Whether you arrive in Lhasa by train or by flight, your tour guide will be there to meet you to escort you to your hotel and check in. On the way from the airport to your hotel in Lhasa, you will be able to see the Yarlung Tsangpo/ Bhamaputra River (the world’s highest altitude river and the (the longest and largest river in Tibet) and the Lhasa River. You will have the rest of the day free to become acclimatized to the high elevation, or if you feel up to going out, you can go to Potala Square to enjoy the many-colored fountain and take some amazing photos of the Potala Palace from the square.
Today we will start off with the fantastic Potala Palace, which historically served as the winter home of the Dalai Lama. It was first used in the 7th century by the 33rd king of Tibet. The most valuable collections in the Potala Palace are the gilded burial stupas of the former Dalai Lamas and the meditation cave of the 33rd great king of Tibet. After lunch, we will move on to the Jokhang Temple, which was also founded in the 7th century by the 33rd great king of Tibet to promote the Buddhist religion. Inside you can see the statue of the Buddha Sakyamuni as he was at the age of twelve – this is perhaps the most venerated object in Tibetan Buddhism. Around the temple is Barkhor Street where you can perform the “Kora” (a religious circuit around a sacred building or mountain) with pilgrims and locals. The Barkhor market is also a great place to pick up locally made handicrafts and souvenirs.
This morning we will visit the Drepung Monastery – one of the great three Gelug monasteries of Tibet. Founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge, on Tosngkhapa’s main disciples, the Drepung Monastery is home of Ganden Palace, which formerly served as the Dalai Lama’s palace before later moving on to the Potala Palace. In the afternoon we will move on to see another of the great three of the Gelug monasteries in Tibet – the Sera Monastery. Founded in 1419 by another main disciple of Tsongkhapa, Jamchen Chojey, the main attraction of this monastery is the lively scene of the monks debating Buddhist scriptures in the courtyard behind the monastery in the afternoon.
Today’s schedule features a bike ride of approximately 53 kilometers to the east to visit the Ganden Monastery – the largest of the six main monasteries of Gelugpa. The most difficult part of our ride today will be climbing up Mt. Wangpo, with its peak elevation of 3800 meters. If you still have the energy, you can perform the “Kora” here by bicycle, taking a 90-minute circuitous ride around the religious sites. On a clear day you will have stunning views of the peak of Mount Nyenchen Thangla and the Kyi-chu Valley below. We will stay overnight in Ganden tonight.
Today we will make the return trip to Lhasa by bicycle, with free time for you to explore Lhasa in the afternoon and evening.
After breakfast or lunch, depending upon your departure time, we will take you to the Lhasa Gonggar airport or the Lhasa train station for your flight or train on to your next destination.