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12 Days All the Best of Tibet Highlights Tour

Tour Route: Lhasa-Nyingtri-Tsedang-Gyantse-Shigatse-Lhasa

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Trip Overview:

Start in Lhasa, this fantastic tour will take you to the eastern part of Tibet to discover the diversity of Tibetan landscape in Nyingtri. Then continue to Tsedang, discover the mystery of Tibetan Buddhist in Tibet’s most revered Palaces and Monasteries.

Afterwards you may get lost in the endless Tibetan landscape when drive along Tsangpo River. Besides the famous monasteries in Gyantse and Shigatse, it makes an unforgettable memory when gazing on the magnificent north face of the world’s tallest peak Mt. Everest.

  • Tour Code:
    TTO-PT-LE12
  • Max Altitude:
    5,200 m
  • Tour Type:
    Private tour with private guide and vehicle
  • Phisycal Demand:

    Phisycal Demand Level Guide:
    1. Easy (1 point) - suitable for all level of fitness, family with kids and senior groups.
    2. Moderate (2-3 Points) - suitable for those having average level for fitness, family with kids bigger than 12 years.
    3. Moderate to Strenous (4 Points) - suitable for those physically fit and have experiences of high altitude trekking.
    4. Strenuous (5 Points) - suitable for adventures and individual with physically fit and healthy.

  • Season:
    springSpringSummerSummerautumnAutumn

Hightlights:

  • Fully explore the sunlight city Lhasa with its well-known ,palace of Potala and holy monasteries of Jokhang, Sera and Drepung.
  • Follow monks, mendicants and fellow pilgrims around the Barkhor, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit.
  • Take a prefect photo of Draksum-tso, a sublime alpine lake with a fairy-tale island monastery.
  • Pay a visit to Tsedang, soak up the fabulous location and spectacular circular complex of Samye, and hike the Yarlang Valley, explore the iconic Yumbulagang.
  • Marvel at the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
  • Climb the dazzling Gyantse Kumbum, a monumental chorten with mural-filled chapels.
  • Worship before a 26m gold Buddha at Tashilumpo Monastery, a walled complex the size of a village.
  • Sleep in nomad tents and gaze upon the north face of Mt. Everest.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa, get the first impression of Tibetan daily life

Welcome to the roof of the world. Your Tibet journey starts with a warm Tibetan style greeting from your local tour guide who will present you with Hada (traditional Tibetan scarves). Then be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city at the comfort of your own private vehicle. For most of the way, you follow the Kyichu River, you could see Tibetan homes with their trapezoid shaped windows and fluttering prayer flags, and Tibetans walking beside the roads wearing their distinctive national costumes.

Do have a comfort stop near Nietang Buddha where a giant statue of Buddha has been carved out of a stone cliff-face centuries ago. One of the first buildings you could see as you enter the city is the Potala Palace, sitting majestically on a hill dominating Lhasa. Stay at the hotel after arrival for adapting to the high attitude. It is helpful to take things easy for the first few days, and try to drink some water just and now.

Day 2: Lhasa highlights escorted tour

After breakfast, we go to the Potala Palace, a golden feather upon the roof of the world, which Tibetans proudly claim to be the prime miracle since the creation of this world. It is visible from any distance, with the golden roof shinning in the sun, spend one hour wondering around the inside of this magnificent building exploring the rooms previously used by the Dalai Lama and the many Buddhist icons within.

In the afternoon we go inside of the Jokhang. The Jokhang, like most of the larger temple structures have numerous individual temples within it dedicated to specific enlightened beings, protectors, high lamas, or saints. Images, both sculpted and painted, are everywhere. Every inch of wall and ceiling is brightly painted with images of clouds, beings, mandalas, or decorative patterns. Colorful silk banners, three stories high, hang in various places. Color, pattern, and images crowd in around you. The central image inside the building is a 30-foot high gilded image of Maitreya Buddha.

Then stroll around the back alleys of the Barkhor area of Old Lhasa. The streets smelled of yak butter and incense while hordes of pilgrims shuffled along the main Kora (circumambulations) around Jokhang Temple. If someone just walked at a normal pace, one kora would take about 15-20 minutes.

Day 3: Drepung and Sera Monastery

In the morning have a tour for Drepung, the ever largest monastery with more than 10 thousand monks, Buddhist debates often occur there. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the monastery the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given its name which, in the Tibetan language, means Monastery of Collecting-Rice. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks there.

The afternoon is spent touring Sera Monastery, have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there, in the afternoon, visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Catch the famous debate session of the monks before returning back to Lhasa.

Day 4: Lhasa to Draksum-tso

Start this morning with a visit to Gandan Monastery. Have a hiking around Gandan around one hour, it is a simply stunning walk and should not be missed. There are superb views of the Kyi-chu Valley along the way and there are usually large numbers of pilgrims and monks offering prayers, rubbing holy rocks and prostrating themselves along the path.

Then continue our way to beautiful alpine lake called Draksum-tso. Apart from the sheer beauty of the lake and its surrounding 6000m peaks, the site has strong connections to Gesar of Ling, the semimythical ruler of eastern Tibet, and Guru Rinpoche, the Indian sage, both of whom are said to have resided at the lake. 3,500 meters above sea level, it originates from Nyching Tangha Mountain and is a dozen kilometers long. Snow-covered mountains, glaciers and trees are reflected upon the lake’s rippling surface. There are small islands in the middle of the lake with Buddhist temples built upon them, which are an organic fusion of dozens of types of flora and a sprinkle of holy sights.

Camps in a lodge near the lake, picnic with the Tibetans by the lake.

Day 5: Draksum-tso - Bayi Town - Lulang Forest Sea - Milin

Enjoy the clear morning by the lake, and snap the amazing view of sunrise. You could have a small kora around the charming Tsodzong Monastery, the highlights of Draksum-tso, a small Nyingmapa chapel sited on a photogenic island just off the southern shore. It passes many hard-to-discern holy sites, including a tree said to resemble a conch horn, a sky-burial site, a “body print” of Gesar, an underground treasury of the Karmapa, a tiger print and a tree whose leaves bear magical symbols.

Then continue drive to Bayi, visit the Lamaling Temple and a huge cypress tree over a thousand years old. Take a break and take a stroll in the surprisingly modern city. You will have a chance to see Lulang Forest far away from Lulang Sightseeing Plat. The species of tree and vegetation are very rich here with a large number of birds resting and living within the Lulang forest.

Then continue trip to Milin, where is 65km south of Baiyi.

Day 6: Milin to Tsedang (360km)

Drive 360km to Tsedang from Milin, on the way, you will see the beautiful scenery of Tibetan Villages and harmony countryside views. You will visit Chongkang Village and Tashi Zong Palace. Chongkang Vaillage is the home of 13th Dalai Lama and Tashi Zong Palace is a combination of Tibetan style and Chinese Style constructions, and it is worth to pay a visit.

The final destination for today is Tsedang, the capital of Shannan Prefecture. It's reputed as "the cradle of Tibetan Civilization", mainly for two reasons: First, the mild weather and fertile land in Shannan gestated the great Tibet dynasty. Second, it's the birthplace of the first Tibetans who were said to be the offspring of a monkey and a demoness. So Tsedang literally means "monkey's playground".

Day 7: Tsedang Highlights Escorted Tour

Begin this day with the tour to Yumbulagang. A fine, tapering finger of a structure that sprouts from a craggy ridge overlooking the patchwork fields of the Yarlung Valley, Yumbulagang is considered the oldest building in Tibet. It is a remarkably impressive sight, with a lovely setting. You could ride horses and yaks up the mountain to the temple if you prefer.

Then visit to the Trundruk monastery, one of the earliest Buddhist monasteries in Tibetan history. It is said that King Songtsan Gampo built the monastery to suppress the demon for prospering his kingdom in 641 A.D. And later it became the winter palace of King Songtsan Gampo and Princess Wencheng in Shannan. Of all the treasures and relics kept in this monastery, the pearled Tangka -- "Avalokitesvara at his rest" is the most remarkable one.

Day 8: Tsedang-Gyantse-Shigatse

After a full exploration of Tsedang, you’ll have a chance to get lost in the endless Tibetan landscape while you take a short hike along the turquoise waters of Lake Yamdrok, one of the four holy lakes in Tibet. This dazzling lake is normally first seen from the summit of the Kamba-la (4700m). The lake lies several hundred metres below the road, and it is shaped like a coiling scorpion. Far in the distance is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangstsang (7191m).

Afterwards pass by the 5,010 m high Karo-la and the Simi La forward to Gyantse (3,950m). Visit Pelkor Monastery as well as the splendid Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) nearby, both of them built in the15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse.

In the afternoon drive about 90 kilometers to Shigatse (3880m), the second largest city with 40,000 inhabitants in Tibet and the traditional capital of the Tsang.

Day 9: Shigatse to Rongbuk Monastery

Today we have an early start to drive westwards the Friendship way to Rongbuk. On the road the drive is full of magnificent scenery and cross some extremely high passes including Gyatsola (5248m). The road to Everest diverts off the newly paved Friendship highway near the town of Shegar and turns into bumpy gravel trail, which is still 90km to get to Rongpuk.

If it is in clear weather, you can have a glimpse of 4 mountains which is 8000m high or more, such as: Mt. Lhotse (8516m),Mt. Everest (8848m), Mt. Qowowuyag (8201m),Mt Mayalu (8463m).

Day 10: Drive back to Shigatse

Get up early for sunrise. You could take the local bus to arrive at Everest Base camp for half an hour, or you also can have a hike to Base Camp around 1.5-2 hours one way. It's interesting and much warmer, but hard to breath. The morning is frigid and as the wind howl your fingers must be frozen trying to take pictures of the iconic mountain but it is worth the pain to view such an amazing site.

Then in the afternoon go down from E.B.C back to Shegar by friend-ship highway and continue back to Shigatse.

Day 11: Drive back to Lhasa

This morning you'll have an opportunity to explore the Tashilumpo Monastery, the holy seat of the Panchen Lama, which is essentially a walled town with cobbled and twisting lanes that revolve around a magnificent monastery.

Then you'll take a slightly different route back to Lhasa along Yarlung Tsangpo River, be wrapped again in the endless vistas of the Tibetan plateau.

Day 12: Finish this unforgettable tour

Today, our guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and help you get on board.

Tour services end and Tibet welcome you back forever.

What’s included?

1.Tibet Entry Permit

2. Comfortable, clean and safe vehicle depending on your group size with reliable local driver;

3. Admission fees of tourist sites listed in the itinerary;

4. Professional English speaking tour guide;

5. Accommodations depend on your preference. Please tell us your preferred accommodation class when submitting the enquiry, and we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.

6.All measl listed in the itinerary;

7.Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance

What’s not included?

1. International flight to and out of China;

2. Chinese Visa

3. Domestic flight / train not listed in the itinerary (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inruiry form.)

4.Meals not specified in the itinerary;

5.Tips to driver and tour guide, Tip as you wish

6.Personal expenses, such as laundry, phone call, optional tour activities and so on.

Trip Notes:

1. Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet Travel Permit is a must for Tibet tour. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for the permit after you book a Tibetan tour with us. Shortly after we get your permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau, we will inform you and mail it to your hotel in China via express.

In some extreme cases, our staff will hand it over to you at the airport or railway station. In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.

2. Accommodation

Tibet is never known for its 5-star luxury resorts, though you can find some like Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise, St.Regis Lhasa Resort, Sheraton hotel, etc in Lhasa. Overall, the accommodation facilities and services are not as good as those in coastal and central parts of China. However, from cheap and clean youth hotel, to distinct Tibetan style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotel, you will find one that suits your interest and pocket in Lhasa.

We’ve handpicked cozy and safe hotels in the central area of Lhasa, where you will find Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street are just steps away from you. You can easily experience more of the local life and culture. Normally, as you travel to remote areas in some parts of Shigatse like Tingri, or EBC, Ngari, Nagqu, etc. the accommodation would be much poorer. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel;others may only have electric blanket in the guesthouses. And the food is also very basic.

3.Guiding and Tipping

Our English-speaking guides are natives of Tibet with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. Most are trained to offer Western-standard service. Throughout your stay in Tibet, we will minor your health and provide prompt help to you. If you run into any trouble, please do not hesitate to reach them or our customer service manager.

Travelers’s tipping to Tibetan guide and driver is taken as an extra gratitude to their good service, just like what you do in the west. Normally, a tipping of 7 USD/day is acceptable. The basic rule is good service for good pay.

4. Toilet

Admittedly, to many western tourists, using toilets in Tibet is the most dreadful experience. So, please down play your expectation. If you take Tibet train to Lhasa, both western toilet and squat toilet are available in the train. If you stay in hotel above 3-star hotels in Lhasa, Shigatse, etc. you will have no complaining using standard western flash toilet.

However, if you visit some of the attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso, EBC outdoor, mostly you will see the smelly and filthy pit toilet.It's better to carry enough toilet paper.

5. Tibet Weather

One of the biggest features of weather on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the dramatic temperature change between day and night. The annual temperature in Lhasa is -2℃-- 12℃(spring), 9℃-- 22℃(summer), 7℃-- 19℃(fall), -7℃-- 9℃(winter). Do wear clothes properly such as thermal tops, fleece jacket, breathable underwear, down jacket, jeans, beanie, etc.

Of course, sun screen, lip balm, sun glasses are essential to shield you from powerful blinding sunlight on the plateau. Do drink more water and eat more vegetable as you travel in Tibet. It can prevent you from dehydration.

6. Acclimatization to the High Altitude

For the first timer to Tibet, either by flight or train, a good rest is a must for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Never rush to tour the street or attractions on your own. Walk slower and do not exert yourself like running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa is a good way to get acclimatized before heading to Shigatse or Namtso. If you have any discomfort, do tell it to your guide,and he will help you out.

7. Other Dos and Don'ts

Normally, taking photos is forbidden in the monastery. If you want to take photos of Tibetan pilgrims, a gentle ask of permission would be appreciated or you can do it from a long distance. Swimming and fishing are not allowed in holy lakes in Tibet; Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics; International tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet according to the policy; Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street; Never venture into the unknown trails; do as much as you can to protect the fragile eco-system in Tibet, etc.

As Tibetan Buddhism is deeply-rooted in every facet of Tibetans' life, always follow and respect the unique customs in Tibet. If you are uncertain about something, it’s advisable to ask your guide before you do it at will.

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