Tibet, nestled in the Himalayan range, is a treasure of natural wonders and cultural marvels. It is ethereal beauty and spiritual ambience captivate visitors. Lhasa, Gyangste and Shigatse are must-visit destinations for adventurers and spiritual seekers.
Lhasa in Tibet is a blend of tradition and modernity. Ancient streets with monasteries and palaces intertwine with markets and modern buildings. The majestic Potala Palace on a hill exudes grandeur, featuring halls adorned with murals and statues that transport you to ancient Tibetan times. Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city, is a nature lover’s paradise. The Tashilhunpo Monastery, a vast complex with golden-roofed buildings and temples, is its main attraction and home to the Panchen Lama. Exploring these cities reveals centuries of spiritual energy.
Arrival in Lhasa (Lhasa Airport – City, 1-hour drive ) Day 1
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
- Accommodation: Lhasa
Upon your arrival at Lhasa Airport, our friendly staff will warmly welcome you with the charm of the plateau. When arriving on the Tibetan plateau, it is crucial to relax and acclimatize. We’ll transfer you to your hotel for a good rest, allowing your body to adapt to the high-altitude atmosphere.
Lhasa, known as the “Holy Land” or “Buddhist Land” in Tibet, is a sacred city to Tibetans and a paradise for travellers. With the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, Lhasa is now more accessible than ever. However, the real essence of Lhasa lies beyond its bustling streets. Let’s embark on a journey to uncover its mystical charm.
- Airport Shuttle: Airport transfers are coordinated by local professionals. They will contact you in advance, so ensure your mobile phone is reachable. Foreigners and Taiwanese tourists require a tour guide for station pick-up, while Chinese nationals are picked up directly by the guide. Please contact the travel agency’s staff if you haven’t received notifications. The tour guide will inform you of the next day’s schedule by phone or text message before 10:00 PM.
- Altitude Sickness: Avoid strenuous activities on your first day in Lhasa, skip bathing, and refrain from alcohol. Drink plenty of water, eat fruits in moderation, and rest well. You can also bring altitude sickness remedies such as American ginseng lozenges or Rhodiola rosea. Follow your travel agency’s guidance, minimize outdoor activities, stay calm, and get adequate rest to prevent altitude sickness.
City Tour in Lhasa: Potala Palace and Tibetan Cultural Experience – Day 2
- Accommodation: Lhasa
Explore the ancient “temple,” the awe-inspiring [Potala Palace], which takes about an hour to tour. This magnificent structure was built by Songtsan Gampo, who dedicated half of his life to pacifying Tubo and the other half to constructing splendid palaces and temples. Strolling through the resplendent Buddhist halls, pagodas, sleeping quarters, and corridors, you’ll be immersed in an ancient dream. The dim lights, low window curtains, and the fragrance of butter create a mesmerizing ambience, transporting you to a world of scriptures, Buddha statues, murals, and distant legends.
Ticket Booking Instructions for Potala Palace:
- Potala Palace tickets require a real-name reservation, and valid identification (ID card, household registration, or passport) is necessary for booking. Once reserved, you cannot book another ticket within 7 days of your visit. Please ensure you bring your original valid identification. Tickets cannot be refunded in case of name or identification mismatches.
- The management office’s computer randomly assigns the visit times for Potala Palace. You cannot specify your visit time. Understand that the actual route sequence may vary from the provided itinerary.
- Due to limited availability during peak seasons, different arrangements may be made by the travel agency to ensure a smooth visit. This may include splitting groups, staggered visit times, and visiting with different guides. Please cooperate with your tour guide’s instructions.
Tibetan Cultural Experience: During your stay in Lhasa, you can experience traditional Tibetan crafts. Your guide will take you to the Tibetan Culture Experience Center to learn how to make Tibetan incense, allowing you to participate in its creation. This unique experience offers a different perspective from store-bought Tibetan incense. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn to write your name in Tibetan and have it engraved and printed. These handmade Tibetan incense and personalized printed texts can serve as memorable souvenirs of your Tibetan cultural experience.
Travel Tips for Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple:
- To enter Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, you must have your original valid documents. Follow your tour guide’s instructions and enter punctually.
- We recommend wearing flat shoes for ease of climbing stairs. Dress and appearance should be modest and dignified; avoid shorts, short skirts, sleeveless tops, or open-toed sandals. Remove your hat and sunglasses when entering the halls.
- Inside the Jokhang Temple, do not make loud noises, run, climb, lie down, spit, litter, or touch cultural relics. Photography, videography, and touching cultural relics are strictly prohibited.
- The Potala Palace is at a relatively high altitude. Ascend and descend the stairs slowly. The interior can be cold, even in summer, so it’s advisable to bring a jacket.
- The tour guide cannot remain inside the Potala Palace for an extended period; explanations are conducted outside. Please maintain a civilized demeanour and adhere to cultural relics protection regulations.
- Due to narrow passages and many wooden stairs in the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, tour groups may be divided into smaller groups, with different entry times and guides.
Drive to Yamdrok Yongcuo, Karola Glacier, and Shigatse (Approximately 380km by car, 7 hours) – Day 3
- Meals: Breakfast included, Lunch at your own expense, Dinner at your own expense
- Accommodation: Shigatse
After departing from Lhasa, you’ll travel through the Yarlung Zangbo River valley, a tributary of the Tibetan plateau. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to take in the stunning views of the Yarlung Zangbo River and observe the local way of life.
Yamdrok Yongcuo (Yamdrok Lake):
Yamdrok Yongcuo is one of Tibet’s three largest sacred lakes. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and the lake water reflects the sky’s colours, ranging from deep blue to turquoise. According to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, Yamdrok Lake is the lifeblood of Tibet. It’s believed that if the lake dries up, Tibet will no longer be habitable. You will have the opportunity to stop and take pictures of this stunning lake, capturing its beauty from different angles.
As you continue your journey, you will come across the [Karola Glacier], which is located at the intersection of the Lhasa-Shigatse and Lhasa-Nyingchi highways. The glacier is a beautiful sight to behold, surrounded by soaring mountains. Take a moment to appreciate this natural wonder and snap some photos.
- Lunch Arrangements: Lunch is not included today, so you can have lunch in local restaurants along the way. Your guide will provide suggestions based on your preferences and budget.
- Karola Glacier Visit: When visiting the Karola Glacier, be cautious while walking on uneven terrain. Wear comfortable walking shoes with a good grip.
- Photography: Make sure your camera or smartphone is fully charged and has enough storage space for photos. You’ll have the opportunity to capture breathtaking landscapes throughout the day.
- Altitude Changes: Be prepared for altitude changes during the drive. Stay hydrated and inform your guide if you experience any discomfort due to altitude.
Arrival in Shigatse:
After a long day of travelling, you will reach the city of Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city. Shigatse is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to the historic Tashilhunpo Monastery, which you will visit tomorrow. Tonight, you’ll have some free time to explore the city on your own and rest in your hotel.
Travel Tips for Shigatse:
- Shigatse is at a high altitude, so continue to take it easy and stay well-hydrated to acclimatize.
- Shigatse offers some local dining options where you can try Tibetan cuisine. Consult your guide for recommendations.
- Feel free to explore the city at your own pace, but ensure you return to your hotel by the designated time for a good night’s rest.
Exploring Shigatse: Tashilhunpo Monastery and Local Market – Day 4
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
- Accommodation: Shigatse
Today, you will explore the vibrant city of Shigatse and visit its most famous attraction, the [Tashilhunpo Monastery]. Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism and serves as the seat of the Panchen Lama. Its stunning architecture and rich history make it a must-visit destination.
Your first stop of the day will be the Tashilhunpo Monastery, a masterpiece of Tibetan architecture and a symbol of the Tibetan religious tradition. You will have the opportunity to explore the various halls, courtyards, and chapels within the monastery. The highlight of your visit will be the impressive Maitreya Buddha statue, which is the largest gilded statue in the world. As you stroll through the monastery, you’ll also gain insight into the daily life of the monks and the significance of the monastery in Tibetan Buddhism.
Travel Tips for Tashilhunpo Monastery:
- When visiting Tashilhunpo Monastery, be respectful of the religious and cultural practices. Dress modestly and remove your hat and sunglasses when entering the halls.
- Photography is allowed in certain areas of the monastery, but it is generally not permitted in prayer halls or near sacred objects. Follow your guide’s instructions regarding photography.
- Tashilhunpo Monastery is an active religious site, so please maintain a quiet and respectful demeanour during your visit.
Local Market and Free Time:
After visiting the monastery, you’ll have some free time to explore the local market in Shigatse. The market offers a wide variety of Tibetan handicrafts, textiles, jewellery, and souvenirs. It’s a great place to shop for unique gifts and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Travel Tips for Shopping:
- Bargaining is a common practice in Tibetan markets. Be prepared to negotiate prices, but do so respectfully.
- Check the quality and authenticity of items before purchasing, especially if you are buying expensive items such as jewellery or antiques.
- Some shops may only accept cash, so make sure you have enough local currency (Chinese Yuan) on hand.
- Keep track of your spending, as it’s easy to get carried away with the wide array of items available for purchase.
Dinner in Shigatse:
In the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in Shigatse, where you can savour Tibetan cuisine and other regional specialities.
Drive to Gyantse: Visit Pelkor Chode Monastery and Kumbum Pagoda (Approximately 90km by car, 1.5 hours)
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
- Accommodation: Gyantse
After breakfast in Shigatse, you’ll continue your journey through the beautiful Tibetan landscape as you make your way to the town of Gyantse.
Pelkor Chode Monastery and Kumbum Pagoda:
Your first stop in Gyantse will be the [Pelkor Chode Monastery], which is renowned for its unique combination of three different sects of Tibetan Buddhism. This harmonious coexistence of the Gelug, Sakya, and Kagyu sects is a rare and fascinating aspect of Tibetan religious history. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the monastery’s various halls and chapels and learn about its history and significance.
Adjacent to the monastery is the [Kumbum Pagoda], a striking architectural marvel that resembles a giant stupa. The Kumbum Pagoda is known for its intricate artwork and the many chapels that line its walls, each containing unique religious artefacts. As you ascend the pagoda, you’ll have panoramic views of Gyantse and the surrounding countryside.
Travel Tips for Pelkor Chode Monastery and Kumbum Pagoda:
- Similar to other religious sites in Tibet, dress modestly and follow the guidelines for respectful behaviour when visiting Pelkor Chode Monastery and Kumbum Pagoda.
- Photography may be restricted in certain areas of the monastery and pagoda, so pay attention to signage and your guide’s instructions.
You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Gyantse, where you can savour Tibetan and regional cuisine.
Drive to Lhasa: Return Journey (Approximately 260km by car, 4.5 hours)
- Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
- Accommodation: Lhasa
After your visit to Gyantse, you’ll embark on the return journey to Lhasa, where your memorable Tibet tour began. Along the way, you can enjoy the scenic landscapes and have the option to make additional stops for photos or short breaks if desired.
Travel Tips for the Return Journey:
- Use this opportunity to ask your guide any questions you may have about Tibetan culture, history, or the places you’ve visited.
- Enjoy the picturesque views of the Tibetan plateau during the drive, and feel free to request photo stops at any particularly beautiful spots.
Arrival in Lhasa:
You’ll arrive back in Lhasa in the late afternoon or early evening, depending on road conditions and stops along the way. Upon returning to Lhasa, you’ll be dropped off at your hotel, where you can relax and freshen up.
For your final dinner in Tibet, you can choose to dine at your hotel or explore local dining options in Lhasa. Your guide can provide recommendations based on your preferences.
Departure from Lhasa – Day 5
- Meals: Breakfast
Your memorable journey through Tibet comes to an end today. After breakfast, you’ll check out of your hotel in Lhasa and proceed to Lhasa Gonggar Airport for your departure flight. Your guide and driver will accompany you to the airport and assist with any necessary procedures.
Travel Tips for Departure:
- Ensure you have all your belongings packed and ready before checking out of the hotel.
- Double-check your flight details, including the departure time and terminal.
- Arrive at Lhasa Gonggar Airport well in advance of your flight to allow time for security checks and other formalities.
- If you have any remaining local currency (Chinese Yuan), you can exchange it back into your preferred currency at the airport or in the city before departure.
- Have a safe and pleasant journey home, and cherish the memories of your incredible adventure in Tibet.
Please note that this itinerary provides a general outline of a Tibet tour, and actual schedules and activities may vary depending on factors such as weather conditions, road conditions, local events, and the availability of specific sites. Your local guide will provide you with the most up-to-date information and ensure your trip runs smoothly.