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6 Days Lhasa Shoton Festival Tour

Tour Route: Lhasa-Gyantse-Shigatse-Lhasa

Trip Overview:

This mind-blowing summer tour provides you an opportunity to celebrate the Shoton Festival with the local Tibetans. It could give you a special experience of mysterious Tibetan customs and a glimpse of Tibet’s traditions and colorful festival lifestyle. Shoton, in Tibetan means yoghurt banquet, it is also called Buddha Exhibition Festival or Tibetan Opera Festival. Since during the festival, giant Thangkas of the Buddha are unveiled in Drepung Monastery while Tibetan opera troupes perform at Norbulingka.

  • Tour Code: TTO-PT-LF06

  • Trip Level:

  • Tour Type: Private tour with private guide and vehicle

  • Time to Visit:

Highlights:

  • Involve yourself to celebrate and experience Shoton Festival in the streets, squares and monasteries in Lhasa, especially the Thangka exhibition ceremony in Drepung and Tibet opera performances in Norbulingka.
  • 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, one of the largest and most intact of Tibet’s great monasteries.
  • Marvel at the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
  • Climb the dazzling Gyantse Kumbum, a monumental chorten with mural-filled chapels.
  • Worship before a 26m gold Buddha at Tashilumpo Monastery, a walled complex the size of a village.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa, get the first impression of Tibetan daily life

Welcome to the roof of the world. Your Tibet journey starts with a warm Tibetan style greeting from your local tour guide who will present you with Hada (traditional Tibetan scarves). Then be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city at the comfort of your own private vehicle. For most of the way, you follow the Kyichu River, you could see Tibetan homes with their trapezoid shaped windows and fluttering prayer flags, and Tibetans walking beside the roads wearing their distinctive national costumes.

Do have a comfort stop near Nietang Buddha where a giant statue of Buddha has been carved out of a stone cliff-face centuries ago. One of the first buildings you could see as you enter the city is the Potala Palace, sitting majestically on a hill dominating Lhasa. 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.

Day 2: Shoton Festival in Drepung Monastery

It's the first day of Shoton Festival. During the festival, there are celebrations in the streets, squares and monasteries in Lhasa. On the first day, the Thangka is scheduled to be unveiled at the Drepung Monastery. So an earlier getting up this morning, then go to Drepung monastery, and find a good seat to watch the Buddha exhibition ceremony.

After the ceremony, a 10 minutes’ walk downhill to Nechung, it is worth a visit for its historical role as the seat of the Tibetan State Oracle. The oracle was the medium of Dorje Drakden, an aspect of Pehar, tbe Gelugpa protector of the Buddhist state, and the Dalai Lamas would make no important decision without first consulting him. Then after lunch we go inside of the Jokhang.

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.

Day 3: Shoton Festival in Norbulingka

After the Thangka exhibition in Drepung, the celebrations will begin at Norbulingka. The residents of Lhasa will gather in the park and celebrate by eating yoghurt and watching the operas. Professional and amateur Tibetan opera troupes annually gather in the Norbulingka and perform various Tibetan operas. Along with the Tibetan operas and other religious activities, visitors can also watch yak races, horse races and dancing. Go inside of Nobulingka, join into the locals, celebrate and experience the most important Tibetan festival.

Today you will be also invited 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. Finish the day with wandering 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 4: Lhasa-Gyantse-Shigatse

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 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). 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 (3880m), the second largest city with 40,000 inhabitants in Tibet and the traditional capital of the Tsang.

Day 5: Drive back 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 you’ll take a slightly different route back to Lhasa along Yarlung Tsangpo River, be wrapped again in the endless vistas of the Tibetan plateau.

Day 6: 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.

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. How to Get the Tibet Travel Permit?

    The Tibet Travel Permit is essential for any Tibet tour. We help to obtain this permit free of charge when you book your Tibet tour through us. Simply send us copies of your passport and China visa at least 20 days in advance. Once we receive your documents, we will promptly process the permit application with the Tibet Tourism Bureau. After obtaining your permit, we will notify you and send it to your hotel in mainland China.

    In exceptional cases, our staff can personally deliver the permit to you at the airport or railway station. With years of experience in handling Tibet Travel Permit, we assure you a smooth visit to Tibet by ensuring the acquisition of your permit.

  • 2. Where to Stay in Tibet?

    Accommodation facilities and services in Tibet might not match those found in the coastal and central parts of China. However, there's a diverse range of hotel options available. However, you can choose from a wide range of hotel options. In big cities like Lhasa and Shigatse, from cheap and clean youth hostels to distinct Tibetan-style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotels, you will find one that suits your interests and budget.

    As you travel to remote areas of Tibet, such as EBC and the Mount Kailash region, the accommodations tend to be more basic. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel, while others may only offer electric blankets in the guesthouses. Nonetheless, we always handpick cozy and safe accommodations for you along your itinerary in Tibet, ensuring a pleasant night's stay for your Tibet tour.

  • 3. How about the Guiding and Tipping in Tibet?

    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 monitor your health and provide prompt assistance to you. If you encounter any trouble, please do not hesitate to contact them or our customer service manager.

    Travelers' tipping to Tibetan guides and drivers is seen as extra gratitude for their excellent service, much like what you do in the West. Normally, a tipping amount of 7 USD per day is acceptable. The basic principle is rewarding good service with fair pay.

  • 4. How are the Toilets in Tibet?

    Undoubtedly, for many Western tourists, using toilets in Tibet can be a challenging experience. Therefore, it's advisable to moderate your expectations. If you travel to Lhasa by Tibet train, both western-style and squat toilets are available onboard. Staying in hotels rated above 3 stars in cities like Lhasa and Shigatse ensures access to standard Western flush toilets, eliminating any discomfort.

    However, when visiting attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso or outdoor sites like EBC, you're likely to encounter smelly and unclean pit toilets. It's recommended to carry sufficient toilet paper for such occasions.

  • 5. How is the Weather in Tibet? What to Pack for Visiting Tibet?

    One of the notable weather features on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the significant temperature fluctuation between day and night. In Lhasa, the annual temperatures range from -2℃ to 12℃ (spring), 9℃ to 22℃ (summer), 7℃ to 19℃ (fall), and -7℃ to 9℃ (winter). Ensure proper clothing, such as thermal tops, a fleece jacket, breathable underwear, a down jacket, jeans, a beanie, and other essentials.

    Moreover, essentials like sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are crucial to shield yourself from the intense, blinding sunlight of the plateau. Staying hydrated by drinking more water and including vegetables in your diet is advisable to prevent dehydration during your travels in Tibet.

  • 6. How to Prevent from Altitude Sickness in Tibet?

    For first-time visitors to Tibet, whether arriving by flight or train, allowing ample rest is crucial for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Avoid rushing to explore the streets or attractions independently. Walk at a slower pace and refrain from exerting yourself by running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa before venturing to places like Shigatse or Namtso allows for better acclimatization. If you experience any discomfort, inform your guide, and they will assist you.

  • 7. Are There some Dos and Don'ts while Touring Tibet?

    Photography is generally prohibited in monasteries. If you wish to capture images of Tibetan pilgrims, kindly seek their permission or maintain a considerable distance while taking photos. Swimming and fishing are prohibited in the sacred lakes of Tibet. Avoid discussing sensitive topics like politics. According to policy, international tourists are not permitted to travel alone in Tibet.

    While navigating Barkhor Street, adhere to the custom of walking clockwise. Refrain from exploring unfamiliar trails. Take proactive steps to preserve Tibet's delicate ecosystem.

    Given that Tibetan Buddhism profoundly influences the lives of Tibetans, always show reverence and respect for their unique customs. If uncertain about any practice, it's advisable to seek guidance from your tour guide before proceeding.

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    The view was magnificent. got to see snow and snow capped mountains. Thanks to Gemma Wei for helping with all the planning. Also thanks to Kunchok and Tsering for going accomodating to my needs as i was not used to the altitude. They also helped alot with the trek up the hills! ...More reviews

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    The tour was great! We visited amazing places and could feel the sacred atmosphere in all the temples. The nature is breathtaking with beautiful mountain and lake views. Our guide Jingme told us all about the history and showed us great places. All the hotels were much better than what I expected...More reviews

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    Can't recommend this company enough. We did it very last minute and got our Chinese visas a few days before we flew to Chengdu and got the train to Lhasa. Lycoris our contact was patient and reassuring over the applications. The trip itself was something else...More reviews

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    After much research, my wife gave the desired itinerary to the agency rep that she was working with. It covered a huge area from Lhasa all the way West to the Ali area and back along a Northern route. Of course having a private driver and Land Cruiser along with a very experienced guide, the trip was just fantastic... More reviews

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    I just arrived home this morning after a one-month trip in India, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. I have travelled a lot in my life but this trip is the best trip I have ever had. It really stands out by its geographic particularity, historical and cultural knowledge and most of all, its emotional/spiritual impact...More reviews

    Sep 2023 hptranle

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