Create a soul connection with a Giant Panda. Seek solitude at the Dalai Lama’s summer palace and soak up the spirituality of Tibet’s holiest sites. The ultra-luxurious Crystal Cruises is offering guests the rare opportunity to add a five-night Extended Land Program to Tibet onto their Asia Cruise. Crystal Symphony’s 9 April 2014 Hong Kong to Beijing/all-China voyage and 16 April Beijing to Tokyo/all-China and Japan sailing each offer this add-on post- and pre-cruise respectively. Highlights include Chengdu’s Giant Panda Research Base, where guests can safely snuggle with baby pandas, and visits to Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Marketplace and much more.
Highlights of Crystal’s add-on journey include:
- Chengdu’s Giant Panda Research Base, where guests can safely snuggle with baby pandas while learning about the centre’s hugely successful conservation and breeding efforts.
- Potala Palace, a 7th century UNESCO World Heritage Site, visible from every direction, that served as the Dalai Lama’s main residence until the 1959 uprising.
- Drepung Monastery, once the world’s largest monastery and home to more than 10,000 monks, precariously set on a hillside and accessible only by a steep, unpaved road.
- Jokhang Temple, the spiritual centre of Tibet, enshrining the country’s most precious treasure, the original gold Sakyamuni Buddha statue dating back 1,300 years.
- Barkhor Marketplace, the site of many Tibetan protests, as well as a busy commerce centre, striking an intriguing contrast between deeply rooted spirituality and the bustling nature of market economics.
- Tibetan-style dinner, showcasing traditional song and dance while sampling a variety of yak-based dietary staples, from meat to tea.
- Sera Monastery, where guests can watch monks prepare for their monastic exams with renowned mock debates in the picturesque courtyard.
- Norbulingka, another UNESCO site that boasts distinctly Tibetan architecture and has served as the administrative and spiritual centres, as well as the summer palace, for past Dalai Lamas.
- Jinli Street in Chengdu, an ancient market dating back to the Qing Dynasty, filled with everything from the aroma of spicy barbeque and authentic Sichuan favourites to local artists’ works and traditional lantern performances.