MYSTERIOUS WESTERN TIBET TOUR ITINERARY
KEY TOUR FACTS
Main Attractions: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung and Sera Monasteries, Yamdrok Lake, Namtso lake, Kumbum Stupa, Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Manasarovar lake, Chiu monastery, Mount Kailash and the Guge Kingdom.
Duration: 21 days
Maximum Elevation: 5,640 m/ 18,600 ft
DETAILED TOUR ITINERARY
Day 1 – Arrival in Lhasa
You arrive at the Lhasa Gonggar Airport or the train station. The airport is 62 km/ 39 miles away from the city, and it takes approximately one hour to get to the hotel from there. On the way to Lhasa, you will enjoy beautiful views of mountains. The train station is located in Lhasa, and you will only need a short transfer to the hotel.
Depending on the time of your arrival, you might have some free time to spend in Lhasa. Our guides will be happy to advise you on what you can do with your time in Lhasa. Remember, that Lhasa is located at 3,650 meters/ 12,000 ft above sea level and you will need some time to acclimatize.
After you check in the hotel, you are welcome to explore the city, visit nearby temples, do some shopping, try delicious Tibetan food in one of the local restaurants, or just take a rest.
Walking around Bakhor Street can be an excellent choice for your first day in Lhasa. You will join crowds of pilgrims, local Tibetans, and monks circumambulating the Jokhang Temple.
Most importantly, on your first day in Tibet, be sure to relax, enjoy your day and allow some time for acclimatizing.
Day 2 – Lhasa City Tour: Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple
This tour visits the two most important religious sites in Tibet.
The Potala Palace was the seat of the Dalai Lamas since the 17th century. First, the guide will take you to the Chak Pori Hill to take photos of the majestic Palace. We will then go inside and spend approximately 1.5 – 2 hours there. While there, you will see many of its most famous artifacts.
There will be free time for lunch after visiting the Potala Palace.
Time permitting, you can walk around the Potala Palace and join many of the local Tibetans.
Next, we will walk towards the Jokhang Temple. It was built in the 7th century to display the Jowo Shakyamuni Statue – the statue of the 12-year-old Buddha before his enlightenment. The statue was created at the time when the historical Buddha lived. It is elaborately decorated with gold, jewels, and precious stones.
After visiting the temple, we recommend taking a walk around Bakhor Street.
Day 3 – Lhasa City Tour: Drepung and Sera Monasteries
We are visiting the two most important monasteries in the capital.
We will first visit Drepung Monastery, which once was the largest monastery in the world with over 10,000 monks living there. It was the residence of Dalai Lamas before the Potala Palace was built.
There will be free time for lunch after the Drepung Monastery.
In the afternoon we are visiting Sera Monastery. It was founded by Tsongkhapa’s disciple in the 15th century. Nowadays it is famous for monks debate that you can witness. Debates are a very important part of learning and understanding Buddhism. Monks gather in the courtyard in the shade of the trees to refine their knowledge.
Day 4 – Driving to Shigatse: Yamdrok Lake and Glaciers
Today we will travel on some of the most beautiful roads in Tibet on our drive to Shigatse.
Be prepared to take photos of the breathtaking views as we go up to the highest point of the day – Kamba La Pass (almost 4,800 meters / 15,750 ft).
Our next stop will be at the Yamdrok Lake. It is one of the holy lakes in Tibet, and it is famous for its turquoise colored water.
After that, we will head towards Gyantse. On the way there, we will make a stop to see the spectacular glaciers.
In Gyantse, we will visit the monastery and the biggest stupa.
Finally, we will reach Shigatse late in the evening and stay there overnight.
Day 5 – Driving to the Everest Base Camp: Night by the Everest
Today we will be driving through towering mountain ranges, and going through several high passes and Everest viewpoints. We will reach tent camp near the Everest Base Camp in the evening.
Depending on the traffic and weather conditions, we might have time to visit the Rongbuk Monastery – the highest monastery in the world. .
We will stay in the tent for the night. You can order dinner and breakfast there as there is an English menu available.
Day 6 – Driving to Saga
On the way to Saga, we will see the Phelku Tso lake surrounded by snow peaked mountains. You can also see Shishapangma mountain, one of the mountains above 8,000 meters (8027 m).
After that, we are driving up to the high pass to get the view of the grasslands.
We arrive at Saga in the evening to have dinner and check into the hotel.
Day 7 – Saga to Darchen with a stop by Manasarovar Lake
On the way to the Manasarovar lake, you will see stunning views of the Saga Valley between Gangdise Range and Himayalan Range. We will also stop at the desert area filled with sand dunes (an unexpected change of landscape!). As we cross the Mayumla Pass (5112M), you can enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Naimonanyi (7694M).
We will see the Rakshas-Tal lake. It has a very beautiful bright color, but it is so salty that it is called the “dead lake”.
In the evening we will pass the Manasarovar lake.
After we pass the lake, we will drive to Darchen to stay there overnight. Darchen is located by the Southern foot of Mount Kailash and it is the starting point of our trek around the holy mountain.
We are staying at the guesthouse overnight.
Day 8 – Trek, 1st day (20km/ 12.4 miles)
We will start our trek very early in the morning. We will be walking around the Kailash in a clockwise direction. From Darchen we will head west towards the area with the main prayer poll and the sky burial place. It is the area where Tibetans celebrate the Saga Dawa Festival, commemorating the day of Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment, and death.
Later we will reach the first tea shop on the trek where we will stop for lunch.
In the afternoon we will continue to the Dira Puk Monastery and stop there for the night (at a guesthouse). From the guesthouse, you will get a spectacular view of the north face of the Kailash Mountain.
Day 9 – Trek, 2nd day (22 km/ 13.6 miles)
On the second day, we will start the trek very early to go through the highest pass. First, we will walk to the tea house to have breakfast and prepare for crossing the pass. After we are done eating, we will start ascending the pass. The Dolma La Pass is 5,630 meters/ 18,600 ft. high. Once you reach it, you can see the stunning views of the mountains and the lakes below. There are many colorful prayer flags that people hang there to spread their prayers with every gust of wind.
On the way down, we will cross the river and continue to the next tea shop for lunch and a short break.
After that, we will walk to the Zutiulpuk Monastery where we will be staying overnight (in a guesthouse).
Day 10 – Trek 3rd Day (14 km/ 8.7 miles)
Today will be our shortest and easiest day. We will be walking through a gorgeous valley following the mountain river. Throughout the day we will see the east side of Mt. Kailash.
We will be staying overnight in the hotel in Darchen. (A hot shower available for an additional fee).
Day 11 – Darchen to Lake Manasarovar
In the morning, we will drive to the holy Lake Manasarovar (4558 m), where we will rest after our strenuous trek. You can relax on the lake shore surrounded by snow-capped mountains and enjoy the beauty of the lake. In summer, you can see swans. There are always a lot of Tibetans and Hindus praying and walking around the lake.
We will stay by the Chiu Monastery (Guesthouse, dormitory rooms).
Day 12 – Manasarovar – Tsada: Guge Kingdom and Torling Monastery
Today we are driving to what was known as the Guge Kingdom. The distance is not very long (290 km), however, it takes time driving on the zigzagging mountain roads. The present name of the area is Tsamda county and we will reach it in the late afternoon. The capital of the county is Torling famous for its large monastery. Richen Zangpo founded Torling monastery in 10th century, and it became the most important religious center of the Guge Kingdom.
Later, Guge kings moved the capital closer to the trade routes between India and Tibet. However, the Torling monastery remained an important cultural heritage of Ngari, Western Tibet.
Day 13 – Sightseeing at Guge Kingdom
In the morning, we drive to Tsaparang (Guge Kingdom, 23km), and drive back to Tholing by the evening. Guge Kingdom is one of the first important cultural relic sites under protection, the grand palace ruins stand on a 300-meter tall yellow earth hill on the banks of the Xiangquang River in the Tsabrang District.
Stay overnight at Tsada (monastery guesthouse, dormitory rooms)
Day 14 – Tsada – Shiquan River: Clay Forest, Xiangquan River Canyon
Today, we will travel from Tsada to the town of Shiquanhe (approximately 200 km). Shiquanhe town is the capital city of Ngari prefecture and our last stop in the large city in Western Tibet.
The road is truly beautiful. We will pass by the incredible Clay Forest formed by crustal movement in Xiangquan River Canyon.
Stay overnight in Shiquanhe Town
Day 15 – Shiquan River – Gerze: Changthang grassland, Tibetan Wildlife, Salt Lake
Starting from Shiquanhe Town, we will pass Gegye and travel all the way to Gerze. Shortly after we venture into the Changthang Grassland of Gegye County, we will enjoy packs of Wild Tibetan Donkeys, Tibetan Antelopes, and Tibetan Gazelle, etc. Besides, a great number of nameless lakes, mountain passes, and snow-capped mountains make picturesque scenery. On the way, we can also see a big salty lake and trucks preparing to load supply from here. And finally, finish the over 200km’s drive from the salt lake to Gerze.
Stay overnight in Gerze
Day 16 – Gerze – Nima: Wildlife, Zhari Namco Lake, Tangra Yumco Lake
As you enjoy the ride from Gerze to Nima, you will have a rare chance to see a variety of rare wildlife that can only be seen in remote areas of western Tibet. Animals like Tibetan Gazelle, marmot, and Black-Neck-Crane, Wild Donkey, etc. will keep you company in Northern Ngari where there is little human presence. After we pass Tsochen County, tourists can see many colorful mountains, red, green, or yellow, largely due to the abundant mineral resources are hidden inside these mountains. The road gets bumpier as we move from Tsochen to Zhari Namtso Lake. The lake is widely known as the largest Seling lake with the highest altitude in Ngari region and its favorable environment produces Tibetan cashmere goats.
Stay overnight in Nima town.
Day 17 – Nima to Wanpo South Village
In the afternoon, we will be arriving at Thara Yumtso Lake, which is the holiest lake in Bon religion. Many believe that its holiness is equal to that of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. It’s said that the color of the lake can change three times within a single day.
Wanpo south village is facing Thara Yumtso Lake and Dagoer Snow Mountain, Wanpo South Village (4500m) is a secluded and picturesque place with a charming pastoral scene. The local villagers here are half-nomadic and half-farming. They cultivate barley, potatoes, rapeseed, and Bok Choy, etc. Such peaceful, harmonious and pastoral scene is extremely rare at such altitude. that’s why it’s called the “Wanpo Paradise”. Tourists can have a good rest in the village and explore this village. If you are interested, you may visit Dangchung Monastery in Wanpo North village.
Stay overnight in Wanpo South Village
Day 18 – Wanpo South Village – Nima – Banga: Tibetan gazelles and Seling Tso
Today, we will have an early start. After we leave Wanpo, and you will find yourselves travel in the world of Tibetan Gazelles and finally we will reach Seling Tso around noon after passing numerous small lakes. Seling Tso is the second largest saline lake in northern Tibet, only next to Namtso Lake. In Tibetan, it is believed to be a “Demon Lake”.
We will move close-wise along the north bank of Serling Tso and you will see many Tibetan Antelopes and Tibetan gazelles grazing or playing at Lakeside.
Staying overnight in Banga town.
Day 19 – Driving from Banga to Namtso
We will drive for 3-4 hours before arriving at Tashi Island by the Namtso lake. Here, you can enjoy the stunning view of Namtso and climb on the mountain to get an incredible view of the largest salt lake in Tibet and snow-peaked mountain ranges around it.
After visiting the lake, we will drive to Damshung town and stay there overnight.
Day 20 – Damshung to Lhasa
In the morning, we will head back to Lhasa. As we pass the Yangpachen Hot Spring, we will stop there for some time. You can visit hotsprings, it is optional and it is not included in the package. Hotsprings consists of several pools, some are outside and some are inside. The temperature in all of them is high.
Day 21 – Departure From Lhasa
Please prepare in advance for your departure. It takes approximately one hour to drive to the airport and around thirty minutes to reach the train station. We will arrive at the airport three hours before your departure flight if you are traveling to Nepal and two hours before any domestic flight.
WHAT IS INCLUDED
WHY CHOOSE US
PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP
- Sleeping bag (optional)
- Inner sheet for your sleeping bag (optional)
- Hiking boots, ideally waterproof. Gore-Tex could work great in a range of temperatures and even in snow.
- Water bottle or thermos
- Rain gear (poncho, backpack cover)
- Small first aid kit and medications
- Camera with spare memory card and battery
- Power bank
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Hat and/or baseball hat for sun protection
- Personal toiletries, such as toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, wipes, hand sanitizer, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.
- Money: Chinese Yuan is the only currency accepted in Tibet and there are virtually no ATMs when you leave the cities. Be prepared in advance and take the necessary amount for all the duration of your trip outside of Lhasa
- Personal Journal for making notes and writing the diary
- flashlight or headlamp
TOURS YOU MIGHT LIKE
15 DAYS GROUP TOUR TO MOUNT KAILASH
One of our most popular group tours, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and going to Mount Kailash for three-day trekking around this sacred mountain. During this tour, we visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse monastery and Kumbum stupa, Mount Everest, Lake Manasarovar, Mount Kailash, and much more.
SAGA DAWA FESTIVAL TOUR TO MOUNT KAILASH
This special tour takes you to the sacred Mount Kailash during the biggest festival of the year. Saga Dawa Festival celebrated the day of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. The festival attracts thousands of pilgrims from all around Tibet, India and the world. You will see the greatest diversity of Tibetan national dress as people wear their best clothes for the festival.
17 DAYS WESTERN TIBET: KAILASH AND GUGE KINGDOM
A private tour taking you from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet to the most Western part of the country. The tour includes three days trekking around Mount Kailash and visiting the ruins of the Guge Kingdom on the West, in addition to Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse, and Everest Base Camp.