With at least two passes over 5400m, the Xining-Tibet Hwy is the highest road in the world. And this overland adventure from Kashgar to Lhasa will show you the best of the Tibet Plateau: Kashgar, ancient hub of the Silk Road, the lost Himalayan Kingdom of Guge, circumambulation of the sacred Mountain of Kailash, herds of wild ass roam and eagles soar high above the immense landscape, and the mystical city of Lhasa. In a word, this tour covers nearly all the fabulous attractions in Tibet, you can never miss this trip of a lifetime.
- Overland the ancient route east along the top of the Himalayas from the desert oasis of Kashgar to the holy city of Lhasa.
- Hike the sandy shores of scared Lake Manasarovar, or just marvel at the turquoise waters and snowcapped-mountain backdrop.
- Join the pilgrims looking to erase the sins of a lifetime on the three-day trek around holy Mt. Kailash.
- Sleep in nomad tents and gaze upon the north face of Mt. Everest.
- Have a deep discovery of the two important cities of Tsang, Gyantse and Shigatse, climb the dazzling Gyantse Kumbum, and worship before a 26m gold Buddha at Tashilumpo Monastery.
- Marvel at the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
- 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.
Day 1: Kashgar to Yecheng, 250km
Kashgar is the largest oasis in the whole china. The road condition to Yecheng is very smooth with black tar road running through the edge of Taklamakan desert. The scenery is very excellent with grey-black rocks and sand dunes composing the major features of the landscape of Taklamakan. The most interesting thing you should not miss is the Sunday market which is one of the largest weekly markets of Asia. Especially in the morning you can observe the highway is crowded with full-load donkey trucks carrying vegetable, fruits men, children and women.
Day 2-3: Yecheng to Dahongliutan, 499km
Situated at the edge of the Taklamakan, Yecheng is a city with a pretty Bazaar inhabited by Uigur and Han Chinese. You need to drive 499km to reach Dahongliutan from Yecheng, but the journey duration depends upon the climate and road condition. The Chiragsaldi is the first pass that you need to cross, and you will be in contact with beautiful Kunlun mountain ranges on the left side and the Karakorum mountain range on the right side (more close to Indian border).
Day 4: Dahongliutan - Dorma - Pangongtso, 433km
It costs around 7-8 hours to reach Dorma from Dahongliutan. The roads have been disturbed by the heavy trucks and you will soon reach a pass called Tialongtan-la pass with more than 5000m above the sea level. The road condition is very bad as moving far towards south, even if it becomes a little bit better after leaving Dorma. Today’s tour is finished with a visit to the mysterious lake Pangongtso, the one part of which is inside Tibet and other part is situated inside Indian. Camp by the Lake Shore.
Day 5: Pangongtso Lake to Tsada, 395km
Continue to Tsada today. Tsamda County is the current name for the region and was known as Guge kingdom. And the county capital is located at Toling. There, in the middle of the canyon erosion landscape of the Sutlej River, lie the impressive ruins of Toling and Tsaparang - flourishing centers of the former Kingdom Guge.
Day 6: Tsada to Darchen
Begin this morning with an exploration to ancient Kingdom Guge.
Tsaparang is the oldest center of Guge Kingdom, the former Summer Palace of the kings, but disappeared in the middle of 17 Century. And the Toling monastery, founded by Richen zangpo in the 10th century, was once Ngari's most important monastic complex, and the monastery is still important cultural heritage of Ngari. Then drive forward to Darchen, the main gateway and the village in front of Mt. Kailash.
At Darchen, accommodations are very simple and basic. You can relax and rest and prepare for next day trekking. The guide will help you organize yaks or ponies for the Kailash circuit trek at Darchen. And Darchen is also the Point of Exit to the Sacred Mount Kailash (Kang Rimpoche) for the Kailash Pilgrimage Circuit (Kailash Kora). Overnight in Darchen.
Day 7: Start Kailash Circuit Trekking, O/N: Camp
Start the Kailash circuit today, this kora covers 53 kms and can be done in 3 days. We head west in clockwise direction. Only 4 kilometers from Darchen the trail climbs up over the southwest end of the ridge to reach a cairn (4,730m). Then, trail bends around to north to the Tarboche flagpole. The flagpole is replaced each year at the Saga Dawa festival.
After passing the Lha-chu valley, we arrive in Chuku monastery where we can have a break. Another 3 hours' trek along the river, we hit our first day’s stop, the Dirapuk monastery.
Day 8: Trekking, O/N: Camp
Trek along Drolma Chu and reach the Jarok Donkhang (5,210m). A little while, Shiva-tsal (5,330m) comes in front. It is a rocky expanse dotted with stone cairns draped with items of clothing. Our next challenge is to get over Drolma La Pass (5,630m), the highest point of the entire kora, where you can look south for your last glimpse of the north face of Kailsh. After the ascent, we are experiencing a steep descent. Almost immediately, Gauri Kund Lake comes into view. Finally, after a long valley and river, we reach our second day’s stop, the Zutulpuk monastery. O/N: Camp.
Day 9: Trekking, O/N: Camp
The final day's walk begins with the easy stroll down to where the river emerges onto the plain. The valley narrows and the prayer flags flutter across the river. There is a rough road from here back to Darchen and it’s less than an hour's walk, passing many mani walls embellished with yak skulls. Finally, our kora end up at Darchen.
Day 10: Darchen to Saga via Lake Manasarovar
Today, we will drive from Darchen to Saga. On the way, we will make a small detour to the Lake Manasarovar, the holy lake of both Tibetan and Hinduism. You can a relaxing trip around the lake shore and experience the natural beauty of the Lake Manasarova with snow capped mountains on the background. You may also see many pilgrims praying and circling around the lake shore. In late afternoon, we will reach Saga. Stay overnight at a local guesthouse of Saga.
Day 11: Saga - Peiku-tso – Rongbuk
Today we will drive to the stunning alpine lake, Peiku-tso for Lunch. An amazing picture of the lake with Shishapangma in the background will come into your sight when you arrive there. After lunch, keep driving to Rongbuk Monastery.
Day 12: Rongbuk Monastery 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 drive further to Shigatse (3880m), the second largest city with 40,000 inhabitants in Tibet and the traditional capital of the Tsang. On the road the drive is full of magnificent scenery and cross some extremely high passes including Gyatsola (5248m). 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 13: Drive 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 continue drive to Gyantse, visit Pelkor Monastery as well as the splendid Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) nearby.
Both of them were built in the15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse. Afterwards passing by the 5,010 m high Karo-la and the Simi La to Lhasa. You will also 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. Far in the distance is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangstsang (7191m).
Day 14: 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. 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 15: 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. 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 16: 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.