An Expedition from Kashgar to Lhasa

Retrace the path of ancient traders and adventurers on this comprehensive overland journey across Western China. Experience the legendary Kashgar Sunday Animal Market, where merchants sell everything from ducks to sheep. Make your way east to visit Turpan’s lush Grape Valley, watered by a 2,000-year-old irrigation system, and Dunhuang’s UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves, frescoed and carved with a thousand images of the Buddha. Ride the high-altitude train from Xining to Tibet, and explore the Tibetan Plateau on a splendid route that embraces the sacred cities of Gyantse and Shigatse, as well as Lhasa, “City of the Sun.”

18 Day Trip

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

18 Day Trip

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

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

Days 1-5: Kashgar, Turpan

Begin in 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. Board an overnight train 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.


  • Kashgar Sunday Market and its unrivaled animal bazaar
  • 17th century Abakh Hoja (Fragrant Concubine) Tomb
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Days 6-8: Train to Liuyuan, Dunhuang

Depart by fast day train to the city of Liuyuan, the gateway to Dunhuang where the Mogao Buddhist Caves were created. Marvel at the incredible frescoes and painted statues of this UNESCO-listed wonder, and take a short camel ride at the foot of Echoing Sands Mountain.


  • Mogao Thousand Buddha Caves, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Dunhuang
  • Bactrian camel ride at the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert

Days 9-11: Xining, High-altitude railway

Catch the train to Xining, located high on the Tibetan Plateau in remote Qinghai Province. Admire the brilliant blues, golds and reds of Ta'er Monastery, and browse the grand Tibetan Medicine and Culture Museum with its fascinating collection of artifacts and information about ancient Tibet. Board the high-altitude train to Lhasa, passing by the world’s highest railroad station, Tangula.


  • Buddhist Ta'er Monastery, with its Great Hall of the Golden Roof, constructed from hundreds of tiles with embedded precious gems
  • Tibetan Medicine and Culture Museum, documenting the history of ancient Tibet from 4,000 years ago
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Days 12-18: Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse

Spend a night in Lhasa before continuing to Gyantse’s celebrated Kumbum Stupa and turquoise Yamdrok Lake, said to be a goddess incarnate. In Shigatse, discover gold-roofed Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded by the first Dalai Lama in 1447. Back in Lhasa, visit the massive UNESCO-listed Potala Palace, rising in splendor above the city, and Jokhang Temple, Tibet's most sacred site. Wander Barkhor Market, bargaining for yak-wool boots or Tibetan fur hats. Venture into the valley where Chupsang Nunnery is hidden, then celebrate the journey's end with a festive farewell dinner in Lhasa.


  • Sacred turquoise Yamdrok Lake, a place of pilgrimage
  • Gyantse, almost two and a half miles high
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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 $6,895
  • Partial Single Supplement $1,295

2020 Dates

  • October 9-26
  • $6,895
  • Max 16 Travelers
Trip Length: 18 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person
based on double occupancy

  • 6-16 Travelers $6,995
  • Partial Single Supplement $1,395

2021 Dates

  • May 7-24
  • October 8-25
  • $6,995
  • Max 16 Travelers

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 trains.
  • Tibetan travel permit fee.
  • 17 breakfasts, 16 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.
  • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private coach or van (size of vehicle depends on group size)
  • Train tickets, overnight sleeper trains Kashgar-Turpan and Xining-Lhasa. (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.)
  • Train ticket, day train Turpan-Liuyuan (for access to Dunhuang).
  • Train ticket, day train Liuyuan-Xining (when departing Dunhuang).
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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