Explore the Yarlung Valley
Lhasa is the cultural and religious heart of Tibet. Lhasa is home to Tibet’s most famous and holiest temples. Each day, thousands of pilgrims prostrate around Jokhang Temple. Along with the famous monasteries of Sera and Drepung, Lhasa is a must see for anyone interested in Tibet! This itinerary will allow you to spend 3 full days exploring every part of the city. After your time in Lhasa, you will make your way to Draksum and Lhamo Lha Tso, two of Tibet’s holiest lakes. You will also pass by the huge mountain of Namcha Barwa, which rises over 7700m. From there, you will spend time in the Yarlung Valley, where Tibetan civilization first started. You will visit Samye, the first monastery in Tibet, and the Yumbulagang Temple, the oldest building in Tibet. This itinerary is just a suggestion and can be modified in any way. Please email or call us for more information.
Tour Type: Small private group tour
Tour Duration: 12 days
Best Time: April to Febuary
Day 1: Lhasa
Welcome to Lhasa! Your guide and driver will meet you at the train station or airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Day 2: Jokhang Temple and the Barkhor Circuit
Lhasa, elevation 3650m, is the holiest city in Tibet and each day pilgrims from across the Tibetan Plateau arrive in the city to worship at one of the many temples found there. You will spend 3 full days exploring the city. The first day you will visit Jokhang Temple, the most famous temple in Tibet. From the rooftop you will see religious pilgrims prostrating in front to the Jowo Buddha statue inside the monastery. Afterwards, you will explore the endless maze of markets and restaurants that line the ancient Barkhor circuit. While exploring the Barkhor circuit, you will rub elbows with Tibetan pilgrims who are prostrating their way around the Tibetan Quarter.
Day 3: Potala Palace and Sera Monastery
In the morning, you will visit the Potala Palace, the most recognizable structure in Tibet. Built in the year 637, the Potala Palace rises 13 stories and has more than 1000 rooms. In the afternoon, you will visit the great monastery of Sera, where monk debates take place each day. If you are interested in hiking, there is a pilgrimage circuit around the monastery that takes about an hour to complete.
Day 4: Drepung Monastery, Ramoche Temple and the Tibetan Quarter
This day you will explore Drepung Monastery. Drepung was formerly the largest monastery in the world and is still one of the 3 most important monasteries in Tibet. Below Drepung is Nechung Monastery, the former home of Tibet’s state oracle. In the afternoon, we will visit Ramoche Temple as well as a small nunnery in the Tibetan Quarter.
Day 5: Lhasa-Ganden Monastery-Gongbo Gyamda 290kms, 6.5 hours
From Lhasa, you will set out for Ganden Monastery, one of the 3 most important monasteries in the Lhasa region. From Ganden Monastery, you will drive to the small town of Gongbo Gyamda, elevation 3425m. You will stay here for the night and go to Draksum Lake the following morning.
Day 6: Gongbo Gyamda-Draksum Lake-Bayi 210kms, 5 hours
From Gongbo Gyamdo, you will go to Draksum Lake, one of Tibet’s most holy lakes. The lake is set in an alpine forest surrounded by snow-covered mountains, the highest of which rises to 6750m. On the far end of the lake is Tso Dzong Island, which has a small temple. A pilgrimage circuit begins at this temple. Afterwards, you will drive to Bayi, elevation 2995m.
Day 7: Bayi-Serkhyem La Pass-Lunang Forest-Bomi 240km, 5.5 hours
From Bayi, you will pass the Serkhyem La Pass, which offers amazing views of both Gyala Pelri (7294m) and Namcha Barwa (7756m). After Serkhym La pass, the road descends through gorgeous alpine valleys lined with rhododendron bushes into the Rong-chu valley. You will also drive through the Lunang Forest before arriving in Bomi, elevation 2730m.
Day 8: Bomi-Menling 305kms, 6 hours
On this day, you will begin the journey back to Lhasa driving through the beautiful Yarlung Valley. You will cross the Serkhyem La pass again with its excellent views of Gyala Pelri and Namcha Barwa. Menling, elevation 2940m, is a forested region that is home to the Lhopa people, an ethnic minority numbering less than 3000 in Tibet. This is a very beautiful area that few travelers get to experience.
Day 9: Menling-Gyatsa 245kms, 4.5 hours
You will continue driving throught he Yarlung Valley, which is considered to be the “cradle of Tibetan civilization”. You will stay the night in Gyatsa, which sits at 3260m.
Day 10: Gyatsa-Lhamo Lha Tso Lake-Yumbulagang Palace-Tsetang 210kms, 4 hours
From Gyatse, you will drive to perhaps Tibet’s most holy lake, Lhamo Lha Tso. For centuries, senior Tibetan Buddhist monks have relied on visions from the lake to assist them in finding the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. Other Tibetans also come to the lake on pilgrimage in hopes of seeing visions. After visiting the lake, you will stay in Tsetang, elevation 3560m. In Tsetang, you will visit the Yumnulagang Palace, which according to legend was one of the first buildings in Tibet. You can also visit Trandruk Temple, which is one of the largest and most important buildings remaining in the Yarlung Valley.
Day 11: Tsetang–Samye Monastery-Lhasa 260kms, 6 hours
From Tsetang, you will go to Samye Monastery, the first monastery in Tibet with over 1200 years of history. After visiting Samye, you will return to Lhasa.
Day 12: Depart from Lhasa
This itinerary can be modified in any way. Contact us for prices and more information regarding this trip.