Embark on an adventure in Tibet, travelling between Lhasa and Kathmandu

Join an adventure across the top of the world. From the serene former home of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa to the ancient narrow laneways of Kathmandu, traverse the world's highest mountain range and delve into the heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Mingle with locals, rub shoulders with pilgrims and take in spectacular scenery - this is most definitely Tibet unplugged.

As a result of the Nepal earthquake that occurred in April 2015, the Kathmandu-Tibet highway near Lamosanghu remains closed. Unfortunately word from our local suppliers and authorities is that this road will remain closed for the majority of the 2016 season. This means that no overland travel between these two countries is possible in 2016. All CFRE trips will be re-routed to fly between Lhasa to Kathmandu resulting in an increase in cost. Trip Notes have been updated to reflect the new itinerary.

From 1st January 2017 this trip will change due to the China/Nepal border remaining closed for the foreseeable future. In order to be able to plan consistent itineraries for 2017 we will continue the 2016 changes and fly from Lhasa to Kathmandu instead of travelling overland. We have also removed the one night in Lhatse and replaced with one night back in Shigatse due to passenger feedback.

For 2017 this trip will be called "Tibet Uncovered" and the trip code will be CBSN.
More details will be published in coming months, with the new itinerary outlined below:

1 Kathmandu
2 Kathmandu
3 Lhasa (Flight)
4 Lhasa
5 Lhasa
6 Lhasa
7 Lhasa
8 Gyantse
9 Shigatse
10 Sakya
11 Everest Base Camp
12 Shigatse
13 Lhasa
14 Kathmandu (Flight)
15 Departure Day

Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
243kg pp per trip


  • Flanked by the majestic Himalayan Mountains, Kathmandu is nothing short of a legendary destination. Its bustling alleyways are filled with monks, incense, goats and sacred cows; its temples steeped in symbolism
  • In Lhasa, discover the dazzling former home of the Dalai Lama and the enchanting atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple, the holiest in the Tibetan Buddhist world
  • Each leg of a Tibetan road trip seems more incredible than the last. Climb stunning passes, drive along the sides of misty mountains, and take in jaw-dropping views of skies and lakes of perfect blue
  • Accompany devoted pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a clockwise walk around the perimeter of the vast Tashilhunpo Monastery
  • An overnight stay at Everest Base Camp, in the midst of the world's tallest peaks, is truly an experience to remember


Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Those who have pre-booked an arrival transfer can meet their driver outside the airport terminal, a few metres from the exit door – look out for the Intrepid signboard. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception for the location of this meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details, next of kin information and permit application details (including a passport-size photo) at this meeting. Please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Afterwards, your evening is free, but your trip leader will usually organise an (optional) evening meal at one of Kathmandu's fine Nepali restaurants. Alternatively you can enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Notes: Remember not to obtain a Chinese visa in advance, as you will enter on a group visa when entering Tibet from Nepal. Any other valid Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled if you do obtain one. Please see the 'Visa' section of these trip notes for more information.

This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information.
Today is a free day for you to explore this alluring city. Check out the Newari architecture at Durbar Square, the vast plaza opposite the old Royal Palaces. Perhaps visit the ancient Swayambhunath Stupa (known to tourists as Monkey Temple) – Kathmandu's most important Buddhist shrine. You might also like to join the pilgrims at Bodhnath Stupa, the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It's the centre of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. Visiting Pashupatinath is also highly recommended – it's a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan (a village 3 km north-west of Kathmandu) dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals).
Fly to Tibet's capital, Lhasa (approximately 2 hours) (3,940 m). Colourful and historic, the holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley. Unknown to the outside world for years, even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reached the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. Nowadays it welcomes tourists, but remains an enchanting city, steeped in culture and mythology. In Lhasa you will stay at a basic but centrally located hotel with twin-share accommodation decorated in traditional Tibetan style.

Notes: Due to Chinese government regulations, all foreign tour groups in Tibet must be accompanied by an official licensed Tibetan guide. Altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation may be felt while travelling in Tibet, particularly when arriving in Lhasa. So we've allowed five days here to allow for appropriate acclimatisation.
Today is a free day to explore Lhasa. Perhaps shuffle along with the throngs of pilgrims around the Barkhor pilgrim circuit, stopping to shop for souvenirs at some of the many market stalls. Explore Lhasa's quaint backstreet craft workshops, bakeries, tea shops and tiny alleyways as you wander the Old Town. Discover Jokhang Temple, which is often regarded as the spiritual heart of Tibet. It's also one of the region's most active religious sites.
Today you will tour the incredible Potala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lama. Although we're not free to explore the palace on our own and must stick to a strict schedule of viewing the exhibits and buildings with our guide, this in no way lessens the impact of seeing what is truly a wonder of the architectural world. Note this is the most popular attraction in Lhasa, especially among Chinese tour groups. It can become very crowded, and tickets last for only a limited period.
With further free time, perhaps visit the Sera Monastery where the monks hold dramatic daily debating sessions. Or deepen your perspective of Lhasa's holy sites with a trip to Ganden or Drepung Monasteries. Alternatively, the Norbulingka (Summer Palace of Dalai Lamas) is well worth a visit. As the majority of the cultural and historical sites in Tibet are temples and monasteries, it's best to choose carefully which activities you do in your free time, and pace yourself as much as possible in order to enjoy the sites you visit with the group. While Tibetan Buddhism is certainly a intriguing part of the region's culture, some travellers find that they get 'templed out' quickly, as there's so much information to take in. Take your time, ask your local guide about what interests you most, and if you would rather have time on your own instead of joining the group to explore a monastery or temple, simply let your leader know.
Enjoy another free day to further explore Lhasa or perhaps relax and get ready for the next part of your journey.
Continue to Gyantse (approximately 8 hours) (3,980 m). This small town southwest of Lhasa retains a feel of 'old' Tibet. The drive is long but rewarding, with spectacular views and plenty of photo opportunities. If we do stop at Karo La (4,960 m) there will be a tourism charge of CNY 40 per person. Gyantse (3,950 m) is a small agricultural town that's famous for its wool carpets. It has a very traditional feel to it, and indeed everyday Tibetan rural life continues here much as it has done for centuries. There are a number of interesting buildings around town, including the Pelkhor Chode Temple complex, a unique structure built in 1414 comprising five stories, each one representing a different stage on the path to enlightenment. The backstreets of Gyantse are a great place to see contemporary Tibetan life, with pilgrims, pop music, cows, 'cowboys' on motorbikes, kids and monks mingling in a lively mixture of cultures. There are also many interesting religious sites to visit.
Continue to Sakya (approximately 6 hours) (4,280m). Sakya's monastery and town buildings are quite unique. The monastery is built in medieval 'Mongolian' style. Rather than being whitewashed, the secular buildings are painted in red and white stripes. Perhaps explore inside the monastery in your free time this afternoon. At first the halls may seem similar to other monasteries you have visited, but after spending some time here you'll see that Sakya has a subtle, ancient beauty unlike any other. You might also like to climb the hill through the Tibetan Village to see what's left of the original monastery complex. Make sure you pick your way through the ruins and remaining buildings in a clockwise direction, as this is a kora route (prayer circuit). You can also hike a little further afield to the nunnery, which sits high on the hill and overlooks the town. For dinner tonight, perhaps try some spicy food at one of the little restaurants run by Sichuanese immigrants. You will stay the night in a basic guesthouse (note that hot water is usually unavailable here).
An exhilarating drive (approximately 5–6 hours) brings you to Everest National Park. Stretch your legs, rest your lungs, set up camp and get settled in. Enjoy some lunch before taking the gentle 4-kilometre round-trip hike up to Everest Base Camp (approximately 2 hours). Follow the prayer flags up the slope, crossing your fingers for a clear and sunny sky. Visiting Rongphu Monastery is also possible, depending on the wishes of the group. This is the highest monastery in the world. On a clear day you might even get a photo of the monastery's chorten against the backdrop of mighty Everest, or Qomolangma, as it is called in Tibetan. Today, around 50 monks and nuns remain in this relatively modern Tibetan monastery (in the early 1900s, some 500 lived here). You will be greeted warmly by the monks and nuns here, and it's often possible to join them for their evening prayers.

Notes: In summer months, the group will stay at Rongphu in the tent city that is set up along the road to Everest Base Camp. Accommodation here is in nomad-style tents. Tents sleep up to seven people with basic mattresses and bedding provided, but we recommend using a sleep sheet and preparing some warm clothes, as it can get quite cool in the evenings. There are basic pit toilets nearby. For heating there is a yak dung stove in the central open area of each tent. At such close proximity to the tallest mountains in the world, the surroundings more than make up for the basic sleeping conditions.

In colder months, when the tent city is not operational, the accommodation will be a monastery guesthouse, or lodgings in a nearby town. Rooms here are quad-share with very simple, shared facilities.

Also note that Everest Base Camp can close without any prior notice because of political issues and/or bad weather. Prior notice will be given where possible. When it's closed, passengers will stay in Old Tingri, where a beautiful view of Everest is still possible on a clear day.
Today you will depart Everest Base Camp and drive to Lhatse (approximately 4.5 hours). Lhatse is a small, modern town with only a few thousand residents. Enjoy some free time here this afternoon. Depending on our Tibet permits, it might be possible to visit Phuntsoling Monastery, which is located at the bottom of a large sand dune.
After exploring Lhatse, continue to Shigatse (approximately 4 hours) (3,840 m). This is Tibet's second-largest city. You'll have the option of visiting Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the few monasteries in Tibet to have come away virtually unscathed from the Cultural Revolution. With its expansive territory inside thick stone walls, it's almost like a town in itself. You will explore the area with a local guide, but if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the myriad monastic buildings – each with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery – you can ask for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world's largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks prepare for ceremonies. In the evening, perhaps join the pilgrims on their kora, spinning prayer wheels as you walk around the perimeter of the monastery and take in the lovely views and atmosphere (approximately 1 hour). Back in the city, if your stay coincides with market day, perhaps browse Shigatse bazaar – it has everything from yak butter and yak wool to prayer wheels and rosaries. You might also be able to visit the carpet factory where traditional hand-woven rugs are made.
Journey back to Lhasa (approximately 6–7 hours). Though it's a long day of driving, the scenery along the way is spectacular, so sit back, relax and enjoy it. There will be stops for lunch and to take photographs of the mountains.
Head back to the airport to board your flight to Kathmandu (approximately 1.5 hours). Your journey comes to an end where it all began, back in Kathmandu. You'll check back into your hotel, then head out for a final (optional) group dinner. Boasting a delicious array of international and local cuisine, Kathmandu is lovely place to dine, especially after your adventure across the 'Roof of the World'.
Your trip comes to an end. There are no activities planned, and you are free to depart the hotel at any time before 12 noon. If you are departing later, luggage storage can be arranged at the hotel.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


Plane, Private Bus, Public bus
Guesthouse (12 nights), Basic Hotel (1 night), Permanent Tented Camp (1 night)
Included activities
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace
  • Everest NP - Base Camp visit


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For information about altitude sickness click here

Important notes

1. In order for us to apply for your Tibet entry permit and purchase your flight to Lhasa, you must provide a scanned colour copy of the personal details page of your passport to your booking agent no later than 30 days prior to the start date of your trip.
2. Please be aware that in recent years there have been times when restrictions on nationalities being able to travel on specific departures have been implemented or Tibet has been closed to foreign tourists without warning.
3. Do not apply for a Chinese visa in advance. We travel to China on a group visa and any existing visa in your passport will be cancelled.
4. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.
5. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
6. Travellers who have visited and/or stayed more than 2 weeks in the following countries are currently being refused their Chinese group visa, which is applied for in Kathmandu: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Syria. If you have visited these countries and wish to visit Tibet, then we recommend that you book our CBST or CBSC trips instead, where your will obtain your individual tourist visa prior to travel.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes


Our Tibet Unplugged trips score an average of 4.63 out of 5 based on 8 reviews in the last year.

Tibet Unplugged , May 2016

Tibet Unplugged , May 2016