NEW—Lhasa to Shigatse 6-Day Holiday Blast
Overview: Lhasa 3 days +Yamdrok Yutso Turquoise Lake, Gyantse Kum Bum, Shigatse, and Tashilhunpo. This itinerary (or variations thereof—shorter or longer and other destinations) is provided as a private journey for single travelers, couples and families.
Who says it’s too cold to visit Tibet for the holidays? Actually, December Lhasa has an average daytime temperature of 7-10 C (45-50 F), offers beautiful clear skies and great hotel discounts! You will need a jacket, preferably down, and with the sun shining at this altitude, you will be comfortable.
The Western influence makes the holiday season in Lhasa extra special. Many stores will be decorated with Christmas trees and Santas and many restaurants and hotels will have special celebrations. At the same time, the feel of this history-laden city, the extraordinary landscapes wherever you look and the local culture are all very much present.
Day 1: Welcome to Lhasa! You will be greeted at the airport and taken to your hotel in the comfort of a private vehicle. You will immediately sense you've arrived in Tibet. The drive to Lhasa is less than one hour. Along the way, you may choose to stop at the Nietang Buddha, a huge carving on a mountainside. As you cross the Khyichu River into Lhasa, you will see the city and the majestic Potala Palace. Then as you make your way through the bustling city, you will experience all things different—somehow even KFCs’ in Lhasa are exotic! Hotels range from 3 to 5 stars and offer great discounts during the winter. Your choice of hotel is a major factor is your trip cost, so let us know what you have in mind and we'll give you some hotels to look at on the Internet. At the Lhasa Regency, Lhasa’s first 5-star hotel, there’s a big Christmas Day celebration which is especially wonderful if you have kids. Once you’re settled in, it’s good to take it slowly for the rest of the day and drink lots and lots of water. Around dinner time, you’ll probably feel like taking a stroll. If your hotel is near the Barkhor, it will be a pleasant walk and heart-warming experience to be instantly immersed in Tibetan culture.
Day 2: In the morning, you will visit the Jokhang Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the spiritual heart of Lhasa. The most sacred of all temples, it houses the Jowo Shakyamuni statue believed to have been created based on an image of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. Built in the early seventh century, the temple stands on an important geomantic site and has seen continuous renovations through the centuries.
There's also time to visit Sera Monastery today, a pleasant drive 55 km to the north of Lhasa or simply stay in Lhasa and explore.
Day 3: Named after the mountain abode of the Buddha of Compassion, the Potala Palace served for centuries 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 sprawling modern city of Lhasa. With thirteen levels, 51,000 rooms and 200,000 images, the Potala is an invaluable monument of historical, cultural and spiritual significance. UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There's also time today to visit the 15th century Drepung Monastery complex or the Norbu Lingka Palace, the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas, as you wish.
Day 4: Today we will take you south, back in the direction of the airport to Yamdrok Yutso or Turquoise Lake, believed to be the life-force of the Tibetan nation. Framed by Karola glacier in the distance,Its curved pincer shape boasts nine islands, numerous bays and is home to several monasteries. On the winding road to the Lake, you'll enjoy unforgettable vistas, photo ops with Tibetan mastiffs and yaks and shopping for local crafts.
Leaving the lake, we go further south-west to visit the Gyantse Kubum Stupa, a unique octagonal stupa and one of Tibet's most outstanding artistic achievements. Built in the 15th century, it stands 35m tall and contains 75 chapels. Built as a three-dimensional representation of the universe, its circle within a square design is meant to aid individuals on the path to enlightenment. Many statues have been damaged but the main temple has survived and contains many historical murals and images.
To complete the day, we will drive on to the city of Shigatse, once Tibet's second largest city. Traditionally, an important trading center, it was also the home of the famous Panchen Lamas. Here there are banking services and hotels. We recommend the Tashi Choten which you can see online.
Day 5: This will be a leisurely day to absorb the experience of being in Tibet and if you like, shop for gifts to take home. There will be plenty of time to visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, amazing for its architecture and tranquility.
Day 6: The 5-hour drive from Shigatse to the Gongkar airport will take you along the north shore of the Tsangpo river with spectacular scenery and in the comfort of your private vehicle. If you like, there will be time in Gongkar to have lunch and then check-in for your later afternoon flight.