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If you are going to make just one trip to Tibet, there are some places that you simply must visit. This trip has been tailored to take in the sites that comprise Essential Tibet: At the heart of Tibet, the central provinces of Ü and Tsang are home to four of the country’s major monasteries, its three largest cities, two of its most sacred lakes, and one unforgettable palace—not to mention a host of other incredible attractions.
We begin our journey in the lovely Yarlung Valley, through which flow the rushing waters of the great Tsangpo River. While experiencing the scenic wonders of the Yarlung Valley, we pay an enlightening visit to the Nyingmapa monastery at Samye. We then have four wonderful days in the magical environs of Lhasa—the Tibetan capital—its skyline dominated by the majestic ramparts of the Potala Palace. While in Lhasa, we visit Tibet’s holiest temple, the sacred Jokhang. We wander the adjoining Barkhor—the maze of shops and stalls that encircles the Jokhang—and join with Tibetan pilgrims as they ritually circumambulate the Barkhor and Jokhang koras. In the cities of Shigatse and Gyantse, discover the monastery at Tashilhunpo (home of the Panchen Lamas) and the amazing chörten of the Kumbum.
Essential Tibet, however, is not just palaces, temples, and monasteries. During our travels we will take in the natural splendor of the sacred lakes of Nam-tso and Yamdrok-tso, cross mountain passes in excess of 17,000 feet, and—most importantly—experience the genuine hospitality of the Tibetan people.
Demanding High-Altitude Touring
High-Altitude touring generally indicates that the majority of the tour spends time above 10,000 feet and participants must stay on their feet for 4-6 hours a day in order to partake in all tour activities. The itinerary relies on long overland journeys over rough terrain (with some dirt roads). On some days, the drives may be as long as 6-8 hours. Because of the nature of mountain roads, which are subject to closures due to landslides, it may be necessary to revise our schedule before or during the trip. (In that event, we will keep all travelers advised to the latest information we obtain.) Bathroom facilities during these long drives are frequently nonexistent and limit your privacy to a nearby tree or rock. Anyone who would be uncomfortable in such a situation should not consider this trip.
High Altitude: Please note that we will reach altitudes of more than 16,000 feet as we drive over high passes, with sleeping elevations above 10,000 feet. This tour is subject to mountain weather (snowfall, storms, ice, rain, wind) and other mountain hazards. Circumstances may mean that some days could be long and arduous for some people.
Anyone with a history of medical problems, particularly cardiac or respiratory, should consult a doctor before considering this tour. A release of liability and a medical certificate, signed by a physician, will be required from all participants.
Flexibility, a good sense of humor, and an adventurous spirit are essential on all tours.
Day 1: Arrive Chengdu, China
Met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time you may have time to see some sites in Chengdu.
Day 2: Fly to Tibet & Drive to Tsedang
Fly to Gongkar Airport in Tibet. Upon arrival meet your Tibetan guide and drive to Tsedang. Special Welcome Dinner.
Day 3: Exploring Tsedang
Explore the “Valley of the Kings” and visit the monastery at Samye, Tibet’s first monastic institution, founded in the 8th Century CE.
Day 4: To Gyantse
Set out toward Gyantse and Shigatse. On the road to Gyantse, home of the iconic Kumbum, stop for a picnic at Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s four great sacred lakes.
Yeti Gyantse Hotel
Day 5: To Shigatse
Drive from Gyantse to Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city. Visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, spiritual home of the Panchen Lamas.
Chomo Langdzong Hotel
Day 6: In Shigatse
Take a hike in the environs of Ngor Monastery, in the hills outside Shigatse. The rest of the day is free to explore Shigatse.
Chomo Langdzong Hotel
Day 7: To Namtso Lake
After an early start, drive over two high passes (16,000+ feet) to reach the holy Lake Namtso for a late lunch. Spend the afternoon walking along the banks of the lake, mingling with visiting pilgrims and the shepherds who make this their summer pasture.
Day 8: To Lhasa
Drive to Tibet’s capital, the “forbidden city” of Lhasa. Explore the labyrinthine streets of the Barkhor—the lively marketplace in old Lhasa—and visit the Jokhang, the religious heart and soul of Tibetan Buddhism.
Day 9: Exploring Lhasa
Visit two of Tibet’s most famed monasteries, Drepung and Nechung.
Day 10: Exploring Lhasa
Explore the Potala Palace, once the home of the Dalai Lamas and now a museum. Next, visit the inspiring monastery at Sera.
Day 11: Exploring Lhasa
Following an excursion to Ganden monastery, you have the remainder of the day in Lhasa free to explore or relax on your own. Special Farewell Dinner.
Day 12: Depart Tibet
You will be transferred to Gongkar Airport in time for your flight home.
2015/2016 Trip Dates
Departure 1: September 7 – 18, 2015
Departure 2: October 12 – 23, 2015
Trip Duration: 12 days/11 nights
Starting City: Chengdu, China (Airport Code – CTU)
Ending City: Lhasa, Tibet (Airport Code – LXA)
2015 LAND COST
2 – 5 participants: $3,085 per person
6 + participants: $2,885 per person
Minimum: 2 participants
Maximum: 12 participants
Internal China Airfare
Chengdu – Lhasa: $330 (subject to change by airline)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Kindly note that names of hotels mentioned above only indicate that the Land Cost is based on usage of these hotels; it is not to be construed that accommodation is confirmed at these hotels until and unless we convey such confirmation to you. In the event that any of the above-mentioned hotels are not available, we shall book alternate accommodation at a similar or next-best available hotel, and shall pass on the difference of rates (supplement or reduction, as applicable) to you.
Included in Land Cost:
• All accommodations, based on double occupancy
• All taxes and service charges
• Transportation using private, non-AC van within Tibet
• All meals after arrival in Tibet (Breakfast Day 2 to Breakfast Day 12)
• Special Welcome and Farewell dinners
• All arrival/departure airport/hotel transfers
• All entry fees at all temples, museums, and monuments on sightseeing excursions
• 24/7 Services of Tibetan Tour Leader/Guide for full tour
• TourDirect’s Medical ($25,000), Accident and Evacuation Insurance ($500,000) and Assistance Plan
Not Included in Land Cost:
• International airfare to/from China
• All internal China airfare – cost listed separately
• Lunches and dinners in Beijing, Chengdu, and other en route cities
• Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone calls, shopping, etc.
• Movie, video, and still camera fees
• Gratuity to Tour Leader/Guide
• Gratuities to other local staff (guides, drivers, bell boys, etc.)
• Trip Cancellation insurance
You must have a valid passport with an expiration date more than 6 months from the date of your return to the U.S. The passport must also have at least 2 blank pages for each country that you will be visiting in Asia.
A China Tourist Visa is required for all foreigners traveling to Tibet. China Visas are NOT granted on arrival and must be obtained prior to your departure from your home country. A special “Tibet Travel” permit is also required for travel to TAR; this will be obtained on your behalf by TourDirect.
No immunizations are required for entry into China or to return to the U.S. However, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from (or recently visited) a country that has risk of yellow fever. Several immunizations are recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control. A copy of the CDC’s recommended immunization list and additional health information will be included in our Pre-Departure Packet.
High Altitude: Please note that we will reach altitudes of more than 16,000 feet on this tour, with sleeping elevations above 11,400 feet. Anyone with a history of medical problems, particularly cardiac or respiratory, should consult a doctor before considering this tour. A medical certificate, signed by a physician, will be required from all participants for this tour.
Please let us know if you wish to arrive early or extend your stay to visit the temples of Angkor Wat on our QuickEscape-Cambbodia or the Taj Mahal on QuickEscape-North India, or to see other parts of Asia; we will be happy to make the additional arrangements.
– Patrick V, PA
– Mona Z, CT
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