Lhasa Yarlung Valley Shigatse Tour

The Yarlung Valley is considered the cradle of Tibetan civilization. It was from Yarlung that the early Tibetan kings unified Tibet in the 7th century and their massive burial mounds still dominate the area around Chongye. Yumbulagang, perched on a crag like a medieval European castle, is another major attraction of the area and the site of Tibet’s oldest building.

Day 01: Arrival in Lhasa.
Our local Tibetan guide will wait you at Lhasa airport or railway station holding your name sign. You will be greeted with a warm Tashidelek(meaning hello with blissing), and be presented with a white Hada(traditional Tibetan ceremonial by give you a white scarf). Then transfer to hotel in Lhasa city.

To rest well on your first arrival in Lhasa(3650m) is essential to ease Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS, also known as altitude sickness). Try your best to resist the temptation of going out. Overnight in Lhasa.

Day 02: Lhasa City.
Highlights: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Tibetan Thangka Studio

Potala Palace: Lhasa’s cardinal landmark, Potala Palace is one of the great wonders of world architecture. As has been the case with centuries of Pilgrims before you, the first sight of the fortress-like structure will be a magical moment that you will remember for a long time. Entry to Potala is up two steep access ramps that will soon leave you wheezing in the oxygen-depleted air. Travel light and not to worry abt your water supplies for there are bottled mineral water for sell all along the way up to the top of Potala.

Jokang Temple: also known in Tibetan as the Tsuglhakhang, Jokhang Temple is the most revered religious structure in Tibet. Thick with yak butter, the murmur of mantras and the shuffling of wide-eyed pilgrims, Jokhang is an unrivalled Tibetan experience. In front of the entrance to Jokhang is a forecourt that is perpetually crowded with pilgrims polishing the flagstones with their prostrations.

Barkhor Street: Barkhor is a quadrangle of streets that surroungs the Jokhang complex. It is an area unrivalled in Tibet for its fascinating combination of sacred significance and push-and shove market economics. This is both the spiritual heart of the Holy City & the main shopping district for Tibetans.

Tibetan Thangka Studio: Thangka is a painting on silk with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting but consists of a picture panel which is painted or embroidered over which a textile is mounted and then over which is laid a cover, usually silk. Generally, thangkas last a very long time and retain much of their lustre. Overnight in Lhasa.

Day 03: Lhasa Suburb.
Highlights: Drak Yerpa, Sera Monastery

Drak Yerpa: for those with an interest in Tibetan Buddhism, Drak Yerpa(4885m), abt 16km northeast of Lhasa, is one of the holiest cave retreats in Ü of Tibet. Among the many ascetics who have sojourned here are Guru Rinpoche and Atisha(Jowo-je), the Bengali Buddhist who spent 12 years proselytizing in Tibet. King Songtse Gampo also medicated in a cave, after his Tibetan wife established the first of Yerpa’s chapels.

Sera Monastery: approximately 5km north of central Lhasa, Sera Monastery was one of Lhasa’s two great Gelugpa monasteries, second only to Drepung. Between 3pm~5pm of Monday to Friday, debating is held in the monastery’s debating courtyard, which is a sight so extraordinary and enchanting even you don’t understand a word they’re saying. Overnight in Lhasa.

Day 04: Lhasa > Samye > Trandruk > Yumbulagang > Tsetang.
Highlights: Samye Monastery, Trandruk Monastery, Yumbulagang Palace

Samye Monastery: Samye(elev 3630m) is deservedly the most popular destination for travelers in the Ü region. Surrounded by the barren mountains and dramatic sand dunes and approached via a beautiful river crossing the monastery has a magic abt it that causes many travellers to stay longer than they had intended. As Tibet’s 1st monastery and the place where Buddhism was established, Samye is also of major historical and religious importance.

Trandruk Monastery: Trandruk is one of the earliest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, having been founded at the same time as Jokhang & Ramoche in Lhasa. Dating back to the 7th-century region of Songtsen Gampo, it is also one of Tibet’s demoness-subduing temples.

Yumbulagang Palace: a fine, tapering finger of structure that sprouts from a craggy ridge overlooking the patchwork fields of Yarlung Valley, Yumbulagang is considered the oldest building in Tibet. Overnight in Tsetang.

Day 05: Tsetang > Chongye > Gyantse.
Highlights: Chongye Burial Mounds, Yamdrotso Lake, Karola Glacier

Chongye Burial Mounds: Tombs of the Kings at Chongye represent one of the few historical sites that gives any evidence of a pre-Buddhist culture in Tibet. Most of the kings interred here are now firmly associated with the rise of Buddhism on the high plateau, but the methods of their interment point to the Bön faith.

Yamdrotso Lake: dazzling Yamdro-tso(elev 4441m) is normally first seen from the summit of the Kamba-la(4700m). The lake lies several hundreds meters below the road, and in clear weather is fabulous shade of deep turquoise. Far in the distance is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangtsang(7191m).

Karola Glacier: Mt Nojin Kangsang stands tall with an elevation of 7,191 m (23,592 ft) between Gyantze County and Nagarzê County, with several snow-capped mountains over 6,000 m (19,685 ft) surrounding it. Mount Nojin Kangsang is the most accessible glacier site on the Tibetan Plateau. The famous Kharola Glacier (elevation 5,560 m or 18,241 ft) is below the south ridge of Nojin Kangsang. Overnight in Gyantse.

Day 06: Gyantse > Shigatse.
Highlights: Gyantse Dzong, Pelkor Chöde Monastery, Shalu Monastery

Gyantse Dzong: like most Tibetan towns, Gyantse radiates old-world charm when its whitewashed buildings are viewed from on high. So the stiff 20-min climb to the top of Gyantse Dzong is worth the effort for the great lookouts. In the addition to Gyantse, clear views are afforded of the entire fertile Nyang—chu Valley and down into the compound of Pelkor Chöde Monastery.

Pelkor Chöde Monastery with Gyantse Kumbum: the sprawling compound in the far north of town houses Pelkor Chöde Monastery and the monumental Gyantse Kumbum, a chörten filled with fine paintings and statues. Both are deservedly top of the list on most travellers’ must-sees. Palkhor lies at the foot of Dzong Hill. It is well-known for its Kumbum, which has 108 chapels in its four floors. The multi-storied Kumbum Stupa was crowned with a golden dome and umbrella, surrounded with more chapels filled with unique religious statues and murals.

Shalu Monastery: it’s a treat for the traveller when a sight is both a pleasure to explore & of great importance in local history and culture. Such is Shalu, which dates back to the 11th century. In the abstract, the design of Shalu represents the paradise of Chenresig(Avalokiteshvara), a haven from all wordly suffering. In the concrete, Shalu is the only monastery in Tibet that combines Tibetan and Chinese styles in its design. Overnight in Shigatse.

Day 07: Shigatse > Lhasa.
Highlighs: Tashihunpo Monastery, Yungdrungling Monastery, Tibetan Engraving Workshop in Nyemo

Tashilhunpo Monastery: it is a real pleasure to explore the busy cobble lanes twisting around the aged buildings. Covering 70,000 sq meters, Tashilunpo is essentially a walled town in its own right. from the entrance to the monastery, visitors get a grand view. Above the white monastic quarters is a crowed of ochre buildings topped with gold—the tombs of the past Panchen Lamas. To the right, and higher still, is the festival Thangka Wall that is hung with massive, colourful thangkas during festivals.

Yungdrungling Monastery: just visible across the river from the road between Lhasa & Shigatse is the Bönpo Yungdrungling Monastery, which is on the north bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo(Brahmaputra River), just east of where the Nangung-chu meets it. Yungdrungling, founded in 1834, was once the second most influential Bön monastic institution in Tibet.

Tibetan Engraving Workshop in Nyemo: Tibetan engraving in Pusum Township, Nyemo County, is a traditional kind of handicraft passed down from generation to generation. Nowadays it has become an intangible cultural heritage of Tibet for better preservation and inheritance. The engraving process is very intricate. A Tibetan Buddhist script, for instance, takes nine steps before it is finished, and a Buddha sculpture takes 15-16 or even 20-30 steps if it is more complex. and each craftsman owns more than 20 engraving tools exclusively used by himself. Today we will visit one of the Tibetan Engraving Workshop in Nyemo to experience this the handiwork inherited from thousand years ago. Overnight in Lhasa.

Day 08: Departure from Lhasa.
After breakfast at your hotel make the most of the last morning of your tour in Lhasa. Transfer to Lhasa Airport or Railway Station for next destination.
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