Travel Route Along Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Tibetan Plateau (Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau) along Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a large plateau which has the highest altitude and is the youngest one in the world. At an average altitude of over 4,000 m, it boasts many peaks with the altitude of 6,000-7,000 m that exceed the snow line. It stands out in the middle of troposphere with a huge height difference of 5,000 m higher than surrounding areas, becoming the highest step in the terrain descending from west to east in China, and it is also the place where many large Asian rivers originated. “Ah, who brings here the earnest call of remote antiquity? Ah, who leaves behind the expectations of the millennium...” The song “Tibetan Plateau” has given lots of people imaginations about this magical land. “Roof of the World” is just the best name of it. Along this line with magnificent scenery and ethnic culture, you can be intoxicated with the natural beauty and will be thrilled at the challenges of the limit of life.
Description of the Itinerary
Day 1: Xining. Choose freely to stroll Daxin Street of Xining, to experience the charm of night market and taste special snacks with ethnic characteristics of Qinghai. It is one of three summer resorts in China, where it is neither too cold in winter nor too hot in summer! And it is also the largest city in the upstream of the Yellow River and Tibetan Plateau! The beautiful natural scenery and cultural landscape make it one of three summer resorts in China, thence its nickname - the Summer City of China! Day 2: set out after breakfast; pass Huangyuan Gorge - the throat of Tibetan Plateau; cross the border between Loess Plateau and Tibetan Plateau - Riyue Mountain (the mountain pass has an altitude of 3,520 m) where Princess Wencheng of Tang Dynasty went southward via Tang-Tibet Ancient Road to Tibet for getting married to Srongtsen Gampo, the ruler of Tibetan regime in ancient China. Return to Xining in the evening. Day 3: begin to set foot on Qinghai-Tibet Railway line. Pass the Daotang River referred in “all rivers flow eastward while Daotang River flows westward”. Arrive at the largest and the most beautiful lake in China - Qinghai Lake, featuring clear green rippling water. With an area of over 4,500 km2, it is the largest salt water lake in China. There are luxuriant trees and grasses by the river. From June to September every year, large-area rape flowers blossom, presenting an extraordinarily spectacular view on this golden land. After lunch, head for the first nuclear weapon development base in China along the Huanhu Highway. The first nuclear weapon development base monument of China is located in Xihai Town, the former 221 Factory. It was on this beautiful Jinyintan Grassland that Mr. Wang Luobin, the “King of West China Songs”, created the well-renowned folk song “In That Faraway Place”. Take a train at Qinghai Lake Railway Station westward. Day 4: on the train. Pass Hoh Xil where such rare wild animals as Tibetan antelope, wild yak and wild ass can be seen. At the Tuotuohe Railway Station of Qinghai-Tibet Railway at an altitude of 4,547 m, tourists can appreciate natural sceneries and cultural landscapes of Tuotuohe Town - the first town of the source of Yangtze River. Visitors can experience in person why Qinghai-Tibet Railway is regarded as the “Road to Heaven”, and can see beautiful Tsonag Lake and Grassland in Northern Tibet, the latter of which, also called the “Qiangtang Grassland”, is a national natural reserve of Qiangtang. Day 5: arrive in Golmud. Golmud, a word in Mongolian, refers to a place with dense rivers. It is located in the hinterland of Tibetan Plateau. Mongols in Golmud take “Nadam” Fair (a Mongolian traditional fair) as one of traditional festivals because of its large scale, rich activities and lots of participants. The basin features flat terrain, undulating sand dunes and sunken oasises, and there are lots of salt lakes, alkali beaches and swamps. Qarhan Salt Lake, also known as the “King of the Salt Lakes”, is the world’s largest salt lake. Day 6: take a bus in Golmud to Tuotuoheyan, an important town in the source region of Yangtze River. It has prosperous businesses with all kinds of facilities available, and lots of Han people and Tibetan people do business here. As the first town on the Yangtze River and affiliated to Golmud - “the largest city in the world”, this town is the location of Tanggulashan Township. Day 7: drive along Qinghai-Tibet Highway for about 100 km, and arrive at Yanshiping Town under Tanggula Mountains. Then start to go down the road, climb snow mountains, and cross grassland and rivers, and arrive at the foot of Geladaindong Peak after overcoming innumerable hardships. Around Geladandong Peak, there are rare fowls and strange animals such as wild ox, wild ass, Tibetan antelope and Tibetan snow cock as well as crystal rocks, surrounded by good natural grasslands. It is an ideal place for adventure tour, mountaineering, novelty seeking and scientific expedition. In the evening, return to Golmud by bus. Day 8: continue to take a train to go southward along Qinghai-Tibet Highway and stop at Nagqu County. Graze animals while singing loudly on Qiangtang Prairie to feel authentic Tibetan life. Day 9: enjoy the wonders of gorges in the western region at Nagqu County. Walk to Yangbajing Town as no transport facility is available there and see Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains from afar. Then drive to Sog County and you can enjoy the view of mountains, prairies and lakes along the way. In the evening, return to Nagqu, and continue to move on Qinghai-Tibet Railway. Day 10: arrive in Lhasa. In the morning: visit Potala Palace which is built close to Red Hill at an altitude of over 3,700 m. “Potala”, the transliteration of Putuoluo, means the palace where Bodhisattva lives. As the ruling power center of political-religious syncretism in old Tibet, it is divided into Red Palace and White Palace. The former one is comprised of stupa halls and Buddhism halls of past Dalai Lamas; the latter one is a winter palace of the Dalai Lama and was the administrative body of Tibetan local government in old days. (You can take photos of the panorama of Potala Palace in the square). In the afternoon: visit Jokhang, which is also named as “Zuglagkang”, meaning the scripture hall in Tibetan. With a history of 1,350 years, it is the oldest temple in Lhasa and a central temple with lofty status in Tibet. The temple houses a life-size statue of 12-year-old Shakyamuni Buddha, and statues of Srongtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng, and Princess Bhrikuti. Barkhor Street, the epitome of cultural landscape of Lhasa, and even the whole Tibet, gathers pilgrims from all over the world and dazzling stalls. Lots of historic sites which bear the history of Lhasa are hidden in the surrounding buildings. Day 11: drive to one of three holy lakes in Tibet - Namucuo Lake (a large lake with the highest altitude of 4,770 m in the world) covering an area of about 1,920 km2. Seen from afar, the sky and lake in the same color is like an integral whole, and islands of different shapes are scattered in the lake like stars in the sky. Grotesque rocks and cave grottoes referred in many legends on the Tashi Dor, south of the lake, create many unique and beautiful scenic spots. Undulating Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains, boundless Northern Tibet Prairie, colorful prayer flags fluttering in the wind, and gleaming ripples on the lake’s surface like pearls and jades on skirts worn by a goddess, present its great beauty in a free, confident, brilliant way and giving visitors huge shock. Along the way, you can overlook the main peak of Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains which stands at an altitude of 7,717 m, and take a hot spring bath at your own expense in Yangbajing. Return to Lhasa in the evening. Day 12: after breakfast, set out from Lhasa and cross the Qushui Bridge. Cross the pass of Mount Gangbala with an altitude of 4,880m after driving for 25 km, overlook Gangbala Radar Station, enter the hinterland of plateau, and go to [Yamdrok Lake], which is known as a holy lake under heaven and the largest freshwater lake in the world, inlaid on the Qinghai-Tibet land like a sapphire. Its magnificence will cost many of your films. Overlook Karuola Glacier - glacier in the 4th century, and go around the Yamdrok Lake to the shooting location of the film “Red River Valley”. In the evening, arrive in Shigatse - the center of back Tibet. Day 13: after breakfast, visit Tashilhunpo Monastery - the administrative office of successive Panchen Lamas. Founded in 1447, it is one of six temples of Gelug and the administrative office of successive Panchen Erdeni. Seen from afar, the whole temple is built on a mountain slope with high mountains on the back, palaces are adjacent to each other, buildings rise up one after another, and the main buildings with golden top and red walls convey their majesty, vitality, grandeur, splendor and magnificence. Purple smoke is rising from censers and lights and fire on the worship table are twinkling, and all Buddha statutes present different appearances. In the hall, monks are chanting sutras orderly; in front of Buddha statutes, believers bow and pray. For over 500 years, it has attracted Buddhism believers from all over the world. Tourists come here for worship and visit. The temple houses the largest indoor bronze statue a statue of Maitreya Buddha, which is 26 m in height. After visit to the coffin tower of the tenth Banchan Lama, you can go to free market in Shigatse. Return along China-Nepal Highway to Lhasa by bus in the afternoon. Finish the trip along Qinghai-Tibet Railway.