Tibet Tour with Ganden-Samye Trek

  • Trip Duration Trip Duration 10 Days
  • Trip Grade Trip Grade Moderate

About Tibet Tour with Ganden-Samye Trek

To undertake the Ganden to Samye trek in Tibet, first we fly to Lhasa from the mainland China or Kathmandu/Nepal and follow major sightseeing program for 2 full days. By that 3 full days stay in Lhasa may offer a good rest and acclimatization. Then, on the 3rd day, we proceed to Ganden Monastery and rest and acclimatize there with an exploration of Ganden Monastery for the whole day. From the 5th day, we start our trek from Ganden to Samye for 4 days.

For the trek lovers who do not have much time, but are keen in undertaking a shor

t trek in Tibet, Ganden to Samye trek offers the 4-day short and sweet hike. This is one of the most popular trekking routes in Tibet connecting two of Tibet’s most important monasteries Ganden & Samye. The trek begins from the Ganden Monastery and ends at Samye Monastery crossing over 2 high passes of Shug-La (5,250 m) and Chitu-La (5,100 m).

Although the trekking area is so close from Lhasa, it is so pristine that the route passes through the beautiful holy lakes with blue water, high mountains with snowy passes and lush green alpine meadows. Your sporadic encounter with the nomads with herds of their yaks and sheep impels you to wonder what a life the Tibetan nomads are living in this present day world. No internet, no connection with rest of the world, and no worries and no tension about the future! Their happiness is incomparable!

While continuing your solitary walk for a long time, sometimes the tranquil villages with playful children around and men & women in the traditional Tibetan costumes make you feel yourself that you are never alone even in such a remote area.

Besides its trekking charm, this route is also a century old pilgrimage trail for the Tibetans which combines Ganden Monastery (home of Gelugpa sect) and Samye Monastery (home of Nyigmapa sect) especially in those days when motor transport facility was not available.

Your last day downhill walk enters a desert-like landscape in your final approach to Samye Monastery. Believe us, if you are a true trek lover and can spare some days, this trekking route is always recommendable.

Before you undertake this trek, kindly familiarize with some the important information about this trekking route. There is no doubt that it is a very beautiful trek. But, some people underestimate the trek and face much difficulty in completing the trek. The average total walking time of this trek is 4 to 5 days; but strong people can complete it in 3½ days. The best time for trekking in this region is from late April to mid-October. Snow is a possibility any time of the year. So, the knitted gloves, a wool cap and a good rain gear are the recommended equipments even in summer.

Although it is a 4-day short trek, please be reminded that it starts from the height of 4,100 m of Ganden Monastery and passes through the high pass of Shogu-La (5,250 m) and Chitu-La (5,100 m) and ends at Samye Monastery at a height of 3,550 m. In other words, please make sure that only the experienced trekkers with full camping support must attempt this trek as we gain much altitude beyond expectation and sadly, there are no tea houses and medical facilities at all en route.

Trip Highlights

  • An hour long trans-Himalayan flight exposing you to the mighty Himalayan range including Mt Everest, the highest peak of the world
  • Half day visit to the majestic Potala Palace of 13 floors with more than 1,000 rooms and 10,000 steps where one can enjoy the photo session wearing the Tibetan costumes on its top floor with the impressive view of the Lhasa city on its back drop.
  • Half day visit to the Drepung Monastery located to the north west of Lhasa city on the foothill
  • Half day visit to Jokhang Temple (central Buddhist cathedral) in the middle of the Lhasa city at Barkhor Bazaar
  • Evening private exploration of the Barkhor Bazaar (downtown bazaar) with the hustles and bustles featuring the locals and people from around Tibet in their ethnic costumes,
  • Eating out in the Barkhor Bazaar is enjoyable with choices of restaurants and food varieties.
  • Half day visit to Sera Monastery, another equally fabulous monastic centre where one can witness live debate among the competing monks from the various monasteries of Tibet every afternoon.
  • On the 4th day, scenic drive to Ganden Monastery to start your beautiful 4-day trek to Samye Monastery
  • A half day exploration of Samye Monastery in mandala shape beautifully located on the isolated bank of the Brahmaputra river
  • Full exploration of the Yarlung Valley civilization with a visit to Yumbulakhang, Thandruk Monastery and Tombs of the Ancients Tibetan Kings (Chongye)


  • 1
    Day 01: KATHMANDU (1,300M) - LHASA (3,650M)

    Morning transfer to airport - Fly to Lhasa by a trans-Himalayan flight (1 hr) with a high chance of enjoying the panoramic view of the mighty Himalaya with a close up view Mt Everest (8,848 m) and other adjoining peaks. Welcome and assistance by our Tibetan guide at the Gongaar airport - Transfer to LHASA (45 min) through the new tunnel with a visit to Drolma Lakhang and check in to your hotel. Full rest for acclimatisation.

  • 2
    Day 02: IN LHASA

    AM: Visit Potala Palace.
    It is one of the most famous architectural works of Tibet and stands on the top of the Red Hill in Lhasa. The term Potala comes from Sanskrit. In the 7th century, it was built for meditational purpose. It was the Dalai Lama’s winter palace. Its white part used to be for the administrative purpose and the red part for the religious purpose.

    PM: Visit Jokhang Temple & Barkhor Bazaar
    Jokhang Temple
    Jokhang Temple is situated at the centre of the old part of Lhasa called Barkhor. It was built in the mid-7th century and was later extended by the successive rulers. It is a four storied temple with splendid golden roofs. It has a combination of architecture of Tang Dynasty & Nepalese Buddhist temples.

    Barkhor Bazaar:
    It is a bazaar complex just outside and around Jokhang Temple. It is the main Tibetan bazaar which has been able to sustain Tibetan culture & heritage until today. This bazaar is good for shopping and eating out and also mixing with the local Tibetan people.

  • 3
    Day 03: IN LHASA

    AM: Visit Drepung Monastery.
    It is situated five km away to the western suburb of Lhasa city at the foot of Mt Ganpoi Uze. It was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, a disciple of Tsongkhapa, the founder of Gelugpa sect in Tibet. The monastery occupying 250,000 square metre with a one time 7,700 monks is the biggest one in Tibet. It maintains plentiful of historical relics, Buddhist scriptures, arts and crafts.

    PM: Visit Sera Monastery.
    Sera is one of the Gelugpa’s six great monasteries in Tibet. It was founded in 1419. The complex today, a veritable monastic city, occupies a site of nearly 12 hectre. Sera, like Ganden & Drepung, was a vital center of religious activity that drew students from the far corners of TIBET. In its heyday, it boasted over 5000 monks and novices. In fact, Sera is one of the best preserved monasteries in Tibet. Debating monks are the worth seeing sight organized everyday in the afternoon in the garden of Sera Monastery.

  • 4
    Day 04: LHASA – GANDEN: 40 KM

    Ganden Monastery visit is a memorable tour both in terms of the spiritual explanation on the Gelugpa sect and the scenic uphill drive offering a bird’s-eye-view of the unique countryside of Tibet with a beautiful valley view to the north.

    Ganden Monastery is the hometown of the Gelugpa sect. Among the major 5 sects of the Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelugpa sect is believed to be the youngest one. The sect also known as Yellow Hat sect was started by the great Tibetan reformer Tsongkhapa in the 15th century. The sect propagated by him is revered as the purest of all sects in Tibet.

    Ganden Monastery is beautifully located at a hill top of Mt Wangbur at a height of almost 4,000 m with a distance of almost 40 km from Lhasa. The shape of the Ganden villa looks as if it is an amphitheater.

    Today, we camp near Ganden Monastery for acclimatization. It is highly recommended.

  • 5

    Today, after the needful preparation and breakfast, we start trek from Ganden to Yama Do passing by a nice village of Trubshi. A 30 minute uphill walk will enable us to reach a site and sight Shuga-la pass at a distance. Right from the same spot, we can view the beautiful Kyichu valley in the west. Our further walk along the gullies and valleys will take us to Hepu village, a good location for our lunch. After lunch, we follow a trail which actually climbs up to Shuga-la pass, but we end our climbing at Yama Do before 3 and half hour walk to the Shug La. Overnight in camp at Yama Do.

  • 6

    As the walk to the Shuga La is steep, we are supposed to reach Shuga-la during the morning time. From Shuga La, we walk down to Tsotup-chu valley passing by a couple of small, but beautiful lakes accompanied by the nice views of valleys around. It is always advised to beware of the dogs belonging to the nomadic herders on the way. Normally herders camp in this area in the summer time for grazing their yaks and sheep around. This valley could be an appropriate place for our camping. For the rest of the day, visit the nomads and enjoy their life by sharing their tea.

  • 7

    Today, our walk passes through the Taptic-chu valley and later we climb up to the Chitu-la pass of 5,210 m. Here you will encounter with several cairns on the way and they will certainly stop you for photography. From the pass, we can see three small lakes and our route takes us by the western side of the first lake. Our further walk through the wide green meadow will take us to the herders’ camp which is our campsite for tonight.

  • 8

    As today is our last day for trekking; obviously, we would be anticipating to reach Samye Monastery as soon as possible. However, it is just half a day walk to Samye with a mild walking. From the last camp, we descend about 1 km. This trail can be taken as the most beautiful part in the entire trek. Again, we walk through a large green meadow and reach Changtang village. We continue our walk for about 1 and half hours to Yamalong Hermitage where we will be picked up by our vehicle and drive us to Samye monastery. Enjoy lunch and visit Samye monastery.

    Samye Monastery is the first Buddhist monastery built in the 8th century in Tibet. It was founded by the King Trisiong Detsen with Padmasambhava (Guru from India) and belongs to the Nyingmapa and Sakyapa sects. The construction consists of three styles, namely the Han, the Tibetan and the Indian. It has been constructed in the madala https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandala shape in an isolated part of Tibet across the Brahmaputra river.
    Late afternoon, we drive to Tsedang (1 hr), the cradle of the Tibetan civilization along the Brahamputra river. Cross the bridge and reach Tsedang – Overnight at hotel.

  • 9
    Day 09: IN TSEDANG

    AM: Visit Yumbulakhang and Thandruk Monastey
    Yumbulakhnag is said to be the first palace in Tibetan history and built in the 2nd century. Statues of the three periods of the Buddha and Tibetan kings are enshrined in the palace. The view of the Tsedang valley from the top of the Lakhang is magnificent.

    Thandruk Monastery was built in the 7th century as a small copy of Jokhang in Lhasa. Together with Jokhang and Samye, it was one of Trisong Detsen’s three royal temples, as well as one of the 12 monasteries built by Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the principal shrines in the Yarlung Valley.

    PM: Explore the Chongye.
    It represents the Tombs of the ancient kings offering evidence of a pre-Buddhist culture in Tibet, presently in the form of scattered mounds. Most of the kings interred here are now firmly associated with the rise of Buddhism on the high plateau, but the methods of their interment point to the Bon faith. Archaeological evidence seems to suggest that earth burial, not sky burial, might have been quite widespread in the time of the Yarlung kings, and may not have been limited to royalty only. It is a half an hour drive from Tsedang. If time permits and keen in the Tibetan history, it is a worth visiting site.

  • 10

    Early morning drive (2 hrs) to Gonggar airport for departure flight to Kathmandu or towards your onward destination.

Cost Includes

  • Twin sharing accommodation in the 3 star hotels in Lhasa ands and Tsedang on Bed and Breakfast basis,
  • English speaking Tibetan Guide throughout the tour,
  • Transportation as per itinerary and group size by a good A/C Van/Bus in Tibet,,
  • Monastery entrance fees,
  • Tibet visa fee
  • Tibet Travel permit,
  • Yak and Yak man (1 yak for 2 men’s luggage)
  • Oxygen bottles (1 each)
  • Necessary airport/hotel/airport transfers
  • For the trek from Ganden to Samye, the trip will be on fully organized FULLBOARD basis and includes the following services and materials:
  • Good 2-men tents as per requirement for clients,
  • Kitchen tent and needful camping and kitchen equipments
  • All food
  • Camping crew like cook and assistants
  • Yaks for carrying all camping equipments and food load
  • Drop all camping materials at Ganden by a separate needful truck/mini-truck and pick up accordingly at Samye.

Cost Excludes:

  • AIRFARE KTM/LXA/KTM (US$ 510)(subject to change)
  • TIBET VISA FEE (US$ 69 for the nationals other than the US citizens & for the US citizens, it is US$ 145)

Useful info

There are better hotels in Lhasa like

  • 5 star deluxe (St Regis Lhasa Resort or Hotel Shangri-la with 600 room facility),
  • 4 star deluxe (4 Point by Sheraton),
  • 5 star Hotel Xing Ding or Brahmaputra)(normal).

However, there are no better hotels other the 3 star hotels outside Lhasa, except in Tsedang, where there is a good 4 star hotel called Tsedang Hotel whic is highly recommendable.