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 UNESCO-listed 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....
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  • Skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback
    Follow in the tracks of Silk Road explorers as you skirt the Taklamakan Desert on camelback. ...
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  • 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....
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  • 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...
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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
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Day 1-2: Beijing

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


Days 3-8: Tsetang, Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse

In Tsetang, visit Tibet'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
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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.


  • High-altitude railway from the Tibetan Plateau to Lanzhou
  • Gansu Provincial Museum
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Days 14-18: Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar

Fly to Urumqi for an overnight. 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 “Loulan Beauty” ancient mummy
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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

  • 6-16 Travelers $5,995
  • Plus Internal Air $1,300
  • Partial Single Supplement $1,095

2016 Dates

  • May 13-30
  • September 23-October 10
  • $5,995
  • Max 16 Travelers
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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. See notes below regarding accommodations on board the sleeper train.
  • 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. Shared compartments may be of mixed sexes as is the standard on trains in this region.)
  • 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.

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