Lhoka, also named as Shannan, is praised as the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Located to the south of Lhasa city, Lhoka Prefecture is west to Nyingchi Prefecture and east to Shigatse regions. The first Tibetan Kingdom started from Lhoka during the early years of the 2nd century BC. Since the first Tibetan Kingdom started from here, Lhoka has more than a thousand years of history. It is the birthplace of Tibetan ethnic group, as well as the Tibetan dynasty. And the first monastery of Tibet, the Samye Monastery, and the first palace of Tibet, the Yungbulakang Palace, are both in Lhoka area.
Lhoka is not only a destination for Tibet culture exploration but also a region for the natural beauty of Tibet plateau. Situated in the valley between the Himalaya Mountain ranges and the Kangdese Mountains, Lhoka offers a variety of natural scenery, such as the endless mountains, the Yarlung Zangbo River, the green farmland and so on. So it is also a good place for outdoor hiking and trekking tour.
For you, who are interested in the Lhoka area during Tibet tour, here we will introduce you the top things to do in Lhoka to help you arrange your trip to this amazing land.
1. Visit Samye Monastery
Samye Monastery, founded in 762, is said to be the first monastery in Tibet. With over 1200 years’ history, Samye Monastery has many relics inside, such as ancient murals about Tibetan Buddhism and historical events, ancient Tangka paintings and Buddhist sculptures. The monastery itself is also a great masterpiece as it combines the architectural features of Tibetan, Chinese and Indian, and it was built as the description of the Universe that shown in the local Buddhism. Besides the culture and history exploration, you can also have a leisure tour around Samye Monastery. Surrounded by a garden, Samye Monastery is also a good place for the locals to relax, enjoying the peaceful time on a sunny day.
And the most famous trekking from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery attracts many tourists every year to come to this ancient monastery. No matter you have few days to take a trekking trail or just a few hours walking around the Temple, you will get full experiences.
1. The monastery is opened from 9:00 to 16:00 every day.
2. To get to Samye monastery, you need to take a local ferry to cross the river.
3. Both of the monastery and the village offer restaurants and guest house for tourists.
4. If you want to take a panorama view of Samye Monastery, you can hike up to the top of the mountain that in front of the monastery. It takes about 30 minutes to climb up to the top.
2. Climb Yungbulakang Palace
Situated on the mountain in the Yarlung Valley in Tsetang town, Yumgbulakang Palace, or Yumbu Lakang Palace, is believed to be the first palace in Tibet. Built by the first King of Tibet, Nyatri Tsanpo in 2nd Century BC, Yumbu Lakang Palace is not in a large scale but stands like a tower on the top of the hill.
Inside the palace, there is a statue of Songtsan Gampo as well as some other statues of the ancient Tibetan rulers, thinkers, etc. The murals inside the place are mostly telling the stories of the history of early Tibet. When you visit Yungbulakang Palace, do not miss the chance to climb up to the tower to enjoy the splendid view of the Yarlung valley from the Tashi Tsere Hill.
1. Yungbulakang Palace is located about 192 kilometers away from Lhasa.
2. The palace is opened from 09:00 to 18:00, and the recommended travel time is around one to two hours.
3. Explore Tradruk Temple
Among all the ancient temples and monasteries in Lhoka, the cradle of Tibetan civilization, Tradruk Monastery is one of the earliest temples in Tibet history. It is said to be built by Songtsan Gampo in 641 A.D. Like all the ancient monasteries, Tradruk Temple has many historical relics, and the most famous one is the unique Tangka that made by pearls. The amazing pearl made Tangka is the only one in the world, which was made by nearly 30000 pieces of pearls, 1 diamond, 1 ruby and 15 grams of gold. It is absolutely a treasure of Tibetan Buddhism.
1. Tradruk Temple is opened from 9:00 to 16:00 every day.
2. The recommended travel length in Tradruk Temple is around two hours or so.
>>Join 8 Days Tashilhunpo Festival Tour with Tradruk Monastery
4. Tour Chim-puk Hermitage
Located northeast to Samye, Chim-puk Hermitage is a kind of off-the-beaten-path for a day hike for travelers visiting Samye. Facing the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley, Chim-puk Hermitage is embraced by hills on 3 sides, which makes it an ideal place for leisure hiking. When you hike around, you can find there are many retreat caves. And the splendid scenery and humane climate will make your hiking there quite enjoyable.
1. Bring some food and snacks with you while visiting Chim-puk Hermitage for there is no restaurant nearby.
2. Though there is a guesthouse, it only has six beds inside. You can camp nearby.
>> Join 7 Days Lhasa and Brahmaputra Culture Discovery Tour with Chim-puk Hermitage
5. Photograph Turquoise Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake, one of the Three Holy Lakes in Tibet, is about 206 kilometers away from Lhasa city. Located at the side of the Sino-Nepal highway, it is one of the must-go places for tour to Shigatse and Everest Base Camp tour from Lhasa. You can take the photos of the turquoise lake from the Kampala Pass. In different weather condition, the lake shows different kinds of blue. So every picture is unique in the world.
The Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Yamdrok Lake is summer (from May to July) and autumn (from September to mid-November), for the mild temperature and less rainfall. And in winter, there are kinds of migrant birds to come, which is a good chance for bird-watching. The best time for shooting the Yamdrok Lake in a day is around sunrise and sunset.
1. Bring a warm coat with you whenever you visit Yamdrok Lake because it is always windy at the lakeside.
2. Be careful of the altitude sickness for the altitude of Yamdrok Lake is quite higher than that of Lhasa city.
3. If you want to get a close view of the lake, you need to pay the entrance fee (CNY40) so that you can drive to the lakeshore.
6. Trek from Ganden to Samye
The trekking from Ganden to Samye Monastery is one of the most popular trekking routes in Tibet. Not far away from the Lhasa city, the trekking area between Ganden Monastery and Samye monastery is an ideal hiking trail to take a leisure trekking in the countryside to enjoy the village life as well as the landscape of the mountain valleys.
Ganden Monastery is one of Three Great Monasteries of Gelugpa sect of Tibet Buddhist. Founded in 1409, the first Gelu monastery is located on Wangbur Mountain, which is 47 kilometers from Lhasa city. Samye Monastery, located at a lower altitude at 3540 above the sea level, is known as the first monastery in Tibet. As one of the oldest monasteries of Tibet, Samye Monastery is the home to many deity statues, ancient Tangka paintings, and some other relics.
What you will experience during the Ganden to Samye trekking trail is not only the visit to the ancient Tibetan monasteries but also the natural landscape and country life along the way. You may see the grassland between the valleys dotted by the yaks and sheep. The snow-capped mountains, some even with the glaciers at the top, are always by your side.
The classic trekking route from Ganden to Samye is as below: Ganden Monastery – Yama Do – Tsotup-chu – Chitu-la – Samye Monastery
1. The whole trekking takes about 4 to 5 days, covering 80 kilometers’ trekking from 4180 meters (Ganden Monastery) to 3540 meters (Samye Monastery). But you will hike across two passes over 5000 meters. So stay for a few days to acclimatize the high altitude.
2. Taking a quality tent and sleeping bag for your camping during the trekking tour.
3. The best time to do this route is from mid-May to mid-October.
4. Always keep a safe distance from the yaks and the local nomad encampments.
>>Ultimate Guide to Ganden to Samye Trek and How to Plan a trekking tour in Tibet