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18 Days Kathmandu Lhasa Kailash Pilgrimage Tour by Flight

18 Days Kathmandu Lhasa Kailash Pilgrimage Tour by Flight

(KTT005) Kathmandu - Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - Everest Base Camp - Lake Manasarovar - Kailash Trek - Saga - Shigatse - Lhasa


This extraordinary 18-day journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa and Mount Kailash by flight offers an unparalleled pilgrimage through the heart of the Himalayas. This immersive tour showcases the captivating beauty of Nepal and Tibet, leaving travelers spellbound at every turn.

Commencing in the vibrant capital of Nepal, you'll begin by delving into the spiritual heritage of Boudhanath, Swayambhunath, and Pashupatinath, alongside the regal splendor of Patan and Bhaktapur's Durbar Squares. A brief 90-minute flight transports you to Lhasa, where you'll marvel at the awe-inspiring Jokhang Temple and ascend the iconic Potala Palace.

Continuing your adventure, you'll journey overland through Shigatse to Everest Base Camp, before venturing northward to Darchen and the sacred Mount Kailash. Here, you'll have the opportunity to embark on the challenging trek around the sacred kora route, a journey revered by pilgrims as one of Tibet's most profound experiences.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

Arrive at Tribhuwan International Airport, Kathmandu, you are welcomed by the hospitable meeting and then you will be transferred to your hotel.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Insider Tips:
1. For Chinese Group Visa application, make sure you arrive in Kathmandu in advance and please visit Tibet Vista’s office in Kathmandu at least 4 working days before you go.

2. You need to provide the original passport and pay the visa fee and service fee, so that our staff can apply for the Chinese Group Visa on your behalf.

Day 2: Kathmandu Day Tour - Kathmandu City, Swayambhunath, and Patan City

You will start the day trip with a visit to Kathmandu City and take in the famous Kathmandu Durbar Square. The most famous square in the city, the Durbar Square is the Royal Palace square in the city and is surrounded by ancient buildings from the early 16th century. The magnificent architecture, exquisite decorations, and the intensity of historical items give a great insight into Nepali culture.

Then, you will continue the tour with a visit to the Swayambhunath Pagoda, which is one of the oldest Buddhist sites in Nepal. Swayambhunath is a huge golden stupa festooned with prayer flags that flutter in the breeze, on a hill that overlooks the entire city. Then it is on to Patan City, the second largest city in the Kathmandu Valley area. Patan City has one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Nepal that dates back to the 12th century and is a great place to explore the Buddhist culture of Nepal.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 3: Kathmandu Day Tour - Pashupatinath, Boudhanath and Bhaktapur City

In the morning, you will first visit the ancient Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, and Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in Asia, and a focal point for Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Set on the banks of the Baghmati River, Pashupatinath is one of Nepal’s famous UNESCO sites, and the sunset over the temple roofs is spectacular.

After that, you will visit another great place, Boudhanath, located on the ancient trade route. It is a place of meditation and part of the spiritual journey around Kathmandu. With one of the largest stupas in the world, it has been the site of many Tibetan prayers over the centuries. 

Last, you will visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square with its pagoda and shikhara temples strewn around the royal palace. The square really highlights the ancient building arts of Nepal.

Stay overnight in Kathmandu.

Day 4: Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa

Taking direct flight from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport to Lhasa Gonggar Airport.

After arriving in Lhasa, you will meet our friendly Tibetan guide at Lhasa Gongga Airport. The guide and the driver will take you to your hotel in downtown Lhasa. You may view the Yarlung Tsangpo River/Brahmaputra River (the Longest and largest river in Tibet) and Lhasa River.

After settling into your hotel, take some time to rest and adjust to the high altitude.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 5: Lhasa Tour - Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery (B)

In the morning, you’ll explore the largest monastery in Tibet - Drepung Monastery, which was once the home to over 10,000 monks. As you walk through the Coqen Hall, your guide will provide detailed explanations of the worldview of Tibetan Buddhism and introduce notable figures in Tibetan Buddhist history.

Next, you’ll visit the renowned Loseling College (or an equivalent), offering a glimpse into the study and life of Tibetan monks. Explore their dormitories to gain insights into the Tibetan monks' daily routines and living conditions.

In the afternoon, you’ll head to Sera Monastery, another of the  ‘great three’ Gelug monasteries of Tibet, to witness the famous Tibetan Monks Debate (15:00 - 17:00, from Monday to Saturday). Your guide will intricately explain how Tibetan monks engage in these debates to acquire knowledge and advance in their academic degrees.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 6: Lhasa Tour - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street (B)

After breakfast, your first stop is the Potala Palace, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Lhasa Old Town. Discover the lives and stories of the Dalai Lamas through history within the palace, and the extraordinary treasures it holds. The most valuable collections of Potala Palace are the gilded burial stupas of former Dalai Lamas and the meditation cave of the 33rd great king of Tibet.

After touring the Potala Palace, you will visit Longwangtan Park at the foot of the Potala Palace. Here, you can appreciate the majestic Potala Palace from a different perspective and engage in local Tibetan folk activities.

In the afternoon, you will head to the heart of Tibetan religion - the Jokhang Temple. Inside you can see the statue of Buddha Sakyamuni at the age of twelve. Outside, you can see pilgrims making prostrating in front of Jokhang Temple. Around the temple is Barkhor Street, where you can do kora (a religious circle of a building or mountain) with pilgrims and locals, and explore the old market.

Next, follow your guide to one of the liveliest indoor Tibetan tea houses in Lhasa. Sip traditional Tibetan sweet tea alongside local Tibetans as your guide shares insights into Tibetan social dynamics and daily life.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 7: Lhasa to Shigatse via Gyantse 360 km (B,L)

In the morning, start the overland journey from Lhasa to Shigatse, which includes visits to Tibet's most beautiful lake, glacier, and charming Tibetan villages.

First, drive over the Gampala Pass (4790 m) to catch a glimpse of Yamdrok-tso (4400m). The Yamdrok Lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and in the distance you can have spectacular views of Holy Mount Nyenchen Khangsar (7191m), the highest mountain near Lhasa. Continue to explore the lakeshore from various viewpoints, and at the end of the lake, you could visit a local family in the village and have lunch with the locals.

Next, you will pass and enjoy the Korola Glacier on the roadside. It is the largest glacier in Tibet. As you see the ice tongue of the glacier climb the entire hillside, you will feel the magical power of nature.

Then, continue your journey to Gyantse. On the way, you will stop at Simila Mountain Pass, where you can hang prayer flags to pray for world peace and the health of your family.

After arriving in Gyantse, you can spend some time taking photos of the ancient city of Gyantse. From Gyantse to Shigatse, you will pass by green (in summer) and golden (in autumn) Tibetan barley fields and countless farms.

Finally, we will arrive in Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet. After checking in to the hotel, you can take a good rest and prepare for the next day’s trip to Mount Everest.

Stay overnight in Shigatse.

Day 8: Shigatse to Everset Base Camp (5200m) (B)

After breakfast, you will head directly to Mount Everest.

First, you will pass Gyatsola Pass (5280m). At Gyatsola Pass viewpoint, you’ll catch your first glimpse of Mount Everest. Hidden behind the mountain range, the Everest resembles a budding lotus flower, a captivating sight along the roadside.

Shortly after we enter Mount Everest National Nature Reserve, you will enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayas at Gawula Pass (5198m). At this viewpoint, you will marvel at the majestic lineup of the five highest peaks in the Himalayas, including Everest at the forefront. This is your second glimpse of Everest.

Then we drive along the new zigzag road to Everest Base Camp (5200m). As you get close to the base camp, the majestic Everest gradually unfolds before you, drawing nearer with each winding turn. This marks your third view of Everest.

Upon reaching Everest Base Camp, the colossal white pyramid peak of Mount Everest stands towering before you. As the day transitions to dusk, witness the golden hues of the sun casting a warm glow on Everest's northern face—your fourth view.

As night falls, the sparkling Milky Way and the snow-white peak of Mount Everest reveal your fifth and final encounter with Everest.

Stay overnight at Everest Base Camp or in the local village near EBC if the EBC tent hotels are closed during the winter season.

Insider Tips:
1. The visibility of Everest is subject to weather conditions and cannot be guaranteed.

2. During the winter season, typically from November to March, the tent hotels at Everest Base Camp close. Therefore, if you’re traveling in winter, your accommodation options are limited to the village near EBC.

Day 9: Everest Base Camp to Saga via Pelku Tso Lake

In the morning, you may have the chance to see the pink sunlight casting its glow upon the summit of Mount Everest.

After breakfast, visit the Rongbuk Monastery, the world’s highest-altitude monastery at 5154 meters above sea level.

Then, move on to Ngari, the most mysterious region in Tibet, to visit the sacred Mount Kailash and holy Lake Manasarovar. On the way, you’ll pass by Mt. Shishabangma (8027 meters), one of the world’s highest mountains over 8000 meters. You can enjoy a close view of the three main peaks of Shigabangma, as well as the golden glow of Pelku Tso Lake beneath the peaks.

After crossing the grassland around Peiku Tso Lake, you’ll reach Saga County, the transfer hub of western Tibet. This marks your entry into the gateway of the Mount Kailash region. The rest of the journey to Mount Kailash is at an average elevation of 4500 meters on the Ngari Plateau. If you need some essentials for your Kailash trek, you can buy them in Saga County.

Stay overnight in Saga.

Day 10: Saga to Darchen via Zhongba

After breakfast, you’ll start today’s journey through the Saga Valley between the Himalayan Range and the Gangdise Range, marveling at continuous snow-capped peaks, vast grassland, and stunning lakes along the way.

En route, you may witness herds of yaks and sheep on the vast grasslands beneath the snow-capped mountains. Meanwhile, you’ll pass by the beautiful green lake - Gongzhucuo Lake.

After passing through the Mayum La Mountain at 5211 meters, you officially enter the Ngari Region. Crossing the mountain pass feels like entering a wilderness inhabited by wild animals, with the holy Lake Manasarovar coming into view. The view of Lake Manasarovar, with Mount Kailash in the distance, often makes people feel amazed and inspired.

Driving along the lake, you reach the sacred Mount Kailash, the ultimate destination of this journey.

Upon arrival in Darchen, the little town at the foot of Mount Kailash, settle into your hotel, recharge, and prepare for the upcoming 3-day Mount Kailash trek.

Stay overnight in Darchen.

Insider Tips:
If you need a porter, kindly inform your guide on this day, and your guide will arrange one for you the following day. Please note that the cost of the porter requires an additional payment.

Day 11: Darchen to Dirapuk Monastery (Trek Day 1: 13km)

Today is the first day of your Mount Kailash trek.

After breakfast, you are supposed to take an eco-bus from Darchen to Sarshung Valley, where to start today’s 13-kilometer trek around Mount Kailash.

The first 13 kilometers are relatively easy, guiding you through the valley at the foot of Mount Kailash. You can clearly see the southern and western slopes of the sacred Mount Kailash.

After reaching the foot of the western slope, you will check in at the guesthouse in Dirapuk Monastery.

For the remainder of the day, follow our guide to explore the ancient Dirapuk Monastery (also known as Zhire Temple). Capture unforgettable moments in front of the sacred stupas and the grandeur of the western slope of Mount Kailash.

Weather permitting, immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring spectacle of the sunset over Mount Kailash from Dirapuk Monastery. Witness the sun's afterglow delicately illuminating the steep cliffs of the western slope as night descends.

Stay overnight in Dirapuk Monastery Guesthouse.

Day 12: Dirapuk Monastery to Zutulpuk Monastery (Trek Day 2: 24km)

Start your day early with a 4-kilometer trek from Dirapuk Monastery to reach 5430 meters. This section offers a rapid climb with a breathtaking view of the sunrise over the northwest slope of Mount Kailash.

Afterward, you’ll continue another 2-kilometer trek to Dolma La Pass, the highest point at an altitude of 5630 meters. Along this path, you’ll see prayer flags hanging everywhere on the pass.

(Notice: The high altitude means even in summer, the path is icy and scattered with rocks, requiring caution to prevent slipping.)

After successfully crossing Dolma La Pass, you’ll be greeted by the emerald-green Lake of Compassion (also known as Guri Kund), believed to purify a lifetime of sins with a dip. You’ll also witness the thick glaciers on the northwest slope of Mount Kailash.

Following the Lake of Compassion, a gradual descent leads you to the valley beneath the southeast foot of Mount Kailash, where Zutulpuk Monastery (also known as Dzutripuk Monastery) is located. Here, you may encounter adorable wild animals and find a peaceful resting spot on the grasslands.

Stay overnight in Zutulpuk Monastery Guesthouse.

Day 13: Zutulpuk Monastery to Darchen (Trek Day 3: 12km)

Today, you will complete the Mount Kailash kora and refresh yourself at the holy Lake Manasarovar.

In the morning, you’ll trek back from Zutulpuk Monastery to Darchen, the starting point of Kailash Trek.

After completing the Kailash trek in the morning, you are going to take a 30-kilometer drive to Lake Manasarovar. You’ll approach the shores of the sacred lake to touch its holy waters.

At the lakeside, you can engage in meditation, listen to the rhythmic waves of the sacred waters, or simply clean your body with the holy water, which holds significant spiritual meaning for Hindus and Buddhists.

There are also hot springs (optional) offering foot baths or soaking opportunities for visitors. If the Mount Kailash pilgrimage has left you feeling weary, consider spending a few dollars to enjoy the hot springs.

After today’s tour, get back to Darchen.

Stay overnight in Darchen.

Day 14: Darchen to Saga

After breakfast, you’ll travel back to Sage and relive the scenic wonders of the Ngari Plateau, the Himalayas, and the Gangdise Mountains. Along the journey, you can stop at grassy pastures and lakes to get close to the nature and wildlife of Ngari.

Later today, you will finally arrive in Saga.

Stay overnight in Saga.

Day 15: Saga to Gyirong

In the morning, start your journey to Gyirong Valley, the hidden gem on the Sino-Nepal border. As the altitude drops, the scenery along the roadside changes from snow-capped mountains and wastelands to dense forests and canyon landscapes.

Upon reaching Gyirong Town in the afternoon, you’ll explore Gyirong Valley described by British explorer Howard-Bury as the most beautiful valley in the world in his book 'Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance'.

Here, you can visit the Sherpa villages and admire dense forests, serene villages, and beautiful snow peaks above the woods. Additionally, you can experience the humid and mild oxygen, quite distinct from the dry and thin air of the Ngari Plateau.

Stay overnight in Gyirong.

Day 16: Gyirong to Tingri

This morning, you can enjoy ample rest. (Notice: If you plan to travel to Kathmandu after visiting Mount Kailash, you can depart this morning.)

After lunch, you'll begin your journey back to Tingri County in Shigatse. Once again, enjoy the breathtaking views of the Himalayas as you ascend the plateau of the Himalayan region.

Arrive in Tingri in the afternoon. After checking into the hotel, you can have a good rest.

Stay overnight in Tingri.

Day 17: Tingri to Lhasa

After breakfast, you will visit the home of Panchen Lama - Tashilhunpo Monastery. The grand and magnificent halls of the largest local monastery occupy the entire hillside. This is the spiritual home of the Tibetan people in Shigatse, housing the world's largest statue of Maitreya Buddha.

Then, we will return to Lhasa along the Yarlung Tsangpo River, the mother river of the Tibetan people.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 18: Depart from Lhasa (B)

Today marks the end of your Tibet tour.

Please make sure to verify your departure flight/train details with our guide in advance. And your guide will take you to the airport or train station.

Thank you for choosing Tibet Vista, and we extend a warm welcome for your return to Tibet in the future.

Service Guide

Service Included:

  • Tibet travel permit and all other necessary permits to Tibet;
  • All entrance ticket fees for all tourist sites listed in the itinerary;
  • Personal knowledgeable English-speaking Tibetan local tour guide;
  • Personal comfortable, clean and safe vehicle with reliable Tibetan local driver; vehicle ranging from 4WD land cruiser to minibus depending on your group size;
  • All lodging listed in the itinerary; it’s your decision about the accommodation class: luxury 5-star international hotel, comfortable 4-star hotel, economic 3-star hotel or budget hostel, guesthouse or tent. Please tell us your accommodation preference when submitting the enquiry; we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.
  • Domestic flight/train tickets listed in the itinerary;
  • All meals listed in the above itinerary;
  • Tourist accident/casualty insurance;
  • First aid kit;

Service Excluded:

  • International flight to and out of China;
  • Chinese visa (Note: we could help you with the Chinese visa application, like providing the invitation letter, presenting the hotel or domestic flight reservation copies, etc that you may need. )
  • Domestic flight/train not listed in the itinerary. (We can provide you the domestic flight/train ticket booking service at the BEST discount price; please contact us our travel experts for the details.)
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary; usually it costs about USD3-15 per person for one meal in TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region).
  • Tips and gratitude to tour guide and driver;
  • Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks (please do the best to avoid the alcoholic beverages during your Tibet trip), optional tour activities, etc.

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