The 19-day legendary tour will take you to travel beyond the ordinary pilgrimage route of Lhasa to Mount Kailash, and allow you to discover the extreme west of Tibet, with a big loop tour around the Ngari region. You will experience the divine 3-day Mount Kailash kora, visit magnificent Tibetan monasteries like Potala, Jokhang and Tashilhunpo, before discovering the lost civilization of Gugu Kingdom, treasured wild animals like Tibetan antelopes, and the heavenly Namtso Lake etc. Also, you will not miss the wonderful sights like Yamdrok Lake, Everest Base Camp and Xiangquan River Canyon etc.
- Fully explore the sunlight city Lhasa with its well-known palace of Potala and holy monasteries of Jokhang, Sera and Drepung.
- Marvel at the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
- Climb the dazzling Gyantse Kumbum, and worship before a 26m gold Buddha at Tashilhunpo Monastery.
- Join the pilgrims looking to erase the sins of a lifetime on the three-day trek around holy Mt. Kailash.
- An excursion to the otherworldly ruins of the ancient Guge kingdom, one of Asia’s unknown wonders.
- Visit the world’s highest birds’ habitat, Pangong Tso Lake.
- Explore the natural wonders and wildlife of Ngari region, see rare Tibetan donkeys, Tibetan antelopes etc.
- Enjoy the secluded and picturesque place of Wanpo South Village.
- 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, get the First Impression of Tibet
Welcome to Tibet! Upon arrival, be greeted by our local guide at airport or train station and be presented with traditional Tibetan White Scarf to wish you good luck!
After group photo at airport, you will board on the coach and transfer to your hotel. You will enjoy the spectacular scenery and the typical Tibetan villages on the way.
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.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 2: Lhasa Sightseeing - Potala Palace, Jokhang and Barkhor Street
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 Temple. 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. Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 3: Lhasa Sightseeing - Drepung Monastery 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.
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.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 4: Lhasa to Shigatse via Gyantse
After fully explore Lhasa, 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 lays 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 (3,880m), the second largest city with 40,000 inhabitants in Tibet and the traditional capital of the Tsang.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 5: 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 crosses 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 Rongbuk.
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).
Stay Overnight in Rongbuk guest house.
Day 6: Rongbuk Monastery to Saga
Get up early for sunrise. The morning is frigid and as the wind howl your fingers must be frozen trying to take pictures of the iconic Mt. Everest but it is worth the pain to view such an amazing site. Then we will drive to Saga.
Stay overnight in Saga.
Day 7: Saga to Darchen
In the morning, we will first drive about 167 km from Saga town to Drongpa County, which is at the sources of Brahmaputra River.
In late afternoon, we will reach Darchen, a small town at the foot of Mount Kailash. Our Tour guide will assist you to arrange trekking yaks and porters and doing some preparation for your following 3 days trekking around Mt.Kailash.
Stay overnight at local guesthouse in Darchen twon.
Day 8: Trek Day One - Darchen to Drirapuk
Today is the first day of your Mount Kailash trekking. We will firstly take the environment-friendly bus from Darchen to Sarshung village, where your porters are waiting for you. The 8 kilometers’ journey takes about 40 minutes by bus. Then we start to trek.
After two hours, we come upon a grassy plain populated by nomads. For this turn in the valley it is another two hours at least before reaching Drirapuk (4920m).
Stay overnight at the tent guesthouse of monastery.
Day 9: Trek Day Two - Drirapuk to Zutulpuk
Today, start the hardest and most tough circuit with the Dolma-la pass, which is lying 6.4km ahead but 762m above Drirapuk.
It is better to set off early in the morning as the sun rays break over the ridges above the peak of Dolma-la pass at 5630m above the sea level.
After taking a rest at the peak of Dolma-la pass, you will take about one hour from the pass down to Lhachu valley floor, from which there is still four hours trekking to today’s final destination with no shelters on the way. It is better to walk on the right side of the river and finally get to Dzultripuk (with miracle cave of milarepa).
Take a good rest in the guest room and prepare for next morning's departure.
Stay overnight at the tent guesthouse of monastery.
Day 10: Trek Day Three - Dzultripuk to Darchen
The last trekking day starts from a trip to Milarepa’s Cave, where the temple and shrines have been built around. Then we walk back to Darchen is easy and the exit from the valley can be reached within three hours.
At the ending point of the valley, the driver will come to pick you and take you back to Darchen.
Stay overnight at the local guesthouse at Darchen
Day 11: Darchen to Zanda: Guge Kingdom and Torling Monastery
It is about an eight-hour driving from Darchen to Zanda, though the distance is only about 243km. After several hours of zigzagging down and up fantastically eroded gorges and gullies, we enter wider Sutlej Valley and finally reach Zanda after crossing a bridge. Zanda county is the current name for the region and was known as Guge kingdom. The capital of the county is located at Toling. Toling monastery, founded by Richen zangpo in the 10th century, was once Ngari's most important monastic complex.
It was due to the influence of Richen Zangpo that Toling became the main religious center of Guge kingdom after inviting the great Indian master ATISHA. The kings of Guge replaced the city as a political center of power by establishing capital slightly closer to the Indo-Tibetan trade routes. But the monastery is still an important cultural heritage of Ngari.
Stay overnight in Zanda.
Day 12: Zanda to Shiquan River: Clay Forest, Xiangquan River Canyon
Today, we will travel from Zanda to Shiquanhe town. The 200km’s scenic drive would be your lifetime experience. You are expected to see the stunning Clay Forest formed by crustal movement in Xiangquan River Canyon. Shiquanhe town is the capital city of Ngari prefecture as well as the last big town during the big loop tour of Ngari region. Later, Tourists can tour the Shiquanhe town and buy some supplies for the following travel.
Stay overnight in Shiquanhe Town
Day 13: Shiquan River- Pangong Tso - Shiquan River
The focus of today’s tour will be the Pangong Tso Lake (4242m), or known as the “long-necked swan”. It is the world’s highest birds’ habitat. In the lake are over a dozen of islands and it is home to more than 20 kinds of wild birds, including Bar-headed goose, Brown-headed Gull, etc.
On the way back to Shiquanhe Town, we will stop at Rutog County to visit the famous Rutog Rock Painting. The paintings involve the sun and moon, mountains, horses, cattle, antelopes, houses, and locals, vividly presenting the livelihood of ancient Tibetan nomads around Pangong Tso Lake. After that, we will head back to Shiquanhe Town. Tourists can buy some supplies for the following journey.
Stay overnight in Shiquanhe Town
Day 14: Shiquan River to Gerze: Changthang grassland, Tibetan Wildlife, Salt Lake
Starting from Shiquanhe Town, we will pass Gégyé and travel all the way to Gerze. Shortly after we venture into the Changthang grassland of Gégyé County, we will enjoy packs of wild Tibetan donkeys, Tibetan antelopes, and Tibetan gazelle, etc. Besides, a great number of nameless lakes, mountain passes, and snow-capped mountains make picturesque scenery. On the way, we can also see a big Salt Lake and trucks preparing to load supply from here. And finally finish the over 200km’s drive from the Salt Lake to Gerze.
Stay overnight in Gerze
Day 15: Gerze to Wanpo South Village
As you enjoy the ride from Gerze to Wanpo South Village, you will have a rare chance to see a variety of rare wildlife that can only be seen in remote areas of western Tibet. Animals like Tibetan gazelle, marmot, and Black-necked crane, wild donkey, etc. will keep you company in Northern Ngari where there is little human presence.
After we pass Coqen County, tourists can see many colorful mountains, red, green, or yellow, largely due to the abundant mineral resources hidden inside these mountains. The road gets bumpier as we move from Coqen to Zhari Namco Lake. The lake is widely-known as the largest saline lake with the highest altitude in Ngari region and its favorable environment produces ibetan cashmere goats.
In the afternoon, we will be arriving at Tangra Yumco Lake, which is the holiest lake in Bon religion. Many believe that its holiness is equal to that of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. It’s said that the color of the lake can change three times within a single day. Having finished visiting Tangra Yumco Lake, we would move to Wanpo South Village.
Stay overnight in Wanpo South Village
Day 16: Tour Wanpo South Village
Facing Tangra Yumco Lake and Dagoer Snow Mountain, Wanpo South Village (4500m) is a secluded and picturesque place with charming pastoral scene. The local villagers here are half-nomadic and half-farming. They cultivate barely, potatoes, Rapeseed and Bok Choy, etc. Such peaceful, harmonious and pastoral scene is extremely rare at such altitude. that’s why it’s called the “Wanpo Paradise”. Tourists can have a good rest in the village and explore this village. If you are interested, you may visit Dangchung Monastery in Wanpo North village.
Stay overnight in Wanpo South Village
Day 17: Wanpo South Village-Nima-Bangkog-Namtso Lake
Today, we will have an early start. After we leave Nima, and you will find yourselves travel in the world of Tibetan gazelles and finally we will reach Serling Tso around noon after passing numerous small lakes. Serling Tso is the second largest saline lake in northern Tibet, only next to Namtso Lake. In Tibetan, it is believed to be a “Demon Lake”.
In the afternoon, we are about to continue our journey to Namtso Lake. We will move close-wise along the north bank of Serling Tso and you will see many Tibetan Antelopes and Tibetan gazelles grazing or playing at lakeside.
Around 3 hours’ drive we will arrive at Tashi Island of Namtso. Here, you can enjoy the stunning view of Namtso and climb the Tashi Island to have a panoramic view of the biggest salt lake in Tibet. Never miss the chance to view the starry night at the bank of Namtso Lake. It will definitely be one of the highlights of this long journey.
Stay overnight at Namtso
Day 18: Drive back to Lhasa via Yampachen (230km,5 hours)
Enjoy the clear morning by Namtso lake, and snap the amazing view of sunrise. Then, drive back to Lhasa. You can have a comfort stop in Yangpachen for the fabulous views of the grassland and its famous Yangpachen hot spring (optional).
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 19: Depart from Lhasa
The guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and help you get on board.
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.