This 9-day central cultural Tibet tour will take you to tour four cities of Tibet: Lhasa, Tsedang, Shigatse, Gyantse, and make you fully enjoy the history, culture, religion, custom of Tibet. Firstly, you will visit the essence of Lhasa, including Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor street, Sera monastery and Drepung monastery.
Then you will head for Tsedang to sightsee the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet- Samye monastery, the first building in Tibet- Yumbu Lakhang, and the second of Tibet's earliest geomantic temples- Trandruk Temple.
Finally, you will travel to Gyantse and Shigatse. In Gyantse, you can stroll by the Yamdrok Lake to feel inner peace, and you will be shocked by magnificent Karola Glacier. In Shigatse, you can see the world’s largest gold gilded bronze statue of future Buddha in Tashilhunpo Monastery. It must be an unforgettable trip in your life.
- 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 Lake, 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 Tashilhunpo Monastery, a walled complex the size of a village.
Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa
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 Sightseeing - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and 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 Barkhor Street 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.
Day 3: Visit Drepung and Sera Monastery
In the morning, you will 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, you are going to visit Sera Monastery, have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there. Sera monastery 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. You may have the chance to watch the famous Monks Debate (usually from 15:00 to 17:00) before returning to Lhasa.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 4: Lhasa (3650m) to Tsedang (3100m) and visit Samye Monastery
Today, you will drive to Samye monastery along the Brahmaputra. Samye monastery is the first Buddhist monastery to be founded in Tibet, and it is the first monastery houses three Buddhist jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Then you will head for Tsedang, which is the political, economic, cultural and transportation center of Shannan Prefecture.
Stay overnight in Tsedang.
Day 5: Tsedang Tour：Yumbu Lakhang and Trandruk Temple
Tsedang is reputed as "the cradle of Tibetan Civilization". You will firstly visit Yumbu Lakhang. It is said that Yumbu Lakhang was the first building in Tibet and the palace of the first Tibetan king. Then you are going to Trandruk Temple, which is the second of Tibet's earliest geomantric temples after the Jokhang.
Stay overnight in Tsedang.
Day 6: Tsedang (3100m) to Gyantse(3950m)
Today, you will leave for Gyantse from Tsedang. There are many attractions to see along the way. Yamdrok Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet. It is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains. According to local legend, Yamdrok Lake is the incarnation of the goddess. You can see magnificent Karola Glacier by going westward along the lake. At last arrive in Gyantse, the was third largest city of Tibet.
Stay overnight in Gyantse.
Day 7: Gyantse (3950) to Shigatse(3900m)
In Gyantse, you will visit Palcho Monastery, which is a temple where three different religious sects coexist. The famous Kumbum stupa is the part of Palcho Monastery. At the higher levels of stupa, you can see the wonderful views around the Palcho Monastery. In the afternoon, you will drive to Shigatse, which is the second largest city in Tibet.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 8: Shigatse (3900m) to Lhasa (3650m)
In the Morning, you will sightsee Tashilhunpo Monastery. It is the largest temple in Shigatse, and you can see the world’s largest gold gilded bronze statue of future Buddha in there. In the afternoon, you will drive back to Lhasa.
Stay overnight in Lhasa.
Day 9: Depart from Lhasa
Our guide will transfer you to the airport or train station and help you get on board.
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. etc
10. Charge of handing all services in your tour, government tax
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.
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.