This tour takes you to the heartland of Tibetan plateau. If you are interested in ancient Tibetan history and culture then this is the trip for you. Starting from the old Tibetan capital Lhasa you will be driven to Gyantse and Shigatse, the two most important cities after Lhasa. As you are driven along the central Tibetan plateau, you will get to see the old forts and citadels of the Tibetan kings, great monasteries with histories as old as Tibet, caves painted with beautiful murals, which were used as retreats by Buddhist monks, and the hardy Tibetans whose faith and belief in Buddhism is woven in their daily life. Scenic vistas like the one at the Yamdrok-tso Lake and the snowy summit of Nazin Kang Sa (7252m) will be a treat for sore eyes.
In Lhasa you will get to visit the imposing Potala Palace, the splendid Norbulingka (summer retreat of Dalai Lama), the magnificent Sera monastery, the holy Jokhang Temple and the busy Barkhor square, the nerve centre of Lhasa.
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..
After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take you on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka, Jokhang Temple 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..
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 the best of Tibetan art . 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 each day, the guide will decide upon the order of sightseeing places..
Traveling by jeep along the Friendship Highway you cross the Khamba La (4794m). the drive offers you stunning views of Yamdrok-tso Lake and the snowy summit of Nazin Kang Sa (7252m). You continue westwards, over another high pass, the Karo La (5045m), where you are treated to the spectacular sight of a huge glacier tumbling down, within a few hundred metres of the road. After passing through beautiful valleys and colorful Tibetan villages you arrive in the town of Gyantse..
Before departing from Gyantse, you will be taken for a guided tour to Gyantse Dzong and Gyantse Kumbum. The Dzong is a 14th century fort, from where you get amazing views of Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed stupa. It has many small chapels which houses an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals. We move on to Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city, which is about 90 km away. .
After breakfast, you will be guided to explore the local market and the Tashilhumpo Monastery in Shigatse. Tashilhumpo Monastery is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet and there is much to explore within its high surrounding walls. After a detailed visit of Shigatse, you will be driven back to Lhasa via a shorter route..
You will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your flight home..
Lhasa is connected by railway line from Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Xining and Shanghai.
Air China operates flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa (Tue, Thu & Sat - 2008). This flight offers spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Makalu and many other Himalayan giants. We will organize your pick up once you reach Lhasa and drive you to your hotel.
For Tibet, we organize a group visa, and in order to do this we will need a copy of your passport at least 30 days prior to the commencement of your trip. Tourism regulations in Tibet are subject to change without prior notice. As per current regulation Chinese Embassy issues visa on Monday, Wed and Fri (9am – 11am). Hence, we will need your original passport 1 day before the visa processing day. Those entering Tibet from mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Guilin etc) have to get Chinese visa from their country (please ask us for the best way of doing it).
We bring together a small group of like minded people. During the trip, not only do they gain a memorable and insightful travel experience but also get an invaluable opportunity to interact with each other. On our fixed scheduled departures, group comprises of maximum12 & minimum 2 persons. You are likely to join a group from different countries. Average age ranges from early 20s to mid 50s.For private trips, no minimum and maximum apply. If you would like to travel independently or with your friends, families and colleagues you are invited to choose any of the trips at your convenient time frame for any number of people (min 1 max 100 at a time).
In Lhasa, you will stay in a 3 star hotel. The hotel is renowned for its hospitality and warm Tibetan ambience. It is conveniently situated in the centre of town, just a few minutes walk from the Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Square. If you would like to book a single room, please do inform us. A supplement charge will incur in that case. (Up gradation to 4 & 5 star available on request).Elsewhere during the trip, accommodation will be in the available hotels, your guide book the rooms on arrival. If rooms are not available at specified hotel, he will book a room at another similar category hotel. We shall try our best to provide the best accommodation available but please do keep in mind that you are taking an adventure tour, and sometimes the arrangement may be basic. Traveling in Tibet is a fantastic experience but sometimes you have to put up with a bit of discomfort. To enjoy this trip you need to have an adventurous spirit and the ability to overlook minor discomforts.
Communication facilities in Tibet have been improved over the past few years. All the hotels we use in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse have international IDD phone and fax services. Phone calls can also be made from public booth in bigger towns. Internet cafes are also available at bigger towns, check with your guide for the best cyber cafes in each town.
You can also have a roaming facility added to your mobile phone as mobile phones work fine in Tibet. If you buy a Chinese SIM card at the border, you could stay in touch with your family and friends most of the time. Please ask us for the latest facilities and schemes on Chinese mobile phones. For latest updates, you can also consult our website- www.explorehimalaya.com.
Climate and best time to visit
The best time for this tour is from April to November. 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.
Clothing & accessories
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. Keep a scarf handy as some of the roads can be dusty. While visiting sites and exploring during the day, keep yourself covered from the UV rays with a sun hat or cap and sunscreen lotion or cream.
Besides Chinese Yuan, only US dollars can be accepted in Tibet. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China (exchange rate between USD & RMB is 1:7.5 at the time of writing this text). While changing money at the local money exchange centers, please make sure that you are accompanied by your guide and do consult him as you may easily be duped with counterfeit notes.
Tibet is becoming more expensive every year. There are many shops in Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse that sell traditional Tibetan handicrafts. We recommend you to bring extra money to spend on souvenirs.
Tips are appreciated by your support team, after completion of the trip. The amount you give depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. For this you can allocate around 5% of your total tour cost.
Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you to consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. The main health consideration in high altitude is 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. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times. Our itinerary will allow your body to acclimatize properly and to handle the low oxygen rate.
Rescue and Evacuation
In case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we hope will not happen, you shall be transferred to the nearest hospital. 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.
Before joining a tour, we recommend you to take a travel insurance which should cover cancellation, medical expenses and emergency repatriation.
One should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip that takes you into one of the remotest corner of the Tibetan plateau, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in the itinerary. Depending on the prevailing situation, the itinerary can be modified to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of tour completion should always coincide with the original itinerary.
We use the best 4WD Land cruisers (Toyota 4500) for the overland drive across the Tibetan highland. These vehicles are extremely sturdy, spacious and reliable and they make the journey as comfortable as possible.
After breakfast, we begin our day's drive at about 9am. 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.
The Tibetans are classified as belonging to the Mongoloid family of people. They are probably descendents of a variety of nomadic tribes who migrated from the north and settled along sedentary cultivation of Tibet’s river valleys. The Tibetans living within the borders of present day Tibet are easily identified by their distinctive dialects, social customs and dress. The Topas live in the highland regions (Lato and Ngari), the Tsangpas in the West Tibet (Tsang), the Upas live in central Tibet, the Horpas comes from the north (Nagchu/Jangtang), the Kongpowas from the south, the Khampas live in the east, the Amdowa in the northeast, and the Gyarongwa in the extreme east.
Travelers to Tibet inevitably find Tibetans to be friendly and possessing a great sense of humor. It is appreciated when you try and use Tibetan language when communicating with Tibetans. The further from Lhasa you travel, the more often Tibetan is used. Religion is extremely important to the majority of Tibetans, and travelers should endeavor to respect their customs and beliefs. Always circumambulate Buddhist religious sites or monastery in a clockwise direction, and when in a monastery do not wear a hat, smoke or touch frescoes.
In addition, refrain from climbing onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects They are warm and friendly people. Some speak a bit of English and are happy to have a chat with you. Don't photograph people without permission, and be aware that some locations prohibit photography without a fee.
Losar or “New Year” is celebrated in the month of February by the Tibetans. During Losar, Buddhist monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity at monasteries. People exchange various goods and gifts among them. Families organize feasts and perform dances.
Saga Dawa (Buddha’s Birthday), celebrated on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month, is an occasion for outdoor operas and to see many pilgrims at the Jokhang Temple and Mount Kailash.
Gyanste Damang (Gyantse Horse Racing and Archery), celebrated in May/June, honours the Tibetan marksmanship while riding at full tilt. Horse riding and archery competitions are held during this festival.
Samye Dholdhe Festival is celebrated in the month of June, as pilgrims and monks from distant monasteries journey to Samye to watch masked dances and obtain blessings of Buddha.
Zabling Chi Sang (World Incense Day) is a special day dedicated to pray for peace in the world.
Ganden Khi-khu (Ganden Thangka Festival) is celebrated in July to honor the founder of the Gelugpa sect.
Karma Durba (Bathing Week) is celebrated in August/ September. During the festival, the Lhasans flock to the waters of the Kyi Chu River which literally means “Changing the stars” in the belief that if they bathe all week, they will drive evil spirits from their bodies and enjoy good health in the following year.
In addition to the Central Tibet tour, we can organize trip extensions both within Nepal and other neighboring countries. You may want to try white water rafting or go on a jungle safari in the deep jungles of Chitwan or take a cultural tour. You may as well take a trip to India or Bhutan, whichever appeals more to you. Please ask us for details or check our website www.explorehimalaya.com.
1) It is fundamental you acknowledge that this is an adventure tour. This requires some flexibility. The day to day itinerary can be taken only as a guideline. We cannot be held responsible for any delays caused by international or domestic flights, strikes, Government regulations, weather or natural calamities etc. In such cases, Explore Himalaya shall provide suitable alternatives which could be decided upon mutual agreement. If an agreement cannot be made, Explore Himalaya shall only be responsible for refunds after deducting the expenses already incurred.
2) Your booking will be confirmed by email once we receive your deposit of US$ 500 and the signed copy of booking form and contract.
The balance is due no later than two months prior to departure. If you book a tour less than 2 months prior to departure, you must send the full payment within 7 days of confirmation by us.
Those joining the tour in Kathmandu can pay the balance on arrival.
3) If you cancel, the following scale of charges will apply:
Date Of Cancellation (Charge incurred)
2 months before departure - loss of deposit (US$ 500)
29 days to 2 months before departure - 30% of total trip cost
10 to 28 days before departure - 60% of total trip cost
Less than 10 days before departure - 100% of total trip cost
If you still have any questions regarding this trip, please feel free to contact us. We answer all enquiries within 24 hours (Sunday to Friday). If you want to book a trip, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us directly by phone: 977-1-4418-100.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.