Equally remote are the stunningly scenic routes through eastern Tibet. And this land cruiser loop takes you through dramatic scenery to some rarely-visited corners of Tibet. From Lhasa the southern route heads east over a high pass to forested Draksum-tso and then proceeds to the fascinating Kongpo region and the lovingly restored Lamaling Temple. From here roads climbs to views of 7756m Namche Barwa and then drops down into the dramatic misty gorges north of the Yarlung Tsangpo. Allow some time at Rawok-tso, before swinging north over high passes and down into the deep parallel gorges of the Salween and Mekong Rivers.
After a visit to Jampaling Monastery in Chamdo, the northern route continues westwards to Nagqu, passing the very impressive and remote Riwoche Temple and several other smaller but absolutely charming Buddhist and Bön monasteries. This tour finishes with a visit to the magnificent Nam-tso, which shades the valley floor a miraculous shade of turquoise while the stunning 7000 m peaks encapsulate you in a lost world.
- 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.
- View the magnificent scenery from Nyingtri to Pomi, climbing from lush subtropical forest to alpine valleys and snowy passes.
- Picnic by the stunning turquoise waters of Rawok-tso, a mirror lake fringed with snow-capped peaks.
- Peer up in awe at the towering statues of the remote Riwoche Tsuglhakhang.
- Follow the pilgrims around the charming Lamaling Temple, shaped like Guru Ringpoche’s celestial paradise.
- Join the monks in a debate at Chamdo’s Galden Jampaling Monastery, one of the largest monastic communities in Tibet.
- Get a taste of the northern Changtang at the turquoise waters, snowy peaks and nomads’ tents of stunning high-altitude Lake Namtso.
Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa
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 would follow the Kyichu River and then see Tibetan homes with their trapezoid shaped windows and fluttering prayer flags, and Tibetans walking beside the roads wearing their distinctive national costumes. You can have a comfort stop near Nietang Buddha where a giant statue of Buddha has been carved out of a stone cliff-face centuries ago.
Then 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.
Day 2: Lhasa sightseeing
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. With the golden roof shinning in the sun, it is visible from any distance. You can spend one hour wondering around the inside of this magnificent building and 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 Monastery, 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.
You can spend the afternoon touring Sera Monastery and then have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there. Sera monastery 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 - Draksum Tso - Bayi (490Km, 7-8hours)
After breakfast, drive from Lhasa to Nyingchi. On the way you will cross over Mila Pass, enjoy the scenery along the Niyang River.
Afternoon drive to visit Draksum Tso, also known as Basum-Tso. The lake and its surrounding views are beautiful and the site is also connected to the semi-mythical ruler of the Kham region and Guru Rinpoche.
Take a ferry ride off the southern shore of the lake to visit the Tsodzong Monastery, most probably the highest attraction of this site.
Day 5: Bayi Highlights - Lamaling Monastery and Cypresses Park
Drive to visit an ancient Gelug Monastery-Buchu, that lies only 18 miles south of Bayi.
If the heavy rain has not damaged the road, visit the Lamaling Monastery nearby.
Afternoon visit the nature reserve with 2500-year old cypresses in Bayi.
Day 6: Bayi - Lunang Forest - Bomi (240Km, 6-7hours)
Drive from Baiyi to Bomi, On the way you will pass the Serkhym-la over 4500m, have a good views of Namche Barwa and Gyala Pelri.
After the Serkhym-la the road descends past gorgeous alpine valleys lined with rhododendron bushes into the Rong-chu valley, that is the Lunang forest.
Day 7: Pomi - Rawok-tso - Pasho (219Km, 6-7hours)
The way from Pomi to Pasho, you will visit the beautiful lake Rawok-tso, see glaciers, snow-capped mountains, forests, local villages.
Day 8: Pasho - Pomda grasslands - Chamdo (270KM, 6hours)
From Pasho the road east passes picturesque villages and chortens, crosses the Ngul-chu and then starts a series of 72 switchbacks up to Zar Gama-la ( 4618m), marking the highest single altitude gain of any motorable pass in Tibet.
After the pass a while, cross Pomda glorious grassy plain, arrives at Chamdo.
Day 9: Chamdo - Jampaling Monastery - Riwoche (105km, 5-6hours)
Chamdo is the major transport, administrative and trade centre of the Kham region. In the morning visit Jampaling Monastery on the hilltop, do pilgrimage circumambulation.
Then drive to Riwoche, cross over the Zholpel La pass (4688m).
Day 10: Riwoche - Riwoche Monastery - Tengchen (150KM,6-7hours)
Morning visit Riwoche Monastery Tsuglhakhang, then drive on a rough road to Dengchen.
Dengchen is the center of the Boen-Religion, which is a primitive religion based on ancient witchcraft and the worship to god and ghost, and spread through the whole Tibet before the Buddhism was introduced into Tibetan area. Visit Tengchen and Ritro Lhakhang.
Day 11: Tengchen - Sok (306km)Highlights: Tsuri La Pass, Shel La Pass
After master Tsuri La Pass (4,200m) and Shel La Pass (4750m) we get to Bachen, and continue about 30km you will reach Sok. Sok means Mongolia in Tibetan.
Day 12: Sok - Nagchu (238km)Highlights: Sok Tsanden Gompa
Morning drive to Sok Tsanden Zhol village, visit Nyimpa sect monastery Sok Tsanden Gompa (sometimes it is impossible to visit this monastery).
After that cross over two passes and reach the city of Shakchuka. Then another 100km with two passes, you will reach Nagqu.
Day 13: Drive to Lake Namtso
Drive forward to Lake Namtso this morning. Set up camp at Tashi Dorie peninsula after arrival. In clear weather the water is a miraculous shade of turquoise and there are magnificent views of the nearby mountains. Enjoying the glory of sunset over the lake. By the lake, you can view the peak of Nyianchentangula (7162m). It is said that the holy lake and the holy mountain are a couple of lovers, who altogether guard the vast pasture and cattle. The wide open spaces, dotted with the tents of local nomads are intoxicating.
If lucky enough, there is the opportunity to get a peek at the otherwise inaccessible nomadic life at the Changtang, Tibet’s vast northern plateau. You may get the opportunity to stop at the brown or black spider-like tents of nomads.
Day 14: Drive back to Lhasa
Enjoy the clear morning by the lake and snap the amazing view of sunrise. You can also have a little hike along the lake shore to Tashi Dor Island to explore the meditation caves.
In the afternoon, drive back to Lhasa, have a comfort stop in Yangpacheng for the fabulous views of the grassland and its famous Yangpachen hot spring （Optional）.
Day 15: Finish this unforgettable tour
Free time at your disposal this morning, explore the bustling markets of the Barkhor to buy some souvenirs for your families and friends. After lunch, departure transfer to see off, tour services end and Tibet welcome you back forever.
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.
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.
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.
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.