This 16-day Ngari Southern Route with Tsaparang Tour is designed for tough ones like yourself who wants to see as much as possible as long as the time allows. The daily sightseeing plans are full and tight, or you ll be spending the day on a long hard drive heading to the next day’s destination. This tour not only included the mysterious alien-land-like Tsaparang(Guge Kingdom Ruins), also Khyung Lung Dngul Mkhar(Khyung Lung Silver Castle) knows by very few.
|D1||Arrival in Lhasa||Transfer from Lhasa Airport/Railway|
|D2||Lhasa||Potola Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Drepung Monastery|
|D3||Lhasa > Samye > Yumbulagang > Tsetang (270km/7hrs)||Samye Monastery, Yumbulagang Palace|
|D4||Tsetang > Gyantse > Shigatse (400km/8hrs)||Yamdrok Lake, Pelkor Chöde Monastery with Gyantse Kumbum|
|D5||Shigatse > Sakya > Tingri (290km/6hrs)||Sakya Monastery|
|D6||Tingri > EBC > Rongbuk > Kangga (185km/6hrs)||Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery|
|D7||Kanga > Peikutso > Saga (230km/7hrs)||Peikutso Lake|
|D8||Saga > Payang > Darchen (630km/9hrs)|
|D9||Darchen > Mt Kailash > Darchen > Khyung Lung (120km/3hrs)||Mt. Kailash(with shuttle bus)|
|D10||Khyung Lung > Zanda (320km/5hrs)||Khyung Lung Dngul Mkhar(Khyung Lung Silver Castle)|
|D11||Zanda > Tsaparang > Zanda (40km/1hr)||Tsaparang(Guge Kingdom Ruins), Zanda Clay Forest, Toiling Monastery|
|D12||Zanda > Darchen > Manasarova (370km/6hrs)|
|D13||Manasarova > Payang > Saga (580km/8hrs)||Lake Manasarova|
|D14||Saga > Shigatse (460km/8hrs)|
|D15||Shigatse > Lhasa (280km/5hrs)||Tashilump Monastery, Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas|
|D16||Departure from Lhasa||Transfer to Lhasa Airport/Railway|
Day 01: Arrival in Lhasa
Upon your arrival in Lhasa Airport/Railway, you will find our local Tibetan guide who will be waiting you there holding your name board. Transfer to hotel in downtown Lhasa. From Lhasa Airport usually takes abt 1.5hrs; Lhasa Railway 0.5hrs. Guide will help you check in hotel and make sure you re well-settled before leave. You re free for the rest of the day, but try to rest rather than going out to help your body acclimatize the high altitude better.
Day 02: Lhasa
Activities: Potola Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Drepung Monastery
Potala Palace: it is the landmark of Lhasa, and one of the great wonders of world architecture. Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700m.
Jokang Temple: included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2000 as part of the Potala Palace , the Jokhang Temple is located in central Lhasa. With an area of 25,100 square meters (about six acres), it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. In front of the entrance to Jokhang is a forecourt that is perpetually crowded with pilgrims polishing the flagstones with their prostrations.
Barkhor Street: located in the old town of Lhasa, Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding Jokhang Temple. It’s said that in 647, the first Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo (617-650) built Jokhang Temple. Due to its magnificence, it quickly attracted thousands of Buddhist pilgrims. As a result, a trodden path appeared. It was paved by hand-polished stone boards. Though it is not broad, it accommodates thousands of pilgrims and tourists every day. Varied shops stand on its both sides and thousands of floating stands are on every corner.
Drepung Monastery: situated at the foot of Mt Gambo Utse, 5km from the western suburb of Lhasa, Drepung Monastery is known as the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. Covering an area of 250,000 sq meters, Drepung Monastery is the largest-scale monastery among its kind. Seen from afar, its grand white construction gives the appearance of a heap of rice. Thus the name was given, Drepung literarily means collecting rice in Tibetan.
Day 03: Lhasa > Samye > Yumbulagang > Tsetang (270km/7hrs)
Activities: Samye Monastery, Yumbulagang Palace
Samye Monastery: Samye(elev 3630m) is deservedly the most popular destination for travelers in the Ü region. Surrounded by the barren mountains and dramatic sand dunes and approached via a beautiful river crossing the monastery has a magic abt it that causes many travellers to stay longer than they had intended. As Tibet’s 1st monastery and the place where Buddhism was established, Samye is also of major historical and religious importance.
Yumbulagang Palace: a fine, tapering finger of structure that sprouts from a craggy ridge overlooking the patchwork fields of Yarlung Valley, Yumbulagang is considered the oldest building in Tibet.
Day 04: Tsetang > Gyantse > Shigatse (400km/8hrs)
Activities: Yamdrok Lake, Pelkor Chöde Monastery with Gyantse Kumbum
Yamdrotso Lake: dazzling Yamdro-tso (elev 4441m) is normally first seen from the summit of the Kamba-la(4700m). The lake lies several hundred meters below the road, and in clear weather is fabulous shade of deep turquoise. Far in the distance is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangtsang (7191m). Yamdrotso Lake is 130km long from east to west and 70km wide from north to south with a total perimeter of 250km and the surface area of 638 sq km, average depth of 20-40 meters. It is the largest lake at the north foot of the Himalayas.
Pelkor Chöde Monastery with Gyantse Kumbum: the sprawling compound in the far north of town houses Pelkor Chöde Monastery and the monumental Gyantse Kumbum, a chörten filled with fine paintings and statues. Both are deservedly top of the list on most travellers’ must-sees. Palkhor lies at the foot of Dzong Hill. It is well-known for its Kumbum, which has 108 chapels in its four floors. The multi-storied Kumbum Stupa was crowned with a golden dome and umbrella, surrounded with more chapels filled with unique religious statues and murals.
Day 05: Shigatse > Sakya > Tingri (290km/6hrs)
Activities: Sakya Monastery
Sakya Monastery: the immense, grey, thick-walled Sakya is one of Tibet’s most impressive constructed sights, and one of the largest monasteries. Sakya was established in 1268 and is designed defensively, with watchtowers on each of the corners of its high walls. Sakya Monastery is famed as the ‘Second Dunhuang’ due to its colossal collection of numerous Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, murals and Thangkas. There are about 40,000 volumes of scriptures are housed there. Sakya Monastery has many murals and Thangkas. Most of the murals are from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Among them, the most outstanding and precious are the murals which depict portraits of the former Sakya ancestors, Phakpa’s meeting with Kublai Khan (the founder of the Yuan Dynasty) and mandalas. There are over 3,000 Thangkas, from Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties.
Day 06: Tingri > EBC > Rongbuk > Kangga (185km/6hrs)
Activities: Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery
Everest Base Camp: Mt Everest, aka. Mt Qomolangma(elev 8844m), is the highest peak in the world. In Tibetan Qomolangma means the third Goddess of mountain. If you have no plan to actually climb Mt Everest, Everest Base Camp(elev 5150m) is as far as you can reach. Endowed with springs, Everest Base Camp has a couple of permanent structures and a small army base. It’s not possible to go all the way to Everest Base Camp by travel vehicle. All vehicles must stop at the nomad tent camp, abt 4km away from the sightseeing point. From here you can take the environment-friendly shuttle bus, or trek to the final sightseeing point. The way up is gentle and the altitude gain is less than 200m: most people can cover the distance in less than an hour by foot. Along the way you pass scree slopes, jagged ridges, and broad glacier valleys flowing with muddy water. Clamber up the small hill festooned with prayer flags of the final sightseeing point for great views of the star attraction, Mt. Everest.
Rongphu Monastery: Rongphu(elev 4900m) is the main Buddhist centre in Everest region and once coordinated the activities of around a dozen smaller religious institutions, all of which are now ruined. It was established in 1902 by a Nyingmapa lama. While not of great antiquity, Rongbu can at least lay claim to being the highest monastery in Tibet and thus the world. Some of the interior murals of Rongphu are superb. Rongphu and its large chörten makes a great photograph with Everest thrusting its head skyward in the background.
Day 07: Kanga > Peikutso > Saga (230km/7hrs)
Activities: Peikutso Lake
Peikutso Lake: the beautiful turquoise Peiku-tso(4590m) is one of Tibet’s magical spots with stunning views of the snowcapped Shishapangma(8012m) and the Langtang range bordering Neppal to the south.
Day 08: Saga > Payang > Darchen (630km/9hrs)
A long hard drive today with no particular sights included. But this stretch is very photogenic with steppe, streams, desert dunes and snowcapped mountains. Feel free to ask for a stop-by anywhere you fancy to take some photos.
Day 09: Darchen > Mt Kailash > Darchen > Khyung Lung (120km/3hrs)
Activities: Mt. Kailash(with shuttle bus)
Mt Kailash: Kailash dominates the region with the sheer awesomeness of its four-sided summit, just as it dominates the mythology of a billion people. The mountain has been a lodestone to pilgrims and adventurous travellers for centuries but until recently very few has set their eyes on it. Instead of the usual 3-day kora, you will take the local shuttle bus to sightseeing Mt Kailash.
Overnight: Khyung Lung
Day 10: Khyung Lung > Zanda (320km/5hrs)
Activities: Khyung Lung Dngul Mkhar(Khyung Lung Silver Castle)
Khyung Lung Dngul Mkhar: also called Khyung Lung Silver Castle, a site rarely know by foreigners. At one time, Khyung Lung Dngul Mkhar was likely an impressive palace, mythologized as being founded on gold, walled in silver, with its pinnacle reaching up through the "thirteen levels of the sky". It was the residence of all forms of deities, who functionally cohabitated with earthly beings, the capital of the Zhang Zhung empire, and the stomping grounds of Drenpa Namkha, one of Bön’s most famous personalities. Today, Khyung Lung Dngul Mkhar has become a religious site, a place of holy pilgrimage, and the "mkhar" (castle) of its name can be found only in scattered ruins.
Day 11: Zanda > Tsaparang > Zanda (40km/1hr)
Activities: Tsaparang(Guge Kingdom Ruins), Zanda Clay Forest, Toiling Monastery
Tsaparang(Guge Kingdom Ruins): the citadel of Tsaparang(Guge Kingdom), 18km west of Zanda, has been gracefully falling into ruin ever since its slide from prominence in the 17th century. The ruins seems to grow organically out of the hills in tiers and crowned by a red Summer Palace atop a yellow cocks-comb-like outcrop. It’s a photogenically surreal landscape that resembles a giant termites’ nest. The site’s early Tantric-inspired murals are of particular interest to experts on early Buddhist art. Even without the magnificent art, it’s worth the trip for the views over the Sutlej Valley and to explore the twisting paths and secret tunnels that worm their way through the fortress.
Zanda Clay Forest: lies along the riverside of Langqen Zangbo in Zanda, Zanda Clay Forest has been viewed as the most typical and largest tertiary strata earth forest in the world with the total area of 2,464 square kilometers. It was classified as National Geological Park in 2007. Throughout Zanda County, the various earth forests cover several hundred square kilometers and gorgeous background of the plateau. Zanda Clay Forest makes one feel like in a quite different world. In a way, Zanda Clay Forest rings a far echo with the Grand Canyon of Colorado in the United States. At dawn and dusk, the shining clouds on the horizon paint the many layers of Zanda Clay Forest into a brilliant golden picture. As the night draws the curtain, the ancient pagodas on the banks of the Shiquan River appear mysteriously solemn.
Thöling Monastery: founded by Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th century, Thöling Monastery was once Ngari’s most important monastic complex. Three main buildings survive to this day within the monastery walls. If you have little interest in Buddhist statues and murals, stick to the chörtens, mani walls and open views across the Sutlej Valley just north of the monastery.
Day 12: Zanda > Darchen > Manasarova (370km/6hrs)
Zanda is as far as the tour goes, from today you will start to heading backwards. Drive from Zanda to Manasarovar, you ll spend the night at guesthouse of Manasarovar today, with only dorm bed lodgings available.
Day 13: Manasarova > Payang > Saga (580km/8hrs)
Activities: Lake Manasarovar
Lake Manasarovar: it is the world’s highest freshwater lake, with the mirror like image of snow-capped mountains in its crystal clear waters. Lake Manasarovar is located at the southern foot of Mt Kailash, stretching up to 55miles in perimeter, going 330 feet deep and abt 120sq meters of total area. Lake Manasarovar has exceptional beauty that varies from crystal clear blue water near the shores and a deep emerald green colour at the center. There are a few monasteries on the shore of the lake and most striking of all is the ancient Chiu Gompa Monastery, which has been built right onto a steep hill.
Day 14: Saga > Shigatse (460km/8hrs)
Drive from Saga to Shigatse, and spend the night at Shigatse. Compare with the past a few days, Shigatse has more modern facilities to offer. Wifi will be available at hotel lobby, hot-water shower is available 24hrs in summer time in most 3 stars, at the very least.
Day 15: Shigatse > Lhasa (280km/5hrs)
Activities: Tashilump Monastery, Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas
Tashilhunpo Monastery: it is a real pleasure to explore the busy cobble lanes twisting around the aged buildings. Covering 70,000 sq meters, Tashilunpo is essentially a walled town in its own right. from the entrance to the monastery, visitors get a grand view. Above the white monastic quarters is a crowed of ochre buildings topped with gold—the tombs of the past Panchen Lamas. To the right, and higher still, is the festival Thangka Wall that is hung with massive, colourful thangkas during festivals.
Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas: though it ranks far below Tashilunpo, but Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas still worth a drop-by. This walled palace complex built in 1844 by the 7th Pachen Lama on the south end of Shigatse is a strange blend of Buddhist temple and Victorian-era mansion with marvelous wall murals covering every surface of the rooms in vibrant colours and fantastic images.
Day 16: Departure from Lhasa
This 16-Day Ngari Southern Route with Tsaparang Tour ends today. Congratulations for making it through. Some weight is definitely lost and some enlightenment is hopefully gained. Say goodbye to your Tibetan guide and driver at Lhasa Airport/Railway. May your journey from hereafter be full of courage you showed throughout this tour.
End of service!