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Lhasa Tour – 5 days

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  • Jyatha, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

Overview

This short trip is ideal for those wanting to see the highlights of Tibet and Lhasa. Discover the cultural treasures of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. You will get to explore the palatial Potala Palace, the winter residence of the Dalai Lama. This impressive palace built in the traditional style dominates the skyline of Lhasa. Showcased inside the palace are Buddhist relics, ancient scroll paintings, mausoleums, and artifacts of the former Dalai Lamas. Take a walk through the busy Barkhor Square and step inside the sacred Jokhang Temple, one of the holiest and oldest Buddhist temples in Tibet. Observe the pilgrims prostrating and praying in front of the temple. Norbulingka, the summer retreat of the Dalai Lama has beautiful gardens and ponds. It is the favorite picnic spot of local Tibetans and you can see families enjoying their day out. At Sera and Drepung Monasteries you can meet the monks and watch their debates. These monasteries are important centers of learning for Tibetan monks. If permitted, you can enter the large assembly halls and observe the Buddhist rituals and prayers offered by the lamas. A visit to Ganden Monastery, one of the three chief monasteries of the Gelugpa Sect, is also included in this five-day Glimpse of Tibet Tour. The monastery is located about an hour and a half drive from the main city. Perched on top of the Wangbur Mountain, this monastery was built by the founder of the Gelugpa Sect Je Tsongkhapa in the fifteenth century. His mortal remains are buried inside the monastery’s grounds. The monastic area houses many chapels and assembly halls. Not many tourists visit Ganden Monastery because of its location. Therefore you can enjoy your exploration in peace.


Trip highlights

  • Get an insight into the fascinating history and culture of the Tibetans
  • Feel the Buddhist culture by visiting the fabulous monasteries
  • Be awed by the masterpiece of Tibetan architecture - amazing Potala Palace
  • Jokhang Temple, the spiritual centre for Buddhists in Tibet
  • Barkhor street, filled with pilgrims and a wide range of souvenirs
  • Ganden Monastery, one of the “Great Three” Gelugpa monasteries of Tibet
  • Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery, one of the “great three” Gelug monasteries of Tibet

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01:  Arrival in Lhasa (3660 m.)

Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa from Kathmandu, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Xian or any nearby hub. Airplane will land at Lhasa Gonggar Airport (96km from the main city). If the weather is clear there are wonderful views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and other peaks en route. Upon arrival, you will be received by our Tibetan guide at the airport. Then transfer to Lhasa. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude.

Day 02: Sightseeing in Lhasa (3660 m.)

This day you visit Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and Norbulinka. One of the highlights is the visit to the symbol of Tibet; the Potala Palace set high on Red Hill, the winter home of the Dalai Lama until 1959. The most sacred temple in Lhasa is the Lokhang, where people come from all over Tibet to visit and pray in this spiritual heart of the country. It was used as a military kitchen during the Cultural Revolution but has now been beautifully restored, with many priceless thangkas and statues adorning the chapels, and magnificent gilded roofs.

In the afternoon visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419, 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. Another great treasure is the Norbulingka – the old summer palace of the Dalai Lama.

Day 03: Sightseeing in Lhasa (3660 m.)

This day you are programmed to visit Drepung Monastery, Jorkhang Temple and Barkhor Street. This day you are programmed to visit Drepung monastery, one of the great monasteries of the Gelukpa (yellow hat) sect, just outside Lhasa. There is time to explore Lhasa on your own, perhaps visiting the Tibetan Medical College or the Ramoche temple (one of the oldest religious buildings in Tibet).

In the evening you visit Jorkhang temple, the center of the Tibetan Buddhism and the sacred land of Buddhist followers where innumerable pilgrims come for worship everyday. The temple, built in 647, is the earliest wood-and-masonry structure still existing in Tibet. Surrounding the Jorkhang Temple is the bustling Barkhor Market place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa. Around the Barkhor there are numerous stalls selling all sorts of handicrafts: brightly colored boots and fur-lined hats, silver and turquoise jewelry, rosaries, prayer flags and charms, as well as beautiful Tibetan carpets and all manner of ordinary household ware.

Day 04: Lhasa to Ganden Monastery 60 kilometers east of Lhasa

Today, we shall explore the Ganden Monastery (Ganden Namgyan Ling) which is one of the Tibet’s three great and pristine Gelug university monasterie. Ganden was founded by the Great Tsongkhapa in 1409 and lies 40km northeast of Lhasa. On our drive to Ganden, we’ll enjoy the views of beautiful Kyichu River (Lhasa River). The mountain views continue on throughout the drive and you can see the spectacular monastery located peacefully on the mountain top.

The, we shall visit the Genden Monastery chapels. Later, visit the tomb of the Gelupa founder, Tsongkhapa. After we end our Ganden Monastery exploration, we will move towards Tibetan farmer’s village to get to know their life better.

Day 05: Depart Lhasa (3660 m.)

Early morning transfer to Gonggar airport and fly to Kathmandu. The flight from Lhasa to Kathmandu takes one hour and during your flight, you can see Yarlung Tsangpo River, Yamdrok Tso [Lake], Mount Kanchanjungha (8,586m.), Mount Makalu (8,463m.) and Mount Everest (8,848m.). But the visibility depends on the weather condition. Your Tibet Tour ends on your arrival at Kathmandu Airport.

  • Trip facts

  • Trip duration : 5 days
  • Grade : Easy
  • Starts in : Lhasa
  • End in : Lhasa
  • Max Altitude : 3660 m
  • Location Covered: Lhasa
  • Best Season: Spring / Autumn

Cost Includes

  • Airport pick-up and drop off services by private A/C vehicle
  • English speaking Tibetan Guide
  • All ground transportation throughout the Tibet tour by private vehicle
  • Travel Permits
  • China/Tibet visa
  • Accommodation in 3 star hotels with breakfast during the Tibet tour on twin sharing basis
  • Flight tickets from Kathmandu to Lhasa and Lhasa to Kathmandu
  • Sightseeing tour in Tibet
  • Monasteries entry fees while sightseeing in Tibet

Cost Excludes

  • Travel Insurance
  • Lunch and dinner during the Tibet tour
  • Tips, drinks and expense due to unforeseen circumstance
  • Service other than mentioned above
  • Meals and hotel accommodation in Kathmandu


Extension Tours

Paragliding
Jungle Safari
Pokhara Tour
Rafting

Necessary Information

1. Arrival in Lhasa

Tibet is connected by railway line from Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Xining and Shanghai. Air China and Sichuan Airlines operate regular flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa. This flight offers spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Makalu and many other Himalayan giants. We will organize your pick up once you reach Lhasa and drive you to your hotel.

2. Visa & Entry Procedure

Via Kathmandu

For Tibet, we organize a group visa, and in order to do this we will need a copy of your passport at least 30 days prior to the commencement of your trip. Tourism regulations in Tibet are subject to change without prior notice. As per current regulation Chinese Embassy issues visa from Monday to Friday (9am – 11am) in Kathmandu, and it takes 4 days for visa processing. We will need your original passport 1 day before the visa processing day.

Via Mainland China

Those entering Tibet from mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Guilin etc) have to get Chinese visa from their country (please ask us for the best way of doing it).

3. Group Size

We bring together a small group of like-minded people. During the trip, not only do they gain a memorable and insightful travel experience but also get an invaluable opportunity to interact with each other. On our fixed scheduled departures, group comprises of maximum 12 & minimum 2 persons. You are likely to join a group from different countries. Average age ranges from early 20s to mid 50s. For private trips, no minimum and maximum number apply.

If you would like to travel independently or with your friends, families and colleagues you are invited to choose any of our trips at your convenient time frame for any number of people (min 1 to max 100 at a time).

4. Accommodation

In Lhasa, accommodation will be at 3 star hotel. Elsewhere along the route, accommodation will be at the available hotels. If you would like to book a single room, please do inform us. A supplement charge will incur in that case.

We shall try our best to provide the best accommodation available but please do keep in mind that you are taking an adventure tour, and sometimes the arrangement may be basic. Traveling in Tibet is a fantastic experience but sometimes you have to put up with a bit of discomfort. To enjoy this trip you need to have an adventurous spirit and the ability to adapt to minor discomforts.

5. Guide

Throughout your time in Tibet you will be accompanied by an experienced English speaking Tibetan guide who will not only act as an interpreter but will also provide valuable insights into the Tibetan way of life.

6. Transportation

We use the best 4WD Land cruisers for the overland drive across the Tibetan highland. These vehicles are extremely sturdy, spacious and reliable and they make the journey as comfortable as possible.

7. Communication

Communication facilities in Tibet have been improved over the past few years. All the hotels we use in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse have international IDD phone and fax services. Phone calls can also be made from public booth in bigger towns. Internet cafes are also available at bigger towns, check with your guide for the best cyber cafes in each town.

These days, mobile phones work fine up to the Everest Base Camp. You can also have a roaming facility added to your mobile phone. If you buy a Chinese SIM card at the border, you could stay in touch with your family and friends most of the time. Please ask us for the latest facilities and schemes on Chinese mobile phones.

8. Best time to do this Tour

The best time of year to take the Lhasa Tour is from April to October. During these months the average temperature ranges from 15C to 25C, with blue skies and clear weather. Though from July to August there can be odd shower during the day. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degree Celsius.

9. Clothing & Equipment

During the day a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings.

Comprehensive list of equipments will be provided once you book your trip.

10. Personal Expenses

Besides Chinese Yuan, only US dollars can be accepted in Tibet. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China. While changing money at the local money exchange centers, please make sure that you are accompanied by your guide and do consult him as you may easily be duped with counterfeit notes.

Tibet is becoming more expensive every year. There are many shops in Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse that sell traditional Tibetan handicrafts. We recommend you to bring extra money to spend on souvenirs.

Tips are appreciated by your support team, after completion of the trip. The amount you give depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. For this you can allocate around 5% of your total tour cost.

11. Health

Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. The main health consideration in high altitude is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times. Chinese doctors will also be available at places like Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, and Shegar. Our itinerary will allow your body to acclimatize properly and to handle the low oxygen rate. We have been organizing trips in Tibet since 1998, and only negligible numbers have suffered from severe AMS.

12. Rescue and Evacuation

In case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we hope will not happen; you shall be transferred to the nearest hospital. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back to Kathmandu.

13. Itinerary Changes

One should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip that takes you into one of the remotest corners of the Tibetan plateau, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in the itinerary. Depending on the prevailing situation, the itinerary can be modified to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of tour completion should always coincide with the original itinerary.

14. People and Culture

The Tibetans are classified as belonging to the Mongoloid family of people. They are probably descendents of a variety of nomadic tribes who migrated from the north and settled along sedentary cultivation of Tibet’s river valleys.

The Tibetans living within the borders of present day Tibet are easily identified by their distinctive dialects, social customs and dress. The Topas live in the highland regions (Lato and Ngari), the Tsangpas in the West Tibet (Tsang), the Upas live in central Tibet, the Horpas comes from the north (Nagchu/Jangtang), the Kongpowas from the south, the Khampas live in the east, the Amdowa in the northeast, and the Gyarongwa in the extreme east.

Travelers to Tibet inevitably find Tibetans to be friendly and possessing a great sense of humor. It is appreciated when you try and use Tibetan language when communicating with Tibetans. The further from Lhasa you travel, the more often is Tibetan used.

Religion is extremely important to the majority of Tibetans, and travelers should endeavor to respect their customs and beliefs. Always circumambulate Buddhist religious sites or monastery in a clockwise direction, and when in a monastery do not wear a hat, smoke or touch frescoes. In addition, refrain from climbing onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects. Tibetans are warm and friendly people. Some speak a bit of English and are happy to have a chat with you. Don't photograph people without permission, and be aware that some locations prohibit photography.

Additional Information

Travel With Rajbala

Since we began in the early 90s we have always strived to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible and to give back to the many villages we pass through on our trekking itineraries. Today we still embrace this responsible travel approach when devising and operating our small group travel holiday experiences in Nepal. We invite you to trek in Nepal with the Himalayan trekking specialists Raj Bala Treks and Expeditions.