China: Head in the Clouds, Feet on the Silk Road. Lhasa, the Yarlung Valley, & Dunhuang.
Have you already seen Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian? Ready to dig deeper into China and then Tibet? If so, start with us in Chengdu, then continue into the Himalayan foothills for a visit to magical Lhasa, Tibet. Penetrate the Yarlung Valley, then head for Dunhuang to the soon-to-be-closed Mogao Buddhist Caves. Embark on a journey you'll never forget.
This is a 10-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a China and Tibet journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Day 1: Asian Gateway City; Chengdu, China
• Fly from your chosen Asian Gateway City to Chengdu.
• Flight schedule permitting, tour the city including Wuhou Memorial Temple and old Jinli Street.
Overnight in Chengdu
Day 2: Chengdu
• Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center.
• Sanxingdui Museum.
Overnight in Chengdu
Day 3: Lhasa, Tibet
• Fly to Lhasa.
• Leisure time to acclimate to the high altitude (12,099 feet above sea level).
Overnight in Lhasa
Day 4-5: Lhasa
• City tour including Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Bharkhuo Street.
• Norbulingka Park, Sera Monastery to observe monks debating (monastery schedule permitting).
Overnights in Lhasa
Day 6: Tsedang, Yarlung Valley
• Drive toward Tsedang, Samye Monastery, Yumbu Lakhang Palace.
• Arrive in Tsedang, hotel check-in.
Overnight in Tsedang
Day 7: Xian, China
• Fly to Xian.
• City tour, flight schedule permitting.
Overnight in Xian
Day 8-9: Dunhuang
• Fly to Dunhuang in the Gobi Desert.
• Camel ride in the desert, Echoing-Sand Mountain, Crescent Lake.
• Enter Mogao Caves, Dunhuang Museum.
Overnights in Dunhuang
Day 10: Dunhuang; Asian Gateway City; United States
• Fly home through your Asian Gateway City.
Per person sharing room from $4,890 for this 10-day sample itinerary
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Hangzhou through the eyes of Marco Polo.
On his deathbed, the Venetian adventurer Marco Polo (1254-1324) told a priest, “I did not tell half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed!” As a prisoner in Genoa, he told stories of his travels to a fellow prisoner, the Italian romance writer Rustichello da Pisa. Together, they wrote a book, The Travels of Marco Polo. The book made Marco Polo, who was released from prison in 1299, a celebrity. Printed in French, Italian, and Latin, it became the most popular read in Europe. But few readers allowed themselves to believe the tale; they took it to be fiction, the construct of a man with a wild imagination. The work would eventually earn another title: Il Milione (The Million Lies). The author, however, stood by his book.
Kinsay—today’s Hangzhou, China—deeply impressed Marco Polo. With a population exceeding one million, it was the largest city in the world at that time.
Here are some of our favorite excerpts of his description of Kinsay:
“When you have left the city of Changan [today’s Xian] and have traveled for three days through a splendid country, passing a number of towns and villages, you arrive at the most noble city of Kinsay [Hangzhou], which is in our language “City of Heaven.” And since we have got tither I will enter into particulars about its magnificence; and these are well worth telling, for the city is beyond dispute the finest and noblest in the world.
“First and foremost, then, Kinsay is so great that it hath an hundred miles of compass [200 square miles]. And there are in it 12,000 bridges of stone, with most so lofty that a great fleet could pass beneath them. And let no man marvel that there are so many bridges, for you see the whole city stands as it were in the water and surrounded by water, so that a great many bridges are required to give free passage around it.
“There were in this city 12 guilds of different crafts, and each guild has 12,000 houses in the occupation of its workmen. Each of these houses contains at least 12 men, whilst some contain 20 and some 40, not that these are all masters, but inclusive of the journeymen who work under the masters.
“Inside the city there is a Lake which has a compass of some 30 miles: and all round it are erected beautiful palaces and mansions, of the richest and most exquisite structure that you can imagine, belonging to the nobles of the city. There are also on its shores many abbeys and churches of the Idolaters. In the middle of the Lake are two Islands, on each of which stands a rich, beautiful, and spacious edifice, furnished in such style fit for the palace of an Emperor. And when anyone of the citizens desired to hold a marriage feast, or to give any other entertainment, it is done at one of these palaces. And everything would be found there ready to order, such as silver plate, trenchers, and dishes [napkins and tablecloths], and whatever else was needed. The King made this provision for the gratification of his people, and the place was open to everyone who desired to give an entertainment.
“The houses of the city are provided with lofty towers of stone in which articles of value are stored for fear of fire; for most of the houses themselves are of timber and fires are very frequent in the city.
“Both men and women are fair and comely, and for the most part clothe themselves in silk, so vast is the supply of that material, both from the whole district of Kinsay and from the imports by traders from other provinces.
“Since the Great Khan occupied the city he has ordained that each of the 12,000 bridges be provided with a guard of 10 men, in case of any disturbances or of any being so bold as to plot treason or rebellion against him.
“The Khan watches this city with special diligence because it forms the head of all Manzi [southern China]; and because he has an immense revenue from the duties on the transactions of trade therein, the amount of which is such that no one would credit it on mere hearsay.
“All the streets of the city are paved with stone or brick, as indeed are all the highways throughout Manzi, so that you ride and travel in every direction without inconvenience. Were it not for this pavement you cannot do so, for the country is very low and flat, and after rain ‘tis deep in mud and water.
“The city of Kinsay has some 3,000 baths, the water of which is supplied by springs. They are hot baths, and the people take great delight in them, frequenting them several times a month, for they are very cleanly in their persons. They are the finest and largest baths in the world; large enough for 100 persons to bathe together.
“The people of this country have a custom, that as soon as a child is born they write down the day and hour and the planet and sign under which its birth has taken place; so that everyone knows the day of his birth. And when anyone intends a journey he goes to the astrologers, and gives the particulars of his birth in order to learn whether he shall have good luck.
“Sometimes they will say no, and in that case the journey is put off till such day as the astrologer may recommend. These astrologers are very skillful at their business, and often their words come to pass, so the people have great faith in them.
“In this part are the 10 main markets, though besides these there are a vast number of others in the different parts of town... In each of the squares is held a market three days a week, frequented by 40,000 or 50,000 persons, who bring there for sale every possible necessity of life, so that there is always an ample supply of every kind of meat and game, as of roebuck, red-deer, fallow-deer, hares, rabbits, partridges, pheasants, quails, fowls, ducks and geese. Then there are the buildings where the large animals are slaughtered, such as calves, beef, kids, and lambs, the flesh of which is eaten by the rich and the great dignitaries.
“Those markets make a daily display of every kind of vegetable and fruit; and among the latter there are in particular certain pears of enormous size, weighing as much as 10 pounds apiece, and pulp of which is white and fragrant like a confection, besides peaches in their season both yellow and white, of every delicate flavor.
“Neither grapes nor wine are produced there, but very good raisins are brought from abroad, and wine likewise. The natives, however, do not much care about this wine, being used to that kind of their own made from rice and spices. From the Ocean Sea also come daily supplies of fish in great quantity, brought 25 miles up river, and there is also great store of fish from the lake, which is the constant resort of fishermen, who have no other business. Their fish is of sundry kinds, changing with the season; and it is remarkably fat and tasty. Anyone who should see the supply of fish in the market would suppose it impossible that such a quantity could ever be sold; and yet in a few hours the whole shall be cleared away; so great is the number of inhabitants who are accustomed to delicate living. Indeed they eat fish and flesh at the same meal.
“The houses of the citizens are well built and elaborately finished; and the delight they take in decoration, in painting and in architecture, leads them to spend in this way sums of money that would astonish you.
“The natives of this city are men of peaceful character, both from education and from the example of their kings, whose disposition was the same. They know nothing of handling arms, and keep none in their houses. You hear of no feuds or noisy quarrels or dissentions among them. Both in their commercial dealings and in their manufactures, they are thoroughly honest and truthful, and there is such a degree of good will and neighborly attachment among both men and women that you would take the people who live in the same street to be all one family.
“They treat the foreigners who visit them with great politeness and entertain them in the most winning manner, offering advice on their business.
Call us to start planning
(M-F 9-5 CST)