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China Tibet Lhasa City Sightseeing Tour - 5 Days

Destination: Lhassa - Zedang
Duration: Five Day
Tour Code:
Transportation: Vehicle
Best Travel Time:All Year
Price From
US$1000/persons
 
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The historic and spiritual city of Lhasa offers an exquisite array of sights and sounds for the curious traveller. This five-day adventure allows guests to experience the unique Tibetan culture that has shaped the city, including visits to bustling markets and sacred Buddhist temples and monasteries, lined by cobbled streets. Explore the ancient town and stunning surrounding plateau, and visit the Potala Palace - the former residence of the Dalai Lama.
Full price of this tour (per person in US$):
Price Price Instruction
US$1000/persons 1000USD/Person

Day 1 : Arrival in Lhasa (Altitude of 3700 meters)
Arrival in Lhasa, the administrative, political and religious capital of Tibet! The city is divided into the Chinese and Tibetan halves, and it is in the Tibetan areas that you will undertake most of your visits.

Transfer to the hotel with your Tibetan guide and driver. Time to settle in the hotel and some free time to give you the opportunity to adapt to the altitude.

Note: if you arrive by plane from Shangri-La in Yunnan or from Qinghai province by train, this adjustment period is not necessarily required.

You will be on the ※Roof of the World§, and as such it is imperative that you bring sun cream, lip balm, sunglasses and that you regularly hydrate. It is strongly recommended that you consult a doctor before your trip to check you are physically capable of climbing to altitudes sometimes greater than 5000 meters. Summer (from June to September) is quite hot 每 with some rainfall 每 but the nights are crisp.

Depending on the location of your hotel you will either take a car or walk to the old town. You will have lunch in a restaurant with views of Barkhor and the Jokhang Temple, both of which you will visit after eating.

To make sure you are immediately immersed in the Tibetan world you will begin with a visit to the Jokhang Temple, the construction of which, with Nepalese and Indian influences, dates from the 8th century. Famous as the most venerated religious site in Tibet, the temple each day attracts a crowd of pilgrims who amply reflect the diversity present in the demography of Tibet, with notably the nomadic Amdo or Kham people dressed in sheepskins, the men carrying intricately carved knives, and the women with braided hair covered in corals. Wearing cowboy hats is also quite common, giving everybody an incredible look of being in a western movie! Believers travel the Barkhor (※kora§ or pilgrimage routes that circle sacred sites), all the while spinning their prayer wheels, before tirelessly prostrating themselves in front of the doors of the temple. You will enter the fascinating world of the temple, dimly lit by hundreds of candles, the air filled with the smell of yak butter, and with monks' sporadic prayers. There are 3000 icons of Buddha, God or historical figures throughout the temple, but it's the golden statue located at the heart of the temple and brought here by the Chinese Princess Wencheng, the second wife of King Songtsen Gampo (who had already married a Nepalese princess), that, at least in part, explains the temple's popularity.

Walk in Lhasa's old town, giving you your first opportunity to scout out souvenirs that you might want to eventually buy (Tibetan hats, tangkas (Buddhist paintings), incense#). Tibet is also known for its precious stones and its very fine jewelry, and as such you will visit a handicrafts shop.

Night in Lhasa.

 

Day 2 : Lhasa
Visit to the Potala Palace, one-time residence of the Dalai Lama 每 the religious head and political leader of Tibet whose title was created in the 17th century under the influence of the Mongols, with whom the Tibetans share a long common history. The Palace, a true architectural masterpiece, magisterially overlooks the whole city of Lhasa from its 130m vantage point. King Songtsen Gampo constructed a small palace there in the 7th century, but it was in 1645 under the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama that the Potala Palace took its current form. It is composed of two main buildings: the Red Palace 每 religious center that houses the impressive bejeweled gold chortens containing relics belonging to previous Dalai Lamas, and the White Palace in which you can admire the splendid private apartments of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas (the latter fled to India with the arrival of the Chinese army in 1959). It takes more than three hours to take in this labyrinth of staircases, apartments, ceremonial rooms and chapels.

You will travel a part of the Kora next to the Palace, and you will be able to appreciate the enthusiasm of the pilgrims who still consider the Potala as a major sacred site despite the absence of its principal resident.

There are several sects of Tibetan Buddhism (Gelug, Sakya, Bonpo, Jonang, Kagyu and Nyingma), the most well-known of which being the Yellow Hat Sect (Gelugpa) which was founded by Tsongkhapa and three of whose most important religious centers are found in the Lhasa area. You will start with the Sera Monastery (located 5km from the city center), founded by one of Tsongkhapa's disciples in 1419. There are still 600 monks living in the monastery (there used to be 5000), and they devote every afternoon from 15:30 to 17:00 (expect for Sundays out of principle) to their famous religious debates, which are true examples of verbal sparring. The young monks inject their speeches with theatrical gesturing while the elders watch and judge their ability to climb the hierarchy. Other debates and conversations amongst these wise men take place behind the scenes.


Return to the hotel. Night in Lhasa.

 


Day 3 : Lhasa - Ganden (3900m) - Lhasa
Visit to the Drepung monastery, the third of the trio of Gelugpa temples (Yellow Hat Sect). Drepung means ※cup of rice§, a reference to the many white buildings that are scattered around the base of the mountain in front of which it is built, Mount Gephei. The monastery was built in the 15th century (more precisely in 1416, making it of the same era as the Sera and Ganden monasteries) and was once thought to be the largest in the world with a community of 7000 monks. The second, third and fourth Dalai Lamas are buried here; the fifth lived here before taking up his residence in Potala, as mentioned above.

On to the Ganden monastery, the original monastery of and a stronghold for the Yellow Hat Sect. Established in 1416 by Tsongkhapa (two years before the Sera monastery), the monastery is literally stuck on top of a hill overlooking the whole of the Kyi-Chu valley. Innumerable religious texts can be found in its various chapels, and you may get the chance to see the ※printers§ at work, conscientiously copying around 500 pages a day 每 that's the equivalent of around five books. You will mix with the crowd of pilgrims along the kora which offers wonderful views of the monastery and the valley. Transfer back to Lhasa.

Note: it is advised that this trip is undertaken after an acclimation period of two or three days. Ganden monastery is located at around 3900m altitude, 200m higher than Lhasa.

Night in Lhasa.

 

Day 4 : Lhasa - Zedang (3600m)
Morning journey to Zedang, where we can return to the source of this particular part of history. It was in 775 that King Trisong Detsen 每 who is attributed with the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet 每 had the Samye Temple built, the first temple in the country. The majority of your journey will run alongside the Yarlung Tsangpo River that flows down into India and is better known by the name ※Brahmapoutre§. The river is bordered by sand dunes that bring into focus the arid nature of the region, something which hasn't prevented the local authorities from planting trees alongside the river, giving the countryside a surreal edge. The few bridges that do cross the Yarlung are covered in prayer flags, amply demonstrating the importance of the spiritual nature of the river amongst the Tibetan people.

Settling in to the hotel and then visit to the temple (located on the other bank of the Yarlung). The architecture of the temple in the form of a mandala or &circular diagram' is unique to Tibet. In Buddhism the mandala corresponds with an incredibly complex form of 2D or 3D artwork, the production of which is an elaborate form of meditation. Its central structure represents Meru Mountain, which in turn is the symbol of the center of the universe for Hindus and by extension for Indian and Tibetan Buddhists, while the smaller peripheral temples represent the oceans and the continents. The three floors of the temple mirror the three-way relations between Tibet, China and India.

Note: while it may seem logical to do this visit on the outward journey, it is necessary to first go to Zedang to obtain a visit permit for the temple.

At the end of the day a visit to Yongbulakhang, where it all started! This small ※castle§ perched is the oldest building in Tibet, built by Nyatri Tsenpo, the founder of the kingdom and its first sovereign. It takes a good half-hour to complete the climb to the viewing platform, which offers spectacular vistas of the Yarlung valley and its checkerboard pattern of crops.

Optional: it is possible to do this climb on horseback. It takes the same amount of time as walking because the route is slightly different, but this option 每 which is particularly good for children 每 is less tiring.

Night in Zedang.

 

Day 5 : Zedang - Lhasa Departure
Transfer to Lhasa airport (95km, 2h) conveniently located between Zedang and Lhasa and flight to your next destination (there are currently direct flights to Beijing, Chengdu, Xi'an, Chongqing, Shangri-La or Kunming).

 

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