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Published on : Tuesday, May 19, 2015
China and Tibet are two of the world’s most fascinating and mysterious destinations. No single tour combining these two countries can ever hope to scratch even the surface of the wide range of cultural, religious, culinary and visual experiences available that can take a lifetime to enjoy.
The in-depth knowledge of customized tour specialists like A&S Signature Journeys can be invaluable to travel agents in helping their clients select precisely the experiences that will best match their interests. A&S’ tours combining China and Tibet can give travelers the opportunity to become immersed in the cultures, traditions and spiritual heritages of these two ancient countries. Drawing upon the company’s years of experience, A&S itineraries take “the road less traveled” and provide access to “hidden gems” that are not included in typical escorted or independent tour packages.
China – A Feast for the Senses
In addition to visiting such must-see attractions as Tiananmen Square and the “Forbidden City” in Beijing, itineraries can include a visit to a traditional medicine shop and rickshaw ride through the “Hutongs”, the city’s fast-disappearing narrow alleyways. There is also an opportunity to trek along a portion of the Great Wall not commonly open to tourists.
Travelers to Xian will see the city’s famed Terracotta Warriors and the excavated site of a Neolithic Banpo village. Their itinerary can also include visits to the History Museum and the “Big Wild Goose Pagoda”, and a feast fit for an emperor accompanied by a “Tang Dynasty” cultural performance.
The development of the Buddhist religion and art can be seen in the ancient city of Datong, the former capital and political, economic, and cultural center of the Northern Wei Dynasty. Buddhism once flourished here, and travelers can visit the huge caves (known as the Yungang Grottoes) and the wooden temples in front of the caves that were built during the Wei Dynasty’s rule. The caves and temple structures became the center of Buddhist art in North China.
The “Hanging Monastery” in the province of Shanxi near Mount Heng is an architectural wonder built on a cliff, and is another of China’s off-the-beaten-path “gems” offered by A&S.
The complex house sculptures, representing China’s three major religions – Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism – symbolize the determination of the monks who built the temple to promote unity among the Chinese people.
Situated on the southeastern rim of the Tibetan Plateau, the “rooftop of the world”, Shangri-La, is surrounded by towering snowcapped mountains, deep valleys, untouched lakes and forests,
and green pastures that preserve the traditional lifestyle of the Tibetan people. It is also one of the most bio-diverse regions of the world. During their stay, travelers can visit Pudacuo National Park, home to 20% of China’s plant species and about a third of its mammal and bird species, of which almost 100 are endangered. The park is an integral part of the “Three Rivers Scenic Area,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
TIBET – A Spiritual Canvas
A stay in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, offers travelers a sampling of the many impressive spiritual sites of China’s Himalayan neighbor. Highlights include a visit to the Potala Palace of the Dalai Lama, where guests can observe a debating session of the monks. Visits to the serene Drepung and Sera Monasteries can also be included. An excursion to the rural area outside of Lhasa is also available. Highlights include the Yerpa Hermitage, one of the most revered cave retreats in central Tibet; the Ganden Monastery, the seat of the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism, to which the Dalai Lama belongs; and the Jokhang Temple, the most revered religious structure in Tibet.
Beyond Lhasa, travelers can take a trip to Shigatse, where they can visit the Zongshan Castle, as well as the Baiju and Tashilhunpo Monasteries. A&S can also arrange a visit with a local Tibetan family and to the colorful Barkhor Bazaar.
A drive along the Lhasa-Kathmandu Southern Highway that runs parallel to the Himalayas, a view of the brilliant turquoise Yamdrok Tso Lake (one Tibet’s four holiest lakes) are among the other unforgettable experiences offered by A&S.
“The old saying, ‘life doesn’t come with instructions,’ is also very much a mantra for our travel clients,” said Sheri Fazleabas, founder and president of A&S Signature Journeys. “A&S customers are ready to go beyond the shiny tourist sites, and plunge deep into the heart and soul of the countries they visit. We can help them design unique itineraries that enrich their lives and create lasting memories.”