17 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu: Discover the Grandest Holy Lakes and Mountains Tour
(TNT017) Lhasa - Namtso - Lhasa - Baidi Village - Gyantse - Shigatse - Everest Base Camp - Saga - Darchen - Kailash - Saga - Gyirong - Kathmandu
Escorted by private guide and vehicle; leave 365 days a year!
Easy - suitable for all levels of fitness, family with kids and senior groups.
Trip Level Guide:
- Easy - suitable for all level of fitness, family with kids and senior groups.
- Moderate - suitable for ones with average level fitness, family with kids bigger than 12 yrs.
- Moderate to Strenous - suitable for ones physically fit; have experiences of high altitude trek.
- Strenuous: suitable for adventures and individual with physically fit and healthy.
Embrace the top 3 holiest sacred lakes and top 2 best-known lofty mountains from Lhasa to Kathmandu; this 17-day odyssey juxtaposes the jaw-dropping landscape from Tibetan Plateau to Kathmandu Valley with maximized outdoor experiences you dreamed of serene lakes, mighty Himalayan peaks, cycling, meditation, and trekking, temple visiting, etc. It’s designed to fulfill all your fantasy for the epic Lhasa to Kathmandu tour.
At a GlanceDay 1
Arrival in Lhasa (3650m)Day 2
Lhasa Tour - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor StreetDay 3
Lhasa Tour - Drepung Monastery and Sera MonasteryDay 4
Journey to Heavenly Namtso Lake (around 350km, 6-7hrs)Day 5
Travel back to Lhasa via Yangpachen and Chimelong Nunnery (approx, 190km, 6-7hrs)Day 6
Travel from Lhasa to Yamdrok and Enjoy Cycling around it (116km driving, 33km biking)Day 7
Move from Baidi Village to Shigatse via Gyantse (216km,4hrs)Day 8
Visit Tashilhunpo Monastery and Make it to Everest (around 350km, 7-8hrs)Day 9
Head West to Saga (around 450km, 7-8hrs)Day 10
Keep Traveling North to Darchen via Holy Manasarovar Lake (around 493km, 7-8hrs)Day 11
Enjoy the Light trek to Guqu Temple (4860m) and Trek back to Darchen (around 4-5hrs)Day 12
Long Drive back to Saga (493km, 7-8hrs)Day 13
Keep Descending to Gyirong (Kyirong) County (107km, 5-6hrs)Day 14
Exit China through Kyirong Border(2600m), then drive to Kathmandu (130km, around 7hrs)Day 15
Full-day Sightseeing in KathmanduDay 16
Full-day Sightseeing in KathmanduDay 17
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Lhasa (3650m)
• Receive the auspicious White Hada and Tibet Travel guide from our Tibetan guide;
• Enjoy the welcome ceremony at the airport or railway station;
• Get a glimpse of Potala Palace and holy Lhasa city;
Meals: Not Included.
Hotel in Lhasa.
Upon your arrival in Lhasa, our Tibetan guide will be greeting you at the airport or train station with auspicious white Hada. Then you will be transferred to hotels in Lhasa. The guide will briefly introduce the itineraries and remind you about other dos and dont's for newcomers. To quickly get acclimatized to Tibetan plateau, it’s better to have a good rest in the hotel.
For the new-comers to Tibet, never rush to visit attractions downtown as your body needs time to get acclimatized to the high altitude on Tibetan Plateau. Slight headache, dizziness, and rapid pulse are pretty common. They will disappear in a couple of days. Or you may use the oxygen bar in your hotel to ease any discomfort due to altitude ascent. Feel anything you need, please feel free to reach your Tibetan guide.
Day 2: Lhasa Tour - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
• Explore the White House and Red House in Potala Palace;
• Enjoy the bird’s eye view of Lhasa city from Potala;
• Visit the sandalwood statue of Sakyamuni in Potala; the life-size statue of Sakyamuni in Jokhang;
• Experience the famous Barkhor Kora;
• Taste Tibetan sweet tea and other local food;
Our first stop is to visit the Potala Palace, the UNESCO world heritage site and the winter palace of the Dalai Lama. Walking slowly along the long stone steps to the White and Red Palaces, you can explore the former residence of Dalai Lama and his meeting room and religious chamber. You can see the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas and the meditation cave of the 33rd great king of Tibet. A bird's-eye view of Lhasa city and Lhasa valley from the top of Potala Palace will take your breath away.
After we have lunch and then we will head to holy Jokhang Temple.It's the most sacred Buddhist site in Tibet. Outside the temple, you will witness pious Tibetan pilgrims, young and old, prostrating themselves in front of Jokhang and long lines of Tibetans following the Barkhor circuit. Inside, traveling in dim butter light, you can see the statue of Buddha Sakyamuni at the age of twelve,perhaps the single most venerated object in Tibet Buddhism.You may reach the top of Jokhang Temple to enjoy the panorama of old Lhasa city and great vista of Potala Palace.
Then we may do the kora by circling the Barkhor Street with pilgrims and locals and buy some souvenirs. Never miss the chance to enjoy the tasty sweet tea in local tea house and visit Tromzikhang, the famous farm produce market.
Hotel in Lhasa.
Day 3: Lhasa Tour - Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery
• Enjoy the hike and panorama of Lhasa Valley and witness huge monk kitchen and Thangka display platform in Drepung Monastery;
• Experience the lively monk debate and colorful sand mandala in Sera Monastery;
In the morning, you are going to visit Drepung Monastery which was one of the “Great Three” Gelug Monasteries of Tibet and was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge, one of the Tsongkhapa’s main disciples. Ganden palace is used as Dalai Lama’s palace in the Drepung before moving to the Potala Palace.
In the afternoon, you will visit Sera Monastery which is another one of the “Great Three” Gelug Monasteries of Tibet and founded in 1419 by Jamchen Chojey, one of the Tsongkhapa’s main disciples. The highlight is the monks’ debate at around 3 - 5 in the afternoon.
Hotel in Lhasa.
The grand Shoton Festival (July 1st on Tibetan calendar); the steps are steep for the hike in Drepung. Walk slowly to prevent acute mountain sickness;
The Monk Debate in Sera Monastery (3-5p.m, Mon to Fri); only the cell phone camera is allowed to take photos in debate courtyard.
Day 4: Journey to Heavenly Namtso Lake (around 350km, 6-7hrs)
• Witness enchanting village and the farming scene of Tibetan nomads;
• Drive along parts of famous Qinghai-Tibet Railway (Tibet Train);
• Pass the lofty Nagenla Pass (5190m);
• Enjoy serene Namtso Lake against snowy Mt. Nyenchen Thanglha;
• Explore holy Tashi Dor Island;
• Photograph the amazing sunset over Namtso Lake;
Have an early rise and pack your camera gears for the exhilarating ride to Namtso Lake(4718m), the world’s highest saline lake; the winding roads take you past enchanting villages around Lhasa Valley; keep heading north, you will be travelling along parts of Tibet train railway. If lucky, you may find yourself traveling abreast with a Tibet train dashing on Tibetan Plateau.
As we approach Damxung, aim your camera for the packs of grazing Tibetan yaks and Tibetan yak tents scattered around the hillside and valley. Before we descend to the shore of Namtso Lake, you may take a glimpse of pristine Namtso from lofty Lagenla Pass(5190m).
At the Namtso Lake, stroll the heavenly lake, while hearing the cry of gulls (esp. in summer) and marveling at the picture-postcard Namtso Lake against snow-tipped Mt. Nyenchen Thanglha. It’s utterly a surreal experience.
Besides, never miss the photo opportunities with lovely white Yaks or follow your guide to explore Tashi Dor Island nearby, or quietly admire the devoted prostrating Tibetan pilgrims. Cherish the moments for the incredible sunset at Namsto; finally we feel reluctant to say goodbye to Namtso Lake and head to Damxung.
Hotel in Damxung.
Due to the high altitude for Namtso visit, do take your down jacket and beanie and windproof jacket…to keep your warm. Even in summer, you can’t beat the chilly wind at Namtso Lake. And sun protection gears like sunscreen, sunglasses, even lip balm are essential to keep your skin comfortable.
Since the roof-collapse incident that happened at Namtso Lake in winter of 2018, due to heavy snow, for safety concerns, the accommodation facilities at Namtso have been closed for infinity. After you finish namtso tour, we will head to Damxung(4200m), around 65km southeast to Namtso(4718m). The lower altitude means better sleep.
Day 5: Travel back to Lhasa via Yangpachen and Chimelong Nunnery (approx, 190km, 6-7hrs)
• Enjoy refreshing hot spring at Yangachen;
• Explore the life of nuns at Chimelong Nunnery;
The long drive must be tiring. To soothe your nerves, let’s stop by the most famous Yangpachen hot spring on the way back to Lhasa. Soak yourself in the refreshing and mineral-rich hot spring surrounded by lofty peaks. It feels like in heaven.
After the hot spring joy, our journey continues to Chimelong Nunnery (Phyirmil Lung Nunnery).Roam over the peaceful small nunnery and get an idea of different Buddhist study in Tibet; you may also spot a sky burial site (Tibetan funeral site) in the distance.
Meal: Not Included.
Hotel in Lhasa.
Don’t stay in the hot spring for too long. (no more than 10-20min) Sky burial is a funeral practice commonly seen in Tibet. The corpse will be disposed of and later devoured by vultures. In Tibetan Buddhism, sky burial is believed to represent their wishes to go to heaven. Only family members of the dead can attend the funeral.
Day 6: Travel from Lhasa to Yamdrok and Enjoy Cycling around it (116km driving, 33km biking)
• Enjoy the views of Yarlung Tsangpo River;
• Get the best panoramic view of Yamdrok Lake at Gangbala Pass (4794m);
• Enjoy the quiet village views along the riding;
Have an early rise for the scenic ride from Lhasa to the holy Yamdrok Lake. On the way, you will be amazed by the picturesque Yarlung Tsangpo River. When we arrive at Gangbala Pass(4800m), you will enjoy a perfect panoramic view of Yamdrok Lake at the viewing platform.
Then, we will have lunch and have a rest in Baidi village(白地乡). We will provide you with the mountain bike, you may follow our guide and cycle along the turquoise Yamdrok Lake to beautiful Baidi Village and the amazing Yamdrok Lake will take your breath away. After you arrive at Baidi, we will set up campsite to spend the night there.
Since you are cycling on the plateau, it will be a bit challenging. However, the cycling route is well-chosen and quite manageable to travelers of all ages, and our guide and staff will closely follow your health condition.
Day 7: Move from Baidi Village to Shigatse via Gyantse (216km,4hrs)
• Closely observe Karola Glacier;
• Hang Tibetan prayer flags at Simila Glaciers;
• Climb Gyantse Kumbum Stupa in Pelkor Monastery;
Our journey continues. After passing Nagarze, the massive Karola Glacier comes into sight. Stop briefly to view this incredible land glaciers cascading from the peak, right beside the highway. Then, the continuing journey will take us to Manla Reservoir where you can enjoy the turquoise lake and hang the auspicious prayer flags at Simila Pass (4200m). Soon, the awe-inspiring Gyantse looms ahead. Here we are. Gyantse, the third largest city connecting Lhasa with Shigatse.
Visit the famous Pelkor Monastery where multiple Tibetan Buddhism schools coexist in a single monastery; climb multi-story Gyantse Kumbum Stupa, the symbol of Gyantse County, for an amazing vista of Gyantse fortress. You may take a leisurely stroll in the old street nearby and visit the memorial site of Gyantse Dzong. With enough time to spent, we will climb the Gyantse Fortress for the panorama of the Gyantse City. Finally, after one and a half hour drive, we will finally reach Shigatse(3900m), Tibet’s second largest city and the gateway to Mt. Everest.
Meals: Not included.
Hotel in Shigatse.
To take photos with Tibetan mastiff or with well-dressed Tibetans at Karola Glaciers, the locals will charge some fees. You may refuse it if you don’t want to. In summer, we may visit traditional Barley Mill and view the landscape of Barley Field in Shigatse.
Besides, stairs leading up to Gyantse Fortress is extremely steep, do ascend slowly and never push yourself too hard.
Day 8: Visit Tashilhunpo Monastery and Make it to Everest (around 350km, 7-8hrs)
• Visit the golden statue of Future Buddha and assembly hall in Tashilunpo Monastery;
• Gaze at top 4 highest peaks at renowned Gawu La Pass (5198m);
• Marvel at the sublime Mt. Everest at EBC;
• Spend the night in traditional Yak tent at EBC;
• Enjoy the stunning galaxy at night;
Have an early start to visit the celebrated Tashilunpo Monastery, home to successive Panchen Lamas; roam over the alleys of this massive Buddhist academy and explore the tremendous golden statue of Future Buddha (26.2m high) and visit the golden stupas of Panchen Lamas and Amitabha Buddha; you may even join the monk’s chanting at assembly hall or quietly watch the monk debate at courtyard.
Then, we will leave Shigatse for EBC. The long yet exhilarating drive (350km) promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to you. The idyllic farmland scene gradually gives way to the barren land and rolling Himalayan Range.
Feel the adrenaline rush as you follow the dozens of hairpin bends to awe-inspiring Gawu La Pass (5198m), where top 4 highest peaks along the Himalayas may take your breath away. Stay briefly here for an epic selfie with the giants of the world.
The final leg of the journey will take your past Rongbuk Monastery (5154m) to the tented camp of EBC (5200m) nearby. Enjoy your stay in a traditional yak tent; at night, if you dare to brave the cold, get out of the cozy tent to enjoy the stunning galaxy above the EBC which will make your jaw drop.
Tibetan Tented Camp or Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse.
Our guide will stop at Lhatse to get travel formalities (alien’s travel permit) for you to visit EBC and the lunch will also be arranged at Lhatse.
Due to the altitude ascent, you may feel shortness of breath or dizziness. Our well-trained Tibetan guide has oxygen supply prepared for you and ensure your travel safety by metering your oxygen saturation sporadically; even the oxygen chamber is ready for treating acute altitude sickness.
Due to the extreme altitude and remoteness of EBC, the lodging amenities and food are very basic. So, do play down your expectation. The epic view will make it up for your ordeal. You may also prepare some snacks or food in Shigatse before leaving for EBC. Do wear enough down jacket and headwear or other protection for the chilly wind, and only filthy pit toilet is available, so try avoiding it unless it’s necessary.
Tented camps at EBC are available from mid-April to mid-Oct. Other than that, the humble Rongbuk guesthouse is the only option.
Day 9: Head West to Saga (around 450km, 7-8hrs)
• Enjoy the close-up view of the breathtaking sunrise over Mt. Everest;
• Explore the world’s highest Buddhist compound;
• Receive a certificate for making it to EBC;
Have an early rise for the dramatic spectacle of sunrise over the summit of Mt. Everest; you will find that you are not alone for the long-awaited sunrise over the world’s highest peak, together with dozens of well-equipped photographers. Do bundle up for the biting wind outside.
Later, stroll to tour the legendary Rongbuk Monastery (5154m), the world’s highest Buddhist site where pious nuns and monks coexist. You will also be awarded a certificate for making it to EBC.
Say farewell to the lofty Mt. Everest through the rear mirror as the tour vehicle runs westward to Saga County. The route to Saga takes us right past the stunning Lake Peiku Tso, which lies at 4,591 meters above sea level, which is surrounded by the high mountains of the Himalayas. One of those high mountains is Mount Shishapangma (8,012m), the 14th highest peak in the world, and the only peak above 8,000 meters that is wholly inside Tibet. As we drive along the highway towards Saga, the mountain is clearly visible to the north.
Meal: Not Included.
Hotel in Saga.
We even prepare binoculars for you to better enjoy the vista of Mt. Everest; the slope of Rongbuk Monastery would be a great vantage point to photograph Mt. Everest.
Western Tibet, esp. Ngari Prefecture, has much higher altitude (averaging above 4500m) and more barren land than the central and eastern Tibet. The amenities and resource are very limited. However, we keep updating our service every year and do our utmost to arrange the best lodging available in relevant counties.
Day 10: Keep Traveling North to Darchen via Holy Manasarovar Lake (around 493km, 7-8hrs)
• Stunning view of the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley;
• Brief stopover at picturesque desert at Zhongba County;
• Stroll along holy Manasarovar Lake;
• Get amazing vista of Mt. Kailash;
Take a short time to explore the views of the Yarlung Tsangpo River Valley, the longest river in Tibet and the source of the mighty Brahmaputra River. Then we will head out on the road to drive the 493 kilometers to Lake Manasarovar and Darchen, at the foot of Mount Kailash.
Before reaching Darchen, we will pass through the small town of Hor Qu, on the northeastern shores of Lake Manasarovar. We will stop at the lakeshore for a while to enjoy the beauty of what is considered to be the most sacred lake in Tibet. Lying at an altitude of 4,590 meters, and is said to be the location where Maya Devi conceived Buddha.
Later, head to the legendary Chiwu Monastery nearby, the best vantage point for the panorama of Manasarovar from the hilltop. Finally, move back to Darchen.
Hotel in Darchen.
Darchen and Lake Manasarovar are at much higher altitudes than most of the rest of Tibet, with the exception of the passes that we travel over and EBC itself. You need to be aware of your condition at higher altitudes like this, and be conscious of the possible symptoms of altitude sickness. Our Tibetan guide will keep a watchful eye on your healthy condition and oxygen supply is readily available.
Hotels in Ngari this far north can be a little basic, far from the luxury of even the lowest rated guesthouse in Lhasa. However, it is well worth a little hardship for the divine experience around Lake Manasarovar and Mt.Kailash.
Day 11: Enjoy the Light trek to Guqu Temple (4860m) and Trek back to Darchen (around 4-5hrs)
• Enjoy the close view of North Face of Mt.Kailash from imposing Serlung Chu Valley;
• Trek along the prostrating Tibetan pilgrims;
Enjoy the comfortable bus ride (around 15min, 6km) from Darchen to Serlung Chu Valley, the trailhead of Mt.Kailash trek; then walk through the two legged stupa, adorned by colorful prayer flags and keep trekking to Guqu Temple (20 min; around 2.6km); You will walk with prostrating Tibetan pilgrims and enjoy the grand Serlung Valley with spear-shaped summit of Mt.Kailash in the background.
You may enjoy the sweet tea at the tents below Guqu Temple and later walk the kora around the Guqu temple before heading back to Darchen.
Meal: Not included.
Hotel in Darchen.
Day 12: Long Drive back to Saga (493km, 7-8hrs)
• Enjoy the Vista of Manasrovar Lake;
The road from Darchen to Saga is a long one, and travels back along the same route we took to come to Darchen, passing over the Mayomla Pass (5,112m), where we can stop for photos of the nearby Mt. Naimonanyi (7,694m). We will also pass through several small local villages on the beautiful grasslands to the south of Manasarovar, in the Saga valley between the Gangdise and Himalaya Ranges. We will reach Saga in the lake afternoon.
Meal: Not included.
Hotel in Saga.
One of the features of Tibet travel is that usually a long drive is involved between two tourist attractions, esp. traveling beyond Lhasa. You may download hours of crime podcasts or your favorite music in your Iphone for the pastime.
Day 13: Keep Descending to Gyirong (Kyirong) County (107km, 5-6hrs)
• Enjoy more greenery along the way as altitude get growlingly lower;
Keep traveling to Zongga town in Gyirong County and spend one night there for crossing Gyirong border to Kathmandu, the next day.
Meal: Not included.
Hotel in Gyirong.
Day 14: Exit China through Kyirong Border(2600m), then drive to Kathmandu (130km, around 7hrs)
• Enjoy scenic valley around Sino-Nepal border;
• Take a peek at the remote Nepali villages;
• Reach the vibrant Kathmandu City;
Follow the guide's advice to go through the customs; our Nepali guide and drivers are expecting you on the other side of the border. Simple leave your luggage and hassles to them and enjoy jeep transfer service to your hotel in Kathmandu.
Hotel in Kathmandu.
The initial 10km's treacherous mountain road is particularly bumpy. A great suggestion to avoid motion sickness is not to eat too much for the breakfast. Our jeep transfer service will take you directly to your hotels in Kathmandu.
Day 15: Full-day Sightseeing in Kathmandu
• Explore the medieval temples and palaces of Kathmandu Durbar Square;
• Tour the towering Swayambhunath Stupa, ruled by monkeys;
After breakfast, full day valley sightseeing with Kathmandu Durbar Square, the place of the Malla and then the Shah Kings of Nepal, visiting Kumari Temple, house of the virgin goddess, visiting Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple), a stupa on the top of hill - from here you can overlook the scenery of Kathmandu, Visiting Patan Durbar Square, the second largest town in the valley, Krishna Mandir, Golden Temple etc.
Hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 16: Full-day Sightseeing in Kathmandu
• Visit the famous Hindu temple Pashupatinath;
• Trace the connection between Nepali and Tibetan culture at Boudhanath stupa;
• Visit the Bhaktapur's Dubar Square filled with drying pot and local artisans;
After breakfast, we will take you a glimpse of half day sightseeing tour in Kathmandu Valley; Pashupatinath Temple, one of the most important Hindu temple in Nepal. We keep going for walk to see the huge stupa of Buddha, also known as Boudhanath, the largest stupa in Nepal. Afterward taking a ride to Bhaktapur, a fascinating town, visit Bhaktapur's Dubar Square featuring the Victorian illustrations style with temples and temples complex.
Hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 17: Departure
A few hours before your flight out of Nepal, our staff will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the Tribhuvan Airport for the onward flight.
- 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;
- 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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