Special Shoton Festival Group Tour 2019
Special Shoton Festival Group Tour 2018: August 28-September 5, 2019
Group Tour: max 10 people
Prices start from $1200 (based on standard accommodation, double occupancy in the hotel rooms)
Level of difficulty: medium. We will walk a lot, especially during the festival days
The Shoton or Yogurt festival is one of the most important festivals in Tibet. Festival tour is created to allow you to see the most interesting events during the Shoton. Tibetans celebrate Shoton for a week, the first two days, however, are the most important. On the first day of celebration Tibetans wake up early to visit two main monasteries in Lhasa – Drepung in the morning and Sera in the afternoon. Both monasteries display huge embroidered thangkas or Buddha paintings. You can only see them once a year. These thangkas are so large, that there are special walls built to display them. There is a large team of monks working together to unroll thangka, and later, when the celebration is over, to roll it back up.
August 28 – Arrival in Lhasa
You arrive at the Lhasa Gonggar Airport or the train station. The airport is 62 km/ 39 miles away from the city, and it takes approximately one hour to get to the hotel from there. On the way to Lhasa, you will enjoy beautiful views of mountains. The train station is located in Lhasa, and you will only need a short transfer to the hotel.
Depending on the time of your arrival, you might have some free time to spend in Lhasa. Our guides will be happy to advise you on what you can do with your time in Lhasa. Remember, that Lhasa is located at 3,650 meters/ 12,000 ft above sea level and you will need some time to acclimatize.
After you check in the hotel, you are welcome to explore the city, visit nearby temples, do some shopping, try delicious Tibetan food in one of the local restaurants, or just take a rest.
Walking around Bakhor Street can be an excellent choice for your first day in Lhasa. You will join crowds of pilgrims, local Tibetans, and monks circumambulating the Jokhang Temple.
Most importantly, on your first day in Tibet, be sure to relax, enjoy your day and allow some time for acclimatizing.
August 29 – Lhasa City Tour: Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple
This tour visits the two most important religious sites in Tibet.
The Potala Palace was the seat of the Dalai Lamas since the 17th century. First, the guide will take you to the Chak Pori Hill to take photos of the majestic Palace. We will then go inside and spend approximately 1.5 – 2 hours there. While there, you will see many of its most famous artifacts.
There will be free time for lunch after visiting the Potala Palace.
Time permitting, you can walk around the Potala Palace and join many of the local Tibetans.
Next, we will walk towards the Jokhang Temple. It was built in the 7th century to display the Jowo Shakyamuni Statue – the statue of the 12-year-old Buddha before his enlightenment. The statue was created at the time when the historical Buddha lived. It is elaborately decorated with gold, jewels, and precious stones.
After visiting the temple, we recommend taking a walk around Bakhor Street.
August 30 – Lhasa City Tour: Drepung and Sera Monasteries
We are visiting the two most important monasteries in the capital.
We will first visit Drepung Monastery, which once was the largest monastery in the world with over 10,000 monks living there. It was the residence of Dalai Lamas before the Potala Palace was built. Monks start unrolling the Thangka in Drepung monastery very early in the morning. We will join Tibetan pilgrims walking around the monastery to get closer to the viewpoint.
There will be free time for lunch after we visit the Drepung Monastery.
In the afternoon we are visiting Sera Monastery. It was founded by Tsongkhapa’s disciple in the 15th century. Monks display Thangka in the Sera monastery in the afternoon.
As the Shoton festival means yogurt festival in Tibetan, you will see many Tibetans selling fresh yogurt near both of the monasteries. Follow Tibetans and treat yourself with delicious yogurt.
August 31 – Norbulingka: the summer palace of the Dalai Lama
In the morning we will go to the Summer Palace of Dalai Lamas. Norbulingka is a large park with several palaces of different Dalai Lamas, including the current Dalai Lama. It is very popular during Shoton Festival as artist’s troupes are performing opera dance on the outdoor stage.
We will visit palaces in Norbulingka, walk around the park, watch the opera dance and finally settle for an outdoor picnic in the shade of trees.
September 1 – Driving to Shigatse: Yamdrok Lake and Glaciers
Today we will travel on some of the most beautiful roads in Tibet on our drive to Shigatse.
Be prepared to take photos of the breathtaking views as we go up to the highest point of the day – Kamba La Pass (almost 4,800 meters / 15,750 ft).
Our next stop will be at the Yamdrok Lake. It is one of the holy lakes in Tibet, and it is famous for its turquoise colored water.
After that, we will head towards Gyantse. On the way there, we will make a stop to see the spectacular glaciers.
In Gyantse, we will visit the monastery and the biggest stupa.
Finally, we will reach Shigatse late in the evening and stay there overnight.
September 2 – Driving to the Everest Base Camp: Night by the Everest
Today we will be driving through towering mountain ranges, and going through several high passes and Everest viewpoints. We will reach tent camp near the Everest Base Camp in the evening.
Depending on the traffic and weather conditions, we might have time to visit the Rongbuk Monastery – the highest monastery in the world. There is a meditation cave there, dating back to the 7th century, where Padma Sambhava meditated. We will stay there for a few quiet moments to relax after a long day.
We will stay in the tent for the night. You can order dinner and breakfast there as there is an English menu available.
September 3 – Driving back to Shigatse
Depending on the weather conditions from the previous day, we might finish some of the activities that we were not able to do yesterday. You can hike to the Everest Base Camp or just take some photos from the tent camp. After breakfast, we will head back to Shigatse.
September 4 – Shigatse to Lhasa
In the morning we will visit Tashilumpo Monastery, the seat of Panchen Lamas. This monastery was founded by the first Dalai Lama, and it is one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. You can take photos in some of the chapels for an additional fee.
We will take the Friendship Highway on the way back to Lhasa. It is the most direct route and usually takes around six hours to reach the capital. We will make several stops on the way in order to enjoy the views of the Brahmaputra River. In the afternoon, you might have some free time to prepare for your departure the next day.
September 5 – Lhasa to Airport/Train station
Please prepare in advance for your departure. It takes approximately one hour to drive to the airport and around thirty minutes to reach the train station. We will arrive at the airport three hours before your departure flight if you are traveling to Nepal and two hours before any domestic flight.