Rail tours between Hong Kong and Tibet’s capital Lhasa take in an extraordinary sweep of natural wonders and culture. You will enjoy everything from Lhasa - Tibet’s holiest city but until now virtually inaccessible in its remote Himalayan location - to China’s spectacular sights including the Three Gorges, Li River, the Terracotta Warriors, the world’s highest railway and beginning with the stunning international city of Hong Kong.
Call 877-929-7245 for air add-ons from your city.
Your visit to Xian not only includes the 6,000 Terracotta Warriors (among the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century) but also the city’s remarkable old walls and pagodas, as well as its drum and bell towers. You will also visit the extraordinary Yunnan Stone forest, known in China as the ‘First wonder of the world’, and have a chance to get close to Giant Pandas.
Home for most of the tour will be the Shangri-La Express, although you will also ride on the high altitude regular service train to Lhasa and a modern fast express to access Hong Kong.
A luxury river cruiser will be your home for four nights during your unhurried journey through the world-famous Three Gorges. This gives you time to absorb the sensational sight of the peaks soaring (in places) more than 4,000 feet around you, but also some of the remarkable things created here by man. Fengdu’s unique ‘Ghost City’ is a man made vision of Hades, telling the story of those forced to live out their personal hell for eternity. Equally remarkable is the world’s largest dam.
In contrast to all of this is Hong Kong, one of the world’s great modern cities, situated in its stunning position on Victoria Harbour. With so much packed into this remarkable tour the itineraries offer the journey of a lifetime. Why not treat yourself?
- 1 night in Hong Kong
- 8 nights onboard the Shangri-La Express
- 1 night in Kunming
- 3 nights onboard Victoria Jenna (Three Gorges Cruise)
- 3 nights in Lhasa
- New for 2011: Freedom of Choice Touring
- Experience Tour Managers
- Arrival and Departure Transfers
- Hotel and Onboard Accommodation
- Welcome and Farewell Dinners
- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Daily
- Drinks with Meals
- On Board Service
- Guided Off-Train Excursions
- Personal Headsets
- On Board Doctor and Medical Facilities
- 24 Hour Service Attendent
- Tour Extension Options
- Pre-book additional nights in Hong Kong and Lhasa
- Kathmandu, Nepal
- Shanghai and the 2010 World Expo
Customise your journey and enjoy the opportunity to select from an array of Freedom of Choice Touring options that best suits your interests. Your off-train excursions will still take in all the major attractions of the places we are visiting but, in featured locations, you will be presented when you are onboard the train with a variety of activities from which to choose, and enjoy a tailor-made experience. In short, it means that your holiday is just that, your very own, and it’s all included in the tour price, with no more for you to pay. It is the ultimate in flexibility. Look at the individual itineraries where we are operating Freedom of Choice Touring. Freedom of Choice Touring options may be subject to variations dependent on finalised train timings and local charges. Touring options available will typically be advised in the evening prior to the day’s tour.
Day 1 - Hong Kong
Arrive into Hong Kong airport where you will be met and transferred to the luxurious five-star Harbour Plaza hotel (or similar) for a one-night stay. We will enjoy a Welcome Dinner at our hotel, giving you the opportunity to meet your fellow travellers.
Day 2 - Hong Kong - Guangzhou
This morning you are free to explore this vibrant and extraordinary city before joining a high speed train to Guangzhou, a journey which takes two hours. We then transfer to our private train, the Shangri-La Express. There is plenty of time to settle into your comfortable cabin before enjoying a Welcome Dinner onboard.
Day 3 - Guilin
The haunting beauty of Guilin is legendary. Our entire day is devoted to exploring some of the finest scenery in the world along the Li River. Our unforgettable day features a delightful cruise on the river amongst the strange karst rock formations that give this area its distinctive appearance. We also visit the 600,000 year old Yudi Lan (Reed Flute) Cave on the outskirts of the city.
Day 4 - YUNNAN STONE FOREST
This afternoon we visit the dramatic Yunnan Stone Forest. Set amongst verdant forests, ancient karst stone formations stretch towards the skies. Numerous peaks, pillars and stalagmites jostle for our attention, extending as far as the eye can see. Sculpted by centuries of wind and rain, these sensationally intricate formations suggest the form of animals, plants and even human figures. Tonight we spend the night in a hotel in Kunming.
Day 5 - KUNMING
Today we visit Kunming’s Golden Temple, the largest copper temple in China. This elaborate and magnificent structure is a testament to the aesthetic and architectural excellence of the Ming Dynasty. At lunchtime, we commence our journey over one of the world’s most spectacular railway lines completed in the 1970s. The line to Chengdu tortuously passes over many precarious bridges and traverses deep tumbling ravines, through areas of unsurpassed natural beauty.
Day 6 - Chengdu
Today we can relax onboard as the Shangri-La Express continues its journey to Chengdu where we arrive early afternoon. Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province is the centre for traditional Chinese medicine. This area is also home to the Giant Panda, an incredibly rare and enchanting creature which we can see at close quarters at the Giant Panda Breeding Research Institute.
Day 7 - Chongqing
Chongqing is situated in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. We have a full day to explore the labyrinthine streets of this bustling city, perhaps most famous for its hot Sichuan cuisine and world famous hotpot dishes. As we enter the old part of this city we will come across street vendors and restaurants where we can experience these exciting and spicy delicacies. Late afternoon sees us transferring to the five-star Victoria Jenna river boat for our three-night Yangtze River cruise through the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges.
Day 8 - Three Gorges Cruise - Fengdu
This morning we take an off-board excursion to the Fengdu Ghost City situated on Ming Mountain. Its 75 temples and numerous sculptures tell the story of ‘sinners’ who were forced to live out their own personal hell for eternity. Alternatively, we may visit Shibaozhai, perched precariously against a rectangular cliff, where we will see the stunning twelve-storey Quing Dynasty wooden temple. In the afternoon we sail through the Chongqing region enjoying the ever changing river scenery.
Day 9 - Three Gorges Cruise
First we enter the shortest but most dramatic of the three gorges, Qutang Gorge with steep, imposing mountains on either side of the 5 mile (8km) stretch. Then we travel through the deep 27 mile (44km) Wu Xia Gorge from where we make a short trip in a smaller boat to the shallow, clear waters of the Shennong Stream. We then continue along the western stretch of the Xiling Gorge. At 43 miles (70km) this is the longest and deepest gorge and perilous peaks tower towards the sky reaching heights of over 4,000 ft (1,500m). In the evening we arrive at the Three Gorges Dam and wait for our turn to descend through the locks.
Day 10 - Three Gorges/Yichang
Today we visit the Three Gorges Dam project and cruise along the eastern stretch of the Xiling Gorge before our lunchtime disembarkation in Yichang and rejoin the waiting Shangri-La Express to continue our journey towards Lhasa.
Day 11 - Xian - Terracotta Warriors
Our fascinating journey of discovery takes us to Xian, the former Imperial Capital of China. Here we will explore the ancient city walls and Great Mosque, one of the oldest and largest in China. Time-permitting, we will take a stroll through the historic Muslim quarter with its quaintly winding lanes. We dedicate several hours to visiting the world famous Terracotta Warriors, discovered by peasants only 30 years ago. The 6,000 terracotta figures and their horses, buried with the First Emperor of Xin in 210 BC, are one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th Century. This evening we enjoy the Tang Dynasty Dinner, Music and Dance Show, a wonderful performance of ancient music and dance.
Day 12 - Tianshui & Lanzhou
Today our tour takes us to the amazing Maijishan Grottoes in Tianshui, an extensive complex of caves that house thousands of ancient Buddhist sculptures that chart the evolution of this fascinating religion. Our train then takes us on to Lanzhou which used to be an important trading post on the ancient Silk Route with a rich history dating back some 2,000 years.
Day 13 - Xining
Today we explore this historic and multi-ethnic region which is home to an incredible 37 different nationalities. Located on the eastern edge of Qinghai Province, Xining’s history can be traced back 2,100 years to antiquity. Here we will experience some of the distinctive traditions and beguiling customs of this region. Our exploration of Xining takes us on to Dongguan Mosque. Built in 1380, its eclectic style combines both traditional Chinese and Islamic architectural influences. Tonight is our final night on board the Shangri La Express.
Day 14 - Golmud - Lhasa (Tibet)
At Golmud we board the new high-altitude train (on which we have reserved seats) that will take us on an extraordinary and unforgettable 14-hour daylight journey along the new 1,142km ‘Roof of the World’ line to Lhasa, cresting the 16,640ft (5,072m) Tangula Pass. This is the world’s highest railway pass, reaching an unbelievable 3 miles (5km) above sea level. Due to the high altitude, supplementary oxygen is pumped in through the ventilation system. Personal oxygen masks are available if required. At Lhasa, we are transferred to the five-star Brahmaputra Grand Hotel (or similar) for a three-night stay.
Day 15 - Lhasa
This morning is free for you to acclimatise to this high mountain region or you may choose to wander through the vibrant streets of Lhasa, absorbing its unique atmosphere. This afternoon, our tour takes us to Norbu Lingka, the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace. Built in the 1740’s as a retreat from the intense summer heat, its name literally means ‘jewel garden’. This tranquil dappled garden contains many valuable objects, including gold, silver, jade and Buddhist artifacts.
Day 16 - Lhasa
Today we explore the 13th Century Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s most holy shrine. This four-storey timber complex topped with a golden roof is a stunning fusion of architectural styles of the Tang Dynasty, as well as those of Tibet and Nepal. The ancient Barkhor market is next on our itinerary, where an astounding jamboree of activity greets us as we weave our way through its streets. A traditional lunch is served accompanied by folk music. This afternoon we visit the 17th Century Potala Palace, former seat of the Tibetan Government and the Dalai Lama’s winter residence before he fled to India in 1959. Containing thousands of rooms, it dominates the city skyline and is one of the architectural wonders of the world. At a height of 170 metres, this breathtaking structure perches on Marpo Ri Hill, 130 metres above the Lhasa valley. Tonight we say goodbye to our fellow travelling companions at our Farewell Dinner.
Day 17 - Lhasa
Following breakfast, you will be transferred to Lhasa airport to begin your journey home.
This tour is not available in 2012.
If you like this tour, you'll enjoy our Imperial China & the Yangtze River Tour