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Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour

9 Days
From USD1812
Difficult Level:
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Tour Type:
Private Tour
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Via this 9-day tour, you will experience the highlights of Lhasa city and enjoy the most rewarding trekking route near Lhasa. During the first few days, you will visit Potala Palace, the highest ancient fortress-style building complex in the world, and Jokhang Temple, the most sacred Tibetan monastery, as well as Barkhor street, the pilgrimage path around Jokhang Temple and now the shopping center for tourists. On the way from Lhasa to Ganden, we will drive you to Drak Yerpa, one of the four major retreats in Tibet. You can see many caves for practice here.

Ganden to Samye Trek has much to offer: lakes, beautiful alpine landscapes, herders’ camps, and sacred sites, as well as two of Tibet’s most significant centers of religious culture. This demanding trek crosses over two passes over 5000m. Starting from Wangbozhi Mountain by the Lhasa River, we will cross the mountains and river valleys, walk through wetlands on the plateau, visit villages of the pastures, explore the primitive Yarlung Zangbo area, and finally reach Samye Temple, the birthplace of Tibetan civilization. Due to its changeable mountain scenery and beautiful lakes along the way, this previously unknown trail for pilgrimage has now become the main trekking route near Lhasa. The best trekking time is from April to June and from September to November.

DayRouteAttractions & Activities
1 Arrival in Lhasa (3650m) Pick up and transfer to the hotel
2 Lhasa City Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Tibetan Carpet Workshop
3 Lhasa - Drak Yerpa - Ganden Drak Yerpa, Ganden Monastery
4 Ganden to Samye Trek①: Ganden - Yamado(5~6hrs,17km) Ganden to Yamado
5 Ganden to Samye Trek②:Yamado - Tsotupchu Valley(5~7hrs,10km) Yamado to Tsotupchu Valley
6 Ganden to Samye Trek③:Tsotup-chu Valley - Herders’ Camp(5hrs, 14km) Tsotup to Herders' Camp
7 Ganden to Samye Trek④: Herder’s Camp - Yamalung(6hrs,14km) Herder’s Camp to Yamalung
8 Ganden to Samye Trek⑤: Yamalung - Samye(4hrs) and Drive Samye - Lhasa Samye Monastery
9 Departure from Lhasa Send off to the airport/railway station

Daily Itinerary


This is the first day in Tibet. Your guide will greet you at Lhasa Gonggar Airport/Railway Station and transfer you to your hotel. It usually takes around 1.5hrs to drive from Lhasa Airport to downtown Lhasa and takes about 20mins from Lhasa Railway Station. Tourists could have a look at the Yarlung Tsangpo River, the largest and longest river in Tibet on their way to the hotel. After check-in, you can have a good rest first. And if you feel like going out, you can wander around the city. But just remember that don't take too much stuff, try to go with a light pack. Meanwhile, drink some more water, and do not move strenuously. It’s really useful to get acclimatized to the high altitude.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

In the morning our guide will meet you at the hotel and first take you to visit the famous Potala Palace, the cardinal landmark of Tibet and the masterpiece of Tibetan architecture. It was first built by the 33rd King - Songtsen Gangpo in the 7th century and rebuilt later by the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Now it's a museum and world heritage site. 

In the afternoon, we will go to visit Jokhang Temple in the center of the Lhasa old town. Jokhang Temple is the most sacred temple in Tibet and it is always bustling with earnest local pilgrims since the early days. After that, you will take a walk around the Barkhor Street - one of the most devotional circuits as well as a crowded central market of Lhasa. Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple and the locals are always proud of it. As a symbol of Lhasa, it‘s also a must-see place for visitors.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

We will first visit the less-known-by-tourists Drak Yerpa hermitage, about 16km northeast of Lhasa. Drak Yerpa is a Nyingma (Red Sect) monastery and one of the four major retreats in Tibet. It was built in the 7th century and has a history of 1,500 years. After passing through a rugged path to the temple, you can see the beautiful scenery in the distance. Compared to the Jokhang Temple and Sera Temple, which are full of incense, there're not so many tourists. Only devout Tibetans burn mulberry to worship here, and you can feel the tranquility brought by Tibetan Buddhism.

Ganden Monastery is located on Wangbozhi Mountain on the southern bank of Lhasa River, which is about 50km northeast of Lhasa. Ganden Monastery is the most special one of the top six Gelug monasteries in Tibet, as it's built by the founder of the Gelug sect - Tsongkhapa in 1409. It's quite worth seeing if this is your first time to travel in Tibet.

This trek begins from the car park at the base of Ganden Monastery. Leave the car park and look for the well-trodden trail heading south along the side of Angkor Ri, the highest point on the Ganden kora. After 20mins the kora branches off to the right; keep ascending to the south for another 30mins. You quickly lose sight of Ganden but gain views of Samadro village below you, before reaching a saddle, marked by a lapse(carin) 2m tall and 3m in diameter.

From the saddle, look south to see the approach to the Shuga-la in the distance. Traversing the west side of the ridge from the saddle, you briefly get views of Trubshi village below and the Kyi-chu Valley to the west. After 45mins the trail descends towards Hepu village. There are abt 30 houses in Hepu(4240m).

From Hepu, the trail climbs towards the Shugala, 3.5hrs away. Walk west downhill from the village towards a bridge crossing the Tashi-chu, near the confluence with another stream. Round the inner side of the confluence and head south upstream along the east bank. You are now following the watercourse originating from the Shuga-la.

1hr from Hepu, you reach Ani Pagong, a narrow, craggy bottleneck in the valley. Across the valley is the seasonal herders’ camp of Choden. From Ani Pagong, the trail steadily climbs for 1hr through marshy meadows to Yama Do(4490m), which offers extensive campsites.

Ganden - Yamado
Ganden to Yamado

Yama Do Valley’s watercourse splits into three branches. Follow the central branch, the route leaves the flank of the valley and goes to the valley bottom. The trail becomes indistinct but it’s a straight shot up to the pass.1hr pass Yama Do leave the valley floor and ascend a shelf on the east side of the valley to avoid a steep gully that forms around the stream. In another 45mins you enter a wet alpine basin studded with tussock grass.

Remain on the east side of the valley as it bends on the left. You have to negotiate boulders and lumpy ground along the final steep climb to the pass. The Shuga-la(5250m) cannot be until you’re virtually on top of it. it’s marked by a large cairn covered in prayer flags and yak horns and is the highest point of the trek.

The route continues over the Shuga-la and then descends sharply through a boulder field. Be on the lookout for a clear trail marked by cairns on the left side of the boulder field. This trail traverses the ridge in a southeasterly direction, paralleling the valley below.

The trail gradually descends to the valley floor, 1.5hrs from the pass and 200m below it. The views of the valley and the lake at its head are one of the highlights of the trek. Cross the large Tsotup-chu(4980m), which flows through the valley and keep an eye out for the herders’ dogs.

Yamado to Tsotupchu Valley
Yamado to Tsotupchu Valley

From the Tsotup-chu Ford, the main watercourse flows from the southeast and a minor tributary enters from the southwest. Follow this tributary steeply up for abt 30mins until you reach a large basin and a cairn that offers fine views down onto Palang Tsodu Lake. Stay on the west side of the basin and turn into the first side valley opening on the right. A couple of minutes into the valley you’ll pass a large group campsite.

Follow this broad valley, which soon arcs south to the Chitu-la. The pass can be seen in the distance, a rocky rampart at the head of the valley. At first, stay on the west side of the valley; there is a small trail. As you approach the pass, the trail switches to the east side of the valley.

The Chitu-la(5225m) is topped by several cairns and a small glacier tarn. Move to the west side of the pass to find the trail down and circumvent a sheer rock wall on its south flank. A short descent will bring you into a basin with three small lakes. The trail skirts the west side of the first lake and then crosses to the eastern shores of the second two. It takes 45mins to reach the south end of the basin. Drop down from the basin on the west side of the stream and in 30mins you’ll pass a collection of cairns to the right. A further 20mins brings you to the stone walls of a camp where herders have carved out level places for their tents.

Below the herder’s highest camp, the valley is squeezed in by vertical rock walls, forcing you to pick up your way through the rock-strewn valley floor. Pass a side stream after 15mins and then cross over to the west side of the widening valley to recover the trail. In 20 more mins, you will come to a flat and a seasonal Herder’s Camp on the east side of the valley, which is good for camping.

Tsotup to Herders' Camp
Tsotup to Herders' Camp

The trail is now wide and easy to follow as it traces a course down the east side of the valley. Walkthrough the thickening scrub forest for 1hr and you will come to another stream entering from the east side of the main valley. Look for the wood-and-stone Diwaka Zampa Bridge(4335m) 50m abv the confluence. The valley now bends to the right and the trail enters the thickest and tallest part of the scrub forest. The right combination of elevation, moisture and aspect create a verdant environment, while just a few kilometers away desert conditions prevail.

The next two-hour stretch of the trail is among the most delightful of the entire trek. According to local woodcutters, more than 15 types of trees and shrubs are found here, some growing to as high as 6m. Fragrant junipers grow on exposed south-facing slopes, while rhododendrons prefer the shadier slopes. The rhododendrons start to bloom in early May and by the end of the month, the forest is ablaze with pink and white blossoms.

The trail winds through a series of meadows. After 40mins the stony flood plain of a tributary joins the river from the north. In another 30mins look for a mass of prayer flags and an ancient juniper tree at a place known as Gen Do. This is a shrine to the protector of the area, the goddess Dorje Yudronma. Just pass the shrine, cross a small tributary stream. In 1hr the forest rapidly thins and Changtang, the first permanent village since Hepu, pops up.

Look south to the distant mountains; this is the range on the far side of the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley. 45mins down the valley at a prominent bend in the valley is the turn-off for the Yamalung Hermitage, visible on the cliff face high abv the valley. It’s a 45mins steep climb to the hermitage. Yamalung(also called Emalung) is where the Tibetan wonder-worker Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated and received empowerment from the long-life deity Tsepame(Amitayus).

Herder’s Camp to Yamalung
Herder’s Camp to Yamalung

From the turn-off to Yamalung the walking trail is a full-fledged motorable road and the valley is much wider. In 15mins, you will reach a bridge; the road now sticks to the west side of the valley all the way to Samye, a 3.5hr walk. 20mins from the bridge you will come to the village of Nyango with its substantially built stone houses. A big tributary stream, entering from the northwest, joins the Samye Valley here.

30mins' walk past Nyango is the village of Wango and, 1hr beyond it, the hamlet of Pisha. From the lower end of Pisha, a hill can be seen in the middle of the mouth of the Samye Valley. This is Hepo Ri, one of Tibet’s most sacred mountains. The entire lower Samye Valley—a tapestry of fields, woods and villages—can be seen from Pisha.

15mins past Pisha a ridge spur called Dragmar meets the trail. On the ridge is the partially rebuilt palace where King Trisong Detsen is said to have been born. Formerly a lavish temple, it now stands empty.

20mins further down the trail is Sangbu village, from where there are good views of the golden spires of Samye. The route follows the 4WD track direct to Samye along the Margin of woods and desert: it takes abt 1hr. You finally enter the perimeter wall of Samye, abt 3hrs from Nyango.

Your tour ends today. Our guide and driver will collect you from your hotel to transfer to Lhasa Airport/Railway Station for your next destination.

Tour Price and Service

From US$1812 p/p

Based on 3-star hotels for 2 people in low seasons. Price varies according to travel season, number of people and level of accommodation.


  • Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit and all other necessary permits to Tibet;
  • All entrance tickets fee for tourist attractions listed in the itinerary;
  • Experienced local English-speaking tour guide;
  • Travel-licensed vehicle according to group size & season as itinerary needed including gas and parking fee;
  • All lodging listed in the itinerary; it’s your decision about the accommodation class: luxury 5-star international hotel, comfortable 4-star hotel, economic 3-star hotel, or guesthouse. Please tell us your preference;
  • Breakfast provided by hotels;
  • Yaks & herders during your trekking;
  • A tour guide cooks all meals during your trek;
  • Pick-up & Drop-off service from Airport/railway station;
  • Travel Agency Liability insurance;
  • Government tax;
  • Express delivery fee of Permit (eg. SF. Express);
  • Food & lodgings for guide & driver;
  • Oxygen tank for emergency use;
  • Tents and sleeping bags;
  • Two bottles of mineral water per person per day.


  • International flight to and out of China;
  • Chinese Visa/China Group Visa; (Note: we could help you by providing the hotel or domestic flight reservation copies for your Chinese Visa or the invitation letter for your China Group Visa)
  • Domestic flight/train to and out of Lhasa; (We can help you book the domestic flight/train ticket at the BEST price. Please contact us for details.)
  • Meals are not included but we will recommend some good ones for you according to your requirements. Usually, it takes 3-10 USD per person for each meal.
  • While the gratuity for guide and driver is NOT mandatory, it is expected. Based on their service, you can tip them on the last day of the tour. Each of you is suggested to tip them 5-10 USD/day in total;
  • All the commission and tax charged by PayPal, Bank, and government when making payment. (e.g. PayPal --- 4.4%. Wire transfer --- 2%);
  • Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.
  • Anything not mentioned in the Inclusions.

Typically Asked Questions from Our Clients

Asked by Jane***

hi there we are interested in this trip -Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour at the beginning of December - could you please advise if you do this then and what the cost is Thanks Jane

Answered by Beatrice 2020-02-15

We can arrange Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour at the beginning of December for you. But December is the beginning of winter in Tibet, and this trekking route will get through a mountain pass at an altitude of more than 5000 meters. In addition, you will stay overnight in camp for 4 nights. So if possible, I suggest you come in October, which is the best month for Tibet trekking. What do you think?  Here's the detailed itinerary of the Ganden to Samye trekking tour.

Asked by Bett***

I am thinking of coming to Tibet for the first time in early April, 2020. Do you suggest this tour or your other 9 day trekking tour? How much are they?

Answered by Catherine 2019-10-04

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to 9 Days Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour in April 2020. This is one of the most classic trekking routes. Buddhism and culture are highlights. It is highly recommended. We can arrange this private tour for you.

Asked by Shai***

Hi, We are interested in a 5 days trip in Tibet (in total) One day in Lhasa+ Short Trek of 3-4 days. Ganden+ Samye is our first choise. Transportation- We would like to take the train from Xinin to Lhasa (24~hours). Way back to Beijing- Direct flight. Please also provide us a quote for a combined ticket- Train+flight. We dont have final dates yet. Most likely that we will arrive on April 15th or 16th and leave on April 20th, 21st or 22nd. Can you handle the permits for April 15th through April 23rd period and leave us the flexibility? Thanks

Answered by Nance 2019-03-07

According to your request, how about having our 8 days Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour? 

Yes, we can help you buy the train ticket and flight ticket. 

What do you think of this tour? I will send you the quotation after you confirm the arrangement. Before that, please let me know more about your tour plan.

1. What kind of accommodation would you like to get? The comfortable (4-star), or the economy class (3-star) hotel?

Asked by Andr***

we look for this as a private tour for 2 starting April 6, 2019. please send us your offer with best possible accomodation incl. guide and portererc ...

Answered by Caroline 2018-09-23

In your inquiry, you mentioned that two of you would like to have a 10-day Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour in the early April 2019. Here is the itinerary and quotation for your reference.

Asked by Mika***

"Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour" sounds interesting. I would appreciate to have more info about prices et al.

Answered by Caroline 2018-07-02

In your inquiry, you mentioned that two of you are interested in our 9-day Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour, which is a private tour. Please check the following itinerary.

Read More ...

What Our Customers Say
Jokhang Temple

The initial itinerary that was sent to me called for Drepung/Sera on first full day, then Potala/Jokhang the next day. We ended up doing Potala first day and were grouped with 3 other tourists. Not a huge problem and we are used to having to be flexible when we travel, but would have been nice to ha ....

Read more testimonials...
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