One of the most memorable experiences was visiting the pandas in Chengdu. Getting a private tour ... proved to be everything we wanted and more.
Cody & Lindsey, Los Angeles & Philadelphia

China's Rustic Charm: Xiahe & Gansu

The stunning Gansu Province is one of China’s most beautiful and unvisited rural regions. Full of rustic charm, it boasts a pure, natural beauty that remains relatively untouched by mass tourism. Ancient cultures thrive here, maintaining a life that is encompassed by traditional values and remain hidden amongst the mountainous landscape. This journey takes visitors through an unseen world, set deep in China’s rural landscape, to witness a land so remote that only a few eyes have ever seen it. Visitors will start off in the culture-rich city of Xian, before making their way to the rustic outdoors of Norden Camp and finishing of in the secluded village of Ritoma. This enviable tour visits rare sights still shrouded in mystery, including the excavation site of Xian and stunning Labrang Monastery. This exciting itinerary can be done on its own, or easily added to any of our other thrilling journeys within the region!

Highlights   Pricing
  • Visit the famous Terracotta Warriors in Xian
  • Walk around Labrang and visit the second-largest Tibetan Monastery in China
  • Spend nomadic-style nights in picturesque surroundings at Norden Camp
  • Explore the Nomad summer pasture on horseback
  • Witness the production process of the luxury woven yak felts at Norla House
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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1

You’ll start your thrilling journey in the ancient city of Xian, said to be more than 3,000 years old and known as the ‘undisputed root of Chinese civilization’. Upon arrival, you are free to take a leisurely stroll to explore this charming city and take a trip to the Han Mausoleum, where the tombs of the Han emperor and empress are kept. Check in to a luxury city hotel where you will spend your first night in Xian.

Day 2

Your second day in this remarkable city gives you the opportunity to gain insight into its cultural history. A short trip from the city center will lead you to a famous excavation site where the Terracotta Warriors were uncovered. It may be possible to join a private trip down to the excavation level for a close encounter with these legendary sculptures. Following the exploration of this phenomenal site, head back to Xian and onto the Shaanxi Xian Archaeological Institute. A number of ancient artifacts are displayed here, spanning the regions entire history, from the Neolithic right through to the Qing Dynasty. Tonight, return to your modern hotel to enjoy another night’s rest in luxury.

Day 3
Xian - Xiahe

On the third day of your tour, you will fly from the historic city of Xian to Xiahe, and transfer to Norden Camp. This unique accommodation, concealed amongst lush greenery and surrounded by majestic peaks, will be your base for the next three nights. You will be shown to your room where you can relax and enjoy picturesque scenes filled with effervescent wildlife. A rewarding, home-cooked dinner awaits followed by an unwinding session of dessert and drinks next to a bonfire under the starry night’s sky.

Day 4

After breakfast at the camp, a 30-minute drive will take you through graceful landscapes to the colorful town of Labrang. Set deep within an elongated valley, surrounded by two rising mountains, Labrang’s two towns - monastery and modern town - meet in the center and extend out in opposite directions. Take a walk around the expansive monastery, made up over 18 halls and hundreds of monk’s residencies, to journey back in time and witness ancient cultures rarely seen in modern-day life. A stop for lunch in either the Norden Coffee Shop or at a local restaurant will give you the chance to recuperate over Western dishes or sample some traditional Tibetan foods including yak meat and yoghurt. In the afternoon, explore the vast rural plains of the Norden Camp on horseback, or over the mountains for the more adventurous. An evening meal awaits upon your return and you can enjoy another night under the stars with dessert and drinks, enjoying the tranquil ambiance of this Tibetan plateau.

Day 5

Breakfast in beautiful surroundings is followed by a 30-minute drive to a local Nomadic camp. The drive will take you on scenic journey through Nomad pastures and past colorful local customs. At the camp, you will witness local culture in its most natural form, an exceptionally rare glimpse that is virtually unseen by outside eyes. A hospitable nomad family will welcome you in for lunch to sample a local nomadic cuisine, made up of yak or lamb meat and Tsampa. Arriving back to the camp, you are free to enjoy the rest of the afternoon to yourselves, re-energizing in the camp’s sauna or taking in the sights on a walk around the camp’s surroundings. At 7pm, there is a one hour Q and A session between guests and the nomadic staff who are more than happy to share insights into their experiences and Tibetan culture.

Day 6
Norden Camp - Ritoma

An early morning breakfast is followed by a two-hour drive to the predominantly Tibetan and quaint village of Ritoma. You will be taken to Norlha House for a traditional lunch and quick rest. In the afternoon, a trip around Norlha’s workshop awaits. It’s the home of Weaving Yak Treasures - a leading luxury brand in China, renowned for its innovative work with yak textiles. The brand is a work of art which you can become acquainted with by witnessing the different processes of manufacture, from weaving and dyeing to sewing and felting. From here, take a leisurely walk around the local monastery and surrounding pastures to catch a glimpse of village’s history. Return to Norlha House for dinner and comfortable night’s rest.

Day 7

On the final day of your tour, awake in unforgettable surroundings and savor your last breakfast within this region. Your personal driver will collect you from the village and take you to Xiahe Airport for your departure via Xian or Lhasa, and on to your next enticing destination.


Suggested Accommodations

Shangri-La Xian, Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel Xian

Shangri-La Xian

The Shangri-La Hotel in Xian is located in the heart of the Gaoxin hi-tech district, just a stone’s throw away from the ancient city walls of the old city. Each of the hotel’s 390 guest rooms and suites features floor-to-ceiling windows and chic modern decor, as well as complimentary Internet access. Dining options include: traditional Thai cuisine at Siam Garden; pan-Chinese cuisine at Tian Xiang Ge; and International cuisine at the Yi Cafe. The hotel also has a state-of-the-art health center, a luxurious spa, and a swimming pool with sauna and steam room. The Shangri-La Xian is approximately 30 minutes by car from the Xianyang Airport (XIY).


Sofitel Legend Peoples Grand Hotel Xian

A stunning hotel with harmonious architecture blending French and Sino-Russian touches, a true heritage feel exudes from the detailed exterior. Step inside and the lofty ceilings, ornate mouldings and coving, art deco influences along with state of the art technology make this an incredible hotel befitting of the name Legend. The overtone of luxury is hard to miss. Everything from the service, the detailed inlaid floors, chandeliered ceilings and air of elegance places this hotel in a league of its own. Set in ornate gardens with flowing waterfalls and incredible gazebos, entering the hotel is like entering another world, a world of pure opulence and indulgence. With 37 suites, each designed with attention to the smallest of details, the minimalist design oozes luxury and comfort, striking an almost impossible balance. The signature Italian restaurant whisks guests away to the heart of Italy, or dine in comfort and privacy with food delivered to the suites.

Norden Camp

Norden Camp

Surrounded by rising peaks that stretch out to the horizon, the Norden Camp is a hidden charm in the rustic Gansu Province of China. It lies an impressive 10,500 feet above sea level, set amidst an area of stunning natural beauty. The camp covers a vast area in which vivacious wildlife enveloped by abundant vegetation year round. Although, just 30 minutes from Labrang Airport, it is more convenient to access the camp by a four-hour drive from the Gansu capital of Lanzhou, easily reached via any major Chinese city. Untouched by outside development, visitors will instantly feel a connection with the distinctive Nomadic heritage in these picturesque surroundings, making an idyllic setting for exploring the local culture and opening up to the allure of outdoor beauty. Adding to this, there are two unique accommodation options within the camp, where guests can rest in luxurious comfort and style while sleeping under the stars. An authentic cuisine, based on local nomadic lifestyles and prepared using traditional recipes, completes the rustic ambiance here. Guests can enjoy a stay tailored to them, from relaxing in the sauna to riding on horseback across the plains.

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Our co-founder & COO Jay Tindall is a former China resident and a true China expert. He loves visiting remote rural areas and meeting China's ethnic minorities.
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