relics, the Three Great Halls, the Imperial Garden, the Palace of Heavenly Purity, and other attractions. In the afternoon an expert guide will take you on a pedicab tour of Beijing’s hutong, or “narrow alleyways,” where you can take pictures that will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, and afterward you will stroll along the shore of Shicha Hai, a picturesque man-made lake. After dinner you will enjoy a theatrical kung fu show.
Day 3 Attractions:
|Forbidden City, Beijing
(photo by Thierry)
- Tiananmen Square (天安门广场, Tiānānmén Guǎngchǎng)
- National Centre for the Performing Arts (国家大剧院, Guójiā Dàjùyuàn)
- Forbidden City (故宫, Gù Gōng, or 紫禁城, Zǐjìn Chéng)
- Three Great Halls (三大殿, Sān Dàdiàn)
- Imperial Garden (御花园, Yùhuā Yuán)
- Palace of Heavenly Purity (乾清宫, Qiánqīng Gōng)
- Beijing’s hutong, (胡同, hútòng)
- Shicha Hai (什刹海, Shíchà Hǎi)
- Special Arrangements: theatrical kung fu show (功夫秀, gōngfū xiù)
Day 4: Beijing
After breakfast, you will visit the Great Wall of China, one of the Eight Wonders of the Ancient World. Located in a strategically important area that military commanders throughout history have sought to control, the Badaling stretch of the Great Wall is the best-preserved, most representative, and most finely constructed section from the Ming Dynasty. After visiting the Great Wall, you will tour the Summer Palace used by the imperial family during the Qing Dynasty. Originally called “Clear Ripple Garden,” the Summer Palace was burned down in 1860 by the allied forces of England and France. Beginning in 1888, the Empress Dowager Cixi rebuilt it with a huge sum of money embezzled from the navy. After its reconstruction was completed ten years later, it was given its current name. Next, you will tour the largest extant temple complex in China, the Temple of Heaven, where the emperor held sacrificial rites. The famous Echo Wall and Three-Tone Stone are located here. Afterward, you will visit the famous sites of many 2008 Beijing Olympics events: the National Aquatics Center, or “Water Cube,” and the National Stadium, or “Bird’s Nest.”
Day 4 Attractions:
|Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, Beijing
(photo by Momo Wong)
- Great Wall of China at Badaling (八达岭长城, Bādálǐng Chángchéng)
- Summer Palace (颐和园, Yíhé Yuán)
- Temple of Heaven (天坛, Tiāntán)
- Echo Wall (回音壁, Huíyīn Bì)
- Three-Tone Stone (三音石, Sānyīn Shí)
- National Aquatics Center (国家游泳中心, Guójiā Yóuyǒng Zhōngxīn), or Water Cube (水立方, Shuǐ Lìfāng)
- National Stadium (国家体育馆, Guójiā Tǐyùguǎn), or Bird’s Nest (鸟巢, Niǎo Cháo)
- Special Arrangements: gondola (cable car) transport up and down the Great Wall; Peking duck (烤鸭, kǎoyā) at Quanjude (全聚德, Quánjùdé), a famous restaurant
|Fishing in the Yangtze mist
(photo by Clark Gregor)
Day 5: Beijing – Yichang
Today, you will take a flight to the city of Yichang, where you will start your unforgettable tour of the Three Gorges. The Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River (also known as the Cháng Jiāng) stretches from Chongqing in the west to Yichang in the east and is made up of Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Xiling Gorge. With a total length of 192 kilometers, the Three Gorges area is like a gallery of paintings in its striking beauty. It has long been world-famous for its spectacular scenery: the towering peaks pressing in on both sides, the narrow and winding river, the rocks and shoals scattered through the river like chess pieces, the rushing and surging of the turbulent water. With lofty mountain ridges and overhanging precipices rising on either side of the river, the scene is astonishing and unique: the continual line of peaks has an average height of 700-800 meters, and the river gets as narrow as a mere 100 meters wide. You will enjoy this magnificent scenery from the comfort of a 5-star cruise ship.
Three Gorges Accommodations: President No. 2 总统二号 (5-Star) or equivalent
Please note: In addition to the excursions and features listed on this itinerary and included in the price of the tour package, the cruise operator may offer other optional upgrades or activities for an additional charge.
Day 6: Three Gorges
Your tour of the Yangtze River’s lofty mountains and flowing waters, as well as of the changes that have occurred since the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, begins today. But first, three hours will be spent simply passing through the dam’s enormous locks, which will raise the ship about 100 meters, allowing you time to absorb the splendid scenery. This experience will undoubtedly give you indelible memories as you take in the magnificence of the Three Gorges Dam, the most impressive feat of engineering in human history. With a length of 2 miles and a height of 600 feet, it is the product of the boundless power of a spirit capable of conquering mountains. No other dam can compare to it; it is the biggest dam in the world and also produces the most electricity. As the ship passes into Xiling Gorge, you can see that the dam has transformed the area’s rushing waters and dangerous shoals into the largest artificial lake in the world.
Day 6 Attractions:
|A Three Gorges Dam lock
(photo by Robin Poll)
- Three Gorges Dam (三峡大坝, Sānxiá Dàbà)
- Xiling Gorge (西陵峡, Xīlíng Xiá)
Day 7: Three Gorges
Today the ship will stop at Wushan, where you will take a side trip on the Daning River through the Little Three Gorges, beginning with the gorge known as Dragon Gate Gorge.* Here you can still hear the cries of the monkeys that live in the area and see the “hanging coffins,” which used to be high up on the cliff but now seem almost close enough to reach up and touch. As a result of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the river is less dangerous than before, and now you can go deep into gorges that were previously inaccessible by boat. After your trip along the Little Three Gorges, you will return to the cruise ship and enter Wu Gorge. The second of the Three Gorges, it has a length of 36 kilometers and features 12 peaks with wildly varied shapes, such as Peak of the Immortals and Goddess Peak, which still presents the imposing figure of a woman standing straight and tall; she now simply seems a little closer. Here, precipitous cliffs confront each other across the river, proving that the beautiful scenery of the Three Gorges still exists. As you prepare to go to sleep in your cabin tonight, allow your imagination to be inspired by the wondrous sights you’ve seen.
* Depending on local conditions, you may instead go on a side trip to Shennong Stream (Shénnóng Xī), which also features beautiful natural scenery and hanging coffins.
Day 7 Attractions:
|Shennong Stream scenery
(photo by Robin Poll)
- Daning River (大宁河, Dàníng Hé)
- Little Three Gorges (小三峡, Xiǎo Sānxiá), including Dragon Gate Gorge (龙门峡, Lóngmén Xiá)
- Wu Gorge (巫峡, Wūxiá)
- Peak of the Immortals (集仙峰, Jíxiān Fēng)
- Goddess Peak (神女峰, Shénnǚ Fēng)
- 10 other famous peaks
Day 8: Three Gorges
The ship’s horn blows like thunder as you enter the most magnificent of the Three Gorges, Qutang Gorge, which is just as impressive as ever; the only difference is that some of the famous stone engravings are now underwater. Gaze upward at the ancient settlement of White King Town, mentioned in one of China’s most famous books, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The cruise ship will stop at Fengdu, the “City of Ghosts,” which features many ancient tombs as well as many temples dedicated to the gods of the Underworld; the effect of it all is to serve as a potent reminder of the importance of being a good person. Alternatively, the ship might dock at Wanxian (or Wanzhou), known as “Big Gate of the Eastern River” (川东大门, Chuāndōng Dàmén). Wanxian’s famous “hundred stone stairs” up the side of the gorge are now underwater, and a new, modern town has been constructed at a higher elevation. Tonight, you will again sleep on the cruise ship.
Day 8 Attractions:
|Sunrise in Qutang Gorge
(photo by Robin Poll)
- Qutang Gorge (瞿塘峡, Qútáng Xiá)
- White King Town (白帝城, Báidìchéng)
- Fengdu (酆都, Fēngdū) or Wanxian (万县, Wànxiàn), also called Wanzhou (万州, Wànzhōu)
Day 9: Three Gorges – Chongqing – Xi’an
Today your ship will arrive at the mountain city of Chongqing, temporarily the capital of China during the Japanese occupation, where you will board a flight to the ancient capital city of Xi’an. Formerly called Chang’an (“Eternal Peace”), it is considered one of the great cities of the ancient world along with Athens, Cairo, and Rome. Over the course of Chinese history, Xi’an was the capital of eleven dynasties. Because Xi’an was the eastern endpoint of the legendary Silk Road, it features numerous cultural relics and historical sites. First, you will tour Big Goose Pagoda, which was built to preserve the valuable scriptures that the famous monk Master Xuán Zàng brought back from India. Since ancient times, distinguished and cultured men have been inspired by the view from the tower to write timeless works. Afterward, you will tour Xi’an’s enormous City Walls, which have a history of more than 600 years. For dinner, we have arranged a meal of authentic Shaanxi-style food for you. Xi’an’s delicious cuisine is a highlight of any visit to Xi’an and has earned it a reputation as a “gourmet food capital.”
Xi’an Accommodations: Titan Times Hotel 西安天朗时代大酒店 (5-Star) or equivalent
Day 9 Attractions:
|Tang Dynasty-style show
(photo by Kevin Poh)
- Big Goose Pagoda (大雁塔, Dàyàn Tǎ)
- Xi’an’s City Walls (城墙, Chéngqiáng)
- Special Arrangements: authentic Shaanxi-style dinner
Day 10: Xi’an
If you haven’t seen the First Emperor’s terracotta army, known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, you haven’t really been to Xi’an. The pit where the terracotta army is still in the process of being excavated is an ancillary section of the tomb of the infamous First Emperor, Qín Shǐhuáng. Your next stop is Huaqing Hot Springs, which since ancient times has been famed for the high quality of both its hot springs and its beautiful scenery, but even more for its description in the famous poem “Song of Eternal Sorrow” by Bái Jūyì: “Allowed to bathe at Huaqing on a cold spring day, she washed her creamy skin with the warm, silky water; languid and tired, she was helped out of the water by a maid, and the Emperor’s love for her was renewed.” Because of this poem, the story of the tragic love affair that occurred here between Yáng Guìfēi and Emperor Xuánzōng of the Tang Dynasty has been passed down through the ages. After dinner, you will have a chance to admire modern musicians and dancers as they present an opulently staged show, re-created from historical materials, in imitation of Tang Dynasty performances.
Day 10 Attractions:
|A terracotta soldier
(photo by CIT)
- the First Emperor’s terracotta army (兵马俑, Bīngmǎyǒng)
- Huaqing Hot Springs (华清池, Huáqīng Chí)
- Special Arrangements: authentic Defachang dumplings (德发长饺子, Défācháng jiǎozi), Tang Dynasty-style performance (仿唐乐歌舞, Fǎng Táng yuègēwǔ)
Day 11: Xi’an – Lhasa
Today you will depart Xi’an and proceed to the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, also called the “City of Sunshine” and a holy land: Lhasa. The Tibet Autonomous Region is located in the center of the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of more than 4,000 meters above sea level, a cold climate, low air pressure, thin air, and long days of sunshine; because of these characteristics it is sometimes referred to as “the earth’s third pole.” The city of Lhasa, with an elevation of 3,658 meters, is located at the confluence of the Yarlung Zangbo River and its tributary, the Lhasa River. Lhasa’s extreme elevation and isolation have always shrouded it in a veil of mystery and made it difficult for the outside world to understand. After your arrival, you will head straight to your hotel and avoid doing any activities so that you can get ample rest and have time to acclimate to the thinner air of the plateau; this will reduce the effects of the high altitude on your body.
Lhasa Accommodations: Xin-Ding Hotel 新鼎大酒店 (4-Star) or equivalent
|A Potala Palace building
(photo by Bernt Rostad)
Day 12: Lhasa
After breakfast, you will visit Potala Palace, which was built by the Tibetan king Songsten Gampo in the 7th century A.D. for his Chinese wife who had come from afar, Princess Wencheng. Potala Palace, along with some of the nearby sites you will visit, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built atop Lhasa’s “Red Mountain” (红山, Hóng Shān) at an elevation of over 3,700 meters, it contains 999 rooms, and its main building is 13 stories tall, with a height of 115 meters. The palace is constructed entirely of stone and wood, with five roofs covered in gilded bronze tiles that shine brightly with golden light, giving a grand and imposing impression. Potala Palace was previously used by the Dalai Lama as his winter palace, and it was also a political and religious center for the rulers of old Tibet. After lunch you will proceed to the southeastern section of the city to tour Jokhang Temple, the oldest wooden building in the Tibetan region that was built by a Tibetan and Chinese cooperative effort in imitation of Tang Dynasty architecture. More importantly, it is the center of Tibetan Buddhism; every year thousands of religious pilgrims come from their homes thousands of miles away, kowtowing once every three steps along the way, to pay homage to Sammāsambuddha (the Supreme Buddha) and pray for his blessing.
Day 12 Attractions:
|Jokhang Temple pilgrims
(photo by Roy Kim)
- Potala Palace (布达拉宫, Bùdálā Gōng)
- Jokhang Temple (大昭寺, Dàzhāo Sì)
Day 13: Lhasa
Today you will tour one of the three major temples of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism and the largest temple in Tibet: Drepung Monastery. Afterward, you will visit Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s summer residence and Lhasa’s equivalent to Beijing’s Summer Palace. This elegant garden palace is the place where past Dalai Lamas managed government affairs and held religious ceremonies. Finally, you will take a tour of Sera Monastery, which contains more than ten thousand statues of the Buddha and his warrior attendants. Here you may also have an opportunity to witness the fascinating sight of lamas debating matters of scripture. In the afternoon you will visit Barkhor Street, also known as Bājiǎo (Octagon) Street, in Lhasa’s Old City, whose traditional appearance and Tibetan flavor have been kept intact. Although the street, paved with hand-smoothed stones, is not very wide, it is packed with the greatest concentration of visitors to Lhasa. Stores line the street like trees in a forest, and there are more than 1,000 street vendors selling their wares from portable stalls. Tibetan goods of every kind are sold here, including prayer wheels, Tibetan robes, Tibetan knives, and simple religious implements, as well as many items imported from faraway India and Nepal; Barkhor Street is a treasure that you can’t miss.
Day 13 Attractions:
|Sera Monastery monks
(photo by Steve Taylor)
- Drepung Monastery (哲蚌寺, Zhébàng Sì)
- Norbulingka (罗布林卡, Luóbùlínkǎ)
- Sera Monastery (色拉寺, Sèlā Sì)
- Barkhor Street (八廓街, Bākuò Jiē)
Day 14: Lhasa – Shanghai
Today you will fly to Shanghai, the largest city in China. After your arrival, you will tour the architectural complex of the Bund, which lies along the Huangpu River in the downtown area. The Bank of China tower, Peace Hotel, Customs House tower, and other famous buildings built by Western nations during the colonial era are all located along the Bund, where the historical elegance of the “Wall Street of the Far East” has reappeared. On the opposite shore of the Huangpu River in Pudong stands a cluster of modern skyscrapers that represent China’s new era of prosperity, conveying a sense of vigor, majesty, and luxury. After your stroll along the Bund, you will spend an hour enjoying Shanghai’s bright and colorful night scenery as you cruise along the Huangpu River in a tourist boat. Later, you will walk among a sea of people on Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s famed shopping district.
Shanghai Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Hotel Shanghai Fudan 上海复旦皇冠假日酒店 (5-Star) or equivalent
Day 14 Attractions:
|Pudong and the Bund, Shanghai
(photo by CIT)
- The Bund (外滩, Wàitān)
- view of Pudong (浦東, Pǔdōng)
- Huangpu River (黃浦江, Huángpǔ Jiāng)
- Nanjing Road (南京路, Nánjīng Lù)
- Special Arrangements: Mongolian barbecue (蒙古烧烤, Ménggǔ shāokǎo) for dinner, Huangpu River boat tour
Day 15: Shanghai
After breakfast, you will head to Old Town (also known as Old Street) to tour Yuyuan Gardens and the Temple of the Town Gods Shopping Center. Here you will find goods of every description, including artworks, jewelry, clothes, snacks, souvenirs, toys, and special folk handicrafts. After lunch you will visit the Shanghai Museum, whose artworks and artifacts are appreciated both within China and internationally. In the evening you will enjoy a mesmerizing performance by a Shanghai-based troupe of acrobats.
Day 15 Attractions:
(photo by Brandon Fick)
- Old Town (老城市, Lǎo Chéngshì)
- Yuyuan Gardens (豫园, Yùyuán)
- Temple of the Town Gods Shopping Center (城隍庙商圈, Chénghuáng Miào Shāngquān)
- Shanghai Museum (上海博物馆, Shànghǎi Bówùguǎn)
- Special Arrangements: a taste of authentic Shanghainese food, Shanghai acrobats (杂技, zájì)
Day 16: Shanghai – U.S.A.
Today you will say farewell to Shanghai and return home. First, you will take an exhilarating ride on the Shanghai Maglev Train, the world’s only commercial high-speed maglev (magnetic levitation) train. The western end of the line leaves from Longyang Road Station on Shanghai’s No. 2 subway line, and its eastern end is at Pudong International Airport; its total length is 30 kilometers. With a maximum speed of 431 kilometers per hour, the train takes only 7 minutes and 20 seconds to transport you the entire length of the track to the airport, where you will take a flight back to the United States.
Special Arrangements: Maglev Train (磁浮列车, Cífú Lièchē)
For 2015 prices and departure dates, please contact us.