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Tibet Shoton Festival Group Tour

5-Day Shoton Festival and Lake Namtso Tour
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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.

Tour start: 11th - 17th August, 2018

Highlights

  • 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

What's Included

  • Entrance to scenic spots listed in the itinerary
  • Private English-speaking guide and driver service throughout the tour
  • Meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Private transfers between the airport/train/bus station, attractions, and hotels
  • Hotel accommodation with breakfast

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive at Lhasa

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.

Day 2 Visit Lhasa' Highlights
The Potala Palace

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.

Day 3 Attend Shoton Festival at Drepung Monastery
Tibet Shoton Festival

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.

Day 4 Lhasa to Nagqu to Lhasa, Lake Namtso, Yangpachen
Lake Namtso

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.

Day 5 Departure

Enjoy a hotel breakfast, your guide and driver will take you to the airport on time. Your guide will help you check-out, and escort you to the correct security gate.

Trip Notes

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.

3. Guiding

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.

4. Crowd

Tibetan Shoton Festival is the busiest day there with crowds of local people but is an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of this festival.

5.Food

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.

9. Booking

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.

10.Money Exchange

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.