Tibet is dubbed the roof of the world, and its least populated western region, Ngari, is known as the top of the roof. Ngari has an average elevation of 4,500m; a trip there could be challenging with high altitude, poor access, and lack of amenities, but traveler would be rewarded with endless adventure, amazing landscapes, and spiritual experiences.
Buddhists and Hindus believe the holy Mt. Kailash in Ngari is the center of the universe, and the sacred Mapham Yumtso was where the mother of Lord Buddha once bathed in. Thousands of pilgrims make circumambulation trip on foot around the holy mountain and lake each year. Other interesting sites in Ngari include ruins of the ancient Guge Kingdom, and Tibetan Buddhism Monasteries.
Depart from Kuala Lumpur on board Air Asia to Chengdu, arrival in the afternoon, transfer to hotel in downtown. After lunch, one could explore the Wide-and-Narrow Alley, Jinli Old Street, and sample local street food.
After breakfast, transfer to airport, take a domestic flight to Lhasa, arrival before lunch, transfer to hotel. For high altitude acclimatization, avoid fast-pace walking, running, or other strenuous activities; best to stay idle and rest for half a day upon arrival. At night, retire early to bed.
Morning visit Potala Palace, the traditional administrative center of Tibet, and a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. Later, tour Lhasa’s oldest temple – Jokhang Monastery. In the afternoon, visit Barkhor Street, which is crowded with pilgrims and traders selling exotic articles.
Travel with tourist bus and journey through numerous mountain passes, including Kangpala pass (4990m), to reach Yamdrot Lake, the world’s highest-elevation freshwater lake. Spectacular view of the Himalayan ranges en-route to Gyantse, en-route passing the Kanuola Glacier. Overnight in Shigatse.
After breakfast, drive to Saga, a major crossroad to access Ngari in the west and Nepal in the south. On the way from Saga to Zhongba, impressive view of vast grassland and snow mountain ranges, if lucky, may also spot rare wildlife.
Drive through windswept territory, with snow-capped mountains as backdrop; pass-by many traditional villages, and grassland dotted with yak-herder camps here and there.
Today’s highlight is a Buddhsim grotto complex named Donggar Piyang, used to be one of the biggest monasteries built in the 10th century. Located on a cliff, the honeycomb-cave ruins have remnants of pagodas, temples, and fort. It was once the politics, economy, and cultural center of Guge Kingdom. Overnight in Zhanda.
Visit the ruins of ancient Guge Kingdom founded in the 10th century by a descendant of King Glang Darma, who fled from Lhasa after the collapse of Tupo Kingdom. Guge Kingdom disappeared in the 17th century mysteriously. Now there are more than 400 houses and 800 caves piled up on a mountain slope. Also tour the nearby Toling monastery and stupa mounds. Overnight in Darchen.
Visit Mt. Kailash (6656m), deemed sacred by four religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Bön. Pilgrims from China, India, Nepal, and Bhutan come in droves each year to circumambulate (52km walking path) the holy mountain on foot. Today’s itinerary include trekking for 8km to reach the 5100m spot (starts from 4800m), later retrace the steps back to foothill, and then drive to Manasarovar Lake for rest and recuperate.
Today’s highlight is Manasarovar Lake or Mapham Yumtso (4578m), deemed sacred by Buddhists and Hindus, the earlier believe Buddha was mystically conceived when his mother bathed in the lake, while the later believe God of Creation Brahma formed the lake. The ancient Wuji Temple overlooking the lake sits on a cliff nearby.
Today heading east, drive through breathtaking landscape, with snow mountains looming over high cliffs, rugged plateau, endless blue sky, and more. Along the way, pass-by villages, yak herders, nomad children, have a taste of the wild countryside.
Drive from Lhatse to Shigatse, the seat of Panchen Lama, upon arrival visit Tashilunpo Monastery, the biggest in southern Tibet, built in 1447 on a hill slope, coated in colorful paints and ornately decorated. Late afternoon, board a train to Lhasa, arrival at night.
Morning visit Sera Monastery, one of the great three monastic universities of Tibet. Founded in 1419, it’s a complex consisting great assembly hall, colleges, and temples; it has a huge collections of statues, scriptures, tangkas, and wall paintings. Explore Norbulingka, once the summer palace and royal garden of a succession of Dalai Lama. Afternoon free and easy, one could go for souvenir hunting.
Morning free and easy, later take an afternoon domestic flight to Chengdu, and catch a connecting night flight back to Kuala Lumpur, arrival the next morning.
Morning arrival in Kuala Lumpur, end of tour.
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