DAY 1 ARRIVE IN LHASA
Welcome to the roof of the world! You will be picked up by local tour guide at the airport hall or train station, and then be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city in a private vehicle. After arrival at your hotel, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the local areas and acclimatize yourself to the air, temperature and high altitude of Lhasa.
High Altitude Acclimation Tips: 1) go for some leisure walking to acclimate the high altitude but avoid strenuous activity after arrival; 2) you’d better not have bath, in case of catching a cold; 3) drink more water, and have some fruit; 4) have a good rest.
DAY 2 LHASA CITY SIGHTSEEING – POTALA PALACE – JOKHANG TEMPLE – BARKHOR STREET (B)
Start today’s Lhasa exploration with an exciting visit to the landmark – Potala Palace which is regarded as one of the most beautiful architectural building in the world. You will climb up the palace along the zigzag stone paths with white-and-red walls to the top of the palace where you can not only appreciate the exotic Tibetan-style architecture, but also get a great view of Lhasa’s urban areas, then walk into the inner space of Potala Palace to explore the stately chapels and learn about the history of the palace.
Continuing your exploration, you will then get to Jokhang Temple which is considered as the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Each day, there are thousands of pilgrims coming from different places in Tibet to the temple to worship to the Buddha. This temple is also known as the “house of Buddha” because it keeps the precious Jowo Rinpoche, the life-sized (5 foot/1.5m) image of the Shakyamuni at the age of 12. The last site for today’s exploration is the famous Barkhor Street. It is a circular and wide street encircling the Jokhang Temple. The local people like to walk on the street for several circles usually in the late afternoon as a daily tradition of pilgrimage. The street also has many shops selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods, religious items and handcrafts.
Tips of Today: 1) there are 1,080 steps up to climb to the top of Potala Palace, so don’t walk in a rush, which may cause high altitude sickness; 2) taking photos is not allowed inside the palace; 3) today you will be mainly outside, please bring some water, a hat, sun cream, and sun glasses with you.
DAY 3 LHASA CITY SIGHTSEEING – SERA MONASTERY – DREPUNG MONASTERY (B)
After breakfast, you will firstly go to visit the beautiful Norbulingka which used to be the former summer palace of Dalai Lamas in the ancient time, and now is a public park. It is famous for its Potrang, the private palaces of former Dalai lamas with grandiose Tibetan architecture style. Next, drive several kilometers to the western outskirts of Lhasa to visit Drepung Monastery. Drepung, in Tibetan, means “prosperity”. Since its establishment, Drepung Monastery has always been one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. In its heyday, there were more than 10,000 monks lived and studied in the monastery. Throughout its history, many important and famous Tibetan leaders used to study here, especially the Dalai Lamas. So Drepung Monastery is also respectfully known as the “Mother School of Dalai Lamas”.
In the afternoon, you will be taken to another famous monastery in Lhasa – Sera Monastery. It is famous for the spectacular “Buddhism Debating”. As a daily routine, the monks gather in a courtyard, and debate on the Buddhist doctrines with supplemented gestures, which is thought to be helpful to facilitates better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. After enjoying the “Buddhism Debating”, you will be transferred back to the city. The rest time is your own free time to rest.
The Etiquette of Visiting Monastery: 1) you shouldn’t wear short and uncover shoulders; 2) taking off your sunglasses and hat before entering the chapels; 3) taking photos is usually not allowed inside the chapels.
DAY 4 LHASA – YAMDROK LAKE – KAROLA GLACIER – GYANTSE (KUMBUM MONASTERY) – SHIGATSE (B)
Today, you will leave Lhasa and drive about 8 hours to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. It may be a long journey, but there are many things to do along the road. The first site you will reach is the holy Yamdrok Lake. As the largest fresh lake in the northern of the Himalaya Mountains, it spreads about 675 square meters from south to north, like an eardrop lying in the arms of snow-capped giant mountains. Viewing from a distance, you can see fertile pastures full of yaks and sheep, and some small Tibetan villages along the lakeshore. Keeping driving not so far from Yamdrok Lake, you will see the imposing Karola Glacier towering aloft on the right side of the road.
Continuing your trip, you will get to the historical city of Gyantse. Feel hungry? Have a good lunch in the town, then go to visit the mysterious Palcho Monastery. The monks and tradition of three important sects of Tibetan Buddhism – Sakyapa, Zhalupa and Gelukpa, peacefully coexist in this monastery. Its Kumbum, which is 35 meters high and has 76 small chapels with hundreds images of Kriyatantras , is believed to be the largest such structure in Tibet. After the Gyantse sightseeing, keep drive about 3 hours, you will arrive at your hotel in Shigatse. Have a good rest!
DAY 5 SHIGATSE – SAGA (B)
Drive from Shigatse to Saga, which is about 450 kilometer’s driving takes about 9 hours. Enjoy natural sceneries like meadows, rivers, and snow-capped mountains.
Tips: Prepare some food and drinks in advance because you will spend much time on the road.
DAY 6 SAGA – MANASAROVAR LAKE – DARCHEN (B)
After breakfast, you have to take another long driving about 550km from Saga to Darchen (4,575m), a small village located as the starting point of the walking kora of the holy Mount Kailash. During the auspicious pilgrimage times, Darchen will be flooded with Pilgrims with hundreds of tents all over the small village. The best highlight of today is the holy lake Manasarovar that you will visit before reaching Darchen. Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a holy place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, the neighboring countries and Tibet. Believers bath in the Manasarovar Lake and drink its water are believed to cleanse all sins. Every summer, pilgrims from Tibet, India and Nepal cluster to make circumambulation and bathe in the lake. After that, they will return home and bring some samples of the holy water to family and friends as precious gifts.
DAY 7 TREK FROM DARCHEN TO DIRAPUK (Trekking Time: 5-6 hrs, 20km)
Trek from Darchen (4,560m) to Dirapuk Monastery (4,750m). The trek is a gradual walk in the clockwise circuit at the average altitude of more than 4,700 meters. You will be accompanied by many local Buddhist pilgrims also walking the same kora. If you meet people who come the anti-clockwise direction, don’t be surprise, they are Bon pilgrims. You will stop at the Tamdin (4,780m) for lunch and hot water supply. Then keep trekking 4km to the final destinations of today – Dirakpuk Monaster. This section of trekking boasts some of the best scenery of the entire kora.
DAY 8 TREK FROM DRIRAPUK TO DZUTRPUK (Trekking Time: 6-7 hrs, 18km)
Trek from Dirapuk Monastery uprising 762 meters at altitude to Zutulpuk Monastery by crossing Drolma-la Pass (5,630m) before quickly descending to Dzutul-puk monastery (Dzutul-puk means “magical cave” in Tibetan). Stay overnight at the tent guesthouse of monastery.
DAY 9 TREK FROM DZUTRIPUK TO DARCHEN (Trekking Time: 3 hrs,11km)
Wake up in the holy sunrise of Mount Kailash, after breakfast, you will trek back to Darchen. Todays’ trekking is leisure and relaxing, which can be done in 3 ~ 4 hours. On route, explore the meditation cave of Milarepa, the famous Buddhist master and Yoga meditator. Surrounding the cave are many temples and shrines. Once you exist from the valley, your driver will pick you up and transfer to Darchen.
DAY 10 DARCHEN – SAGA ENJOY SCENERY EN ROUTE (B)
Drive through the windswept territory passing many villages and camps of Yak herders, and back to Saga. There are many opportunities to take great pictures!
DAY 11 SAGA – SHIGATSE ENJOY SCENERY EN ROUTE (B)
Driving from Saga to Shigatse (450km, 9 hours). Stay overnight at Shigatse.
Tips: The drive today is quite long. Please don’t hesitate to ask the driver to stop so you can get out and stretch your legs or take pictures of the beautiful surroundings.
DAY 12 SHIGATSE – TASHILUNPO MONASTERY – LHASA (B)
Today, before you driving back to Lhasa, you will go to visit the most important monastery in Shigatse region – Tashilunpo Monastery where you will spend about 2 hours for visiting.
Tashilhunpo Monastery is the seat of successive Panchen Lamas, aslo one of the six Gelug monasteries. Founded by the First Dalai Lama in 1447, its name means “all fortune and happiness gathered here” or “heap of glory” in Tibetan. Covering an area of nearly 150,000 square meters, the monastery has more than 57 halls and 3600 rooms. Among them, the Coqen Hall can hold 2000 people chanting at the same time. Featuring an interesting sprawling amalgam of traditional Tibetan monastic style, those halls, chapels and other structures are connected by precipitous steps and narrow cobblestone alleys. The interplay between the golden roofs and the white, red and black exterior walls creates a striking composition.
Leave Shigatse and head for Lhasa. On the halfway, you will take a visit to Nyemo Tunba which was the home of Tunmi Sangbuzha who invented the Tibetan character as well as the famous Tibetan Tibetan Incense. Here in Tunba, you also have chance to witness the process of making Tibetan Incense with water mill. At the same time, the scenery here is fabulous – ancient cypress trees, green willows, murmuring river…
DAY 13 DEPART FROM LHASA (B)
Today will be free until you are escorted to the airport or train station.
Tips: Please pack your luggage carefully, especially for things like tooth brush, camera, mobile phone, phone charger, towel, wallet. If your flight is arranged in the afternoon, please make sure you check out the hotel before 12pm.