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Lhasa Yamdrok Lake Gyantse Shigatse Chengdu Tour - 7 Days

Destination: Lhasa - Yamdrok Lake - Gyantse - Shigatse - Chengdu
Duration: Seven Day
Tour Code:
Transportation: Vehicle
Best Travel Time:All year
Price From
US$1500/persons
 
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The Tibetan Plateau remains one of the world's most remote and pristine wildernesses, and this seven-day adventure allows guests to discover its serene landscapes and spiritual culture. From the capital Lhasa, with its cobbled streets and stunning monasteries, the trip heads out into the Tibetan countryside to explore ancient temples, vast lakes and timeless glaciers. Meet nomadic yak-herders and local communities where life and beliefs have gone unchanged for centuries.
Full price of this tour (per person in US$):
Price Price Instruction
US$1500/persons 1500USD/Person

Day 1  :  Arrive 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! 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 (B)
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 (B,L)
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  :  Lhassa - Yamdrok lake - Karola glacier - Gyantse (altitude: 5000m (B,L)
Early rise for a long day of traveling, which the surrounding beauty will probably help you forget. You will more or less follow the famous Friendship Highway which links Tibet to Nepal, along which can be found Yamdrok Lake, where you will make your first stop. It is from the summit of the Kamba-la pass (altitude of 4800-5000 meters depending on where you are) that you will admire the arresting blue lake and take in the mountain chain, dominated by the imposing Nojin Kangtsang (7200 meters) in the background. The Kamba-la pass is the perfect illustration of Tibetans habitually placing prayer flags in high-up locations because of their proximity to the sky.

Children will perhaps enjoy a photo with the yaks (the famous cud-chewing animal which is the cornerstone of the Tibetan rural world) or the Tibetan Mastiffs (also known as the ※Tibetan Guard Dog§), formerly used as watchdogs by Nomadic Peoples in the Himalayas and as guard dogs in monasteries.

You will continue your journey along the lake to Nagarze, a small town where you will have lunch. Visit to the small Samding Temple which offers some great views of the lake.

On to the Karola Glacier (altitude of 4960m), which at the start of the 20th century was the location of the highest battle in the history of the British Empire when the Younghusband Expedition came to Tibet from British India in the name of resolving ※commercial conflicts§ encountered by the Empire in the Himalayan Kingdoms.

Your final stop will be at the Manla Reservoir which, aside from its aesthetic interest coming from its turquoise color, is of interest from a societal perspective. The water than fills the reservoir comes from the sacred Yamdrok Lake 每 sacrilege for Tibetans (notably the Panchen Lama has been a fervent opponent), but a step on the path to progress for the Chinese government.

At the end of the day you will arrive in Gyantse, previously an independent kingdom and a commercial crossroads on the trans-Himalayan route which links central Tibet to Sikkim, a British trading post following the signing of the Treaty of Lhasa in 1904.

Night in Gyantse.

 

Day 5  :  Gyantse (3980 m) (B)
Morning trip to the Pelkhor Chode (or ※Palcho§) Monastery, built in 1418 and surrounded by an impressive red rampart. In the past it housed fifteen or so schools belonging to different Tibetan orders (Gelugpa, Sakyapa and Bonpöpa) before becoming a major hub for the Sakyapa school. The centerpiece of the site is the famous ※Kumbum§, an architectural masterpiece of six tiered floors which used to include 108 chapels (nowadays just fewer than 80) and which is thought to be the largest chorten in Tibet. On top of the striking structure of the building, the other principle interest of the site is the countless statues and icons of Buddha, angels and demons (Kumbum means ※100 000 icon Stupa§), whose designs have clear Nepalese and Indian influences and which are wonderfully varied.

The chorten was built in 1447 by the Prince of Gyantse, Tabten Kunzang, whose main residence is found in the Dzong (※fortress§) located a few hundred meters away on the crest of a hill offering superb views of the Palcho Monastery, Kumbum and the old town. The Gyantse Dzong was partially destroyed during the aforementioned British Younghusband Expedition in 1904 and today houses a small museum of ※British Imperialism§. Visit to the fortress and the museum.

Walk in the Tibetan old town which has miraculously avoided urban development and which is probably the most authentic town in Tibet. Magisterially overlooked by the Dzong, it consists of a main road with perpendicular alleys bordered by traditional white Tibetan houses, populated with children, the elderly, and even perfectly happy cows.

Free end of the day, during which you may have the chance to purchase a rug in one of the workshops which make Gyantse famous.

Night in Gyantse.

 

Day 6  :  Gyantse - Shigatse (4280m) (B)
Departure for Shigatse. The second city of Tibet, Shigatse was once the capital of the Tsang kingdom, a rival to Lhasa's dominance. The Tsang kings (and later ※governors§ when under the jurisdiction of Lhasa) exercised their power from the Shigatse Dzong which, like the one in Gyantse, is built on the crest of a hill and overlooks the whole city. It is currently not possible to visit the Dzong.

You will visit Tashilhunpo, a Gelugpa monastery (Yellow Hat Sect) founded in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama, who is buried there. The monastery then became the seat of the Panchen Lama, the next most important person in Tibetan hierarchy after the Dalai Lama and who is considered by some to be a kind of counter-balance to him. While the monastery remains very active with a community of around 800 monks, the divergence between China and Tibet over the identity of the real Panchen Lama has led the 14th Dalai Lama (today based in Dharamsala) to ※re-establish§ Tashilhunpo in India.

The monastery is like a small village with its maze of paved alleyways, which you will explore before visiting the principal structures with their remarkable golden roofs. Here you can admire the incredible Stupa of the 10th Panchen Lama, covered in several hundred kilos of gold and decorated with a multitude of precious stones. The Maitreya Chapel houses a 26 meter-high Buddha statue that took nearly ten years to make and required the work of several craftsmen. You will never forget the imposing wall, 9 stories high and on which is placed a huge tangka during the festival of the same name (which takes place in summer).

Stroll through the Tibetan market, from where you can take in the Shigatse Dzong and which provides the best opportunity, along with Lhasa's Barkhor quarter, to obtain traditional jewelry, prayer wheels, and other typical Tibetan objects as souvenirs.

Night in Shigatse

 


Day 7 : Shigatse - Chengdu (B)
Transfert to Shigatse airport and flight to Chengdu in order to save time by avoiding the transfer by car back to Lhasa.

Note : Flight from Shigatse to Chengdu doesn't operate every day. Please consult us.

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