This tour gives you an insight into the rich culture and history of Lhasa.
An enlightening tour that gives you an insight into the rich culture and history of Lhasa.
Lhasa, most popularly known as ‘Sunlight City’, is regarded as the heart and soul of Tibet. It is the most sought after tourist destination in Tibet. Two blissful days are packaged in your trip for exploring the charismatic wonders of Lhasa. Visits to the white and ochre fortress of Potala Palace and Jokhang temple can be a spiritually rejuvenating experience. Potala Palace, a UNESCO world heritage, features an overwhelming array of intricate murals, temples, stupas, tombs of eight past Dalai Lamas, exquisite Tibetan mandalas and other relics of Tibetan history. Jokhang temple lying 2 km to the east is another Tibetan religious site. In the Buddhist monastries of Sera and Drepung will get to see the monks and get an insight into their lifestyle. Exploring Barkhor market gives you an insightful glimpse into Tibetan culture. As you wander around the markets, you witness Tibetan art, culture, custom and tradition. With so much to see and explore in Lhasa, this will truly be an unforgettable experience.
Day 1 Arrive in Lhasa (3660m) – I hr 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 Depart Lhasa
Arrive in Lhasa
We can arrange your arrival in Lhasa from anywhere. You can either join the trip from Kathmandu and fly to Lhasa or arrive Lhasa from Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Xian or any nearby hub. You will be met at Gonggar Airport by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities, you will be driven to Lhasa (3650m). It takes around one and half hour to reach the old city. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude.
Note: There is no fixed program arranged for today.
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 Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, you will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. You will also pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of 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..
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 every day, the order of sightseeing places will be decided upon by your guide.
You will be driven to the airport in time to catch your flight home..
ARRIVAL IN LHASA
Tibet is connected by railway line from Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Xining and Shanghai. Air China and Sichuan Airlines operate regular flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa. 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.
Visa & Entry Procedure
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 from Monday to Friday (9am – 11am) in Kathmandu, and it takes 4 days for visa processing. We will need your original passport 1 day before the visa processing day.
VIA MAINLAND CHINA
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 maximum 12 & 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 number apply.
If you would like to travel independently or with your friends, families and colleagues you are invited to choose any of our trips at your convenient time frame for any number of people (min 1 to 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).
In Lhasa you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable English speaking Tibetan guide, who will not only act as an interpreter but will also provide a valuable insight into the Tibetan way of life.
Tibet is becoming more expensive every year. There are many shops in Lhasa with amazing handicrafts and we recommend you to bring extra money for souvenirs. Lunch and dinner are not included so you should expect to spend around 25-35US$ per day for food.
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.
Lhasa's catering business is developing. Besides the local dishes, a wide array of Chinese, Continental, Indian and Nepalese cuisine are available at the eateries in Lhasa. But while in Lhasa, you can as well try the local delicacies like Tibetan sausage, high-land barley wine and yak butter, beef and mutton, tongue of yak served with sauce, tsampa, various kinds of cookies and sweat tea, yoghurt, roasted sausage, dried meat, shapu (mashed meat), thentuk (Tibetan noodles) etc.
Communication facilities in Lhasa have improved over the past few years. The hotels whose services we use in Lhasa have international IDD phone and fax services. Phone calls can also be made from public booths. Internet cafes are also available, check with your guide for the best cyber cafes in Lhasa. You can also have a roaming facility added to your mobile phone as they work fine in Lhasa. If you buy a Chinese sim card, you could stay in touch with your family and friends. Please contact us for the latest facilities and schemes on Chinese mobile phones.
CLIMATE & BEST TIME TO GO
Lhasa lies in a small basin and the topography is plain. The climate of the city is generally mild. Lhasa is known as the "sunshine city", as the city is sunnier than the other Tibetan cities. The average temperature of the city, throughout the year is about 8 degree C. The annual rainfall is 500 mms and the rainy months are July, August and September. Summer and autumn are the most comfortable time in Lhasa. The best time to visit is from April to November.
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.
Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. Tibet is known as the 'roof of the world'. Owing to its high elevation, the air in Tibet is very thin. In order to let your body acclimatize, we have not included any tour program on the first day. It would be advisable for you to take it easy on the day you arrive. Drink plenty of fluids and relax. If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, we highly recommend you to consult your doctor prior to your trip booking. We suggest that you take some pain-killing pills with you and enough medicine for cold, diarrhea, nausea and fever.
Before joining a tour, we recommend you to take a travel insurance which should cover cancellation, medical expenses, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation.
Lhasa's Main Attractions
Potala Palace is situated at the west of old Lhasa, atop the "Moburi (Red) Mountain". In 1994, the Potala Palace was declared the United Nations World Cultural Heritage site. It was originally built in the 640's, during the reign of King Songstan Gampo. The 13-story palace stands 117m high and has over 1,000 rooms. Covering an area of 130,000 sq meters, the entire building is made of stone and wood. The palace is widely known for its treasures, which includes sculptures, murals, ancient Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, Buddha figures, antiques and jewelry. These are of great cultural and artistic value.
The Red Palace contains various chapels and mausoleums for previous Dalai Lamas. The White Palace contains the living quarters of successive Dalai Lamas and their tutors. The offices of the old Tibetan government and their assembly halls are also located here. The original Potala was destroyed in the 9th century, during the breakdown of the Tubo Kingship era. It was rebuilt during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama and completed in the late 17th century.
Jokhang Temple is located in the centre of old Lhasa city. It was originally built in 647 AD. It is said the site was chosen personally by the wife of King Songstan Gampo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng. It was built by craftsmen from Tibet, China and Nepal and thus features different architectural styles.
The Jokhang is the spiritual centre of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. In the central hall is the Jokhang’s oldest and most precious object-a sitting statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, when he was 12 years old. It is a gilded statue adorned with many jewels, in an elaborate setting. Pilgrims have prostrated themselves in front of this statue for centuries.
Drepung Monastery lies in the west of Lhasa under Mt.Gambo Utse. Built in 1416, it is considered as one of the largest monasteries in the six principle monasteries of Gelu Sect. Drepung Monastery used to be the living palace of Dalai Lamas before the reconstruction of Potala palace. This magnificent monastery resembles a huge walled city. From its roofs, one can enjoy the scenic view of Lhasa city. As the most powerful of the "Gelukpa" monasteries, Drepung had seven colleges and, at its height, housed over 10,000 monks.
It owns many splendid murals, elaborate statues and other rich treasures. A giant golden statue of Buddha "Jiangba Tongzhenma" sits near the precious conch shell. During the building of the foundation of Drepung, Tsong Khapa discovered a magical white conch shell with counter clockwise swirls, believed to be buried by the Sakyamuni Buddha. Tsong Khapa bestowed this religious treasure to Drepung, and it can still be seen today in the "Great Sutra Chanting Hall".
Norbulingka is the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama. Located in the west of Lhasa, Norbulingka was built in 1755 A.D. It covers an area of 46 acres, with 370 rooms of different sizes.
Barkhor Street is found in the heart of Lhasa. It means "a pilgrim's inner circuit", and is the oldest street in Lhasa. Barkhor Street is an essential pilgrim route. It bustles with activity and is always jam-packed with trade people. The market is "a must visit site" for souvenir-hunting tourists. Many people call the Barkhor "the window of Tibet" as it offers a typical reflection of Tibetan life. The old circumambulation circuit is always crowded with pilgrims. Here you will find people from all over Tibet.
Sera Monastery - Sera means "Hailstone" in Tibetan. Legend has it that hail stones rained while laying the foundation of this famous monastery. Sera was the last of the three principal Yellow Sect monasteries to be built in Lhasa. It was completed in 1419 A.D, under the supervision of Shaka Yeshe. Shaka Yeshe traveled to Beijing and as far as Mongolia to preach Buddhism. He was given the title "The Tutor of the Empire", by the Ming Emperor, Xuan De.
Many precious gifts were sent to Sera by the Chinese Emperors, many of which are kept well preserved and can be seen at Sera to this day. Sera comprises a great sutra chanting hall, a college and 32 sections. It once housed nearly 10,000 monks.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
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 is Tibetan 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. Tibetans 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.
Losaror “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, celebrated on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month, is an occasion for outdoor operas. You can see many pilgrims at the Jokhang Temple and Mount Kailash.
Gyanste Damang (Gyantse Horse Racing and Archery), celebrated in May/June, honors 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. 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 away from their bodies and enjoy good health in the following year.
1) Traveling in Tibet is an adventure. A little bit of flexibility is required from your side. 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 reached, 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.
3) If you cancel, the following scale of charges will apply:
Dates 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
The trek guide was very experienced and knowledgeable. The hotels we stayed in were strategically located. The hotel’s staff were all friendly and helpful. Generally we are satisfied. Explore Himalaya’s staff were all responsible and friendly. Good!