Nalendra is a wonderful monastery in the midst of being rebuilt. It has been a long time coming due to money and donations from the infrequent visitors. Nalendra is easy to access from Lhasa for a day trip. Some guides may not know much about the Nalendra but the good guides will look into for you and get you there. The drive is only about an hour or so. You may want to add Langtang Monastery as well to your itinerary since it is only a few miles away on the same road.
I experienced a very heartwarming experience at Nalendra. It was interesting and why I recommend visiting these seldom mentioned and often overlooked Monastery's. Read about my Nalendra experience here: Nalendra Monastery
This monastery is great to stop by when traveling between Lhasa and Shigatse. It does take a bit more time because of the walk to get there but well worth the visit. Yungdrungling is one of the few Bon Monastery's remaining. More on Yungdrungling can be read here: Yungdrungling Monastery
When I first caught a glimpse of these sand dunes, I immediately had a flash thought I was in Death Valley National Park, U.S. Set back off the road, they are pristine, unlike dunes you may see in Nevada where dune buggies and motorcycles rip up the sand. We did have time to stop but if you do have the time, the setting is different than anything else in the Tibet. The sand dunes sit between a mountain range and the Yarlung River. The entire area is known as the Yellow Valley. This is on the north side of the river.
The Yarlung Tsangpo is the primary river in Tibet with it's origin starting near Mt. Kailash, western Tibet. The river is about 3000 meters long and created the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. This canyon is actually bigger than the Grand Canyon in the United States. The river runs along side the Friendship Highway and has many pull-offs and small communities through the route. Finally meeting the Ganges in India.
This pass is located on the road between Tsedang and Samye. This is not a very high pass. This is a make-shift alter at the pass. One thing to note at the pass, the prayer flags hang a little lower than usual. While I was there a pick up truck with a ladder in the back drove thru the pass and got caught up in some of the flags, pulling them down.
Tashi Dzong is the largest town you will encounter when driving from Tingri to Rongpuk. Again, this is a popular stop for tours as it offers some relief from the rough and windy road thus far. The center of the town is a hotel that is very popular Cho Mo Lang Ma Ben Ba Hotel and Restaurant. This is a gathering point for many guides. It is also an option to spend the night. Guides will spend the night here is clients are having difficulty acclimating to the altitude. The hotel also allows people to use there toilets even if you are not staying at the hotel. Very clean!
Hanging out in front of the hotel is fun but dusty. The children are very friendly as they play some games and they are not camera shy.
I didn't eat here but is was nice to take a rest. We stopped both going and on the return to Tingri.
This pass is reached while driving the road from Tingri to Rongpuk. It is a popular stop for tour guides and offers an amazing panoramic view of Mount Everest and Cho Oyu. The pass has a toilet facility. There is a local Tibetan outside charging 1rmb to use it. While implied, this is not mandatory. However, if you do not pay, some choice words are said. I don't speak Tibetan but the tone said enough. I did not pay because my guide did not pay.
There are some vendors selling items. These locals seem much friendlier than others I have encountered at other stops. They also do not charge for taking there picture. Several of the teenage girls knew a fair amount of English.
If you are lucky you will arrive in cloudless skies. While mostly clear, I wasn't as lucky. Still a beautiful location.
Well, Tingri is a small town that many see on a map when they are planning their trip. And when you arrive, you can stand in the middle of the only intersection in town and say, "is this it." The answer is yes. Tingri is the stop point for most tours. With few hotels and lodging and what seems to be a fixed pricing arrangement at the restaurants, you anxiety will peak thinking of you sole purpose for being here, getting to Everest.
So not a place to visit in and of itself. But if you have to, make the best of it.
Visiting Everest is more of an undertaking that going to other places around Tibet. First, you have to get a separate permit for access. This can only be obtained in Shigatse by your guide. This is strictly enforced with a checkpoint after leaving Tingri. Most people sleep the night in Tingri. The road from Tingri to Everest is rough and windy. This can be made worse depending on your driver. Mine tended to speed into a turn when it is better to speed up out of the turn.
There are little towns along the way. Your first main attraction is the pass at Tse La. Further along and near the end of your 4 hour drive is Rongphu Monastery. Soon after is the Everest tent city. This is a bustling little community of Yak wool tents, each one it's own hotel and restaurant. They even have a post office.
You've had views of Everest from Rongphu and now at the tent city. To get to the Faux base camp, there is a bus that shuttles the tourist to a military outpost. When you arrive, you are given instructions by military personnel on what to do and not do.
This total trip takes 3 days. One to drive to Tingri, the next to drive to the tent city where you will visit the outpost and spend the night. The third day is super long driving all the way back to Shigatse, about 10 hours.
Nagartse is a popular stop when driving from Lhasa to Shigatse. Many tour operators will stop for lunch with their clients. There is not much to see or do here. There a few decent restaurants and places to pick up supplies.
Lahtse use to be the town where you had to stop and obtain a permit if you wanted to go to Everest base camp. Now the permit is obtained in Shigatse. Lhatse is not a bad place to stop for lunch when returning from Everest base camp. There are few monasteries here worth making a separate trip.
Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet. Most tours eventually will stop here for two reasons. One is to visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, which is home to the Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama is the second highest position in Tibetan Buddhism. The second reason is that Shigatse is no the location where guides need to get permits to go to Mount Everest.
There are some note worthy thinks to see outside Shigatse. One is Shalu Monastery. This is a small Monastery just outside Shigatse.
I found that the Tashilhunpo Kora to be a worthwhile activity. One of the better Kora's I have done. Another thing to note about Shigatse is that I found that the street vendors selling Tibetan souvenirs are more affordable and more willing to negotiate than in Lhasa. There's not nearly as many vendors but overall I guess they know they are competing with Lhasa vendors to sell.
Every pass in Tibet is a big deal. You will always find many prayer flags across the road. The idea is that the wind blowing through the flags will carry the prayers out to the universe. Sometimes it is a very beautiful site, sometimes it looks like a big mess. Kampa La is one of the closest to Lhasa and overlooks Yamdrok Lake. There are many photo opportunities with locals that have ornately decorated Yaks or Tibetan Mastiffs.
Don't get caught taking a picture without their permission. They get very angry as the only reason they are there is to charge money for taking a photo. I think it is worth it. You can sit on a Yak and take a few photos for 5rmb. Some want 10rmb but can easily be talked down.
Kampa La is a typical stop when leaving Lhasa en-route to Gyantse or Shigatse. If your plan is to visit one of these two cities then no need to make a special trip here. You will pass this as well as several others.
Gyatso La is also known as Maphu La and may appear on some maps as the latter. This is the highest pass I went through on my trip at 5220 meters. I could definitely feel the difference as I walked around to take pictures. It was quite windy and not many people at all. There are locals selling items on the side of the road but even more of a temporary make-shift set up. Basically blankets on the side of the road with items spread out on them. There is no view of Mount Everest from the pass but it is still a few minute to stop. It does have the most prayer flags I have seen at any road pass on the trip.
The most important thing about this village is that you will have your first chance to see Mount Everest. The best views are just as you leave the village. The locals know this and have set up tables to sell items on the side of the road. If it were cloudy out and couldn't see the mountain, one would wonder why are the Tibetans trying to sell things here! I was fortunate to have good weather. There is a sense of relief after seeing Everest for the first time.
Many tour guides do not stop here as they like to get to Tingri. Be sure to tell your driver to stop if the weather is clear. You can definitely make out Everest on the horizon.
I would recommend a stay at The Lhasa hotel we did for 4 nights The beds were firm like most beds in...more
The hotel's official rating is ***, which did mean it was pretty basic - and so it was (it would not...more
I love House of Shambhala since the moment I stepped in. It is exactly what I had on mind. Rustic,...more
Tibet covers a big area. The two largest cities are Lhasa and Shigatse. Lhasa serves as a good base to start. You must get use to the altitude and there are plenty of things to...