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“Exploring Three Parallel Rivers” 8N/9D

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The Yunnan to Tibet Tea Horse Road Expedition 11N/12D

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Plant Magic

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“Lhasa” in Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street

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Jampa Buddha Puja Celebration

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The Best Tibet Tour: Curated Experiences with Songtsam

Tibet offers infinite tourist attractions and activities. Come and learn about the best curated Tibet tour with Songtsam.

Apr 26 2021

Tibet is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations globally and comes with a rich history that goes back centuries. The Tibetan people helped reshape the region from as early as the 7th century. In the 13th century, the spiritual significance of Tibetan Buddhism reunited Tibetans and had defined their way of life ever since. The one thing that has stood the test of time is the untainted beauty and scenery of Tibet. If you’re wondering ‘is Tibet worth visiting?’, the answer is yes! For starters, you cannot experience what Tibet has to offer anywhere else in the world. Luckily, Songtsam offers the best Tibet tour curated for the best experience possible.

To get the most out of your tour, choose what to do, where to go, and things to see beforehand. But first, decide whether you will be visiting Tibet or the greater Tibetan area. A trip to Tibet usually covers the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), while a Tibet tour includes TAR, the entire Tibetan Plateau, and all traditional regions occupied by Tibetans. To make the most out of your visit, Songtsam developed unique and curated tours to bring visitors right into the heart of Tibetan life. Planning your Tibet trip includes understanding the unique things you may uncover quite unlike anywhere else. Songtsam's unique Tibet tours will take you on an authentic journey through stunning mountainsides, sacred monasteries, and local villages, offering richer experiences and painting a complete picture of local life. So with that in mind, which Tibetan sites and activities should you include in your itinerary? 

Best tibet tours monks walking Buddhist Monks walking in Tibet

Lhasa Area 

Explore the Potala Palace 

Best tibet tours potala palace Panoramic view of Potala Palace

Most Tibetans are devoted Buddhists and live by religious teachings. The main symbol of the influence of Tibetan Buddhism on Tibet and its people is the Potala Palace. This masterpiece of Tibetan architecture sits on the Red Mountain in the Lhasa Valley. It contains 698 murals and about 10,000 Tibetan scrolls, sculptures, carpets, porcelain, and other fine objects of gold and silver. This complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see attraction that should be on your Tibetan tour itinerary. 

Exploring the Potala Palace is one of the top things to do in Tibet’s Lhasa city. While the palace’s complex architecture and intricate art may seem overwhelming at first, Songtsam offers private tours led by an English-speaking butler to help visitors better understand the rich history and stories behind what they see. In addition to being a wealth of knowledge about the palace itself, the butler will also introduce guests to the monks who reside there, allowing guests an inside look into their lifestyles. Bridging the gap between the two, the butler will allow guests to converse with the monks, answering any questions they might have about how they live and why they chose to devote themselves to monasticism.

Meet with monks at Sera Monastery 

Best tibet tours monks at Sera Monastery Monks at Sera Monastery

Located in the northern suburb of Lhasa City, Sera Monastery is dedicated to a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It is known as the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect. This magnificent work of art consists of the Coqen Hall, Zhacang, and Kamcun, covering 114,946 sq. m. It was built in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty and houses centuries-old scriptures, fine statues, scent cloth, and murals. The monks of Sera Monastery study Buddhist doctrines using a step-by-step process and participate in debates to enhance their understanding and advance to higher levels. You can also find hiking options from the Sera Monastery to Pabonka Heritage.

Walk the Barkhor in Lhasa 

Best tibet tours busy barkhor street in Lhasa Bustling streets of Barkhor in Lhasa

If you're visiting Lhasa, don't miss the perfect chance to soak up the artistry and vibrancy of local artisans. Barkhor Street offers the best rugs, knives, thangka, jewelry, and all kinds of Tibetan souvenirs. You can also find Tibetan medicine, cuisine, and unique Buddhism items on this street. Visit Barkhor Thangka Painting Department Store to buy thangka, a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery. For the best deals on delicate pieces like Thangka painting, incense, souvenirs, and other small Tibetan handicrafts, visit Lhasa Ethnic Tourism Handicraft Market. You should include a trip to Barkhor Street on your list of things to do in Lhasa or better yet, attend one of Songtsam’s private tours of the area for a unique outing you won’t forget.

Get creative with a Tibetan Thangka Painting workshop 

Thangka is a type of Tibetan Buddhist painting where mineral pigment is used on a cotton or silk appliqué. These paintings portray a buddhist deity, scene or mandala. These historic and gorgeous paintings are not just for show, however. The thangka is primarily used as assistance in meditational practices. Thangka paintings help practitioners develop a direct visualization of a specific deity that strengthens their concentration and models a connection between the practitioner and the deity. Thangkas have historically been used as a teaching tool to learn about the lives of various masters. For instance, a teacher or lama would travel and give talks on dharma while carrying large thangka scrolls to tell their life story. 

Best tibet tours thangka painting Tibetan artist paints Thangka

Songtsam offers a workshop where you can create a Thangka painting of your very own. There is no better way to divulge into Tibetan culture than through art that shares so many of its stories. Learn the historic storytelling ways of Tibetan Buddhists through this carefully crafted and once-in-a-lifetime workshop.

See Yamdrok Lake - The Clearest Lake of South Tibet 

Best tibet tours yamdrok lake Yamdrok Lake in Tibet

Situated at the south of Yarlong Tsangpo River in the Shannan Region, Yamdrok Lake is one of the top must-see sights in Tibet. It is the clearest lake in South Tibet and one of the three holy lakes, including Namtso Lake and Lake Manasarovar. This breathtaking water body sits at about 14570 feet above sea level and is sheltered by several snow-capped mountains. Its crystal-clear waters reflect the surrounding snow caps to create awe-inspiring panoramic views. This ecological wonderland is also home to diverse flora and fauna, including lakeside grass, plants, birds, yaks, and sheep. If you’re into bird watching, winter will be the right time for you to visit Yamdrok Lake. And when the weather warms up, relax by the water while enjoying a private picnic spread planned by Songtsam. The tranquil setting, mountain views, and fresh food will leave you with a one-of-a-kind experience you’ll never forget.

Join the Lantern Festival in Lhasa

Best tibet tours lantern festival Lhasa Lantern Festival

Apart from visiting the Potala Palace, another popular thing to do in Tibet's Lhasa city is attending the Lantern Festival. This religious event is held annually on October 25th in Tibetan New Year in Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple to commemorate Tsong Khapa, a master of Tibetan Buddhism. On the night of the Lantern Festival, monks light butter lamps and place them on the windowsill. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the special festivities, you’ll be guided by one of Songtsam’s private butlers as you join Tibetans in Norbulingka and immerse yourself in great performances by famous Tibetan opera groups. This one-day festival is one of the best events to enjoy in Lhasa.

Join the XueDun Festival 

Best tibet tours Xueden Festival in Tibet Xueden Festival in Tibet

The XueDun festival, also known as Sho Dun or Shoton Festival, is a religious event that dates back to the 11th century. It is the most important festival for Tibetan people and is held from the end of June to the beginning of July in the Tibetan calendar, lasting for 4-5 days. The festival celebrates and honors lamas who stayed in their monastery in the summer to avoid stepping and killing insects and vegetation outdoors. You can stay at Songtsam Linka Lhasa and join Tibetans as they reward the monks with yogurt (Xue) and picnic banquets (Dun). Songtsam Linka Lhasa will also give you easy access to other XueDun festivities like Tibetan operas performed by public members.

Eastern Tibet 

Trek through Lulang Forest 

Best tibet tours yak laying in lulang forest meadow Yak in Lulang Forest Meadow

Located in Nyingchi County, Lulang Forest is a stunning plateau mountain meadow. In Tibetan, “Lulang” means a place to forget your worries and homesickness. The name captures the essence of this alpine paradise nestled between the mountains and glaciers. A trek through Lulang Forest can immerse you into a relaxing state of mind with calming sounds of gurgling streams and refreshing aromas from blossoming flowers. The forest is about 9 miles long and offers idyllic scenery with snow-capped peaks in the backdrop. Tranquil local villages and the simple pastoralist lifestyle of Tibetans can calm your nerves long before entering this restful wonderland. A walk through Lulang Forest is all you need to shake off the stresses of city life.

Watch Bomi Peach Blossom 

If you have a soft spot for peach blossoms, you can watch the Bomi Peach Blossom. Every year from late March to mid-April, Songtsam Linka Bome, located directly near this spectacular scenery, takes visitors to witness the beauty of blossoming peaches in Bomi. The enchanting views of the Bomi Peach Blossom Valley is an unmatched, unforgettable experience. 

Best tibet tours bomi peach blossom valley Bomi Peach Blossom Valley

The sun shines from above, glistening the green river while locals soak in the sun’s warmth. Animals such as cows and horses walk along, bringing in this harmonious nature of Springtime. The sea of pink topped trees with snow-capped peaks in the distance is one of the best natural wonders to witness in Tibet. This immersive experience lasts for only a few days and attracts people from all around the world.

Yunnan Area 

Visit remote, local villages 

Best tibet tours gujiunon village mountain view Mountain View of Gujiunon Village

One of the most culture-rich activities to do in Tibet is visiting remote Tibetan villages. You can visit Gujiunon Village safely hidden behind the peaks of the Meili Snow Mountain. This small mountain village had only five traditional families and was largely unknown until an adventurous photographer found it while searching for the perfect shooting spot. If you stay in Songtsam Lodge Meili, you can see the peaks that kept Gujiunon Village hidden from the world perked just outside the window. Although the village has grown in size over the years, the villagers’ way of life remains the same. Its unique location offers a breathtaking view of Meili Snow Mountain basking in the sunshine. Visiting Gujiunon Village offers you a unique opportunity to experience the golden glister of this great mountain and the essence of Shangri-La. Currently, 13 Songtsam Lodges and Retreats are located in remote, local villages in Tibet. These villages are the best places in Tibet to showcase the local people's true beauty and culture. Songtsam has opened up these hidden wonderlands to you and the rest of the world.

Eat a Yak Hotpot while watching Meili Snow Mountain 

Best tibet tours Tibetan food Spread of Tibetan food and Hotpot

Usually, mountain views tend to come with challenging, long-distance trekking at high altitudes. This breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime scenery of Meili Snow Mountain can be viewed in the comfort of your own stay at Songtsam Lodge Meili. The lodge faces the Meili mountains where you can immerse yourself into the remote Tibetan lifestyle and its gorgeous natural beauty. While watching the Meili Snow Mountain is a treat on its own, a mouth-watering yak hotpot can enhance your experience even further. To prepare yak hotpot, cut blanched yak meat into pieces, add green pepper and mountain grass fruit, and let it simmer for two to three hours until it is soft. Then, make the base using yak soup, potato strips, cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes, and other ingredients. Make sure to visit the Songtsam Lodge Meili to enjoy a delicious yak hotpot prepared by master chefs.

Shop the local handcraft art 

Best tibet tours clay pottery Tibetan Man making clay pottery

Best tibet tours woman paints copper Tibetan Woman painting copper ware

During your Tibetan tour, set aside enough time to shop for Tibetan artworks, copper wares, carpets, rugs, décor plates and knives, traditional clothes, jewelry, and more. For the past 40 years, adult men who live in the rural area have had to leave their hometown to go to southern China working in factories to support their family. Only the elderly and small children are left to live in villages. Unfortunately, many old traditional handcraft art is gone. Since its founding, Songtsam has focused on promoting and preserving Tibetan traditional craftsmanship by hiring local artisans to create beautiful artworks. This benefits the community to promote their art while

also being able to stay in the hometown to be with their family and make a living. This is a crucial importance as the handcraft art helps keep families afloat and able to survive. When you buy locally made handcraft, you get aesthetically beautiful handicrafts and help the locals preserve their traditions. 

Join the Dongzhulin Temple Winter Festival 

Best tibet tours dongzhulin temple festival Masked Dancer at Dongzhulin Temple Festival

Located in Benzilan Township along the Yunnan-Tibet Highway, Gadan Dongzhulin Temple was built in the early Qing Dynasty with a 350-year history. It is the second-largest temple in Yunnan and the venue of several religious festivals. You can stay in Songtsam Linka Shangri-La or Songtsam Lodge Benzilan to experience the Gedong Festival and the “Chang Mu'' dance performed by lamas wearing masks. The must-attend event in Tibet is the annual Winter Festival of Dongzhulin Temple in August in the Tibetan calendar. This festival offers you a unique opportunity to learn the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. Watch Chang Mu along with other Tibetans to understand what death is and how to prepare for it. Attending these religious festivals and immersing yourself in the experience allows visitors a deeper understanding of local culture and the importance of Buddhism in Tibet.

Explore the Three Parallel Rivers 

Best tibet tours three parallel rivers in Yunnan Three Parallel Rivers in Yunnan

Inside the Hengduan Mountains, the Salween, Yangtze, and Mekong Rivers flow parallel through incredible snow peaks that measure almost an unbelievable 20,000 ft high in parts. The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan encompass a majestic land hemmed in by the mighty. The quiet valleys based within the mountains are rugged landscapes that are truly rich in biodiversity. The Three Parallel Rivers are also home to various ethnic groups. It’s an inhabitant to peaceful people that have not only preserved the area for countless generations, but have nurtured Yunnan to grow into such beauty. When you combine stays at different Songtsam properties, you can embark on a circuit tour that takes you right into the heart of the Three Parallel Rivers. It gives you the freedom you need to explore the magical land.

Hiking in Tiger Leap Gorge

Best tibet tours tiget leaping gorge hiking trail Tiger leaping gorge hiking trail

Situated 37 miles north of Lijiang city, Tiger Leaping Gorge sits in the middle of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain. Its beauty is preserved as the trail is not publicly accessible unless accompanied by a Songtsam experienced and authorized guide. The Tiger Leaping Gorge is a trail that divides naturally into three sections. They represent the Upper Gorge, Middle Gorge, and Lower Gorge. This first section, which is the steepest of the whole journey, is referred to as the flowing Yangtze River's mouth. Right in the river’s mouth, sits a large rock positioned at the gorge’s narrowest section, which is only 98 ft wide. Ancient legends

state that Tigers used the rock as a stepping stone to leap from one side of the gorge to the other across the dangerous river, hence the name - Tiger Leaping Gorge. It received its name from the local community, primarily Indigenous Naxi that lived in small hamlets around the river. Throughout this hiking trail, you’ll embark on a journey through only the most remote villages, interact with locals, and learn about the lifestyle that hasn’t changed for centuries. You will also catch a glimpse of their local architecture, and may even have a picnic amid nature to top of the already fantastic experience. 

Paint your prayer flags and be part of the pilgrimage 

Best tibet tours printing Tibetan prayer flag Printing on Tibetan prayer flag

Best tibet tours monks walking under prayer flags Monks walking under prayer flags

Painting your prayer flag or Longda is part and parcel of practicing Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon culture. During your tour of Tibet, you’ll see colorful Buddhists Prayer Flags hung everywhere. From the roofs of monasteries to the summits and passes of mountains and river banks. The wide variety of colors, patterns, and words on prayer flags might seem random to a stranger but each color and word means something special to the painter. For example, prayer flags can combine blue for the sky, white for the cloud, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for earth. As part of Songtsam’s tour, you will learn how to paint prayer flags from the locals and join their pilgrimage. Don’t forget to hang your prayer flags high enough for the winds to spread goodwill and your prayers whenever they go.

Helicopter tour to experience from Yunnan to Tibet

Best tibet tours Yunnan eagle eye view Yunnan Tibet Eagle Trek View

Taking to the skies is the best way to experience Tibet’s beauty in all its glory. Songtsam offers helicopter rides for high-end tourists as part of its VIP package. One of Songtsam’s helicopter tour routes is the Yunnan-Tibet Eagle Trek in the sky. From Hengduan Mountains to the Himalayas and Nyainqentanglha Mountains, the pilot flies on low-altitude over this rugged scenery to give you an experience of a lifetime. Songtsam’s helicopter tour covers the Three Parallel Rivers, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and iconic rivers like Jinsha, Lancang, Nu, Pallong Tsangpo, and Yarlung Tsangpo. It allows you to take in scenic views that are inaccessible on land. The helicopter tour of Tibet is offered exclusively by Songtsam. It is the best way to tour Tibet. 

All in All... 

Tibet’s infinite cultural attractions, religious sites, and outdoor adventures offer something for any tourist visiting this magical wonderland. But choosing where to go and what to do in Tibet can overwhelm first-time visitors. You can rely on these things to do and see in Tibet to create the best itinerary for your Tibetan tour. To get the most out of your trip, select the top Tibetan sites, cultural festivals, and religious events, or try out one of Songtsams’s private tours. And don’t forget to interact with the locals. Tibet is one of a kind and holds a special place in our hearts.