Travelling to Tibet is the opportunity of a lifetime, no wonder it scores high on the bucket list of most travelers. It is often called the Roof of the World, because it is situated on a high plateau north of the Himalayan range in the western part of China. For centuries it was nearly impossible for foreigners to enter, which created a mysterious image of Tibet and its unique culture. Our trip takes you to a memorable adventure, offering you the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Tibet, the serenity and wisdom of its Buddhist culture, and the chance to see how Tibetan people – nomads and farmers – manage to make a living in this harsh environment. Either you plan a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage, a cultural tour, this trip has it all.
Inspired to go? Have a look at other Tibet trips offered by Royal Mountain Travel
|Day 1||Arrival in Lhasa - Touch Down at Roof of The World|
|Day 2||Lhasa - Acclimatization Day|
|Day 3||City Tour visiting Drepung – Nechung, Norbulinka and Sera|
|Day 4||Walking tour visiting Potala and Jokhang – Barkhor incl guide only|
|Day 5||Surrounding areas of Lhasa visiting Pabongka and Ganden monasteries|
|Day 6||Farewell Lhasa|
Accommodation in Lhasa is on twin share and deluxe rooms. In Gyantse, Shigatse, Shegar and Lao Tingri are available on twin share in the beRead More...
Accommodation in Lhasa is on twin share and deluxe rooms. In Gyantse, Shigatse, Shegar and Lao Tingri are available on twin share in the best available hotels in the respective town. Depending upon the availability the bathrooms and restrooms may be either shared or private facilities. Generally in this tour, accommodation will be provided on twin sharing basis and if you do not have single room bookings you may have to share rooms with another fellow passenger. Accommodation is quite basic at Rombuk.
Meals are not included. Please allow Euro 10-15 per person per day for normal meals (Breakfast, lunch & Dinner) In Lhasa there is also quite a variety, although not as extensive as in Kathmandu. Elsewhere in Tibet the variety is much more limited. We would like to recommend must try dishes in Tibet – Tsampa (barley flour mixed with yak butter) & Yak butter tea. An alternative to yak butter tea is Cha Ngamo, a sweet, milky tea. Chinese green tea is also widely available. Chang, a fermented barley beer is the local alcoholic brew. It is generally OK to drink, however may be made with contaminated water.
In the high altitude of Tibet it is important to drink a much higher quantity of water than you are used to. Always carry drinking water with you and have some nearby at nights, as it is amazing how quickly you can dehydrate, even at rest. Tap water is not safe to drink, however there may be a thermos provided in the rooms. Boiled water is OK for drinking. Bottled drinking water is available everywhere, however we recommend taking water purification tablets or a bottle with an inbuilt filter as these are more environmentally-friendly options than bottled water.
You will be met at Gongkar airport or Lhasa train station on arrival and accompanied in Tibet by an English speaking guide. It is a TTB regulation that you be accompanied by a guide when traveling outside Lhasa. Guides in Tibet are licensed and controlled by the Tibetan Tourist Bureau and vary enormously influence and knowledge. Whilst we maintain a core of trained guides, there may be times when the selection is outside our control. The Physical Reality The remote type of travel that we experience in parts of Tibet can be physically demanding and the effect that this will have on you, both physically and mentally should not be underestimated. Breakdown can occur. The terrain is very mountainous and you may be affected by altitude. It is rare that these occurrences results in more than minor delay or have serious impact on your trip, but the possibility remains.
Tours in Tibet takes you into areas well away from the usual tourist trail and into a world very, very different to that you know. There are places in Tibet, where accommodation is very basic with limited access to running water, no shower for several days, pit toilets, simple food and little spoken or written English. Opportunities to ‘get away’ from the group are limited: patience,
Tolerance and humor will be required by all. All this can and does its toll on people and should not be underestimated– the rewards however are incredible.
Email: Private internet bars can be found in main cities. Alternatively, you can use business centers in China Telecom offices. Some websites have been blacklisted by the Chinese government and cannot be accessed from within China.
Be careful making international calls from hotels as they can be very expensive. Private telecom booths are cheaper and easy to use. To make international calls you will need a phone card bought from inside Tibet. All cities and even smaller towns have mobile phone reception if your phone is enabled with international roaming.
Receiving post is not recommended as we are usually doing something or traveling during the opening hours of most post offices. Allow up to 10 days for mail to arrive at international destinations. Write-in the address in Chinese can help speed delivery.
The most common items you will find are religious item such as prayer flags, prayer wheels, Thankas, shawls and daggers. Traditional clothing and Jewellery are also available. Sometimes you will be able to find beautiful carpets available. Expect to bargain. Being polite while doing so will get you a better deal.
It is best to bring a mixture of cash and travelers cheques in major currencies – USD, CAD, EUR, AUD – and ensure you have a mixture of large and small denominations. Everyone’s spending is different, but as a guide, we suggest USD 20-25 per person per day (if you drink or smoke this could be higher). Shopping is difficult to predict, but most people buy more than they
It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trek. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and repatriation and personal liability. We also recommend that it covers cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
There are no specific health requirements for entry into Nepal or China. However, you should consult your doctor for up-to date information regarding vaccinations, high altitude medication and medications for any reasonably foreseeable illnesses whilst traveling in Nepal and China. Please be aware that medical facilities are not of the same standard you might expect at home. We strongly recommend that you carry a personal First Aid kit as well as sufficient quantities of any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses).
AMS (acute mountain sickness) is a serious issue. It is the result of the failure of the body to adapt to high altitude and can affect anyone, regardless of age or fitness. It usually occurs above 1,800 meters and the likelihood of being affected increases as you ascend. On arrival in Lhasa breathlessness, lethargy and mild headaches are not uncommon and generally decrease
As your body adjusts. Taking it easy at first and maintaining adequate fluid intake is essential. Please advise your guide if you feel more severe symptoms and do not medicate yourself without discussing it with them first.
Tibet is a land of climactic extremes and whilst it is not generally as harsh as expected, it is a good idea to be prepared for cold at any time of the year – it is wind chill rather than air temperature that makes the difference here. In central Tibet weather is usually mild from May through October. Evenings may be cool, particularly early or late in the season. Rain is frequent in July and August. In Western Tibet and at higher altitudes (Rhongphu, Namtso) it can be cold at any time of year if the wind is blowing off the mountains. From December into April travel in Tibet is possible, although you must be prepared for delays if passes become blocked by snow. Trekking is not possible at this time.
Packing for your Trip:
• Comfortable shoes & Socks
• Fleece jacket or equivalent. It can get cold, even in summer
• Comfortable, informal clothing (shorts & singlet tops are not appropriate)
• Hat – a good idea as the sun is very strong
• Gloves – wool or fleece & Scarf
• Thermal Underwear
• Sarong – a multitude of uses
• Sewing kit & Swiss Army Knife
• Money belt
• Toiletries (including lip slave and moisturizer)
• Torch / flashlight – headlamp style is ideal
• First Aid Kit
• Small Towel
• Small umbrella or rain jacket (June-August particularly)
• Sheet sleeping bag (you may feel more comfortable in some of the more basic guest houses where laundry is not a priority
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.
Arrival in Lhasa - Touch Down at Roof of The World
There are many options for you to plan to arrive in Lhasa. Lhasa is connected to third countries via flight from Kathmandu only. From China you have the option of taking flight from many cities in China such as Chengdu, Beijing, Xian etcs. Lhasa is also connected with other parts of China via train.
Upon arrival at the train station in Lhasa city or at Gongkar airport, you will be received by your guide. If you have taken flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa or taking train from various cities within China to Lhasa, your guides will be receiving you with your original Tibet permit. If you have chosen to take the flight from China to Lhasa, then original permits will be delivered to your hotel or address in China (extra cost may be involved).
The drive from Gongkar airport to Lhasa city takes around 90 minutes. You will be driving along the Yarlung Tsangpo – the largent canyon in the world with a total depth 5382 meters then into the Kyi Chu Valley
Lhasa - Acclimatization Day
We are already at 3800 m and we can already feel the affect of low availability of oxygen. In order not to induce more affect of low oxygen level, we take our day easy. Doing some walking around the market areas (note that we will not be allowed to enter any temples or monasteries without our guide) and take rest so that our body slowly acclimatizes to the high altitude.
City Tour visiting Drepung – Nechung, Norbulinka and Sera
Today, we will be touring around the major attraction within the Lhasa city. We will be accompanied by our Tibetan Guide.
Drepung Monastery: It used to be the biggest monastic university of the Gelukpa school, and before the 1950ies more than seven-thousand monks lived there. The monastic complex lies at the foot of Mt. Gephel about 8 km away from the center of Lhasa. It was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choeje, a famous monk, one of the main disciples of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa school. One of its palaces, the Ganden Phodrang was the residence of the Dalai Lamas until the Potala was built. Today it has seven colleges with different emphasis, teaching lineages and geographical affiliations.
Nechung Monastery: The Nechung is only a ten minutes’ walk downhill from Drepung Monastery. This small complex was the seat of the Tibetan State Oracle until 1959, when he escaped to India with the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan government and the Dalai Lamas would never make an important decision without consulting the oracle. And when asked a question, he would fall into trance, and be possessed by Dorje Drakden, a form of Pehar, a protector deity. His mumbles and hissing was recorded and interpreted by monks. The main temple is a typical Tantric shrine with some unique murals providing a glimpse into the realm of protectors and wrathful deities of Tibetan Buddhism.
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: Sera is a famous monastic university of Tibet belonging to the Gelukpa school founded in the early 15th century. It is situated about 5 km away from the center of Lhasa. Among its many buildings it is worth to visit the impressive assembly hall where 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.
Walking tour visiting Potala and Jokhang – Barkhor incl guide only
Today we will be walking around the nearby attractions and yes today we will be visiting the Potala Palace – the highlight of the trip to Tibet.
Potala: The Potala Palace, the seat of the Dalai Lamas since the 17th century, is the most well-known landmark of Tibet. It is situated on the Marpori, the Red Hill. After climbing its impressive 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, who used to meditate on the same spot in the 7th century, where the Potala was later built. 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 Buddhist mythology. In its present form the Potala was built by the great 5th Dalai Lama, who was a famous polymath of the 17th century. The White Palace, built in 1649, housed the residence of the Dalai Lama and his government. The Red Palace was added for religious studies after the 5th Dalai Lama`s passing away, and his personal monastery, the Namgyal was moved to this building. In 1994 the Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Today it functions as a museum.
When you visit, please, bring your passport, and make sure that you don’t carry any cream, drinks, liquids, lipstick, matches, lighters, knife in your bag, when you enter. You can buy water, soft drinks, pictures and books inside the palace.
Jokhang: 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 circumbulation path filled with traditional shops, old shrines, and Tibetan pilgrims walking around especially after sunrise and before sunset.
Surrounding areas of Lhasa visiting Pabongka and Ganden monasteries
Today we will be making little tours out of Lhasa city.
Phabongka Hermitage: It is one of the most ancient Buddhist sites in the Lhasa region, near Sera Monastery, with buildings scattered around on the slopes of Mt. Udug. It was originally built by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century as a castle, and later it was converted into a monastery. Up the hill from the hermitage is the Palden Lhamo cave, the meditation chamber of Songtsen Gampo, and the nearby Jasa Podrang, a yellow brick building is the place, where Tonmi Sambhota, the minister of King Songtsen Gampo composed the Tibetan alphabet after years of travelling and learning in India. There is a sky-burial place next door, where Tibetans traditionally dispose dead bodies, and feed them to vultures.
Ganden Monastery: It is the first monastery founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa School, 50 km away from Lhasa. Ganden means ‘joyous’, and it is the name of the paradise of the future Buddha, Maitreya. The monastery is high up on a mountain over 4000 m above sea level, and has stupendous views of the Kyichu valley and a fascinating circumambulation path which offers views to both sides of the mountain. The red fortress like structure is Tsongkhapa’s mausoleum known as Serkhang, and though it was destroyed by the Red Guards along with the preserved body of Tsongkhapa, it was beautifully reconstructed. Another important place to visit is the nearby assembly hall, where in the inner sanctum the golden throne of Tsongkhapa is still standing, which for centuries was the throne of the Ganden Thripa, the head of the Gelukpa school. Pilgrims get thumped on the head as a blessing with the hat of Tsongkhapa, and the shoes of the 13th Dalai Lama.
Today is our last day in Lhasa. Depending upon your departure details, you may or may not have time to wander around the local streets of Lhasa before you head to airport or train station to continue on your next journey