Tibet: Beijing to Delhi

Tibet: Beijing to Delhi

From $ 7,155 AUD

Description

China’s charisma, Tibet’s treasures, Nepal’s nature and India’s enigma – all of this awaits on a 24-day adventure from Beijing to Delhi. Experience one of the world’s greatest train journeys, get to know the highland haven of Lhasa and discover the world’s highest monastery in the foothills of Qomolangma. Look for Bengal tigers in the jungle during two safari excursions in Bardia National Park, explore the palatial hallways and gardens of Lucknow’s Mughal- and colonial-era buildings, and watch a fire ceremony along a clear and blue stretch of the holy Ganges River. This adventure avoids the tourist crowds in favour of slices of authentic daily life, and this life is one definitely worth experiencing.

Trip Name
Tibet: Beijing to Delhi
Last Updated
2020-01-25
Days
24
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Sit back and relax on one of the world’s greatest train journeys – a marathon 45-hour journey to the literal Roof of the World, passing by incredibly mountainous and remote terrain, and the occasional grazing yak!
  • Get to know Lhasa, from the incredible atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple – the most sacred in the Tibetan Buddhist world – to a traditional momo making class, you’ll get a real taste for this place.
  • Climb phenomenal mountain passes, twist up thrilling peaks, and take in incredible views of skies and lakes on your overland journey, standing in the shadow of the mightiest of them all – Mt Everest – and visiting the world’s highest monastery on your way!
  • Look for Bengal tigers and other wildlife on two safari excursions in Bardia National Park, where recent Nepalese efforts have resulted in tiger populations doubling since 2009.
  • Watch the nightly Ganga Aarti ceremony unfold along the Ganges River in Rishikesh, gathering with the local community to watch this captivating ritual involving fire and music.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Beijing
Touch down in China’s capital, Beijing, ready for a high-altitude adventure! Your trip begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your group leader and travel companions. After this important meeting, why not get together with your group for an optional dinner, perhaps finding one of the best Beijing duck restaurants in the city. Your group leader will definitely know of some delicious places eat this specialty.
Day 2 - Great Wall – Train to the Roof of the World
What’s the most quintessential image of China? That’s right, the great Great Wall. Today, you’ll take an early morning drive (approximately 2 hours) to visit to one of the most well-preserved areas of the Wall – the Mutianyu section. An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6000 kilometres westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It's a 30-minute climb up some steep steps to the wall itself so pack some good walking shoes, but it’s well worth the effort. If you’re feeling like resting your legs, there’s also the option to get the chair lift up too, at your own expense. Travel back to the city and in the late afternoon, transfer to Beijing West Railway Station – one of the biggest and busiest in the world – to board your mighty train journey to Lhasa (approximately 45 hours). Be aware that, on the odd occasion, there may be interruptions to this schedule – see the ‘Special Information’ section of your first day in Beijing for more details.
Day 3 - Train to the Roof of the World
Today, all you can do is sit back, relax and take in the mountainous ridges and remote terrain along the highest railway in the world. The journey takes you through the major cities of Xi'an, Lanzhou and Xining, and across the wide open highlands of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with a speckling of grazing yaks, sheep and glistening pristine lake. On this second night, you’ll climb in altitude and your breath will likely be taken away by the changing landscapes outside the windows – snow-dusted black cliffs and mountain peaks illuminated by the moonlight.
Day 4 - Lhasa (3656m)
Say goodbye to your local train pals and your 'home' for the last two nights after lunch time, and be greeted by Lhasa's crisp mountain air. The colourful and historic holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley, and for hundreds of years it was a mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world. Lhasa remains an intriguing city with deeply fascinating cultures, sights and stories. Check in to your hotel later this afternoon and begin to get acclimatised with both the city and the altitude.
Day 5 - Lhasa (3656m)
Begin exploring Lhasa with an easy morning walk in the nearby area, before joining a momo making class for lunch – a type of Tibetan-style dumpling. In the afternoon, take a visit to the Sera Monastery and witness the residing monks taking part in heated debates in the courtyards.
Day 6 - Lhasa (3656m)
In the morning, visit the Potala Palace, the incredible former home of the Dalai Lama that’s perched 130 metres above the city. The palace is divided into two parts, the White Palace (secular and used as offices and the like) and the Red Palace (home to chapels, shrines, and tombs of Dalai Lamas). Although you must stick with your guide while exploring Potala Palace, this in no way lessens the impact of seeing what is truly a wonder of the architectural world. Afterwards, visit Jokhang Temple – considered the spiritual heart and most sacred temple of Tibet. It always attracts steady waves of pilgrims. Spend some time exploring this large World-Heritage listed site and learn a thing or two about its history. According to legend, the temple was built on top of a lake after many failed attempts to build monasteries in other nearby locations. Feast your eyes on golden Buddha which stands in the centre. If you still feel energetic enough, perhaps join the pilgrims walk around the Barkhor Street or around the Potala palace (in a clockwise direction) – both of which are considered sacred Koras by the Tibetan Buddhists.
Day 7 - Gyantse (4025m)
Today’s a day you’d want to call shotgun on a window seat, as you’ll be tackling a seriously scenic 8-hour drive. Heading towards Gyantse, cross over stunning mountain passes as you twist through dramatic valleys and peaks. Pass by the shimmering Yamdrok Lake, climb the Khama La Pass, pass sheep herder villages scattered along the banks, and marvel at the soaring Noijin Kangsang – the peak of the Lhagoi Kangri Mountain Range. You’ll stop by the roadside town of Nangartse for lunch, before driving the Karo La pass, and then descending down to your destination for tonight, Gyantse. This small rural town is perfect to just wander around and watch contemporary Tibetan life play out in front of you – where pilgrims mix with pop music, cows stroll past cowboys on motorbikes and monks go about their daily business.
Day 8 - Shigatse (3890m)
This morning, take some time to check out the unique Gyantse Kumbum – an impressive layered stupa on the grounds of the Pelkor Monastery. Each floor of this six-level structure can be visited, and as you wind up the floors past several tiny chapels, the air fills more and more with incense and the passageways get narrower on each step towards enlightenment. Later today, there’s a chance to experience a simple lunch at a family’s home, which is a a great opportunity for you to listen to some personal stories of living in Tibet, and all the while enjoying warm hospitality. After lunch, head towards Tibet’s second-largest city, Shigatse, taking about 2 hours. Translating to ‘all fortune and happiness gathered here’, Shigatse is a busy, mountain-clasped city that’s rapidly modernising. With some free time this afternoon, maybe head to the local bazaar and check out the local wares that this town has to offer.
Day 9 - Shigatse (3890m)
This morning, take a visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery. Your group leader will take you on a tour through parts of the monastery – each building with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery. Be sure to ask for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world's largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks prepare for ceremonies. In the evening, perhaps join the pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a 1-hour walk around the perimeter of the monastery while taking in its splendid, atmospheric views.
Day 10 - Sakya (4310m)
Continue on your journey west to the town of Sakya (approximately 3-4 hours). This region of Tibet is known for its grey (kya) earth (sa), and so, provides the town’s name! Its monastery, the principal monastery of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, was built in 1073, and was originally in two sections, The Northern and Southern Monastery on either side of the Zhongqu River, until the Northern structure was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The Southern Monastery is built in a medieval 'Mongolian' style, and rather than being whitewashed, the secular buildings are painted red white and grey in honour of the three Buddhist Tulkas (notable lamas). Today, you’ll have time to explore inside its high walls, stopping to admire some of its hundreds of shrines, temples and monastic residences. Afterwards, you might like to check out what’s left of the Northern Monastery complex, and even walk a little further to the town’s Nunnery high on a hill overlooking Sakya. Your leader will let you in on correct etiquette and rules when visiting these sacred sites, but as a rule of thumb, take your time and explore in a clockwise direction.
Day 11 - Everest National Park (5200m)
An exhilarating drive (approximately 5–6 hours) brings you to Everest National Park. The road is winding but the you'll be greeted with great views of world's greatest snow-capped mountains standing together like giants. Leave your big luggage on the private bus and take an overnight bag with you on a shuttle to Rongbuk Monastery – this world's highest monastery. On a clear day you might even get a photo of the monastery's chorten against the backdrop of mighty Everest, or Qomolangma, as it is known in Tibetan. Today, around 50 monks and nuns remain in this relatively modern Tibetan monastery (in the early 1900s, some 500 lived here). Then get settled where you'll stay tonight – a camp ground made of the yak hair tents set up by Tibetans to accommodate travellers who come for a night close to Everest. Depending how you feel, you can either relax at the tent site or walk to the Everest Base Camp Monument Stone that's about 500 metres away. The monument is the closest you can get to the Base Camp on the Chinese/Tibetan side, but simply standing in front of Everest will leave you speechless – ask your leader why it's such a sacred mountain to Tibetans. For the more energetic, your leader can take you for a hike to the upper Rongbuk Monastery and visit some caves where the monks meditated in the ancient times.
Day 12 - Kyirong (2800m)
Take a moment to take one last look at Everest close up before a long drive ahead. You’ll head to the Tibet–Nepal border today, stopping at the closest town of Kyirong. It’ll be roughly a 10-hour drive today, but this long effort will be worth it with the changing scenery around you – from the barren highlands of Tibet to the deep Alpine Valley. Put your feet up tonight, and enjoy a dinner with your Tibetan leader who will say goodbye to you tomorrow.
Day 13 - Thankot
This morning, cross the border from Tibet into Nepal. Keep in mind today that your Tibetan group leader and driver will bid you farewell at the border, and you’ll need to pass through immigration and customs unaccompanied. Once you’ve crossed the border, your Nepal group leader will be waiting on the other side! The border crossing can be long and dull depending on the queues and volume of people, so it is best to be patient. After the formalities are all over, head on a 5-hour drive to the charming town of Thankot. At your resort, take the afternoon and evening to chill out and enjoy the sweeping views of the Kathmandu valley, perhaps with a drink in hand.
Day 14 - Kathmandu
Stretch out with an easy 2-hour hike to the sacred Indradaha – a perfect place to witness panoramic views over the valley towards the lesser-known but no less striking peaks of Langtang, Ganesh and Manaslu. On your way, there’s also a chance you’ll see spotted deer and monkeys in the surrounding lush forest. Later on, make your way into Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, for the afternoon. Take some free time to explore the old town and feel the hustle and bustle of the big city. At night, why not get your group together for an optional final dinner to celebrate how far you’ve come travelling on your overland adventure.
Day 15 - Kathmandu
With a free day to explore at your own pace, you might like to get under the city’s skin quickly with an Urban Adventure like Cook in Kathmandu – a traditional cooking class full of fun and flavour. If you’d prefer to explore on your own, perhaps head out into the narrow streets – home to holy men, monks, bicycles, and sacred cows – and buy souvenirs or chill out with cool drink. Just remember you’ll have tour the city’s primary sights tomorrow with your leader. This afternoon, your adventure will continue with a welcome meeting, usually at 6 pm. Here, you’ll meet new travellers joining you for the next stage of your trip.
Day 16 - Kathmandu
Hit the streets on a walking tour with your leader. Visit the remarkable temple complex of Pashupatinath, the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. The complex sits on the Bagmati River and it’s possible that while you are here you will encounter local people cremating their loved ones. This can be confronting for some travellers, but it’s undeniably a moving experience and your leader will be on hand to illuminate the practise for you. You will also see the Boddhanath Stupa, a massive stupa (one of the largest in the world) decorated with streams of prayer flags. Explore Swayambhunath (AKA the Monkey Temple), another temple complex that is filled with monkeys considered holy by Buddhist devotees.
Day 17 - Bardia National Park
Take a morning flight to Nepalgunj. If the weather is playing nicely, this is a great chance to check out the Himalayas from a unique vantage point. From Nepalgunj make the 1-hour drive to Bardia National Park. Settle into your riverside lodge and relax until this evening’s safari excursion. Once night falls (when the wildlife is most active) head out on a safari in search of rhinos, deer, monkeys, a wide array of bird life and (drumroll please) Bengal tigers. The World Wildlife Foundation recently announced that Nepal has almost doubled its population of wild tigers since 2010, making this the perfect time to try and spot them among the subtropical forest and grasslands.
Day 18 - Bardia National Park
Rise and shine for another safari, this time in the morning light. Look for elephants and gharial crocodiles on the shore of the river and let your guide point out the incredible array of birdlife and other creatures. After your safari, spend the rest of your day exploring or relaxing at your lodge. Bardia has become an example of how sustainable tourism can benefit both the environment and the people that live there.
Day 19 - Lucknow
Depart Bardia National Park and drive 1 hour to the Nepal—India border. Cross the border and continue to the delightfully named Lucknow (6 hours). On arrival set out with your leader on an orientation tour and get your first glimpses of its parks, mosques, palaces and other monuments – completed in a mixture of architectural styles. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to explore at your own pace. Lucknow is more than just it’s Mughal and colonial-era buildings. Perhaps head out tonight to try some of the famous rich Awadhi food the city is famous for.
Day 20 - Lucknow - Overnight Train
Head to the Bara Imambara, a religious complex for Twelver Shia Muslims that embodies the opulent design of the Moghul era. Spend some time exploring the vast halls, gardens and rooms of the complex. Continue to Sheroes Hangout, a social enterprise café operated by an inspiring female team of acid attack survivors. Sample some included tea and snacks and learn a little more about their stories and perseverance, plus the work they do through the cafe. Then choose whether to join an optional excursion to the Chota Imambara, another Shia Muslim complex with elaborate buildings and intricate design (though less grand than the one visited this morning). In the evening, board an overnight train to Rishikesh, a journey which will take about 13 hours.
Day 21 - Rishikesh
Arrive in Rishikesh in the morning and set out on an orientation walk with your leader. Hugging the snaking Ganges River, Rishikesh is a Hindu pilgrimage town known as the 'Yoga Capital of the World'. With colourful ashrams and temples lining the river, Rishikesh is also a very picturesque place to wander, even if you’re not seeking enlightenment. In the evening, head to the riverside to watch the nightly Ganga Aarti fire ritual unfold. Temple bells will begin to ring to signify the beginning of the captivating ceremony, which is both a form of worship and a chance for community congregation.
Day 22 - Rishikesh
Pay a visit to the faded but mural-lined walls of Chaurasi Kutia, the ashram made internationally famous (long with Rishikesh by association) when the Beatles visited in the 1960s. Explore the crumbling beauty of the former ashram, now covered in graffiti related to the band and counterculture. Then choose whether to hit the waters of the Ganges on an optional whitewater rafting excursion. Unlike elsewhere in India, in Rishikesh the waters of the holy river are clear, clean and safe to swim in. Spend the afternoon and evening doing whatever you please in the city that wears its spirit on its sleeve.
Day 23 - Delhi
Spend a day doing whatever you feel like in Rishikesh. It’s an awesome place to look for souvenirs or take a sitar lesson. If the vibe of the town has got you craving something a little more (inner) peaceful, perhaps choose from one of the many, many yoga or meditation classes on offer. Ask your leader if you want help sorting the fakes from the true devotees. In the evening, board your train to Delhi (approximately 5 hours).
Day 24 - Delhi
Your adventure through India comes to an end today and you are free to depart at any time after checking out. If you plan to stay on in Delhi (a good choice), then a good way to get started exploring the city is by booking an Urban Adventure. With everything from walking tours that follow the footsteps of Gandhi to a cooking lesson in the home of a local, Urban Adventures is perfect for getting under the skin of a city that be intimidating to foreigners.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
26-04-202019-05-2020AUD $ 7,155-
31-08-202023-09-2020AUD $ 7,155-
14-09-202007-10-2020AUD $ 7,155-
12-10-202004-11-2020AUD $ 7,155-

Accommodation

Hotel (17 nights),Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (3 nights),Permanent Tented Camp/Guesthouse (1 night),Jungle Lodge (2 nights)

Transport

Overnight Sleeper Train,Private Vehicle,Public Bus,4x4 Safari Vehicle/Jeep,Plane,Train

Map