Whether your ideal China vacation consists of sampling every dumpling under the sun, connecting with your spiritual side in Tibetan monasteries, or experiencing the intersection of Central and East Asia in China’s far-flung western provinces, AsiaTravel’s small group tours have got you covered.
Our small group trips, capped at 12 people each, give you the opportunity to experience the Middle Kingdom with friends and like-minded travelers, without sacrificing the individualized attention provided by the AsiaTravel guides along the way.
Mountains and Monasteries
On our Soul of Tibet small group tour, you’ll venture deep into the heart of Tibet. Beginning in the capital, Lhasa, travelers will experience firsthand the awe-inspiring immensity of the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s former palace looming over the city. Ringed by Himalayan peaks, the azure waters of Yamdrok Tso Lake accompany travelers as they head west towards Gyantse. Nestled high amongst the mountains, visitors will experience the Palkhor Monastery, witnessing monks engaged in lively theological debates as they wander through the centuries-old halls of the monastery.
While taking in all these spiritual sights, you can also have close-up and authentic interactions with local people. On our small group tour, you’ll have the chance to learn about Tibetan medicine, an ancient form of medicine based on Buddha’s teachings, by stopping by an old Tibetan pharmacy. Here, the medicine man will give you an assessment of how traditional cures can salve all your ailments.
Your AsiaTravel guide can then help you learn about thangka, a colorful Tibetan Buddhist form of painting. You’ll be able to witness monks engaging in this delicate art form and even take a crack at it yourself.
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From Hotpot to Kebabs
Just as Italian food is totally different from German cuisine, the food found in the Muslim communities of western China bears practically no resemblance to the dumplings of Shanghai. The sheer volume of different cuisines can be overwhelming for visitors to China; however, AsiaTravel has enlisted the brilliant culinary mind of Fuchsia Dunlop to create a carefully curated foodie expedition across five different Chinese provinces.
On our Gastronomic Tour of China with Fuchsia Dunlop, Fuchsia herself will lead you on a culinary voyage across the diverse samplings of Middle Kingdom cuisine. You will sample world-famous Peking Duck in Beijing, the cumin-scented lamb kebabs of Xi’an, Sichuan’s mouth-numbing hotpot, and many others, with each restaurant and dish carefully selected by Fuchsia Dunlop, publisher of five books on Chinese cuisine.
Aside from sampling all the delicious food, you’ll also have the chance to engage in some mouthwatering activities. In the quiet Longjing Village near Hangzhou, you’ll be able to learn the process of making China’s most famous drink in a tea plantation. While in Xi’an, you’ll be able to stroll through the bustling streets and stalls of the Muslim Quarter while sampling the delectable curbside barbecues. Food and fun – all led by one of the world’s leading experts in Chinese cuisine. Who could ask for anything more for you foodies out there?
RELATED READING: Best Chinese Food in China – A City by City Guide
By Pravit (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Tread in the Footsteps of Marco Polo
Marco Polo is regarded as the first explorer to introduce the exotic, unique culture of China to the west. Travelers on AsiaTravel’s Marco Polo’s Silk Road small group tour will retrace the steps of this trailblazer, walking in his footsteps along the famed Silk Road. Beginning in Kashgar, visitors will experience a Chinese city with a distinctly Central Asian flavor, evidenced by the swirling colors of the Sunday Bazaar and the looming spires of the Id Kah mosque. Venturing across the Taklamakan Desert, explorers will witness the cherry-red Flaming Mountains, illuminated against a backdrop of swirling desert sands. Also on the agenda are the Mingsha Sand Dunes, nicknamed “the rumbling sands” by Marco Polo for the sounds they make in the whistling desert wind.
Amid all this cross-cultural splendor, our AsiaTravel guides will be sure to give you a taste of the true Silk Road. You’ll be invited to enjoy a traditional Uighur dinner with a local family where you can sample some of the region’s best flavors. As usual, we also love to give our travelers exclusive access and this extends to our Silk Road tour. At the Mogao Caves, we’ll connect you with the director of the site who’ll give you an expert tour.
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Yunnan with a Side of Ham
AsiaTravel Founder Mei Zhang’s book, Travels through Dali: with a leg of ham, chronicles her return to her hometown, Dali, a historic city at the fringes of the Himalayas. Famed for its unique cuisine, Dali lies in the heart of Yunnan province, a region whose food is influenced by its shared borders with Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos.
On our Travels through Dali: with a leg of ham expert-led tour, travelers will retrace the steps taken by Mei Zhang, led by the author herself, sampling Yunnan’s famed ham and exploring the off-beaten-path areas of these Himalayan foothills. Mei Zhang will guide you through every turn while she gives you an inside peek into the best that Yunnan has to offer.
Of course, Yunnan’s special ham is only the start of the show on this voyage, so Mei will take you to the farm of Mr Yang Xuegong and see ham in its different stages of curing. And luckily for you, ham isn’t the only delicacy around Dali. You’ll also get a chance to visit a local cheesemaker who will teach you the craft of making cheese – an artisanal process that first came to Dali through the Mongolians many centuries ago. Believe us, your tastebuds will thank you if you join our Travels through Dali small group tour.
RELATED READING: A Foodie’s Yunnan Voyage
AsiaTravel’s small group tours offer intrepid China explorers the opportunity to experience carefully curated trips around a variety of regions in this vast, culturally-rich country. Whether you are excited by the thought of sampling Sichuan hotpot in the city of Chengdu or experiencing the otherworldly scenery of the Taklamakan Desert, there is a AsiaTravel small group tour for you!