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9 Days Ganden to Samye Trekking

Tour Route: Lhasa - Ganden Monastery - Samye Monastery - Lhasa

Trip Overview:

Ganden to Samye Trek is richly varied and has much to offer, sacred lakes, high snow mountains, beautiful alpine landscapes, magnificent monasteries, nomad camps, villages and sacred sites. The trekking route connects two of Tibet’s greatest monasteries together: Ganden monastery and Samye Monastery, which is known as one of the most popular trek routes in Tibet. Although it is famous and has lots to experience, you are suggested not to underestimate the difficulty of doing this trek. Located at high-elevation wildernesses, it would be better for those with high elevation trek experience. The best time for Ganden-Samye trek is from mid-May to Mid-October. Summer can be wet and rainy but mountains are at their greenest and you can see lots of wildflowers.

  • Tour Code:
  • Max Altitude:
    4,730 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:


  • Pay a visit to Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, and then follow pilgrims around the Barkhor Street, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit.
  • Take in a prayer meeting or some monk debating at Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery, two of the largest and most intact of Tibet’s great monasteries.
  • Experience once-in-a-lifetime Ganden to Samye trek.
  • Soak up the fabulous location and spectacular circular complex of Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first monastery.
  • Pass through gorges, forested slopes, alpine meadows, Changtang village and Yamalung Hermitage.

Detailed 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: 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.

In the afternoon visit Sera Monastery, have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there. Created in 1419, Sera monastery 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.

In late afternoon drive to Ganden Monastery  to prepare the trek (1.5 hours).

Stay overnight in Ganden Monastery Guest House

Day 4: Lhasa-Ganden-Tsubshi-Yama-do (trekking 2-3 hours)

In the morning, you will drive to Ganden Monastery, which is one of the Three Great Gelugpa Monasteries in Tibet. After visiting Ganden Monastery, you will head to Tsubshi Village, then trek to Yama-do.


Day 5: Trek to Tsotup Chu Valley (4 to 5hours)

Start from the valley floor in the morning, we would pass through a steep gully rising from the stream bank. After ascending Shug La, Ganden-Samye trek goes down through boulder fields. And then we would trek cross Tsotup Chu, a large stream winding through the valley floor. Finally we would put up a comfortable campin the herder field. What's a wonderful Ganden-Samye trek in Tibet!


Day 6: Trek to Herder's Camp (5 hours)

Following down the tributary of Tsotup Chu, we head towards the Chitu La pass. Ascending over this rocky pass, we would trek down to our destination. Wandering through Tibetan herder camps for nearly an hour, we would finally find our campsite along the stream. What a beautiful trekking day it is!


Day 7: Trek to Samye (6 hours):Changtang village,Yamalung Hermitage

Trekking over scrub forests in the main valley, the way towards Samye Gompa from Ganden Gompa becomes much wider and easier. Beautiful streams and lush forests always accompany us on the trekking to Sayme Monastery. However, the desert is near by.

The following few hours are arguably the most interesting part of Ganden-Samye trek. More than 15 kinds of scrub trees, blooming rhododendrons, and illimitable meadow will feast your eyes and amaze your every step of the Ganden-Samye trail! WOW moments always happen on the trekking to Samye from Ganden.

Passing over this stunning landscape, we would trek through the Changtang village. Whether to make the one-hour hike to Yamalung Hermitage totally depends on you. Less than an hour away, Yamalung is an ancient and holy Buddhist meditation site. Finally join the Samye valley along the clear tributary stream.  You can enjoy another cozy night in the  campsite, not far from Samye.


Day 8: Explore the Yarlung Valley and Samye Monastery, back to Lhasa

Samye Monastery is the first temple built in Tibet. What's more, it is also the first one containing the three Buddhist jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Due to these unique features, Samye Gompa has become an attraction for visitors from all over the world.

After visiting Samye monastery, we finish the trek and go back to Lhasa. You can also choose to take ferry to cross Yarlungzongpo River to the opposite side of the river and then catch the minivan to Lhasa.

Day 9: Drive to Airport, leave Lhasa to your next destination.

Transfer to Lhasa airport (about 1.5 hours driving), 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. 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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