Expert-Led Group Tour

China group tour - Qinghai Festivals & Textiles

A fascinating insight into China's minority tribes

17 days

from £3,495pp
  • Meet Tibetans, visit their homes, to understand and appreciate Tibetan culture
  • Experience two traditional Tibetan Festivals
  • Travel with Gina Corrigan an expert in textiles of this region
  • Spend a day with a nomadic family, gaining an insight into their lifestyle

This trip is all about the Tibetan culture, visiting an area in northwest China on the Tibetan plateau. Most of what will be seen during this tour is more Tibetan than Chinese. During the trip gain a fascinating insight into the culture and traditions of China's minority tribes including the Hui, Tu, Mongolians and Tibetans, travelling in a part of the country far removed from the trappings of modern China.

Travel to many Tibetan villages, meet the villagers and visit monasteries including Tibet's most revered Labrang monastery with its famous Buddhist philosophy school. It is home to the largest number of monks outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Experience the hospitality of a nomadic family, spending a day discussing their lifestyle and examining a ger (a traditional portable round tent).

One of the highlights of this trip is experiencing two traditional Tibetan festivals. The first being the Molam Prayer Festival, one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist celebrations of the year. The second on the trip is the Tongren Shaman Festival, a grand occasion for local Tibetan and Tu people to show their devotion to the Mountain God. These are both special festivals to experience where few tourists visit and a chance to see locals in their finest traditional clothing.

This tour is led by Gina Corrigan, an expert on textiles and embroidery, much of the emphasis on this trip will be on textiles, learning about traditional weaving techniques and discovering the meaning of the varied and historic costumes still worn by the local people in Qinghai.


To travel with Gina Corrigan, a specialist in textiles and Tibetan culture, who has been visiting this area for over 40 years. Also, travel with a Tibetan guide which will give an incredible insight into the local culture and customs, you will get to integrate with local people and be welcomed into their homes.


Simple local hotels with private bathrooms.


You don’t need to be physically fit as there will be no long trekking but the areas visited will be at altitude of up to about 4,000 metres.


Generally good tarmac roads throughout.


No, while the emphasise will be on textiles it is also a trip exploring the Tibetan beliefs and traditions. 

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Departing on:
  • 17th July 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
17th Jul 2018 2nd Aug 2018 £ 3,495 £ 975 £ 415 Gina Corrigan Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation (as indicated)
  • Accompanied by a local English speaking guide throughout
  • Accompanied by Gina Corrigan in China
  • Entrance Fees
  • Gratuities for the local guide, driver and porters
  • Internal flights
  • Meals (as indicated)
  • Transportation (as indicated)

what is excluded

  • International flights
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Group flights
The suggested group outbound flight for this tour is:

Air France - AF1181, scheduled to depart London Heathrow at 20:10 on Monday 16th July, arriving into Paris at 22:20 on Monday 16th July. Connect with Air France flight AF382 departing Paris at 23:20 on Monday 16th July, arriving into Beijing Capital international airport at 15:20 on Tuesday 17th July. An arrival transfer will be provided to connect with this flight. You will then be met and transferred to the Jianguo Garden Hotel in Beijing.

For those making their own way to Beijing and not taking the suggested group flight, the starting point for the group is the Jianguo Garden Hotel in Beijing. Please speak to one of our team should you need help organising an arrival transfer.

You will meet with the rest of the group for a short briefing at the arrival hotel - meeting time to be confirmed in your final documentation.

A Day at Leisure
Spend the day relaxing after your flight. The hotel is within walking distance of Tianamen Square and the modern shopping street of Wangfujing. Alternatively, rest at the hotel before having an early dinner, the tour leader, Gina Corrigan will be on hand to offer suggestions.

Beijing is China's capital, and a city of epic proportions. It is a cauldron of history, culture and enterprise. Offering a feast of elaborate and ambitious architecture, world famous landmarks, and culinary delights.

welcome dinner included

You will be staying at Jianguo Garden Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Fly Beijing to Lanzhou

You will be met on arrival by your guide and driver and transferred to Lanzhou, some seventy kilometres from the airport. Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, is situated on the Yellow River. A visit is planed to the Gansu Provincial Museum, which has many ancient artefacts from the Silk Road. The Neolithic pots are of great interest, as is the famous Flying Horse of Gansu, excavated in 1969.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at JJ Sun Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Drive from Lanzhou to Jone (Road Journey)

Jone County is an adiministrative distrct in the Gansu Province. The county covers both banks of the middle section of the Lu-chu. The country town and adjacent Jone Monastery are on the north bank, while the valleys on the southern side used to be branches of the ancient kingdom of Jone. Jone County borders the Tibetan area and is inhabited by Tibetans.

Lanzhou to Jone
This morning you will be driven to Jone, driving through moss-covered hills where wheat, rape, lily bulbs and fruit are grown. Jone county borders the Tibetan area and many Tibetans live in the region with the older women still dressing in traditional style. The American botanist Joseph Rock spent almost two years in Jone between 1925-26, residing in the compound of the local chief, Tusi Yang Jiqing, making it his base for his exploration of southern Gansu and eastern Qinghai. His account and photographs of this Tibetan area were later published in National Geographic. Finish the day with a visit to the Jone Tibetan monastery.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Huiyi Zhongxing Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Drive from Jone to Hezuo (Road Journey)

Located at the junction area of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces, is it the business centre for Tibetan and Chinese exchanges. Situated at the northeast edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Hezuo is 170 miles north of Lanzhou.

Jone to Hezuo
Today drive 160 kilometres to Amchok monastery to attend the Molam festival also known as Sunning the Buddha. Around noon a huge silk thangka will be carried by the monks from the monastery and rolled down the hillside, which is crowded with Tibetan onlookers. A picnic lunch will be organised on the rolling grassland. Returning to Hezuo visit the modern town with its the excellent antique shops and in the evening enjoy a discussion on Tibetan costume.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Gannan International Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Return to Amchok Monastery for the colourful masked dance which begins around 11:00 and continues until 16:00. A picnic lunch will be arranged and the guide will show you the local jewellery and a typical chuba (long tradiotional coat) of the area. There will also be a visit to a Tibetan household to discuss their lifestyle, costume and farming techniques.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Gannan International Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Drive from Hezuo to Xiahe (Road Journey)

The town of Xiahe is set in a scenic mountain valley and is a major centre of Buddhism. The people of Xiahe are a mixture of Tibetans and Muslims. The Tibetans rely largely on farming and herding and are swelled in number by visiting pilgrims. They are semi-nomadic whilst the Muslim population are engaged in trading. The town is home to Labrang Monastery, one of the most important monasteries of the Tibetan Yellow Hat Sect monasteries in China. There are now 1000 lamas at the monastery from an original total of 4000.

Hezuo to Xiahe
Drive to the town of Xiahe, famous for its Labrang Yellow Sect monastery, situated on the edge of town. It is one of the most important Tibetan cultural centres in Eastern Tibet and one of the six biggest monasteries in the Tibetan world, housing over 1,000 monks. Its Buddhist Philosophy School is famous throughout the Tibet.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Xiahe Baoma Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

In the morning, tour the Labrang monastery in the morning. A Tibetan guide will show you the impressive interior of the Assembly Hall and other temples with its grand sculptural images of Buddha and protective deities.

This afternoon, visit the cloak makers, walk part of the kora - offering magnificent overviews of the monastery. Later, there is time to explore the Tibetan shops providing for the needs of nomads and the monastic communities. There are religious thangkas, Buddha statues, prayer flags, hand-printed sutras, women's embroidered plait extensions and nomadic jewellery for sale. Bargaining is necessary. Many shopkeepers are Muslims, and are locally called Hui Hui.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Xiahe Baoma Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Drive to Ganja via the Narang La Pass home to wild flowers and great grassland views followed by a visit to the recently resorted Bon monastery, founded 600 years ago. The Bon indigenous animist and shamanistic belief system of Tibet, revolves around the worship of nature and predates Buddhism. The highlight of the day will be a visit to a local family where you can see weaving and their nomadic costumes first-hand. The plan is for the group to eat a simple lunch with the family.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Xiahe Baoma Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Drive from Xiahe to Henan (Road Journey)

Henan has a diverse landscape with floodplains in the east and the Xionger and Funiu mountains in the west. The Yellow River passes through central Henan, entering from the northwest. Henan is home to approximatley 120,000 historical relics, including over 40,000 rare ones. The economic prosperity resulted from Henan's extensive fertile plains and its location at the heart of the country.

Xiahe to Henan
Today, drive across an extensive nomadic pastureland where yak and sheep graze. Some herdsmen still live in the black yak-hair, hand-woven tents, but increasingly white canvas tents are replacing them. This afternoon, there will be plenty of time to visit the hillside Laka monastery with the opportunity to go into town and see the silversmiths at work making nomadic jewellery.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Himalaya Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 10

The nomads in Henan are Mongolians following the passing through of the Mongol army during the Yuan dynasty and some groups settled. Originally, they lived in felt yurts also known as 'gers' but, today they live in a combination of one-storey houses and yurts during the summer months when the animals are pastured on the summer grasses. The plan is to visit the yurts and meet a local Mongolian family to gain a greater understanding of the yurt interiors and the careful organisation of their possessions. The chubas of this region - a chuba is a long sheepskin coat made of thick Tibetan wool worn by many of the nomads - are of the very best quality and your nomad guide will explain how the skins are treated and sewn.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Suluding Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Drive from Henan to Tongren (Repkong) (Road Journey)

Located on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, it is a small monastic town in the Qinghai province. The city is home to Dongshan Temple and the Statue of Zhou Yiqun Martyr. The Mount Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve is perhaps the most famous scenic area in the region.

Henan to Tongren and onto Repkong
Today drive to Tongren, an agricultural area that is one of the most famous locations for the making of applique and painted thangkas. The local Tibetans and Tu will hopefully demonstrate these two arts, as well the making of clay religious sculptures. The valley, at this time of year, will be a sea of long-haired barley surrounded by sand brown eroded hills with single-storied flat-roofed villages nestling in the hillsides.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Xingshijia Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Today, explore some of the villages in the vicinity. Also, possibly travel to a Bon monastery, before walking down through a local farming village. Come across the colourful laptses (structures with prayer flags), unique phenomena in this area. Have time to explore and shop in the town, where you will find Tibetan regalia and artefacts.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Xingshijia Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Shaman's Festival
The next two days will be spent at the annual Shaman's Festival. The Tibetan villagers worship the Mountain Gods and no Buddhist priests are allowed to take part in the ceremony. The village men dressed in traditional pulu chubas, meet early in the morning to pray and then perform slow elegant dances in the centre of the village. Various sacrifices are made to the Mountain God by the Shaman. In the past, animals were sacrificed but today effigies are used instead. The shaman remains in a trance throughout the day and whirls and dances with the men picking on any villager who has misbehaved in the past year, he is a frightening figure. Later in the day, young girls in superb chubas and bedecked in traditional coral jewellery, dance slowly and elegantly. There are often fascinating costumed comedy skits. All the villagers dress in their best clothes to watch the performances until the final sacrifice is made. The thangka of the Mountain God is finally returned for safe keeping to the temple. This is a perfect opportunity to view old and modern dress.

You will be staying at Xingshijia Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 15

Drive from Tongren (Repkong) to Xining (Road Journey)

Xining is the capital of Qinghai Province and lies on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau at 2,200m.

Repkong to Xining
Drive to Xining, the modern capital of Qinghai province to visit the Tibetan Culture Museum. The museum has a wide range of Tibetan artefacts, traditional Tibetan illustrated medicine texts and textiles, considered one of the best museums of Tibetan Culture in China.

Breakfast at your hotel. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants.

You will be staying at Xining Shengwang Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 16

Fly Xining to Beijing

An Afternoon at Leisure
Spend the afternoon at leisure, either at the hotel or discover the local area.

Breakfast included at your hotel. Lunch and dinner not included.

You will be staying at Jianguo Garden Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 17

Group flights
The suggested group inbound flight for this tour is:

KLM flight KL898, scheduled to depart Beijing Capital international airport at 10:55 on Thursday 2nd August, arriving into Amsterdam at 15:20 the same day. Connect with KLM flight KL1029 departing Amsterdam at 16:55 on Tuesday 2nd August, arriving into London Heathrow airport at 17:10.

A departure transfer will be provided to connect with this flight.

For those not taking the suggested group flight, please speak to one of our team should you need help organising a departure transfer.

Destination Experts

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Clare Higginson, Travel Expert

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour expert

Gina Corrigan

Gina Corrigan
Gina first visited China in 1972 and has been working in the region since then, organising and leading tours. She has travelled widely throughout China, and now specialises in Southwest China and the Tibetan Cultural Region.

In 1987, Gina organised her first textile tour to Guizhou Province. She pioneered new routes and completed the Odyssey Guizhou Guide. She became fascinated by the Minority textiles, and collected and documented them. These costumes were acquired by the British Museum and by the National Museums Liverpool. She lectured widely on the subject and published.

She has visited the Tibetan region annually since 1985. In 2009, she began researching Tibetan Textiles and Jewellery of the Farmers and Nomads of Ado and Kham and her latest book, Tibetan Dress: In Amdo & Kham was published in December 2017. She has an extensive knowledge of the subject.

Other tours by this lecturer:

Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Gina Corrigan

Departure Date (S):

  • 17th July 2018

  • Moderate Activity - The tour may occasionally involve slightly longer walks, but nothing over 4 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.

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