This Katmandu to Lhasa overland tour is one of the most popular tours and provides a good overview of Tibet for those with limited time.
We take the Friendship Highway from Kathmandu valley to Lhasa via Gyirong border and Old Tingri. Along the way there is full of unique culture and beautiful landscape of Tibet, includes the magnificent north face of the world’s tallest peak Mt Everest, the historic Tashilunpho Monastery in Shigatse, the awe-inspiring Kumbum Stupa in Gyantse and the turquoise waters of Lake Yamdrok, etc. This is the most popular itinerary which ends with the best of Lhasa includeing the World Heritage Site of the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple and the Barkhor pilgrimage circuit. The huge monastic institutions of Drepung and Sera lie on the edge of town.
- Sleep in nomad tents and gaze upon the north face of Mt. Everest
- Worship before a 26m gold Buddha at Tashilumpo Monastery, a walled complex the size of a village.
- Climb the dazzling Gyantse Kumbum, a monumental chorten with mural-filled chapels.
- Marvel at the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
- Go down into the bowels of the Potala, the impressive but spiritless citadel of the Dalai Lamas.
- Join the shuffling, murmuring pilgrims around the shrines of the Jokhang, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
- Follow monks, mendicants and fellow pilgrims around the Barkhor, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit.
- Take in a prayer meeting or some monk debating at Sera and Drepung, two of the largest and most intact of Tibet’s great monasteries.
Day 1: Kathmandu to Syabrubesi
In the morning, our driver will pick you up in your hotel and drive to China Tibet border. There is a distance about 160km from Katmandu to Gyirong Border which usually takes about 7-9 hours on the way. So we will live in the Syabrubesi adjacent to Gyirong for a night before crossing the border in the second day morning.
On the way, will pass Mt. Himalaya, where you can see the deep gorges, snow-capped mountain. We will also drive across the LuangTang National Park, one of the well- preserved national parks in Nepal.
Stay overnight in village guest house in Syabrubesi.
Day 2: Syabrubesi to Kyirong
After breakfast, we will drive 15km away to the Nepal-China border. Our guide will meet you at the Gyirong Border in Tibet side. Then transfer to Gyirong county, a small town built on the side of Himalayas. It would be nice to see the Himalayan mountains and vibrant forest from there. We need to spend one night for a good acclimation for next days’ ascent to EBC.
In the afternoon, you will visit Padmasambava cave and trek 2 hours to Kepu village.
Stay overnight in Gyriong.
Day 3: Drive to Tingri
In the morning, we will drive along the Sino-Nepal Highway to Tingri. You can enjoy the beautiful waterfalls and Matsang Tsangpo gorges en route.
The first site we visit today is Milarepa cave, which is the site of the celebrated philosopher's meditation. Then you will pass over two spectacular passes over 5000 metres above the sea level: Thong La Pass and Lalung La Pass.
Finally we will arrive in Tingri (th average altitude above 5000m) to acclimatize the high altitude. You will see the amazing scene of Himalaya Range and Mout Everest.
Stay overnight in Tingri.
Day 4: Snake up to Rongbuk
An early start today, continue drive to Rongbuk Monastery,the highest monastery in the world, at 5,000 meters above sea level. It is part of the Nyingmapa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and is unique in that both monks and nuns live together in the same monastery.
On the way, we will stop at one of Milarepa's caves. It was on the side of a mountain looking down a fertile valley toward snow-capped mountains. A river runs through the valley.
Have a good rest in EBC tented house, or you can also choose to live in Rongbuk guesthouse.
Day 5: Rongbuk Monastery to Sakya
Open your eyes, and wake up to the first sunlight shining over the pyramid-shaped summit of imposing Mt. Everest. Grab your camera for an epic shot and stroll to the Rongbuk Monastery, exploring this world’s highest Buddhist compound. If you wish, you can do the meditation and experience the unparalleled tranquility and harmony there. Or you can interact with monks and nuns with the help of guide to learn more of their unique spiritual life.
The temperature can get bitterly cold in the early morning. Do wear enough cloths like your down jacket, scarf and mittens to protect the extreme coldness.
Then in the afternoon drive further to Sakya.
Stay overnight in Sakya.
Day 6: Visit Sakya Monastery and Drive to Shigatse
After breakfast, you will visit the Sakya Monastery, the first monastery and the seat of the Sakya School.
Then continue our drive to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 7: 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 built in the15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse.
Afterwards pass by the 5,010 m high Karo-la and the Simi La to Lhasa. You will 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).
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 8: 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 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.
Day 9: Drepung and Sera Monastery
In the morning, tourists go to Drepung monstery, which used to be the 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. Drepung monstery , in the Tibetan language, means Monastery of Collecting-Rice. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks 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 10: Finish this unforgettable tour
You can have free time this morning, explore the bustling markets of the Barkhor to buy some souvenirs for your families and friends. After lunch, transfer clients to airport or train station.
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.