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17-Day Kashgar–Lhasa Adventure Tour

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Overview

Tour Type: Private Tour: Flexible Travel Date & Travel Routes
Guide & Driver: Chinese-English-speaking guide & air-conditioned
  • Travel through the vast Taklamakan Desert, a fascinating moonscape of rocks, sand dunes and sparse desert vegetation;
  • Explore the spectacular ruins of the mysterious Guge Kingdom;
  • Complete a 3-day hike along the religious circuit around Tibet’s holy Mt. Kailash;
  • Immerse yourself in more of the holiest sites of Tibetan Buddhism including the Tashilunpo Monastery, Lake Manasarovar, Sakya Monastery, Palcho Monastery and Yamdrok Lake;

Itinerary Day by Day

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Day1  Arrival in Kashgar

Accommodation:Overnight in Kashgar

Day2  Depart Kashgar – Yecheng
Today’s travel distance: 249 kilometers / 155 miles

This morning after a nice breakfast at your hotel, we will drive on through the Taklamakan Desert to Yecheng where the Xinjiang – Tibet Highway actually begins. Yecheng, also known as Kargilik in the local Uyghur language, is considered as an oasis on the southern end of the Taklamakan Desert. We will have the opportunity to visit the Jama Mosque and the surrounding bazaar before we check into our hotel for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Yecheng

Day3  Depart Yecheng – Dahongliutan
Today’s travel distance: 430 kilometers / 267 miles

Today’s journey will included traveling across several mountain passes as we travel to Dahongliutan along the Xinjiang – Tibet Highway. At Kudi Pass, we will reach a military checkpoint that will require about 30 minutes to clear. Fron there we will drive on another 80 kilometers (50 miles) to reach Mazar Pass, which is near the border of Pakistan. On a clear day we may be able to see the famous K2 mountain in the distance. We will also travel over the Heiqia Pass (elevation 4930 meters / 16,175 feet) before reaching our destination of Dahonglituan, near the border with Tibet, where we will check into a simple guesthouse for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Dahongliutan

Day4  Depart Dahongliutan – Jieshan Pass - Duoma
Today’s travel distance: 345 kilometers / 214 miles
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This morning we will embark on the most difficult part of our journey as we travel across the highest altitude sections of the Xingjiang – Tibet highway through the Jieshan Pass at an altitude of 5245 meters / 17,2008 feet above sea level. Surrouned by incredibly tall mountains, we will be able to see gorgeous Lomcuo Lake on the left side of the mountain pass highway and the equally beautiful Songmuxicuo Lake on the right side for some spectacular scenery. We will travel through these magnificent sights on to our final destination in Duoma, the first town settlement in Tibet along the Xinjiang – Tibet Highway where we will check into our local accommodations for the night. 
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Accommodation:Overnight in Duoma

Day5  Depart Duoma – Pangong Tso - Shiquanhe
Today’s travel distance: 231 kilometers / 144 miles

This morning after breakfast we will travel on to Pangong Tso (“Tso” means lake in the local Tibetan language), which is a massive saltwater lake that straddles the border between Tibet in China and India, with about 60% of the lake lying in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The lake is about 134 kilometers (83 miles) long and 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide at its widest point, altogether covering an area of 604 square kilometers (233 square miles) so it is a truly huge lake, as well as being incredibly beautiful. The lake also serves as an important breeding ground for many different types of birds, including the Bar-headed goose and Brahmini ducks.

After spending enough time to get plenty of photographs and exploration of the picturesque lake, we will travel on to Shiquanhe, also sometimes referred to as Ngari in English, to check into our local accommodations for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Shiquanhe

Day6  Depart Shiquanhe – Guge Kingdom Ruins – Tholing Monastery – Tsaparang Dzong - Zada
Today’s travel distance: 252 kilometers / 157 miles

After a nice local breakfast, we will begin to explore two sites of the ruins of the legendary Guge Kingdom of Western Tibet. The Guge Kingdom was established around 912 A.D. by Nyi Ma Mgon, a great-grandson of the last king of the Tibetan Empire, and it ruled over large parts of what is now Tibet for more than 700 years. The first site we will visit is the Tholing Monastery, which was first built in 997 A.D. by the 2nd king of the Guge Kingdom. Situated at an elevation of 3,800 meters (12,400 feet), much of the temple lies in ruins but many fantastically colored murals can still be seen.

From the Tholing Monastery we will travel westward about 26 kilometers (16 miles) to Tsaparang, the ancient capital of the Guge Kingdom. Tsaparang is a huge fortress built on top of a rock rising about 183 meters (600 feet) above the valley floor. As with the Tholing Monastery, much of it lies in ruins but miraculously several magnifient frescoes in the Western Tibetan style have survived destruction over the centuries.

From Tsaparang we will move on to Zanda to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Zada

Day7  Depart Zanda – Darchen
Today’s travel distance: 237 kilometers / 147 miles

From Zanda and the heart of the Guge Kingdom we will travel on to Darchen, a small village situated right in front of Mt. Kailash and the starting point for the “kora” – religious circumambulations – around the holy mountain. Here we will begin our preparations and rest up for tomorrow as we begin the long and arduous 3-day trek around Mt. Kailash. Some of the most devout pilgrims can make the 53-kilometer (33 miles) religious circuit in just one long day, but we will take 3 days in order to enjoy a challenging but manageable journey. The average altitude of this trek is nearly 5,000 meters (16,404 feet) above sea level.

Accommodation:Overnight in Darchen

Day8  Darchen – Trek to Dirapuk Monastery
Today’s travel distance: 7 kilometers (4 miles) by car; 13 kilometers (8 miles) on foot.

Estimated hiking time: 6 hours

Today we will begin our exciting adventure – completing the entire “kora” around one of the holiest mountains in all of Asia - Mt. Kailash (elevation 6638 meters / 21,178 feet). After a nice local breakfast in Darchen, and depending on how much luggage and gear you want to carry with you, you may want to hire a local horse, yak and possibly even some local porters to help you carry your belongings on our 3-day journey. Then we will make the short 15-minute drive to Sershong Village where we will begin our trek around Mt. Kailash, which is considered a holy place in four of the world’s religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and the Bon religion.

Our first stop will be at the Tarboche Flag Pole, the first prostration point for devout pilgrims and a sacred sky burial ground. Each year during the Saga Dawa Festival in June the giant flagpole, lined with thousands of prayer flags on it, will be pulled down and replaced with new flags.

From the Tarboche Flag Pole we will travel along the Lha-chu River and the river valley as we head towards today’s destination – the Dirapuk Monastery (elevation 5080 meters / 16,667 feet). This ancient monastery was actually rebuilt in 1986 so the simple accommodations here will be adequate (although very rustic) for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight at local guest house

Day9  Trek from Dirapuk Monastery – Cross Dolmala Pass – Zutulpuk Monastery
Today’s hiking distance: 18 kilometers / 11 miles

Estimated hiking time: 7 – 8 hours

Today after a simple breakfast at the guesthouse we will travel up to the Dolmala Pass at an elevation of 5640 meters (18,504 feet) – the highest elevation that we will reach on our journey around Mt. Kailash. This will be the most difficult section of our trek as we will have to do a lot of climbing and face strong winds, so be sure to pack plenty of water and some snacks for energy. There are some small teahouses along the way where we can stop to rest when necessary. Late in the afternoon we will reach today’s destination – Zutulpuk Monastery (elevation 4790 meters / 15,715 feet). The landscape around this monastery is spectacular, and our accommodations will be a bit better than they were at Dirapuk Monastery.

Accommodation:Overnight at local guest house

Day10  Trek from Zutulpuk Monastery to Darchen
Today’s hiking distance: 14 kilometers / 9 miles

Estimated hiking time: 3 – 4 hours

Having basically completed the trip around Mt. Kailash yesterday, today’s hiking will be much easier as we trek back to Darchen after breakfast, arriving there in the early afternoon. After a nice local lunch, we can check into our local accommodations for the night to rest and relax after our exciting journey around Mt. Kailash.

Accommodation:Overnight in Darchen

Day11  Depart Darchen – Lake Manasarovar – Saga
Today’s travel distance: 500 kilometers / 311 miles

This morning after breakfast we will embark on a trip to another of Tibet’s holiest natural sites – Lake Manasarovar. Like Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is considered as holy to the same four religions. At an elevation of 4,590 meters (15,059 feet) above sea level and fed by the Kailash Glaciers, the lake is one of the world’s highest freshwater lakes. The reflection of the holy Mt. Kailash in the holy Lake Manasarovar on calm days provides a stunning view of two of the most sacred sites in all of Asia.

From Lake Manasarovar, we will drive on to the small village outpost of Saga, Tibet (elevation 4640 meters / 15,223 feet) where we will check into our local accommodations for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Saga

Day12  Depart Saga – Sayka Monastery – Shigatse
Today’s travel distance: 448 kilometers / 278 miles
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Today after breakfast we will drive on to Shigatse, a legendary and ancient city in Tibet that has a history of more than 600 years. Currently Shigatse is Tibet’s second largest city and host to the home of the second highest incarnations in Tibetan Buddhism, the Panchen Lama. On the way to Shigatse we will stop at the Sakya Monastery, an ancient Tibetan Buddhist monastery founded in 1073 A.D. as the seat of Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The only surviving ancient building is the Lhakang Chempon, which was originally built in 1268 A.D. and restored during the 16th century. This former cave contains some of the most magnificent surviving artwork in all of Tibet, including an extraordinary collection of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, frescoes and thangkas. 
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From the Sakya Monastery, we will drive the remaining 127 kilometers (79 miles) on in to Shigatse to check into our local accommodations for the night. 
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Accommodation:Overnight in Shigatse

Day13  Tashilunpo Monastery - Depart Shigatse – Gyantse Dzong – Palcho Monastery - Gyantse
Today’s travel distance: 90 kilometers / 56 milesThis morning after a nice breakfast at our hotel we will visit the Tashilunpo Monastery, one of the most important monasteries in all of Tibetan Buddhism. Founded in 1447 A.D. by the first Dalai Lama, the monastery serves as the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking official in Tibetan Buddhism. Tashilunpo contains a giant statue of the Future Buddha, the largest one of its kind in the world, standing 26.2 meters tall and 11.5 meters wide and decorated with precious pearls, turquoise, coral and amber, which is well worth the visit in addition to the rest of the beautiful structures located throughout the large monastery.From Tashilunpo we will drive on to Gyantse, stopping along the way at the spectacular Gyantse Dzong (Fortress), an ancient fort built atop a massive rock overlooking the town of Gyantse. This is one of the best preservered dzongs in Tibet, and although many of the walls have been ruined, there are still some beautiful examples of 14th century murals that have survived over the centuries.

From Gyantse Dzong we will visit the Palcho (Pelkhor) Monastery, a beautiful complex built in a fusion of Han, Tibetan and Nepali styles, and the Gyantse Kumbum located inside the monastery grounds. A “kumbum” is a multistoried aggregate of chapels in Tibetan Buddhism, and the one at Palcho Monastery is reportedly the largest in all of Tibet with its 108 chapels. Palcho’s earliest history dates from the 9th century while construction on the kumbum began in 1427 A.D. The monastery also contains an ancient dzong (fortress) that dates back to 1268 A.D. After visiting the Palcho Monastery, we will check into our local accommodations in Gyantse for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Gyantse

Day14  Depart Gyantse – Karola Glacier – Kambala Pass - Yamdrok Tso - Lhasa
Today’s travel distance: 270 kilometers / 168 miles

This morning we will embark on the trip to our final destination in Lhasa, stopping at the Karola Glacier (elevation 4960 meters / 16273 feet) along the way. This spectacular glacier lies just about 300 yards off of the highway so we can actually walk up to it if you would like. Crossing over the Kambala Pass (4797 meters / 15,738 feet) we will get our first view of one of Tibet’s holiest and most beautiful lakes – Yamdrok Tso. Yamdrok Lake sits at an elevation of 4400 meters above sea level is located about halfway between Gyantse and Lhasa. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains that on calm days are reflected in the azure waters as if in a mirror. Off in the distance we will be able to see the holy Mt. Nyenchen Khangsar (7191 meters), the tallest mountain near Lhasa.

From the stunning beauty of Yamdrok Tso we will drive through more spectacular scenery enroute to Lhasa. Upon our arrival in Lhasa we will check into our local hotel for the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day15  Lhasa – Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
We will begin your exploration of Lhasa today with a visit to a world-famous landmark - the Potala Palace, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of architecture in the world. Climb up to the palace along zig-zagging stone paths alongside the white and red walls to the top of the palace where you can gain a greater appreciation of the exotic Tibetan-style buildings as well as for a great view of Lhasa's entire urban area. After admiring the sweeping outside views, explore the inner spaces of the Potala Palace to find the stately chapels and learn more about the fascinating history of this special place.

From one historic landmark to another, your next stop will be at the Jokhang Temple, considered as the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Every day thousands of pilgrims come from all over Tibet and other places to the temple to worship the Buddha. The Jokhang Temple is also known as the "House of Buddha" because it houses the precious Jowo Rinpoche, a life-sized (1.5 meter/5 feet) image of the Sakyamuni at the age of 12.

The last stop for today's Lhasa exploration is Barkhor Street, the wide, circular street that surrounds the Jokhang Temple. Local residents enjoy walking on the street, completing several circuits around the temple as a daily tradition of pilgrimage. The street also has many small shops selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods, religious items and handicrafts.

After your visit to the Jokhang Temple, we will take you back to your hotel for the evening.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day16  Lhasa - Norbulingka, Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery
This morning we will visit the beautiful Norbulingka Palace and Park, the location of the former summer palace of the Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until 1959. It features the famous Potrang, the private palaces of former Dalai Lamas built in the grandiose style of traditional Tibetan architecture.

After visiting the palaces and park at Norbulingka, we will travel around 5 kilometers to the western outskirts of Lhasa to visit the Drepung Monastery, the largest monastery in Tibet. The word "drepung" in Tibetan language means "prosperity". Since its establishment in 1416, Drepung Monastery has served as one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. During its prime, more than 10,000 monks lived and studied in the monastery. Throughout its history, many important and famous Tibetan leaders studied at this monastery, including the Dalai Lamas. Accordingly, Drepung Monastery is also respectfully known as the “Mother School of Dalai Lamas”.

In the afternoon, we will escort you on to another famous monastery in Lhasa - the Sera Monastery. Sera Monastery is famous for its spectacular “Buddhist Debates”. As a daily routine, the monks gather in a courtyard, and debate on the various Buddhist doctrines with exaggerated gestures, which is thought to be helpful in facilitating a better comprehension of the Buddhist philosophy to attain higher levels of study. After enjoying the "Buddhist Debates", we will take you back to your hotel with the rest of the day and evening to relax or explore on your own.

Accommodation:Overnight in Lhasa

Day17  Departure from Lhasa
Today you will have free time until we meet you in the lobby of your hotel to transfer you to the Lhasa airport or train station for your departing flight or train.

Accommodation:None

What's Included

All necessary Tibet Travel Permit. (Including Tibet Entry Permit, Alien Travel Permit, Boarder Pass
Private professional English-Speaking local tour guide
Licensed Vehicle with experienced driver
Airport (or train)pick up and drop off
Accommodation listed in the itinerary
Breakfast provided by the hotel
Tourists Accident/Casualty Insurance
A container of Oxygen for emergency use
All taxes, fees and handling charges
Lodging and meal allowance to the guide & driver
Reservation fee for visiting Potala Palace
2 bottles of drinking water per person per day
Meals not specified in the itinerary (All lunches & dinners)
All Entrance tickets to the sightseeing places
Flight/Trian tickets in and out of Tibet
Personal expenses such as laundry, drink, fax, telephone call, optional tour activities, etc.
Any losses incurred from the force majeure factor like government control, natural disaster etc.
Tips to the guide & driver ( Tips is not required but expected)
Single room supplement

Additional Info

Alterations of Itineraries

The travel date, service items, itinerary and number of visitors, visitors’ ID information, etc. can be modified free of charge 30 days or more before the trip. If the visitor needs to make a second modification, an additional service fee of 5% of the deposit will be charged. Every time the content of the travel contract is modified, the company reserves the right to re-quote.

Cancellation Policy

Once the deposit is paid, your trip is confirmed. If you need to change or cancel your itinerary, please contact your travel consultant by email, phone, instant messenger, etc. There will be a charge for Cancellation or modification. The policy is as follows:

1. Notice of trip cancellation due to personal reasons before the trip starts
Cancellation 30 days or more before the trip starts, 10% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 29-15 days before the trip starts, 20% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 14-7 days before the trip starts, 30% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 6-2 days before the trip starts, 50% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation within 48 hours prior to the trip starts, no refund of your deposit.

2. Trip cancellation due to irresistible factors before the trip starts

If you have to cancel the itinerary due to irresistible reasons such as traffic, weather, politics, etc., the deposit will be fully refunded by the company (for loss related to air ticket/train ticket, please take reference of the first item).

Reviews

 Travelprofi0
Travel Date:September 5, 2019

We are thankful so much again to our agency Asia Odyssey Travel and my dear Amy for the wonderful arrangement and make my trip to Mt Kailash trip possible, really apperiated! We did Kora around Mt.Kailash for 3 days in August as I had been looking forward this trip for quite a long time, even the second day of Kora are hardest to all of us because part of the roads are covered by snowing with long-distance walking and quite high altitude too, so we spent a lot of physical strength on this but it’s totally worth because the views along the way are very incredible, I think we may not have much chance or time to go there again.

Anyway, I really miss Tibet also my dear, hope we will come and see you one day again, many thanks again for all of your help!!!

 Lliuhenr
Travel Date:November 15, 2019

I wanted to visit Tibet for a very long time. Since I live in abroad, this wish was like The Everest Mountain, unreachable. After we contacted Ms. Kate, (高小乐), everything became so easy. Kate was very knowlegeable about Tibet, and very patient with our questions. We have been with her for about a year to prepare for the trip. She has provided excellent services. Due to the considerable preparation, the trip went better that I expected. This was the most memorable trip I ever had thusfar. Thanks Kate!

 markofelgenhauer
Travel Date:May 1, 2019

Wir konnten wunderbare Tage auf dem Dach der Welt verbringen - und wenn es heute erneut die Möglichkeit geben würde - Ja ich würde diese Reise noch einmal unternehmen. Dennoch sind es große Anstrengungen und die Touren im Auto sind lang. 2 Tage dauert die Autotour zum BaseCamp - Achtung - bei der Anreise überquert man bereits die ersten 3 Pässe mit über 5000m - daher sollte eine gesundheitliche Abwägung oberste Priorität haben. Tolle Organisation mit AMY - ich kann es nur jeden empfehlen, da Sie wirklich Sehr gut und schnell auf alle Anfragen, Anregungen und Änderungen eingeht. Ein Tip nach Möglichkeit mit der Tourguidin Kelsan Droma reisen - Auch Sie versteht es wunderbar Ihr Land näher zu bringen und lebt so positiv.

 Getshulma
Travel Date:April 05th 2018

I was fully in love with Tibet. Truly unique. breathtaking, wonderful and yet once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was hoping I could stay longer to see the ancient city, Yamdrok Lake is the most beautiful lake I have ever saw.We managed to see as much as we can. Thanks to Claire who was very helpful to organize everything.

 Dom B
Travel Date:June 23, 2019

We went to Tibet at June 2019,our tour was arrange by Amy from Chengdu, she is very kind and helpful, we have a lot of questions before the trip, she can answer them with full of patience.

First day, our driver and tour guide waited at airport and drive us to our lovely hotel (4 star himalaya hotel). the tour guide Mr Ba Sang from Tibet is very caring and helpful throughout the journey. Everything is well planned and taken care of. He brings us to nice local restaurants and have a good taste of local cuisine. In temple, we given detail explanation on the culture and explain to us the practice of the people. Experience at Everest Base camp is unforgettable, we able to see the remarkable view of everest mountain.

Tibet is a place you will want to visit again and again.

Driver Mr Xia is a good, responsible and steady driver. He drives us safely to all locations.

Hopefully next time we can join the Ling Zhi trip to see flowers in spring time.

Highly recommended this tour and this travel agents for their excellent service. We are happy to join on this tour.

 beno v
Travel Date:June 30, 2019

I had an amazing, memorable trip with Amy/Odyssey: 9 days incl. Lhasa, EBC and Namtso Lake. Amy's service was excellent. From our first contact until after the trip all communication and organisation was very fast, clear and exhaustive. Our guide, Sun, made the whole trip even better. He is a really great, funny and laidback guy, proud Tibetan with very good knowledge of all relevant topics. Take into account that the pronounciation of English by Tibetan people/guides is of a different level than that of native speakers, and when you listen a bit more active than you normally do everything will be clear. The hotels were of a higher standard then expected which was really nice to start and finish the day. I recommend Amy/Odyssey to anyone planning a trip to Tibet! I will definitely go again with them on my next Tibet trip. June was a great time for weather and Tibetan festivities which made trip even more special.