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Overview

Discover Lhasa, a place of deep spirituality and intense beauty. Meet pilgrims at Jokhang temple, follow in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama at Potala Palace, witness the debates of Yellow Hat Buddhist monks and much more. With stunning mountains as a backdrop, Lhasa reveals its beauty at every turn. 

Trip Highlights

Lhasa City Break

Discover the ‘Roof of the World’

Be surrounded by towering mountains and highland rivers, the breath-taking landscapes that define Tibet.

See the many faces of Buddhism

Visit monastery’s reflecting the different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, witness religious debates and see faithful pilgrims paying homage. 

Learn Tibetan History

Gain insight into Tibet’s fascinating, and often turbulent, past with visits to historic sites.  

Itinerary

1

Arrival in Lhasa (altitude of 3700 meters)

Estimate distance and journey time: Lhasa airport– Lhasa city (60 km): approx. 1 h *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Welcome to Lhasa, the administrative, political, and religious capital of Tibet! While the city is divided into two areas- the Chinese and the Tibetan halves- this five day Lhasa tour will focus most its time inside the Tibetan region. After an arrival greeting and transfer, settle into the hotel to get acclimated to the change in altitude.

Note: If arriving by plane from Shangri-La (Yunnan) or by train from Qinghai Province, this adjustment period is not necessarily required. As Tibet is considered the “Roof of the World,” it is strongly advised to pack sun cream, lip balm, sunglasses, and to always stay hydrated. Additionally, it is recommended to consult a doctor before visiting to ensure physical capability of climbing to high altitudes (some as high as 5,000 meters.)

Depending on accommodation, either walk or drive to the old town of Lhasa. Lunch will take place in a restaurant with amazing views of Barkhor and the Jokhang Temple, which will be visited just after eating.

To ensure immediate immersion into the Tibetan world, pay a visit to the 8th century Jokhang Temple, boasting both Nepalese and Indian influences. Considered to be the most venerated religious site in Tibet, this temple attracts a daily crowd of pilgrims, which is a great place to get acquainted with the diversity of the region’s peoples. Most notably, the nomadic Amdo or Kham people come dressed in sheepskins, with the men carrying intricately carved knives and the women donning braided hair covered in corals. Devotees travel the Barkhor (“kora” or pilgrimage routes that circumambulates sacred sites), while spinning prayer wheels etched in Buddhist mantras, tirelessly prostrating before the doors of the temple. Dimly lit by hundreds of candles, entrance into the temple is marked by the pungent air of yak butter and the buzz of the monk’s chanting.

Inside are 3,000 icons of the Buddha, deities, or historical figures, with a focal point on the giant gold statue sitting at the temple’s heart.

Continue the Lhasa tour on foot towards the old town, scouting out unique souvenirs to pick up by the end of the trip. From Tibetan hats, Buddhist thangkas (intricate paintings), incense, and more, there is ample opportunities to fill the suitcase. Tibet is also known for its precious stones and fine jewelry; find some beautiful examples at a local handicrafts shop.

Overnight in Lhasa

2

Lhasa

Estimate distance and journey time: Lhasa Potala Palace – Sera monastery (7 km): approx. 15 min *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

No Lhasa tour is complete without a visit to the Potala Palace, the one-time residence of the Dalai Lama (the religious and political leader of Tibet.) A true architectural masterpiece, the Palace magisterially overlooks the entire city of Lhasa from its 130m vantage point. Composed of two main buildings, the Red Palace and the White Palace, the former acts as the religious center housing bejeweled gold chortens and previous Dalai Lama relics, while the latter displays the private apartments of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas (the current Dalai Lama, who fled to India with the arrival of the Chinese army in 1959). Expect to spend at least three hours to explore this labyrinth of staircases, apartments, ceremonial rooms, and chapels.

Embark on a portion of the Kora next to the Palace, for some insight into the life and journeys of a Buddhist pilgrim (many still consider the Potala as a major sacred site despite the absence of its principal resident.)

While there are several sects of Tibetan Buddhism, (Gelug, Sakya, Bonpo, Jonang, Kagyu and Nyingma), the most well-known is the Gelugpa tradition (the Yellow Hats). Three of the six sects’ most important religious centers are found within the Lhasa area. Journey onwards to Sera Monastery (5km from the city center), a Gelug monastery founded in 1419. 600 monks still live in the monastery (opposed to its previous 5,000), devoting every afternoon from 15:30 to 17:00 (except for Sundays) to their famous religious debates; true examples of verbal sparring. Young monks inject their speeches with theatrical gesturing while elders watch and judge their ability to climb the hierarchy.

After a completing the day’s Lhasa tour, return to the hotel & overnight in the city.

3

Lhasa - Ganden (3900m) - Lhasa

Estimate distance and journey time: Lhasa city – Ganden monastery (approx. 40 km): 1h30 Ganden monastery – Drepung monastery (approx. 65 km): 2 h Drepung monastery – Lhasa city (approx. 13 km): 20 min *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Begin Day 3 with a visit to another important Gelugpa visit, the 15th century Drepung Monastery. Translating to “cup of rice,” this name references the many white buildings scattered around the base of Mount Gephei, where Drepung is built. Once the largest monastery in the world, Drepung held 7,000 monks in its prime. The second, third, and fourth Dalai Lamas are buried here; the fifth lived here before building and taking up his residence in the Potala Palace.

Journey onwards to Ganden monastery, the original monastery and stronghold for the Gelug Yellow Hat Sect. Established in 1416 by Tsongkhapa (the Gelug founder), this monastery is perched on top of a hill overlooking the entire Kyi-Chu valley. Innumerable religious texts are found in its chapels, with scores of “printers” at work… dedicated monks conscientiously copying 500 pages of text day (the equivalent of around five books.) Merge again into the trail of the kora, boasting amazing views of the monastery and the valley below.

Transfer back to Lhasa.

Note: This trip is advised only after a 2-3 day acclimation period, as Ganden monastery (3,900 meters) is located 200m higher than Lhasa.

Overnight in Lhasa.

4

Lhasa - Zedang (3600m)

Estimate distance and journey time: Lhasa city – Zedang (approx. 170 km): approx 3h Zedang – Samye temple (approx. 40 km): approx 40 min Samye temple – Yongbulakhang (approx. 60 km): approx 1h15 Yongbulakhang – Zedang (approx. 14 km): 20 min *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Spend the morning journeying alongside the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River to the city of Zedang. It was here in 775 that King Trisong Detsen (who is attributed with the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet) had the Samye Temple built, the first in the country.

After settling into the hotel, pay a visit to this iconic temple, located across the banks of the Yarlung. Take note of its architecture, built in the form of a mandala or ‘circular diagram,’ a design unique to Tibetan Buddhism. The mandala corresponds with an incredibly complex form of 2D or 3D artwork, utilised in an elaborate form of meditation. Its central structure represents Meru Mountain (the Hindu/Tibetan symbol of the center of the universe), while the smaller peripheral temples represent the oceans and the continents. Even its three floors are symbolic, representing the three-way relations between Tibet, China, and India.

Note: A visit to Zedang must precede the temple tour in order to obtain a visitation permit.

Wrap up another brilliant day with a visit to Yongbulakhang, home to the first palace of Tibet. Inside this small “castle” is Tibet’s oldest building, built by the kingdom’s founder and first sovereign, Nyatri Tsenpo. It takes a good half-hour to complete the climb to the viewing platform, ultimately offering spectacular vistas of the Yarlung valley and its checkerboard landscapes.

Overnight in Zedang 

5

Zedang - Airport

Estimate distance and journey time: Zedang – Lhasa airport (approx. 95 km): 2h30 *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Wrap up this inspiring Lhasa tour with a transfer to Lhasa airport (95 km, 2h), conveniently located between Zedang and Lhasa. Direct departing flights from Lhasa now go to Beijing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Chongqing, Shangri-La and Kunming.

We advise that do not talk sensitive politics topic with guide and locals to avoid any unpleasant experience.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Tibet Travel Permit
  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner).
  • English speaking guide(no shopping basis rates) (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits
  • One oxygen metal bottle

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals not mentioned
  • Visa for China
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and domestic flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.

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