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12-Day Yamdrok Lake Circular Trekking Tour

12-Day Yamdrok Lake Circular Trekking Tour

(TTT012) Lhasa - Dongla Village - Gamalin Prairie - Nyimalung Village - Duoque Village - Dalong Town - Dongba Village - Guoba Village - Lhasa


A highly recommended trekking route to explore the hidden views of Yamdrok Lake from both the more well-known outer circle and the less-taken inner circle on your own pace, as well as enjoying the most iconic sites in Lhasa.

As the only Tibet travel agency based in Lhasa while having offices in Kathmandu and Chengdu, we can help with everything from Tibet permit, flight or Tibet train, vehicles, guides, accommodation, etc. Our dedicated Tibet-born local guides will ensure you all with a safe and fulfilling journey with their years’ experience and the profound knowledge about the culture and history of their homeland. And our helpful customer service manager Kunga in Lhasa will jointly be attentive to whatever needs you have and take care of all the hassle to give you the best-ever travel experience.

To provide a one-of-a-kind trekking experience of Yamdrok Lake, we take a different route from both Yamdrok Lake overland tour and biking tour. Thus our guests are able to get off the beaten path, and enjoy some views rarely seen in normal overland tours by taking the inner circle route, like the “guardian” lakes and scattered islands of Yamdrok Lake.

It is a perfect off-the-beaten track which allows you to enjoy both the pristine beauty of the plateau and the gorgeous views of the sacred Yamdrok Lake.

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 Gangba Village via Jiarela Mountain and Dongla Village (driving 113km, trekking 30km)


Enjoy the views of Yarlung Tsangpo River;
Enjoy the panoramic view of Yamdrok Lake on Jiarela Mountain;
Enjoy the sacred lakeshore views and quiet village views along the way.

In the morning, we will drive along the Lhasa Airport Expressway for about 2.5 hours until we reach Dongla Village. On the way, you will see the roaring Yarlung Tsangpo River and pass Jiarela Mountain, where you can get a good panoramic view of the sacred Yamdrok Lake.

Then we will start trekking along the lakeshore to enjoy the serene beauty of Yamdrok Lake at a close distance.

Meals: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Insider tips:
If you see this trek as a feast, the first day of trekking can be seen as an appetizer. We intentionally make today’s trek short for you to find your own pace. Though you have acclimatized in Lhasa for a few days, you may find it different trekking around this sacred lake. We have enough time today so just pace yourself and enjoy. No hurry!

Day 5: Gangba Village to Gamalin Prairie via Zhangda Village (trekking 38km)

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;
Enjoy the smallest Gelupa Temple - Tsayu Temple - which has only 4 monks;
Visit Riduo Temple (island) before reaching Zhangda Village (optional);
Enjoy the picturesque Gamalin Prairie.

Today we will walk through a very beautiful part of the whole trekking. 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 along the lakeshore and enjoy the migratory birds in the lake (winter). In summer, you will have the floral view of the rapeseed field scattered in the grasslands.

As we continue trekking, 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. Before reaching Zhangda Village, there is a small temple (island) in the lake not far away from the shore. You may take a short visit to it. Then, 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.

Meals: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Insider tips:
All along the trek, there will be a few mountain passes, but they are all kind of small passes so no need to worry too much.
The food and shopping choices during the whole trek are simple and limited, as is the rest of the trekking. 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 Nyimalung Village (trekking 40km)

The pristine beauty of the core part of Yamdrok Lake;
Splendid island views of Yamdrok Lake;
Bajiu Tso, one of the three main “guardian” sub-lakes in Yamdrok Lake.

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

Along the way, you are going to see the many islands scattered in Yamdrok Lake. At Nyimalung Village, where we may camp overnight, you will be able to see Bajiu Tso, one of the three “guardian” sub-lakes in Yamdrok Lake. You will be able to see the rest two later in the journey.

Meals: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Day 7: Nyimalung Village to Duoque Village via Thapla Village (trekking 21km)

The pristine beauty of the far view of Yamdrok Lake and Thapla Village;
Splendid island views of Yamdrok Lake.

You will continue to be amazed by the island views. Later you will enjoy the far view of Yamdrok Lake together with Thapla Village, a village with only a dozen families nestled between the Yamdrok Lake and the snowy mountains.

Meals: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Day 8: Duoque Village to Dalong Town (trekking 39km)

Dalong Temple and its wood carvings.

Setting out from Duoque Village, we will go away from the road along the lake and wind through a plain grassland, which gives a little break before you get a big feast the next day.

Meals: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Day 9: Dalong Town to Dongba Village via Nagarze County and Arza Township (driving 51km, trekking 44km)

Two other “guardian” sub-lakes: Kongmu Tso and Zhen Tso;
The beautiful view of Rongboduo Island;
The unique inner circle views of Yamdrok Lake.

Today we will first drive to Arza Township. On the way, we will pass Nargaze County, where you can get yourself replenished. Then we will continue driving to Arza Township, where our driver drops you off. You can then enjoy the beautiful views of Rongboduo Island and start trekking the inner circle of Yamdrok Lake. Your first day of inner circle trek ends at Dongba Village.

Meals: 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 10: Dongba Village to Guoba Village (trekking 38km)


The unique inner circle views of Yamdrok Lake.

You will finish the second day of the inner circle trekking at Guoba Village.

Meals: Not included

Accommodation: Camping

Day 11: Guoba Village to Lhasa via Baidi Village and Zhamalong Village (trekking 30km, driving 159km)

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. Then you will trek about 30km to Xueqing village, where the whole trekking ends. Our driver will pick you up there and then drive you back to Lhasa.

Meals: Not included

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

Day 12: Depart from Lhasa

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

Meals: 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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