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Potala Palace by Will De Freitas
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Journey in through the surrounding mountains, through the Chinese shell in which Lhasa is wrapped and enter traditional old town and you will find a city still quintessentially Tibetan. Red flags might fly atop the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple, but no amount of Chinese exhibitions can mask the smell of burning incense, nor the flutter of colourful prayer flags or the aroma of sweet tea as it is downed by monks and locals alike in the city's bustling teahouses.
Watching the extraordinary devotion with which Tibetans from across the region file into the Jokhang Temple, having first circled the Barkhor Street, spinning prayer wheels or prostrating themselves along the floor, is a genuinely moving experience. Seeing the empty rooms of the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, vacated by the Dalai Lama and his followers in 1959, is a rather more melancholy and deeply-thought provoking one.
Head to the well-preserved Sera Monastery and you can see the resident monks take to the courtyard for their famous debating sessions, perhaps after completing a scenic half-day hike for deeper exploration and some fine views. Venture further out and you'll find more isolated monasteries, Nomadic people living traditional yak-herding lives and flourishing rivers ripe for rafting on.
Lhasa is the gateway to the rest of the Tibetan region, a starting point for a round trip to Mount Everest Base Camp and the final destination for the scenic 22 hour sleeper train from Xining.
Shigatse Dzong by Antoine Taveneaux
Shigatse sits on a high plain at the confluence of two rivers, creating some of the most fertile land in the region. The star attraction here is the huge 600 year old Tashilhunpo Monastery.
Shigatse is Tibet's second largest city. It sits on a high plain at the confluence of two rivers, at around 3,800 metres above sea level, creating some of the most fertile land in the region and attracting a rich mixture of ethnic groups. The star attraction here is the huge 600 year old Tashilhunpo Monastery.
Shigatse can be reached by road from the Tibetan capital Lhasa, with scenic journeys going via the magnificent Yamdrok Lake, the Karola Glacier and the bustling town of Gyantse, with its impressive fortress and monasteries. It is also the halfway point for road journeys between Lhasa and the Mount Everest Base Camp, near the border with Nepal.
A domestic yak at Yamdrok Lake by Dennis Jarvis
Yamdrock shimmers seductively, a turquoise oasis in the stark Tibetan landscape, backed by snow-capped mountains.
One of the three sacred lakes of Tibet, Yamdrock shimmers seductively like a turquoise oasis in the stark Tibetan landscape. It is spectacularly located amid rolling hills, backed by snow-capped mountains, close to the town of Gyantse. Yamdrok is one of the lakes that Tibetan people believe are the dwelling places of protective deities and therefore is deemed to have special spiritual powers.
The lake can be visited as part of our journey between Lhasa and Shigaste.
20 Nights from
Enjoy a grand cross-country tour of China, visiting its most iconic sights, seeing pandas up close, journeying through spellbinding scenery and exploring i…
20 Nights from
Day 1 - Fly to Beijing
Day 2 - Welcome to Beijing
Day 3 - Special tour - Beijing's past & present
Day 4 - At leisure or optional tours
Day 5 - Hike the Great Wall of China
Day 6 - Fly to Xi'an
Day 7 - See the 8,000 strong Terracotta Army
Day 8 - Xi'an at leisure
Day 9 - Welcome to Tibet & Summer Palace
Day 10 - Potala Palace, Pilgrims & Jokhang Temple
Day 11 - Sacred Lake & Monks Debate
Day 12 - Fly to Chengdu & time at leisure
Day 13 - Baby & Giant Pandas up close
Day 14 - Come face-to-face with the 71m Giant Buddha
Day 15 - Spectacular caves & drive to Rice Terraces
Day 16 - Magnificent views of Longji Rice Terraces
Day 17 - Cruise past the karst peaks along the Li River
Day 18 - Hike or cycle through the wonderful landscapes
Day 19 - Ride the Bullet train to Hong Kong
Day 20 - Special 'local life' Hong Kong tour
Day 21 - Tranquil islands or Portuguese heritage
Day 22 - Time at leisure & return flight to UK
15 Nights from
Venture into Tibet by train to admire historic monasteries and visit Mount Everest Base Camp. Along the way discover how this holy land is adapting to life…
Day 6 - Summer Palace, Art District & Fly to Xining
Day 7 - Overnight scenic train to Lhasa
Day 8 - Transfer to Tibet & Summer Palace tour
Day 9 - Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple & Sera Monastery
Day 10 - Sacred lake & Gyantse's Dzong architecture
Day 11 - Tashilhunpo Monastery & Everest Base Camp
Day 12 - Everest Base Camp & Sakya Monastery
Day 13 - Fly to Chengdu & time at leisure
Day 14 - Baby & Giant Pandas up close
Day 15 - Come face-to-face with the 71m Giant Buddha
Day 16 - Return to Beijing
Day 17 - Return flight to UK
A sumptuous 5 star hotel in the heart of Lhasa, with large and generously equipped rooms in which to relax.
A charming Tibetan-run courtyard hotel situated in the heart of the old town, with wonderful views from the rooftop.
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