If Tibet is the "roof of the world", then western Tibet is the roof's roof! Our coverage of Western Tibet focuses on the sights that most attract travelers to this remote and difficult land. The most important of these sights is Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarova, and the Tirthpuri Hot Springs. These are some of the holiest sights in Tibet and are imminently important in the religious lives of the Tibetan people. These can all be reached from Darchen, a village on the main road from Lhasa to Ali. The town of Ali is the seat of the regional government and an important spot to stage expeditions further north or west, out of our current coverage. This is the land of the Himalayas with great snowcapped mountains, lakes, grasslands and lots and lots of space! In fact, perhaps the sheer emptiness of the region will astound you. In an area of 300 square kilometers, there are only approximately 70,000 Tibetans, mainly engaged in animal husbandry and farming. Any other Tibetans you may meet are pilgrims coming to visit the holy sights of the region. Mt. Kailash (6714m), Asia’s most sacred mountain, is located in a high and isolated enclave of West Tibet. It is one of three pilgrimages sites in the area, known collectively as Kangri Tsosum. All are said to be at the heart of the ancient Shangshung kingdom, the supposed land of origin of the pre-Buddist Bonpos. Mt Kailash is their sould-mountain, which they also call Yungdrung Gu Tse, the Nine-story Swastika Mountain. It is a 53-km pilgrim path around Mt. Kailash. It begins and ends at Darchen, a small settlement at the mountain’s south base and in the process visits four monasteries ad crosses the high Drolma La Pass (5636m). Three days is perhaps the minimum time required to walk leisurely around the mountain: spend two nights in or near Drira Phuk and Zutrul Phuk Monasteries. If conditions permit, try to stay four or five days, which would allow time for short trips to the inner regions of the area.
Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa
Day 2: Lhasa sightseeing
Day 3: Lhasa sightseeing
Day 4: Lhasa/Gyantse/Shigatse (360 km)
Day 5: SHIGATSE-NGAMRING (5220 M), 160 KMS, 6-7 HRS
Day 6: SAGA, 4280 M, 190 KMS, 7-8 HRS
Day 7: PARYANG, 4750 M, 250 KMS, 8-9 HRS
Day 8: LAKE MANASOROVAR, 4560 M, 260 KMS, 10 HRS
Day 9: DARCHEN (4560 M), 30 KM
Day10-12 : KAILASH CIRCUIT TREK
Day 13: TIRDAPURI - KHOJARNATH – PURANG
Day 14: PARYANG
Day 15: SAGA
Day 16: Plan Choosing
Day 17: Plan Choosing
Day 18: Shigatse/Lhasa
Day 19: Lhasa/Gonggar Airport
Arrive in Lhasa, transfer to the hotel and acclimatize the high altitude sickness.
Welcome to Tibet! The guide will meet you at Gonggar Airport, and transfer you to Lhasa city with about 1 hours' driving (70km). Upon your arrival in Lhasa, you will find air is extremely pure and the sky is deeply blue. Transfer to the hotel. Better not do any activities at the first day, as the city is at an elevation of 12,000 feet, you may feel the effects of its high altitude. We strongly recommend that you plan on a minimum of two hours of bed rest upon arrival to help you acclimatize, and be sure to drink plenty of water during your time in Tibet.
Have a tour to Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
The first day of sightseeing starts from Lhasa's cardinal landmark- Potala Palace, a structure of massive portions: the extraordinary Potala Palace. Built in the 17th century (atop the original 7th-century site), it boasts more than 1,000 rooms, including the Red Palace (where the Dalai Lama once lived), 10,000 chapels, and a labyrinth of mysterious dungeons. It took 7,000 workers and 1,500 artists and craftsmen more than 50 years to build the adjoining White and Red Palaces. This Eastern architectural triumph was the world's tallest building before the creation of 20th-century skyscrapers.
Afterwards, some 2km to the east of the Potala is the most revered religious structure in Tibet, the 1,300-year-old Jokhang Temple, where we are likely to see Buddhist pilgrims making clockwise circuits on their hands and knees in reverence to one of Tibet's most sacred sites. Thousands of yak-butter candles flicker inside beneath the enlightened gaze of the golden Jowo Sakyamuni, the seventh-century Buddha statue that the temple was built to house.
Then walk on the Barkhor street surrounding Jokhang, a big free market with its prolific stalls for selling local specialties.
Visit Norbulingka, Tibet Museum and Sera Monastery.
In the morning, visiting famous Norbulingka, where the Olympic Torch Relay started in Tibet. Norbulingka means the garden of treasures in Tibetan language. Located in the west suburbs of Lhasa, this palace complex was built in the 18th century and served as the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas.
Then have a tour for Tibet Museum to discover Tibetan history and development. As Tibet's first museum in the modem sense, Tibet Museum, situated at the southeastern comer of the Buddhist religious garden Norbulingka in Lhasa, was inaugurated in October 1999 on occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding the People's Republic of China and the 40th anniversary of the Democratic Reforms in Tibet as the product of one of 62 Chinese government funded projects launched in July 1994 in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the formation of the Autonomous Region of Tibet. After the visit, you will have a general idea of the whole Tibet.
In the after noon, go for Sera monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Luckily you could see the line-up for visit the god as long as you could imagine, also the exciting debating situation of monks there every afternoon.
Drive forward to Shigatse via Gyantse, have a tour for Pelkor Monastery and Yamdrok Yumtso Lake.
Drive to Gyantse this morning, on the Ganba La (4,796 m) have a fantastic view of the holy lake of Yamdrok Yumtso (4441 m). It is one of the three largest lakes of Tibet, lies about a hundred kilometers' distance to the southwest of Lhasa, is within Langkamu county, with an area of 638 square kilometers and a coastal line of 250 kilometers. The deepest point is 60 metres. To the interior of the lake ten or so hilly islands stand independently one from the other which give homes to flocks of wild ducks. A lot of colorful ducks and geese are swimming on the surface of the lake. There is also plenty of natural fodder for the fish in the lake. The lake has a fish reserve of about 300 million kilograms.That is why it is called "the Fish Store of Tibet". The coast of the lake is an ideal pasture. All these make an intoxicating quite picture.
Upon arrival in Gyantse, visit Pelkor Monastery as well as the splendid Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) nearby, both of them built in the15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse. This typical Tibetan Buddhist monastery is the only one large building complex in Tibet that old monastery and stupas are completely preserved and characterized as a monument. It is recorded 14,000 kilograms of copper was used to make the 8-meter-high sitting statue of Sakyamuni Buddha housed in the grand hall of the temple. The 8-storey stupa is 42m high and 62m in diameters contains a total of 76 chapels with wonderful murals revered by art scholars around the world.
After the tour, head to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet.
Drive to Ngamring today.
On the way, if the time is permitting, make an excursion to visit the Sakya Monastery (4.280 m). Sakya, the master monastery of the Striped Sect, is well famed with its long history, large-scale construction complex and great influence in Tibet history. Its North Monastery was built in 1073 and named Sakya (meaning gray in Tibetan) as it was situated on a gray mountain. What we see today is the Sakya South Monastery built in 1269 by Phagpa. The outside walls of the monastery were painted with red, white and gray, symbolizing Avalokitesvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani.
Forward to Saga.
The road follows south of the Pelgu-Tso, continues across the plain with stunning Himalayan views. The route then follows a narrow gorge before climbing to a pass and dropping steeply down to a ferry crossing over the Yarlung Tsangpo.
Continue to Paryang.
From Saga it is 145 km to Zhongba. The road is good and the trip can be completed in 4-5 hrs. There is also a small monastery at the western end of town on a hill. From Zhongba onwards the southern road deteriorates. There is also danger of vehicles getting stuck. But this section of the road has panoramic views of mountains on either side of the road.
Have a tour to holy Lake Mansorovar.
From Paryang to Lake Mansorovar is a long drive of 10 hrs or more. There will be several river crossings and we drive past Mayum la pass (4600 M). The scenery is stunningly beautiful with panoramic views of the Himalayas.
Arrive in Darchen, prepare for the Kailash Kora.
About 30 kms north of Lake Manasorovar is Darchen, the main gateway and the village. The monastery at Darchen, Darchen Gon, is a part of the Drukpa sect. The two-story monastery structure in the center of the town serves as a trading post and shelter for pilgrims. Within the dukhang assembly hall are new and old thangka paintings and some statues, the main image being Sakyamuni. West of the gompa is the Mani Lhakhang that has a large, new mani prayer wheel. This is the site where the original old flagpole (a darchen is a flagpole for prayer flags) of Darchen was located. When beginning their kora pilgrimage around Kailash, many pilgrims often circumambulate the Darchen Gon monastery and the Mani Lhakhang before setting out. We organize yaks or ponies for the Kailash circuit trek at Darchen. And Darchen is also the Point of Exit to the Sacred Mount Kailash (Kang Rimpoche) for the Kailash Pilgrimage Circuit (Kailash Kora).
Day 1 of the Kora: Darchen/IRAPHUK: (6 hrs)
We head west in clockwise direction and after a few kilometers the trail climbs up to a cairn at 4730 m from where the southern face of Mt. Kailash comes to view. En route visit Tarboche where annual flagpole raising ceremony takes place during Saga Dawa.
On the fifteenth day of the fourth Tibetan month is Saka Dawa Festival. The day is believed to be the time when Sakyamuni was born; stepped into Buddhahood, and attained nirvana. Tibetans believe that a merit is an accumulation of a myriad of merits from previous days, months or years. People refrain from killing animals by liberating them and abstain from eating meats. Sutra chanting, prayer turning, Cham dancing and other religious activities dominate the occasion. Offering sacrifices to the female deity enshrined in the temple on the islet of the Dragon King Pond, boating in the pond and picnicking add more to the festive mood
Day 2 of the Kora: IRAPHUK - ZUTRULPHUK , 4790, 6 hrs
Today we cross Drolma la pass (5630 M) and Gauri Kund Lake (5608 m) where Hindus worship and immerse themselves in the icy waters of the lake.
Day 3 of the Kora: Zutrulphuk/Darchen/Hor, 3-4 hrs
The final end of the Parikrama is an easy 2-3 hrs walk down to where the river emerges on to the Barga plain. We complete the 3 day circuit trek of Mt. Kailash and drive to Tirdapuri where there is a hot spring. Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash is not complete without visiting Tirdapuri for the Tibetan Buddhists. There are some tea house build up by local Tibetan people. You can have tea during the trekking.
Visit Tirdapuri Monastery and the pilgrim circuit and drive to Purang. En route visit Khojarnath Monastery.
Optional A: Continue to Kathmandu, Nepal
Optional B: Drive Back to Lhasa and leave
In the early morning we drive to Zhangmu first, after you go through all the formalities of China Customers. You will be met in Kodari of Kathmandu Side. Service ends.
Drive along Yurlong Tsangpu River about 280km, taking 6 hours to get back to Lhasa. Upon arrival, the free time at your disposal.
Departure transfers for the flight out. Service ends.
Airport or train station transfer: The free airport pick-up is at 3:20 p.m. These are the most common times in and out of Lhasa, but if you would like to schedule a different time enter/leave Tibet we will be happy to arrange that. Please ask your travel consultant for the price.
Accommodation: stay in comfortable hotels in Tibet
Meals: mainly Breakfast. See detailed itinerary for complete listing.
English Speaking Guide: All of our guides are local Tibetans with infectious smiles and a passion for sharing their homeland. From them you'll receive extensive information about the history, geography, culture, religion, traditions, art and music.
Vehicle Rental & Driver: All of our vehicles are well maintained and safe. Our drivers are experienced in driving in the Tibetan landscape. Vehicle type will be arranged according to group size.
Travel Permits: All Tibet traveling permits.
Entrance Fees: All entrance fees listed in the itinerary, (except optional sites) including vehicle and personal entry permit for Qomolangma Nature Preserve
Transportation to and from Tibet.
Other services of non-Tibet parts
Private expense like laundry, IDD calls, drinks in the room, etc.
Extra expenses incurred due to unexpected natural events (delays, road washouts, etc.)
Meals not specified in the tour itinerary
Tips for the tour guide and driver
Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarova , Tibet Museum , Palkhor Monastery ,Yamdrok Yumtso Lake , Norbulingka , Sera Monastery , Potala Palace ,Jokhang Temple , Barkhor Street