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12-Day Kunming Xining Lhasa Everest Tour by Train

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Tour Type: Private Tour: Flexible Travel Date & Travel Routes
Guide & Driver: Chinese-English-speaking guide & air-conditioned
  • See the impressive Shilin Stone Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its amazing stone formations;
  • Visit the gigantic Qinghai Lake, the largest lake in China;
  • Embark upon the train adventure of a lifetime along the Qinghai – Tibet Railway to Lhasa;
  • Find inner peace at the most sacred sites of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Palcho Monastery and more;
  • Witness a stunning sunrise and sunset over the peak of the world at Mt. Everest.

Itinerary Day by Day

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Day1  Arrival in Kunming
Welcome to Kunming, the beautiful capital city of Yunnan! Your local tour guide and experienced driver will meet you at the Kunming Changshui Airport or train station to take you by private car to your downtown Kunming hotel and help you check in. You will have the rest of this day to relax at your hotel or feel free to ask your local guide for some ideas on where to explore around the city on your own.

Accommodation:Overnight in Kunming

Day2  Kunming – Shilin Stone Forest, Green Lake Park
After a nice breakfast at your hotel, we will take you by private car about 90 kilometers (65 miles) outside of the city of Kunming to see one of nature’s miracles at the Shilin Stone Forest. These amazing natural karst stone formations were formed over 270 million years ago by the erosion of limestone that left towers of stone rising up from the ground, thus creating the “stone forest”. We will take you to visit both the Greater Stone Forest – where you can climb up to a pavilion for a panoramic view of the fantastic landscape, and the Lesser Stone Forest, where you can learn about the Yi Minority legend of “Ashima” and what happened when she was forbidden from marrying her true love.

From the magnificent landscape of the Shilin Stone Forest, we will drive back to downtown Kunming to see the 1,200-year old Yuantong Buddhist Temple. This beautiful temple was first built in the late 8th and early 9th centuries with major restorations in the late 15th century and again in 1686 A.D. under Emperor Kangxi, leading to its present configuration with covered corridors, bridges and a grand hall surrounded by water that is unique amongst Buddhist temples in China.

After visiting the ancient temple, we will move on to visit Green Lake Park, a hub of local life in urban Kunming. Local people can be found here practicing tai chi and relaxing amongst the year-round green trees and tranquil waters. During the winter, black-headed gulls migrate here from Siberia, entertaining the locals as they feed them bread that is sold there in the park.

From Green Lake Park, we will take you back to your hotel to rest up for tomorrow’s trip to Dali.

Accommodation:Overnight in Kunming

Green Lake park

Stone Forest

Day3  Departure from Kunming – Flight to Xining
This morning we will pick you up at your hotel with a private car to take you to the Kunming airport and help you check in for your approximately 2-hour flight to Xining. Upon your arrival in Xining, your local tour guide will greet you to escort you to your private car to transfer you to your downtown Xining hotel. You will have the rest of the day to rest and relax at your hotel, or you can begin to explore the local area on your own.

Accommodation:Overnight in Xining

Day4  Xining – Qinghai Lake – Board Overnight Train to Lhasa
We will get an early start this morning for the 2-½ hour, 130-kilometer (80 mile) drive to reach the beautiful and massive Qinghai Lake. This lake is the largest lake in China, and it is classified as an alkaline salwater lake. Sitting at an altitude of 3,205 meters (10,515 feet), Qinghai Lake has a surface area of 4,317 square kilometres (1,667 square miles); an average depth of 21 metres (69 feet), and a maximum depth of 25.5 meters (84 feet). The lake is considered to be a holy Tibetan Buddhist site, so you can often see many pilgrims walking along the lakeshore. We will take you to the Erlangjian Scenic Area, where you can walk out on a long pier over the calm waters to enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake. Enroute we will pass through some fascinating landscapes of vast grasslands, wide open blue skies, herds of yaks and sheep, and a view of Riyue (Sun & Moon) Mountain so it is an interesting drive getting there and coming back. If you are interested, we can add in some optional sites such as the Dangaer Ancient City or the Jinyintan Prairie along the way.

Due to Qinghai Lake’s location and massive size, it serves as a popular stopover point for many species of migrant birds, particularly on the aptly named Bird Island. The best time to visit for bird watching would be during May and June. Another great time to visit is from late July to early August to see the amazingly beautiful rape flower fields that surround Qinghai Lake.

After visiting the lake, we will drive you to the Xining train station and help you board your overnight train to Lhasa.

Accommodation:Overnight on the train

Day5  Qinghai – Tibet Railway, Arrival in Lhasa
This morning you will awake to the fantastic scenery along the Tibetan Plateau as you travel onward to Lhasa on board the train. You will pass through the Kekexili Nature Reserve, see the wonderful blue waters of Qinghai – Tibet Plateau lakes, vast grasslands, deserts and the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayan mountain range as you approach Lhasa. Upon your arrival in Lhasa, your local tour guide will greet you and escort you to your private vehicle as we transfer you to your downtown Lhasa hotel. You will have the rest of the evening free to rest, relax and acclimatize yourself to the higher altitude.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day6  Lhasa Full Day Tour – Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
Start your exploration of Lhasa today with a visit to a world-famous landmark - the Potala Palace, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of architecture in the world. Climb up to the palace along zig-zagging stone paths alongside the white and red walls to the top of the palace where you can gain a greater appreciation of the exotic Tibetan-style buildings as well as for a great view of Lhasa's entire urban area. After admiring the sweeping outside views, explore the inner spaces of the Potala Palace to find the stately chapels and learn more about the fascinating history of this special place.

From one historic landmark to another, your next stop will be at the Jokhang Temple, considered as the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Every day thousands of pilgrims come from all over Tibet and other places to the temple to worship the Buddha. The Jokhang Temple is also known as the "House of Buddha" because it houses the precious Jowo Rinpoche, a life-sized (1.5 meter/5 feet) image of the Sakyamuni at the age of 12.

The last stop for today's Lhasa exploration is Barkhor Street, the wide, circular street that surrounds the Jokhang Temple. Local residents enjoy walking on the street, completing several circuits around the temple as a daily tradition of pilgrimage. The street also has many small shops selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods, religious items and handicrafts.

After your visit to the Jokhang Temple, we will take you back to your hotel for the evening.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Potala Palace

Jokhang Temple

Day7  Lhasa Full Day Tour – Norbulingka, Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery
This morning we will visit the beautiful Norbulingka Palace and Park, the location of the former summer palace of the Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until 1959. It features the famous Potrang, the private palaces of former Dalai Lamas built in the grandiose style of traditional Tibetan architecture.

After visiting the palaces and park at Norbulingka, we will travel around 5 kilometers to the western outskirts of Lhasa to visit the Drepung Monastery. The word "drepung" in Tibetan language means "prosperity". Since its establishment in 1416, Drepung Monastery has served as one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. During its prime, more than 10,000 monks lived and studied in the monastery. Throughout its history, many important and famous Tibetan leaders studied at this monastery, including the Dalai Lamas. Accordingly, Drepung Monastery is also respectfully known as the “Mother School of Dalai Lamas”.

In the afternoon, we will escort you on to another famous monastery in Lhasa - the Sera Monastery. Sera Monastery is famous for its spectacular “Buddhist Debates”. As a daily routine, the monks gather in a courtyard, and debate on the various Buddhist doctrines with exaggerated gestures, which is thought to be helpful in facilitating a better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. After enjoying the "Buddhist Debates", we will take you back to your hotel with the rest of the day and evening to relax or explore on your own.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Norbulingka Palace

Drepung Monastery

Day8  Lhasa to Shigatse via Gyantse
We will get an early start this morning as we begin the drive from Lhasa to Shigatse through some fantastically beautiful scenery along the way. Driving through the green pastures of Nyangchu Valley, we will travel through the Gampala Pass (elevation 4790 meters) and get a look at the stunning Yamdrok Lake, one of the holiest lakes in Tibet. We will also pass by the Karola Glacier (elevation 4960 meters) as we travel westward to Gyantse. At Gyantse, we will have the opportunity to stop at the Palcho Monastery and the Gyantse Kumbum. A “kumbum” is a multistoried aggregate of chapels in Tibetan Buddhism, and the one in Gyantse is of the largest in all of Tibet. From there we will travel on another hour and a half to reach Shigatse to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Shigatse

Yamdrok Lake

Karuola Glacier

Day9  Shigatse to Everest Base Camp
We will get an early start today to visit the Tashilunpo Monastery, which was founded in 1447 by the 1st Dalai Lama The Tashilunpo Monastery is the officlal seat of the Panchen Lama, and as such, it is the largest and most influential Gelug Monastery in Shigatse Prefecture. It contains a giant statue of the Future Buddha, the largest one of its kind in the world, standing 26.2 meters tall and 11.5 meters wide and decorated with precious pearls, turquoise, coral and amber. Before leaving Shigatse, we will need to obtain your Alien Travel Permit, which will allow us to travel on to the Everest Base Camp. We will stop at Lhatse for lunch, and then travel over Tsola Pass (elevation 4600 meters) and Gyatsola Pass (5248 meters). At Gawula Pass (elevation 5180 meters), we will stop for an incredible panoramic view of some of the tallest mountain peaks in the Himalayan mountain range. From there, we will drive on towards the Everest Base Camp. If the weather permits, we should be able to see the golden peak of Mount Everest as the sun sets.

Accommodation:Overnight at Rongphu Guest House

Rongphu Monastery

Mt Everest

Day10  Everest Base Camp to Shigatse
This morning, wake up early to see the incredible sunrise as it shines upon the peak of the world. If we have stayed overnight at the Rongbuk Guesthouse, we’ll drive to the Tibetan Tent Camp (elevation 4900 meters) to enjoy a closer view of Mount Everest. Of course the peak of Mount Everest is covered by snow year-round, so when the sun shines on the peak it looks like a giant white pyramid. This is one of the most famous views of Mount Everest in photographs, and if the day is clear enough you will be able to witness it with your own eyes. On bright days you may also see a wisp of a cloud hanging just above the tip of Mount Everest, which flies eastward in the fast-moving westerly wind, creating an effect just like a flapping flag. This unique effect is known as the “Cloud Flag” and it is spectacular as it changes from surging waves into a thin wisp of smoke, or from something resembling galloping stallions into the mysterious veil of a goddess.

After plenty of time taking in the incredible scenery of Mount Everest, we will drive back to Shigatse.

Accommodation:Overnight in Shigatse

Day11  Shigatse to Lhasa
Today we will enjoy the scenery along the Friendship Highway as we make the 6-hour journey back to Lhasa along the Yarlung Tsangpo/Bhramaputra River.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day12  Departure from Lhasa
Today you will have free time until we meet you in the lobby of your hotel to transfer you to the Lhasa airport or train station for your departing flight or train.


What's Included

Private professional English-Speaking local tour guide
Licensed Vehicle with experienced driver
All necessary Tibet travel permits.
All accommodations listed in the itinerary
Meals specified in the itinerary as "B, L, D".
Entrance tickets listed in the itinerary
Tourists Accident/Casualty Insurance
A container of Oxygen for emergency use in Tibet
All taxes, fees and handling charges
Lodging and meal allowance to the guide & driver
2 bottles of drinking water per person per day
International flight to and from China.
China visa.
Sightseeing not listed in the itinerary.
Meals not listed in the itinerary.
Personal expenses such as laundry, drink, fax, telephone call, optional tour activities, etc.
Tips to guides, drivers, bellboys, etc.
Entrance tickets not listed in the itinerary
Single room supplement.

Additional Info

Alterations of Itineraries

The travel date, service items, itinerary and number of visitors, visitors’ ID information, etc. can be modified free of charge 30 days or more before the trip. If the visitor needs to make a second modification, an additional service fee of 5% of the deposit will be charged. Every time the content of the travel contract is modified, the company reserves the right to re-quote.

Cancellation Policy

Once the deposit is paid, your trip is confirmed. If you need to change or cancel your itinerary, please contact your travel consultant by email, phone, instant messenger, etc. There will be a charge for Cancellation or modification. The policy is as follows:

1. Notice of trip cancellation due to personal reasons before the trip starts
Cancellation 30 days or more before the trip starts, 10% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 29-15 days before the trip starts, 20% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 14-7 days before the trip starts, 30% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 6-2 days before the trip starts, 50% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation within 48 hours prior to the trip starts, no refund of your deposit.

2. Trip cancellation due to irresistible factors before the trip starts

If you have to cancel the itinerary due to irresistible reasons such as traffic, weather, politics, etc., the deposit will be fully refunded by the company (for loss related to air ticket/train ticket, please take reference of the first item).


 Teoh chin kok
Travel Date:June 15th 2018

With the accompaniment of our experienced driver and guide-Lomsang. I forgot the name of our driver. Terribly sorry. He did a great job. Our guide is fluent in English, we had no problem in communicating. He made us laugh during the long drive and took care of my daughter. We had altitude sickness when we were at the tent of Everest Base Camp, he didn’t sleep well also in order to look after us. He also explained tibetan culture clearly which I find it pretty interesting. We would like to thank him for making our trip in tibet extraordinary. We were lucky to book a tour with Tibet odyssey tours.

 Travelprofi0
Travel Date:September 5, 2019

We are thankful so much again to our agency Asia Odyssey Travel and my dear Amy for the wonderful arrangement and make my trip to Mt Kailash trip possible, really apperiated! We did Kora around Mt.Kailash for 3 days in August as I had been looking forward this trip for quite a long time, even the second day of Kora are hardest to all of us because part of the roads are covered by snowing with long-distance walking and quite high altitude too, so we spent a lot of physical strength on this but it’s totally worth because the views along the way are very incredible, I think we may not have much chance or time to go there again.

Anyway, I really miss Tibet also my dear, hope we will come and see you one day again, many thanks again for all of your help!!!

 thewhalecat3
Travel Date:July 20, 2019

This trip has been part of our family’s bragging card at get togethers and parties ever since we stepped foot out of Tibet. But it would have not been without the preparation and help from Xiao Yu, our tour planner from Chengdu. In addition our tour guide Julia was extremely informative and a joy to be around for those 8 days. The hotels were extremely nice and the places along the way were magnificent. Our family felt very welcomed to the area and we enjoyed the endless insight into the beautiful culture and religion (It helped out the person taking world history next year in our family). We would definitely recommend this trip to other family and friends as it is worth every single petty bit of the high elevation fatigue.

 beno v
Travel Date:June 30, 2019

I had an amazing, memorable trip with Amy/Odyssey: 9 days incl. Lhasa, EBC and Namtso Lake. Amy's service was excellent. From our first contact until after the trip all communication and organisation was very fast, clear and exhaustive. Our guide, Sun, made the whole trip even better. He is a really great, funny and laidback guy, proud Tibetan with very good knowledge of all relevant topics. Take into account that the pronounciation of English by Tibetan people/guides is of a different level than that of native speakers, and when you listen a bit more active than you normally do everything will be clear. The hotels were of a higher standard then expected which was really nice to start and finish the day. I recommend Amy/Odyssey to anyone planning a trip to Tibet! I will definitely go again with them on my next Tibet trip. June was a great time for weather and Tibetan festivities which made trip even more special.

 BurtCo
Travel Date:May 27, 2019

Initially our tour consultant AMY did a fantastic job of coordinating our tour. This included arranging our small group to meet up in Lhasa despite us arriving there on different days. The accommodation was great and AMY followed up during the tour to ensure everything was going smoothly. Great Job AMY !!

On the tour itself we were accompanied by JESSICA for whom I cannot speak highly enough. Her explanations in all the various locations proved she was very knowledgeable. Her English was clear and she was always willing and able to answer any queries. Best of all, there was not a single day when she did not greet us with a happy and friendly smile. Participated in countless photos with us. The tour was unforgettable thanks to AMY, JESSICA and Asia Odyssey Travel.

 booyunhan
Travel Date:June 6, 2019

I had a wonderful 9 days trip in tibet. I enjoyed very aspect of this trip. Registration and organisation was very easy, and the driver was very kind and enthusiastic, so we weren't bored even during long distances. The food was great, and I especially enjoyed the purple sweet potato. The staff were polite and did their best to make us feel comfortable and listen to our needs.

I felt comfortable with everyone I met on this trip. I truly felt as if I had experienced and witnessed the lifestyle of Tibet, and I definitely recommend this place to other travelers. If the chance arises, I would like to go on this trip once again.

Thanks Amy, Tashi; he was a fantastic guide and my sweet driver; he made me laugh a lot. Oh, don't forget to bring a lot of headache tablet you might need a lot.