|Day 1||Day 1: Meeting at the hotel, welcome dinner.|
|Day 2||Day 02: Visit of Panda Research Base, Kunzhai Xiang, Chinese tea houses and Sichuan Opera|
|Day 3||Day 03: Visit of Leshan Giant Buddha & Sichuan hotpot dinner|
|Day 4||Flight to Lhasa transfer to Hotel Yak Deluxe (4 Nights)|
|Day 5||Visit Jokhang Temple and Ani Tsankhung Nunnery|
|Day 6||Visit Potala, Norbulinka and Sera Monastery|
|Day 7||Lhasa Free Day|
|Day 8||Departure transfer to the airport|
Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.
Day 1: Meeting at the hotel, welcome dinner.
Day 02: Visit of Panda Research Base, Kunzhai Xiang, Chinese tea houses and Sichuan Opera
Panda Research Base: It takes about half an hour from the center of Chengdu to reach the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding depending on the traffic. It is a huge park with rivers, lakes, ornamental green lawns, wild bamboo forests and man-made rocks and caves created to provide a healthy environment for the pandas living there. The base is the habitat of other endangered species as well, like red pandas, swans, peacocks, rare birds and butterflies. The giant pandas live in enclosures, and visitors can observe them resting, eating, playing with each other. You may take pictures of the pandas, but using flash is not allowed. After the main entrance inside there is a museum on the left promoting the protection of the environment and sharing results of scientific research related to panda breeding, and further inside the park there is a panda cinema, where they show a very informative film on the life of giant pandas.
Wide and narrow alleys / Kunzhai Xiang: These three parallel ancient city alleys have 45 ancient courtyards houses going back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Kuanzhai Xiang was restored in 2008 and became a popular area with many bars, restaurants, teahouses and shops selling interesting Chinese souvenirs. It provides a good opportunity to learn about local life during the Qing Dynasty, and appreciate Sichuan embroidery, shadow play, puppet show and Sichuan opera.
Chinese tea houses: Tea houses in Chengdu are both indoor and outdoor with a tranquil ambience, for leisure, meeting friends, and relaxing. The teas mostly served include Jasmin, Dragon Well and Bi Luo Chun. The most popular ones are Heming Tea House in People’s Park, Zhiji Tea House in Culture Park, Laozhaiyuan in Kuanzhai Xiang, and Wenshu Monastery Tea House on Renmin Road.
Sichuan Opera: Originates in the 17th century, when immigrants flooding into Sichuan brought different dramas and blend it with the local dialect, customs, folk music and dances. The main highlight of Sichuan Opera is the „face changing” act, when actors change their masks, often 10 masks in less than 20 seconds! In Sichuan Opera qigong movements are also integrated, it is is an acrobatic and humorous show, very entertaining.
Day 03: Visit of Leshan Giant Buddha & Sichuan hotpot dinner
Leshan Giant Buddha: This 71 m tall stone statue was built in the 8th century, during the Tang Dynasty, depicting a seated Maitreya, the Future Buddha. It is the largest stone Buddha in the world. Carved out of a cliff face it lies at the confluence of three rivers in the southern part of Sichuan Province about 165 km from Chengdu (two hours by car). You can walk up and down on both sides of the statue to have a closer look, or go on a river cruise to take photos. Best is to arrive early to avoid the crowd. There is a monastery, the Wuyou Si, south of the Buddha founded in 742 AD with impressive decorations and statues, and painted scenes from the Journey to the West (one of the four classical Chinese novels written in the 16th century) in the second hall. The Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area was included by the UNESCO on the list of World Heritage sites in 1996.
Sichuan hotpot dinner: Sichuan cuisine has bold flavours, it is pungent and spicy. A lot of chilli and garlic is used, and its most famous spice is Sichuan pepper (peppercorn), which creates a tingly-numbing sensation in the mouth. Sichuan hotpot is a must-try. It is a metal pot of spicy stock at the center of the dining table, where different ingredients, like thinly sliced meat, leaf vegetables, dumplings, tofu and seafood can be cooked. The cooked food is shared by the people sitting around the table, and it is usually eaten with a dipping sauce.
Flight to Lhasa transfer to Hotel Yak Deluxe (4 Nights)
The flight to Lhasa is spectacular. From Gongkar airport it is about 1½ hours’ drive to Lhasa, first along the Yarlung Tsangpo then into the Kyi Chu Valley.
Visit Jokhang Temple and Ani Tsankhung Nunnery
The Jokhang Temple was founded in the 642 AD by Tibet’s first Buddhist king with the help of his Chinese and Nepali wives. Many Tibetans still use its original name, Tsuglagkhang, which means ‘House of Sciences’ (religious sciences like astrology, divination and geomancy). It is the center of the Tibetan mandala housing the oldest and most sacred Buddha statue, the Jowo. Although some parts of the temple has been rebuilt during the last centuries, original elements remain: the wooden beams and rafters have been shown by carbon dating to be original; the Newari door frames and columns date from the 7th and 8th centuries. From the rooftop you get a stunning view of the main square and the Potala. The temple is surrounded by the Barkhor, the “middle circle”, a traditional circumambulation path filled with traditional shops, old shrines, and Tibetan pilgrims walking around especially after sunrise and before sunset.
Ani Tsankhung Nunnery, In this nunnery of Lhasa more than one hundred Buddhist nuns live today. It was built on a site used for meditation by Tibet’s first Buddhist king, Songtsen Gampo. The nunnery was originally built in the 15th century and later enlarged in the 20th century. The nuns try to make a humble living by making handicrafts and printing religious texts in the old traditional fashion with wooden blocks. They also run an open air restaurant for pilgrims where you can try thugpa (noodle soup), momo (dumpling) and cha ngarmo (sweet tea) if you are adventurous enough.
Overnight at Yak Hotel
Visit Potala, Norbulinka and Sera Monastery
The Potala Palace, the seat of the Dalai Lamas for centuries is the most well-known landmark of Tibet. It is situated on the Marpori, the Red Hill, and after climbing its impressing stairway, you will see audience halls and living quarters of the Dalai Lamas, some exceptional relics, stupas, three dimensional mandalas, numberless beautiful statues, and even the meditation cave of Songtsen Gampo, the first Buddhist king of Tibet. As the Dalai Lamas are considered to be emanations of Chenrezi, the bodhisattva of compassion and protector of Tibet, their residence is called Potala, the heavenly abode of the bodhisattva of compassion. In its present form it was built by the great 5thDalai Lama, who was a famous polymath of the 17th century. The White Palace was built first in 1649 as a residence for the Dalai Lama and his government. The Red Palace was added for religious studies after the 5th Dalai Lama`s passed away, and his personal monastery, the Namgyal also moved there. In 1994 the Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Today the Potala is a museum.
When you visit, please, bring your passport and make sure that you don’t carry any water, cream, liquid, lipstick, matches, lighters, knife in your bag, when you enter. You can buy water and other drinks inside the palace.
Norbu Lingka: The Norbu Linka or Treasure Garden is the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas, a quiet and beautiful gardenin the western part of Lhasa. Its construction was started by the 7th Dalai Lama in 1755, and finished during the reign of the 13thand 14th Dalai Lamas in the 20th century. It is a huge well-kept garden, where you can walk around and enjoy the beauty of high altitude flora, and visit three palaces. The most interesting is the 14th Dalai Lama’s palace, where the murals of the audience hall depict events of Tibetan history, and his living quarters show his fascination with Western inventions. He escaped from this palace to India on March 10, 1959.
Sera Monastery is a famous monastic university of Tibet belonging to the Gelukpa school founded in the early 15thcentury, about 5 km away from the center of Lhasa. Among its many buildings it is worth to visit the impressive assembly hall where the monks do their daily rituals, and its Hayagriva shrine, as this Tantric deity is the remover of obstacles and its blessing heals headache and altitude sickness. Next to this building is a fenced debating courtyard, where every afternoon the monks test their knowledge of Buddhist philosophy in a spectacular way between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Overnight at Yak Hotel
Lhasa Free Day
With a relaxed pace to allow for the effects of altitude, explore this fantastic city on the roof of the world. The spiritual heart of Tibet is the Jokhang Temple and every morning is full of life as pilgrims bring offerings of butter and barley flour. The Potala Palace rises above the city and, more than any other sight, symbolizes the history and culture of Tibet. Nearby are the huge monastic universities of Drepung and Sera – still active institutions
Departure transfer to the airport
An early start for the return drive to Gongkar airport and flight back to Kathmandu