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18 Days Spiritual Journey to Tibet and Bhutan

Tour Route: Lhasa-Shigatse-EBC-Kailash-Saga-Gyirong-Kathmandu-Paro-Thimpu-Punakha-Paro

Trip Overview:

This 18-day Tibet and Bhutan tour will firstly take you deeper into mysterious Tibet. After visiting the essence of Lhasa, you will go up to Everest Base Camp, which is 5,200 meters above sea level. You will marvel at the magnificence view of Mount Everest here. Then you will head for Ngari region. In there, you can enjoy beautiful Lake Manasarovar, and spend 3 days to experience a holy Mount Kailash Kora. This epic trek is a challenge for your mental and physical.

Next, you will go to Kathmandu from Gyirong border, then fly to Paro to explore this exotic south Asian country. You will experience local custom, sightsee distinctive architecture, and enjoy pristine natural scenery of this Buddhist kingdom. It must be a holy pilgrimage trip you will never forget.

  • Tour Code:
    TTO-TBT-TEB18
  • 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:
    springSpringSummerSummerautumnAutumnwinterWinter

Highlights:

  • Fully explore the sunlight city Lhasa with its well-known Potala Palace 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.
  • Take in the panoramic view of Mount Everest from the north base camp in Tibetan side.
  • Join the pilgrims looking to erase the sins of a lifetime on the three-day trek around holy Mt. Kailash.
  • Immerse in the Buddhist world of Bhutan to visit famous Paro Rinpung Dzong.
  • Trek to the holiest temple in Bhutan, Tiger’s Nest.

 

 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa

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 Temple 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 Street 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 3: Lhasa Sightseeing - Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery

In the morning, you will 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.

In the afternoon, you are going to visit Sera Monastery, 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. You may have the chance to watch the famous Monks Debate (usually from 15:00 to 17:00) before returning to Lhasa.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 4: Lhasa (3650m) to Shigatse (3900m)

In the morning, drive from Lhasa to Shigatse. On the way, drive over the Gampala pass (4790 m), and tourists will have a glimpse of Yamdrok-tso (4400m). The Lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and in the distance, clients can have spectacular views of Holy Mount NyenchenKhangsar, (7191m) the highest mountain near Lhasa. Gyantse was historically Tibet's third largest city (after Lhasa and Shigatse). In Gyantse, tourists will visit the famous Pelkor Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum. After one and a half driving, we arrive in Shigatse, which is the second largest city in Tibet. In Shigatse, tourists will visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of Tibet's second highest incarnation, the Panchen Lama.

Stay overnight in Shigatse.

Day 5: Shigatse (3900m) to EBC (5200m)

Drive to Lhatse, it is a small town where tourists can have lunch. Then, head to Shegar and if the weather is clear enough then on the way down to Shegar tourists will view the Mount Everest in the distance. After 4 to 6 hours’ drive, tourists will arrive at Rongbuk monastery but on the way, they will pass one of the highest Passes in Tibet (pang la pass height 5050m) from that’s pass they will view the whole five highest peaks in the world.

Stay overnight in Rongbuk Tent Guest house or local Tibetan Tent.

Day 6: EBC (5200m) to saga (4500m)

In the morning, you may see the sunrise appearing on the summit of Mount Everest and you can get to Everest Base Camp by local bus or trekking.

After visiting EBC, we need to drive to Saga County via the old Tingri road, which passes through the desolate plain of Digur Tang. You can see the snow peaks of mount Everest and Mout Shishapangma (8012m) en route. Then descending into the depression of Peikhu-tso Lake (4600m).

Finally, we will drive to Saga, a small town that is 69 km away from Pelkhu tso Lake.

Stay overnight in Saga.

Day 7: Saga to Darchen via Lake Manasarovar

In the morning, we will first be driving about 167 km from Saga town to Drongpa County, which is at the sources of Brahmaputra River.

Next, 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 snowcapped mountains on the background. You may also see many pilgrims praying and circling around the lake shore. In late afternoon, we will reach Darchen, a small town at the foot of Mount Kailash.

Stay overnight in Darchen.

Day 8: Darchen to Drirapuk

Today, you 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 in Guest House.

Day 9: Drirapuk to Dzultripuk

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 in Guest House.

Day 10: 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 in Darchen.

Day 11: Darchen – Saga

Drive back to Saga from Darchen. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Saga at your leisure.

Stay overnight in Saga.

Day 12: Saga to Gyirong

Today we will drive Gyirong from Saga. Today's driving is amazing with excellent views of Himalaya Mountains, a lot of wildlife including wild horses, wolves, foxes, deer, gazelle, black-necked cranes as well as yaks and sheep.

Stay overnight in Gyirong.

Day 13: Exit Tibet via Gyirong Border to Kathmandu

In the morning, our Tibetan guide will escort you to Gyirong border. Then, you are kindly required to hike on your own to cross the border bridge which is 50m long, then check in Nepal side, you can get the Nepal visa upon arrival with US$30, please prepare one photo at passport size to get Nepal Visa.

After you get to Nepal side, please find our guide. The guide will accompany you in a comfortable vehicle to the hotel in downtown (7-8hours’ ride) and help you with the check-in procedure. The rest of the day is left for you to have a good rest or to become familiar with the capital city of Nepal by yourself.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 14: Fly from Kathmandu to Paro, then Drive to Thimphu

During your flight to Paro, you will experience breathtaking views of the Himalayan Peaks including sacred Chomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be received by our guide. Then drive for 1 hr 30 min to Thimphu.

In the afternoon, we will head to visit the landmarks in Thimphu, including the Kyichu Lhakhang and Paro Rinpung Dzong. Kyichu Lhakhang is also known as Kyerchu Temple and is the oldest and most beautiful temple in Bhutan. Paro Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century as a fortress to protect Paro valley, offers you picturesque scenery and a sense of inner peace.

Stay overnight in Thimphu.

Day 15: Thimphu Sightseeing and Drive to Punakha

In the Morning, we will continue sightseeing in Thimphu. You will pay a visit to National Library that houses the world’s largest book and many ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, Painting School which is famous for traditional Thangkha paintings, Traditional Medicine Institute where the centuries old herbal medicine is still practiced and the folk heritage museum. And the highlight comes as you tour the Tashichho Dzong, the most beautiful Bhutan dzong as well as the headquarters of Bhutan government.

After lunch, we will drive from Thimphu to Punakha crossing Dochula pass at 3100mtrs where you can see the 108 beautiful chortens built by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. From this pass, on a clear day, you can have a superb view of the highest peaks in Bhutan.

Stay overnight in Punakha.

Day 16: Punakha Sightseeing and Drive back to Paro

Get up in the morning to visit Punakha Dzong, widely believed to be the most beautiful Bhutanese Dzong, built at the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu Rivers. Never miss the Punakha festival around mid-Feb if you come at the right time.

After touring Punakha, we are about to drive back to Paro. In the afternoon, we head to the National Museum of Bhutan, which looks like a round watchtower. You can trace back to the ancient Bhutan history and explore the diverse wild lives as well as splendid local culture and arts. Then we drive to visit Drukgyel Dzong, where you can enjoy the enchanting village lying at its foot.

Stay overnight in Paro.

Day 17: Trek to Taksang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest)

Today, we will enjoy the wonderful trek to Taktshang Goemba, also known as Tiger's Nest. Perched on the cliff of Paro Valley, Taktshang Goemba (3120 meters) is the landmark of Paro as well as the holiest temple in Bhutan. It’s said that Guru Rinpoche had flied here on the back of a tigress and meditated in the caves on the cliffside for three months. From here, you can catch a panoramic view of Paro Valley.

In the afternoon, you may opt for a stone bath or enjoy free exploration nearby.

Stay overnight in Paro.

Day 18: Departure from Paro

Our guide will pick you up from the hotel and send you to the airport so that you can board the flight back home after this pleasant tour. Tour service end.

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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