Tibet Re-Trip, Plan a Second Time Trip to Tibet
Tibet also known as Tibet Autonomous Region is a beautiful destination that ranks amongst the top most places of the tourists’ choice. Located on the loftiest plateau namely Qinghai-Tibet, it is an emblem of beauty, enigma, culture and uniqueness. There are about 1.2 million square kilometers, including 7 administrative regions, and each of them deserves you one month and more explore them in-deep.
We've made it to the Everest
Tibet experiences a cold atmosphere throughout the year, with many places remaining snow covered. However, that does not mean that it fails to show the beauty of nature. The blue lakes like Namtso, Yamdrok and others, spread against the blue sky with fleecy clouds enchant the tourists. You can also find widespread meadows with the Tibetan yaks and other cattle grazing in there. The cherry blossoms that invite several festivals with it are also enamoring to the tourists.
Different places in Tibet exhibits altogether different facades of natural beauty. For example, while in Lhasa you will get to experience cold atmosphere with sparkling sunshine, in Ngari, you will experience a more comfortable weather with softer glow of sunshine. In the routes to Mount Everest and Kailash trek, though the weather remains clear, sunshine can be less bright and you will have to combat a biting cold with gusty winds. Thus, Tibet not only gifts you with the variety of scenic charm, it also provides you with a lot of tourism experiences from Kora to trekking to tasting authentic Tibetan delicacies to witnessing the enigma of culture of Tibet and life by visiting the monasteries and staying with the nomads or the Sherpas. Here are general travel plan for each regions.
In-depth Tour in and Around Lhasa
Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet is the holder extreme charm and mesmeric scenic beauty. The attractions of Lhasa do not only lie in its cultural and historic sites, but also in its breathtaking natural scenery. Lhasa is at the bottom of a small basin surrounded by mountains and rivers. A one-day Lhasa tour is not enough to assess the beauty of the whole place. There are lots to do in Lhasa to enjoy the place totally. Some of the most off beaten routes in Lhasa are-
Ramoche Monastery or the Ramoche temple is known as the sister of the famous Jokhang temple in Lhasa. This temple is mainly important for the performances of kora in here. However, besides the kora, Ramoche temple also exhibits a wide range of unique artifacts and statues representing Tibetan culture. When you enter the temple, you will see many tourists performing prostration and the kora. Inside this temple, you will witness the protector chapel containing masks and puppets hanged in the ancient pillars of the temple. It is in this chamber that you will also be able to witness the enclosed statue of their deity Dorje Yudronma on a horse, decorated with beads. There is a Chinese curtain of chain mail which the pilgrims and the tourists usually touch for good luck. You will also behold the famous image of ornate Akshobhya, representing the young Sakyamuni at the age of eight.
The tourists also visit the famous stalls of yak-butter and authentic Tibetan incense found at the exit. There is another chapel named Tsepak Lhakhang. It includes the central image of Tsepame and the smaller statues of Marmedze and Dorje Chang. This area of the temple is very popular amongst the pilgrims. Most of the tourists come into Ramoche temple either as the participants of the kora or to witness the authentic Tibetan religious candor. From Ramoche temple, you can also visit the famous shopping destination Barkhor Street, which is indeed a part of the kora.
Tromsikhang Market is situated in the old town of Lhasa. This is an extremely popular market area amongst the tourists for its wide collection of dry fruits and nuts, most of which are imported from Xinjiang. In this market, tourists generally are open to a variety of shopping items, most of which are Tibetan delicacies. The Tibetan delicacies that are found here are extremely authentic. You will get vegetables, dried cheese sweets, incense, trinkets and traditional items used generally for festivals. The Tibetans usually buy their mundane materials from the Tromsikhang Market. Here you will find some authentic Tibetan special delicacies like the tsampa or the roasted barley flour and the churpi or the dried yak cheese. The yak-butter, sold here is also famous.
Moreover the authentic Tibetan cowboy hats in the Khampa-style are also in vogue amongst the tourists. Amongst the trinkets, the tourists are particularly interested in the handmade beads, red corals, turquoise and beeswax, found here. Snacks and cosmetics are also found here.
Canggu Nunnery in Lhasa is the only Buddhist nunnery present there. The place, like every other nunnery, gives shelter to the Buddhist nuns and the women embarking on the knowledge about Tibetan religion and Buddhism. There are about 100 nuns present in Canggu Nunnery at present. The tourists are attracted to the early morning ritualistic prayer that the nuns recite to the Goddess of Mercy and Buddha Tara. This occurs at 8:00 in every morning, especially in the Sutra Hall. This is one of the chanting ceremonies occurring in the nunnery. There are many other elaborate chanting celebrations with seven large chanting celebrations every month.
The tourists are particularly attracted to the solemn atmosphere of the nunnery with the humming of the nuns acting as the background in the early cool morning. Inside the nunnery, the decoration is beautiful. Two parts are there, namely the ceremonial and the daily chores buildings. There are decorations with neatly maintained flower pots. But the chief attraction of this nunnery is the underground cave, known as the cultivation site of the famous Buddhist Srongtsen Gampo. This cave is well maintained with the kerosene being replaced. Every year, thousands of pilgrims visit here to offer their prayers and chant mantras. The nunnery is also famous amongst the local Tibetans as it runs a clinic and the small shops for petty commodities.
The nunnery also has a tea house and a small tea garden. Tourists, who come to visit Barkhor Street to attain the kora or for shopping, relax in the tea house. They either take a stroll round the nunnery or relax under the big umbrellas having the famous sweet tea and the Tibetan noodles and buns made by the nuns. All the materials found in the nunnery are unquestionable in quality and also in price. So you can trust fully on the quality and the price. The nunnery remains open to the tourists from 8 in the morning to 8 PM, in the evening. There is no entry fee.
Drak Yerpa or the famous meditation caves are located 16km from Lhasa in the northeastern side of it. This place has many famous names attached with it like Guru Rinpoche, Atish-the Bengali Buddhist and the king Songtsen Gampo. There are about 108 mediation caves in here and therefore you have to manage your time to visit each cave. For parking your car, there is a distinct car park. From there, you can take the left stairways and explore the place in a clockwise fashion. The names of the first caves are Rigsum Gompo and Temjl Drubpuk. Here, you will find the footprints of the personnel like Yeshe Tsogyel and the fifth Dalai Lama. There are provisions like squeezing though a hole in the wall or tasting of the holy water seeping in there.
The place of yellow Jamkhang contains a two-floored building. On the entry there are statues of Chana Dorje and Tamdrin and Namse. You will also find the statues of Atisha along with Tsongkhapa and the fifth Dalai Lama. The Drubthubpuk cave is uniquely marked by the black haired curtain, situated in the upper region. If you continue your journey in the eastern direction, you will come across a stupa, from where you will get the view of the whole valley. In the cave of Songtsen Gampo, you will get to see the statues of Chaktong Chentong. Also you will witness the pilgrims circling the central pillar continually. There is a statue of Songtsen Gampo and a small cave in the right hand corner of the region.
Dezong Hot Spring
The famous Dezong Hot Spring is located at a distance of 170 km from Lhasa. It takes about 3-4 hours to visit the place. The hot spring is remarkable located at an altitude of 4200m, in the middle of an icy valley. The spring is extremely famous amongst the tourists for its magical water capable of healing every type of diseases. These diseases include cardiovascular, muscular, nerve and even respiratory diseases. The spring has a distinction of a male and female pool.
Dezong Hot Spring
Though the surrounding temperature is chilly, inside the pool, the water is remarkably at a suitable temperature. About 120 nuns look after the pool. Also they sell some beautiful beads, beer and bread. They also sell kitchen made noodles, curried potato, yak-butter tea and other light delicacies. There is a fixed time of bathing, both for men and women. It is better you comply with the timing.
Lalu Wetland National Nature Reserve
Lalu wetland national nature reserve is the most important and preserved wetland nearby Lhasa. Covering an area of 12.2 square kilometers, it is the most important source of oxygen for Lhasa. The tourists are not always allowed to visit to the core area of the wetland. So you may be just allowed to have an outside glimpse of the place. You will get to see a large collection of migratory birds in here. The birds, usually viewed by the tourists include ruddy shelducks, black-necked cranes, bar-headed goose and redshanks, white-headed cranes and lot of others.
Lalu Wetland National Nature Reserve
In-depth Tour in Shigatse
Shalu monastery in Shigatse is one of the most famous tourist halts in there. The place exudes a unique solemn beauty and holds the cadence of authentic Tibetan charm. There are some exceptionally important murals and relics that this monastery holds, which are of extreme tourist attractions. The architecture of the monastery is of tremendous importance as it is an amalgamation of the Chinese and Tibetan style. Inside the monastery, the tourists are hooked to the famous Shalu Lakhang temple. In the southern Kanjur Lakhang, you will find some exquisite Newari-style murals representing the three Buddhas. In the main temple, you will find a black-stoned statue of Chenresig Kasprapani and a vase in the corner, containing holy waters. In the southern Gusum Lakhang, named after the famous three doors, you will get to see many exotic murals.
Also there are many chapels with mandala murals. The architecture of the monastery is quite interesting with the Chinese styled roof clad in green styles. This monastery has been the seat of unique trainings like trance-walking, generating heat to survive the cold and even practicing meditation while flying. If you visit Shalu Monastery, you will get to witness all these things. Except for the murals and the lives of the monks, this monastery is significant because of the distinct kora route passing through it. Try to maintain peace inside the monastery. Show reverence to the monks and abide by their rules and regulations within the monastery.
The Sakya Monastery is the most significant monastery belonging to the Sakyapa sect of Buddhism. If you are intending to visit Sakya monastery, keep enough time in your hand as Sakya monastery demands a detailed visit of its large vicinity. The monastery is divided into two parts namely the southern and the northern monasteries. As it was initially built like a fortress, it has a moat surrounding it. It is mainly known for its immense collection of Buddhist scriptures and Thangkas. In a recent survey, it has been found that there are about 40,000 volumes of scriptures hoarded there. You will find the scriptures hoarded in the colossal wooden bookshelves. The scriptures are on varied subjects like animal husbandry, history, literature, philosophy and religions and agriculture. You will also find scriptures written in Pattra leaves in Sanskrit.
Except for the fat volumes of scriptures, you will also find murals and Thangkas. Most of the Thangkas are from Yuan Dynasty. There are murals about Kublai Khan, Sakya’s ancestors and lot of other historical incidents. The tourists however should not miss the main Chanting Hall, covering an area of about 5800 square meters. You will witness some ten thousand monks, humming the scriptures. Also you will find about forty immense pillars of vermillion color, which has their own stories of advent. In the second floor, you will see some 63 murals of mandalas. Except for the murals and the Thangkas, you can also see some porcelain items, seals, Buddhist figures and embroideries. There is a black wooden casket with white whelk clarion in it. It is the most precious of all the items, being gifted by Kubla Khan. The entry fee is about 45CNY. The opening time is from 9:00 AM to 18:30 PM. You can avail a bus from Shigatse Bus Station as it takes a direct route.
Trekking in Gama Valley
Gama Valley, in the eastern side of Mount Everest, is considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. The total trek in gama valley takes about 16 days to get completed. The whole trekking route is however through the Mount Everest Nature Reserve. As a result, this exquisite trekking site gifts you with unmatchable scenic beauties and landscapes. Many famous mountains will welcome you on your route like Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse and Mount Makalu-the fifth highest peak in the world. The valley, on the other hand will exhibit the immense greenery except for the snow clad high mountain peaks.
The valley is nothing but an immense region of untouched forest. The shift in the scenic beauty is what celebrated most in this trekking path. The trekking route will gift you river valleys, then mountain ranges, then forest greenery and vast stretches alpine meadows, alpine deserts, snow regions, glaciers, broad-leaved forests and needle-leaved forests. For trekking in this region, do keep your Tibet Travel Permit and Alien Travel Permit. Also be well equipped to combat the harsh cold weather, travel along with an expert guide. The best seasons for this trek are spring and summer.
In-depth Tour in Ngari
Ngari is the place where the Himalayas, the Gangdise, the Kunlun Mountains and Karakorum Mountains meet. This area is dotted with beautiful lakes and rivers, great mountains and glaciers, vast grasslands, spectacular snow mountains and clay forests, deserving you plan a 10 to 15 days trip. The most off-beaten routes in Ngari are-
Manasarovar and Three Day Kailash Trekking
Lake Manasarovar is considered to be the holiest lake amongst not only the Tibetans but also people from other countries like India. It is a beautiful fresh water lake that falls on the path of Kailash kora. A distinct kora route is also present around this lake. There are provisions to camp beside this lake. Containing a deep turquoise color, the lake spreads alongside the snow clad Kailash mountain, is considered to be an epitome of utmost beauty. The lake is also very significant for exercising your photographic skills during sunrise and sunset.
The three day Kailash kora is nonetheless a hectic path but a path that will gift you with many varieties of experiences. The three day Kailash kora includes the first day of journey from Darchen to Drirapuk monastery. The total trekking time is 12 hours and the distance covered will be 22km. The second day trekking route is from Drirapuk monastery to Zutulpuk monastery. The time taken will be 12 hours as the distance covered will be 22km. In the third day, the route involves trekking from Zutulpuk monastery back to Darchen. The distance will be 12km and the time taken will be 7hours.
It is to be noted that the trek paths will be bumpy and quite hectic with steep ascensions and down slopes but it is very interesting. You have to keep your Tibet Travel Permit and Alien Travel Permit along with you. Also you need porter animals and guards to make you go through the trekking path. Kailash trekking routes provide some of the best photographic sceneries of mount Kailash and the surrounding paths. Try to avail the photographic moments.
The Guge Kingdom is one of the most ancient kingdoms that had their origin in Ngari prefecture. In Tibet, it is one of the most culturally important preserved sites. The relics of the Guge Kingdoms now consist mainly of Summer Palace in the ruined conditions. The ruin contains about 800 caves and 445 rooms with secretive tunnels, storerooms containing arms and armaments, fortresses, granaries, 28 Buddhist pagodas and different kinds of burial places.
Outside the ruin, you will find city walls. There are distinct places like Mandala Hall, Scripture Hall and Gongkang. These halls are in a very good condition still now. Five temples are located within the ruins, namely the Red temple, White temple, imperial palace, Samsara Temple and the Assembly palace. The ruin covers an immense area of land as much as 720,000 square meters. The ruin consists of the dilapidated condition of the entire ancient kingdom with higher platforms’ signifying king’s palaces, residences, footpaths and the 4 secret tunnels.
The ruin contains an intricate picture of entire kingdom, Sakyamuni and royal families along with many artifacts, murals. The temples contain many different scriptures. The ruin of the Guge Kingdom is also important owing to the fact that it provides some of the best moment for the shutterbugs. Try to capture the moment of setting sun when the golden hue is spread all over the ruins, cladding it in a mystic hue. Positively take permission before exercising your photographic skills.
Tholing monastery is one of the most ancient monasteries of Ngari prefecture. It was constructed during the time of Yeshe-O, the second king of the Guge Kingdom. The word Tholing means ‘hovering in the sky’. The entire structure consists of three temples namely the Lakhang Karpo, Yeshe-O and the Dukhang Temple. There are many murals, scriptures and frescoes present within this monastery that are the major tourist attractions. Some of these frescoes are quite precious also.
Near the Tholing monastery, there is the river named Xinagquan. Here you will find some 108 Buddhist towers. Though they stand as mere ruins, still they are quite a tourists’ interest. You can visit Tholing monastery either by trekking or by buses. This monastery can be visited all the time of the year. The monastery remains open from 8:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening. The admission fee is 50 CNY.
Pangong Tso lake also known as ‘high grassland lake’ in Tibet, stands at an elevation of 4350m. It is a very beautiful lake containing salt water and is a brakish water lake. During the winter, the lake turns into solid ice completely. This lake in Ngari is of tremendous importance as it is a habitat of many floras and faunas. Thus it is important not only in Tibet, but also internationally. You can see birds like Brahmini ducks, bar-headed goose and wildlife like Marmot and Kiang.
Pangong Tso lake
The lake is surrounded by brown colored arid mountains and has two different types of water color-one is crystal clear dark blue belonging to the Indian side and the other is pale blue. It is a great tourism experience, to witness this lovely saline watered lake in Tibet, along with the faunas it sustains. In this lake, you can take wildlife photography also. However you need to acquire permission before doing so.
Wildlife in Ngari
Ngari prefecture in Tibet is an important wildlife preservation sites. Plenty of birds and animals can be found here and the preservation of wildlife habitat of Ngari is one of international concern. The Pangong Tso lake has been one of the largest habitats of the various floras and faunas. Except for that, the vast stretches of meadows are also home to thousands of animals. You will find Tsoe-a small antelope, Grong-or the wild yak, wild asses along with black-necked cranes, wild goats, wild sheep, wolves and even wild dogs. You can arrange for an expedition to witness the vast stretches of the wildlife in Ngari. It might take a day to witness all the various types of wildlife in Ngari.
In-depth Tour in Nagchu Region
Nagchu in the northern Tibet is the largest prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region. Nagchu has unique landscape, including the vast Qiangtang grassland, the Holy Lake Nam-tso, gorgeous mountains and rivers, ancient monasteries, and other unique tourist attractions. This area also has rich resources of wildlife and alpine vegetation. It takes you around 7 to 10 days to explore this region.
In-depth Tour in Chamdo Region
Chamdo Prefecture is situated in eastern Tibet, along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway connecting Sichuan and Tibet. It belongs to the traditional Kham Region, famous for its unique and fascinating Khampa culture. Chamdo is also known for the ancient Tea-Horse Road (South Silk Road). Most trade caravans departed from Yunnan and passed through Chamdo Region to Lhasa. It takes you around 15 days to explore this region while enjoying an Sichuan-Tibet overland tour.
Lhegu Glacier in Chamdo Region
In-depth Tour in Lhokha Region
Lhokha boasts a combination of natural and cultural scenery. Spectacular ranges, beautiful lakes, famous historic sites, numerous springs and peaceful river valleys constitute its featured landscapes. It deserves you spend about one week at Lhokha to explore the Region deeply.
Yarlung Tsangpo Valley in Lhokha Region
In-depth Tour in Nyingtri Region
Nyingchi is a prefecture in southwest Tibet Autonomous Region, where the Himalayas and the Nyainqentanglha Mountains extend from west to east, like two huge parallel dragons, to join the Hengduan Mountains in the east. Nyingchi is located at an average elevation around 3,100 meters, it enjoys a moist weather and a beautiful natural scene. You can combine Nyingchi and Kham for your second or third time travel plan in Tibet and it takes 10 to 15 days.
For first trip to Tibet, most of the tourists planed Lhasa and Shigatse to visit the most famous monasteries and Mt. Everest for 8 to 10 days, we called it visting central area of Tibet. For the re-trip plan, tourists are high recommend to do a trip to eastern and western Tibet, to plan a 20 days trip to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarova in Ngari and Mount Najabawa, Brahmaputra river in Nyingchi, Rowu Lake in Chamdo. Thus for planning a re-trip to Tibet, even if you have witnessed some of these in your first trip, do try these places again for a better insight the next time.