Western China & Tibetan Discoverer

Start: Bishkek Finish: Kathmandu

Visiting: Bishkek, Kochkor, Tash Rabat, Kashgar, Aksu, Korle, Urumqi, Turpan, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Zhangye, Liujiaxia, Xiahe, Lanzhou, Pingliang, Xi'an, Qinghai Hu, Golmud, Amdo, Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, New Tingri, Rongbuk, Friendship Highway, Nuwakot, Pokhara, Khatauti Khola, Kathmandu


Duration: 56 Nights

Physical rating: Medium

Special diets catered: Vegetarians, Please contact Dragoman with any specific dietary requirements

Tour Operator: Dragoman

Group size: 0 - 22

Age range: 18 plus

Tour operated in: English


Prices From: $8106

Tour Overview

Follow the Silk Route across western China – the same route used by ancient traders and armies on their journey between West and East. We cross the Taklamakan Desert, China’s largest, driest and highest desert, to the western end of the Great Wall of China and then on to the holy city of Xiahe, with its remarkable Tibetan Buddhist temples and architecture. We see several remarkable monuments, such as the giant Buddha of Bingling Si, the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan and, of course, the archaeological marvel of the Terracotta Army near Xi’an.

Then journey across the Tibetan Plateau, through some of the most remote and spectacular scenery on earth and through an ancient culture that is still as powerful today as it was a thousand years ago. We pass over immense passes, past beautiful lakes and arrive at the holy city of Lhasa. South of Lhasa we climb high up the Friendship Highway to the wonderful towns of Gyantse and Shigatse to soak up yet more Tibetan culture. Then it's on to the highlight of the expedition, a visit and a hike to the Ronkbuk monasteries, which nestle under the towering face of Mt. Everest. Then we descend through gorges and passes to the foothills of the Himalayas and the lands of Nepal.

Highlights

  • iconExplore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples
  • iconDriving over high mountain passes through the Himalayas
  • iconRural Traditional manor house stay in the stunning village of Nuwakot
  • iconExplore Kashgar's traditional Sunday market and Animal market
  • iconSee Bingling Si's vast Buddha statue and outstanding cave sculptures
  • iconGuided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang
  • iconExploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan
  • iconWild Camping on the Tibetan Plateau
  • iconCross the northern end of the Tibetan Plateau
  • iconCross the Taklamakan Desert
Show all

Itinerary

Map Image
icon Day 1: Bishkek

Location: Bishkek

For everyone that is continuing with us to China, there will be quick pre-departure meeting at 10:00am in order to explain the next 6 days until Kashgar, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section.

The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Asia Mountains

Hotel Asia Mountains

1a Lineinaja St

Bishkek 720021

Kyrgyzstan

Tel: +996 312 694 075

icon Day 2: Kochkor

Location: Kochkor

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

Please note that if the group has no new people joining in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a further 2 hour drive beyond Kochkor). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat the following day.

icon Day 3: Tash Rabat

Location: Tash Rabat

Today we continue our journey south to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.

In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt.

icon Day 4: Kashgar

Location: Kashgar

Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Torugart, enter China at Torugart.

Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass, crossing into China and heading down to the Uighur city of Kashgar.

icon Day 5: Kashgar

Location: Kashgar

Today we will have free time to explore the city of Kashgar and partake in any optional activities whilst we wait for our paperwork and documents to be processed with the border formalities


icon Day 6: Kashgar

Location: Kashgar

Border Information:

if joining in Kashgar, you will most likely enter China at Kashgar Airport (IATA code: KHG).

Welcome to Kashgar, one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route! If you are joining in Kashgar, you are free to explore the city, and there will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm. Please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the tour leader and they will often arrive in Kashgar mid-afternoon.

Please note that many of the optional activities will only be possible for those with extra time in Kashgar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kashgar.

icon Day 7: Kashgar

Location: Kashgar

Today we will visit the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar. We will also have an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world!

icon Day 8: Kashgar

Location: Kashgar

Today we will have a free day to explore the town, the central Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square, while your crew finalise the customs procedures for our truck to continue further into China.

icon Day 9: Aksu

Location: Aksu

Our journey through China begins as we leave Kashgar and head east through the Taklamakan Desert! Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to stay in local hotels en route.

Please note that due to political tension in Western China there are many police checkpoints that we must go through to show our passports in the Xinjiang province. Sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, staying in a local hotel in between - in this case we will have 1 less night in Pingliang towards the end of the trip.

icon Day 10: Korle

Location: Korle

We continue our drive through the great Taklamakan Desert.

icon Day 11: Urumqi

Location: Urumqi

Today we will continue on to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province. 

icon Day 12: Urumqi

Location: Urumqi

On the secnd day in Urumqi we will have an included visit to Heavenly Lake to enjoy the incredible scenery in the Tian Shan Mountains and walk around the lake.

icon Day 13: Turpan

Location: Turpan

Today we will travel to the oasis town of Turpan, where we stay for 2 nights.

icon Day 14: Turpan

Location: Turpan

On our next day in Turpan there is time for exploring the surrounding sites, including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

icon Day 15: Dunhuang

Location: Dunhuang

Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the city of Dunhuang.

Please note that due to political tension in Western China there are many police checkpoints that we must go through to show our passports in the Xinjiang province. Sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, staying in a local hotel in between - in this case we will have 1 less night in Pingliang towards the end of the trip.

icon Day 16: Dunhuang

Location: Dunhuang

The following day we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it’s surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda!

icon Day 17: Jiayuguan

Location: Jiayuguan

Today we continue our journey with a drive to Jiayuguan, where we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note the Great Wall in this area is adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further to the east.


icon Day 18: Zhangye

Location: Zhangye

Today we will drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we'll spend some time exploring the region before heading off to find a place to camp.

icon Day 19: Liujiaxia

Location: Liujiaxia

Today we will drive onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan plateau and reach the small city of Liujiaxia. 

icon Day 20: Xiahe

Location: Xiahe

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.

icon Day 21: Xiahe

Location: Xiahe

The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. 

icon Day 22: Xiahe

Location: Xiahe

On your second free day there may also be a chance to go trekking, cycling or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.

icon Day 23: Lanzhou

Location: Lanzhou

Today we will leave Xiahe and head to the chaotic capital city of Gansu province, Lanzhou. We will have some free time this evening to explore the city.

icon Day 24: Pingliang

Location: Pingliang

Today we will drive to the town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism.

icon Day 25: Pingliang

Location: Pingliang

The following day we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain. 

Please note that if the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang was split over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.

icon Day 26: Xi'an

Location: Xi'an

Today we will journey to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free afternoon to fully explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

icon Day 27: Xi'an

Location: Xi'an

Border Information:

if joining the trip in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

Please note that our trips between Kathmandu and Xi'an travel through extreme environments and these itineraries WILL NOT NECESSARILY RUN AS PUBLISHED. We will adjust trip itineraries depending on weather, altitude effects, group make up and road conditions. This day by day itinerary is provided as a rough guide only.

There will be a group meeting at 10:00am in our hotel in Xi'an - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this important meeting.

In the afternoon there will be an included visit to the awe-inspiring world-famous Terracotta Warriors.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

icon Day 28: Pingliang

Location: Pingliang

Today we will start our journey with a drive from Xi'an to Pingliang.

icon Day 29: Pingliang

Location: Pingliang

Today we will have an included day visit to the holy mountain of Kongtong, where we can freely trek and explore the incredible area and visit all the temples built on impossibly steep mountain sides.

icon Day 30: Lanzhou

Location: Lanzhou

Today we will arrive into the chaotic city of Lanzhou, with time to explore in the afternoon.

icon Day 31: Xiahe

Location: Xiahe

From Lanzhou we will drive on to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe, where we will be staying for 3 nights.

icon Day 32: Xiahe

Location: Xiahe

Today we have a free day to explore the incredible Labrang Monastery and the local town.

icon Day 33: Xiahe

Location: Xiahe

This morning after breakfast we have the option to day a day trip up into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau.

icon Day 34: Liujiaxia

Location: Liujiaxia

Leaving Xiahe, we drive on to the small town of Liujiaxia. En route we will have an included visit to the phenomenal Bingling Si Buddha Caves.

icon Day 35: Qinghai Hu

Location: Qinghai Hu

For the next 2 days we will be overlanding through Qinghai province through an area that is a giant basin surrounded by high mountains, and en route we will pass the vast and starkly beautiful Qinghai Hu Lake. The population of this part of the Tibetan Plateau is thinly spread and mainly comprises of Kazakhs, Moguls and Hui. 

icon Day 36: Qinghai Hu

Location: Qinghai Hu

Today we will complete our drive to the vast and starkly beautiful Qinghai Hu Lake.

icon Day 37: Golmud

Location: Golmud

We continue our overland journey today across the high plateau, arriving at the small town of Golmud.

icon Day 38: Amdo

Location: Amdo

Leaving Golmud we head out across the plateau once again. We will spend the next 3 days slowly driving uphill to acclimatise to the altitude. Today we will cross the Kunlan Pass at 4849m. 

icon Day 39: Amdo

Location: Amdo

Today's drive will take us over the famous Tanggula Pass (5231m) which marks the start of Tibet. There will be will be plenty of stunning views to enjoy today before reaching the town of Amdo.

icon Day 40: Amdo

Location: Amdo

We continue our drive towards Lhasa today. If time and conditions permit we may be able to make a side trip to Namtso Lake en route before finding a place to wild camp. 

icon Day 41: Lhasa

Location: Lhasa

Today we complete our journey to the famous and evocative city of Lhasa, the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet, where we will be staying for the next 3 days.

icon Day 42: Lhasa

Location: Lhasa

After breakfast we will have a guided tour of the incredible Potala Palace as well as an included visit to the Sera Monastery.

icon Day 43: Lhasa

Location: Lhasa

Today we will get the chance to wander the Tibetan quarter around the Jokhang Monastery, one of the most sacred in Tibet.  

icon Day 44: Lhasa

Location: Lhasa

We have a free day today to explore the beautiful city of Lhasa. Take the time to visit one of the many monastery's or temples in the area or simply stop for a drink at one of the local teahouses and soak up the atmosphere.  

icon Day 45: Gyantse

Location: Gyantse

Today we will continue over the Kampa La Pass (4794m) to the town of Gyantse. In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Palcho Monastery and time for an optional visit to the Gyantse Fort.

icon Day 46: Shigatse

Location: Shigatse

Depending on what time we arrived in Gyantse yesterday, we may decide to have some more time here this morning before driving on to Shigatse, Tibet's second biggest city.

On arrival in Shigatse we will have an included visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

icon Day 47: New Tingri

Location: New Tingri

Today we continue our journey with a drive over some more high mountain passes to reach New Tingri (also known as Shegar), where we will meet the junction for the road to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. This is usually a fairly long day's drive, but the stunning views and scenery make this one of the world's most visually fantastic journeys!

icon Day 48: Rongbuk

Location: Rongbuk

From New Tingri we make the journey to the Rongbuk Monastery.

The drive is not an easy one, passing over another 5200m pass, but the views are sensational and (weather permitting) we should have excellent views of Mount Everest.

Once we have reached the Rongbuk, we will have free time to explore the area and visit the Monastery and take in the stunning views of Everest! 

Tonight we will stay in the Monastery Guesthouse

Please note: It is no longer possible to visit the actual Tibetan Everest Base Camp as it is closed to tourists as of February 2019. 

icon Day 49: New Tingri

Location: New Tingri

This morning we have some more time at Rongbuk - hopefully when you open up in the morning, there will be a spectacular view of Mount Everest! We will drive back down to New Tingri this afternoon.

icon Day 50: Friendship Highway

Location: Friendship Highway

We will spend the next 2 days climbing high into the mountains over the Lalungla Pass (5050m) up into the Himalayas and then down to the Nepalese border. This is part of the famous "Friendship Highway", cutting through gorges, across plateaus and over high passes. On all the passes that we cross you will see the ever present pilgrim prayer flags, cairns and scattered "wind horse" papers.

icon Day 51: Nuwakot

Location: Nuwakot

Border information: Exit China at Kyirong, Enter Nepal at Rasuwa Gadhi.

Crossing the border from the Tibetan Autonomous Region into Nepal, we will travel along small winding roads to the historic village of Nuwakot.  Nuwakot is one of Nepal’s hidden gems nestled in the central hills of the country. Full of ancient temples and palaces, it has a beautifully serene atmosphere and rustic ambience - perfect for getting a taste of the calm pace of rural Nepalese life.

icon Day 52: Nuwakot

Location: Nuwakot

Today we will have a chance to relax and unwind either exploring the local village or stretch your legs taking a walk around the terraced fields and hills of Nuwakot.

icon Day 53: Pokhara

Location: Pokhara

Today we will spend a little more time enjoying the serenity of Nuwakot, before taking a short drive to Nepal's second city - the adventure town of Pokhara! We will spend 2 nights here. 

icon Day 54: Pokhara

Location: Pokhara

Today we will have a free day in the fantastic city of Pokhara. The area is famous for its myriad of spectacular waterfalls surrounded by fertile forests and towering mountains, for its fantastic choice of yoga and meditation retreats, and for its overwhelming choice of adventure activities from trekking to rafting to zip-lining to mountain biking!

icon Day 55: Khatauti Khola

Location: Khatauti Khola

This morning we will journey to Khatauti Khola, home to the Royal Beach Camp eco-adventure camp in the Nepalese mountains. 

There are several optional activities on offer here such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and mountain bikings or simply relax in the quiet surroundings. 

icon Day 56: Kathmandu

Location: Kathmandu

This morning we will spend some free time at the Royal Beach Camp to give us more time to take part in the optional adventure activities there, then after lunch we will drive the last stretch up to Kathmandu, the evocative capital of Nepal. 

icon Day 57: Kathmandu

Location: Kathmandu

Border information:

if leaving in Kathmandu, you will most likely exit Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kathmandu. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Tour Staff

Two Dragoman Crew Members, Local Guides where necessary, One Local Crew Member, Local Crew Member in certain areas

Transport

Overland Expedition Vehicle, Local Bus, Boat

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    Low Deposit

    Dragoman requires a deposit of 300 GBP to secure a place on this tour, and the final balance is not due till 56 days before departure..

  • icon
    Secure payments

    All payments to TourHub are deposited into an externally regulated Trust account.


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Dates & Availability

Instant Booking Available

Monday Jun 28, 2021

Nights

56

Available

5

$8106.36