Day 1: Lhasa, Tibet
Arrive in Lhasa from Beijing. Spend the afternoon at leisure to rest, explore, and acclimatize to the 11,483 foot elevation.
Day 2: Lhasa
Enjoy the morning at leisure. Visit the Jokhang Temple, the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. Jokhang Temple, together with Potala Palace, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the exciting Barkhor, a bustling square that is the spiritual center and main commercial district of Lhasa.
Day 3: Lhasa
Visit the ancient and seldom-visited Pabongka Monastery. Explore the Drepung Monastery, known as the most important monastery of the Gelugpa school in Tibetan Buddhism and also as the largest-scale monastery of its time. Meet the master lama who is the head of the monastery. Tour a Tibetan hospital with an expert on Tibet medication history, theory, and practices.
Day 4: Lhasa
Tour the Potala Palace, chief residence of Dalai Lamas until 1959. Visit the Sera Monastery, where the focus is on education rather than worship. Stroll among the vast temples and college complexes, and mingle freely with monks going about their daily duties.
Day 5: Lhasa
Explore Ganden Monastery, the first Gelugpa religious center in Tibet. Follow the well-traveled kora, or pilgrimage, peppered with small shrines. Continue to the hermitage cave retreat complex of Drak Yerpa, where many of Tibet’s greatest leaders, secular and non-secular, have spent time meditating. Today the caves are home to small communities of monks and nuns.
Day 6: Lhasa / Gyangtse
Transfer to Gyangtse, a town frozen in time, allowing travelers a peek into Tibet’s colorful past. Enjoy a picnic lunch at stunning Yamdrok Lake. Visit the awe-inspiring Kumbum Temple within Palkhor Chöde Monastery.
Day 7: Gyangtse / Shigatse
Travel to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. Along the way, stop at Shalu Monastery, whose mural paintings are considered to be the most ancient and beautiful in Tibet. Arrive in Shigatse and visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, the chief spiritual and temporal authority next to the Dalai Lama.
Day 8: Shigatse
Visit Cha Village, located outside of Shigatse, and embark on a full-day hike to Ngor Monastery, renowned for its rich library of Sanskrit texts and magnificent 15th century Newar-derived paintings. Alternatively, visit a local family to get a more personal understanding of their daily life.
Day 9: Lhasa
Return to Lhasa and spend the afternoon at leisure.
Day 10: Lhasa / Depart for Home
Say farewell to Tibet and depart for home via Beijing.