On arrival, you will be welcomed by Vacations International representative at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.
Today enjoy a guided tour of the autonomous region's capital. Sightseeing includes a visit to the beautiful Potala Palace - the dominant landmark of Lhasa, towering 117 meters above the city below. Construction started on the red hill in 1645 under the 5th Dalai Lama. This immense building is a masterpiece in design, 13 storeys high with walls 3 meters thick, containing over 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues, it was both the residence of the current Dalai Lama and tomb of the former Heads of state. The entire building is made of stone and wood and covers an area of 130,000 square meters. The Potala is full of elaborate art work and frescos that tell many stories. Sightseeing also includes the Sera Monastery and Norbulinka monastery - the Dalai Lama's summer palace which was completed in 1783 under the Eighth Dalai Lama. Set in beautiful grounds with fountains, chapels and pools, Norbulinka is located on the outskirts of Lhasa and it is from here that the present Dalai Lama fled in the 1950's. Sera Monastery is still a working retreat, 600 years after its foundation as a main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa 'universities' once housing more than 5500 monks.
Another full day of sightseeing in the fabled city of Lhasa, visiting the 15th century Drepung Monastery, formerly one of the largest monasteries in Tibet, once housing 10,000 monks and bustling Barkhor Street. The highlight of the day is a visit to Jokhang Temple, the most sacred and important temple in Tibet and also the most captivating. There is an electric atmosphere as crowds of pilgrims travel around the chapels, praying and prostrating themselves.
Yamdrok Tso Lake
After breakfast depart Lhasa and journey to Gyantse. En route visit the Drolma Lhakang Temple, associated with the Buddhist teachings of Atisha (a revered Bengali scholar), and we stop at the elevated view point of Kampa La, to soak up the incredible views of the spectacular scorpion shaped Yamdrok Lake. Yamdrok is one of Tibet's three sacred lakes and according to local mythology, it is the transformation of a goddess. At over 72kms in length, with electric blue water and surrounded by snow capped mountains, it's an incredible sight to behold. Continuing your journey, drive alongside Yamdrok lake for about an hour to reach Gyantse. Upon arrival spend the remains of the day at leisure at your hotel.
Today after breakfast, visit Kumbum and Pelku Chode, two of the prime sightseeing spots in Gyantse. Kumbum was founded in the year 1427 by a Gyantse prince. With a gold dome, and 9 levels, it contains 77 chapels. Pelku Chode is the Monastery inside the same compound of Kumbum. After finished with sightseeing of Kumbum and Pelku Chode, drive on to Shigatse (95kms from Gyantse), Tibets second most important city.
After breakfast enjoy a tour of Tashilunpo Monastery, founded in 1447, it is the largest Yellow Hat sect monastery in Tibet and the seat of the Panchen Lamas. Tashilunpo contains chortens, temples and the Panchen Lamas palace. At its peak, Tashilunpo had more than 4,000 monks in its 4 monasteries. The monastery is a striking red, white and black Tibetan structure with a golden roof. Within the monastery there is a 5 story temple, which contains a 26 meter high sitting statue of the Maitreya Buddha, cast from 6,700 ounces of gold and over 115,000 kg of copper, making it the biggest copper Buddhist statue in the world. After the sightseeing and strolling around the free market, journey back to Lhasa.
Today after breakfast you will drive to Tsedang via Samye Monastery. Samye Monastery was founded in the 8th century during the reign of King Trisong Detsen with the help of the Indian Buddhist masters Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, whom the king had invited to Tibet to help spread Buddhism. The first Tibetan monks were ordained here after examination, and are referred to as the Seven Examined Men. Over the centuries Samye has been associated with various schools of Tibetan Buddhism and today Tibetans of all traditions come to worship here. Continuing on to Tsedang, visit Yumbulakhang the oldest palace in Tibet. It was believed that King Nyatri Tsenpo descended from heaven to build this palace in 2nd century BC and myths says it is the founding of Tibetan civilization. Yumbulakhang is constructed at the perfect crest of the hill divided into three different components; the tower, the chapel and monks quarters. Not very far from Yumbulakhang, is Tandruk Monastery, situated at the road side. It’s said that renowned figures in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, such as Padmasambhava and Milariba, had practised Buddhism nearby after it was built and the remaining relics are sacred land for the devotees. Enjoy a tour of the monastery and overnight in Tsedang.
After breakfast transfer to Gongkar Airport in Lhasa for your onward flight.