What you will See & Do
Discover the highlights of central Tibet and make the classic overland journey across the Roof of the World.
Explores the cultural heart of Tibet; its great monasteries, temples and palaces; remote religious centres as well as the incredible beauty of the landscape.
In the heart of central Tibet, the great temples, monasteries, forts and palaces of Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Sakya are powerful testaments to a long and volatile history and to the spiritual and artistic traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
Skirt the turquoise lake of Yamdrok Tso, cross mountain passes topped by prayer flags, pass glaciers, barren hillsides and fertile valleys. Stunning views of Qomolangma (Mt Everest) and a trip up to base camp are a fitting finale to this incredible journey before descending to cross the grasslands surrounding Paiku Tso (with great views of Shishapangma) to Kyirong and the Nepal border and on to Kathmandu.
Day 1: Arrive Lhasa - transfer to hotel.
Arrive in Lhasa. Your guide will meet you at the airport or station and transfer you to your hotel.
Day 2: Lhasa sightseeing: visit Drepung, Nechung & Sera
Drepung Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Tibet and was once the home of the Dalai Lamas before the Potala Palace was built. The monastery features impressive architecture and houses several important religious artifacts, including a massive statue of the Maitreya Buddha.
Nechung Oracle Temple is located near Drepung Monastery and is an important religious site in Tibetan Buddhism. The temple is dedicated to Nechung, the state oracle of Tibet, who advises the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama on important matters.
You may visit the Norbulinka, Summer Palace of the Dalai Lamas instead of Nechung if you prefer or include both for a very full day.
Sera Monastery is another important monastery in Lhasa and is famous for its unique debating culture, where monks engage in lively debates to refine their knowledge of Buddhist philosophy. Visitors can witness the debates as well as exploring the halls and chapels of the vast complex.
Day 3: Lhasa sightseeing: visit Potala, Jokhang -Barkhor.
Another full day spent exploring the wonders of Lhasa. The Potala Palace is the iconic landmark of Tibet and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the residence of the Dalai Lamas as well as the seat of the Tibetan government. The palace is known for its striking architecture, stunning interior decor and its many chapels and prayer rooms.
Located in the heart of the old city the Jokhang Temple is considered one of the most sacred temples in Tibet. It receives a constant stream of worshippers paying homage especially to the statue of the Jowo Shakyamuni, which is believed to be the most sacred statue in Tibet.
Surrounding the Jokhang is a network of small streets and alleys filled with shops, tea houses, restaurants, small temples and shrines … Tibetans will make a clockwise circumambulation of the “Barkhor” as a part of their visit to the Jokhang and it is always crowded with locals shopping.
Day 4: drive to Gyantse via Karo-la & Yamdrok Lake
Leaving Lhasa, head south across the Khamba-la (4750m) before dropping down to the beautiful, turquoise Yamdrok Lake. It is one of the largest of Tibet’s sacred lakes and with its incredible colour and backdrop of snow capped mountains driving along its western shore will involve plenty of photo stops.
Climb again to the Karo-la (5045m) and the glacier here and continue to Gyantse, a historic town that was once an important stop on the trade routes from Tibet to Bhutan and India.
You may walk up to the ruins of the dzong (fort) for views across the town in the evening light.
Day 5: visit Pelkor Choede – drive via Shalu to Shigatse - Tashilumpo Monastery
Pelkhor Choede is the main monastery complex of Gyantse, once comprising numerous colleges belonging to different traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Today many have been destroyed, but the main assembly hall remains magnificent and features stunning murals, frescoes, and sculptures. Within the complex is the famous Gyantse kumbum, a 13-storey mandala-stupa with more than 1,000 images.
From Gyantse to Shigatse the road follows the Nyang-chu (river) valley through farming villages and hamlets. Make a stop at Shalu, is a very beautiful C11th monastery, renovated in the C13-14 with funds provided by the Mongolian Emperor. Its wonderful artwork reflects the same traditions as those of the far western Guge area.
Shigatse is Tibet’s second city and home to Tashilumpo Monastery, an enormous religious complex that is also the seat of the Panchen Lama. The enormous, elaborate reliquary chorten are an incredible sight.
Here there is also the option to visit the local carpet factory where hand-woven carpets are produced using traditional designs.
Day 6: drive via Sakya gompa to Shegar
Head west along the Friendship Highway to Shegar, making a short side trip to visit Sakya.
Sakya Gompa is a historic monastery known for its unique architecture, which combines elements of Mongolian and Tibetan styles and its collection of Tibetan manuscripts. It was the seat of political power in central Tibet from the 10th to mid-14th century and the fortified monastery is still head of one of the most important schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The drive from Sakya Gompa to Shegar offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape as you cross the 5220m Langpa-la, including snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, and traditional Tibetan villages.
Day 7: Drive to Rombuk & Everest
A little further along the highway turn off to the south and begin the climb through Qomolangma National Park – part way up you will transfer to eco-busses for the rest of the way to Rombuk.
Said to be the world’s highest monastery at 5000m, Rombuk gompa is situated to provide the perfect view directly up the valley to Mt Everest (Qomolangma). The monastery guest house provides simple, but comfortable rooms and meals in the tea house.
Day 8: drive via Paiku Tso to Lower Kyirong
Get up early to watch and photograph the sunrise on Everest – an experience you will not forget.
Then head back down from the mountain and across the Paiku-tso grasslands, a rich pasture area around the 300km2 high altitude lake. You will have great views of Mt Shishapangma (8013m) as the road continues through rugged mountain terrain to Lower Kyirong on the Nepal border.
Day 9: Cross Rasuwa border & drive to Kathmandu
Get started early crossing the border to Rasuwa in Nepal, it can be slow, especially on the Nepal side.
Say goodbye to your driver and guide and meet your vehicle for your transfer to Kathmandu. It is a lovely, scenic route, but you will notice the difference in road conditions, and we strongly recommend that you do not book departure flights for tonight.
Your trip ends on arrival in Kathmandu – you will be dropped at your hotel if you have booked this with us or in Thamel if you prefer to make your own arrangements.