17 Days Kailash Mansarovar Full Moon Tour & Guge Kingdom Exploration
Tour Route: Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse – EBC – Lake Manasarova – Mount Kailash Trek – Guge Kingdom - Saga - Shigatse - Lhasa
Start and end in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. This 17-day Kailash Mansarovar full moon tour and the Guge Kingdom is a deep exploration to western Tibet. You can visit the holy Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar Lake on full moon dates. During this tour, you will visit the most highlighted attractions of Tibet, such as Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, etc. in Lhasa. Then you will extend your adventure to the stunning Yamdork Lake and the dazzling Gyantse Kumbum in Gyantse. After that, driving to view the mighty Mt. Everest, the world’s highest Rongbuk Monastery. Finally, you will move westward to Mgari to enjoy the sacred Mansarovar, do the kora with local pilgrims around holy Mountain Kailash, and explore the mysterious Guge Kingdom. This tour is not just an ordinary trip - it’s a true adventure.
Small group tour (less than 12 people) with fixed departure
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.
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.
Marvel at the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
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 Tashilhunpo Monastery.
Join the pilgrims looking to erase the sins of a lifetime on the three-day trek around holy Mt. Kailash.
Hike the sandy shores of scared Lake Manasarovar, or just marvel at the turquoise waters and snow-capped mountain backdrop.
An excursion to the otherworldly ruins of the ancient Guge kingdom at Traparang, one of Asia’s unknown wonders.
Photos & Videos
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 Day Highlights - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple & 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 Barkhorarea 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 Day Tour - 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.
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 - Saga - Tingri
This morning you'll have a chance to visit Tashilunpo Monastery, the home of the Panchen Lama, which is essentially a walled town with cobbled and twisting lanes that revolve around a magnificent monastery.
Then be driven to Saga via Lhatse and Sang sang, pass several lakes, towns and high plateau nomadic sites. In Sagayou will visit the Sakya Monastery, the first monastery and the seat of the Sakya School.
Finally we will arrive in Tingri (the average altitude above 5000m) to acclimatize the high altitude.
Stay overnight in Tingri.
Day 6: Tingri to Rongbuk Monastery
After breakfast, taking a 2-3 hours driving from Tingri to Rongbuk through 90 km new winding road in the mountains. While passing through the torrent and soaring mountains and the wild grassland, you can enjoy the stunning mountain scenery.
If weather permits, you can have a panorama view of Himalaya range with the top 4 highest mountains that are over 8,000m, including Mt. Lhotse (8516m), Mt. Everest (8848m), Mt. Qowowuyag (8201m) and Mt Mayalu (8463m). And you may even see the majestic golden summit of Mount Everest at sunset.
Stay overnight in Rongbuk guest house or local Tibetan tent.
Day 7: Everest Base Camp to Saga
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 at a local guesthouse of Saga.
Day 8: Saga to Darchen via Lake Manasarovar
In the morning, we will first 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 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 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 9: 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 10: Trek Day Two - 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 at the tent guesthouse of monastery.
Day 11: Trek Day Three - Dzultripuk to Darchen and drive to Zada
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 take you to Zada.
Stay overnight in Zada.
Day 12: Day tour around Guge Kingdom
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.
Stay overnight in the guest house.
Day 13: Travel back from Guge Kingdom to Manasarovar
Drive back to Manasarovar along the incoming road.
Stay overnight in the guest house.
Day 14: Manasarovar Lake to Saga
Drive back to Saga along the incoming road.
Stay overnight at a local guesthouse of Saga.
Day 15: Saga to Shigatse
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 Shigatse.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 16: Shigatse to Lhasa
Today, we will drive to Lhasa.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 17: Finish this Unforgettable Tour
Free time at your disposal this morning, you can explore the bustling Barkhor Street 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.
Guaranteed departure; be the first one to reserve this trip.
1. Free shuttle between airport/train station and Lhasa City (3 times a day)
2. Excellent local Tibetan English-speaking tour guide
3. AC tourist vehicle all through the trip in Tibet
4. All permits application service, and delivery the permit to your hotel in China before getting into Tibet
5. Drinking water provided daily
6. Welcome dinner at local Tibetan restaurant
7. Admission fee of all tourist attractions listed in Itinerary, including Potala Palace ticket booking service
8. Tibet tourist map & eco-friendly drinking bottle
9. Special dedicated authentic local custom experience: visit local teahouse, stone caving market, Tibetan farmer’ mill, etc
10. Charge of handing all services in your tour, government tax
11. Hotels in Shigatse, Sakya and Darchen
12. Unique lodging arrangement: local farmers Everest Base Camp Guest House & pilgram’s tent house at Kailash
14. Kora Trek Around Mt. Kailash
1. International flight to and out of China
2. Domestic flight / train to and out of Lhasa (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inquiry form.)
3. Meals (Tour guide will organize the dinning for you but please pay on site for around 3-5 USD per meal.)
4. Accommodation in Lhasa (You are high recommended to book your favorite hotel in Lhasa online, or choose our hotel package from only 8 USD a night)
5. Tips and gratitude to the guide and driver. If you are satisfied with their service, you may consider tipping them at an amount you find it suitable
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.
4.Shuttle Bus Service between Your Hotel and Airport/Train Station
The distance between Lhasa Gonggar airport and downtown Lhasa is 70km.
We can only offer free shuttle service to pick up/drop off tourists between hotels and Gongga airport twice a day at a designated time.
Some of the tourists may have to wait for others for a longtime beyond our designated time, and we advise our clients could book the flights to match our shuttle service time.
The free airport pick-up time is as follows on the day the itinerary begins (From airport to hotel, Fixed departure):
Pick up tourists at 09:30 am; 13:30 pm; 16:30 pm
The free airport drop time is as follows on the day the itinerary closes (From hotel to airport, Fixed departure):
Pick up tourists at 06:30 am; 08:30 am; 12:30 pm
All the shuttle service from/to the train station on the date of tourists' arrival and departure would be free.
If tourists' picking-up/dropping-off time is beyond our fixed schedule, they are required to pay private transfer from 60USD/car.
If passengers are less than 3 per transfer, we may use publish transportation like public airport bus or Taxi instead of using our shuttle service.
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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
If you couldn't find a suitable tour deparing on your preferred date, you can send us an inquiry and tell us your travel plan. We can add your travel plan to the calendar so that other like-minded travelers can join in your group.