The pilgrimage from Samye Monastery to Lhamo Latso is richly varied and has much to offer: high snow mountains, a magnificent monastery, seldom visited cave hermitages, nomads and their black-tent culture, and most important the sacred “oracle lake”. The trail follows the flat Tsangpo Valley with its sand dunes and myriad freshwater pools. Small, untouched villages and monasteries dot the way to the Yulung Chu Valley. Near its head, close to high snowcapped peaks, are the delightful nomad settlements of Shindu and Amando.
Being at the radiant oracle lake of Lhamo Latso is a high point of this journey. It is the foremost “vision” lake in Tibet and sitting Dalai Lamas were obligated to come here at least once in their lifetimes, usually on the lake's surface, concerning his future.
- 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.
- Soak up the fabulous location and spectacular circular complex of Samye Monastery, Tibet’s first monastery.
- Hike the Yarlang Valley, explore the iconic Yumbulagang-the first building in Tibet.
- A pilgrimage trekking from Samye Monastery to Oracle Lake Lhamo Latso.
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 Samye
An early start this morning, drive forward to Samye Monastery. Surrounded by barren mountains and dramatic sand dunes and approached via a beautiful river crossing, you will boat ride across the Yarlung Tsangpo, then trucks and tractors to Samye, just like the locals do. As Tibet’s first monastery and the place here Buddhism was established, the monastery is of major historical and religious importance. No journey in central Tibet is complete without a visit to Samye. We will start our Samye-Lhamo Latso Trekking from here next day.
Day 5: Start Trekking, O/N: Camp
Wade across a small river that flows south into the Tsangpo. This region is barren. A trail following the Tsangpo starts east of here and makes the going easier. From the ferry to the last bluff takes 4 hours. The snow peak to the south is Yala Shampo, across the river is Tsetang. The trail now heads north, veering left just before another ferry. Crosses a small bridge and after 3 hours reaches the village of Chermen or called Timen at the entrance of Yon Valley. Tagka Sho is a short distance to the east.
Day 6: Trekking, O/N: Camp
Follow the well-defined track 1km north of the river to Jang. Goats, sheep and donkeys abound in this prosperous area. From Jang walk 1/2 hour to a small village next to the main path. At this point a track on the left zigzags up a range of mountains to the northeast. A 3 hours walking along it leads to Densatil Monastery.
After returning from Densatil, continue along the river to Pumdru. Leave the main track that continues along the river, and follow a side trail, lined by transmission towers, up the hill to the left. Cross a small rise and then descend towards Zangri.Follow a motor road for 10 minutes to where wooden posts block the road. Take a side road to the left. 10 minutes further along the main road is a small hill on the left. From Jang to here is 5 hours. Climb for 15 minutes to the Gelugpa monastery of Zangri Karmar.
Day 7: Trekking, O/N: Camp
A scenic motor road runs north for 22km from Zangri Karmar, along the east bank of the Tsangpo river, to a power station. After the station follow the wider of the two valleys to the left. Carry on along the valley for 1 3/4 hours to a small bridge. Here the valley divides again.
The motor road continues to the left. Take the dirt track to the right through a side valley. This is the Woka Valley, trending to the northeast. After 1 1/4 hours on a level path, the valley widens, with good views of sacred Wode Gungyal to the right. Ignore the small bridge that crosses the river on the right. Continue for 15 minutes to good campgrounds, then follow the jeepable track to Woka. From the camping area to Woka is 3.5hours. From woka cross a small bridge and head east towards the mountains along the right side of the Woka Valley. Cross a range of low hills to reach Cholung Monastery.
Day 8: Trekking, O/N: Camp
For hours from Cholung, the valley abruptly becomes a narrow gorge flanked by sheer cliffs. Climb a small bluff, bearing to the right. Cross a bridge at the top and descend to a small lateral valley with nomad tents. It's possible to stay with the herdsmen, surrounded by yaks and snowcapped mountains.
Day 9: Trekking, O/N: Camp
Cross a small hill on the north side of the valley and descend back down to the Yulung. 1.5hours to another side valley opening to the right. Black tents sometimes mark the spot. Bypass the valley and walk for 2 hours to a broad open area with many black tents. That is Shindu nomad camp. Ignore a side valley left of Shindu.
Follow the west bank of the main river for one hour to a stone hut enclosed by a low stone wall. The valley divides here. Take the left branch, known as Layuena. After 1 hour reach another stone hut and shortly afterwards a couple of black tents. Continue for 1 1/4 hours to a clearing with about ten tents. This is Amando.
Day 10: Trekking, O/N: Camp
Walk up to the Lung La, 1.5hours from Amando. Only the final half an hour is strenuous. At the top, to the left, is a field of thick snow covering the sides of a prominent peak, with a small lake at its base. This is one of 21 sacred lakes in the area, consecrated Drolma. Descend steeply, curving to the right. After 1.5hours cross the river on stone steps to the east bank. Follow the river for 3/4hour, then wade back to the right bank at a point marked by stone cairns. Reach Chokorgye Monastery after a further 2 3/4 hours of easy and pleasant walking. Chokorgye is a lovely spot to spend a rest day.
Day 11: Trekking, O/N: Camp
Follow a path over a bridge to the entrance of the northeast valley from the east wall of the Chokorgye monastery. Follow the valley for 1 hour, along the left bank of the river, to an area marked by many cairns. Cross the river here on stepping stones to a nomad camp. Then climb abruptly and steeply north to reach a side valley that runs perpendicular to the main river. A small burbid pond, on the left, is reached in one hour. This is Yoni lake.
Follow your left river for one hour to a flat pateau. Look behind for a close, dramatic view of Mount Lhamo Nying. Directly ahead is an amphitheater of seemingly impassable mountains. Reach the pass overlooking Lake Lhamo Latso after 1 hour. This spot, crammed full of praer flags and stone cairns, is know as Shugtri, the Dalai Lama's Throne. Pilgrims usually stay here for several hours, chanting prayers, meditating, and making offerings. Our trek ends here, but it will cost you another 3 hours walking to return to Chokorgye. Optional (The path to the lake is difficult and pilgrims rarely descend. Down to the lake, you need 2 extra days) Extra day 1 Walk down the scree slopes to the lake shore Extra day 2 Return from the valley bottom to the top
Day 12: Be picked up and transfer Chokorgy to Tsedang
Tsedang, the capital of Shannan Prefecture. It's reputed as "the cradle of Tibetan Civilization", mainly for two reasons: First, the mild weather and fertile land in Shannan gestated the great Tibet dynasty. Second, it's the birthplace of the first Tibetans who were said to be the offspring of a monkey and a demoness. So Tsedang literally means "monkey's playground".
Day 13: Tsedang Highlights Escorted Tour
Begin this day with the tour to Yumbulagang. A fine, tapering finger of a structure that sprouts from a craggy ridge overlooking the patchwork fields of the Yarlung Valley, Yumbulagang is considered the oldest building in Tibet. It is a remarkably impressive sight, with a lovely setting. You could ride horses and yaks up the mountain to the temple if you prefer.
Then visit to the Trundruk monastery, one of the earliest Buddhist monasteries in Tibetan history. It is said that King Songtsan Gampo built the monastery to suppress the demon for prospering his kingdom in 641 A.D. And later it became the winter palace of King Songtsan Gampo and Princess Wencheng in Shannan. Of all the treasures and relics kept in this monastery, the pearled Tangka -- "Avalokitesvara at his rest" is the most remarkable one.
Day 14: Finish this unforgettable tour
Free time at your disposal this morning, explore the Tsedang city or buy some souvenirs for your families and friends. Then 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.