This “Golden Route” of Tibet tour will take you to two cities near Lhasa: Gyantse and Shigatse. Stay overnight at a small town, Gyantse, which is known as the “Heroic City“, because it was the site of a major battle during the British invasion in 1904. While there you will experience Tibetan rural culture and a local market. Then visit Tibet’s second-largest city Shigatse, which is the most important farming area in Tibet.
You will also visit two of the most revered monasteries in Tibet: Pelkor Chode Monastery (which belongs to multiple religious sects) and Tashilunpo Monastery (the seat of the Panchen Lamas. Inside there is a huge gilded bronze Buddha statue as well as many other beautiful statues).
Recommended Groups: Suitable for most groups including Families with kids, seniors, youths, and students. Great shooting opportunity for photographers too. This tour will go through Karola pass at 5,010m, however, most activities will be in an attitude lower than 3,900m, so a reasonable level of fitness is needed.
Conditions: The road condition from Lhasa to Gyantse (255km, 5-6 hours) is a bit rough and mainly over mountains. With three stops on the road to see Yamdrok Lake, Karola glaciers and a visit to a Tibetan family for a lunch break, we make sure the tour pace is comfortable and well arranged. You will be able to see the beautiful landscapes of Tibet and Tibetan rural life on the way. The road condition from Gyantse to Shigatse and then back to Lhasa is good with a paved road.
Best time: Available all year round. Highly recommend May, June, September, and October. Winter can be a bit cold.
Brief Itinerary of Lhasa Shigatse Tour
Day 1 Lhasa Arrival
Welcome to the roof of the world! You will be pick up at the airport or train station, then be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city at the comfort of your own private vehicle. En route, enjoy the breathtaking view along the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Tibetan features can be seen along the way, including Big Buddha engravings on the hill near the road, colorful prayer flags, and friendly Tibetan people.
After arrival at your hotel, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the local area and acclimatize yourself to this high-altitude city at the top of the world.
Tips of today:
- Go for some walking to acclimate to the high altitude but avoid strenuous activity after arrival;
- You’d better not have a bath;
- Drink more water, and have some fruit;
- Have a good rest.
Day 2 Lhasa Sightseeing
After breakfast, you will firstly visit Norbulingka Park, the former summer palace of Dalai Lama. Explore the beautiful gardens and experience one of the holiest sites in Tibetan Buddhism while soaking up the rich history. Next, come to Drepung Monastery, which was once the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery housing 10,000 monks in its heyday. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks.
Your tour ends at Sera Monastery, where you will get the chance to experience “Buddhism Scriptures Debating”. These debates are unique to Sera and are quite famous. Enjoy the debates!
Tips of today:
- Obey Buddhist manners and talk appropriately.
- Feel free to ask tour guide questions about Buddhism or else;
- Don’t forget to take your sunglasses and suncream.
Day 3 Wondering Lhasa
The overwhelming Potala Palace is your first stop. As the symbol of Tibet, it was built in 641 AD and was the winter palace of Dalai Lama who is Tibet’s pope. Impressive Tibetan architecture, huge golden Buddha statues, red-robed lamas, and devoted pilgrims all make it a must-visit.
In the afternoon, you’ll visit the Jokhang Temple, the spiritual center of Tibet. Every day, pilgrims from every corner of Tibet trek here from long distances to worship. Finally, walk the special circular pilgrimage route as local followers always do at Barkhor Street.
Day 4 Lhasa to Gyangste
Today you will be transferred from Lhasa to Gyantse (6 hours drive). En route, you’ll stop to see Yamdrok Lake, one of the three most famous holy lakes in Tibet. For Tibetans, it is one of the four holy lakes of Tibet and the home of the “wrathful deities”. The scenery of turquoise blue water in the lake with the reflection of surrounding snow-capped mountains is awesome. After arrival in Gyantse, you will tour Pelkor Monastery to admire fancy frescoes, statues, and sculptures. Overnight at Gyantse.
Tips of today:
- Wear warm clothes to prevent from cold and wild;
- The road condition from Lhasa to Gyantse via Yamdrok Lake is good;
- Feel free to ask your driver to stop so you can stretch your legs or take some pictures.
Day 5 Gyangtse to Shigatse
After breakfast, you will drive from Gyantse to Shigatse (2.5 hours). In Shigatse, you will visit Tashilumpo Monastery, the oldest and largest Gelugpa Monastery in Tibet. Here you will see a giant statue of Future Buddha, the largest one of its kind on earth, decorated with precious pearls, turquoises, corals, and ambers. Then proceed to a lively market to experience the distinctive local life.
Tips of today:
1. The road condition is quite good, with a wide paved road;
2. The altitude in Gyantse is above 3900m while Shigatse is roughly 3860m. As this is a relatively high altitude, be sure to pace yourself and take breaks when you feel it is necessary;
3. You will spend roughly 3 hours at Tashilumpo Monastery, so be sure to bring snacks and water.
Day 6 Shigatse – Lhasa
Enjoy the Tibetan-style Farewell Dinner Today you’ll drive back to Lhasa (5 hours) along the legendary Yaluzangbu River, the mother river of Tibet. Along the journey, you will view the fantastic landscape of the valley and snow mountain, and get the special feeling of traveling in the wilderness, far from modern civilization.
After a rest in Lhasa, you’ll have a Tibetan-style farewell dinner in a typical Tibetan restaurant, with traditional Tibetan songs and dances.
Tip of today: You may get to Lhasa in the early afternoon, you can just go for a walk around Barkhor Street, or Potala Square, or do some shopping for souvenirs.
Day 7 Departure from Lhasa
Today is free for you until your tour guide transfers you to the airport in time for your flight or drops you off at Lhasa train station.