Welcome to Tibet, the ‘Roof of the World’ – a place of towering peaks, spiritual sanctuaries and warm, hospitable people.

It could be a combination of the mist rolling off the chilly peaks or the light breaching between the mountains, but there’s something that makes Tibet feel as if it’s caught in a hazy dream. In between the capital of China and the vast Tibetan Plateau, tiny, ornate villages share the Tibetan people’s inspiring sense of hope. Along the world’s highest railway en route to Lhasa, the spirituality of the country permeates through its remote monasteries, high mountain passes, homes and marketplaces. Delve into monastic rituals and marvel at the monolithic Mt Everest on this extraordinary journey.


Start
Beijing, China
Finish
Chengdu, China
Country
China
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
CBSO
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Experience one of the world’s greatest train journeys – the railway to the roof of the world, crossing incredibly mountainous and remote terrain

  • Like everything it does, China’s ancient history is on an epic scale – see it first-hand with hours to explore the Great Wall

  • Get to know Lhasa, from the architectural wonder of the former home of the Dalai Lama to the incredible atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple, the holiest in the Tibetan Buddhist world

  • Every drive in Tibet seems more stunning that the last. Climb phenomenal passes, twist up thrilling peaks, and take in incredible views of skies and lakes, where the only way to tell their perfect blue apart is the towering mountains that separate them

  • Stand in the shadow of the mightiest mountain of them all with a trip to Everest Base Camp

  • Finish your trip in the city of Chengdu - home to pandas and spicy Sichuan cuisine

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip visits places that are over 3,500 metres above sea level, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health.

  • Strong and sturdy walking shoes are essential, especially for activities such as hiking the Great Wall (the Mutianyu section is quite steep in places) and the walk at Everest Base Camp.

  • Though there is a long 2 night train journey on this trip, it is through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The train to the roof of the world travels at high altitude, including the Tanggula Pass (5,072m), Fenghuahan tunnel (4,095m). Altogether over 80% of the section between Golmud to Lhasa is at elevations of over 4000m.

  • As important cultural and historical sites, there are visits to many monasteries and temples on this itinerary. Some travellers find that they can get 'templed out' quickly as there's just so much information to take in. Be sure to stop and rest when you have the chance and to take up opportunities to do varied activities when available.

  • There are some nights in more basic accommodation on this trip (including some nights camping or in simple multishare rooms) and at some of the hotels hot water may not be available. Patience and flexibility will go a long way to ensuring you have a good experience when travelling here!

Itinerary

Nimen Hao! Welcome to China. The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing has mostly shed its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where your insurance and next of kin details will be collected. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the meeting will take place. Any free time today in Beijing is at your leisure, so you can start your explorations of this vast city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Beijing - Tian'anmen Square & Forbidden City - CNY60
  • Beijing - Beijing by Bike Urban Adventure - CNY530
  • Beijing - Kungfu Show - CNY180
  • Beijing - Lama Temple - CNY25
  • Beijing - Summer Palace - CNY40
  • Beijing - Beijing Foodie Walk Urban Adventure - CNY360
  • Beijing - Temple of Heaven - CNY40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
No trip to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Today you’ll take an early morning visit to one of the best-preserved areas featuring guard towers dating back to the Ming dynasty - , the Mutianyu section (approximately 2 hours). An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6000 km westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It was originally constructed to protect Chinese empires from the 'barbarians' of the north and even though it failed in this purpose, it is still without a doubt one of the country's most remarkable achievements. It's a 30-minute climb up some steep steps to the wall itself, but it’s well worth the effort. You will need good walking shoes for this. There’s also the option of taking a chair lift or cable car to the top and back if you’re after a more leisurely experience. Head back into the city in the afternoon, then this evening transfer to the Beijing West railway station (one of the biggest and busiest in the world!) to board the train to Lhasa (approximately 45 hours). This first night you'll pass through provincial towns, through Xi'an, and then directly into the mountains, sometimes through tunnels that can last for minutes at a time!
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Beijing - Great Wall Mutianyu
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). The Beijing-Lhasa train is one of the newest and best in China. Wherever possible, we will group our travellers together, but this will depend on group size and ticket availability. Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet as the quality/cleanliness of sheets may not be what you are used to. Safe, hot drinking water is always available. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins). The train has a dining car; meals are of better quality on the first day, as by the second day you are travelling at altitude, which makes cooking difficult! You may wish to purchase extra snacks of your choice before the journey to supplement food
The train to Lhasa is one of China's greatest recent engineering feats. It’s the highest railway in the world, traversing some incredibly mountainous and remote terrain. The journey takes you through the major cities of Xi'an, Lanzhou and Xining, and across the Qinghai Plateau before arriving in Lhasa. Luxuriate in the feeling of accomplishment without having to do anything – go to bed and wake up 1000 kilometres away. Stop briefly in Lanzhou, the crossroads of journeys along the Silk Road and the Tibet-Qinghai plateau, and head on past the immense city of Xining. On this second night you’ll climb in altitude and your breath with likely be taken away by the landscape outside the windows – snow-dappled black cliffs and mountain peaks illuminated by the moonlight.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Much of the train journey takes place at high altitude, including the Tanggula Pass (5,072 metres) and Fenghuahan tunnel (4,095 metres). Altogether, over 80% of the section between Golmud to Lhasa is at elevations of over 4,000 metres. As a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Compartments have an oxygen supply for each passenger and there is a doctor on board each train in case medical assistance is required.
The train will travel through a wide brown grassland complemented by terracotta foothills, with a speckling of grazing yaks, sheep and goats and the occasional punctuation of lakes and streams. This same landscape, only sparsely populated by clusters of brick village houses, treeless and vast, will accompany you nearly all the way to Lhasa, where you’ll arrive some time after lunch. The colourful and historic holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley, and for hundreds of years it was a mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world. 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. While now welcoming tourists and much modernized, Lhasa remains an intriguing city with a deeply fascinating culture, sights and stories. Check in to your hotel and begin to get acclimatised with a free night tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Lhasa’s elevation is 3,940 metres. We have four days here to allow for appropriate acclimatisation. You will have a Tibetan leader for the duration of your time in China, who may also be joined by other local guides in each destination. Due to Chinese government regulations you are also likely to have an escort accompany your group while outside of Lhasa in Tibet.
Begin exploring Lhasa with an easy morning walk in the nearby area before joining a momo (Tibetan dumpling) making class for lunch. In the afternoon, take a visit to the Sera Monastery and witness the residing monks taking part in heated debates in the courtyards.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lhasa - Sera Monastery
  • Lhasa - Momo cooking class
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please take it easy today - it's only your second day at this high altitude and you most likely will need to climatise. You'll also need to stick with your group when visiting sites as per local law, so if there's any further sightseeing you'd like to do then please discuss it with your tour leader.
Begin seeing the sights of 'The Place of the Gods' with visits to both the imposing Potala Palace and Jokhang temple. As the former home of the Dalai Lamas, Potala Palace sits 130 metres (426 feet) above the city. The palace is divided into two parts – the secular White Palace, used for offices and the like and the religious Red Palace that boasts a number of shrines, chapels and tombs of Dalai Lamas. Although the palace cannot be explored freely and a strict viewing schedule has to be adhered to, this in no way hampers the impact of an adventure to one of the world's architectural marvels. The charming gold and jewel-filled rooms and views from the roof are usually bustling with Tibetan pilgrims and Chinese tourists making offerings at the altars, adding to the spiritual and cultural intrigue on your visit here. For the rest of the day, you can deepen your perspective of Lhasa's holy sites with a trip to the Ganden or Drepung Monasteries. Alternatively, perhaps visit the Norbulingka, the Summer Palace of Dalai Lamas. Your leader will help arrange activities for your free time.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lhasa - Braille Without Borders visit
  • Lhasa - Jokhang Temple
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace
Optional Activities
  • Lhasa - Drepung Monastery - CNY60
  • Lhasa - Ganden Monastery - CNY145
  • Lhasa - Norbulingka - CNY60
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note that the Potala Palace is the most popular attraction in Lhasa, especially among Chinese tour groups, so it can be very crowded and tickets are for a limited time period only.

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 in order to enjoy the sites group-visited as much as possible. Tibetan Buddhism is a fascinating part of the region's culture, however some travellers find that they get ‘templed out’ quickly with so much information to take in. Take your time, ask your local guide about what interests you most, and if you’d prefer your own time rather than visit a religious site with the group, let your leader know.
Today’s drive to Gyantse is spectacular, offering unforgettable views around every bend. Cross over several stunning passes as you twist through dramatic mountains and peaks that tower over the road. Take in the incredible views of Yamdrok Lake, mystically mirroring the sky above in near perfection, climb Khamba La Pass and see yaks plodding along the mountainside. Pass sheep herder villages scattered along the banks of the lake and be confronted by the soaring Noijin Kangsang, the peak of the Lhagoi Kangri mountain range. Stop at the town of Nangartse for lunch before climbing up to the Karo La pass, and then descending down to the town of Gyantse. The drive should take around 8 hours. The small rural town of Gyantse is famed for its wool carpets. While there’s still a feel of tradition and life continuing much as it has for centuries, Gyantse is also a great place to see contemporary Tibetan life in the backstreets, where pilgrims, pop music, cows, 'cowboys' on motorbikes, kids and monks all mingle in a lively mix of cultures. There are a number of interesting buildings in the town, including the Pelkhor Chode Temple complex, a unique structure built in 1414 that brought together 15 monasteries and three different orders of Tibetan Buddhism.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Accommodation in Tibet outside of Lhasa can be of a basic standard, and with limited options. Hot water, when available, can be sporadic and in some destinations, hot water and showers are not available at all. Some accommodation has shared bathroom facilities and unreliable plumbing. Most places we stay will have twin-share rooms, although on occasion we'll stay in multishare rooms on a same gender basis.
This morning you’ll spend time in the unique Gyantse Kumbum, an impressive layered stupa designed as a kind of 3D mandala (symbol that represents the universe) before exploring a model of the Buddhist universe where each storey represents a step to enlightenment. If you have a head for heights, you can wind your way up the pilgrim circuit. Pass dozens of tiny painting-filled chapels and press on as the passages steadily get narrower as you get higher –the air becoming more and more intoxicating with incense and smoke from yak butter lamps. Later on, there’s the chance to enjoy a lunch at a local family home, offering a fantastic real life experience where you can help prepare the food while enjoying both Tibetan hospitality and interesting tales. You will then drive to Tibet's second-largest city, Shigatse, on a 90-kilometre (55 mile) drive that takes at least 2 hours. Translating to ‘all fortune and happiness gathered here’, Shigatse is a busy, mountain-clasped city that’s rapidly modernising. There are still strong reminders of Tibetan culture, such as the Tashilhunpo Monastery which you’ll visit later on this adventure. Perhaps ask your leader for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world’s largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel meanwhile, is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks preparing for ceremonies.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Gyantse - Pelkor Chode Monastery
  • Gyantse - Kumbum
  • Gyantse - Tibetan family visit & lunch
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Continue west to the town of Sakya (approximately 3-4 hours). Sakya's monastery and town buildings are quite unique. Originally, there were two monasteries in Sakya – the Northern and the Southern – but the former was completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The Southern Monastery is built in a medieval 'Mongolian' style, and rather than being whitewashed, the secular buildings are painted in red and while stripes. With its high imposing walls, the monastery is sometimes nicknamed the ‘Great Wall of Tibet’. You’ll have time to explore inside the Sakya monastery. At first the halls may seem similar to other monasteries you’ve visited, but after spending time here and soaking in the atmosphere you'll soon realise that Sakya has a subtle ancient beauty that’s like no other. After the monastery tour, you can choose to climb the hill through the Tibetan Village to see what's left of the original Northern Monastery complex. Make sure you pick your way through the ruins and remaining buildings in a clockwise direction as this is a kora route (a circumambulation around a sacred site). You can also hike a little further to visit the friendly nuns at the Nunnery high on the hill overlooking the town. Tonight for dinner, consider tasting some spicy food at one of the little restaurants run by Sichuanese immigrants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sakya - Monastery
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
With an early start today, travel to Everest National Park, (approximately 5-6 hours). Cross the spectacular 5,050 metre Pangla Pass on the way to Rongphu Monastery, the highest monastery in the world. On a clear day, you’ll have giddy views of the Everest range. On a clear day you may even get a photo of the monastery's chorten against the backdrop of mighty Everest, or Qomolangma as it is called in Tibetan. A relatively modern monastery by Tibetan standards, Rongphu was built in the early 1900s and originally housed more than 500 monks. Today around 50 monks and nuns remain. They unusually share the same prayer hall, although they have separate residences. Enjoy a warm welcome from the monks and nuns here and perhaps join them for their evening prayers, if possible. Continue to the tent compound where the groups will spend the night before preparing for tomorrow’s 2 hour return hike to the base camp on China's side.

In the summer months, you stay near Rongphu in the Tent City that lies along the road to Everest Base Camp. Here nomad-style tents accommodate up to seven people with basic mattresses and bedding provided, but a sleep sheet and warm clothes for cool evenings are recommended. There are basic pit toilets nearby. A yak dung stove in the central open area of each tent provides heat. Being so close to the tallest mountains in the world more than makes up for the basic sleeping conditions. In colder months when the Tent City is not operational, you’ll stay in the monastery guesthouse or in a nearby town. Rooms here are quad-share with very simple, shared facilities.
Accommodation
  • Permanent Tent Camp/Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Everest National Park - Base Camp (Chinese side)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note that Everest Base Camp can close without any prior notice because of political issues, weather, landslides or other reasons. We will always try and give our travellers prior notice where possible, but please prepare yourself that this can happen without any notice. In these cases, we will likely stay in Old Tingri, where you will still get a view of Everest on a clear day.
Return to Shigatse (approximately 7-8 hours), which will feel like a bustling metropolis after the remote scenery from the last few days. Today will be a long day of travelling, but the constantly incredible scenery will make the journey worthwhile. There will be plenty of stops along the way for photo opportunities and to stretch the legs.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Before embarking on a return trip to Lhasa, visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the few in Tibet to have come out of the Cultural Revolution virtually unscathed. Sheltering expansive territory inside its thick stone walls, it’s almost like a town in itself – you’ll get the opportunity to explore the area further on a guided walk. Perhaps join the pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a 1-hour walk around the perimeter of the monastery while taking in splendid, atmospheric views. Travel back on the same jaw-dropping road that you took a few days ago, allowing you to experience the incredible scenery of Yamdrok Lake and the Khamaba La Pass from every angle. There’ll be stops along the way for snacks and a few final photos of the mountains. When you return to Lhasa, the rest of the day is free. Perhaps follow the pilgrim path around the Potala Palace or take photos of the busy scene from the main square. Spend your last Tibetan night here in Lhasa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shigatse - Tashilhunpo Monastery
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information



Say goodbye to Tibet and your Tibetan leader and catch a flight from Lhasa to Chengdu (approx 2 hours). It might be one of China's biggest cities, but Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional flavour. The capital of Sichuan Province is most famous for two things – the pandas living in the mountains and the food. Its hot, spicy dishes are considered by the Chinese to be the best cuisine in the whole country. In such a food-loving country, this is no mean feat. Maybe sample a spicy Sichuan hotpot together this evening for your final dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Your flight from Lhasa to Chengdu may be unaccompanied. In this case you will be farewelled in Tibet by your Tibetan leader and met on arrival in Sichuan by a Chinese leader.
Your adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Overnight Sleeper Train, Private Bus, Public Bus, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nights), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (2 nights), Permanent Tented Camp/Guesthouse (1 night)

Included activities

  • Beijing - Great Wall Mutianyu
  • Lhasa - Sera Monastery
  • Lhasa - Momo cooking class
  • Lhasa - Braille Without Borders visit
  • Lhasa - Jokhang Temple
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace
  • Gyantse - Pelkor Chode Monastery
  • Gyantse - Kumbum
  • Gyantse - Tibetan family visit & lunch
  • Sakya - Monastery
  • Everest National Park - Base Camp (Chinese side)
  • Shigatse - Tashilhunpo Monastery

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. In order for us to apply for your Tibet entry permit and purchase your train ticket to Lhasa you must provide a scanned, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport and Chinese visa to your booking agent no later than 40 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. This trip has an increased deposit due to non refundable train tickets from Beijing to Lhasa.
4. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes (above 3000 meters/ 9800 feet), a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.
5. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilets (squat/western) are available in each carriage, but there are no shower facilities.
6. Please note while traveling through China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
7. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding the overnight train and where multi share nights are listed.
8. When applying for Chinese visa it is imperative not to mention travel to Tibet. You must first apply for your Chinese visa as instructed and Intrepid will then apply for the Tibet permit on your behalf.
9. It's a criminal offence for anyone to carry images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag - doing so may lead to confiscation of the items, detention, arrest or imprisonment by Chinese authorities.

Start and finish time:

Your tour starts at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note at the hotel lobby/reception on where to meet your group and the tour leader. there are no activities planned on final day. You may depart from your accommodation at any time.

There's not a lot of extra time planned in Chengdu. We highly recommend you plan extra time in Chengdu for further exploration. Please consult with your booking agent for booking extra nights in the city.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.