Prices include savings up to $400
for bookings by Aug. 12, 2014!

Best of China & Yangtze River Cruise

Shanghai, Three Gorges, Guilin, Xi'an & Beijing plus Hong Kong or Tibet optional extensions

Overview

Style Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures November 2014
Departs Los Angeles (LAX), New York Kennedy (JFK); other gateways on request (flight schedule)
Highlights Shanghai, Xi'an, Beijing, Guilin, Great Wall, Three Gorges Dam, 2,200 year old Terra Cotta Army and Forbidden City. Optional extensions to Hong Kong & Tibet
Included in the Price
  • Round trip flights from Los Angeles via Air China including fuel surcharges and taxes and fees
  • All intra-China flights, transfers and ground transportation
  • Deluxe and superior first class hotels
  • 4 nights deluxe Yangtze River cruise with outside balcony cabins and FREE upgrade to Executive deck aboard MS Victoria Anna. Executive cabin amenities including: Use of Executive lounge with hot, cold & soft drinks and complimentary Wi-Fi; complimentary laundry service; Happy Hour cocktails before dinner, house wine and beer at dinner, dining selection of two restaurants and more
  • 34 lavish meals, including 14 buffet breakfasts, 12 lunches & 8 dinners. Special meals include Dumpling lunch in Xi’an and Mongolian Hotpot lunch in Beijing, Tang Dynasty Dinner in Xi’an and Peking Duck Dinner in Beijing.
  • Shadow-boxing class in Beijing
  • Private shore excursions during Yangtze River cruise
  • Tips on board the cruise to all staff (excluding river guide and cruise director)
  • Professional English-speaking tour director and local guides
  • Advanced audio headsets enhanced tour system
What to Expect Small groups guaranteed not to exceed 26 passengers. This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.

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Testimonials

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I went on two of your tours this year, Treasures of Egypt and Best of China, as well as two other tours (Athens/ Istanbul with optional Classical Greek extension; Croatia/Slovenia/Montenegro) in previous years. I don't know how Friendly Planet puts together such amazing trips so reasonably, as I couldn't book things separately for double the price. Treasures of Egypt, my last tour, was lead by a fantastic tour guide with an advanced degree in Egyptology! The accommodations on the cruise ship were top notch with all the amenities, great food, and a helpful and friendly crew. We also stayed in a luxurious hotel in Cairo. All the admissions to the various temples / pyramids were included. They even provide extra security guards, though we always felt completely safe and well taken care of. Best of China was wonderful! We had our guide, Sam, plus a local guide in each area we went to. The trip included a 4 day cruise on the Yangtze River (a highlight) with very nice cabins with private decks, a 4-hour cruise up the Li River through some of the most beautiful sites in China, many flights within China, which allowed us to see more of the country, 5 star hotels, clean and modern buses to transport us to the sites of interest, such as the spectacular Great Wall. My favorite parts were where we saw the mountains and other natural wonders of China. One of things I will never forget was an optional excursion out in the countryside up river from Guilin where we were able to meet a family and visit their 400 year old home and walk in the rice fields. I would wholeheartedly recommend this travel company.

Margaret Bernarding, Forest Knolls, CA

Dates, Prices & Options

All prices, fees and deposits are per person. Prices below are subject to availability and confirmation. After we receive your booking, we will confirm all prices and availability within 1–2 business days. Prices are subject to change at any time and not guaranteed until we receive your final payment. More about our prices.

Departures & Prices*
Depart Return Price Book by
Aug 12
Mon Jul 14 2014 Tue Jul 29 2014 $3599   Departed
Mon Sep 1 2014 Tue Sep 16 2014 $4099 $3699 Closed
Mon Oct 6 2014 Tue Oct 21 2014 $4049 $3649 Closed
Mon Nov 3 2014 Tue Nov 18 2014 $3599 $3199 Available

* Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and include airfare and Airline Taxes, Fees & Sept. 11th Security Fee. Prices do not include excess baggage fees, extensions or optional items. Prices in orange reflect an early booking discount for bookings made by 8/12/14.

Want to stay longer? We may be able to arrange for you to extend your stay later than the scheduled dates, subject to availability. Contact us about dates, prices and restrictions.

Reservations for triples are possible for this tour. On the cruise portion, passengers will stay in 1 double and 1 single cabin. Please contact our reservations team for pricing and availability.

China Visa Fee1
China Visa Fee for CA, AZ, NM & HI (paid separately) +$180
China Visa Fee for residents of all other states (paid separately) +$195

1. All visitors to China must obtain a visa. Comprehensive visa instructions will be included in confirmation packets to all passengers.

Best of China
Rooming selection
Double occupancy included
Single room supplement
Sep 1, Oct 6 +$899
All other departures +$799
Hong Kong Extension1
Hong Kong Extension
Sep 1 +$999
Oct 6, Nov 3 +$1099
All other departures +$899
Rooming selection
Double occupancy included
Single room supplement
Sep 1, Nov 3 +$499
Oct 6 +$599
All other departures +$399

1. The Hong Kong extension requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines. Please note that it typically takes 3 to 5 business days to confirm your extension flights with the airline, and that we will notify you immediately upon confirmation of the flights. This extension also requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate.

Tibet Extension1
Tibet Extension
Sep 1, Oct 6 +$1599
Jul 14, Nov 3 unavailable
Rooming selection
Double occupancy included
Single room supplement
Sep 1, Oct 6 +$599
All other departures +$499

1. The Tibet extension requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines. Please note that it typically takes 3 to 5 business days to confirm your extension flights with the airline, and that we will notify you immediately upon confirmation of the flights. This extension also requires a minimum of 6 passengers to operate.

Departure Airports
Los Angeles (LAX) included
New York Kennedy (JFK)
Jul 14, Sep 1 +$100
Oct 6 +$150
All other departures +$200

Departure airport prices subject to availability and may cost more based on flight availability at the time of booking.

Coming from somewhere else? Before you book, ask us about availability and prices for flights from other cities.

Check approximate costs to depart from other U.S. cities.

Booking Deposit
Standard Deposit $300

To make a reservation, we only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card. This non-refundable deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package. You can pay the balance due later by credit card, check or money order. Your final payment is due 75 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of booking, whichever is later.

Itinerary

Best of China tour itinerary Come with us to ancient China, one of the oldest nations in the world, whose recorded history dates back 5,000 years. This has always been one of the most attractive and exotic travel destinations in the world, and with our tours to China, now is the time for you to experience all it has to offer. Throughout its history, China has been a leader in technology and scientific discovery (it's the birthplace of moveable type, astronomy and spaghetti). Today, it is the third-largest nation in the world in size, bordered by 14 other countries and encompassing virtually every type of terrain imaginable, and the first in population, with 1.3 billion people.

For travelers interested in visiting an important culture truly different from their own, China is an experience of a lifetime, and our "Best of China" tour has been designed to assure that you see, and experience, the very best this magnificent nation has to offer. But don't let our exceptionally low pricing fool you. There are no compromises on quality and content. If you've wanted to experience the best of China, from its most dynamic, modern cities to its timeless villages and breathtaking natural wonders, this is one trip you won't want to miss.


Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Depart USA. Your exotic journey begins as you check in for your wide-body jet flight for Shanghai via Beijing.

Day 2: Shanghai. Arrive in China's largest city, Shanghai, a bustling port and commercial center. In recent years, Shanghai has gone through a major revitalization and is now considered one of Asia's most vibrant and exciting cities. After passport control and customs, meet your guide and transfer to the city center. Check in at your centrally located hotel, near Shanghai's famous Bund. Accommodations: Jin Jiang Hotel.

Shanghai museum of ancient art Day 3: Shanghai. After breakfast depart on a full day tour including lunch to some of Shanghai's most fascinating places. Start at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and later visit the Shanghai Museum of ancient Chinese art, which possesses a collection of 120,000 precious works. Its rich and high-quality collection of ancient Chinese bronze, ceramics, painting and calligraphy is known throughout the world.

After some time for silk shopping, complete your tour of Shanghai with a visit to the Bund, also called Zhongshan Road, a famous waterfront that has been regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. Tonight, enjoy an exciting acrobatic show. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Day 4: Shanghai. Enjoy a day of leisure in Shanghai for personal explorations. Or choose an exciting optional excursion to Suzhou. Breakfast provided.

Suzhou Gardens Optional Excursion: Suzhou, $85. Enjoy an optional excursion to Suzhou which includes lunch. Suzhou is China's well-known "city of gardens" where the art of gardening has evolved over more than 1,500 years. There were once over 200 gardens in the city, and an impressive 69 of them are still well-preserved today. You'll visit the Master of Nets Garden (1140 AD), which has been duplicated at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Lion Forest Garden (1342 AD), named by Buddhist monks for its jagged rock formations resembling dancing lions. Next, visit a local market and then enjoy a boat ride through Suzhou's lovely canals. Continue to the National Embroidery Institute, established in 1957 to preserve and further the study of silk embroidery, an important activity in Suzhou for more than 1,000 years.

Jade Temple Day 5: Shanghai & Yichang. This morning, visit the Yu Garden, a classical Chinese garden with over 30 pavilions linked by a maze of corridors and bridges over ponds located in the center of the Old Town. See Zhongshan Park, named in honor of Dr Sun Yat-sen. After lunch, transfer to the airport for our flight to Yichang. Upon arrival, transfer from the airport to the city and enjoy an international buffet dinner at a local hotel before embarking on your Yangtze River cruise ship. The Victoria Anna, the Yangtze's largest deluxe river cruiser. Settle into your executive-level superior cabin with outside balcony and enjoy the upgraded executive-level services and amenities that are included. Accommodations: Victoria Anna. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Three Gorges Dam & Yangtze River Day 6: The Three Gorges Dam & Xiling Gorge. Before setting sail for the Xiling Gorge, the first of the three famous gorges you'll visit during your cruise, you first have an opportunity to learn about the huge dam project built on the Yangtze River. The Three Gorges Dam at Sandouping is one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by mankind, and has been a dream for generations. The Chinese Government finally gave its approval to launch the project in 1992, some seventy years after Sun Yat-sen first proposed the idea, and was completed in 2006, and became fully operational in 2011. The dam produces electricity, increases the river's shipping capacity, and reduces the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space. Currently the dam has generated enough electricity to cover more than one third of its cost. Return to your river cruiser and begin your sail through ship locks and the Xiling Gorge, longest and historically the most turbulent of the Yangtze gorges. Before the passage was made safe in the 1950s, the whole surface of the water was a swirling mass of whirlpools sucking the froth they created into their centers.' Xiling comprises seven small gorges and two of the fiercest rapids in the stretch of the Yangtze between Chongqing and Yichang. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Yangtze River Day 7: Daning River “Small Gorges,” Wu Gorge & Qutang Gorge. After breakfast, take an excursion to through the Daning River Small Gorges, which are narrower than the Three Gorges, but very impressive. (Depending on weather conditions, Shennon Stream may be substituted: visit Shennong Stream, a tributary of the Yangtze River. With crystal clear water, this stream flows swiftly from north to south through deep gorges. A sampan tour takes you on an exciting, high speed adventure along this newly opened unspoiled river.) Return to your river cruiser and continue sailing to Wu Gorge, the most beautiful section of the Yangtze River, flanked by high peaks that are often capped by fog or clouds. The steep slopes of the gorge are green with trees and bushes but navigators from times past knew that the lovely scenery hid dangers, including whirlpools, quicksand and rapidly varying currents. Continue sailing to Qutang Gorge, known for its sheer and spectacular precipices and uniquely beautiful natural formations from every direction. Two mountains, the Red Passage Mountain to the north and the White Salt Mountain to the south, form the Kui Gate, a giant passage through which the tumultuous Yangtze bursts in an exciting rush of rolling and roaring water. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Pagoda in Fengdu Day 8: Ghost City of Fengdu. Today you'll visit the city of Fengdu, situated on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, which, throughout 2000 years of legend became known as a "ghost city" and is today popular among tourists who come to visit the temples and shrines dedicated to the gods of the underworld. Fengdu, known for its statues of ghosts and devils on Mingshan Hill, was first described as a 'City of Ghosts' in two ancient, classic Chinese works-"Monkey King" and "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio". In keeping with the town's theme, landmarks bear thematic names such as Last Glance at Home Tower, Nothing-to-be-Done Bridge, and Ghost Torturing Pass. Interestingly, China's famous ghost town will become an island after the Three Gorges Dam project is finally completed.(Depending on weather conditions, Shibaozhai may be substituted: Shiboazhai, one of the gems of Chinese architecture along the Yangtze River, is well known for the protuding 720 ft hill, which from afar resembles a jade seal, and is attributed to the goddess Nuwo, who caused a rockslide while redecorating the sky. A red pavilion with a yellow entrance gate decorated with lions and dragons, hugs one side of the rock.) Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Reed Flute Cave, Guilin Day 9: Chongqing & Guilin. You arrive at Chongqing this morning and disembark the cruise ship and transfer to Chongqing Airport for the flight to Guilin. Upon arrival, board your touring coach and visit the Reed Flute Cave, whose name comes from the verdant reeds growing outside that are used to make flutes. The cave itself contains spectacular and dramatic stalactites, stone pillars and rock formations illuminated for additional drama by colored lighting. Visit the sea-water pearl factory. Tonight you'll enjoy a western-style dinner at your hotel. Accommodations: Lijiang Waterfall Hotel. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 10: Guilin. Set alongside the Li River, Guilin boasts dramatic limestone mountains and formations that have caused many Chinese to call its landscapes the "finest under heaven." Take a cruise on the Li River and enjoy lunch on board the boat. Spend the afternoon in the lovely town of Yangshuo, perhaps strolling or shopping for souvenirs along Xian Qian Street, where pedestrians have the right of way and cars are prohibited. Return to Guilin by motor coach late this afternoon. Breakfast & lunch provided.

FP travelers posing  with the Terracota Warriors Day 11: Guilin & Xi'an. This morning, transfer to the airport for the flight to Xi'an. After lunch, enjoy a traditional Chinese welcoming ceremony at the city wall gate of Xi’an. Explore these massive fortifications, which represent some of the oldest and best preserved city walls in all of China. Afterwards, transfer to your hotel for check-in.. This evening, join your fellow travelers at a Tang Dynasty dinner show. Accommodations: Grand Mercure Xi’an. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Emperor Qin's terra cotta warriors, Xi'an Day 12: Xi'an. After breakfast, board your touring coach and drive to the site of the famous Terra Cotta Army, among the most important archeological discoveries of modern times. Except for its old City Wall, some 8 mi/12 km around, Xi'an looks like any other large industrial city. However, it holds an important archeological treasure, the Qin Army Vault Museum, home to the army of 2,200-year-old terra-cotta soldiers unearthed 25 mi/40 km east of town. More than 8,000 life-size ceramic soldiers, chariots and horses have been uncovered-only a fraction of the total buried there to protect the tomb of the first Qin emperor. Each soldier is based on an actual person of the time, and all segments of Chinese society are represented.

After a delicious dumpling lunch, visit some of Xi'an's other important sites including the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. En route, there will be a demonstration of Chinese ceramics and ancient furniture as well as time to shop. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Beijing skyline Day 13: Xi'an & Beijing. Transfer to the airport to fly from Xi'an to Beijing, China's historic and cultural capital. Upon arrival, board your touring coach for a tour of the Han Dynasty Yang Tomb, the final resting place of Emperor Liu Qi and his empress. Next, hop aboard a rickshaw to explore the narrow streets and alleyways of one of Beijing’s Hutong neighborhoods. Enjoy a special Mongolian style Hotpot lunch at a local restaurant, before returning to your hotel.

This evening, join your fellow travelers for the Legend of Kung Fu show, a special Shaolin Kung Fu stage performance that blends music, martial arts, and a moving story. Accommodations: Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing Day 14: Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City & Tiananmen Square. Begin your touring day with a visit of the Temple of Heaven, a World Heritage Site. In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the "Son of Heaven", who administered earthly matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen to be showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these ceremonies, and each winter solstice the Emperor and all his retinue would move through the city to encamp within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eating meat while personally praying to Heaven for good harvests. The symbolic layout and design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over many centuries.

Friendly Planet passengers at the Tiananmen gate On to the Forbidden City, located at the exact center of the ancient city of Beijing, where it served as the imperial palace during the mid-Ming and Qing Dynasties. Known as the Palace Museum today, its extensive grounds cover 720,000 square meters, 800 buildings and more than 8,000 rooms. The Forbidden City is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world and was declared a World Heritage site in 1987. Next, enjoy a special lecture, class and demonstration of Chinese Shadow-boxing in the park.

Continue to Tian'anmen Square for a complimentary group photo. The square was originally built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty. At 440,000 square meters, Tiananmen Square is the largest open square in the world. It was here that the People's Republic of China was proclaimed by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949. After lunch at a nearby local restaurant, return to your hotel for the balance of the afternoon at leisure. Tonight, enjoy Beijing's most famous (and delicious) culinary treat—Peking Duck. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Great Wall of China Day 15: Great Wall of China & Ming Tombs. Depart after breakfast on a full day included excursion to the only man-made structure visible from the moon, the Great Wall of China, which follows a ridge of barren hills stretching at least 13,000 miles. En route, enjoy a visit to a jade factory with a special presentation and time for shopping. Construction of the Great Wall, which spanned more than two thousand years, began between the 7th and 6th century BC and continued through the Ming Dynasty. The wall was originally built of stone, wood, grass and earth, but during the Ming Dynasty, bricks were produced in kilns set up along the wall. The bricks were transported by men carrying them on their backs or by donkeys, mules and even goats, which had bricks tied to their heads before being driven up a mountain. Enjoy an opportunity to mount the ramparts of this ancient wonder.

Ming Tombs Conclude your visit at the Sacred Way, an ancient road linking the Ming Tombs, the burial site of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. A massive stone archway, built in 1540 at the southern end of the Sacred Way, is decorated with designs of clouds, waves and divine animals. Tonight you are our guests for a sumptuous farewell dinner. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 16: Beijing/USA. Transfer to the airport to board your returning flight to the USA. Your exciting journey comes to an end as you arrive in the USA later today. Or take advantage of your included airfare, and continue to Hong Kong on the optional extension. Breakfast provided.


Optional Extension to Hong Kong

Hong Kong skyline Prepare to be dazzled by a breathtaking symphony of lights in cosmopolitan Hong Kong. City-lovers worldwide rank Hong Kong among their must-see destinations, and for good reason. A former British colony perched on the edge of mainland China, Hong Kong is a fascinating city of contrasts—a place where East meets West; where the modern blends with the traditional; where shiny skyscrapers stand next to narrow alleys crammed with traditional vendors' stalls; where new technology flourishes alongside ancient Chinese customs. With its glorious harbor, excellent shopping, renowned restaurants, and some of the best nighttime skylines in the world, Hong Kong has it all.

Victoria Peak tram, Hong Kong Day 16: Beijing & Hong Kong. Bid farewell to Beijing as you transfer to the airport your flight to cosmopolitan Hong Kong. You'll be transferred to your luxurious hotel located in the bustling heart of Kowloon, near the scenic harbor and the "Golden Mile," Hong Kong's famous shopping district. Accommodations: The Royal Garden Hotel. Breakfast provided.

Day 17: Hong Kong. Your morning tour of Hong Kong Island features a ride to the top of Victoria Peak for a magnificent city and harbor view. Descend and continue to Repulse Bay and Aberdeen fishing village, a community of some 600 colorful floating homes. Conclude your tour with some time for shopping. The afternoon is yours at leisure for independent sightseeing in the city. Tonight, we recommend an optional dinner cruise aboard the Hong Kong Bauhinia, where you'll enjoy a fabulous buffet dinner, live music, and stunning nighttime views of the glistening harbor. Breakfast provided.

Senado Square, Macau Day 18: Hong Kong. Enjoy a full day at leisure to take in the sights and sounds of Hong Kong on your own or shop to your heart's content.

Or, take advantage of a unique optional excursion to the former Portuguese colony of Macau, situated on a corner of the Pearl River Delta. Although it was officially returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, Macau maintains a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. You'll see in the European-style architecture, pastel-colored buildings, open air plazas, and abundance of Portuguese wine. Breakfast provided.

Day 19: Hong Kong/USA. Your final day in Hong Kong is at leisure for shopping, strolling or taking photos. Later, transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the U.S. via Beijing. Your memorable journey to China comes to an end as you arrive in Los Angeles later today.


Tibet Optional Extension

Tibetan boy After your tour in China, why not take advantage of a unique opportunity to visit mysterious and exotic Tibet, located at the very rooftop of the world. For centuries, Tibet was an almost mythical land hidden behind the Himalayas, closed to outsiders and visited by only the hardiest explorers. Today, travelers can easily reach Lhasa, Tibet's capital and gateway to Tibet and experience a culture far different from our own. Here you will find kind, friendly, welcoming people, breathtaking vistas and deeply spiritual ritual that is completely interwoven with the fabric of everyday life. It's an experience not to be missed.

Our Tibet, Rooftop of the World Extension includes three nights at the 4-star Sheraton Four Points Lhasa, comprehensive guided touring of Lhasa's major sites, most meals and an opportunity to explore the sacred places, many predating the start of the Common Era, the famous Bakhor market, where you can join Tibetans from all parts of the plateau and foreign visitors alike in shopping, strolling and enjoying this unique and special place up close and personal!

Lhasa ,Tibet Day 16: Beijing/Lhasa. Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Lhasa, capital of Tibet. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel on the Lhasa River. Spend the rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize yourself to the extreme altitude of Lhasa. Join your group members for a welcome dinner this evening. Accommodations: Sheraton Four Points. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Day 17: Lhasa. This morning, after a good night's rest, begin your exploration of Lhasa at the Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century and probably the most revered and best known building in the land. Built at an altitude of more than 11,000 ft on the side of Marpo Ri, the Red Mountain in the center of Lhasa Valley, Potala Palace has vast, inward-sloping walls broken only in the upper parts by straight rows of many windows and flat roofs at various levels giving it a fortress-like appearance.

Potala Palace The palace complex, which includes the White Palace which was built for secular use and contains the living quarters of the Dalai Lama, offices, the seminary and the printing house. A central, yellow-painted courtyard known as a Deyangshar separates the living quarters of the Lama and his monks with the Red Palace, the other side of the sacred Potala, which is completely devoted to religious study and prayer. The Red Palace consists of a complicated layout of many different halls, chapels and libraries on many different levels with a complex array of smaller galleries and winding passages and other buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the center of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of over 11,000 feet.

Later, visit the Mentsekhang, the largest traditional hospital in Tibet and a major center of research, treatment, training and production of Tibetan medicine. A visit to a carpet factory, where you can see how the magnificent and colorful Tibetan carpets are created (and where you can purchase and arrange shipping if you wish) completes your day of touring. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Jokhang  temple roof Day 18: Lhasa. After breakfast, visit the Jokhang Temple Monastery, founded in the 7th century. This exceptional Buddhist religious complex is the most celebrated temple in Tibet, attracting adherents of all the Buddhist sects as well as followers of Bon-Po, Tibet's indigenous religion. Proceed to the Norbulingka, the largest and grandest garden of the Tibet Plateau and the Dalai Lama's former summer palace. Constructed in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of Tibetan art and its magnificent gardens are today a park open for the public to visit and enjoy.

Continue to Bakhor Street, the oldest street in Lhasa and a wonderful, colorful shopping area whose narrow streets are lined with shops, kiosks and vendor's Thangkas, prayer wheels, butter lamps, prayer flags, Tibetan joss sticks and other typical Tibetan goods. This is the best place to sharpen your bargaining skills, and even without the benefit of knowing the language, your pocket calculator is all the equipment you'll need to buy souvenirs at bargain prices. This evening, join your fellow travelers for dinner of mixed Tibetan and Chinese dishes. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Young monk Day 19: Lhasa & Tsedang. This morning you'll depart Lhasa for Tsedang, Tibet's third largest city. En route and set amid open farmland, stands Tibet's very first monastery, Samye, which is over 1200 years old. The monastery combines the styles of China, Tibet and India, and the layout was designed to represent the ideal universe described in Buddhist scriptures. Samye Monastery contains within and upon its walls many historic, religious, architectural and artistic examples from every period of Tibetan history. Its frescoes are well-known in the world for their wide variety of subjects, rich content and exquisite artistic detail. Continue by touring coach to Tsedang and check into your hotel. Accommodations: Tsedang Hotel. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.

Yak Day 20: Tsedang & Beijing. This morning, visit Yumbu Lhakang, the first palace and one of the earliest building projects in all of Tibet. Towering above the summit of Mt. Tashitseri on the East bank of Yarlung River, legend has it that Yumbu Lhakang was established by "Bon" (Tibet's earliest religious sect) believers for the first Tibetan King, Nyetri Tsampo, during the 2nd century B.C.

Our next stop is Traduk Monastery, another of the earliest Buddhist temples in Tibetan history. Built in 641 A.D., it is said that King Songtsan Gampo established the temple so that his kingdom might prosper. Later, Traduk Monastery became a royal winter palace filled with ancient relics and treasures. After lunch, drive to Lhasa Airport to board your flight to Beijing. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Tonight dinner is on your own at one of Beijing's many wonderful restaurants. Accommodations: Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing. Breakfast & lunch provided.

Day 21: Beijing/USA. Say a reluctant goodbye to China as you transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA, arriving in Los Angeles later today.

The Tibet Extension requires a minimum of 6 passengers in order to operate at published prices. The high altitudes reached on this trip (Tibet is about 12,000 feet above sea level) and the amount of walking involved, often on uneven terrain, requires that you be in good physical condition to fully enjoy the trip. We strongly suggest that you consult a physician regarding any concerns prior to making a reservation.

Videos

Video: Friendly Planet's Best of China & Yangtze Cruise Video: Friendly Planet's Hong Kong Extension Video: Friendly Planet's Tibet Extension

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Shop and Compare

Our tours may look similar to others you've seen, but we invite you to shop & compare. There are important differences that make Friendly Planet tours the best you can find.

No Compromise on Quality: Despite our extraordinary prices, there are no compromises on our China tours. You'll stay in Deluxe and Superior First Class, centrally located hotels that are noted for their amenities and service. All cabins aboard our deluxe Yangtze River Cruise are outside cabins with balconies, so you can enjoy the magnificent panorama as you sail through the massive gorges and vistas of the river.

Included Features: Your transfers as well as important visits to all the "must see" places in China are all included, not expensive extras as in other tours. Included meals include delicious Chinese specialties and, where available, Western foods. You will receive a free, comprehensive Friendly Planet China destination guide with plenty of restaurant suggestions, organized by cuisine and cost, so you have up-to-date spots to try on the evenings when dinners are not included.

Credit Cards or Cash: Whether you pay by check, money order or your favorite major credit card, your tour price on this tour is the same. No extra cost to charge your dream vacation to China.

Free Comprehensive Destination Guide: To help you prepare for your trip, you will receive a free, comprehensive Friendly Planet China destination guide - a Friendly Planet exclusive - filled with plenty of helpful information about the destinations themselves (including history and other fascinating facts), weather, tipping, local customs, how to dress, plus insider shopping, nightlife and restaurant suggestions, organized by cuisine and cost.

Personal Service: Most important of all, the extra ingredient that makes our tours stand apart from others—the wonderful, personal attention you'll receive from our friendly staff in the USA and our representatives in China —is completely free of charge. Compare our China programs to others, feature for feature. You'll see for yourself that ours are the very best value for money you'll find anywhere.

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