Experience a Great Tibetan Festival
5-Day Tibet Shoton Festival Group Tour
Shoton Festival is the most important festival in Tibet. Originally, it was purely a religious festival but it has developed to have a much wider traditional meaning. This festival begins at Drepung Monastery to seeing Tangka, then shifts to Norbulinka for Tibetan opera. This tour gives a glimpse of Tibet's traditions and colorful festival lifestyle.
- Attend the unforgettable but once in a lifetime Shoton Festival
- Watch the huge Tangka in Drepung Monastery and other traditions
- Visit Lhasa's highlights including the Potala Palace
- Walk around the hole pilgrimage lake- Namtso Lake
- Understand more local Tibetan culture through the festival
After arrival, your English guide will be ready for you near extrance of Lhasa airport. You will be transfer to your hotel within one hour.
Good to know:
Fly to Lhasa- It's better to fly to Lhasa in the morning as morning flights are usually on schedule. This way you will have more time to acclimatize in the afternoon.
Climb up long stairs to reach into the awe-inspiring Potala Palace, the former winter home of Dalai Lama. In the past, Barkhor Street was a designated circumambulation circuit, "a saint's road" in the eyes of Tibetans. Now you will see pilgrims wearing their local dress from many different parts of Tibet, as they circle clockwise around Jokhang Temple with prayer wheels, or prostrate them near the front gate. The Jokhang Temple is a 4-storey golden-roofed temple is at the heart of Tibetan Buddhism.
Good to know:
Respect pilgrims: Don't take close-up shots of pilgrims or Tibetans without their permission.
You need to be fit for climbing up the long stairways in front of the Potala Palace.
Drepung Monastery lies in west of Lhasa under Mt. Gambo Utse, clustered round by the black mountain, its white grand buildings shining under the sunlight. Built in 1416, it is considered as one of the largest monasteries in the six principle monasteries of Gelu Sect in China. Drepung Monastery used to be the living palace of Dalai Lamas before the reconstruction of Potala palace (after the 5th Dalai Lamas was bestowed by Qing emperor Qianlong).
Shoton Festival is the most important festival in Tibet. Originally, it was purely a religious festival but it has developed to have a much wider traditional meaning. This festival begins at Drepung Monastery to seeing Tangka, and then shifts to Tibetan opera at Norbulinka.
Norbulingka was built by the 7th Dalai Lama and served both administrative and religious purposes, it makes an interesting stop on your tour.
Drive from Lhasa to Nagqu for some fantastic natural scenery. Namtso Lake is the spiritual lake of Tibet and another holy destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims.
It is beautiful with its azure water and surrounding snow-capped peaks. Yangpachen is situated in the basin at the foot of Nyainqentanglha Mountains to the northwest of Lhasa. It is famous for its hot spring and is a nice choice for those who want to get a close look at the Tibetan herders (drokpa) and their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Covering an area of about 150,000 square meters, Yambajan, 87 kilometers away from Lhasa, is situated in the basin at the foot of Nyainqentanglha Mountains to the northwest of Lhasa.
1. About the Festival
The grand Shonton Festival is held in the early part of August every year. That is the busiest day there with crowds of people. It is an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of this festival. Get crowded but for the truly experience of the festival.
2.Tibet Enter Permit
You need a Tibet Entry Permit and it is included in the tour price. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will deal with your permit once you book a Tibetan tour with us. In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.
Our English-speaking guides are natives with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. And most of them are trained to offer Western standard service.
Tibetan Shoton Festival is the busiest day there with crowds of local people but is an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of this festival.
Enjoy some local Tibetan, Western,and Sichuan cuisine on your trip
6. Altitude Sickness
Nearly all tourists entering Tibet experience altitude sickness. For some the effects are strong, but for most it is just an inconvenience. Before your trip, ask your doctor for suggestions, and bring some medicine in case. The most popular altitude medicine with foreigners is acetazolamide / Diamox.
The first two days after arriving in Tibet, we suggest visitors keep warm, not take a bath, smoke as little as possible, and do not drink alcohol. Drink plenty of water (>4 litres) before going and at altitude , and eat lots of vegetables and carbohydrates. Slow down your movement, even if you feel energetic. Moving slowly is the best way to avoid mountain sickness. If you are ill after entering Tibet, go to see a doctor as soon as possible. There are doctors in major hotels in Lhasa, and you can call your tour guide for help at any time. We offer a free oxygen bag in the car.
Lhasa is at an altitude of 3,650 meters (12,000 ft). You may experience further altitude sickness in the Potala Palace andDrepung Monastery with higher altitudes.
7.What to Pack
Seek medical advice about altitude effects and pack any medicine you might need. Sunglasses, snow glasses, hat, lip balm, sun block, walking boots, and down jackets are recommended.
8.Getting There and Returning
Flights: We suggest you take a flight arriving in Lhasa in the morning. Morning flights are more likely to be on time. A flight takes around 2 hours from Chengdu, Xi'an, Chongqing, or Kunming, or around 5 hours from Beijing and Shanghai.
Trains: There are direct trains to Lhasa from big cities like Beijing / Shanghai / Chengdu / Chongqing / Guangzhou; however we do not suggest you take those trains because it is too long (over 40 hours) for a journey. The best scenery begins about 10 hours before arriving Lhasa. There are only 9 soft sleeper compartments (4 person sharing) for each train. However China Highlights is able to secure your tickets if you book early with us based on our expertise and good connections to the railway bureau. Exceptions are trains departing from July to August when domestic travelers flock to Tibet during their summer school holidays.
An even more secure option is to take a train from Xining or Lanzhou to Lhasa (25 hours). Taking a train out of Tibet is becoming another popular option of seeing Tibet, and the tickets are easy to get even in summer times.
We are also good at booking a two-person-sharing soft berth compartment for you if you don't want to share a compartment with others.
Take the time to apply for your Tibet Entry Permit into consideration. It's best to book a tour with us at least 30 days before your tour starts.
Deposit: If you book a Tibet tour 30 days before departure, you are required to pay 10% deposit in advance; if you book a Tibet tour within 30 days before departure, you are required to pay in full in advance.
Cancellation: You can cancel the tour up to 14 days before departure.
We recommend bringing enough cash for your Lhasa trip. If you run out of cash, the Bank of China can exchange money. However, branches of the Bank of China in Tibet are much smaller and fewer than in other cities in China.
Bucket list item achieved
In case you didn't know, ALL foreigners MUST be on an organized tour to visit Tibet. However, what was great about this China Highlights tour was that we were givenq the choice of what kind of hotel to stay in (3 or 4 stars), and though the days were planned, our tour guide gave us a lot of flexibility (on day seven he let us decide as group if we wanted to see another monastery... we had had our full by then!) and the evevings were always free. The culture, the scenery and the people of Tibet are almost indescribable, and I was moved so many times and in multiple places. That said, what really made my time traveling aacoss Tibet so fulfiling was our tour guide, E. Ten Zin. He dealt with seven different personalities with professional ease, communicated clearly what was happening at all times (there are multiple check points, so he needed to take our passports frequently), had an answer for every question and topic, and quickly learned what each of us liked and gave us more of that... I was quietly fascinated by some farmland, and E. Ten Zin took me aside, took my camera and said "you need a photo here". And when we arrived at Everest and she was hiding behind some clouds, he sat down, patted the ground beside him for us to join him and told us "just wait. You will see"... half an hour later, he was right, and Everest was spectacular. This was not my first time with China Highlights, and it won't be my last. Highly highly recommended.more
Aug 2023, Simon Shikongo
Albee Ning is a star!
Absolutely delighted with the service given by Albee Ning in planning my holiday this coming autumn. Nothing was too much trouble for her, and she has a lovely way of letting me know when my suggestions don’t work! I’m looking forward to making the trip and will DEFINITELY use Albee again for 2024!more
Aug 2023, Hilary Phillips
My trip to tibet was a great…
My trip to tibet was a great experience. The booking agent worked fast and was easy to communicate with. The guide was very knowledgeable about every aspect of Tibetan religion and doctrines. He is very fluent in 3 languages and made everything very accessible. The drive was kind enough to have me visit his family home for lunch. I enjoyed seeing all the monasteries and temples all over the Himalayasmore
Aug 2023, Jose Solares
Overall great experience
The tour guide, Kunchok, was very knowledgeable about the history of the monasteries and the statues found in all of them. The driver Tubden was kind enough to have me visit his family and have lunch with them so I could see traditional Tibetan lifestyle and culture. There are monasteries all throughout the mountains and everything looks beautiful. The statues and structures inside the palaces and monasteries are unlike anything you can see anywhere else.more
Jul 2023, Jose S
Great time, amazing sights, kind people
Breathtaking views, fascinating temples and palaces, amazing wildlife. Special thanks to Maggie at China Highlights, to Phurpu and Champa, and to all the Tibetan people who went out of their way to be so kind and helpful!more
Jul 2023, Arkansas Traveler
Amazing Lhasa Trip by China Highlights
Hi, I’m very satisfied with my China Highlight tour in Lhasa, Tibet. Our guide Kamshang was really nice to us. Although we’re all having difficulties adjusting with the thin air, but everything went smoothly on scheduled. She suggested an authentic Tibetan restaurant, and it was excellent. It was the first time we tried Yak Burger, and we loved it We visited Potala Palace, Norbulingka, Jokhang Temple, Drepung and Sera Monastery in only two days, and she managed the time perfectly. In addition to that, we still had our shopping time in Barkor Street, and she helped us bargaining and showing some very good Tibetan local shops.more
Jun 2023, Mila
Outstanding Travel Planning with Roger
Planning a trip to Lhasa has been made seamless with the help of our guide, Roger! His expertise, patience, and insightful suggestions have been invaluable in crafting the perfect itinerary. Roger has been diligent in addressing all our queries, making this planning phase a breeze. Highly recommend his services!more
Jun 2023, Weiyao Xiao
Revisiting Lhasa with Lhapka
17 years after our first visit, we came back to Lhasa with high expectations. We were keen to see how it had changed and adapted to the supersonic development of China. Our guide Lhapka sensed our wishes quickly and gave us a superb tour that included all the cultural highlights and explanations we were looking for. Thank you so much!more
Jun 2023, Marc D
Tibet - culture and nature
This time I decided to go on a small group trip to Tibet. All formalities were completed in due time, and the proposed route met my expectations. Immersing yourself in the Tibetan culture with local guide Phurbu was a real pleasure. The views of Mount Everest and Tibetan nature were breathtaking.more
May 2023, Joanna i Piotr Kuzebscy
No matter where we wish do go…
No matter where we wish do go, my lovley Alisa from China Global Highlights helps every type of travel. Not only find the trip that’s right for us, but also gets the best value every time. I appriciate so much your pofessional service. Looking forward our next trip to Tibet.more
Apr 2023, Lina
Lhasa Tibet Adventure
Coco helped us plan our ideal trip to recent trip Tibet. She was informative, patient, and helped us tailor the trip to our own needs. She made excellent suggestions and supported us with the permits, travel itinerary, and even flights. She is an incredible asset to the China Highlights Team! Our local guide Tenzin was also excellent and flexible with us each day. I was hit with some altitude sickness and Tenzin helped me get oxygen and medicine needed. He worked with us each day to help us eat local foods and recommended ideal times to visit sites to minimize wait times. We were able to see everything on our list and eat excellent food. Thank you Coco and Tenzin!more
Oct 2021, Samantha Jane
Spiritual connection brought me back to Potala
Potala Palace mesmerizes me with its charm since 1997 when I first laid eyes on a photograph hung onto a wall at a monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. From then on, I dreamt of visiting this place before I leave this world. The only thing that held me back choosing from my other favorite travel destinations that I travelled to in the past, is the fear of high altitude sickness and breathing difficulty. Once I step foot onto it, I felt a spiritual connection to this place. I climbed up to the top at the peak without any issue and gazed at Lhasa city from the top. It was a rare and wonderful experience.more
Jul 2020, paulinelyepohlinl
Lhasa - what a special place
Lhasa welcomed us with sunshine, but Sonem with an even brighter smile. It was a great pleasure to have him as guide - an exceedingly kind person. With his profound knowledge and experience, he gave us deep insights in the daily life of a Tibetan. The highlight of our stay was, of course, the visit of the Potala Palace, but we also wouldn’t have missed the discussion of the monks or the Yoghurt Festival. Thank you, Sonem, for the perfect organization.more
Sep 2019, S-T-Travelling
Top of the World!
From our welcome at the airport with the traditional Tibetan scarves to our departure 3 days later, out time in Lhasa was nothing short of fabulous! Our guide, Tenzin was exceptionally energetic, knowledgeable and friendly. He made sure our time was spent experiencing the many wonderful sites as well as learning about the history and culture of this exciting place. Potala palace is magnificent inside and out. Be sure to return to the nightly fountain show... the icing on the cake! The monasteries were very interesting and the location of many is breathtaking. We enjoyed Barkhor Street, especially at night when the lights create a serene atmosphere, a great contrast to the hustle and bustle during daylight. Outside the city, the drive to Yomdrok Lake is beautiful and the lake itself amazing. Stopping along the way to see the prayer flags flying in the wind left no doubt that you are in a special place. Thank you to China Highlights and their local partners, in particular our fabulous guide Tenzin for organizing and executing a most wonderful trip!more
Aug 2019, anaI39VU
Great time with the Best Guide Norbu
I can’t say enough good things about China Highlights as they organized everything for us - the visa, guide and itinerary. When I asked for changes to make sure we saw the debates (none on sundays) they made the change. When my daughter was suffering from altitude sickness itinerary was adjusted to give her more time to recover. We had a fantastic guide - Norbu. His background was as interesting as Lhasa. While all of the guides we have had so far have had good English command, some are harder to understand than others making it hard work at times. Norbu’s English is embarrassingly good (as I have no capability in any other languages and am dependent on others learning English). He was very kind to my daughter while she was struggling. I highly recommend you ask for him as he will add to the enjoyment of your tripmore
Jul 2019, 913WorldTraveler
LHASA - TIBET WITH KELSANG FROM CHINA HIGHLIGHTS
KELSANG was our Guide Tour in LHASA - TIBET. His English was great and he was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Since he picked us up from the airport till we left LHASA, KELSANG had always a smile, showed us his heart and soul and accommodate all our needs. We had a great time with KELSANG! All places mentioned above are unique and very special! Our experience in Tibet was stunning and we will not forget it for the rest of our lives! We will highly recommend KELSANG as your local guide tour in TIBET and ask for ALISA when contacting China Highlights as she will organize your tours as no one else will! Believe me!more
Jun 2019, Fabian D
china highlights is well organized(Tibet and Beijing)
I could say so many wonderful things about China Highlights; they have great qualified, knowledgeable guides and drivers, they understand the flight in and out and work around it beautifully, the prices are good, and the correspondence is top notch. Bit tops I would say, is they are efficient and organized. It can be a little worrisome planning a trip to the other side of the world. My agent through the whole process was Coco and she couldn't have done better. She answered every question, before and during the trip.more
May 2019, Tim S