Top Travel Routes in Tibet

In this post, I share some of the best and most popular travel routes to take in Tibet. If you have Tibet travel questions or would like to book a trip to Tibet, send an email to: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

How to get to Tibet

All foreign travelers going to Tibet must be on an organized tour that includes travel permits, a private vehicle, a driver and a tour guide. There are no exceptions. Only a travel agency can arrange this for you. You will need to contact a reputable travel agency in Tibet at least 5 or 6 weeks before you plan to arrive. Group tours are NOT required in Tibet, though group tours are a more economical way to travel in Tibet. Tibet has a reputation as being a difficult place to travel to. This is mostly due to inaccurate and severely outdated travel information that can be found on the internet. In reality, getting to Tibet is very easy.

Where to go in Tibet

Prayer flags at Nam Tso Lake in Northern Tibet

Going to Tibet from Mainland China or from Nepal

From Mainland China to Tibet

There are 2 main ways to get to Tibet: From Mainland China and from Nepal. About 80% of travelers going to Tibet do so from Mainland China. Overall, going to Tibet from Mainland China is easier as you can apply for a China Tourist Visa in your home country or from most China Embassies/Consulates across the globe. Once you have your China tourist visa, the travel agency you use in Tibet will take care of the other arrangements for you to get to Tibet. For more detailed information on how to go from Mainland China to Tibet, read the following post: How to go from Mainland China to Tibet

From Nepal to Tibet

Going to Tibet from Nepal is also possible, but requires a little extra paperwork and time. Instead of getting your China tourist visa in advance from a China Embassy near you, if you go to Tibet from Nepal MUST get your China visa from the China Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal. If you arrive to Nepal with a China visa already in your passport, even a resident, work or business visa, you will not be able to use that to go to Tibet. The travel agency you use in Tibet will write you an official invitation letter that you will need to submit to the China Embassy in Kathmandu. You will need to stay in Kathmandu at least 2 business days while your China visa is processed. For more detailed information on how to go from Nepal to Tibet, read the following post: How to go from Nepal to Tibet

Top travel routes in Tibet

A monk from eastern Tibet spinning prayer wheels in a remote monastery

Looking out over Drepung Monastery located just outside of Lhasa, Tibet

Where to go in Tibet

The Tibetan Plateau is a massive region that is larger than most countries. Trying to decide where to go in Tibet can be challenging because there are so many different itinerary options. Because all foreign travelers require an organized tour in Tibet, costs for a longer journey can be quite high, especially if you are wanting a customized journey to remote area and are either traveling alone or with just 1 other person. Here are my recommendations for top travel routes in Tibet, listed in order of journey length. All travel routes below are suggestions and can be modified/customized based on your preferences. For more information on booking these journeys, send an email to: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

NOTE: All travel itineraries here are designed with proper altitude acclimatization in mind. 

4 Day Lhasa Journey

For those who do not have a lot of time or money to spend on a longer journey, a 4 day journey just in Lhasa is a good choice. You can see the main Buddhist pilgrimage sites and explore the Old Town in Lhasa. The Jokhang is the holiest temple in all of Tibet and is filled with Tibetan pilgrims most days. Sera and Drepung are the 2 largest monasteries in Lhasa and the Potala Palace is the most famous building in all the Himalaya. The itinerary looks like this:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: Depart Lhasa

For more information on this 4 day journey, email us at: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

Top travel routes in Tibet

The Potala Palace in Lhasa is one of Tibet’s top destinations.

5 Day Lhasa and Yamdrok Lake Journey

If you have just one more day to spend in Tibet, I recommend the 4 day journey listed above with an additional day going to Yamdrok, one of the most beautiful lakes in Tibet. In addition to visiting all of the main sites in Tibet listed in the 4 Day Journey, you would take a day trip up to the Kamba La, a high pass at nearly 4800 meters above sea level that offers an amazing panoramic view of Yamdrok Lake. In the distance, you can see Mt Nojin Kangtsang rising up to 7191 meters. The itinerary looks like this:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: Day trip to the Kamba La Pass and Yamdrok Lake and return to Lhasa in the afternoon

Day 5: Depart Lhasa

For more detailed information on this journey, please go to the following link: 5 Day Lhasa and Yamdrok Lake Journey

Where to go in Tibet

The Jokhang is the holiest temple in Tibet and is located in the Old Town of Lhasa

7 Day Central Tibet Journey

This 7 day itinerary allows you to visit the main sites in Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake and continue through some amazing places in Central Tibet. From Yamdrok Lake, you will drive along the lakeside and have lunch in the small town of Nagartse. From there, you will start driving through the mountains up to the Karo La Glacier, one of the easiest glaciers to access in Tibet. After spending time at the glacier, you will continue on to the pleasant small town of Gyantse and visit the 600 year old Pelkhor Chode Monastery where the largest stupa in Tibet is located. From Gyantse, you will make the short drive to Shigatse, while stopping at some picturesque farming villages. Shigatse is Tibet’s second largest city and home to the massive monastery complex of Tashi Lhunpo. You will spend the day exploring this monastery and doing the optional 2 hour hike along the ancient pilgrimage route around the complex. On Day 6, you will drive back to Lhasa along the scenic Yarlung River Valley. The itinerary looks like this:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier and Gyantse

Day 5: From Gyantse, go to Shigatse and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Day 6: From Shigatse, return to Lhasa along the Yarlung River

Day 7: Depart Lhasa

For more detailed information on this journey, please go to the following link: 7 Day Central Tibet Journey

Prayer flags along the Karo La Glacier

Top Travel Routes in Tibet

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, located in Shigatse, is the largest Buddhist complex in central Tibet.

8 Day Lhasa to Samye and Ganden Journey

This 8 day journey will give you the opportunity to explore the city of Lhasa and take a journey east of Lhasa to two of Tibet’s most famous monasteries: Samye and Ganden. Samye is Tibet’s very first monastery, established in the 8th century. It is one of the more unique Buddhist complexes in Tibet as it was built in the shape of a mandala. Before going to Samye, you will visit the Yumbulagang Temple, which is regarded as the very first building built in Tibet. It is located not far from the small city of Tsedang. Ganden monastery was built in the year 1409 and is a great place to do some day hiking. Here is what this 8 day itinerary looks like:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yumbulagang Temple and Tsedang

Day 5: Drive from Tsedang to Samye, Tibet’s first monastery

Day 6: Drive from Samye to Lhasa along the Yarlung River Valley

Day 7: Day trip from Lhasa to Ganden Monastery and back to Lhasa

Day 8: Depart Tibet

Ganden Monastery was established in the early 15th century and is one of the best monasteries in Tibet to visit.

9 Day Central Tibet and Nam Tso Lake Journey

This 9 day journey includes all of the places listed above in the 7 Day Central Tibet Journey, but also includes Nam Tso, the largest lake in Tibet. From Shigatse, you will go through the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains, which separate Central and Northern Tibet. During the summer months, you will have opportunities to see some nomadic families living in the area with their herds of yaks. You will then arrive to Damxung, the closest town to Nam Tso. The next day, you will make the short drive to Nam Tso and spend the day exploring the lake and nearby Tashi Do Monastery. On Day 8, you will return to Lhasa and depart the next day.

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier and Gyantse

Day 5: From Gyantse, go to Shigatse and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Day 6: From Shigatse, go through the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains to Damxung

Day 7: From Damxung, go to Nam Tso Lake

Day 8: From Nam Tso Lake, return to Lhasa

Day 9: Depart Lhasa

For more detailed information on this journey, please go to the following link: 9 Day Central Tibet and Nam Tso Lake Journey

Where to go in Tibet

Nam Tso is the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region and easily one of the most beautiful.

10 Day Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Journey

The overland route from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp is one of the most amazing land routes on the planet and is certainly one of the top travel routes in Tibet. It allows you to explore the Buddhist holy city of Lhasa, travel all through Central Tibet and continue on to Everest’s North Face Base Camp. The Tibet side of Everest does not require any strenuous trekking or climbing as it can be reached by road. The view of Everest from the Tibet-side is far superior to the view from the Nepal side. Here is what this itinerary looks like:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier and Gyantse

Day 5: From Gyantse, go to Shigatse and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Day 6: From Shigatse, go to the town of Shelkar

Day 7: Drive from Shelkar to the Geu La Pass, Rongphu Monastery and Everest Base Camp

Day 8: Drive from Everest Base Camp to Shigatse

Day 9: Drive from Shigatse to Lhasa along the Yarlung River Valley

Day 10: Depart Tibet

For more detailed information on this journey, please go to the following link: 10 Day Journey from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp

How to get to Tibet

The sweeping view of the Himalaya and Mt Everest from the Geu La Pass along the way to Everest Base Camp

12 Day Lhasa to Everest and Nam Tso Lake Journey

This 12 day journey combines the overland route to Everest Base Camp with a trip to Nam Tso, Tibet’s largest lake. After going through Central Tibet and going to Everest Base Camp, you would then cross over the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains to Nam Tso Lake. You would spend 1 night at Nam Tso Lake before returning to Lhasa. Here is what this itinerary looks like:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier and Gyantse

Day 5: From Gyantse, go to Shigatse and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Day 6: From Shigatse, go to the town of Shelkar

Day 7: Drive from Shelkar to the Geu La Pass, Rongphu Monastery and Everest Base Camp

Day 8: Drive from Everest Base Camp to Shigatse

Day 9: From Shigatse, go through the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains to Damxung

Day 10: From Damxung, go to Nam Tso Lake

Day 11: From Nam Tso Lake, return to Lhasa

Day 12: Depart Lhasa

The Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains along the way from Shigatse to Nam Tso Lake

How to get to Tibet

The turquoise colored waters of Nam Tso Lake with the snow-covered mountains in the background.

15 Day Lhasa to Everest, Nam Tso and Samye Journey

This 15 day journey combines the overland journey from Lhasa to Everest and Nam Tso Lake and also adds a few days excursion going east of Lhasa. You will visit the Yumbulagang, considered to be the very first building built in Tibet. It is located near the small city of Tsedang. Next, you will make the short drive to Samye, Tibet’s first monastery built in the 8th century. After spending a night near the monastery, you will return to Lhasa along the scenic Yarlung River Valley. The itinerary looks like this:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier and Gyantse

Day 5: From Gyantse, go to Shigatse and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Day 6: From Shigatse, go to the town of Shelkar

Day 7: Drive from Shelkar to the Geu La Pass, Rongphu Monastery and Everest Base Camp

Day 8: Drive from Everest Base Camp to Shigatse

Day 9: From Shigatse, go through the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains to Damxung

Day 10: From Damxung, go to Nam Tso Lake

Day 11: From Nam Tso Lake, return to Lhasa

Day 12: Drive from Lhasa to Yumbulagang and Tsedang

Day 13: Drive from Tsedang to Samye Monastery

Day 14: Drive from Samye Monastery to Lhasa

Day 15: Depart Lhasa

Samye is the first monastery built in Tibet and is also one of the most unique.

Where to go in Tibet

The Yumbulagang Temple is considered to be the very first building constructed in Tibet. It is located east of Lhasa near the city of Tsedang.

17 Day Lhasa to Everest and Kailash Trek Journey

For those with more time to spend in Tibet, the 17 day journey from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp and continuing west to Lake Manasarovar and Mt Kailash is perfect! After going overland from Lhasa to Everest (see the above 10 Day Journey), you will continue west to the spectacular lake of Peiku Tso where you can also get a great view of Shisha Pangma, the 14th highest peak on the planet. From there, you will take a couple of days to reach the sacred lake of Manasarovar, where the giant peak of Gurla Mandhata can be clearly seen. From there, you will go to the small town of Darchen and set off for the 3 day trek around Kailash, the holiest peak in Asia. Afterwards, you will return to Lhasa. Here is what this itinerary looks like:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier and Gyantse

Day 5: From Gyantse, go to Shigatse and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Day 6: From Shigatse, go to the town of Shelkar

Day 7: Drive from Shelkar to the Geu La Pass, Rongphu Monastery and Everest Base Camp

Day 8: Drive from Everest Base Camp to Peiku Lake and Saga through the Western Himalaya

Day 9: Go from Saga to Lake Manasarovar

Day 10: From Manasarovar, go to Darchen and prepare for the 3 day Kailash Trek

Day 11: Trek Kailash

Day 12: Trek Kailash

Day 13: Trek Kailash and go to Lake Manasarovar in the afternoon

Day 14: Drive from Lake Manasarovar to Saga

Day 15: Drive from Saga to Shigatse via the Western Himalaya

Day 16: Travel from Shigatse to Lhasa

Day 17: Depart Lhasa

For more detailed information on this journey, please go to the following link: 17 Day Journey from Lhasa to Everest, Manasarovar and the Kailash Trek

The north side of Mt Kailash. The 3 day trek around Kailash is one of the most epic journeys in Tibet

Looking out to the mountains surrounding Peiku Lake in western Tibet

Top travel routes in Tibet

Shisha Pangma is the 14th highest peak on the planet and can be seen on journeys to Western Tibet.

20 Day Lhasa to Everest, Kailash and Guge Journey

If you are looking for one my favorite journeys and definitely one of the top travel routes in Tibet, it is the 20 day journey from Lhasa all the way to the ancient Guge Kingdom. This journey combines just about all of the main places in Tibet including Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse, Everest Base Camp, Peiku Lake, Lake Manasarovar, the 3 day trek around Mt Kailash and the ancient Kingdom of Guge! The itinerary looks like this:

Day 1: Arrive to Lhasa and Explore the Lhasa Old Town

Day 2: Visit Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery

Day 3: Visit the Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery and explore the Old Town

Day 4: From Lhasa, go to Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Glacier and Gyantse

Day 5: From Gyantse, go to Shigatse and Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

Day 6: From Shigatse, go to the town of Shelkar

Day 7: Drive from Shelkar to the Geu La Pass, Rongphu Monastery and Everest Base Camp

Day 8: Drive from Everest Base Camp to Peiku Lake and Saga through the Western Himalaya

Day 9: Go from Saga to Lake Manasarovar

Day 10: From Manasarovar, go to Darchen and prepare for the 3 day Kailash Trek

Day 11: Trek Kailash

Day 12: Trek Kailash

Day 13: Trek Kailash and return to Darchen

Day 14: Drive from Darchen to Zanda

Day 15: Explore the Guge Kingdom

Day 16: Drive from Darchen to Lake Manasarovar

Day 17: Drive from Lake Manasarovar to Saga

Day 18: Travel from Saga to Shigatse

Day 19: Drive from Shigatse to Lhasa

Day 20: Depart Tibet

For more detailed information on this journey, please go to the following link: 20 Day journey from Lhasa to Everest, Manasarovar, Kailash and Guge Kingdom

The Guge Kingdom is seldom visited, but is one of the true secrets of the Himalaya

The view of Cho Oyu, the 6th highest peak, from near the town of Tingri.

Summary of Top Travel Routes in Tibet

All foreign travelers going to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) must be on an organized tour. This tour must be arranged through a travel agency, preferably one based in Lhasa. It is best to contact a travel agency 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to arrive to Tibet. Group travel is not required in Tibet, but is a good way to travel more economically in Tibet. Getting to Tibet is VERY easy.

There are countless travel itineraries that you can take in Tibet. This post highlights just some of the top travel routes in Tibet. When traveling to Tibet, you have the freedom to design and customize your own travel route. If you don’t see the specific travel route you wish to take on travel agency websites, no problem! Simply contact an agency with a customized journey of your own.

For the Top 10 Places to Visit in Tibet, please go to the following link: Top 10 Places to Visit in Tibet

Looking for off-the-beaten-path areas of Tibet? Please go to this link: Tibet Off The Beaten Path

For more information on the Top Travel Routes in Tibet or for information on booking a high quality journey to Tibet, send an email to: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

The Potala Palace in Lhasa