An Expedition from Lhasa to Kashgar

Explore the Tibetan Plateau on a splendid circular route that embraces the sacred cities of Tsetang, Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse. Ride the high-altitude train from Lhasa down to Lanzhou, and on to Western China and the Kashgar animal market. Along the way, visit Dunhuang’s Mogao Caves, frescoed and carved with a thousand images of the Buddha, and Turpan’s lush Grape Valley, watered by a 2,000-year-old irrigation system.

18 Day Trip

  • Small Group
    Limited to 16 passengers
  • Travels to:
    China, Tibet
  • Cultural Series:
    Beijing to Kashgar

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Tour UNESCO-listed Mogao Thousand Buddha Caves
    Tour the UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves, which present a thousand-year study in the development of Buddhist art in China....
    Read More
  • Skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback
    Follow in the tracks of Silk Road explorers as you skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback. ...
    Read More
  • Browse the animal section at the Kashgar Sunday Market
    Browse the fantastic animal section at the Kashgar Sunday Market, where you can find anything from a herd of fat-tailed sheep to a single camel ready for a test drive....
    Read More
  • Circumambulate the structural mandala of Samye Monastery
    Circumambulate the structural mandala of Samye Monastery, built in the 8th century: the complex contains beautiful temples and stupas placed in specific sites...
    Read More
Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over two decades of China and Tibet travel experience
  • Travel programs such as the California Agricultural Leadership Program and the American Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Tibet
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
Download Detailed Itinerary
Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Day 1: Beijing

Spend a night in Beijing, then board a flight to the Tibetan Plateau.


Days 2-8: Tsetang, Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse

In Tsetang, visit the country’s first monastery, its first palace and the home of its first kings, Yarlung Valley. Light a yak-butter candle in Lhasa’s massive UNESCO-listed Potala Palace. Wander Barkhor Market, bargaining for yak-wool boots or Tibetan fur hats. Venture into the valley where Chupsang Nunnery is hidden. Continue to Gyantse’s celebrated Kumbum and turquoise Yamdrok Lake, said to be a goddess incarnate. In Shigatse, discover gold-roofed Tashilhunpo Monastery.


  • Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first monastery, built in the 8th century by King Trisong Detsen
  • Yumbulagang, considered the oldest building in Tibet and the first palace
Read More

Days 9-13: High-altitude railway, Lanzhou, Dunhuang

From Lhasa, board the high-altitude train down to Lanzhou, passing by the world’s highest railroad station, Tangula. In Lanzhou, visit the Gansu Provincial Museum and its bronze Flying Horse, perfectly balanced atop a bird. Fly to Dunhuang, where the Mogao Buddhist Caves were created. Take a short camel ride at the foot of Echoing Sands Mountain. Fly to Urumqi for an overnight.


  • High-altitude railway from the Tibetan Plateau to Lanzhou
  • Gansu Provincial Museum
Read More

Days 14-18: Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar

Drive to Turpan, a welcome oasis on the northern Silk Road. The sweet wine grapes cultivated in Turpan are irrigated with a 2,000-year-old gravity-fed system. Explore the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, begun in 366 AD, and investigate the underground tombs of Astana. Tour 2,000-year-old Kashgar, the fabled city that greeted Marco Polo as he entered the Middle Kingdom. Browse its Sunday animal market, where locals purchase livestock for meat, milk or transportation.


  • Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China
  • Xinjiang Regional Museum with the “Luolan Beauty” ancient mummy
Read More

See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

Download Detailed Itinerary
Tour Dates & Prices
Trip Length: 18 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person
based on double occupancy

  • 5-16 Travelers $5,995
  • Plus Internal Air $1,300
  • Partial Single Supplement $1,095

2015 Dates

  • May 15-June 1
  • September 25-October 12
  • $5,995
  • Max 16 Travelers
Inquire Now

Group Size

Small Groups – Never More than 16 Travelers. Guaranteed!

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in well-located superior tourist-class hotels in the major cities and best available hotels elsewhere.
  • Tibetan travel permit fee.
  • 17 breakfasts, 15 lunches, and 17 dinners.
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • Services of an experienced, English-speaking MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end cities.
  • Transportation throughout itinerary by private coach or van (size of vehicle depends on group size)
  • Train ticket, overnight sleeper train Lhasa-Lanzhou. (Up to four travelers per compartment, sharing with other group members.)
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary. Baggage handling where available.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.

Before Your Tour

  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list, insurance information.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips. Customized visa application and instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
Download Detailed Itinerary
Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

More Info

Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

More Info


Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

More Info

Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for an extended program in China, Tibet, or Siberia. All of MIR’s destinations are open to you, and all can be attached to this program.  Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

While the accommodations are as comfortable as possible, they will vary from superior tourist class hotels to very basic and simple accommodations. Western China and Tibet may not be up to the standards North American travelers expect.

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

Read our Travel Journals

MIR's Travel Journals offer first hand accounts of MIR's fascinating destinations.

See All Journals
MIR in the News
  • Chicago Tribune suggests MIR tour to Central Asia and Iran

    January 8, 2015

    “If travel on the edge is your thing,” the Trib suggests MIR’s Once Forbidden Lands of Central Asia & Iran. Exploring Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, the 20-day trip begins in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, and ends in... Read More

  • “Most Exciting Ideas” for Travel in 2015

    January 5, 2015

    Curious Animal, an online magazine about “Adventure Travel, Photography, Music, Books, Big Issues and Ideas from around the world,” has compiled a list of new and fascinating things to do in 2015, and MIR is on it. “Fro... Read More

See All Press & Awards
From the Blog
See All Blog Posts