9 days Tibet cultural tour including Yarlung Valley and Shigatse
At your arrival your Tibetan guide and driver will pick you up and transfer to the hotel in Lhasa, it is only 68km and two hrs from the airport, from 15km which take 20 minutes. Take rest to acclimatize and alleviate jetlag. Overnight at Lhasa.
Today marks your first day of sightseeing on the high plateau, and we have intentionally arranged visits to only Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace. Jokhang Temple, the most sacred shrine in Tibet, was built in the 7th century and is located at the heart of Lhasa's old town. The surrounding circuit, known as Barkhor Street, is an ideal place to purchase souvenirs. Potala Palace, a globally recognized landmark of Tibet, is a massive structure that houses a small world within its walls. It is most famous as the residence of the Dalai Lama lineages (Avalokiteshvara). Both sites are focal points for pilgrims from across the Tibetan world, with many engaging in circumambulation and prostration as a display of their profound faith. Enjoy a cup of Tibetan sweet tea in one of the local tea houses before your guide escorts you back to the hotel. Overnight stay in Lhasa.
Today you will be arranged to visit Drepung monastery in the morning and Sera monastery in the afternoon. Both Drepung and Sera monasteries are Gelugpa (yellow hat) sect monastic colleges. Drepung monastery was the seat of the Government prior to Potala, it was once the world largest monastery in the history with 10,000 monks hailed from different monasteries all over Tibet. Sera monastery is famous for its Buddhism philosophical debate practice, the clapping sound and aggressive expression of the monks are well worth to see. Overnight at Lhasa.
P.S.: If you happen to visit Drepung Monastery on August 4th, 2024, you will have the opportunity to witness the grand opening ceremony of the Shoton Festival. Monks will be unrolling a large Thangka in Drepung Monastery very early in the morning. You will be arranged to join local Tibetan pilgrims in walking around the monastery to get a closer view.
Today, you'll visit Tsedang in the Yarlung Valley, known as the 'cradle of Tibetan civilization'. After a 2-2.5 hour drive from Lhasa along the Brahmaputra River, you'll arrive in Tsedang, your guide will arrange the necessary travel permit at local PSB office. Then you will proceed to visit the historic Yumbulakhang Palace, known as the first palace in Tibet. You can walk or rent a horse to ascend the hill to the palace, offering a panoramic view of the valley.
Afternoon, you'll drive for about 40 minutes to Samye Monastery, Tibet's first monastery, notable for its mandala-like architecture symbolizing the universe. Time permitting, hike up Hepo Ri Hill for stunning views of the monastery, river, and valley. Your day concludes with an overnight stay at the Samye Monastery guest house.
Today, set out on a day hike to the Chimpu Hermitage Site, one of the most well-known meditation sites in Tibet. Located approximately 16km northeast of Samye Monastery, this labyrinth of caves served as a meditation retreat for Guru Rinpoche. The hermitage holds deep spiritual significance and is a popular destination for travelers visiting Samye Monastery.
During the hike, you will venture up the hill, exploring the hermitage caves where monks and nuns meditate. Along the way, you will come across a small monastery built around Guru Rinpoche's original meditation cave. Take your time to explore this sacred site and follow the footsteps of pilgrims as you visit the meditation caves and scattered chapels throughout the area. The entire hike usually takes around 4-5 hours.
As you ascend to the upper level of the mountain, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the hermitage site, the Yarlung Valley, and Samye Monastery in the distance. The serene atmosphere and breathtaking vistas make this hike a truly memorable experience for both spiritual seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. Later in the afternoon, we will drive back to Samye, where you can relax and enjoy a refreshing hot shower at the hotel. Overnight in Samye.
In the morning, you will depart from Samye and head towards Yamdrok Lake, celebrated as one of Tibet's most sacred and visually stunning lakes. Perched at an altitude of 4450 meters, the lake is famous for its vivid turquoise hue. From there, you can also catch a glimpse of Mt. Nojin Kangtsang, towering at 7191 meters. After soaking in the beauty of the lake, your journey will continue to Gyantse. This mid-sized town, located at 3950 meters above sea level, is renowned for its impressive hilltop military fort and the Pelkor Chode Monastery with its stunning Buddhist stupa- Gyantse Kumbum stupa, a marvel of Tibetan architecture. Then head to Shigatse for overnight, the 2nd largest city in Tibet.
Morning you will be arranged to visit Tashilunpo Monastery, it is one of the six prominent yellow hat sect monasteries and renowned as the seat of the Panchen Lama. Tashilunpo Monastery houses the world's largest statue of Maitreya Buddha. The monastery's impressive halls and intricate artwork provide a glimpse into Tibetan spirituality and culture. Visitors can explore the vibrant religious life within its walls and admire the stunning architecture.
You will also visit the Samzhubze Old Market in Shigatse, where you can explore the lively market, interact with friendly residents, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere that defines this authentic Tibetan market.
Afterward, drive back to Lhasa along the Northern Friendship Highway, with marvelous landscapes and scenery along the Brahmaputra River continuing all the way back to Lhasa.
P.S. You also have the option to take a train from Shigatse to Lhasa instead of driving. Please note that train tickets for this option require an additional payment.
Today, you will have a day to freely explore Lhasa.
Your guide and driver will see you off at the airport or train station, end the trip.