Ganden Monastery To Samye Monastery Trek

This trek gives you a real taste of Tibetan highland adventure and an insight into Tibetan Buddhism. Interspersed with excursions to ancient monasteries, this trek is also recommended for the aficionado of Tibetan theology.

Trekking in Tibet offers you an altogether different experience. As you hike along the rugged Tibetan terrain, you will be greeted with sights so different and new: from the arid Tibetan topography that resembles a lunar landscape to the ancient villages with their colorful prayer flags and magnificent monasteries. As you traverse along the 80km trekking trail that skirts barley fields and nomadic pastureland, you get an opportunity to observe Tibetan lifestyle at close quarters and experience the real Tibet. Before your Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery trek commences, you will be taken on a sightseeing tour to Lhasa.

During the trek you will be supported by an expert and dedicated trekking crew. With them you cross two high passes in the Tsotup Chu Valley, Shug La (5250m) and Chitu La (5100m). You will also get to explore the many monasteries that lie along the trekking trail. The chief highlight of this trek is the trekking trail which connects the two important monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, Ganden and Samye. Ganden Monastery, which lies 45 km east of Lhasa, is the first monastery of the Gelugpa sect. Built by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa order, the monastery is renowned as one of the biggest and most important Gelugpa monasteries in Tibet. The Samye monastery with its gleaming facade is reached by crossing the Tsangpo river.  Founded in 779 AD by Trisong Detsen, the monastery has a collection of pagodas and temples.

Excursions to the Tandruk Monastery (which holds wonderful specimen of Tibetan art) and the Yambulakang castle (the home of the Yarlung Kings) are also included in your itinerary.

Outline Itinerary

  • Day 1 Arrive in Lhasa (3660 m) - 45 minutes drive from Gonggar airport to Lhasa – 93 km
  • Day 2 Sightseeing in Lhasa - (Sera Monastery, Norbulingka, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Square)
  • Day 3 Sightseeing in Lhasa - ( Drepung Monastery and Potala Palace)
  • Day 4 Drive from Lhasa to Ganden (4500m) 45 km – Ganden Monastery
  • Day 5 At Ganden for acclimatization
  • Day 6 Trek to Yama Do
  • Day 7 Trek to Tsotup Chu Valley across 5250 meter Shug La.
  • Day 8 Trek to Herder's Camp
  • Day 9 Trek to Wango – (Yamalung Hermitage)
  • Day 10 Trek to Samye & drive to Tsedang (before leaving Samye visit to Samye Monastery)
  • Day 11 Explore the Yarlung Valley – (Tandruk Monastery)
  • Day 12 Drive to Gongkar Airport and Depart


  • Hotels with breakfast
  • All Required transportation
  • English speaking Tibet Guide
  • Monastery entry fees
  • All trekking equipments
  • All meals during trekking
  • Tibet permit
  • Yak & Yak Men required during trek


  • Sleeping bags
  • Any international airfare and airfare tax
  • Tips, expenses of personal nature
  • Client's Insurance

Detailed Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Lhasa (3660 m)

    You will be met at Gonggar Airport by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities, you will be driven to Lhasa (3650 meters). It takes around 45 minutes to reach the old city. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest and take it easy. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude. Note: There is no program arranged for today..

  • Day 2

    Sightseeing in Lhasa

    After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take you on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and the Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, you will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. You pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of the Dalai Lama. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornately decorated with Tibetan carvings and paintings. Jokhang temple provides yet another glimpse of the rich Tibetan cultural heritage. You will also get the chance to stroll around the busy Barkhor Square, the nerve centre of Lhasa. After the day’s tour, you will be escorted back to your hotel..

  • Day 3

    Sightseeing in Lhasa

    After an early breakfast, you will be escorted by your guide to the majestic Potala Palace. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. As you are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, you get to see Tibetan art at its best. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues. You will also get to view the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas. Later in the day you will visit the beautifully landscaped Drepung Monastery where you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses. After the day’s tour is over, you are escorted back to your hotel for a well- earned rest. Note: Since only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside the Potala Palace, the order of sightseeing places will be decided upon by your guide..

  • Day 4

    Lhasa / Ganden Monastery (4180m)

    You head along the south bank of the Kyi Chu to Medro Gongkar, towards Ganden. On continuing eastwards you will drive past the Tibet University crossing the Lhasa East Bridge to the gas station. After a 40 km drive from Lhasa, you arrive at Ganden. Ganden Monastery is the first Gelugpa monastery and has remained the main seat of this major Buddhist order ever since. Of all the other monasteries in Tibet, it is Ganden that has suffered the most at the hands of the red guards. Ganden has stupendous view of the Kyi-chu Valley and fascinating kora. The mountains round Ganden provide you a good warming up before the trek.At the south-west corner of Ganden is a large rock draped with prayer flags. You will further spend two nights here to acclimatize and prepare for your forthcoming adventure..

  • Day 5

    At Ganden (4180m) for acclimatization

    Ganden is an interesting place to explore. The ochre walls of many of the buildings make a great backdrop for photographs. A large rocky cleft draped with colorful prayer flags, a religious destination among the locals of Ganden, is worth a visit. The locals can be seen circumambulating (kora) clockwise around this cleft..

  • Day 6

    Trek to Yama Do (4250m)

    You resume your trekking adventure as you trek away from Ganden towards south along the Angor Ri. After ascending for 1 1/2 hours, you see several cairns near a saddle. The trail further leads westwards descending to Hepu village. Here several houses become visible. 3 ½ hours of trekking brings you close to Shug La pass. Ani Panong lies 1 hour away from Hepu. An hour of continuous ascent leads to lush meadows and soon appears Yama Do..

  • Day 7

    Trek to Tsotup Chu Valley across 5250 meter Shug La

    Leaving behind Yama Do, you climb eastwards negotiating boulders along the final climb atop 5250 meters of the Shug La, the highest point on this trail. The pass is distinctively marked with its large cairn wrapped in prayer flags and yak horns. After a brief stop at the pass to savor the grand vistas you make a sharp descent walking past a boulder field. The trail eventually opens into the valley. Up ahead in a distance the trail crosses the Tsotup Chu, a large stream with rich pastures of yaks, goats and sheep. You encounter several herders on the way. After trekking for 4-5 hours, you reach the Tsotup Chu Valley..

  • Day 8

    Trek to Herder's Camp

    As you turn away from Tsotup Chu Valley, you come across main water course following from the south-east and a tributary from the south-west. You take the route along this tributary followed by steep ascents for 30 minutes to a large basin and thereafter, the tributary disappears out of sight. The trail further opens into the valley progressing south to the Chitu La at 5100 meters capped with several cairns. The trail further brushes past a sheer rock wall on its south flank. Thereafter, follows a descent into a basin showcasing three turquoise lakes. Further on, the trail moves on to the west side of the stream and thereon, after 30 minutes approaches campsite. Many herders’ camps can be seen at the nearby locations. Following the rock-strewn valley floor, you will head to a flat seasonal herder's camp in the east side of the valley. Soon after returning to the west side of the valley, you will near another seasonal herders' camp..

  • Day 9

    Trek to Wango

    Traversing through the lush scrub forest along the wide trail, you trek ahead, taking in the refreshing sights of verdant vegetation. The trail is dotted with fragrant junipers growing on southern slopes and rhododendron on the shadier slopes. Further ahead the village of Changtang comes into view, where the majority of the local villagers are engaged in animal husbandry. Yarlung Tsangpo valley can be viewed on the south. You can ascend steeply up to Yamalung Hermitage for one hour. But if you choose not to climb this ascent, you can simply wait near the bridge. Ancient history has it that Guru Rin Poche, after rigorous meditation attained spiritual enlightenment with the blessings from the deity of Amitayus (Tibetan: Tsepame) at Yamalung (also called Emalung). This hermitage houses small temples which shelters monks, sacred springs and stone carvings of 8th Guru Rin Poche, King Trisong Detsen and Indian pundit Shantarakshita. Stone houses come into sight after walking for one hour to the village of Nyango. The trail overlooks the tributary streams cascading from the north-west to join the Samye valley. The old trade route from Lhasa to Samye via the Gokar La follows this valley. The trail further proceeds towards Wango. You further head towards Pisha..

  • Day 10

    Trek to Samye

    Pisha offers picturesque view of the lower Samye valley. At its lower end an undulating hill called Hepo Ri appears into picture. This is regarded very sacred. The trail winds through the ridge of Dragmar towards verdant fields and villages of Samye reviving ancient history. A partially rebuilt palace is nestled on the summit. History boasts that the palace is the birthplace of King Trisong Detsen and had a grand temple in the ancient time. Further off the road, you will find a small red and white temple which is believed to have been built under the shade of white sandalwood tree and nourished by the buried placenta of King Trisong in the ancient time but was chopped off during Cultural Revolution. Further on, the trail overlooking amazing spires leads to Sangbu village. You will find a well trodden track to Samye..

  • Day 11

    Explore the Yarlung Valley

    As you approach Samye Valley, you can visit the Samye monastery bearing panoramic picture. Shortly after this insightful visit, you will drive to Tsedang, the third largest city in central Tibet. On the Southeast of Tsedang, you will get to observe mesmerizing views of mountain Gangpo Ri standing at 4,130 meters above sea level. Tibetans regard this mountain as their legendary birthplace and consider it to be immensely significant. You can eventually rest for the night at a comfortable guest house. You get to explore the Yarlung valley, which is also known as the Valley of Tombs. Ancient Tibetan history boasts that Tibetan civilization was originated from Yarlung valley. You can spot massive burial mounds of Tibetan Kings. Today’s sights include Tandruk (Trandruk) Monastery, a 7th century monastery, which holds fantastic wood carved altar, interesting relics and murals. Yambulakang, the castle perched dramatically on a pinnacle above the valley is the oldest known dwelling in Tibet, reputedly the home of the Yarlung Kings. The view from the castle is awesome. The tour continues to the west of Tsedang, crossing the Tsangpo River on a boat to Samye Monastery, founded in 779 AD, is in a green valley among barren mountains surrounded by a village. Samye Monastery is one of the most imposing sights of Tibet. Built between 763 and 75 AD modeled on the University of Otantapuri in India and planned as a representation of the universe, it has a collection of pagodas and temples..

  • Day 12

    Drive to Gongkar Airport and Depart

    You will be escorted to the airport in time for your flight home..

General Information

Things to remember for all Tourists visiting Tibet

Arriving Lhasa via mainland China:
If you are planning to arrive in Lhasa via mainland China, you would need to apply for your Chinese visa from the Chinese Embassy in your country.

Once you have the Chinese visa, you will need to scan the visa and email it to us along with the copy of your passport. Both the documents should be clear and readable otherwise it will be rejected by the Tibet Travel Bureau in Tibet (TTB).

Please note that you would not be eligible for the Tibet travelling permit without the Chinese visa.

On the basis of the copies of the Chinese visa and passport, we will apply for your Tibet entry permit from the TTB.
With the combination of the Tibet permit and Chinese visa you would be allowed to enter Tibet from the mainland China.

Once your Tibet permit is issued, you can collect it from anywhere in mainland China where you are supposed to arrive or have it delivered at your hotel you would be staying while in mainland China at an extra charge of USD 30 for courier.

Arriving Tibet via Kathmandu or go overland via Zhangmu or Simikot border
On the other hand, if you are planning to fly to Lhasa via Kathmandu or go overland via Zhangmu or Simikot border, you would need to arrive in Kathmandu atleast 2 to 6 days (if you want to apply for the minimum visa - normal charge) before your entry into Tibet.

Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issues visas only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 0900 hrs to 1100 hrs.

Travelers are thus required to arrive in Kathmandu a day prior to the visa issuing days to enable us to get Chinese/Tibet visa for them.
In order to get the Tibet visa, we would need to show your original passport at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. As such, our operating officer who would be at the airport to receive and transfer you to your respective hotel would collect the passport from you and get the visa.


Do not apply for the Chinese visa in your country if you are intending to travel to Tibet via Kathmandu (Nepal). If you had applied for the Chinese visa in your country prior to arrival in Kathmandu, it would be automatically cancelled when we get the Tibet visa for you here in Kathmandu.

The Chinese/Tibet visa you get in Kathmandu is a "group visa" and is not entered in travelers' passports but on a separate sheet of paper - be it one person or a group consisting of two or more persons.

Visa & Entry Procedure

These are subject to change and depend on whether you join the trip in Kathmandu or China. If you are joining the trip in Kathmandu you will need a multiple entry visa for Nepal which can be obtained either from your nearest Nepalese consulate or on arrival in Nepal.

For Tibet, we organize a group visa, and in order to do this we will need a copy of your passport at least 20 days prior to the commencement of your trip, followed by your actual passport five days before the visa issuing days. If you are entering via mainland China you have to obtain Chinese visa from you home country. Visa regulation in Tibet keep changing please ask us for latest Tibet visa information.

Guide & Accommodation

Throughout your time in Tibet you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable Tibetan guide who will not only act as an interpreter but will also provide a valuable insight into the Tibetan way of life.

In Lhasa, accommodation will be at Dhood Gu or similar standard hotel. It is renowned for its hospitality and warm Tibetan atmosphere and is perfectly situated in the centre of town just a few minutes walk from the Jokhang Temple and Barkor. Elsewhere along the route, accommodation will be in the best available hotels. Meals will either be in the hotel or at a restaurant of your choice (where available). Whilst on the road, lunch will be at one of the many Chinese tea shops along the way which generally serve a variety of noodle and vegetable dishes and meat where available.

Transportation in Tibet

The roads in Tibet can at times become quite rough and impassable for many vehicles, It can at times become quite rough and impassable for many vehicles, so for this reason we use best Land cruiser 4WDs (Toyota 4500). These vehicles are extremely reliable and will make the journey as comfortable as possible. As for the trekking and climbing there will be a truck for carrying luggage and trek equipments. We’ll drive for several hours, stopping along the way for photographs or places of special interest, before stopping for lunch at around midday. After lunch we continue our journey, generally arriving at our destination by 3 or 4pm.

Best Time to Visit Tibet

Despite the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau, the daytime temperatures are actually quite mild. Between April and November the average temperature ranges form 15-25 degrees Celsius and the skies are generally clear and blue. From July to August though there can be the odd shower during the day. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius. During the day a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings.

The best time of year for overland tours in Tibet is from April to November and for treks and Mt. Kailash tour from April to the beginning of October.

About Trekking in Tibet

Our all treks and Mt. Kailash tours are fully catered by our qualified and experienced crew from Nepal and a professional English speaking Tibetan guide. Loads are usually carried by Yaks.

A typical day begins with a hot cup of tea brought to the tent at about 6 am, followed by a bowl of hot water for washing. After packing our bags and having a good breakfast, we set off on the morning's walk. All you need to carry is a small daypack containing a water bottle, camera, sun cream, hat, rain-jacket and a warm jumper, just in case. The porters or yaks will carry everything else for you. After walking for 3-4 hours we stop for lunch at around midday. The afternoon's walk is generally shorter and we arrive at camp in time for a nice cup of tea. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent exploring the nearby villages, doing a bit of washing or simply relaxing with a good book. Dinner is usually served between 6 and 7pm and after dinner, the evening is often spent playing cards or talking with the crew – and sometimes there will even be some singing and dancing before heading off to the tent for a well-earned sleep.

Food on Trek

Apart from when you are staying in hotels, your cook will provide 3 tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes. To start the day, breakfast consists of a choice of porridge, muesli and cereal followed by omelet, fried or scrambled eggs with chapattis or bread.

Lunch is generally a selection of salad, cooked vegetable dishes, pasta and traditional breads. After a long day on the trail, dinner is a hearty 3-course meal - soup, followed by a variety of vegetable, meat, rice and pasta dishes and completed with a simple dessert.

Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are also provided at all meals. We use as much fresh produce as possible and our cooks and kitchen crew maintain exceptional standards of cleanliness and food preparation hygiene. Special dietary requirements can always be catered for.


Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. We also recommend that each person carries a basic first aid kit. The main health consideration in Tibet is altitude related illness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times should it be required. We also carry a Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC) on all our Tibet treks and mt. kailash tours in case of altitude sickness.

Hotels in Lhasa are equipped with oxygen. Doctors will also be available on call. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times. If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, we highly recommend you consult your doctor about your suitability for traveling to Tibet before booking. When flying to Lhasa we recommend you rest for the afternoon to help acclimatization. Age is no barrier to enjoy an unforgettable trip to Tibet.

If you have any pre-existing medical condition, please consult your doctor before booking and bring adequate medication for any such condition.

In the case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we believe will not happen; you shall be driven by a land cruiser to nearest Nepal – Tibet border as helicopter is not allowed to fly in Tibet. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back in Kathmandu.

Getting into Tibet

Our tours and treks are based on entry and exit from Kathmandu. However, you can also enter from parts of Mainland China, i.e. Beijing, Chengdu etc.

Air China flies between Kathmandu and Lhasa (Tue, Thu & Sat in 2005) across the mighty Himalayas. This flight offers spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Makalu and many other Himalayan giants. All our trips, which begin by flying into Lhasa, can be joined from Kathmandu, Beijing, Hong Kong, Chengdu or Bangkok (via Chengdu). In the cities above you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. You will then have he chance to see the sights before being transferred to the airport the next day for your flight to Lhasa. Additional accommodation in Kathmandu, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok or Chengdu can be arranged, please ask us for more detail.

Clothing & Equipment

* Down jacket or warm fleece top
* Thermal underwear (top and bottom)
* Cotton shirts (short and long sleeved)
* Warm and cotton trousers
* Sun polarized sunglasses
* Beanie or warm woollen hat and gloves
* Scarf (to keep out dust as well as cold)
* Sandals (flip-flops)
* Towel
* Sleeping bag (for camping/trekking)
* Rain jacket
* Strong sun cream and lip protector
* Moisturizer
* Water bottle
* Camera (and plenty of film and spare batteries)

Happy Explorers

This trip was satisfying. The meeting and handling was excellent. I am very happy with guide Bharat. The itinerary was very good, not too exerting and I enjoyed it. Great arrangement! Looking forward to make many more trips to Nepal through Explore Himalaya

- Nitin Supekar, India Read Testimonials | Submit Your Testimonial

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