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Gansu/Qinghai - Little Tibet

Lanzhou - Xiahe - Tongren - Xining

Xiahe pilgrims

The south of Gansu province is a rich tapestry of mountains and grasslands, and home to a significant Tibetan minority population, so that the region is sometimes called 'Little Tibet'. Neighbouring Qinghai also has a strong Tibetan presence. Explore the many facets of the fascinating area on this escorted private tour.



Day 1  Arrive Lanzhou. Transfer to hotel.

Day 2  Travel to Xiahe, via the Bingling Si grottoes, Buddhist caves and grottoes carved into the cliffs of a canyon over hundreds of years and now accessible only by boat across the Liujiaxia Reservoir. Overnight in Xiahe. (B + L)

Day 3  Visit the Labrang monastery, one of the most important centres of Tibetan Buddhism, founded in the early 18th century. Then visit the Sangke Grassland, a large area of high alpine meadows on the outskirts of Xiahe, with lakes and rivers ringed by mountains. Overnight in Xiahe. (B + L)

Day 4  Travel onward to Tongren, a mixed Tibetan/Hui (Muslim) area that was once part of eastern Tibet (about 3.5 hours by road). Visit the Longwu Monastery in the town, followed by the nearby Upper and Lower Wutan monasteries which are noted for their production of 'thangka’ - Tibetan religious paintings. (B)

Day 5  Travel onwards to Xining, capital of Qinghai Province (about 3 hours by road). Visit the Dongguan Mosque, the largest in the province originally dating from the 14th century; and the residence of Ma Bufang, one of the Muslim warlords who ruled this part of China between the collapse of the empire in 1911 and the communist takeover in 1949. (B + L)

Day 6  Visit Ta’er Si, or Kumbum, monastery, founded by the 3rd Dalai Lama in 16th century around the birthplace of the founder of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism to which the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama belong. Transfer to airport for late afternoon exit. (B)