This trek is passing through gorges, forested slopes, alpine meadows and the plains of the Changtang. The trek begins on the main road to the Namtso lake, 5km beyond the Damxung-Lhasa Hwy turn-off. The trail cuts across the mighty Nyenchen Tanglha range and heads directly for Tashi Do, the celebrated headland on the southeast shore of Namtso.
It is a fabulous trek for those who want to see the ecological mosaic of northern Tibet in all its splendor. Close encounters with the drokpa, the seminomadic shepherds of the region with their ancient customs and traditions, enliven the trail. Herds of blue sheep live in the crags and in the woodlands the endangered musk deer makes its home.
- Go down into the bowels of the Potala Palace, the impressive but spiritless citadel of the Dalai Lamas.
- Join the shuffling, murmuring pilgrims around the shrines of the Jokhang Temple, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
- Follow monks, mendicants and fellow pilgrims around the Barkhor Street, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit.
- Take in a prayer meeting or some monk debating at Sera and Drepung Monastery, two of the largest and most intact of Tibet’s great monasteries.
- Pass through gorges, forested slopes, alpine meadows and the Changtang plains with Damxung-Namtso trekking, which is a great walk to touch northern Tibet.
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: 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.
Day 3: 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.
Day 4: Drive to Reting Monastery
An early start in the morning to Reting Monastery, which sprawled gracefully across the flank of a juniper-clad hill in the Rong-chu Valley. The monastery is still graced by surrounding juniper forest, said to have sprouted from the hairs of its founder. A 40-minute kora leads around the monastery, passing several stone carving, a series of eight chortens and an active sky-burial site.
Sky burials are a traditional form of burial in Tibet. Because of the rocky ground it is difficult to dig a grave, and the scarcity of wood makes cremation impractical. In the sky burial the body is cut up into small pieces and placed on a mountaintop for the birds of prey. It is viewed as a final act of generosity. In Tibetan, the name for it means "an offering for the birds." But for the sky-burial place, you just can have a view in a far distance out of the respect to Tibetan folklore, and it is not allow others to see except the friends and relatives of the death. Camping near the monastery and enjoy the clean and clear starry sky in Tibet.
Day 5: Reting—Damxung, Begin trekking
In the morning drive on rugged road before reach Damxung (4130 m) by the Qinghai-Tibet Highway. Our trek begins from here. Today we will only have a short trek and goes up through a beautiful meadow. We will also visit a monastery en route.
Day 6: Trekking 7-8 hours
Today we pass through glaciated valley and reach a herder's camp where we camp for the night.
Day 7: Trekking 6-7 hours
We cross Kong La from where you have spectacular views of Nam Tso Lake and the Nyenchen Thangla ranges. Descend to a broad basin and hike along green meadows.
Day 8: To Tashi Dorje and Nam Tso Lake
We hike along green meadows and pass through several nomad camps and their herds of animals. We have lunch by the lake. We then follow the jeep trail all the way to Tashi Dorje hermitage.
Nam Tso Lake, the biggest salty lake of Tibet, is 70 kilometers long from east to west and 30 kilometers wide from north to south, covering an area of 1,920 square kilometers with an altitude of 4,700 meters above sea level. It is said the holy lake and the holy mountain Nyenchentangla are a couple of lovers, who altogether guard the vast pasture and cattle.
Then drive back to Damxung. (For environment protection, the Lakeshore guesthouses were close by the government.)
Stay overnight in Damxung.
Day 9: Damxung to Lhasa via Chimelong Nunnery and Tsurphu Monastery
After breakfast, we will first visit Chimelong Nunnery (Phyirmil Lung Nunnery). Roam over the peaceful small nunnery and get an idea of different Buddhist studies in Tibet, you may also spot a sky burial site (Tibet funeral site) in the distance.
Then, we can go to Tsurphu Monastery, the seat of the Karmapa branch of the Kagyupa order of Tibetan Buddhism. Here, you can learn more about the ‘Black Hats’, the Karma Kagyupa school of Tibetan Buddhism. In the summertime (June to September), we can also go for a ‘Linka outing’ (Tibetan-style picnic) in the small village at the foot of the hill of Tsurphu Monastery.
Finally, we will drive back to Lhasa.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Today’s Cultural Tips: Sky burial is a funeral practice commonly seen in Tibet. The corpse will be disposed of and later devoured by vultures. In Tibetan Buddhism, sky burial is believed to represent their wishes to go to heaven. Only family members of the dead can attend the funeral.
Day 10: 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.