Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 2 pm. This group meeting will be longer than your normal Intrepid meeting as there are a fair bit of paperwork to go through for the visa application, including a six-page form to fill out. Then, your group leader will take you to take the photos needed for the visa application (5 USD per person) to make sure all the photos submitted are in line with the embassy requirement. After all the formalities are out of the way, head out in the evening with your leader for a welcome dinner to try some delicious Nepalese cuisine.
This morning, our local representative will take all the necessary documents to the Chinese embassy and submit them for the group visa application. In the meantime, you’ll need to be ready to be called into the embassy for any further enquiries about the group visa, so your tour leader will take you for short walks near the hotel in case an urgent embassy visit is required. It is, however, possible for you to take an optional visit to the nearby monkey temple. After 2pm when the embassy procedures are finished, your tour leader will take you on a walking tour (approximately 2.5 hours) to explore the excitement and allure hidden in the lanes and alleys of Kathmandu. Step out into the streets of Kathmandu, whose mixture of ancient architecture and modern development, and rich artistic and cultural heritage, means it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats and sacred cows.
Bhaktapur – Changu Narayan – Kathmandu
Today, leave Kathmandu old town in the morning on a private bus to visit one of the Nepal’s most renowned ancient towns – Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur was one of the three royal cities in Kathmandu valley, and remains a living museum with stunning architecture and art, rich history and fascinating religion of Buddhism and Hinduism. Take a stroll with your leader through the zigzagging alleys and learn about the stories of the kings and the saints of the past, interact with locals and admire the intricate wood carvings and pottery making. Continue on to Changu Narayan – a hidden gem in Kathmandu’s religious scene, being one of the oldest Hindu temples in the region. Enjoy some time of tranquillity and nature here before heading back to the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu.
Fly to Tibet’s capital, Lhasa (approximately 2 hours). Colourful and historic, the holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley. Unknown to the outside world for years, even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reached the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. Nowadays it welcomes tourists, but remains an enchanting city, steeped in culture and mythology.
This morning, take it easy to adjust to the altitude. At noon, take a cooking class and learn the fine art of preparing momo – traditional Tibetan dumplings – for lunch. Though the dish appears in neighbouring countries Nepal and Bhutan, it’s believed to originate in Tibet. In the afternoon, you’ll visit Sera Monastery where the fascinating Buddhism debate takes place between the Tibetan monks. You won’t understand a thing that they are debating about, but it’s pure joy to see how they heatedly discuss the philosophies in quite an exaggerated way.
In the morning, visit the Potala Palace – the former home of the Dalai Lama that’s perched 130 metres above the city. The palace is divided into two parts, the White Palace (secular and used as offices and the like) and the Red Palace (home to chapels, shrines, and tombs of Dalai Lamas). This incredible structure is a feat of architecture for this small kingdom. Afterwards, visit Jokhang Temple, considered the spiritual heart and most sacred temple of Tibet. It always attracts a steady wave of pilgrims. Spend some time exploring this six-acre World-Heritage listed site and learn a thing or two about its history. According to legend, the temple was built on top of a lake after many failed attempts to build monasteries in other nearby locations. Feast your eyes on golden Buddha which stands in the centre. If you still feel energetic enough, perhaps join the pilgrims walk around the Barkhor street or around the Potala Palace, both of which are considered sacred koras by the Tibetan Buddhists.
Leave Lhasa in the morning and take a private transfer to Shigatse (approximately 6 hours). Though it’s a long day of driving, the scenery along the way is spectacular, so sit back, relax and enjoy it. There will be stops for lunch and to take in the stunning mountainous scenery. Shigatse is home to the massive Tashilhunpo Monastery, traditionally the seat of the Panchen Lama. On arrival in the afternoon, your group leader will take you on a short walking tour and visit the local market which has all kinds of Tibetan souvenirs to offer. The Shigatse Tibetan market is also an ideal opportunity to purchase a chuba – a traditional Tibetan-style cloak.
This morning, visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, where your leader will take you on a tour through the buildings, each with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery. If you’d like, you can ask for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world’s largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks prepare for ceremonies. Be welcomed to our hospitable Tibetan family in town and learn all about their life and tradition in this special part of the world over some yak butter tea and Tibetan style snacks. In the evening, join the pilgrims on their kora by spinning prayer wheels as you walk around the perimeter of the monastery and take in the lovely views and atmosphere.
Journey back to Lhasa (approximately 6 hours). Grasp your last bit of time in this scared city for some more shopping, or just to do some people watching, which is fascinating due to the public displays of devotion and spirituality from the locals. You could also head to Barkhor street for local souvenirs. This evening, why not find a restaurant with a view of the illuminated Potala Palace for dinner with your fellow travellers – your group leader will know of some good spots.
This morning, say goodbye to your Tibetan leader and take a flight back to Kathmandu (approximately 1.5 hours). Your Nepal leader will greet you at the airport and get ready to dive back in the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu again. Maybe enjoy a final dinner with your group together – boasting a delicious array of international and local cuisine, Kathmandu is lovely place to dine, especially with your small group.
There are no activities planned today, and you are free to depart the hotel at any time before the 12 noon check out. If you are departing later, luggage storage can be arranged at the hotel.
Kathmandu - Walking tour
Kathmandu - Bhaktapur tour
Kathmandu - Changu Narayan tour
Lhasa - Momo cooking class
Lhasa - Sera Monastery
Lhasa - Jokhang Temple
Lhasa - Potala Palace
Shigatse - Market
Shigatse - Kora walk
Shigatse - Tashilhunpo Monastery
Shigatse - Tibetan family visit