Traveling from Kathmandu in Nepal to Tibet is one of the most popular way to visit this mysterious holy land. Covering a distance of approximately 160 kilometers, the route leads up to the Gyirong Border, where the adventure begins. To fully immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Tibet, we highly recommend our 8-day Kathmandu to Lhasa overland adventure tour. This journey of a lifetime allows you to explore the best of Tibet, including a visit to the majestic Mount Everest, all at an affordable local price that makes this experience even more irresistible.
Over the course of the first two days, you will travel from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi and enter Tibet via Gyirong Border. Then, you'll reach the closest point to the sky at Everest Base Camp, where you can bask in the serene surroundings of this natural wonder. As you head to Shigatse, you'll have the opportunity to visit the impressive Tashilhunpo Monastery, and explore the turquoise waters of Yamdrok Lake and the breathtaking Karola Glacier on the way to Lhasa. In the holy city of Lhasa, you'll witness the grandeur of its attractions, including the world-renowned Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Sera Monastery. Throughout the journey, you'll travel in comfort and at a smooth pace, giving you ample time to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery and cultural treasures of Tibet.
With the border open in 2023, there has never been a better time to take our Kathmandu to Lhasa tour. This adventurous tour combines Tibetan culture, religious architecture and monasteries, ancient relics, natural wonders, and thrilling experiences, making it a truly unforgettable journey.
Kathmandu (1 Day)
Gyirong Border (1 Day)
Mount Everest (1 Day)
Rongbuk Monastery, Everest Base Camp, Gyawu La Pass
Shigatse (1 Day)
Shannan & Gyantse
Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier
Lhasa (3 Days)
Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Dadong Village, Sera Monastery
Altitude: 2700 meters | Distance: 137 km, about 7 hours’ drive
In the morning, you'll be accompanied by a local guide and driver as they pick you up from your hotel in Kathmandu. From there, you'll head towards Syabrubesi, situated near the border on the Nepalese side. As you travel along the winding mountain road, you'll be treated to primitive views of cascading waterfalls, flowing rivers, majestic gorges, and lush forests. You have a chance to view LuangTang National Park.
In this evening, you will stay overnight at a charming local guesthouse in Syabrubesi.
Altitude: 2800 meters | Distance: 40km, about 4-5 hours’ drive
After breakfast, you will be transported to the border for entry into China, where you will be greeted by your local guide and driver on the Chinese side. Upon passing through the Gyirong Border, you will be escorted to Gyirong Town (about 1 hour’s driving), which sits at an altitude of 2800 meters and serves as a vital entry and exit point for travelers moving between China and Nepal, being located on the border between the two countries.
In this afternoon, you have the opportunity to explore the Paba Monastery, established in 637 AD. According to legend, when Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti married Songtsen Gampo and entered Tibet, she brought along three statues of Shakyamuni Buddha, one of which was the statue of Wadisambhava. This statue was placed in Gyirong Town, and the Paba Monastery was erected to house it. After your visit to the monastery, take some time to explore the surrounding area of Gyirong.
Stay overnight in Gyirong Town.
Altitude: 5200 meters | Distance: 480 km, about 10-11 hours’ drive
On this day, you will be transferred from Gyirong Town to Tingri. Along the way, you will pass by the breathtaking Pelkhu-tso Lake, a stunning cobalt blue lake and the largest in Shigatse, with an elevation of 4590 meters. Mount Shishabangma, regarded as a lucky holy mountain, stands nearby, while Pelkhu-tso Lake is the holy lake, shimmering like a diamond and complementing the mountain's beauty. From Pelkhu-tso, you'll be able to take in the awe-inspiring and majestic view of Mount Shishapangma. It is about 120km from Mount Everest and stands at an elevation of 8,027 meters, making it the 14th highest mountain in the world and the only 8,000-meter peak that lies entirely within Tibet.
Then, continue your drive to Mount Everest Base Camp, the highlight of today's trip. On the way, you will enjoy the beautiful and unique scenery of the pass, including incredibly snow-capped mountain ranges, blue skies, floating high clouds, and endless grasslands. You will finally arrive at Rongbuk Monastery for the first good view of Mt. Everest. At an altitude of 5,154m, Rongbuk Monastery is the world's highest monastery and a must-visit for spiritual travelers. It is also photo-worthy. It used to be an area of meditation huts, and you can find hermitage meditation caves with a history of over 400 years, dotting the cliff walls all around the monastery and the valley. Along with brilliant Mt. Everest views, at Rongbuk Monastery, you will be touched by the breathtaking scenery, such as large white chortens, piles of mani stones, colorful prayer flags, and devout pilgrims passing by. After visiting EBC, make a stop at Gyawula Pass (5200m) where you can marvel at Mount Everest and other high peaks in the distance. You'll be amazed by the winding road that seems to go on forever.
In this evening, you will accommodate in Tingri.
Altitude: 4000 meters | Distance: 280 km, about 7 hours’ drive
After breakfast, you will be transferred from Tingri to Shigatse. During the journey, you will visit the 5000m G318 National Highway Milestone in Lhatse. Upon your early afternoon arrival in Shigatse, you will pay a visit to Tashilhunpo Monastery. Founded by His Holiness the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gedun Drup in 1447, Tashilunpo Monastery is the largest monastery in Tsang Area of Tibet.
In Tashilhunpo Monastery, you can visit the traditional seat of successive Panchen Lamas, Tibet's second-highest incarnation. Pay a visit to the ancient tombs of the fourth and tenth Panchen Lama, as well as the chortens, which hold the bones and remains of the sacred Tibetan lamas. Learn more from your guide about Panchen Lamas and Dalai Lamas while appreciating the brilliant religious painting on Tibetan architecture, listening to the Tibetan Buddhism chanting by local monks, and even participating in the kora like locals. Don’t forget to hike up to the top of the monastery for a stunning bird’s eye view of the monastery itself and Shigatse City.
Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Altitude: 4000 meters | Distance: 280 km, about 7 hours’ drive
In this morning, you will be taken from your hotel in Shigatse to Gyantse to first visit Pelkor Chode Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum.
Pelkor Monastery (Palcho Monastery) is an important site for Tibetan Buddhism, as it houses different sects including the Gelug, Sakyapa, and Kadampa. Pelkor Monastery, with a history over 600 years, is also renowned for its impressive architecture, which blends Tibetan, Nepalese, and Han Chinese styles. One of the main attractions of Pelkor Monastery is the Kumbum Stupa (Gyangtse Kumpum), which is a nine-story tower adorned with thousands of images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. It is said to be the largest such structure in Tibet. Visitors can enjoy their time by witnessing the daily rituals and prayers of the monks, and have a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape from the top of the Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda). You can also catch the far view of Gyantse Fortress ( Gyantse Dzong).
In the afternoon, you’ll be driven 280km to Lhasa, and you will pass over the Karola Pass (5010m) and Kambala Pass (4794m). While driving, you will see the beautiful Karola Glacier, Yamdrok Lake and Brahmaputra River and finally reach Lhasa.
Visit one of the most beautiful glaciers in Tibet - Karola Glacier, the filming location of the movie "Red Valley" (Hong He Gu). As one of Tibet's three major continental glaciers, backed by the southern slope of Naiqin Kangsang Peak (7,191 meters), one of the four highest peaks in Tibet, this white glacier is also the source of the eastern part of the Nianchu River. The Karola Glacier (5,012m) is only 300 meters away from the highway connecting Lhasa to Gyantse town, and you can view it right from your vehicle. You can also easily walk to the foot of the charming glacier, which has a shape like a frozen waterfall right above the road and you. Besides the fantastic hike to the Karola Glacier, on the opposite side of the road, you can appreciate the beautiful snow-capped mountain of Mt Kalurong. After that, you'll enjoy breathtaking view of Yamdrok Lake, a freshwater lake down below, as well as spectacular views of the holy Mt. Nyenchen Khangsar in the distance. It is one of the four largest sacred lakes in Tibet, along with Lhamo Latso Lake, Manasarovar Lake, and Namtso Lake. Yamdrok Lake offers stunning views of the Tibetan plateau and is said to be able to help Tibetans find the reincarnated soul of the Dalai Lama.
After the tour, drive back to Lhasa and accommodate there.
Today you will explore Lhasa for its brilliant architectures, culture, and history, then stroll through the famous Barkhor Street with locals and experience the daily kora life of Tibetans.
In the morning, you can walk up to the Potala Palace to explore. Not only is it the landmark of Tibet, but it is also the traditional residence and winter palace of the Dalai Lama (1649-1959). After climbing 365 steps from the gate of the Potala Palace to reach the Red Palace, you will arrive at the highest palace in the world at an altitude of 3,700m, where you can enjoy an excellent panoramic view of Lhasa city. As you explore the principal halls, chapels, and shrines of past Dalai Lamas in the Red Palace, you will be amazed and moved by its remarkable paintings, gorgeous jeweled works, skilled carving, colorful ornamentation, and the mystery stories behind the treasures. Inside the Potala Palace, you will meet many Tibetan pilgrims who come from afar to pray at this sacred site, making it a lifetime destination for them. You can also ask your guide to provide more stories about Songtsen Gampo, the 33rd king of Tibet, who first built the Potala Palace in the 7th century for his marriage to Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty. Please note that the visit order may be adjusted based on the visiting time specified on your Potala Palace ticket. All visitors are required to visit the palace with a tour group and remain inside for one hour. Please be advised that photography is prohibited inside the palace.
After exploring the Potala Palace Museum, move to the 1300-year-old Jokhang Temple, the spiritual center of Tibet and a world cultural heritage site. It is said that the Jokhang Monastery is built for King Songtsen Gampo's two brides: Chinese Princess Wencheng and Nepal Princess Bhrikuti. "Jokhang" means "House of Buddha", it houses the statue of the life-size 12-year-old Sakyamuni which is the treasure of the Buddhism world. That is why Buddhist pilgrims take it as the holiest destination. The time seems to stand still when you watch them pray in front of the temple during the day and night.
Afterward, take a walk on busy Barkhor Street near the Jokhang Monastery, which was a place for Buddhists to do a kora (pilgrim circuit) in ancient times. Nowadays, it has become a thriving local market where you can drink a pot of yak butter tea, dress in Tibetan clothes for photos, and pick up some local Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian handicrafts and souvenirs.
Today you will enjoy the culture tour of Lhasa via a visit to two of the "great three" Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, the Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery.
In the morning, drive about 35min (12km) to visit Drepung Monastery which was the largest Tibetan monastery (Gelug Sect, Yellow Hat) in Lhasa. It used to be Dalai Lama’s palace before he moved to the Potala Palace in the 17th century. Now it is famous for Drepung Shoton Festival held each August, people come to offer yogurt to the monks who finished the 100 days’ meditation while enjoying the grandest Buddha (thangka) unfolding ceremony. Besides the unique architecture and amazing buildings, you can watch monks debating in Tibetan Buddhism vibrant and active with expansive gestures, clapping, and stamping. After Drepung Temple, you will have about a 2-hour Tibetan culture tour, which includes an introduction, Tibetan incense making, and block printing.
In the afternoon, drive another 40min (14km) to visit Sera Monastery. Step on one of the most beautiful monastery compounds, and its white stone roads and walkways makes you feel almost Mediterranean. The highlight of Sera Monastery is watch the monks’ debate at around 15:00 - 17:00 (except Sundays). It is an interesting form of debate, you can see one monk, the questioner, standing while the answerer or group of answerers, sitting. The standing monk will ask question and slap his palms and stomp, each action has its special meaning, such as activating wisdom, and are not meant to be aggressive.
After that, be escorted back to your hotel in Lhasa.
It is time to end your 8-day Nepal Tibet overland tour. You will have some free time in Lhasa and explore more on your own till your guide escorts you to the airport/train station for your flight or train to your next destination.
Extension Ideas: If you prefer to travel longer in Tibet, you can extend your trip to other highlighted parts of Tibet, including Namtso Lake, Mount Kailash and Ancient Guge Kingdom. Tell us your likes.
Thank you for choosing Asia Odyssey Travel for your China tour, and we are always here working for you and hope to see you again for your next trip to China/Asia. Safe journey!
(Based on a private tour for two people. Price varies depending on program, travel date, number of people.)
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