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Tibet information

About Tibet

Geography: Tibet, is known as “Roof top of the world” and it is a rich and beautiful land, located at the main part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, South-west frontier of China. Tibet border with Sichuan, Yuanan, Qinghai and Xinjiang to the south contiguous to India,Nepal,Sikkim,Bhutan and Burma and bounded by Kashmir on the west. Tibet possesses more than fifty peaks over 7000m among which eleven are over 8000m.

The Tibet autonomous Region with a population of two million, mainly Tibetans, and an area of 1.2 million Sq.km. Tibet is rich in natural resources and owns a vast expanse of landforms. People living on this land have been creating a glorious culture since ancient times. There has a long history; majestic mountains and rivers, regular customs and habits, wonderful natural landscapes with monks clad in robes and yellow hats are seen everywhere.

Most of Tibet is made up of an immense plateau that lies at an altitude of 4000m to 5000m. The cultural heartland of Tibet is the fertile Yarlung Tsangpo ( Brahmaputra)valley.On the upland surrounding this and other valleys, the inhabitants are mainly semi-nomadic pastoralists, who raise sheep,yaks and horses. Western Tibet is higher still, and its spiritual and geographical focal point is sacred Mt Kailash (Kang Rinpoche)-revered by Buddhists, Hindus,Jains and Bonpo alike. Nearby is the equally sacred lake Manasarover source of the great rivers of Asia. To travel here is not easy journey, but such a pilgrimage will be rewarded by a landscape of mystical beauty and perhaps spiritual elevation.

Travelling in Tibet is not your average trip but and experience of a life time, which we invite you to take with us.

History:

Inhabitants were existence in Tibet since the latter part of the Paleolithic Age which It bais considered as the opening curtain of the Tibetan history. By the Neolithic Age these inhabitants had scattered to a wider range of circle whose result had gradually led to the Tibetan race of the present generation.

In the 7th century a famous Tibetan King named Songsten Gampo united the whole of Tibet and established the Tubo Dynasty. In the 7th and 8th centuries respectively two princesses from the Tang Dynasty had married Tibetan kings, as consequence two two people, the Hans and Tibetans became closer in relationship and further exchanges took place within political and economical affairs between the Tubo and Tang Dynasties which gave creation to a beneficial condition for the development of Tubo society.Tibet fell into a decentralization period for over three hundred period the Tubo society took a change over from the slave society to the feudal society. In 13th century Tibet became Yuan Dynasty then became Pagdu Dynasty.In Qing dynasty, Gorshi Khan became the ruler of Tibet and established the Ganden Podrang administration which was recognized by the Qing central administration. The central administration of China, the Qing Dynasty, gave the overlordship of Tibetg to the 5th Dalai Lama and established its representative in Lhasa called the “Amban” to supervise political affairs of Tibet in order to strengthen its control over Tibet. After 1911 Revolution the Republic of China established a working office in Lhasa to exercise its management over Tibet. In May 1951 concerning the method of liberation of Tibet, some agreement was signed between the Central people’s govt. of China and local govt. of Tibet which opened a new historical page over Tibet.

People,Religion and Culture:

The Majority of Tibet’s population is Tibetan. Tibet is so thinly populated that it averages out 1.68 persons per sq.km. About 90 percent of the people live on farming and husbandry.

Buddhism is main religion since hundreds of years in Tibet, has unique form “Lamaism, Tibetan history, culture and religion are mixed together and infiltrated on every aspect of social life. Tibetan religious arts have a distinctive style with adoption of Indian and Chinese Buddhism. The Potala Palace is built on the top of a hill and penetrates its dome into the sky. It’s the king of Tibetan architectural structures and it has wonderful sculptures, carvings, murals, “Thankas” and skilled butter sculptures, and vast accumulation of historical monuments which form a kind of religious art which is developed into a school of Tibetan tradition.

Festivals and Customs in Tibet:

Festivals in Tibet are in variety among which the grandest the Tibetan New Year followed by others such as “Wangkor” Festival and horse races. For the dead, sky burial, water burial, cremation and stupa burial are in practice but the sky burial is the most popular of them all.

Tibet festivals are held according to the Tibetan lunar calendar, which usually lags at least a month behind the West’s Gregorian calendar. Following is a brief selection of Tibet’s major festivals: 1. Lhosar Festival (New Year), 2.Lanten Festival,3.Monlam(Great prayer festival),4.Sagadawa Festival,5. Worship of Buddha,6. Shotun Festival (Yoghurt festival), 7.Gyantse Horse Race,8.Death of Tsongkpa,9.Driving off Evil Spirits etc.

Present khada is a common practice among the Tibetan people to express their best wishes on many occasions such as wedding, festivals, visiting the elders and the betters and entertaining guests. The White khada, a long narrow scarf made from silk, embodied purity and good fortune.

Proposing a toast and tea when you come to Tibetan family, the host will propose a toast, usually barley wine. To entertain with tea is a daily etiquette. The guest has not to drink until the host presents the tea to you.

When to go (Weather):

Actually, The Tibetan climate is not as harsh as people imagine it to be. The best time to visit Tibet is from May to October month. Visitor would not feel more cold and hot in this time.

Most of Tibet is a high-altitude desert plateau over 4000m and many passes exceed 5000m, Days in summer are warm, sunny and dry from low to mid 20 degree Celsius but temperature drop quickly at night.

Winter will be colder, averaging around 5 to -10 degree Celsius. During the day will be around 5 degree Celsius and plunging to -10 at night.

Most annual rainfall comes in the rainy season that starts from June to September. Usually it rains at night in Lhasa and Shigatse area. Sometimes road may block due to rainfall but people can enjoy with beautiful scenery.

Food & Beverage:

There are different foods varieties depend upon the agricultural and pastoral areas. The staple food includes roasted highland barley flour, wheat flour, meat or red food and milk or white food. Local flavors in the pastoral areas are mutton sausage and dried beef.

Yoghurt is important daily dairy for Tibetan people. The creamy milk produced by yak cow is superb. Tibet nomads in eastern Tibet manufacture their yoghurt in special process. Tibetan like to drink much different kind of tea beside salted butter tea, sweet milk tea is another popular alternative. Tibetan barley beer, called “Chang” in Tibet is popular among all Tibetans. Soft drinks and beer is available in Lhasa and other main cities,

Now in Tibet towns,(Lhasa,Shigatse etc),Tibetan food is supplemented by Chinese food, mostly Sichuan food, Vegetables and fish become available in market. Nowadays, Tourists can find different kind of western foods in the restaurants at the main cities in Tibet.

During the Mount Kailash tour we provide pure vegetarian breakfast and hot dinner cooked by our Sherpas at campsite, who will be taken from Kathmandu. It will be advisable to bring sufficient supplementary food like chocolates, biscuits, nuts, pickles, bhujias, swahilis and favorite tinned products etc… to add variety to the meals. Lunch will be packed of light snacks.

Accommodation:
In Tibet, few major cities offer comfortable accommodations with modern amenities. Tibet itself a remote isolated high terrain include desert, grassland, lakes, mountains and rivers above 3500 Meters. In Lhasa, huge range of accommodation are available from simple guest house to four star deluxe accommodation, In shigatse, Gyantse & Tsedang offers up to three star standard level . Naylam, Tingri, Xegar, Dza Rongbuk Everest Base Camp, Lake Yamdruktso and in Lake Namtso Simple Guest Houses are available with minimum facilities. Western Tibet, Nagri Prefecture and Mount Kailash region, west from Nayalam, Saga, Parang & Darchen guest houses are available but they are primitive and only dormitory (3-4 persons at one room)beds are available in limited capacity.
During the rest of the journey two men high altitude tents will be provided. While camping we shall be providing all tents, mattresses, sleeping bags and camping equipment for the trip, except for personal clothing. No laundry services will be available throughout the trip. Single room will not be available in Tibet.

Transportation:
For Kathmandu to Kodari private Jeep/Mini Bus will be provided for the group, border crossing from Kodari to Zhangmu (Tibet) will be on truck or walk, approximately 1 hour, ride, depending on the road condition. Throughout the journey in Tibet you will be travelling in Land cruisers/ Pajeros/ Jeep/Van.
A support truck will be provided for luggage and all camping equipment and food supplies for Kailash Tour.

Communication:
Nowadays, communication in Tibet is much more developed than before. Tibet is no longer shut out from the outside world as it was several years ago. The development of communication provides great convenience to travelers in Tibet. Most of the Standard hotels provide International call, fax service and photocopy facilities in Lhasa. Mobile phone services are also available in Lhasa and other major towns. Pagers and mobile phones with roaming function also provide tourists with a convenient alternative form of communication. Internet is another alternative which is accessible to travelers. There are dozens of internet cafes in Lhasa and other major towns. In Kailash-route, International call services available in Saga, Paryang, Darchen. Also mobile phone services are available most of the places nowadays.

Currency:
All major foreign currencies are accepted in Zhangmu bank in return for Yuan. The basic unit of Chinese currency, 1 Yuan equals 10 Jiao and 1 Jiao equals 10 Fen. At present USD 1 = 7 Yuan, approx. Credit cards are accepted some major places.

Photography:
Still Cameras, Home Video cameras are allowed into Tibet without having to take any permission. Please ask your guide before take picture of any monastery, palace or monument.

Costom Formalities:
Valuable goods taken for personal use (radio and video camera etc) should be declared at customs office by completing a customs declaration form and brought back o return journey. Antiques must be properly certified; otherwise they may be confiscated. Some books are prohibited to bring inside the Tibet or China part so we recommend our clients not to bring books or any publications which indicates about Chinese and Tibetan Politics.

Staffs:
English speaking Tibetan Guide is provided from our Tibet Counter Part and our highly experienced Nepali staffs will be responsible for all camping and cooking arrangements during the whole Kailash tour.

Briefing and Orentation:
There will be a detail briefing on the program in Kathmandu before you leave for Tibet. It is very important that all participants attend this briefing. If you have any unanswered questions than you discuss during this meeting.

Tibet Travel Permit and Visa

Tourists should have six month validity passport to apply the visa/permit. Tourists are not allowed to enter in Tibet only with Chinese visa so special group visa/permit is required to enter the Tibet. The visa processing is initiated only after you book a trip with a reliable travel agency.

Chinese embassy in Kathmandu works on Monday,Wednesday and Friday between 09.30 to 11.00 am.

Tibet Visa Fee effective from 01.April.2009:

Nationality Normal

(5 working day)

Urgent

(3 working day)

Top Urgent

(same day)

For US Nationality US$ 142 US$ 164 US$ 198
For Other Nationality US$ 58 US$ 80 US$ 114
For Nepalese Rs. 2750 Rs. US$ 4450 Rs. 5350

NOTE: We must receive scan copy of passport at least 15 prior to the departure time.

We do not recommend our clients to apply Chinese visa from their own countries because individual Chinese visa will be cancelled while issuing group visa from Kathmandu.

Important Issues about Tibet Travel Permit:

  1. All kinds of people can get Tibet permit through a travel agency except diplomats, journalists and government officials who should travel to Tibet under the arrangement by the Foreign Affairs Office of Tibet Government.
  2. After having a permit, a travel agency could buy the air tickets, and you can pass the check-in at the airport and the check point reroute with the permit.
  3. Only the guide could hold the permit after you establish yourself on Tibet land. You are not allowed to bring with it and travel to anywhere because except Lhasa you need another permit named as “Aliens permit”. Otherwise if you are stopped by the police, you will be sent out of Tibet or have trouble politically and economically.

Responsibility:
All arrangements within Tibet are solely at the discretion of the China Tibet Tourism Bureau (CTTB), a government organization and we have no control over the quality of the vehicles or the facilities. Mac Trek and Expedition (P) Ltd reserve the right to change itineraries without advance notice, depending on the weather and road conditions, etc.

Access to Tibet

By Road:

Although there are several road routs to Lhasa, foreigners are officially allowed to use the Nepal and Qinghai routes only. Usually foreign travelers start from Chengdu, Qinghai and Kathmandu.

Nepal route:

Nepal-China Friendship highway is a popular route for connecting to Lhasa. Its’s spectacular trip over high passes and cross the Tibetan plateau, the highest point being Gyatso-la pass (5200m) outside of Lhatse. This route also brings you close to a number of famous sights, such as Shigatse, Gyantse and the Mount Everest Base Camp. It takes 5 days of traveling over the Tibetan highlands. When travelling from Nepal to Lhasa, foreigners must arrange travel package through reliable travel and trekking agencies.

By Air:

Tourists can easily get air connection to Lhasa from different places. Some air routes given as follows:

  1. Kathmandu-Lhasa: Daily flight from April to October.
  2. Beijing-Lhasa: Daily flight
  3. Chengdu-Lhasa: Daily flight
  4. Shanghai-Lhasa: Daily flight
  5. Guangzhou-Lhasa: Daily flight from July to October
  6. Xining-Lhasa: Every Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun from March to October.

By Train:

Travelling to Tibet by train gives you much more enjoyment of the wonderful landscapes and a unique experience on the thousands of miles travelling on the roof of the world.

There are seven routes to enter Tibet:

  • Beijing-Lhasa: Aprox.4050km
    • Hard seat price: US$49.00
    • Hard sleeper (Bottom Berth): US$102
    • Soft sleeper (Bottom Berth): US$ 158.00
  • Chengdu-Lhasa: Aprox.3350km
    • Hard seat price: US$41.00
    • Hard sleeper (Bottom Berth): US$89
    • Soft sleeper (Bottom Berth):US$138.00
  • Xian-Lhasa:
    • Hard seat: Yuan 296
    • Soft seat: Yuan 586
    • Hard Sleeper (Upper Berth): Yuan 603
    • Hard Sleeper (Middle Berth): Yuan 621
    • Hard Sleeper (Lower Berth): Yuan 639
    • Soft Sleeper (Upper Berth): Yuan 972
    • Soft Sleeper (Lower Berth): Yuan 1008
  • Lanzhau-Lhasa: Aprox.2188km
    • Hard seat price:
    • Hard sleeper (Bottom Berth):
    • Soft sleeper (Bottom Berth):
  • Xinning-Lhasa: Aprox.1972km
    • Hard seat price:
    • Hard sleeper (Bottom Berth):
    • Soft sleeper (Bottom Berth):
  • Guangjhou-Lhasa:
    • Hard seat price:
    • Hard sleeper (Bottom Berth):
    • Soft sleeper (Bottom Berth):
  • Shanghai-Lhasa:
    • Hard seat price:
    • Hard sleeper (Bottom Berth):
    • Soft sleeper (Bottom Berth):

Health, Equipments & Liability

Fitness:
Please start to get in shape now. A good 30 minutes walk, jogging daily, stretching and regular exercise should put you in the right shape (concentrate on your heart and legs – Aerobics). Porters or Yak will be carrying the bulk of your equipment, but it is recommended that you bring a good day pack and are fit enough to carry shacks, filled water, bottle/canteen, food/snacks, camera, film, map, jumper, sun hat, first aid kit, lightweight rain gear, extra clothes etc.

Altitude Sickness:
This is an environment – related condition that can affect anyone who ascends too rapidly to high elevations without acclimatizing properly. Suggest reading any book on trekking that has a chapter on this and also consulting your doctor. Please note that diamox has to be taken by all participants as a precaution measure. Our advice: Drink at least 4 liters of water a day, do not exhaust yourself so much and breathe deep and take more rest than usual.

Insurance:
We recommend that you insure yourself against sickness, Emergency rescue, accident hospitalization, cancellation, etc. as we accept no responsibility for damages or expenses which may arise from mishaps to  persons or their belongings during the tour.

Clothing:
Clothing for both extremes of Climate and Temperature. While driving to Tibet, it will be warm inside the vehicle and light clothing is required. But as soon as you step out of the vehicle, warm clothing will be required to keep off the cold winds of the Tibetan Plateau. Evenings will be generally cold and warm clothing will be required. We recommend that you bring along the following clothing and accessories with you:

Down Jacket – One (Can be rented in Kathmandu @ approx. US$1.50 per day)
Warm thick pullover & thin pullover – One each
Warm Pants- two
Light loose cotton Pants- two
Warm windproof jacket – one
Cotton full sleeve T-Shirts- four
Thermal under pant/long – two
Thermal vest/warm full T-Shirts – two
Rain coat with hood/poncho (should be roomy) – one
“Broken-in” pair of ankle high walking boots and one extra shoe laces
Light tennis shoes and light rubber sandal
Warm woolen socks – six
Light cotton socks – six
Large cotton or silk scarf – one
Warm gloves/mittens – one
Soft paper tissue and handkerchiefs – plenty
Monkey cap and sun hat – one each
Towels (one big, one small)
Washing kit

Accessories:
Personal first aid kit
Toilet kit, Nail Clipper, scissors.
Flashlight with extra batteries (3 sets)
Sun glasses.
Thermos Can
Water bottles – unbreakable (min 2 liters capacity).
Note book, pens and pencils.
Camera, films and extra batteries for electronic camera.
Pocketknife, sewing kit, butane cigarette, lighter and Chap Stick, moisturizers, money pouch/belts etc
Water purification tablets.

Health Considerrations (Especially for Kailash Tour):
All participants should be medical fit to travel in altitudes of 5700 meters. We do ask you to bring along your own small first aid kit (available at pharmacies).
Some of the items we ask you to bring in the kit are:
Antiseptic cream or wound disinfectant: iodine and tube squeeze cream.
Foot care and blister treatment: Band- Aids, adhesive roll and strips, gauze pads, moleskin. (Please, bring trusted and broken in walking boots).
Gauze pads: 3″, at least 6 pads; Gauze roll: 2-3″ rolls; Adhesive Tape: 2″ roll.
Ace bandage for the ankle. Elastic bandage 3″ roll.
Water disinfectant tablets
Antibiotics: (Triethoprim/ Sulfamethoxazole- Bactrim DS or Septra DS – double strength (160mg/s 800mg). Antidiarrhoeals – Lomotil and pepto-bismol tablets and make sure you bring Charcoal tablets. Please see your doctor for more advice concerning antibiotics and anti diarrheals.
Diamox : 30 tablets. It is a must that every participant takes diamox from the day of their arrival in Kathmandu, this is for a precaution measure taken so that participants do not fall ill due to high altitude. Please consult your doctor regarding diamox. * Anti-inflammatory: Advil, Rufen or Mortin. Aspirin/Tylenol or general painkillers.
Strong Sunscreen Oil: Skin Antibiotic Cream/ Antifungal Ointment. Lozenges/strepsils (plenty).
Small scissors and knife, water proof matches, safety pins, thermometer, lighter, dehydration salt (electrolytes) Packets. Foot powder and Cream. Heat Balm for muscles/joints. Vicks inhaler/vapourub. Chap sticks.

Risk & Liability :
Mactrek and Expedition (P) Ltd will put every effort to make your journey very smooth and pleasant. However, all the programs in Tibet are conducted strictly under the rules and regulations of Tibet Tourism Bureau. Therefore, Mactrek and Expedition (P) Ltd. or its Tibet counterpart shall not be responsible for any change and alterations in the itinerary due to unavoidable circumstances such as landslide, road blockage, flood, snow, and political unrest, cancellation of flight, delay arrival, sickness or accidents. Any extra cost incurring there of shall be borne by the clients on the spot. It is most advisable for clients to have full insurance against medical and personal accidents. Cancellation insurance is also highly recommended.

Main attractions of Tibet

Lhasa:

The Holy city of Lhasa is the heart and soul of Tibet, the abode of the Dalai Lamas, and an object of devout pilgrimage. This is not only because of it remoteness, its high altitude of 3700 meters means limited accessibility, but also because of its impressive heritage of over a thousand years of cultural and spiritual history that helped to create romantic and mysterious.

Lhasa situated in south central part of region and North bank of the Kyi-chu River in a mountain-fringed valley. The ancient sprawling city settled 1300 years ago, cover 30,000 Sq.km,with a population of 40,000 of which 85 percent are Tibetans. The urban population is 200.000.

While the Potala Palace serves as symbolic focus for Tibetan hopes for self government, it is the Jokhang Temple, some 2km to the west of the Potala Palace,that is the spiritual heart of the city. There are some major tourist sights in Lhasa which are given as follows:

  • Potala Palace
  • Jokhang Temple
  • Bakhor Street
  • Sera Monastery
  • Norbulingka
  • Ganden Monastery
  • Drepung Monastery

Potala Palace:

The Potala, one of the most famous architectural works of China, is erected on top of the Red Hill in Lhasa. The word “Potala” comes from Sanskrit. It is huge treasure house for materials and articles Tibetan history,religion,culture and arts. The Potala palace was declared the United Nations world Cultural Heritage site.

One of the architectural wonders of the world, this huge construction is 13 storeys tall and contains literally thousands of rooms. The layout of the Potala Palace includes the white Palace( the eastern part of the building), for living quarters of the Dalai Lama, and the Red Palace (the central building rising above) for religious functions, the most stunning chapels of the Red Palace house the jewel-bedecked chorten tombs of previous Dalai Lamas.

The entrance gate of the Palace fr om northern side, accessible by road and exit via southern gate. Pilgrims visit in the other direction and are most numerous on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when they are admitted free of charge. Photography isnot allowed inside the palace.

The palace open from 09:30 am- 13:00 pm ; 15:00pm-18pm and entrance fee is RMB 100 per person.

Jokhang Temple:

Situated in the centre of the old section of Lhasa, Jokhang Temple built in the mid-7th century A.D. and later extended by successive rulers, it has now become a gigantic architectural complex. Located in the east, facing to west, it is a four storeyed temple with splendid golden roofs. It has architectural feature of Tang Dynasty and also assimilated very much feature from both Nepalese and Buddhist temples. The murals in the temple mainly depict the life stories of historic characters. The temple houses many historical relics since Tang Dynasy and statues of King Songsten Gampo, Princess Wenchen, Princess Bhrikuti Devi.

This temple opens all day and at 1400 hrs novice monks meet on the balcony of the second floor to debate doctrine.

Entrance fee: RMB 70 per person.

Norbulingka:

About 3 kilo meter west of the Potala Palace is the Norbulingka, the former summer residence of the Dalai Lama. This beautiful garden was first built in the middle 18th century. The pleasant park contains several palaces and chapels,the highlight of which is the New Summer Palace.

The best time to visit this place is during festivals and public holidays. This place open from Monday to Saturday and entrance fee is RMB 70 per person.

Bakhor Street:

Bakhor is essentially a pilgrim circuit that proceeds clockwise around the periphery of Jokhang Temple.Bakhor is the oldest street in Lhasa.It is an old place with colorful Tibetan features. It is a place where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble and a place to which a visit must be paid.This is a famous shopping places nowadays. All the houses along the streets are stores and all kind of fantastic goods show us all aspects of Tibetan life. Thankas,Copper Buddha,Prayer Wheels,Butter lamps,Prayer flags with sutras, beads, Tibetan joss sticks , daily household good and many products for tourist can found on the street.

Drepung Monastery:

This monastery situated five kilometer distance to the western suburb of Lhasa at the foot of Mt. Ganpoi Uze. Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, a disciple of Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect. The Monastery occupying an area of 250,000 Sq.meters with fixed number of 7700 is the largest monastery in Tibet. The Monastery keeps plentiful historical relics, Buddhists scriptures, arts and crafts.

Drepung Monastery is easily reached by bike, although most people take minibus from the west side of Barkhor Square. Drepung,Sera and Ganden Monasteries functioned as the ‘three pillars of the Tibetan State.’

Sera Monastery:

About five kilometer north of Lhasa, this monastery was founded in 1419 by a disciple of Tsongkapa.This monastery is eracted grandly at a mountain slope with a colorful architecture. Now about 600 monks are residing, well down from an original population of around 5000 monks. This monastery also easily reached by bike or minibus from central Lhasa.

Ganden Monastery:

Located in Taktse Country,founded in 1409 by Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect, it is the earliest of the three great monasteries in Tibet. This Monastery is about 40 kilometer east of Lhasa. Approx. 400 monks have now returned and extensive reconstruction is underway. The monastery remains and active pilgrimage site and has stunning location with and elevation of 4500m.

Pilgrim buses leave for Gandan Monastery often at 7 am from west side of Barkhor Square.

Samye Monastery:

Located about 30 km west of Tsetang, on the opposite bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo(Brahmaputra) River, this monastery was founded in AD 775 by the King Trisong Detsong and belongs to the Nyingmapa and Sakyapa Sect.It is first monastery ever built in Tibet. It is said that the monastery was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt three hundered years as the residence of the 6th Dalai Lama.

To reach Samye monastery,mini buses are easy available from Barkhor Square. Morning bus leaves at 7 am and drop at the Samye ferry crossing point. After crossing ferry, tractor or truck will carry about 9 kilometer to get Samye. When river levels are low, we can find buses running direct to the monastery via the bridge east of Tsetang.

Tashilunpo Monastery:

It is the biggest Gelugpa monastery in the Tsang region in Tibet. It is located in the town of Shigatse and was founded by Gedun Drup, a disciple of Tsongkapa. It was formerly built in 1447 and continuously expanded by successive Panchen Lamas.

Tashilunpo Monastery represents the Tibetan super architecture art in the Last Tibetan spirit. The monastery attracts thousands of Buddhists and tourists from domestic and abroad to travel and worship every year.

This monastery is situated at the west part of Shigatse city and this is walking distant from the main city. This monastery opens from 08:00 to 16:00. There is free entrance on Tibetan festival time.

Sakya Monastery:

Located in Sakye country, the monastery stands two parts on either side of Dongchu River. This monastery is the centre of the Sakaypa Sect.( White Earth Order). The northern part of the monastery was built in the year 1079 and the southern founded in 1268 by a famous abbot of Sakya named Pagpa who once had ruled the whole of Tibet under the Yuan Dynasty’s supervision. The monastery has great influence over the Tibetan history and cultural development.

This monastery is a “must” for visitors to Tibet. It can be reached by taking bus at the Shigatse to Sakya. The bus leaves at 7/8 morning and takes five hours to reach.

Shalu Monastery:

Located in the Shalu village, about 20 kilometer south of Shigatse. Shalu Monastery was built in the year 1040 by Jetsun Sherab Jungey. The monastery was named “Shalu” meaning “new bud” in Tibetan. The architecture of the monastery with a feature of completely Chinese Yuan Dyanasty’s temple, it is a rare and unique work of art, mixed feature of Tibetan and Han.

The monastery enshrines various relics such as religious objects, Buddhists scriptures written on “pattra” leaves, and an important decree of Pagpa, the Sakya abbot.

Palkhor Monastery:

Located in Gyantse and founded by jointly by Kedup Je of Gelugpa Sect and Rabten Kunsang of the Sakyapa Sect in 1418. Palkhor Monastery also named Palcho Monastery , is very different from other monasteries. This monastery has a special influence over Tibet’s Buddhism owing to its being a unity of three Sects, in one single monastery. The famous Kumbum pagoda stands nine story’s with its 108 doors and 77 chapels containing clay sculptures and various murals. The pagoda is said to have 100,000 images, either sculpture or painted , this also earns its name to 100,000- Image Pagoda.

It lies about 230 kilometers south of Lhasa and about 100 kilometer east of Shigatse at the foot of Dzong Hill. The Monastery opens from 09:00 to 16:00.

Yembulagang Palace:

Situated in Nedong country of Lhoka Prefecture, Yumbu Lagang is said to be the first palace in Tibetan history and built in the second century B.C. The palace,facing west stands lofty on top of a hill. Statues of the Three Periods of Buddha, Tibetan Kings Nyatri Tsenpo,Lha Tho-Ri Nyantsen, Tri Ralpachen, Songsten Gompo and Trisong Detsen are enshrined in the palace.

This palace located on the east bank of Yarlung River, about five kilometers in the south from the Tradung country.

Yamdrok Tso Lake:

On the old road between Gyantse and Lhasa, beautiful Yamdrok Tso Lake (4450m) can be seen from the summit of the Kamb-la Pass (4800m). Yamdrok Tso Lake, one of the three largest lakes of Tibet. The surface of the Lake, with its fathomless dept, covers some six hundred Square kilometers. To the interior of the lake ten or so hilly islands stand independently one from the other which give homes to flocks of wild ducks. Fish in the lake is plentiful and tasty for diet. It enjoys equal popularity with Lake Namtso in north in Tibet and Lake Manasarover in Ali, which are called “Holy Lakes” in Tibetan Plateau. It’s a continental lake supplied with rain, thawing snow and iceberg.

Namtso Lake:

In Tibetan, Namtso means ‘Heavenly Lake.’ It is considered one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. Namtso is famous for its high altitude (4900meters) and covered with vast areas of 950 square kilometers.

Namtso Lake is the biggest lake throughout Tibet. Meanwhile, it is the highest altitude saltwater lake in the world. The water here is a storybook crystal-clear blue. Clear skies join the surface of the lake in the distance, creating an integrated, scenic vista. Soul of every visitor who has ever been here seems to be cleansed by the pure lake water.

Summer is the best time for Namtso Lake. Wild yaks, hares and other wild animals leisurely look for food along the expansive lake shores; countless migratory birds fly here to lay eggs and feed their young; sometimes lovely fishes in the lake jump out of the lake water, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine; sheep and cows herds are like flowing white blanks on the green grassland which can stretch as far as your eyes can see; the dulcet songs of Gauchos resound through the valleys. This time of the year Namtso Lake is full of life and activity. Therefore it is no wonder Tibetans take Namtso Lake the symbol of goodliness and happiness. Really Namtso Lake is a blessing from nature. To get there is the best way to hire a jeep or bus from Lhasa.

Mt Kailash & Manasarovar Lake:

Mt.Kailash claimed to be the apex of the Hindu religious axis is also one of the highest mountain in Tibet at 22,022 feet, and Lake Manasarovar at 14,950 feet is said to be the highest fresh water lake in the world. Certainly a difficult region to reach due to the variable and extreme weather conditions. The distance from Lhasa for example is approximately 2000 km.

Only during the last few years, many pilgrimage (Hindu,Buddhists and Jain)and westerners been able to experience this region. Road conditions are difficult much of the time and we have to make many preparations to ensure that we have a reasonable chance of reaching Kailash. We need to bring our own food and camping equipment. Basic lodges and tea-houses can be found but the plateau is so remote that it is possible to travel for several days without finding food available. To travel for days on this remote plateau with the chance encounters of nomads herding their sheep or yaks is to be transformed into another way of life, to see and become part of such a devout pilgrimage as shown by pilgrims around Mt. Kailas and Lake Manasarovar is to put some aspects of our western way of life into proper perspective.

Ruins of Guge Kingdom and Toling Monastery:

The Guge Kingdom is a wonder of Ngari. In the mid-nine century, the Tubo imperial court came to an end. The offspring of the King Namdam established their own kingdom and Gyede Nyimagong became the King of Ngari. The Second son of his three sons occupied Zarang and established the Guge Kingdom.

In the main ruins of the Guge Kingdom in Zarang, the destryoed city walls and the natural earthern forest exist harmoniously. More than 400 houses and 800 caves sacatter on the 300 meters high moutain slope. As the capital of the Guge Kingdom, the Zarang Ruins cover an area of 720,000 square meters, the second largest building next to the Potala Palace.

Toling Monastery was a famous Buddhist temple in Tibet built in the 11th Century by the prince of Guge Kingdom. In 1042, an Indian dignitary once gave sutra lectures here, greatly promoting the development of the Buddhism in Ngari. The monastery is also a witness of the renaissance of Ngari’s Buddhism. Over one thousand deer antlers, pictographs and hieroglyphics collected in the temple are of great archeological value.

One can visit this place from different route via Nepal (Simikot, travel to Yari, cross a high pass at Nara La and descend to Humla Karnali River to reach the border village of Hilsa and Khojarnath) and Tibet( Lhasa-Shigatse-Saga-Parayang-Manasarover-Darchen or Nepal-Tibet friendship border).

Tibet information