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9-Day Yamdrok Lake Circular Biking Tour

9-Day Yamdrok Lake Circular Biking Tour

(TBT009) Lhasa - Dongla Village - Gamalin Prairie - Duoque Village - Zhagang Village - Lhasa


An off-the-beaten-path biking tour to enjoy the Yamdrok Lake views on 2 wheels that are rarely seen by tourists and the stunning sites in Lhasa: Potala Palace, Johkang Temple, Barkhor Street, Sera and Drepung monasteries, etc.

As the only local Tibet travel agency with offices in Lhasa, Kathmandu and Chengdu, we can easily help you get Tibet permit and book flight or Tibet train or overland tour from major Tibet entry cities to Lhasa. Our dedicated Lhasa-born Tibetan guides will ensure your travel safety and be a great narrator to legends and history of Tibet. And our helpful customer service manager Kunga will jointly be attentive to your needs and help you take care of all the hassle to give you the best travel experience.

For cycling around Yamdrok Lake, we have carefully chosen guides with the passion of cycling and who have done many cycling themselves and guided many cycling tours. The route integrates the less-taken inner circle route and allows you to enjoy views of Yamdrok Lake that normal overland tours won’t be able to provide. We have a supporting car to accompany you to carry all your stuff needed for the whole biking journey, so what you need to do is carry a daily quota and enjoy your ride in a relaxed mode.

Also, to know every guest’s physical situation, we may have half-day to one-day test cycling before we pedal out of Lhasa depending on the itinerary and requests from our guests.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lhasa

Receive the auspicious White Hada and Tibet Travel guide from our Tibetan guide;
Get a glimpse of Potala Palace and holy Lhasa city;

Tashi Delek! Welcome to Lhasa, the modern utopia as well as the spiritual heart of Tibet; Your hospitable Tibetan guide and friendly drivers have already been expecting you at the designated places at the Lhasa Gonggar Airport or Lhasa Railway Station.

As you receive our auspicious white Hada, simply leave your hassle to our staff to take care and enjoy the scenic ride to your hotel in Lhasa city. Our handful Tibetan guide will help you check in and inform you of the travel plan the next day. Then have a good rest at the hotel for tomorrow’s exciting tour.

Meals: Not included

Accommodation: Lhasa Yak Hotel (3 stars), Cang-Gyan Lhasa Hotel (4 stars); upgrade available when needed.

Insider Tips: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. Feel anything you need, please feel free to reach your Tibetan guide. Pay special attention to sun protection when meditating in the wilderness in Tibet.

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.

Basking in eye-blinding sunshine, Lhasa is teeming with magnificent Buddhist temples and monasteries, devoted Tibetan pilgrims historical backstreets, and pleasing culinary discovery.

Follow the footsteps of your guide to hike the long stairs of impressive Potala Palace for the commanding view of Lhasa city; the UNESCO heritage site perched on the Red hill used to be the winter palace of Dalai Lama for generations. Now, it is the most iconic building of Tibet. You will have a chance to explore the residence of Dalai Lama in White Palace, the religious chambers in the Red Palace and gilded burial stupas of former Dalai Lamas, etc.

After lunch, we will head to Jokhang Temple, the holiest Buddhist site in Lhasa. Travelling in the dimly-lit rooms, you can hear the constant mumbling of Buddhist chanting and see local Tibetans adding butter oil to the butter lamps. Never miss the chance to worship the life-size statue of 12-year-old Buddha Sakyamuni.

Outside the Jokhang Temple, follow the prostrating Tibetan pilgrims for the famous Barkhor kora nearby. You may also look for the delicately-made souvenirs in the boutiques that flank the Barkhor Street.

When you head starts to spin, delve into the quiet backstreet of Barkhor and treat yourself with a couple of tasty sweet tea and the local delicacy, and fully immerse yourself in the distinct vibes of a local teahouse.

As the night falls, the lively music bars and restaurants take on a different splendour for you to explore.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Lhasa Yak Hotel (3 stars), Cang-Gyan Lhasa Hotel (4 stars); upgrade available when needed.

Insider Tips:
As each traveller only has one hour to visit Potala Palace, do closely follow our guide’s; walk slowly and take a rest if needed when you hike the Potala Palace;
Dress properly when visiting the Buddhist site and no photo is allowed inside the Buddhist hall.
With time permitting, you may also visit Tibetan handicraft art or Tibetan Traditional Medicine centre and farm produce market in Tromsikhang Market. You can upgrade your service to enjoy Tibetan Culture Show in the evening (fr. 60USD)

Day 3: Lhasa Tour - Sera and Drepung Monastery

Visit Tibet’s biggest monastery kitchen in the largest monastery in Tibet;
Enjoy Buddhist Sculpture Carving workshop near Drepung Monastery;
Enjoy the spectacular monk debate;

In the morning, you are going to visit Drepung monastery. It is one of the “great three” Gelug monasteries in Tibet, founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge, one of Tsongkhapa’s main disciples. You can visit Tibet’s biggest monastery kitchen inside and enjoy Buddhist Sculpture Carving workshops near Drepung.

In the afternoon, you will visit Sera Monastery which is another one of the “great three” Gelug monasteries of Tibet. The hot attraction is the Monk Debate at around 3 to 5 pm. In addition, you can tour the Tibetan religious scripture printing house; inside the monastery, you can see three sand Mandalas and colourful rock paintings of the Buddha.

Meal: Breakfast

Accommodation: Lhasa Yak Hotel (3 stars), Cang-gyan Lhasa Hotel (4 stars), upgrade available when needed.

Insider Tips:

When you’re watching the monk debate, there are some tips to follow for showing your respect to Tibetan monks and their belief:
1. You’re suggested to remain quiet when they are debating.
2. You’re suggested NOT to interrupt their debate.
3. You’re NOT allowed to enter the debating area.
4. It’s okay to take photos but ONLY mobile phones are allowed.

Anything you are unclear of, just feel free to ask our knowledgeable local Tibetan guide.

Day 4: Lhasa to Dongla Village via Gangbala Pass (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;

Today is your first day cycling out of Lhasa. We set out late morning and will drive for the harder part all the way to Gangbala Pass (4800m). On the way, you will be amazed by the roaring Yarlung Tsangpo River. When we arrive at Gangbala Pass, you will enjoy a perfect panoramic view of Yamdrok Lake at the viewing platform.

At noontime, you can have a rest in Zhamalong village and then, In the afternoon, we will leave the rest easier part for you to ride till we reach the beautiful Dongla Village. We will check how you are adapted to the altitude and how you feel about cycling on such altitude. Thus we will make some adjustments if necessary. Also, if you want to, you can cycle all the way up to the pass from the beginning, but since we focus more on the beauty around Yamdrok Lake, we suggest our guests slowly adapt to the altitude today while saving energy for the next day.

Meal: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Insider Tips:
This is your first cycling day so no need to hurry. Just take your time since we have enough time. Plus, we can always arrange a test cycling in Lhasa surrounding area the day before setting out, depending on our guests’ request and the tour itinerary. We do this just to know every guest’s physical condition fully and to make plans accordingly to have all our guests make the most of this epic cycling tour.

Day 5: Dongla Village to Gamalin Prairie via Tsayu Village and Zhangda Village (60km biking)

Leisure views of sheep, yaks and horses grazing in the meadows;
Enjoy the Yamdrok Lake off the beaten path;
Enjoy the migratory birds (winter) or rapeseed field (late summer);
Enjoy the smallest Gelupa Temple - Tsayu Temple - which has only 4 monks;
Enjoy the picturesque Gamalin Prairie.

Today we will cycle through a very beautiful part of the whole bike tour. First, we will come to Tsayu Village, which you may not find on Google map. This makes it a real off-the-beaten path. You can take a sideroad to enjoy the hidden beauty of Yamdrok Lake. You can cycle a bit along the lakeshore and enjoy the migratory birds in the lake (winter). In late summer and early autumn, you will have the floral view of the rapeseed field scattered in the grasslands.

As we move on, we can take a visit to Tsayu Temple, a small temple with only 4 monks. This is possibly the smallest temple you will ever visit. You may be welcomed by the hospitable monks and locals and will be offered Tibetan tea and Hada. After that, we will continue cycling. After passing a small mountain pass, you will be astounded by the gorgeous Gamalin Prairie in front of you. The sheep, yaks and horses grazing in the pastures, the bell ringing from afar, the touchable clouds…it would be one of the biggest treats in your whole trek journey.

Meal: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Insider Tips:
This is your second day of cycling around the lake. You will cycle across several mountain passes and beautiful villages, but the food and shopping choices are simple and limited, as is the rest of the cycling journey. So you are recommended to bring at least 2 days quota of food and water. As to accommodation, there are no guesthouses on the way, but you can camp all the way so bring a tent and sleeping bag with you. Some temples and restaurants may provide a place to sleep. But you may have to use your tent and sleeping bag as well.

Day 6: Gamalin Prairie to Duoque Village via Gongbuxue Village (65km biking)

The pristine beauty of the core part of Yamdrok Lake;

From today on. We will enter the most core part of Yamdrok Lake. This part is the most uninhabited area of the cycling tour. And you are able to enjoy the most pristine alpine views of the whole tour.

Meal: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Day 7: Duoque Village to Zhagang Village via Dalong Town and Nagarze County (90km driving, 64km biking)

Dalong Temple;
The beautiful view of Rongboduo Island;
The amazing views along the lakeshore;

Today is simple. We will firstly drive from Duoque Village to Dalong Town and visit Dalong Temple, a protected Sakya temple famous for its wood carving crafts. Dalong town, together with Dalong Temple, is not known even to Chinese tourists. And actually, this temple used to be a Kagyu temple built at the same time as Jokhang Temple, at the request of Wenchang Princess. It used to be the similar size of Potala Palace and now the upper temple was ruined while the lower temple still opens, with some amazing murals and Thangkas.

After that, we will drive to Arza Township. Many who ever make it to Nargaze County choose to pass by and head back, but we choose this site for you to enjoy the off-the-beaten-path beauty of Yamdrok Lake. From Arza Village, you may cycle half the distance of the inner circle of Yamdrok Lake. You will see the beautiful Yamdrok Lake and stay overnight in Zhagang Village.

Meal: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Insider Tips:
We make this combination of transportation for the sake of scenery and cost-efficiency for our guests. But if you want to, adjustments can also be made to your own requirements. Do remember that the inner circle of the lake route are dirt road instead of well-paved.

Day 8: Zhagang Village to Lhasa via Baidi Village (40 km biking, 158km driving)

Far view of Gangbala Mountain;
Morning view of Yamdrok Lake;

In the morning, you will enjoy the sunrise of Yamdrok Lake and the far view of the Gangbala Mountain. You will finish the rest of the inner circle at Xueqing Village. Our driver will pick you up there and then drive you back to Lhasa.

Meal: Not included

Accommodation: Lhasa Yak Hotel (3 stars), Cang-Gyan Lhasa Hotel (4 stars); upgrade available when needed.

Day 9: Depart from Lhasa

Your guide will transfer you to the airport or train station for the next onward flight or journey.

Meal: Breakfast

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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