Langmusi

Langmusi, also known as Taktsang Lhamo, is a small town with two large monasteries— Kirti Gompa and Serta Monastery and Nunnery. Located on the border between Gansu and Sichuan provinces, the town sits at 3345 m/10,974 ft in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountain ranges, green meadows and alpine forest. A short hike to the gorge behind Kirti Gonpa leads to Taktsang which means "Tiger Cave" in Tibetan, the ancient meditation caves the town is named after. An excellent destination for hiking and trekking by horse, Langmusi has good accommodations for visitors and travelers.

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Dege

Dege is the cultural heart of Kham and a great place to experience traditional Tibetan culture and a centuries-old way of life. It is most famous for the Dege Parkang, an ancient printing house devoted to the preservation of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, texts and literature. Founded in 1729, the institution is estimated to hold nearly 70% of all the hand-engraved print blocks in Tibet. Considered a holy place and national treasure, pilgrims travel to Dege to circumambulate the publishing house and its invaluable contents.

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Repkong Shaman Festival

Every summer, the Repkong Shaman Festival is held in Amdo. On the 16th day of the 6th lunar month, the week-long festival that honors the local mountain god begins. Rituals are performed; the mountain god is invoked and asked to bestow the gifts of good health and a successful harvest.  With the shaman acting as a medium that embodies its powerful spirit, the mountain god is invited to join the ceremony and celebration. Full of color and life, the women of the community dance, the men beat drums, the boys perform dramas, and the girls show off their ornate, traditional attire.

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Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake is the largest saltwater lake in all of Tibet and China. Located in Amdo, its teal blue waters cover an area of 4,317 square kilometers. Surrounded by vast summer grasslands, Tibetan nomads graze their herds of yak and sheep along its shores. In July, the lake meadows bloom into a gleaming carpet of yellow rape flowers. Located at the crossroads of numerous migratory paths in Asia, the lake is a sanctuary for many species of rare birds. Quinghai Lake is sacred to the Tibetan people and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural landscapes near Xining.

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Larung Gar Institute

Serta Larung Gar is the heart of Tibetan Buddhist scholarship and the largest Buddhist academy in Tibet. Founded in 1980 by the late Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, there are 40,000 to 50,000 resident monks, nuns and lay students undertaking religious education at the institute. Located in the Larung Valley, 15 kilometers away from the town of Serta, the enormous campus sits at an altitude of 4,000 m/13,123 ft. With a myriad of temples, meeting halls and thousands of dormitory huts, Larung Gar attracts students and pilgrims from all over China and Tibet.

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Yachen Gar

Yarchen Gar, also known as Yarchen Orgyen Samten Choling, is located on a peninsula in the Dzin Chu River, in Pelyul County, Kham. Established in 1985, the encampment is home to 10,000 nuns and monks, making it one of the largest gatherings of Tibetan Buddhist monastics in the world. Living according to tradition, the majority of nuns reside in the peninsula village while the monks live across the river in a separate, hillside encampment. Yarchen Gar is associated with the Nyingma tradition, the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Yilhun Latso

Yilhun Latso is one of the most beautiful lakes in Kham. Cradled by the Chola Mountains, the crystal clear latso ("life force lake") sits between glacial peaks that tower as high as 6,100 m/20,000 ft. Painted and carved prayer stones dot the shoreline, offsetting the water's distinct green hue. The forest and meadows encircling the lake are home to more than 150 species of wild animals; including black necked cranes, red deer and snow leopards. Set in an unsullied and truly picturesque landscape, Yilhun Latso is an excellent place for hiking, camping and relaxation.

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Mura Horse Trekking or Walking

At Mura (between Golog and Machu), you can go on a three-day trek—by horseback or walking. The route passes through Kongsar Kamdo,  an immense grassland filled with wild flowers! Travelers are advised to wear sunglasses because without them, by the end of the day, you'll have flower-blindness (similar to snow blindness). And don't forget—be on the lookout for happy marmots! Exclusive Road to Tibet trip for an intimate experience of nomadic life and culture.

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Potala Palace, Lhasa

The Potala Palace was named after the mountain abode of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. For centuries the palace served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas. Built in the 7th century and reconstructed by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century, it towers over the city of Lhasa. There are several palaces within the complex, designated by color—red, yellow and white. With thirteen levels containing over 51,000 rooms and 200,000 images, the Potala Palace is an invaluable monument of historical, cultural and spiritual significance. UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

The Jokhang Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the heart of Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhism. The most sacred of all temples, it houses a Shakyamuni statue consecrated by the Buddha himself. Built by Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal in the early seventh century, the temple is built on an important geomantic site and has undergone continuous renovations. The Jokhang is widely celebrated because it's not controlled by one particular sect or school of Tibetan Buddhism. Because of this, the temple draws adherents from all the schools as well as followers of Bon, the religion that predates Buddhism in the region.

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Yamdrok Yutso Turquoise Lake

The sacred lake of Yamdrok Yutso sits at 4,408 m/14,461 ft and is believed to be the life-force of the Tibetan nation. Stretching over an area of 754 km, its teal blue waters create the largest lake in southern Tibet. Surrounded by snow capped mountain ranges, the lake is fed by icy streams and inlets that flow down from the higher elevations during the warm summer months. Its curved pincer shape boasts nine islands, numerous bays and is home to several monasteries. At Gampa Pass, on the winding road that leads to Yamdrok Yutso Lake, you'll see an unforgettable vista of shimmering turquoise beneath a backdrop of glaciers.

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Mount Everest

In 1865, Mount Everest was so-named by the Royal Geographical Society of England. Tibetans honor the mountain as Jomolangma or Queen of the Universe. Often pictured with a plume of condensation streaming from its pyramidal summit, the mountain peaks at 8,848 m/29,029 ft. Tibet is home to Everest’s stunning North Face. From Everest Base Camp at 5,100 m/17,000 ft., the mountain face soars another 3,648 m/11,969 ft overhead. For open, sweeping views of the mountain, stunning sunrises and sunsets, Road to Tibet offers challenging trekking opportunities as well as scenic driving tours.

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Namtso Sky Lake

Namtso "Sky" Lake lies at an elevation of 4,718 m/15,479 ft, approximately 70 miles from Lhasa. Bordered by the snowy peaks of the Nyenchen Tanglha, Namtso Lake is the second largest salt water lake in Tibet. Namtso has five, uninhabited islands. Tashi Dor Gompa, a small monastery located on a southeastern peninsula, is home to a number of ancient retreat caves including the hermitage of the famous Indian master Padmasambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyal. Surrounded by snow capped mountains and vast grasslands, the crystal clear lake is a bird sanctuary and a sacred pilgrimage site.

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Samye Monastery

Samye Monastery is the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Founded in the 8th century by Padmasambhava and King Trisong Detsen, Samye began the centuries-long tradition of Tibetan Buddhist monasticism that continues today. Encircled by a stone wall with a large central temple and smaller ancillary temples, the mandala lay-out of the Monastery complex represents the Buddhist cosmos. Renowned for its architecture, gilded statues, vivid murals and an unparalleled collection of ancient relics, Samye Monastery is the most important pilgrimage destination and the heart of Buddhism in Tibet.

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Mount Kailash

Located in western Tibet, Mount Kailash is sacred to almost one-fifth of humankind. Serving as the watershed of South Asia, its magnificent peak lies near the source of the Indus, the Brahmaputra and the Ganges Rivers. Mount Kailash is an interfaith pilgrimage site shared by Buddhists, Hindus, Bonpos, and Jains. Following traditions that span a millennium, every year thousands of pilgrims travel to the region to circumambulate Mount Kailash on foot. Starting at 4,600 m/15,000 ft and going as high a 5,500 m/18,200 ft. trekking or pilgrimage around Kailash takes about three days.

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Kubum Stupa, Gyantse

Kubum Stupa, a unqiue octagonal stupa of one hundred thousand deities, is one of Tibet's most outstanding artistic achievements. Built in the 15th century, the Kumbum or gomang—many doored—Stupa is 35 m tall, with nine gates and nine stories and contains a total of 75 chapels. Built as a three-dimensional mandala that represents the universe, its circle within a square design is meant to aid an individual on the path to enlightenment Many of the statues were damaged during the Cultural Revolution but the main temple survives intact and contains important 14th century murals and images.

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Lhagang Grasslands & Monastery

Lhagang is a great place to experience the authentic nomadic culture of Tibet. Famous for its grasslands that are excellent for hiking, camping and the summer horse festivals, its rich green pastures are home to many Tibetan nomads and their ranging herds of yak. You can trek by foot or horseback under the snow peaks of Mount Zhara Latse or visit the historic Lhagang Monastery. The first monastery to be built in Kham, it houses a Jowo Shakyamuni statue believed to have the same blessings as the Jowo statue in the Jokhang in Lhasa.

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Labrang Town & Monatsery

Labrang town is well developed for tourism and offers both Muslim and Tibetan culture. Labrang Monastery is one of six great Gelukpa monasteries in Tibet and is among the few that survived the Cultural Revolution. A complex of temples and colleges built in the 18th century, recent renovations now accommodate about 1,000 monks—a small number compared to the past when there were 3,000 monks and hundreds of scholars. The monastery contains 18 halls, six institutes of learning, a gilded stupa and houses nearly 60,000 Buddhist texts. Labrang is 3-4 hours away is the town of Lanzhou, the hub of the Amdo region.

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Drigung Til Monastery

Drigung Til was founded by Jigten Sumgon, the father of the Drigung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Built in 1179, near the hermitage of an illiterate acetic, for centuries the monastery has served as the seat of the Drigung Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Perched high on a mountainside cliff, the monastery offers stupendous views of the valley. To the west of Drikung Til, lies Drikung Durto, a renowned sky burial ground. A little further into the valley, not far from the Shambala Hotel, you'll find Terdrom Nunnery and the sacred hot springs of Padmasambhava.

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