The Essence of Tibet

Discover the fascinating Tibetan culture in this journey to an alluring land. Explore impressive palaces, age-old monasteries, incredible temples and stunning nature. A perfect exploration of Tibet!

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Per person in a shared double room

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“Very well organised tour! The guide's insight in Chinese culture, mentality, customs and religion was amazing. Very impressed. Thank you!”
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Discovering the essence of Tibet and classic Chinese historical highlights are the core of this Albatros journey. We take you on a voyage that starts with the most famous of China’s landmarks, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

After a brief sojourn in Beijing, we embark on a plane westwards towards the Qinghai-Tibetan plains.

In Lhasa, we'll be visiting the magnificent Potala Palace, the traditional home of the Dalai Lamas. Our Lhasa experience will also include the Jokhang Temple where devout pilgrims prostrate themselves in front of the temple doors and monks tend to butter lamps and burn incense. The beautiful park of Norbulingka, the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas, will be the last stop before leaving for Gyantse and the open landscape of the Friendship Highway.

Witness the heated debates on Buddhism by monks at the Sera Monastery and enjoy the spiritual waters of Yamdrok Lake. We continue our voyage to Shigatse and visit the Palcho Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Tibet. The adventure continues with a train journey on the world’s highest railway from the Roof of the World to Lanzhou before heading back to Beijing.

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Beijing. Pick up at airport. Visit Lama Temple.Meals: D

Upon arrival at Beijing Capital Airport, our guide and driver will pick you up and take you on the 1hr drive to your hotel in downtown Beijing. En route to the hotel we will make a leisurely stop at the Lama Temple of Beijing. The temple is one of the largest of its kind in eastern China. This will be your first taste of the Tibet adventure you will soon be embarking on. Our knowledgeable guide will share cultural and historical anecdotes while taking you on a tour of this Tibetan Buddhist landmark.

Depending on your arrival time, dinner will be enjoyed at a local Chinese restaurant.

Day 2: Beijing highlights: visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.Meals: B L D

The morning begins at the Beijing Urban Planning Museum where a great model of the inner city of Beijing is on display. A visit here shows visitors the changes that China and Beijing have undergone in the last 30 years.

Across from the museum is one the greatest symbols of new China: Tiananmen Square. The 440,000m² square is home to the Memorial Hall Mao Zedong. To the north of the square, lies the Forbidden City of the Ming and Qing dynasties. We cross over the five famous bridges and Mao Zedong’s picture to enter at the city’s south gate. There is a short walk before having lunch just next to the city walls.

Entering the Forbidden City and seeing the largest courtyard (Siheyuan) in all of Beijing, is a stunning sight that instantly transports you back to Beijing before 1910. Leaving the Forbidden City, we climb the Coal Hill or Jingshan which means the 'Hill of Scenery’ and the character Jing (景) holds the characters for both sun and capital city inside it, meaning the hill from where one can see the sun rise and set over the capital. We take a bus back to the hotel for a rest before enjoying dinner in a cosy, local restaurant.

Day 3: Explore the Great Wall of China and visit a local village home.Meals: B L D

Today we’ll start in the centre of Beijing and drive through the suburbs of eastern Beijing into the rural areas of municipality of Tianjin. From the ancient city of Jixian we move north into the hills and enter the rural areas. After a 3.5hr drive we arrive at a classical northern Chinese village with brick houses and simply paved roads. The village is an open and friendly place so we will be allowed to visit a home, see the local supermarket and have lunch in one of the homes. There will also be time to stroll around and get a glimpse of people’s everyday life.

In the afternoon we will climb the Huangyaguan section of the Great Wall. This section is known because of the annual Great Wall Marathon held there. Huangyaguan can be divided into three parts, where the first part suits people who are looking for a short and easy trek, while the second part suits the more enthusiastic wall walker and the third part is for experienced walkers.

As it is in a somewhat remote area, there are very few local or international tourists who visit this part of the wall, so you will often find yourself enjoying the great views in peace and quiet. Driving back on the new highway, the tall buildings of Beijing’s inner city slowly reappear showing how great construction projects have been always been embedded in Chinese history.

Day 4: The Roof of the World. Travel from Beijing to Lhasa (3600m above sea level).Meals: B L D

We leave the northern plains of China by plane and follow the Yellow River to the Qinghai Tibet plateau. It is said that the Qinghai Tibet plateau is the roof of the Asian world, because in a mythical sense it literally holds the world in place, and secondly in a practical sense its rivers uphold all life in Asia. The rivers, whose streams we cross, bring life to billions of people.

Lunch will be served on the plane. After arrival we will drive to our hotel in the old Tibetan part of town. On our drive into Lhasa city we pass by many of the modern real estate projects being built in the new parts of Lhasa. At the hotel there will be time to relax and maybe stroll around the local Tibetan neighbourhood where the white stone buildings stand in sharp contrast to the clear blue mountain sky behind them.

As you walk the streets, the thin sharp clean air is mixed with the smell of dried yak or goat meat, yak cheese and local vegetables. Your local guide will recommend a few places to have a cup of local tea or you might like to have a rest. Being 3,600m above sea level has an impact on most lowlanders. Dinner will be served at the hotel and the meal will be a light introduction to the Qinghai Tibetan food culture.


Accommodation: Tibet Hotel
Day 5: Experience old Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhism. Visit Johkang temple and Potala Palace.Meals: B L D

This morning will start with a walk to the Jokhang temple in the centre of old Lhasa. As we move closer to the temple, groups of Tibetan pilgrims will slowly appear with their bronze prayer wheels. All the streets surrounding the temple will be filled with pilgrims chanting mantras while smoke from incense slowly rises into the cool morning air. A few pilgrims will fearlessly be throwing themselves on the ground in front of the Jokhang with knees, chest and forehead touching the ground at the same time. This experience is comparable to seeing the pilgrims visiting Varanasi and river Ganges. We will enter the temple and see the many manifestations of Buddha, hear stories of Tibetan history and learn how the religious rhythm shapes the daily lives of the monks.

After lunch we leave to see the magnificent Potala Palace in the centre of Lhasa city. This remarkable building sits on top of a small holy hill which both the Buddhists and local folklore claim to have been the dwelling place of religious icons and local heroes. An open square leads to the red heart of the Potala Palace, the Red Palace. The Red Palace was the residence of the Dalai Lama and we will pass by his study, living quarters and prayer halls. This giant maze of beautiful and historical rooms will leave you breathless, unless the many stairways and high altitude have not already done their job. We will have dinner in one of the local restaurants overlooking the Jokhang Temple.


Accommodation: Tibet Hotel
Day 6: Visit Sera Monastery and the Norbulingka.Meals: B L D

After breakfast we will visit the Sera Monastery. The monastery is home to the Yellow Hat order which is the strongest religious order in Tibet. The monastery lies at the foot of a hill just outside of Lhasa. There is a light walk into the complex and once inside, the many stone halls reveal their functions. On our way we pass the first stupa of the journey. A stupa is usually a circular mound that contains Buddhist relics and is used as a place of worship. We will visit the Debating Courtyard for one of the heated debates among the young monks. From Sera Monastery we drive back to Lhasa city to see the Norbulingka which was the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas. Dinner will be served in a local Tibetan restaurant close to the hotel.


Accommodation: Tibet Hotel
Day 7: Farewell Lhasa. Road trip to Gyantse on the Friendship Highway.Meals: B L D

Today we leave Lhasa for Gyantse and the wide open landscape along the Friendship Highway. We will go through passes at around 5,000m above sea level. The Friendship Highway offers one of the world’s greatest road trips with inland lakes, some of the tallest mountains in the world and incredible scenery. We follow the beautiful Kyi river south en route to Gyantse.

The first part of our journey will reveal the fertile river delta just south of Lhasa, but as the Kyi river slowly narrows, we will climb up into the mountainous area around the Yamdrok Lake. We follow the lake along the newly built highway and will make stops to see the spectacular view and scenery that pass us by as we drive to Gyantse. We will have lunch on the way to Gyantse. The city of Gyantse was the last stop before Lhasa. It was a military stronghold and an important city on the trade route between southern and central Tibet. We check in at the hotel in the centre of town and have dinner across the street.


Accommodation: Tibet Hotel
Day 8: Visit Palcho Monastery and drive to Shigatse.Meals: B L D

After breakfast we will see the Palcho Monastery which is one of the oldest monasteries in Tibet. The spread of Buddhism into Tibet came through the trade route between the Kathmandu Valley and the Yarlung Valley. Gyantse was a significant stop on this route and its later connection to the Mongol lords on the northern Chinese plains made the area an influential player in Tibetan religion and politics. The monastery holds an elegant stupa, the Kumbum which resembles many of the stupas found in Nepal and northern India. You can enter the Kumbum and have a great view of the surrounding area from the top. After an early lunch in Gyantse, we drive to Shigatse and pass by local villages in the area. Please tell the locals guides if you wish to stop and have a walk in these villages or if you see something on the way that catches your interest. 

We arrive in Shigatse in the afternoon and you will have some time to walk around on your own or maybe go to the local market. Dinner will be enjoyed in a local Tibetan restaurant close to the hotel.


Accommodation: Tibet Hotel
Day 9: Tashilhunpo Monastery and travel back to LhasaMeals: B L D

Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet with a population of around 90,000. Like Gyantse, the city of Shigatse owes its existence to travel routes between Tibet and the Indian subcontinent and the northern plains in today´s China. In older times, ponies were traded for Pu´er tea from Yunnan and precious metals were given as gifts to the monasteries on trade routes.

The great Tashilhunpo Monastery will be the last religious site we visit before we make our way back to Lhasa. The monastery is known as the seat of the Panchen Lamas, which are the second highest ranking lamas after the Dalai Lamas. The monastery has a large Thangka wall used every year for the summer festival. After lunch we drive back to Lhasa by the northern trail. This highway trip is very different from the southern trail as the landscape is flat and more fertile. During summer, the fields are filled with potatoes, yellow rape seed and cabbage. We have a late dinner in Lhasa.


Accommodation: Tibet Hotel
Day 10: Farewell Tibet. Flight back to Beijing.Meals: B L

Today we leave Lhasa and fly back to Beijing.

Additional information

A child is defined as 12 years or younger and below 1.20m in height.

Included
  • Pick up and drop off service at hotel, airport or train station
  • Professional local English-speaking guide
  • Hotel accommodation
  • Transportation according to the programme with car, coach or bus depending on group size
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary B = Breakfast. L = Lunch D = Dinner. Breakfast is usually international breakfast buffet combined with local Chinese breakfast. Lunch consists of local Chinese dishes including meat and vegetables. Sometimes lunch is a western-style sandwich if the weather or programme so requires. Dinner is specialised Chinese meals from many different regions in China.
  • All entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • Beverages (soft drinks or local beer) within a reasonable limit (2-3 glasses)
  • English map of Beijing
  • 24hr on-call service in case of emergencies 
Excluded
  • Anything not in “Included” list above
  • Any flights or transportation besides those mentioned in the "Included" list above
  • Phone calls or other personal expenses
  • Tips - We recommend that the guide receives 2 USD per person per day and 1 USD per person per day for the driver

We reserve the right to make improvements and changes to the itinerary due to local circumstances or events outside our control. 

Type of vehicles used:

For transfers between destinations we use modern and comfortable vehicles that have air conditioning.

Level of ability required:

This tour does not include any strenuous activity so no particular level of ability is required, however please be prepared for some walking. If you have any concerns or questions regarding disability access, please contact us in advance.

Food and dietary information:

If you have any particular dietary preferences or requirements, please make these clear when you make your booking. Most types of diet can be catered for. We will eat at local restaurants. It’s not a problem to maintain a vegetarian diet in China.

Health and vaccinations:

In general, tourists do not need any vaccinations. Malaria vaccinations are not necessary in most parts of China. However, we advise you to consult with your doctor before travelling. For more information about health and vaccinations, please look at this website. [http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-count...

Visa requirements:

Entry to Tibet requires a Tibet Travel Permit or Tibet Entry Permit. These must be acquired before entry. 

Cancellations:

If you need to cancel We understand that your travel plans sometimes change and we try to be as flexible as possible. However as we have to book accommodation at hotels we are also bound by their cancellation policies. In general, the following rules will apply when cancelling a tour you have booked: - If cancelling more than 45 days before commencement of our services there is no cancellation fee and we will refund 100% of your money - If cancelling within 45 to 31 days before commencement of our services: 20 % of the total booking value will be levied - If cancelling within 30 to 15 days before commencement of our services: 60 % of the total booking value will be levied - We are unable to offer a refund if cancelling less than two weeks before commencement of our services For full details of our cancellation terms, please see our general Terms and Conditions.

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