Expert-Led Group Tour

China Group Tour - Tibetan Festivals & Litang Horse Fair

Departing 22nd July - 4th August 2020

14 days

from $4,495pp
  • See the amazing Mani wall at Yushu, tens of thousands of stones with sacred coloured inscriptions
  • Explore fabulous scenery and Alpine flora at its best including the famous Himalayan Blue Poppy
  • Watch as the Tibetans embrace their festivities dressed in their finest costumes
  • Visit a local Tibetan clan horse festival in Litang

Discover Amdo and Kham, part of historical Tibet. Here, for centuries Tibetan nomads have grazed their yak and sheep on the high mountain pastures of the plateau, which rises from 2000m to over 4,000m with mountain peaks of 5000m. The Chinese annexed this area in the 1920s but ethnically it remains part of Tibet. This is why some maps record place names in Chinese, while others record them in Tibetan. Here, Tibetans continue with their traditional way of life adapted to modern ways. Annual festivals continue and there are fewer restrictions than in the Lhasa region which can be closed to foreign visitors.

This tour is designed for the summer months when the alpine flowers will be at their best but we have also chosen these dates when there are two costumed Tibetan festivals. Journey through some major Tibetan grasslands, with the opportunity to experience Tibetan nomadic life and some of the changes that are gradually coming about. The weather will be warm and sunny with perhaps some short showers. It is said that in the Tibetan region one can experience four seasons in one day. 


The tour is accompanied by Gina Corrigan with 30 years experience in the Tibetan Region, aided by her very competent and knowledgeable Tibetan guide Duker Tsering who gives briefings on the monasteries.

Gina has travelled to China annually since 1972 and organised many specialist tours. In 1987, Gina designed her first textile tour to South West China and from then on was fascinated by the textiles and the region. She began collecting minority costumes and textiles from Guizhou Province. Her collection has been exhibited at many venues in UK and, in 1999, Gina’s initial collection was acquired and exhibited at the British Museum. Her later collection was placed at the Liverpool World Museum. The textiles were complemented by a number of books and publications all illustrated by her photographs. Gina first visited Tibet in 1982 when she travelled to Lhasa and Xigaze. In 1985 she attended festivals in Amdo and later travelled to Kham. She has continued to visit the Tibetan region annually exploring remote areas as they opened to foreigners. From 2009 she began researching Tibetan Dress and Jewellery, focusing on Amdo and Kham with her Tibetan guide. ‘Tibetan Dress in Amdo and Kham’ was published by Hali in 2017. Her Tibetan collection has recently been acquired by Liverpool World Museum. Gina lectures and travels widely in Asia.


This is not a luxury tour and will be visiting remote regions of China, many of which are rarely visited, therefore, the accommodation will be based in simple local hotels. Rooms will have private bathrooms but will be different to western style standards.


Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Lecturer.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.


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


Generally, good tarmac roads throughout but as the region is remote there may be times where roads are slightly bumpy.


No, while the emphasis will be on textiles and festivals, it is also a trip exploring the local cultural beliefs and traditions in the Tibetan region.

Can I extend my stay in China?

Yes, this can easily be arranged at the end or the beginning of the tour. Private travel arrangements with a car and driver will be provided and a private guide arranged for sightseeing. Speak to one of our experts for possible suggestions on what extensions would complement this tour.

Departing on:
  • 23rd July 2020

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

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights $Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
23rd Jul 2020 5th Aug 2020 $ 6,068.25 $ 1,147.50 $ 789.75 Gina Corrigan Available
  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 throughout
  • Drinks with meals
  • 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

Collapse all
Day 1

Beijing arrival day
The afternoon is at leisure allowing you to relax or explore Beijing.

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 this evening.

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

Day 2

Fly Beijing to Xining

Xining city tour
At Xining airport, you will be met by your Tibetan guide, who will travel with you throughout your time in Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. Visit the Tibetan Cultural Museum, which has an extensive collection of Tibetan artefacts and costumes. This will be followed by an evening orientation meeting and dinner.

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

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

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

Day 3

Fly Xining to Yushu

On arrival at the airport at Yushu, visit a new-styled, black yak-hair tent erected at the airport by the government, to house a collection of nomadic artefacts.

From hereon, you will be driven around Qinghai and Sichuan provinces by Land Cruiser. Drive to Yushu, situated at 3,600 metres, where you will have the remainder of the day at leisure, meeting up again with the group for dinner in the evening.

Yushu is the capital of the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and was an important trading centre on the route from Lhasa. It was known as Jyekundo and is at an altitude of 3,600 metres.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Taiyanghu Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 4

In the afternoon, visit Yushu's famous Mani Wall, three kilometres outside of the city. Tens of thousands of huge stones, with the sacred coloured inscription reading 'om mani padme hum', are piled high, making this probably the world's longest Mani wall. Tibetans, who typically pronounce the mantra as 'om mani peme hung', believe that Avalokiteshvara, has a very special connection with Tibetans as their protector. Tibetan pilgrims walk in a clockwise direction round the wall and lay new stones to help their karma.

Yushu Horse festival
Today is one of the highlights of your tour, the Yushu Horse Festival. The horse festival takes place in a modern stadium, where the local clans prepare a parade of horses and yaks. Tibetans will be there in their droves, dressed in their huge traditional chubas - long sheepskin coats made of thick Tibetan wool worn by many of the nomadic peoples of high altitude in the cold mountains.

For centuries, nomads have gathered in the summer months, to race horses and yaks at an annual festival. This tradition has been maintained, and today's festival has many attractions such as fashion parades, energetic Tibetan dancing, singing, acrobatic riding and horse racing. This is one of the most exciting occasions for Tibetans who come from many kilometres away, bringing huge colourful tents in which to sleep and entertain friends with lavish foods and drink.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Taiyanghu Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

The itinerary is at a relaxed pace today. Drive out of town to explore the nearby valley, traverse a mountain pass and visit a local monastery where thousands of brightly coloured prayer flags flutter in the wind. Lunch will be a picnic by a river before returning to Yushu to explore the town's excellent new shops, selling Tibetan items.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Taiyanghu Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Yushu to Serxu (Shiqu)
Today, take a steady drive over the mountain passes to Serxu. Keep a look out for alpine flora along the way, such as Prickly Blue Poppies and the rarer Red Poppy. Nomads graze their herds of yaks in the summer on the high rolling pasture which lies over 3,000 metres. There will be the opportunity to stop and visit nomadic encampments.

In the late afternoon, arrive into Serxu, situated at an altitude of 4,180 metres and located in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. The county is inhabited largely by Tibetans who tend to their large herds of yak and sheep. Recently herdsmen prefer to rear yak as yak meat commands a better price.

There will be time at leisure before dinner with the group in the evening.

The journey from Yushu to Serxu should take around four hours.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Shekewangguo Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Serxu to Garze (Ganzi)
After breakfast, drive across the spectacular Trolha Mountain Range to Garze (known also as Ganzi), situated at an altitude of 2,555 metres. Mountain passes are marked by brilliantly coloured prayer flags and there will be an opportunity to see the remains of one of the region's most important towns in the 17th century, situated at 3,400 metres. Stop at a famous Yellow Sect Monastery, known as Dzochen, where you will have a picnic lunch in the mountains.

On arrival in Garze, view the 15th-century monastery looming over the town, now rebuilt in Tibetan and Chinese style.

Today will involve a long travel day, taking around eight hours in total from Serxu to Garze.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Qingke Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Garze to Xinlong
After breakfast, visit Garze's oldest and most auspicious temple, Den Gompa to see a prayer ceremony for the local people. Afterwards, depart for a beautiful drive of 150 kilometres along the Yalong River, a major tributary of the Yangtze River, to Xinlong, at 3,070 metres. Visit a Bon monastery, the earliest sect in Tibet and also stop at a typical local house which exemplifies the traditional architectural style of three storeys. On arrival into Xinlong, there will be time to check into the hotel and freshen up before dinner.

The journey from Garze to Xinlong should take around three hours.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Buluman Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Xinlong to Litang
Today, drive 210 kilometres to Litang, situated at an altitude of 3,960 metres, lying at the centre of a vast high-altitude grassland where Khampa nomads graze extensive herds of yak and sheep. You will hopefully see a few hand-woven, black yak-hair tents dotting the landscape. Men and women used to spin and then weave yak hair on a horizontal ground loom on the grassland. Weaving was done in late summer once the heavy milking season was over. Today modern new tents are often used instead of the older styled, black, spider-like tents.

Litang town has grand stone houses embellished with traditional Tibetan wood carvings. Take a fascinating walk around the local streets and shops, and meet the Bai silversmiths making Tibetan jewellery. You will also visit the shrine of Litang Chode, the birthplace of the 7th Dali Lama.

The Journey from Xinlong to Litang should take around five hours.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Chuncao Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Litang Clan Horse Festival
Several years ago, there was an annual meeting of the clans at the Litang summer horse fair, which used to extend over at least seven days. Nomads would travel to the fair, meet their friends and participate in horse racing and acrobatic sports. Recently, the fair was cancelled because of clan disputes over prize money, however local clans now organise their own meetings and continue with the horse riding and racing activities. It is a very intimate occasion held in a remote setting, where one can view horse racing, acrobatics and other competitions. The horsemanship on display has to be seen to be believed. Women and girls flock to these events and everyone wears their best chubas and jewellery. It is a unique occasion and a thrilling privilege to be part of the Tibetan throng.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Chuncao Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Litang to Kangding
After breakfast, drive on a relatively new road to Kangding. Located at a height of 2,865 metres, Kangding is the furthest boundary of the Kham cultural zone. The journey passes through valleys and traversing mountain passes with snowy mountains as a constant backdrop.

Today is another long travel day as the journey from Litang to Kangding should take around six hours

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Kangba Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Kangding to Chengdu
Depart this morning for the drive to Chengdu, which is mostly along new motorways. This road is testament to Chinese ingenuity and engineering, with tunnels as long as five kilometres in length having been carved through the mountains. Arrive in Chengdu, a modern skyscraper city, in the late afternoon.

The journey from Kangding to Chengdu should take around five hours.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Holiday Inn, Chengdu, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Fly Chengdu to Beijing

Final day in Beijing
The remainder of the day is at leisure in Beijing for any last-minute shopping, to relax at the hotel or go for a wander and explore the bustling streets of Beijing.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

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

Day 14

Day at leisure in Beijing

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of China

Clare Higginson, Travel Expert

Read More

Paul Craven, Travel Expert

" I spoke to five different companies, but Paul was by far the most knowledgeable and empathetic."

"The service which I received from your Travel Expert Paul Craven was excellent, he was able to answer any queries I put to him."

"Paul must be congratulated on his expertise and great patience in dealing with all my programme changes. He must dread my phone calls!! A big thank-you from both of us to Paul and Carol."

Read More

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 several books.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 5 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Gina Corrigan

Departure Date (S):

  • 23rd July 2020

Holiday Ideas in China

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey


  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides


  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates


  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom