For long centuries, Tibet has fascinated the world. Its rugged isolation, mystical religion, fabulous buildings and hardy people continue to captivate the imagination.
Spirituality is a vital part of life up in this isolated land: because of the region's inaccessibility, there have been few modern-day influences, or distractions, to dilute Buddhism's strength.
Buddhism has gone through many stages of development in Tibet since being introduced from India by Atisa in the sixth century. Buddhism flourished, helped from its adoption by the Tsangpo dynasty as the national religion. In more recent years Tsongkhapa, founder of the Yellow Sect and master of the Panchen Lama and Dalai Lama, has commanded huge respect for his insightful teachings.
People from all cultures can learn from the disciplines, teachings and philosophies of Buddhism. A tour of Tibetan Buddhist sites gives a more profound understanding of this fascinating religion, and how it impacts the everyday life of Tibetans.
It has hard-to-witness ceremonies such as the sky burial, that are carried out against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Buddhists also have a firm belief in reincarnation, symbolised by a diligent search for each and every Great Lama, a child-Buddha who reveals his identity through certain key signs. The 14th Dalai Lama was discovered in a hillside peasant village, close to the monastery of Ta'er on the Tibetan borderlands of China, by a band of searching monks.
Once, Tibet was out of bounds to all but the most determined travellers, but modern transportation and an increasingly outward-looking Tibet now allow outsiders the chance to see, first-hand, this magical part of the world, with its superbly preserved culture and traditions.
Buddhism is part of the very fabric of everyday life. Few Tibetans live in towns or cities, so when they embark on pilgrimages to their places of worship, it can take weeks, or even months, of arduous travel.
At all Tibetan Buddhist temples, colourfully-dressed nomads can be seen making their circuits of the stupas and monasteries, bowing down low as a mark of respect. The famous Ta'er monastery, near Xining, is the birthplace of the yellow sect of Tibetan Buddhism and is known for excellence in three branches of the arts, notably mural painting, butter flowers and embossed embroidery.
A few hours away down a twisting mountain road, visitors can be on the Gansu-Sichuan grassland itself, marvelling at its raw beauty. Flanked by distant mountains is the magnificent Lebrang Lamasery, one of the most important lamaseries for the Gansu & Sichuan province.
Tibetans who live in this sprawling land have long known its secrets. Modern scientific tests have shown that traditional herbal medicines and potions made from plants and animals have valuable healing qualities. Tibetan doctors study for many years before being allowed to practise, using techniques honed to perfection over the centuries.
The most famous and significant Tibetan Buddhist centre of them all is the Potala Palace in Lhasa, one of the world's architectural wonders. Its tiered layer of pure white buildings is breathtaking to behold, dominating the skyline of the city. Its thousands of rooms, sacred treasures and rich history, have earned it a World Heritage Site listing.
Visiting Tibet is, in short, a cultural, spiritual and natural journey to one of the most unspoiled regions of the world. After witnessing Tibetan Buddhism culture close up, it becomes clear why this serene and peaceful way of life so fascinates people from all over the world.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China. It is an ancient city with a history of over 3,000 years. The population is about one billion. The city is richly endowed with fantastic natural resources and historical heritages. It is home to China’s living treasures – Giant Pandas. The famous Sichuan Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve, the biggest of its kind in the world, is only 130 km from Chengdu.
Lanzhou is the capital city of Gansu Province in northwest China. It is situated on the upper course of the Yellow River, where the river emerges from the mountains. It was once called “Gold City” in the ancient times.
Lanzhou has been a center since early times, being at the southern end of the route leading via the Hexi Corridor across Central Asia, playing a vital role in economy and cultural exchange between the East and the West. With a history of more than 2,000 years, Lanzhou is a city hub of the northwest China nowadays
The Tibet Autonomous Region is known by many as the "Roof of the World" due to its elevation of over 13 thousand feet above sea level. Tibet is a charming place to visit, with its beautiful landscapes, brilliant culture, and mysterious folklore. Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is located along the banks of the Lhasa River, a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River.
It has a history of more than 1,300 years. Lhasa ("the sacred place") has an abundance of sunshine; hence its reputation as the Solar City. It is a center of politics, economy, transport, and religious activities. There are many places of interest in Lhasa, such as the Potala Palace, Sera Monastery, and the Jokhang Monastery. Lhasa's original appearance and traditional lifestyle are largely intact at Barhkor Street in the old part of Lhasa, where all sorts of arts and crafts are on sale. Flights leave on a regular basis from Lhasa to Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi'an and Kathmandu. The Qinghai-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet highways are the main routes to the region.
Qinghai is in the northeastern part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and its name comes from Qinghai Lake, the largest inland lake in China. The Yangtze, the Yellow and Lancang Rivers all have their origins there, so Qinghai is also known as the birthplace of rivers. Qinghai is over 9,842 feet above sea level. It is rich in tourist resources and possesses an ideal ecological environment. The people of the region have a unique religious culture and traditional folk customs, which also makes Qinghai a fascinating destination.
In the remote past, there was a branch line of the ancient Silk Road which stretched west from Lanzhou in Gansu to Qinghai, through Xining, Golmud, and then north to Dunhuang, finally converging with the main road. Along the Silk Road in Qinghai main scenic spots include Qinghai Lake and Birds Island, the Salt Lake and the famous Ta'er Lamasery.
Xining Located on the northeastern part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Xining is the provincial capital of Qinghai. It is the hub of Lanzhou-Qinghai and Qinghai-Tibet Railways, and sits astride the main route to the hinterland of Qinghai and Tibet. Xining is 7,463 feet above sea level and is a typical example of a plateau city.
Xining has unique and beautiful scenery and many places of interests. The Ta’er Lamasery which holds plenty of precious relics and good editions of Tibetan scriptures. Major attractions include the world-famous Qinghai Lake, Bird Island, Sun & Moon Hill, Jin Yin Tan plain and mysterious Atom City.
M. Kwok:Thank Silk Road Travel once again to run such a wonderful trip. Will recommend it to anyone who plans on a trip to China
Federation of Hong Kong Industries
7 Days Qinghai and Tibet tour (Sep 2008)
Conditions along the Silk Road vary from a typical continental climate around Xian to a desert climate as you travel westward. Average daily variation is about 12°C. Temperature in certain desert areas may vary up to a maximum of 36°C in one day between noon and midnight. Despite the hot weather, the summer months of June, July, August and September are a popular time to travel when the oasis towns are full of life, flowers are blooming, fruits are in season, and the fragrance of sweet melons and grapes fill the air. Spring and autumn though short and barely noticeable, are a comfortable season to travel too. Winter is cold but offers a different perspective in scenery.
Light cotton dresses, sunglasses and a hat to guard against sunburn for the summer. Wool and fleece layers, topped with a down jacket with wind-breaking shell, scarves, gloves, hats and woolen socks for the winter. Wear layers that can be added on or discarded as weather changes. Comfortable rubber-soled shoes are recommended.
“Culture Hotel” is our hotel brand that aims to bring to you a unique hotel concept. Each hotel blends in with local architectural style and décor to preserve the indigenous flavour of the region. During your trip, you may have a chance to stay at one of below distinctive hotels that have character and soul:
Beijing : Lusongyuan Hotel
Dunhuang : The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel
Suzhou : Pingjiang Lodge
Tunxi : Tunxi Lodge
Turpan : Turpan Oasis Hotel
Xidi : Xidi Travel Lodge
Xining : Tsongkha Hotel
Food & Beverages
Hotels in China usually offer buffet breakfast or continental breakfast. You may bring some snacks along with you for the trip. Avoid drinking tap water and eating cold dishes or beverages at the street market. Drink only bottled water and well cooked food during the trip.
The most efficient and comfortable way to travel is by air. Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines operate regular flights along the Silk Road cities using aircraft models Boeing 707, 737, 757 and Airbus A320. In addition, the Lanzhou - Urumqi Railway line operates train service along the Silk Road. For the more adventurous travellers who prefer to trace the footprints of Marco Polo, they can consider entering China by road through the Khunjerab Pass from Pakistan on the Karokoram Highway, or by the International Railway from Moscow to Urumqi.
China Visa & Travel Document
Most of the overseas passport holders are required to apply for a China Visa to enter China. Please check with your local Chinese embassy for visa application. To visit Tibet, all overseas passport holders are required to apply for a special permit. Please allow at least 14 working days to apply for the Tibet Permit. Remember to check if your passport is valid for at least 6 months’ before your departure date.
There are two service systems for China Cell Phone – GSM and CDMA. China Mobile's feature is the GSM system, while China Unicom the CDMA system. Cell phone network covers most provinces in China except that transmission may sometimes be interrupted in certain desert areas. Most hotels have IDD lines where you can make IDD calls in your room. Internet access is available at the business centre of most hotels.
The currency is called Chinese Yuan (CNY), which is also known as Renminbi (RMB) locally. International credits cards like Visa and Master are accepted by hotels in the major cities. US Dollar Travellers Cheques are acceptable for money exchange in most hotels.
Health information for Travelling Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau With an elevation ranging from 3,660 meters to 5,500 meters above sea level, the air pressure of most of the region in Tibet is relatively low. For those who visit plateau for the first time may suffer from different levels of high altitude sickness such as headache, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms. One should avoid vigorous activities on the plateau and dress properly to keep warm. Normally, the symptoms will be relieved or disappear gradually after 2 to 3 days. Get restful sleep to maintain good health, take more deep breath and keep your walking speed slow upon arrival. If you are constantly not feeling well, please go to the nearest hospital or return to a low altitude place to rest.Our itineraries are designed to ascend gradually from relatively low altitude spots such as Xining in Qinghai (2,200 to 3,200 meters) so that travelers can acclimatize to high altitude environment gradually.