Central Tibet History

Attention: by choosing this selection, you are paying to book a private room on top of what you have already purchased previously (i.e. paying to not share a bedroom with another tour guest).
When did Central Tibet become Buddhist? What existed in Central Tibet before Buddhism and what events unfolded to pave the way for a land and people to become so defined by a religion from a foreign land?

The story of Buddhism in Tibet is a surprising mix of power struggles, political intrigue, and spiritual mysticism. This historical journey begins in a very appropriate place: Tsetang. Not only considered to be the cradle of Tibetan civilization, Tsetang is also the location of Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery, Samye. On the way from from Tsetang to the journey’s climax in Lhasa, the days that follow feature many other historically significant sites that play different roles in the larger drama of Buddhism’s establishment in Tibet.

This seven day tour offers rich historical insights only fully appreciated by hearing the story told on location. Included along the way is some of central Tibet’s most breathtaking scenery such as Yamdrok Lake and Karola Pass, where you can see the sweeping Himalaya range to the far south on a clear day.
*based on a group of 4
7 Days

Dates: Yours to choose

Key Destinations

Lhasa, Tsedang, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse


Private vehicle with driving distance 850KM (Return)

Starts / Ends

Starts & Ends: Chengdu (incl. return airfare to Lhasa)

  • All transport, including airport pick-up and transfers
  • Tibet Travel Permit (TTP)
  • Private vehicle and driver, plus an excellent English speaking local guide
  • Chengdu to Lhasa return airfare (per the itinerary)
  • All meals
  • All accommodation based on double occupancy
  • All activities and entrance fees enroute (per the itinerary)
Not Included
  • International airfare
  • Medical, travel, and trip interruption insurance
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Activities not included on the trip itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Souvenirs, laundry, items of a personal nature

DAY 1 - Chengdu to Lhasa (Flight) to Tsedang

Accommodation: Tsedang Hotel, Tsedang

Your tour commences with pick up in the morning at your hotel for a shuttle to Chengdu Shuangliu airport. Today you are flying to the roof of the world (3700m). It is hard to find such a short flight anywhere else on the planet where the geography, climate, elevation, and culture changes so dramatically. Upon arrival, you’ll head east, following the Yarlung Tsampo River (which becomes the Brahmaputra upon reaching India) for a scenic and leisurely drive to Tsedang. After checking into your hotel in the afternoon and enjoying some refreshments, you’ll head out for a relaxing stroll around this ancient town before dinner. Distance: 100km.

Jokhang temple Lhasa Tibet

DAY 2 - Tsedang

Accommodation: Tsedang Hotel, Tsedang

A morning drive north of town will take you to historical Samye Monastery . This is the oldest Buddhist training institution in Tibet, established in the lifetime of Padmasambhava in the eight century. The temple monastery compound is enclosed by a circular brick wall, and from a nearby ridge it is possible to see that its contents resemble a Mandala - a Hindu and Buddhist representation of the universe. After lunch back in Tsedang, it is a short drive south of town to Yumbu Langkang Palace. According to legend, this virtual fortress was the first building in Tibet and the palace of the first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo. Distance: 90km.

DAY 3 - Tsedang - Shigatse

Accommodation: Gesar Hotel, Shigatse

Today's route to Tibet’s second biggest city follows part of the Friendship highway linking Tibet with Nepal. The scenic climax of the journey is found on the approach to mystical Yamdrok lake offering some of the best views of the Tibetan Plateau available. A brief visit in the afternoon to the legendary Kumbum in Gyantse offers an introduction to the Buddhist perception of the universe, before arriving in Shigatse in the evening. Distance: 400km.

DAY 4 - Shigatse to Lhasa

Accommodation: Cang Gyan Hotel, Lhasa

After breakfast, the day begins with a visit to Tashilhunpo Monastery. Though founded in 1447 by the First Dalai Lama, Shigatse is the traditional seat of the successive Panchen Lamas, second in ranking only to the Dalai Lama lineage of the Gulug tradition. The afternoon drive to Lhasa follows the great Yarlung Tsampo River and offers beautiful views of idyllic Tibetan farming villages along the way. Distance: 270km.

DAY 5 - Lhasa

Accommodation: Cang Gyan Hotel, Lhasa

This morning will take you on a leisurely stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Norbulingka , meaning "Treasure Park." The central feature of this 89 acre park and gardens is Norbulingka Palace - the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas. After lunch, it is a short drive to the foothills north of town where Sera Monastery sits. This includes the fascinating experience of seeing monks engage in their daily practice of religious debate. A full day already, an afternoon rest will precede a later dinner.

DAY 6 - Lhasa

Accommodation: Cang Gyan Hotel, Lhasa

An ambitious day ahead, you begin with a tour of the 17th century Potala Palace, the former chief residence of the Dalai Lama. With walls as thick as 5 meters and containing over 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and 200,000 statues, any length of time in this historic engineering wonder is considered an abbreviated tour. A well deserved rest after lunch will be appreciated before a visit to Drepung Monastery. Historically, the most significant monastery in Tibetan Buddhism, Drepung used to be the seat of political and religious power in Tibet. It also used to be home to over 15,000 monks and one of the most prestigious Buddhist institutions in the land. Before dinner, you have the option of a visit to one of Lhasa's Tibetan rug factories for an introduction to their trade and an opportunity to pick up a unique souvenir.

DAY 7 - Lhasa to Chengdu (Flight)

*Your tour concludes upon departure from Lhasa.

An optional early morning walk with the pilgrims around Jokhang Temple precedes your reluctant departure from the roof of the world.