This tour has been designed to give you a full insight of Tibetan Culture and its amazing landscapes. The most incredible sights of Tibet are included in this well-organized program which allows you to immerge completely in the mystery of this Asian High Land. Winter Special Tour of Tibet makes it possible to explore the major landmarks in Lhasa and around even in winter time. You will witness the splendor of Samye Monastery, Namtso Lake and major cities of Tibet including Gyantse and Shigatse.
Day 1 Arrive Lhasa (3660m) & drive to Tsedang (3550m) - 183km
Day 2 In Tsedang - Yarlung Valley & Samye monastery
Day 3 Tsedang - Lhasa via Mindroling - 200km
Day 4 Lhasa Sightseeing
Day 5 Lhasa Sightseeing
Day 6 Day excursion to Namtso Lake
Day 7 Day tour to Ganden and Tsurpu
Day 8 Gyantse (3950m) 261 km
Day 9 Drive Gyantse - Shigatse (3900m) 90 km
Day 10 Drive Shigatse – Lhasa (280 km)
Day 11 Day excursion to Drak Yerpa Caves
Day 12 Depart Lhasa
Arrive Lhasa (3660m) & drive to Tsedang (3550m)- 183 km
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 1.5 hours to reach the old city. A 2-hour drive from Lhasa passing through barley and wheat fields brings you to the third largest city in Tibet, Tsedang. En route Tsedang you stop at Nyethang, a temple built in 10th century by Atisa, an Indian Buddhist. The temple contains interesting artifacts and hold significant importance in Tibetan Buddhism..
In Tsedang –Yarlung Valley and Samye Monastery
Today you visit Yarlung Valley .According to ancient Tibetan history, Tibetan civilization originated from Yarlung valley. Over there you can spot massive burial mounds of Tibetan Kings. Today’s sights also include Tandruk monastery, a 7th century monastery, which holds a fantastic carved wooden 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, along the Tsangpo river on a boat to Samye Monastery. 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 775 AD and modeled on the University of Otantapuri in India, it was planned as a representation of the universe. .
Tsedang-Lhasa via Mindroling
Traveling from Tsedang to Lhasa you stop at Mindroling, a 10th century monastery, rebuilt in 1676 A.D. and highly reputed for its contribution towards astronomy, astrology, medicine and calligraphy. The murals on the wall have special significance and show the typical Tantric arts. Another distinctive feature of Mindroling monastery is the fact that the monks who reside there can have wives and children. .
Today you will be taken for a sightseeing tour to Lhasa. On your awe-inspiring visit to Sera monastery, you are introduced to the important aspects of Buddhism. After lunch, you pay a visit to Norbulinka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Jokhang temple provides yet another exciting and educative tour. Wandering around Barkhor market is another major highlight of the day. .
In the morning, after breakfast, you will set off to view the majestic Potala Palace, which towers above the city of Lhasa. You get to see an overwhelming array of intricate Tibetan murals, temples, stupas, and the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas. After lunch, you will be taken on a visit to beautifully landscaped Drepung monastery. At the monastery you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses. .
Day excursion to Namtso Lake
Today you will be taken on an excursion to one of the most beautiful places in Tibet, Namtso Lake. In Tibetan, Namtso means 'Heavenly Lake.' It is one among the three holy lakes in Tibet. Namtso Lake is at an altitude of 4720m. It covers a vast area of about 757 square miles. The crystal-clear water of this lake and the scenic beauty of its surrounding are sure to leave you spellbound..
Day tour to Ganden and Tsurpu
Today you will be taken to two very famous monasteries, Ganden and Tsurpu. Ganden monastery was founded in 1409 by Je Tsongkapa, the founder of the Gelupka (Yellow Hat) sect. This monastery is the first Gelug monastery in Tibet. It lies 57 km east of Lhasa. Besides its typical Tibetan style, it is three times as large as Potala Palace. The Tsurpu monastery situated at an altitude of 4300m has a history of 800 years. Located high in the tributary of the Tolung Valley, the huge temples and chanting halls of Tsurphu monastery has been rebuilt from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution..
Gyantse (3950m) 261 km
After passing through beautiful valleys and colorful Tibetan villages you arrive in the town of Gyantse. In Gyantse you will visit the Gyantse Dzong and Gyantse Kumbum. The Dzong is a fort dating from the 14th century. From there you can enjoy the spectacular views of Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed Stupa and its many small chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals. En route you will be escorted to visit Shalu Monastery founded in 11th century and noted for its 14th century murals which fuse Chinese, Mongol and Nepali style..
Drive Gyantse - Shigatse (3900m) 90 km
After exploring Gyantse, you will take a 90 km drive to Shigatse. Having driven to an average altitude of 3900m, you find yourself at Shigatse, the second largest city of Tibet. Tashilhunpo monastery being one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet is the major attraction of Shigatse. .
Drive Shigatse to Lhasa (280km)
After hearty breakfast at hotel you will be guided to explore the local market and the Tashilhunpo Monastery. This monastery offers a great opportunity to explore the Tibetan art in its high surrounding walls. After detailed visit of Shigatse you will drive via shorter road to Lhasa..
Day excursion to Drak Yerpa caves
The Drak Yerpa caves are about an hour’s drive to the northeast of Lhasa. Songtsen Gampo meditated here, as did Padma Sambhava and several of his disciples. The site is strongly associated with Jowo Atisha and the early Kadampa masters..
You will be transferred 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).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.
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.
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.
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.
We use the best 4WD Land cruisers 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.
A TYPICAL DAY – OVERLAND DRIVE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RESCUE & 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, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation.
One should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip that takes you into one of the remotest corners 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.
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.
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.
In addition to your Lhasa trip, if you desire, we can organize trip extensions both within Tibet and Nepal and other neighboring countries. After the completion of your Lhasa tour, you can visit other Tibetan cities like Gyantse & Shigatse or take an excursion to Namtso Lake or trek around the magnificent Mt. Kailash & Lake Manasarovar.
You can take the famous railway journey (highest in the world) from Lhasa to Beijing. You can also try white water rafting or a jungle safari in Nepal or take a Nepal Cultural Tour. You may as well take a trip to India or Bhutan, whichever appeals more to you.
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
It was an unexpected pleasure meeting you in Lhasa, I appreciated all your efforts to make this trip a great success and look forward to future travels with the professional team of Explore Himalaya.
Both the Nepalese crew with Nyima in charge and the Tibetan crew with Penba overseeing the various arrangements were excellent. There isn’t one critical comment I could make on any level and the service was always Five Star. On top of the expert ground support the skies stayed clear the entire time and everyone stayed healthy with no real problems getting the group over the Drolma La.
Your complimentary dinner at the Du Ghood on the last evening was a very thoughtful gesture and much enjoyed by all, a finishing touch to an amazing journey. A million thanks for making our 2006 Tibet trip a memorable experience of a lifetime
With Best Regards, “
- Brian Finnie, Canada
It was an unexpected pleasure meeting you in Lhasa, I appreciated all your efforts to make this trip a great success and look forward to future travels with the professional team of Explore Himalaya.