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China, Tibet and Nepal

Beijing - Xi'an - Chengdu - Lhasa - Gyangse - Shigatze - Tingri - Zhamgmu - Kathmandu

Potala Palace Lhasa

Guaranteed departure dates with minimum of 2 passengers

An adventure tour crossing the high Tibetan plateau to the very foot of Mt Everest, starting in Beijing and travelling via Xi'an and Chengdu to Lhasa. From Lhasa travel through the dramatic Tibetan countryside ringed by high mountains to the border with Nepal. In Nepal explore the highlights of the Kathmandu Valley before your return.

A select group tour based on 4-star hotels (or best available elsewhere), with most meals included and with cultural evening shows.

Day 1  Depart London Heathrow or regional airports.

Day 2  Arrive Beijing. Met on arrival and transfer to the Holiday Inn Express Dongzhimen, popular with westerners, or similar. Rest of the day free.

Day 3  Start the day with a visit to Tiananmen Square, followed by the Forbidden City - the complex of buildings in the heart of Beijing that was the centre of power for China's rulers for over 400 years. Explore both the grand halls and some of the smaller rooms and courtyards that housed the imperial family. Then visit the imposing Temple of Heaven where emperors prayed for good harvests. Also visit a shop selling freshwater pearls. In the evening enjoy the warm atmosphere of a welcome dinner featuring that delicious local delicacy Peking duck. (B, L, D)

Day 4  Full day excursion to the Great Wall at Mutianyu, about 1.5 hours drive north of Beijing. The wall here is not so busy at some other sections and is very scenic as its winds its way down the mountainside. Includes cable car up to the wall. Walk along part of the wall and explore the many fascinating aspects of this iconic symbol of China's past. En route to the wall pass the 2008 Olympic stadium, known as the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube' - the national aquatic centre. Also visit a workshop carving items from jade, a stone of special significance to the Chinese. After dinner enjoy a colourful and energetic kung fu show displaying martial arts. (B, L, D)

Day 5  Visit to the beautiful gardens and pavilions of the Summer Palace on the outskirts of Beijing, where emperors relaxed away from the summer heat of the capital, before transfer to railway station for high-speed 'bullet train' to Xi'an, capital of China for many centuries. Transfer to the 4-star Somerset Xindicheng Xi'an Hotel or similar. (B, L)

Day 6  Full day excursion to the Terracotta Army, created by China's first emperor over 2,000 years ago to guard his tomb for eternity. Return to Xi'an city to see the Grand Mosque and the atmospheric streets of the surrounding Muslim Quarter, originally settled by Arab and Persian traders over 1,000 years ago. Also visit a workshop creating replica warriors using traditional techniques. Enjoy a 'Tang Dynasty' music and dance show in the evening evoking the sights and sounds of old China, together with a delicious speciality dumpling dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 7  In the morning visit Xi'an's impressive medieval city wall, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda , and the rich archaeological collections of the Shaanxi Historical Museum before transfer to railway station for high-speed train to Chengdu. Transfer to 4-star Yinhe Dynasty Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 8  Morning visit to the Panda Research Base on the outskirts of Chengdu, where many giant pandas are kept and which runs a breeding programme. Afternoon city tour of Chengdu to include Jinli Street and the People's Park. (B, L)

Day 9  Transfer to airport for flight to Lhasa. Met on arrival and transfer to 4-star Gang-gyan Hotel. Rest of the day free to acclimatise to high altitude. (B)

Day 10  Visit to the famous Potala Palace, the centre of power of Tibet's former Dalai Lama rulers, that dominates the old city of Lhasa. Also visit the Jokhang Temple, Tibetan Buddhism's most sacred shrine, and the surrounding streets of Barkhor Square thronged with pilgrims and visitors. (B, L)

Day 11  Excursion to two of the greatest monasteries on the outskirts of Lhasa: Sera and Drepung. Then visit the Norbulinka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas. (B, L)

Day 12  Travel by road to Gyantse, an important town on the ancient trading routes. En route visit the sacred Yamdrok Lake, one of Tibet's largest freshwater lakes, surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Stay at Gyangtze Hotel (3 star) (B, L)

Day 13  Visit the Pelkor Chode monastery and Kumbum. Travel from Gyantse to Shigatze, Tibet's second city. Stay at Shigatze Hotel (3 star) (B, L)

Day 14  In the morning visit the Tashilhumpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, second in the Tibetan hierarchy. Travel from Shigatze to Xegar/Tingri, also visiting the Sakya Monastery. Stay at Quomaolangma Hotel (2 star, simple accommodation) (B, L)

Day 15  Travel to Everest Base camp at the foot of the North face of the mountain. Overnight at Rongbuk monastery guesthouse (simple accommodation or local tented accommodation) (B, L)

Day 16  See sunrise over Mt Everest from the monastery, which has one of the best vantage points. Sightseeing shuttle bus for the short distance from monastery to Everest Base Camp itself. Then travel to border with Nepal at Kyirong. (B, L)

Day 17 Say goodbye to your Chinese guide and cross the border with Nepal to meet your Nepalese guide and driver. Transfer to Kathmandu. Stay at Hotel Shangri-La (4 star, see (B)

Day 18  Morning: private sightseeing visit to old Durbar Square, Swoyambhunath Temple. Afternoon: visit to Patan city (B, L)

Day 19  Morning: private sightseeing visit to Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple. Afternoon: visit to Bhaktapur (B, L)

Day 20  Day free in Kathmandu until transfer to airport for exit, arriving UK morning of Day 21 (B)