ALMATY to CHONGQING Cross Northwestern China & Explore the Upper Tibet Region

                                                                                                                 Section 3


Dates:                                                October 23 – November 19, 2019 
Length:29 days 
Countries to be visited:                   Kazakhstan – China
Total distance:                                  ±5000 km 
Per person price:                             USD$12300 (based on twin-share)  
USD$20800 (single room supplement)


Day 01, Wednesday, October 23                       Arrive Almaty, Kazakhstan
Upon arrival in Almaty, Kazakhstan, you will be transferred to hotel and rest.
John the group for dinner.
B/L/D Mercure Almaty City Center

Day 2, Thursday, October 24                         Almaty        
Full day sightseeing in Almaty includes visiting the Central State Museum, where thousands of historic Kazakh artifacts are on desplay.
In the center is Panfilov Park, home to the bright-yellow towers of Zenkov Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church.
B/L/D Mercure Almaty City Center

Day 3, Friday, October 25                    Altyn Emel National Park
We will spend the day explore this amazing national park. Will enjoy some light hiking if weather permits.
B/L/D Local hotel

Day 5, Sunday, October 27         Altyn Emel National Park – Horgus Border Post – Yining, China         Driving distance: 300 km
Today we will leave the national park and drive towards Horgus Border Post and enter China.
Our vehicles will have to go through a lengthy examination to be permitted to drive in China.
We will probably leave our vehicles in custom near the border and a locally hired vehicle will take us to Yining, Xinjiang to rest for 3 days.
B/L/D Yining Hotel

Day 6, Monday, October 28                    Yining
The day will be at leisure.
B/L/D Yining Hotel

Day 7, Tuesday, October 29                        Yining)

Guided sightseeing in the area while we process the car entry formalities.
Yining region’s scenery will be at its best around this time of the year.
B/L/D Yining Hotel


Day 8, Wednesday, October 30                        Yining
Guided sightseeing in the area while we process the car entry formalities.
B/L/D Yining Hotel

Day 9, Thursday, October 31                       Yining – Bayinbuluke Swan Lake (driving distance: 335 km)    
Departing Yining, we drive across the vast grassland to reach the Swan Lake at Bayinbuluke. The lake lies in the Bayinbuluke Grassland by Tianshan Mountain’s middle section.
There are a great number of wild swans coming to this lake during summer and fall season.
We will also be able to visit some local Mongolian communities and learn about their culture.                                                           
B/L/D local hotel

Day 10, Friday, November 01              Bayinbuluke Lake – Kuitun Canyon (driving distance: 270 km)                                                         
Drive northbound to reach Kuitun, and visit a spectacular canyon: Kuitun Grand Canyon.
The canyon has been carved out by water coming down from the nearby Tianshan mountains, a river that basically splits between two towns: Dushanzi and Wusu.
Nearby there is also a desert area worth to pay a visit.        
B/L/D local hotel

Day 11, Saturay, November 02                    Kuitun Canyon – Urmuqi (driving distance: 260 km)                                                               
Drive eastbound from Kuitun or Wusu, we will reach Urmuqi in about 4 hours.
Urmuqi is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the largest city of Xinjiang. We will have a good rest here.
B/L/D International Grand Hotel

Day 12, Sunday, November 03                           Urmuqi                                                                                                                                    
Sightseeing in Urmuqi.
Ürümqi was a major hub on the Silk Road during China's Tang dynasty, and developed its reputation as a leading cultural and commercial center during the Qing dynasty in the 19th Century.
With an estimated population of 3.5 million, Ürümqi is the largest city in China's western interior as well as in Central Asia in terms of population. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Ürümqi has earned a place as the most remote city from any sea in the world.
Ürümqi has seen a huge economical development since the 1990s and currently serves as a regional transport node, a cultural, political and commercial center.                                                  
B/L/D International Grand Hotel

Day 13, Monday, November 04                    Urmuqi – Turpan (driving distance: 192 km)                                                    
Drive from Urmuqi to Turpan.
Turpan is located in the Turpan Basin at the southern foot of the Tianshan Mountains. The city has a population of nearly 200,000, most of whom are Uygurs. The Turpan Basin is the lowest area in China, in which the Aiding Lake, with its surface being 154 meters below sea level, is the second lowest spot in the world, next only to the Dead Sea.                                                          
B/L/D Tuha Petroleum Hotel

Day 14, Tuesday, November 05                        Turpan                                                                                                                         
Visit to the Kan-er Waterwell, and the ruins of Jiaohe City, now on the list of UNESCO's historical and cultural sites, which protects the Tang Dynasty ruins of homes, garden walls, government offices, pottery kilns, temples and pagodas, all of which are still easily recognizable.                                                                                                       
B/L/D Tuha Petroleum Hotel

Day 15, Wednesday, November 06                   Turpan – Dunhuang (driving distance: 840 km)                                                    
Depart Turpan early in the morning, leaving the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. After lunch at Hami, we enter Gansu Province and arrive Dunhuang in the evening. Dunhuang was once an important junction on the Silk Route, where it split into different branches, this oasis in northwest China, on the edge of the Gobi Desert, is surrounded by sand dunes. By the 4th century AD, the route had brought the city both commercial prosperity and a growing Buddhist community.                                                       
B/L/D Dunhuang Sun Grand Hotel

Day 16, Thursday, November 07                    Dunhuang
This morning, take a bus tour to visit the Mogao Grottoes, a series of 500 caves which contain the world's most valuable display of Buddhist art - manuscripts, some 2,400 painted sculptures and 45,000 square metres of frescoes. In the late afternoon, tour the Singing Sand Hill and Crescent Moon Lake. Be prepared for a camel ride over the sand dunes!                                         
B/L/D Dunhuang Sun Grand Hotel

Day 17, Friday, November 08                 Dunhuang – Jiayuguan – Jiuquan (driving distance: 520 km)                                                          
Drive to Jiayuguan and visit the Jiayuan Pass - the western end of the Great Wall.
Continue on to Jiuquan to spend the night.                                                                                                                                                                      
B/L/D Jiuquan Hotel

Day 18, Saturday, November 09 Jiuquan – Zhangye (driving distance: 400 km)                                                      
Drive to Zhangye and visit the Zhangye Museum. This museum is located in the Giant Buddha Temple, which is the largest architectural relic in Gansu Province, of the Western Xia (1038-1227) period. China's largest reclining Buddha is well preserved in this temple. Marco Polo spent one year in the town of Zhangye.
B/L/D Danxia Grand Hotel

Day 19, Sunday, November 10                 Zhangye                                                     
Zhangye is known for its Danxia National Geological Park, presenting an amazing landscape — Red Rocks and Rainbow Ridges. We will take the day hiking into the park. Comfortable walking shoes are required.
B/L/D Danxia Grand Hotel

Day 20, Monday, November 11                     Zhangye – Xining
Today we start to head towards Amdo, Qinghai Province, the Upper Tibet region. We will drive over a mountain pass nearly 4000m above sea level. En route visit a small “Hui” village.
Arrive Xining in late afternoon.
Referred to as China's Summer Resort Capital, Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, is located on the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the upper reaches of Huangshui River.
The activities of human beings in this region can be traced to 2,100 years ago. During the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, owing to its developing agriculture, Xining was paid more attention due to its economic and martial significance. As well as being the important hinge between the central plains and the western part of China in ancient time, Xining was the most common passing channel of the Silk Road. Until now, it is still the only road by which to enter the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
B/L/D Xining Hotel

Day 21, Tuesday, November 12                Xining – Ta’er Monastery – Xining
We will visit the Ta’er Monastery today.
Ta'er Monastery, or Kumbum Monastery, was built in 1560 on the site of the birthplace of Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), founder of the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located 25 km outside of Xining. Ta'er Monastery is a working monastery, with several hundred monks in residence, where visitors can experience the living Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Some of the monastery buildings were restored in modern times.
B/L/D Xining Hotel

Day 22, Wednesday, November 13                  Xining – Tongren (driving distance: 181 km)                                                    
We drive to the town of Tongren today.
Lying in the southeast of Qinghai Province, Tongren County borders Xiahe County of Gansu Province to the east, Guide County to the west, Zeku County to the south and Xuanhua and Jianzha counties to the south, and is 181 kilometres from Xining.


Tongren was a place for nomadic ethnic minorities in history. Situated at the transitional zone between the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Loess Plateau, the Longwu River runs across the city from south to city. Belonging to the cold-temperate arid climate zone, Tongren is a natural summer resort. It abounds in mineral resources and wild plants and animals, and rare medicinal herbs as well.
Tongren County is also the birthplace of the Regong Art. As an important art school of Tibetan Buddhism, Regong Art has a history of more than 700 years. The Tangka, barbola and sculptures of Regong Art feature refined craftsmanship and fancy colors, and enjoy great fame in the Southeast Asia, America and Germany, etc. Regong, which means "golden valley", is the appellation for Tongren area in the Tibetan language. Most of the murals, barbolas and sculptures in Tibetan areas were the works of Regong artists here.
B/L/D Regong Hotel

Day 23, Thursday, November 14                  Tongren – Langmu
(driving distance: 359 km)           
Enjoy the scenic drive to Langmu, a very colorful township with many ethnic groups living side by side. Upon arrival, we will check into a local guesthouse and visit the Langmu Monastery.
B/L/D Local Guesthouse

Langmu  Langmu2 

Day 24, Friday, November 15                 Langmu – Songpan
(driving distance: 241 km)       
Today’s drive will be long and arduous.  Leaving Gansu Tibetan region, we will drive into Sichuan Province and overnight in Songpan.
Located in the northern part of Sichuan, Songpan is a small colorful minority town worthwhile exploring. With the ethnic minorities people of Hui, Tibetan and Qiang inhabiting there, Songpan itself is very lively. Songpan is also a historic town, featured by a peace-craving political marriage of Princess Wencheng in the 6th century BC of Tang dynasty and the Songpan Battle in the famous 25,000km Long March (1934 to 1936) of Chinese Red Army. A sculpture and a monument was built in Songpan to memorize the historical events respectively.
Rest and visit the town center and historical monuments.
B/L/D Songpan Hotel


Day 25, Saturday, November 16                                 Songpan – Chengdu  (driving distance: 322 km)           
Drive southbound to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.
Chengdu has a long history. A recent archeological excavation  shows  that Chengdu was an important gathering place for people tracing back to 4,000 years ago. There are many great stories that come from this ancient city.
Chengdu also has the country’s largest Giant Panda Research Centre. We will visit the centre today.
B/L/D Chengdu Hotel

Day 27, Sunday, November 17                          Chengdu – Chongqing  (driving distance: 311 km)           
Drive to Congqing, China’s biggest city with a population close to 30 million.
By the mighty Yangtze River, Chongqing has been a very important city in China’s history. We will check into a hotel in the city and enjoy some very tasty Sichuan food!
B/L/D Hongya Dong Hotel

Day 28, Monday, November 18                                Chongqing
Sightseeing day in Chongqing.
B/L/D Hongya Dong Hotel

Day 29, Tuesday, November 19                     Depart Chongqing
Transfer to airport to catch your departure flight. This will be the end of Section 3.

What’s included in AAST’s services:

  • 4WD vehicle throughout the journey (3-4 people per vehicle).
  • Petrol charges, toll fees, maintenance and repair of the vehicle.
  • Leadership of experienced group leaders including mechanical support.
  • Local sightseeing tours with entrance fees (sometimes via chartered van or coach).
  • Accommodation: 3 & 4-star hotels in major cities, local guest houses or best available in remote areas.  
  • Hotel taxes and service charges.
  • Meals which are indicated in the day-by-day itinerary (B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner)
  • Arrival and departure transfers.
  • Cross-border handling.
  • Banquets, parties and special events.
  • Travel manual and educational materials.
  • Use of travel accessories (GPS, maps, GMRS Radio Walkie-Talkie, tools, general emergency kit)

What would be your extra cost:

  • Your international flights and related taxes.
  • Personal travel insurance (mandatory) .
  • Visa fees.
  • Vaccinations (not mandatory).
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls, use of internet, laundry, shopping.
  • Cash payment (5 euro or 6 dollars per traveller, per day). This will cover all gratuities and incidentals. The group leader will collect this cash payment at your trip’s starting point.


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