11 Days Beijing-Xian-Zhangjiajie-Shanghai Group Tour

Beijing, Xian, Zhangjiajie, Shanghai

Traveler Reviews


Tour Code: TCT-China-Group-10

Tour Type: Join-in Group Tour

(Fixed departure China group tour from Beijing)

Tour Highlights:

  Well-designed China small group tour
  Cover the major destinations and most famous wonders in China
  Suitable for who like to seek the culture and history of China with new friends
  Reveal the real China with visit to all highlights in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai
  Expand to the fantastic landscape as the shooting place of Avatar in Zhangjiajie
 

Price from $ 1491

Check availability

Day 1Arrival Beijing
Transfer service to hotel

Meals: No Meals
Accommodation: Citadines Ritan Service Apartment ★★★★

Arrive in Beijing, the capital city of China, you will be greeted by our local guide at the airport with TCT signboard. Then our guide will transfer you to check in hotel. Free at leisure for the rest of the day for you to get over the jet lag.


Beijing City View

Day 2Beijing
Temple of Heaven, Hutong, Tian'anmen Square, Forbidden City, Tea store

Meals: Hotel Breakfast, A la carte Chinese lunch
Accommodation: Citadines Ritan Service Apartment ★★★★

TCT local guide will meet you at your hotel lobby at the appointed time. It will be an exciting day as we will explore the world well-known wonders today. The 1st stop is Temple of Heaven, the existing largest structure for sacrifice to heaven and a place where the emperors prayed for a year of abundance. In the visit of Temple of Heaven, you will be astonished by the exquisite ancient Chinese architectures. Besides, you will see local seniors doing morning exercises in the square and full of vigor. You will have chance to watch Chinese Kongfu, Taichi, square dancing, playing cards, playing chess etc.

Then our group will move to a less commercial Hutong nearby. A short walking along the authentic Beijing Hutong will give you a deep impression of the local residents’ live. A la carte lunch is served at a local restaurant to have a taste of the authentic Chinese food at noon time and have a break at the restaurant.

Then continue this Beijing city treasure tour by a visit to Tian'anmen Square, the world's largest city center square, the locality of numerous major political and historical events. It is the witness of Chinese development. It is only a walking distance from Tian'anmen Square to Forbidden City, the world's existing largest and most complete ancient wooden structure buildings. You will explore the glorious palace halls and gardens for more than 2 hours in Forbidden City, learning the legendary story of the emperors and how the royal family lived there. You will be stunned by the numerous old art treasures exhibited in halls. Drive back to hotel, we will have a stop at tea store en route. Please feel free to consult with your local guide about the evening activities in Beijing, such as the night shows of Beijing.

Forbidden City
Forbidden City

Day 3Beijing
Mutianyu Great Wall, Jade carving factory, the exterior of Bird Nest and Water Cube

Meals: Hotel Breakfast, A la Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Citadines Ritan Service Apartment ★★★★

It will be an exciting day today. In the early morning, guide will pick you up from your hotel lobby. Today we will visit the must-visit spot in Beijing--- Mutianyu Great Wall, one of the famous sections of China Great Wall. It takes about 2 hours driving from the downtown of Beijing to Mutianyu Great Wall. Mutianyu Great Wall was first built in the mid-6th century during the Northern Qi, making it older than the Badaling section. (***Cable car and slideway are available at Mutianyu Great Wall. It is optional and excluded from our price***)

A la carte lunch is arranged at a good restaurant at the foot of Mutianyu. Drive back to downtown of Beijing. We will have a stop at a Jade carving factory en route. When we reach Beijing, we will have a photo stop outside the Bird Nest and Water Cube, which were the famous sites constructed for 2008 Beijing Olympic. The tour finishes by dropping off at your hotel. If you would like to try local specialty tonight, you could ask for some suggestion about Peking Roast Duck Restaurant.


Mutianyu Great Wall

Day 4Beijing - Xian
Summer Palace, High speed train to Xian

Meals: Hotel breakfast, A La Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Grand Noble Hotel ★★★★

In the morning, check out from hotel and start to visit the last spots in Beijing --- Summer Palace, the existing largest, best-preserved imperial garden in China. The Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake are regarded as the representative of Summer Palace. In the park, you could choose to take a boating trip on the lake, enjoying the beautiful royal garden view. Walk along the Long Corridor--- the longest corridor in the world, admiring the extremely rich and prestigious paintings on the beams of the corridor.

A la carte lunch will be arranged at a local restaurant on the way to Beijing West Railway Station to take high speed train (2nd class seat, duration: about 5-5.5 hours) from Beijing to Xi'an. TCT guide will wait at the exit of Xi'an train station with our signboard and transfer you to check in hotel. Free at leisure for the rest of the time.

Summer Palace
Beijing Hutong

Day 5Xian
Ancient City Wall, Tai Chi Chuan Course, Terracotta Warriors, Pottery workshop

Meals: Hotel breakfast, A La Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Grand Noble Hotel ★★★★

Today we will have a full day to explore this historical and cultural city in China. Pick up from hotel in the morning, and then have a visit to the landmark of Xi'an---Xian City Wall. You could choose to have a bicycle riding on the city wall (***Bicycle riding is optional and excluded from our price***). An impressive Tai Chi Chuan course is arranged at the City Wall for you. Originating from the roots of classical Chinese culture, Tai Chi Chuan absorbed a variety of sources including the Book of Changes, Taoism and Buddhism. With a professional Tai Chi Master's teaching, you will understand Chinese culture better.

After that, we will drive to the highlights in Xi’an ---the Terracotta Warriors. On the way to Terracotta Warriors, we will have a stop at a pottery workshop, where you will have chance to learn how to make a pottery figure.  A la carte lunch is arranged at a local restaurant nearby Terracotta Warriors. In the afternoon, we will have enough time to visit this world wonder --- Terracotta Warriors, one of the world’s most important archaeological finds, with troops, horses and carriages in battle formation.

The tour finishes by dropping-off at the hotel lobby. You could ask your local guide for some information about evening entertainment or night show, such as Tang Dynasty Show.


Terracotta Warriors

Day 6Xian - Zhangjiajie
Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Fly to Zhangjiajie

Meals: Hotel breakfast, A La Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Best Western Grand Hotel Zhangjiajie★★★★

You will have a leisure morning for your to walk around. We will check out at noon time and drive to have lunch directly. In the afternoon, Visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda ,  one of the most well-preserved Tang Dynasty buddha temples. It is  reputed as the Tang Dynasty elaborate and valuable Buddhist architectural heritage. While visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, you will have chance to watch the traditional shadow play, visit Jianfu Temple as well as Xi'an Museum.

Take a night flight from Xi'an to Zhangjiajie, a natural labyrinth located in northwestern Hunan Province with the amazing landscape of China, being famous for being a source of creation of the CGI artist in the Avatar movie. Tonight you will stay in the downtown of Zhangjiajie City.

Zhangjiajie National Park
Zhangjiajie National Park

Day 7Zhangjiajie
Mt. Tianmenshan

Meals: Hotel breakfast, A La Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Qinghe Jinjiang International Hotel ★★★★

Today, after breakfast, you will visit Tianmen Mountain full day, explore the six wonders of Tianmen Mountain including: Tianmen Mt Cable car, Glass Skywalk, Tianmen Temple, Bonsai Garden, Tianmen Cave, Connected-Heaven Avenue, etc. In the afternoon, we will drive to Wulingyuan District for overnight.

Tianmen Mountain
Tianmen Mountain

Day 8Zhangjiajie
Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, Bailong Elevator, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, Ten-mile Gallery

Meals: Hotel breakfast, A La Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Qinghe Jinjiang International Hotel ★★★★

Today you will visit Yuanjiajie Scenic Area by taking the Bailong Elevator. This spot is a highlight of your private Zhangjiajie tour, famous in the world for the Hallelujah Mountains that appeared in the movie Avatar, and the magnificent "The First Stone Bridge in the World". Then we will take a battery car to visit Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, where you could see mountains, grand valleys, and original forests. If you are lucky, you may see the marvelous sea of clouds.

Afterwards, take a small train to visit Ten-mile Gallery. Along the 5km drive there are unique stones forming different shapes, feeling like a natural landscape painting. In the end of day, we will drive you back to your hotel in Zhangjiajie to have a rest.

Wulingyuan
Yuanjiajie Scenic Area 

Day 9Zhangjiajie - Shanghai
Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, Baofeng Lake, Fly to Shanghai

Meals: Hotel Breakfast, A La Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Sunrise On The Bund Hotels & Resorts Shanghai ★★★★
                              or Greenland Jiulong Hotel ★★★★

After breakfast, our guide will escort you to visit the Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, the longest and highest glass bridge in the world. Then the guide will accompany you to Baofeng Lake, where you will take a scenic boat ride around the lake. After that, your will be transferred to Zhangjiajie airport to catch your night flight to Shanghai.

The Shanghai local guide will meet you at Shanghai airport and transfer you to check in the hotel.

Grand Canyon Glass Bridge
Grand Canyon Glass Bridge

Day 10Shanghai
Shikumen, Yuyuan Garden, Chenghuangmiao Old Street, Silk Museum, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, City History Museum, the Bund

Meals: Hotel Breakfast, A La Carte Lunch
Accommodation: Sunrise On The Bund Hotels & Resorts Shanghai ★★★★
                              or Greenland Jiulong Hotel ★★★★

The last day but still an inspiring day to explore the city of Shanghai,the largest and most modern city in mainland China. We will start the tour by walking into Nong Tang, the alleys in Shikumen, where you could witness the locals' relaxing and plain life. You will also find the unique architectural feature of Shanghai.

Then continue the day trip to Yuyuan Garden which is a Chinese classic garden in city downtown. Then continue to explore the Yuyuan Bazaar (Chenghuangmiao Old Street) nearby.

After a la carte lunch is served at a local restaurant, we continue our trip to Shanghai Silk Museum before moving to the foot of The Oriental Pearl TV Tower to visit Shanghai City History Museum(The Former Shanghai Wax Museum), where you will know more about the history and development of Shanghai. Then take the elevator up to the 2nd ball of the TV tower, from which you will have a bird-eye view of Shanghai. Go on driving through Lujiazui, the finance & trade zone in Pudong of Shanghai, where you will find many skyscrapers. We will have a view of the modern skyline of Shanghai.

Then back to the Bund, admire the illuminated buildings lining the Huangpu River. From the Bund, you could see the landmark of Shanghai--- The Oriental Pearl TV Tower as well as other high-rised buildings, just on the opposite of Huangpu River. 


The Bund

Day 11Departure Shanghai
Transfer service to airport

Meals: Breakfast

Your China Experience is over soon as you transfer to the airport and board the homebound international flight, bidding a fond farewell to this ancient land.

Service Ends

Please note: We generally arrange the free hotel-airport transfer together according to all the travelers' departure flights. If your flight is postponed, you probably need to wait at the airport for a long time. If separate transfer is required, extra fee will be caused. Please check with us in advance. If independent travel to airport is preferred, you could also let us know in advance.

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Tour Price (US$ per person)

Arrival DateDeparture DatePrice Based on Above Listed HotelsEnquire
Double OccupancySole Occupancy
2019-08-03 2019-08-13 $1491$1919Enquire
2019-08-13 2019-08-23 $1491$1919Enquire
2019-09-04 2019-09-14 $1572$2014Enquire
2019-09-10 2019-09-20 $1572$2014Enquire
2019-09-20 2019-09-30 $1572$2014Enquire
2019-10-09 2019-10-19 $1572$2014Enquire
2019-10-16 2019-10-26 $1572$2014Enquire
2019-11-06 2019-11-16 $1491$1919Enquire
Arrival DateDeparture DatePrice Based on Above Listed HotelsEnquire
Double OccupancySole Occupancy
2020-03-11 2020-03-21 $1491$1872Enquire
2020-03-18 2020-03-28 $1491$1872Enquire
2020-04-08 2020-04-18 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-04-15 2020-04-25 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-04-22 2020-05-02 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-05-06 2020-05-16 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-05-13 2020-05-23 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-05-20 2020-05-30 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-06-12 2020-06-22 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-06-17 2020-06-27 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-06-24 2020-07-04 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-07-08 2020-07-18 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-07-15 2020-07-25 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-07-22 2020-08-01 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-08-05 2020-08-15 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-08-12 2020-08-22 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-08-19 2020-08-29 $1528$1910Enquire
2020-09-02 2020-09-12 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-09-09 2020-09-19 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-09-16 2020-09-26 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-10-07 2020-10-17 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-10-14 2020-10-24 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-10-21 2020-10-31 $1567$1953Enquire
2020-11-11 2020-11-21 $1491$1872Enquire

Price includes:

♦ Sharing transfers for group tours
♦ Domestic flight or train tickets based on economy class
♦ Accommodation on twin bed room sharing basis
♦ Driver and English-speaking guide service during tour.
♦ Entrance fee to the attractions listed in the itinerary
♦ Meals as specified in the itinerary.
♦ Government taxes and service charge.
♦ Insurance fees (China Life Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance)
♦ Luggage Transfers between airports and hotels.
♦ Tibet Permit if the itinerary includes any destination of Tibet

Price excludes:

* International airfare or train fare for entry or leaving China
* China entry visa fee
* Any meals, tours and activities not specified in the itinerary.
* Tips for guides, escort, drives, bellman, etc.
* Personal expenses
* Single Room Supplement
* Personal travel insurance


Remarks:

※  Prices are valid from Nov 1, 2018 to Dec 31, 2020, except Chinese public holidays, local fairs or events.
※  TCT reserves the right to adjust the price caused by exchange rate
※  No guide on the flight and Yangtze River cruise.
※  Recommended hotels are subject to change in actual booking
※  Special requirements should be advised to TCT in advance.
※  TCT reserves the right of final explanation for any change due to the reasons beyond our control


Traveler Reviews Feedbacks & Photos >>

5.0

Juanita S

5.0

We used Top China Travel to plan and execute our time in Beijing. They were very quick in responding to our requests and helped us create a personalized 6 day tour, giving us all the information we needed ahead of time. Our guide, Louise, was wonderful. She is personable and it was a pleasure to spend time with her. Her English is great and she is very knowledgeable about Chinese history and culture. She could answer any questions we had and we learned so much.Our trip was successful because of our time with her. We had a driver who took us to each place and all entry fees were included in our tour price which was very convenient. I highly recommend this type of tour in a city that could have otherwise been intimidating. We will definitely use TCT again.
Til R

5.0

We were met at the airport by Christina Xiena from TCT at Xi'an train station. She was curtious and extremely knowledgeable. She started telling us the history of our scheduled itinerary in the car on the way to the hotel. That inspired and excited us for our upcoming visit to Xi'an. She was enthusiastic, energetic and protective. The hotel was great too. She took us to the Terracotta Army excavations, the Huashan Mountain, Thai Chi demonstration on the Wall of the City, calligraphy at the TangBo Museum, arranged our massages at her local salon (amazing!), Muslem area trip, pearl factory, lots of food and shopping. She was so willing to accommodate our every whim. She put me and my friend on the plane to Shanghai and helped us get our extra luggage on the plane using contacts from her travel company. In Shanghai we were met by Vicky. Another great guide. She knew how to get us around the city and most certainly spoke very good English. She took us to the Silk factory, Bottle opener building (Shanghai financial center) , Water city (unexpected add-on to the tour), Buddhist temple, plenty shopping and food. The hotel was great again. We recommend this travel company. You will never be disappointed. You can trust them from all angles.
dp0k0rny

5.0

We prepared for our stay in MAY 13 nights Tour in China. All local services have been arranged by TOP CHINA TRAVEL in direct cooperation with Janet Chan. We rcvd. all recommendations for program items and its arrangement, all needs were solved immediately, all replies also in the evening and very fast. Seen places: Peking, Xian, Guilin, Yangshuo, Huangshan and Shanghai. All services booked perfectly, local guides with great assistance and service. Janet checked out the situation with our group all the time during stay in China. Great work, thank you.
Maja505

5.0

We chose TCT for an 13day/12 night private guided tour trip through Beijing, Hefei, and Shanghai. Lily helped us plan and finalize the itinerary for our trip via email andwas very accommodating and helpful during the entire process. She also kept in contact with us throughout the trip to make sure that everything went smoothly and to our satisfaction. For the city guides, we had Ms Grace in Beijing, Alvin in Hefei, and Rooney in Shanghai. Each of our guides were helpful and informative and made sure that our needs were met along the way, and all of them were flexible with any last-minute requests or issues that came up. Special mention also for our drivers in Beijing and Shanghai who always made sure that we had water and that we got to our destinations on time regardless of the traffic situation. Our trip overall was very action-packed and we were able to see almost everything planned on our schedule including some last-minute inserted locations which was a plus. We had a great time visiting on our first trip to China, and would recommend TCT for anyone looking to looking to plan their own trip there.
Joan M

5.0

This 6-Day tour of Beijing was fantastic! Our tour guide, Tom, gave us lots of great information about China's rich history as we toured Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Beijing Zoo, a tea house, a pearl factory, a silk factory, a Hutong tour (where we painted face masks in the Peking Opera style) and the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China! The toboggan ride down from the Great Wall was especially memorable! Be sure to include this exciting ride in your itinerary. We learned about the different dynasties, some of the Emperors who built or re-built the historic landmarks in Beijing and the fascinating Dragon Lady! We also saw a great Kung Fu show and, thanks to some last-minute arranging by Tom, we were also able to see an incredible acrobatics show after a delicious Peking Duck dinner. Tom even arranged for one of the locals at the Temple of Heaven to lead us through some TaiChi. This tour is worth every penny. I can't imagine trying to navigate your way around this huge city without a driver and tour guide. There is no way we could've seen even half of what we did in such a short amount of time. We didn't have to worry about driving, parking, buying tickets or standing in line. Tom and the driver took care of all of those time-consuming details for us. Tom taught us so much with his stories and commentary along the tour and he also went way above and beyond by recruiting the help of one of his friends to help us package up all our purchases and ensuring they would fit on the train and plane on our way home! If you are planning a visit to Beijing, make the most of your time and sign up for this tour. You will see more, learn more and have more fun! Be sure to ask for Tom.
Resort56712889221

5.0

I visited China by TCT in October 2018. The tour of Beijing, Zhangjiajie, Mt. Huangshan& Shanghai was very well arranged by TCT. Hotels, vehicles & other facilities provided were very good. Thanks TCT.
k_sadiq

5.0

Brilliant experience with Rebecca booking our itinerary.all our guides were really good including Ali in Shanghai, mo in guieiling, frank in langshau, Lilly in Xian (Lilly was brilliant with the kids!) and jack in Beijing. Would recommend them for all travel.
mikremedios

5.0

We had a family reunion of sorts in China. Ten of us started in Shanghai, and went through Xian to Beijing. Lily was fantastic (and patient) to work with as we spent months arranging the details. All transfers went perfectly, and all of our guides went the extra mile to make the trip really memorable. We had Vickie in Shanghai, Sally in Xian and Cathy in Beijing; all were outstanding. We were traveling with my 83 yr old mother in law who needed extra care in certain places and all guides made sure she was handled with the utmost care and respect. It was awesome to see! I would highly recommend this company, and would hire them again in a heartbeat. Thank you Lily and all our guides for a fantastic trip!
Salina W

5.0

My 3 friends and I did a 11 days Beijing, Xian, Shanghai & Chengdu tour. Our tour agent was Joyce at TCT. From day 1 till the very last day everything went very smooth. All was organised very well, we had excellent tour guides, drivers, comfortable vans, they were very pleasant, helpful and flexible. The rooms in Xian and Shanghai were beautiful. I really got to see & experience a lot, got to taste delicious local food, bought nice silk stuff (haven't used it yet). Overall it was a great trip. Thanks to Joyce, Kurt, Helen, Presence and all the drivers for a wonderful, memorable trip.I would highly recommend TCT tours and definitely coordination through Joyce.
William C

5.0

This company has assisted me greatly for more than 3 years. The staff.especiaaly Maggie.are very helpful.prompt innovative. I highly recommend this company for all traval. Hotels.tours.airline tickets.
drphani

5.0

professional people to handle everything. Rebecca the star of our trip to china answered my unending emails with lot of patience and smile. gave a perfect tour to see china in a memorable way. the guides Helen at shanghai and windy at Hongkong are very kind people and lot of patience to organise the trip to your liking. curt very bad guide in Beijing, doesn't have patience and smokes continuously, very rough in speaking. but china is beautiful country to visit.see it through these guys.
Michael P

5.0

Remember the name REBECCA. She was the tour operator who organized our trip. She is amazingly extraordinary. All my expectations were satisfied plus more, with her assistance on every aspect of our tour. The tour guides and the drivers who were marvelous with their jobs. They speak and understand English good enough to explain what the sites are. They have great knowledge of the sites. With Beijing, Our tour guide is SUNNY who was very receptive to our needs and safety. She is a very smart young lady who possess a great personality. She was very caring and treated us like a part of her family not just a client. We will really missed her smile. Thank you , Sunny !!! Our driver Mr Wang was also very pleasant and very safety conscious which is very hard to believe with drivers in China. FYI, the driving in China is CRAZY!!! THANKS again Rebecca for your great service and Sunny for your smile and Tenzin in Lhasa, Linda in Zangjiaje, Vicki in Shanghai, Sue in Xian,My appreciation for your exemplary service. We enjoyed our vacation in China because of all of you.
Katie E

5.0

After much research we decided to go with Top China Travel for our 15 day trip to China. We worked with Janet and what a wonderful help she was. Janet answered our multitude of questions with patience. She offered helpful suggestions, helped us with our tour on the spot when a plane flight was cancelled, booked us outstanding hotels, and we had excellent service. They even called us and wondered if everything was going well in China. From the moment we touched down in China, our tour guides and drivers were right there for us showing us sights, answering questions, changing plans if we wanted to see other things, and helped us above and beyond what we expected. We went to Beijing, Xian, Xining, Lhasa, Chongqing, on a Yangtze River Cruise, visited Yichang and Shanghai. Quite the amazing trip. I would highly recommend Top China Travel for your travel needs to China. They were also reasonably priced. Thanks Top China Travel and Janet. What a trip!
rmunzenmayer

5.0

Just returned from two weeks of travel through China set up by Rebecca at Top China Travel. Absolutely perfect experience. In each city our guides and drivers were the best! Started in Beijing, then Xian, Yangtze River Cruise, Wuhan and Shanghai. In each city a university educated tour guide was waiting for us full of local history and information. Additional evening attractions like Beijing Opera and Tang Dynasty Show were perfect. She set up a cooking lesson for us with a private family in Beijing that was the best. Each and every one of our requests were honored and planned specifically for us. A special trip to Wuhan, off the normal tourist path was delightful. We finished the trip with a visit to Shanghai Disney. So thankful to this organization for the trip of a lifetime.
Hartmut M

5.0

I wanted to visit Tibet, and based on the very positive reviews for this company, I booked with them and was not disappointed.
Our contact was Janet, and she was great both in preparing the trip (including answering immediately to our questions, even when it was midnight in China) and in making sure everything worked out smoothly (including checking at 5:00 am that we indeed got our transport to the airport).
In Tibet, we took the "5 days Lhasa & Yamdrok Lake" tour. On the way to Tibet I had a stopover in Beijing, and took the opportunity to do two days of sightseeing. I asked Janet for recommendations, and she suggested the day tours "Hiking on Jinshanling Great Wall" and "Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, The Temple of Heaven".
I think these tours were indeed the highlights of both Beijing and Tibet for us, and if I would go to Tibet again (e.g. with my wife and son, who could not come with us this time) I would book the same tours.
I usually prefer to organise my travels myself, but it seemed the only realistic possibility to get a Tibet travel permit is to book with an approved travel agency. In general, when booking with an agency, you pay slightly more and have fewer options, but on the other hand, it saves a lot of preparation time and is a lot safer if you don't know much about the country you travel to.

In Beijing, the expertise of the travel agency got our group on the Great Wall at a spot where almost no other tourists were - this spot was (almost) inaccessible due to a construction zone. On my own, I certainly would not have discovered this possibility. The other tour let us see the highlights of Beijing in one efficient and cheap bus tour, but on the other hand, it included a bit of (I guess) sponsored stops at a "Traditional Chinese Medicine" institute and a pearl factory. I would rather have paid a bit more and skipped these promotions, but they were short, and I just relaxed with a drink in the air-conditioned cafeteria. (During the preparation, Janet told me about the "shopping" that was included, and the "Jinshanling Great Wall" tour without shopping, but for the "Forbidden City" tour there was no alternative without shopping.)

In Tibet, the first day was for acclimatisation to the thin air, and indeed I was out of breath from just climbing the stairs to our hotel room. But after basically sleeping the first day, I was OK the next days, and for me the visits to the monasteries and the Potala Palace were absolutely amazing. Individual photos cannot convey the atmosphere of these large buildings with thousands of small and large rooms full of statues, pictures, scriptures, every square inch decorated, and everything with ancient traditions, but still in use today. This was the main reason I wanted to visit Tibet, and I was not disappointed. My daughter also enjoyed the mountain tour a lot, although to me it seemed surprisingly similar to the Alps (we live in Switzerland), just 4000 meters higher, and with cows replaced by yaks :-)
The only little inconvenience was the transport from and to the airport, which is about 50km from Lhasa. When we arrived, the driver was not there yet (it turned out his previous clients, who needed to go to the airport, had been late), and after he arrived, we still had to wait for some hour for the next clients to arrive at the airport (their plane was delayed). Well, that is what you get with cheap transport (included in the package). The opposite thing happened on the way back - the transport that would have been included in the package did not go early enough for the plane that was booked for us, so we had to pay 400 Yuan extra for private transport. But then this was super efficient, picking us up exactly at the promised time and bringing us to the airport at the right time to check in.

Summary: Amazing destination, very well organised tours, would book again with them!
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