China and Tibet have a long and rather complicated relationship, to say the least; this tour attempts to introduce travelers to both with an eye to each’s distinct history and culture. Begin with four nights in Beijing, where you will take in the capital’s highlights, including the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, and the wonderful cobblestone lanes (hutongs) lined with traditional courtyard houses. Included in the Beijing portion is a trip to the Great Wall, one of the most impressive man-made monuments in the world. Continue to the ancient capital city of Xi’an for an overnight stay and a tour of the city’s many pagodas and temples and, of course, see the famous Terracotta Warrior Army. From Xi’an, fly to Lhasa and spend four nights exploring the “Place of the Gods.” Spend a full day at the massive Gelukpa monastic complex of Sera and Norbulingha, the Jewel Park. Another full day is devoted to sightseeing in Lhasa, including a visit to the Potala Palace, the most famous building in Tibet, and the Jokhang Temple, the spiritual heart of Tibet. Conclude your stay with a day excursion to Ganden or Tshurpu monastery. From Lhasa, head to Guilin for three days: explore the Longsheng rice terraces and the Reed Flute Cave, cruise the Li River, and tour villages around scenic Yangshuo. Conclude your trip in Shanghai, China’s most dynamic city and its economic hub. Tour the Bund and the lovely Yu Yuan Garden as well as lively People’s Square, the renowned Shanghai Museum, and the sophisticated French Concession district. From Shanghai, take a day trip to the small water town of Suzhou, which has delightful gardens, bridges, canals, and traditional homes.
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