Tibet Spirit and Culture
This tour covers some of the most prominent monasteries around Lhasa including the first ever Buddhist monastery and Ancient Kings Palace located in the Yarlung valley, which is also known as the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Your arrival to this holy city will be greeted by impressive and enigmatic Potala palace perched above the sprawling city. Enjoy a few days of rest to acclimatise and become accustomed to the thinner air. Explore the Potala up close, visit the sacred Jokhang temple, sprawling Sera and Drepung monasteries, and walk shoulder to shoulder with devoted pilgrims in the bustling street.
Travel out of the city and deep into the Yarlung Valley - with its historical buildings and hermitage cliffs enjoy the beautiful green grass and farming lands that lie within the natural amphitheatre valley, driving along the stunning turquoise colour lake Yamdrok and blooming Nyenchen Kangsar glacier under the sunny plateau climate. End the tour by visting Namtso lake and overnight on the Tashi Do promontory to complete your intimate experience with Tibet culture, religion, nature and the nomadic lifestyle.
Arrive in Lhasa
Arrive in Lhasa. On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day to relax.
Today we will acclimatize as well as visit some of the important Lhasa sites. Some of the group may also choose to rest and acclimatise, (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The Jokhang Temple is the spiritual heart of Tibet and is Tibet’s most sacred temple. Pilgrims circle the temple day and night, some of them having traversed the extremes of the Tibetan landscape on foot to get here. The temple
was built here in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo when he moved his capital to Lhasa. The Jokhang was originally designed by Nepalese craftsmen to house a Buddha image brought by a Nepalese queen (the King had three Tibetan wives, a Nepalese queen and a Chinese queen). In 2000 the Jokhang was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an addition to the Potala Palace. Outside the Jokhang are flagstones where pilgrims gather to prostrate (unfortunately, this area is getting smaller each year). The rooftop of the Jokhang provides excellent views of Lhasa rooftops and the Potala.
The Barkhor is a devotional circuit, surrounding the Jokhang Temple, where you will see pilgrims who have often come on foot from remote areas of Tibet to visit the Temple. It provides an excellent introduction to the old town of Lhasa.
The Barkhor also houses a market bazaar where people bargain for Buddha images, woodcarvings, carpets, prayer wheels, clothing etc.
The Potala Palace is one of the highlights of a visit to Lhasa. Perched on Red Hill overlooking the town, this massive structure gracefully dominates the landscape and is a true architectural wonder. The palace was founded in 1645 during the reign of the great 5th Dalai Lama. The Palace is divided into two main complexes: the outer white building that housed the administration, and the Red Fort, where chapels, tombs and the living quarters of the Dalai Lama were located. The Potala was inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage List in 1994.
Sera Monastery, 4km north of Lhasa, is famous for its monastic debating. We may be able to watch the debating in the afternoon of our visit (sometimes the debating is cancelled or not open to the public). The monastery was once one of Lhasa’s two great Gelupa monasteries, second to Drepung, housing over 5,000 monks.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Drepung monastery literally means“heap of rice” it is named after its formation of huge numbers of white monastic buildings congested on the hillside that resemble a heap of rice. Drepung is located north of Lhasa on the Mt. Gephel Utse ridge. It was founded by Tsongkapa’s disciple Jamyang Choje Tashi Palden in 1416 and was once one of the world largest monasteries which housed more than 10,000 monks from all over the Tibet.
It is known that the Tsongkapa (the founder of the Gelugpa sect) himself taught at the sites and blessed the new monastery. Later it gradually became one the largest Gelugpa school in central Tibet and it receives monks from every corner of Tibet looking to further study of Tsongkapa teachings.
Lhasa-Samye monastery (3500m), 220km, approx 6hrs
We travel to southern Tibet and enjoy the sights of the fertile Yarlung Valley, following along the Brahmaputra river (Yarlung Tsangpo) meandering through dramatic sand dunes and lonely trees.
Samye monastery with its Mandala style architecture was the very first Buddhist monastery in Tibet built around 775 - 779 AD. We will be spending the night near the monastery with full afternoon exploration around it.
Samye-Chimpu hermitage-Tsedang (3800m), 70km, approx 2hrs
We leave in the crisp morning to visit the Chimpu hermitages - home to a large number of meditation caves and is one of the most popular places for practising self-meditation. With a beautiful walk through the natural amphitheatre valley and a short hike through the solitary caves and tiny trails amidst the scrub bushes, you may get chance to interact with devoted yogis or retreatants in their caves. From the terrace above it offers spectacular views of the Brahmaputra valley below. Then relax the day in Tsedang and have a hot shower in the hotel.
Tsedang-Yamdrok-Gyangtse (3900m), 380km, approx 7hrs
Gyangtse-Shigatse (3800m), 90km, approx 1.5hrs
Retrace the road back towards the airport and then drive continue to the west and meet southern friendship highway at the Chushul Bridge, we climb up the Gampa la(4900m) through a numbers of switch-backs to Gyantse and Shigatse in the western Tibet, from the pass you will amaze by the breathtaking view of the holy Lake Yamdrok and snow-capped Mt.Nyenchen Kangsar in the background, then further following the southern friendship highway along the sprawling lake and glaciers to Gyantse.
The small town of Gyantse is well known as a hero’s town since 1904, when the people from the town defeated the British in the wars at that time.
The giant Khubum stupa bounded by an adobe wall is famous for its old murals and architectural miracle. Both Gyantse and Shigatse are well known for their historical and religious values since ancient times, these regions have a slightly different culture and tradition than that in Lhasa.
Shigatse-Yangpachen-Namtso lake (4600m), 380km, 7.5hrs
Driving through a number of peaceful villages and their farmlands within the Oyuk valley, we traverse the high peak of Shogula pass(5400m) to Yangpachen and the northern nomadic grasslands.
This wonderful valley hidden in the remote northern areas and not yet known for mass tourism, northern Tibet is known as Changthang Drogpa (Northern nomads) with a sparse population of nomads in the vast pastures lands and hundreds of beautiful lakes with abounding wildlife that can only be found in this region.
Namtso lake is one of them, it is one of the holiest lakes as well as the most scenic in Tibet, it is also the world highest saltwater lake.
We will spend a night on the Tashi Do peninsula and enjoy the cold breeze of the mystical lake and breathtaking view of snow-capped ranges all around.
Namtso-Lhasa (3680m), 250km, approx 4hrs
The next day we will drive back to Lhasa and complete the clockwise circumambulation at Lhasa, on this day we will visit a nomad family tent en route. The giant black tent is made up of yak wool and it has a great ability to preserve heat and resist rain that is completely suitable for the plateaus changeable climate. Each tent is a whole complex of kitchen, bedroom, seating room and store room for the family, so spending few minutes with the nomad family give you a special experience of plateau nomadic lifestyle.
Depart from Lhasa
Morning at leisure for last-minute sightseeing and shopping before you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
Haven't seen enough? Add on a trek or tour to somewhere else in this amazing region.
Customise your dates
No group departure dates are scheduled as yet - we are able to customise your dates or work in creating a group to travel with.
Travelling in Tibet
Thousands of people travel to Tibet every year to experience the unique culture and visit some of the highest and most remote areas of the world. One thing you need to consider is the hugely increased altitude on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. This is something that may affect your health and is something to be aware of both in planning and while travelling. There are precautionary measures we take on all tours, and if you have ay specific concerns please speak with us directly.
This itinerary is correct at the time of publishing, however, there are some situations that may change and we cannot guarantee that the itinerary as set out below will be exactly as planned. . What we do promise, is an adventure that you will not forget.
You will be meeting some lovely people, you will be made welcome in people’s homes and you will be travelling to remote places where few westerners have seen before.
Permits are required to travel in most areas of Tibet and the Tibetian Autonomous Region - our tours include all required permits for the itinerary. At times some permits may not be possible and we will discuss other possible arrangements with clients they the need arises.
Minimum Number of travellers - 6
Maximum Number of Travellers - 12
Hotels in Tibet are an experience in their own right - keep your minds open for adventure! Hotels will be 3-4 star rating with some local guest house and a monastery stay
All necessary travel permits to Tibet
Entrance fees for all the sight spots listed in the itinerary
Private transportation in Tibet with experienced local Tibetan driver: comfortable van or 4WD depending on group size (car gasoline is included)
Private guide: English speaking local Tibetan guide
Pick-up and send-off services at the beginning/end of the tour
Oxygen cylinders if required
Lhasa Handy Guide booklet (Easy map of hotels, restaurants, ATM, Supper market and hospital around the Lhasa old town).
Meals: full board meals as remarked in the itinerary
Lodging and meals for guide and drivers;
Travel insurance - a requirement of joining the tour
Expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone call, etc.)
International and domestic flight/train tickets. Please request a quote
Tips for the guide and driver