Archive for the ‘Lhasa Travel’ Category

Lhasa Namtso Road Trip

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Plan your Lhasa tour? If time permits, you are highly recommended to have a one day round trip excursion to Namtso Lake from Lhasa. Lying between Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture and Damxung (Damshung) County of Lhasa Prefenture, Namtso Lake is located about 240km to the northwest of Lhasa city.

Namtso Lake literally means “the heavenly lake”, a mountain lake perched on the north of the Nyainqêntanglha range with a sea-level of 4,718m and a surface area of 1,920 square kilometres.

It is often quoted as the second largest salt lake (after Qinghai Lake) in China and the highest salt lake of the size in the world. Accompanied by the massive Nyainqêntanglha range, Namtso Lake appears like a charming lady, the most stunning body of water in Tibet.

The best season to visit Namtso Lake is between June and September. Normally starting from October and November, Namtso Lake will be closed to tourists due to heavy snow. You may hire a SUV car with the help of the staffers from your hotel or inn. The cheapest way is to join in a shared coach organized by the local travel agencies.

You will find the coach tours of visiting Namatso Lake from most of the youth hostels or hotels in Lhasa. In addition, each morning, the seat-in coach will start from the area by the White Pagoda on the east gate of the Potala Palace around 7:00am.

Natmaso Lake is mostly connected to Lhasa City by the National Highway No.109. The National Highway No.109 is totally 3,901km long, connecting Beijing and Lhasa. The highway within the western Qinghai and Tibet from Golmud to Lhasa, is locally called “Qinghai-Tibet highway”, which is paralled by the “Qinghai-Tibet Railway”.

The Lhasa Namtso Lake 240km road trip takes about 5 hours. When you are driving from Lhasa (Elevation 3650m), the altitude is getting higher and higher. At the driving distance of 87km northwest of Lhasa, you will get to Yangbajing (Yangbajain) with an elevation of 3800m.

Yangbajing is famous for the Yangbajain hot springs, which have been used to produce much of the electricity for the city of Lhasa. If you have spared time back from Namtso Lake, and want to recharge your body and refresh brain, soak yourself in the magic and rewinding hot springs in Yangbajing.

At Yangbajing, you will drive to the northeast direction paralleled by both the active Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the snow-capped Nyainqêntanglha range. You will pass by the west section of Nyenchen Tanglha with the highest peak in the range – Mount Nyenchen Tanglha (Nyainqêntanglha) (7162m).

Your National Highway 109 drive will end at Damxung (Damshung) County at the driving distance of 160km from Lhasa. So at the Damxung (Damshung) County, you will get off the National Highway and start to cross the Nyainqêntanglha range through a surface road completed in 2005 connecting Damxung County and Namtso Lake, a 25km some mountain road leading to the Elevation stone at Lakenla (Laken Pass)5190m, the highest point from Lhasa to Namtso Lake.

At the Elevation stone at Lakenla (Laken Pass)5190m, usually travelers would be arranged to take a break before darting to the sapphire lake – Namtso Lake ( approx.another 30km). The entrance fee for the Namtso Lake is RMB 120.

Namtso Lake has five uninhabited islands. On the four sides of the lake stand four monasteries. There are also five peninsula protruding into the lake. On the north bank of the lake is the Zhaxi Peninsula, which is the best spot for your glimpse at the amazing view of the blue holy lake nestled under the white-capped Nyainqêntanglha range.

If you’d like to stay the night around Namtso Lake, the Zhaxi Peninsula is the only spot for overnight travelers staying in the tents provided by the local Tibetans.

The weather at Namtso is subject to abrupt sudden change and strong winds and snowstorms are very common across the Nyainqêntanglha range.

Last year in late October, we rented a SUV car driving from Lhasa to the Elevation stone at Lakenla (Laken Pass)5190m, where we had a distant view of the white and blue Namtso Lake. Though we were unable to approach the lake due to the heavy snow, we were still luckier than those tourists on a shared coach who had to cancel their road trip on that day.

We were driving along the National Highway No.109 (popularly known as Qinghai-Tibet Highway) paralleled both by the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Nyainqêntanglha range.

We were driving along the National Highway No.109

We were driving along the National Highway No.109

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway paralles the Nyainqêntanglha range
The backcountry Tibetan villages are scattered on the south side of the Nyainqêntanglha range.
We were entering the Namtso Lake Scenic Area.
We are entering the Namtso Lake Scenic Area.

We are entering the Namtso Lake Scenic Area.

Getting off the National Highway 109, we were driving along the surface road crossing the Nyainqêntanglha range..
Higher and higher, we were on the road sandwiched by the snow-capped peaks crossing the Nyainqêntanglha range.
n the road sandwiched by the snow-capped peaks

n the road sandwiched by the snow-capped peaks

A bit adventure to visit Namtso Lake in late October
A bit adventure to visit Namtso Lake in late October

A bit adventure to visit Namtso Lake in late October

The Elevation stone at Lakenla (Laken Pass)5190m was our last road trip destination, where we had a distant view of the stunning Namtso Lake.
Take a break
Take a break

Take a break

On the road back
On the road back

On the road back

Any questions, just drop a line.

Lhasa, the Tibetan Haven is a Must-See Destination

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Beautiful Lhasa is a Traveler’s Delight 

When one travels to China, one has the opportunity to visit some of its oldest cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, which effectively have cradled and nurtured the Chinese civilization. But there is another important city in the country which has nurtured the religion, the followers of which are spread across the globe. Lhasa City is the administrative capital of Tibet and it is taking shape as one of the most modern cities today. Despite its height and recent development, Lhasa has been a popular destination for tourists and Buddhist followers alike. 

Important Places to Visit in Lhasa
 Tibet is undoubtedly a crowning jewel in the crown of China. Almost all study abroad programs and summer programs for high school students try to incorporate Tibet in the travel itinerary. The reason lies in its cultural importance. Not only is Tibet the hub of Buddhism, but it is also a popular destination for all those who are interested in Buddhist studies. If not either of the above, students who are in the country to learn Chinese or on gap year programs can visit the province just to see its natural beauty.  

Lhasa is a prefecture level Tibetan City that is also the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China. The city is one of the highest cities in the world. Despite the location, it has almost all the amenities required by a visitor.  Now Lhasa is easily accessible either by trains and flights. 

Potala Palace
Among the important places to visit is the fortress of Potala. But what attracts the tourists and the devotees more is Mount Potala which is a mystical mountain. It is said that this is the residing place of Chenresigor or Avalokitesvara who is one of the Bodhisatvas. The site is serene and instills peace and hence is considered to be symbolic of the compassion of Buddhism. It is said that the place has the power to convert the strictest of non-believers, and there are stories about those who adopted Buddhism as their faith after visiting Mount Potala. 

A good shot of the Potala Palace from its south square

A good shot of the Potala Palace from its south square

 

Shooting Potala Palace from the Medicine King Hill 

Shooting Potala Palace from the Medicine King Hill

A Tibetan English speaking tour guide is introducing the history of Potala Palace.

A Tibetan English speaking tour guide is introducing the history of Potala Palace.

Jokhang Temple
Another site to visit is Jokhang Temple which lies to the east of Lhasa City. It is one of the most revered temples in Tibet and a must-see place for every traveler.

Inside Jokhang Temple

Inside Jokhang Temple

 

Sera Monastery

Sera Temple is not to missed. Located 3km north of downtown Lhasa, Sera Monastery is one of the three Gelukpa college monasteries in Lhasa. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery. The Sera Monastery is mainly composed of the Great Assembly Hall and three colleges (Tratsang). Sera Monastery has three colleges (Tratsang), inluding Sera Me College (Tratsang), Sera Je College and Ngkapa Tratsang. The Sera Je College is the largest among three.  

The exterior of Je College in Sera Monastery 

The exterior of Je College in Sera Monastery

Sitting there and chanting 

Sitting there and chanting

Each monk has a bowl of barley congee

Each monk has a bowl of barley congee

After eating congee, all the monks put on yellow hats

After eating congee, all the monks put on yellow hats

Drak Yerpa Monastery
Drak Yerpa Monastery should be also included on your Lhasa trip. Drak Yerpa Monastery is located about 40km northeast to the city center of Lhasa. There are two popular Tibetan verses in relation to Drak Yerpa. One verse says that “While Tibet’s holy place is in Lhasa, Lhasa’s holy place in Drak Yerpa”. Another verse goes like that “Visiting Lhasa without going to Drak Yerpa is just like making a new clothe without adding the collar”. These two verses pinpoint the importance of Drak Yerpa in the hearts of the common Tibetan pilgrims. 

Drak Yerpa Monastery is a hermitage built on a hillside of the mountain at the altitude of 4885 meters. The hermitage is composed of many meditation caves. Some say there are now still 80 meditation left on the hillside. Some houses were built to accommodate the caves, hence cave temples. So actually Drak Yerpa is a cave monastery. Many buddhist statues in the house or the temple were caved from natural rocks.

A mountain of five coloured prayer flags at Drak Yerpa Monastery

 

A mountain of five coloured prayer flags

Have a chat with a monk in one of the hillside temples 

Have a chat with a monk in one of the hillside temples

 

However, Tibet is changing. If one is interested in the cultural aspect of Tibet, an immediate China tour should be planned. Even though the old Tibetan town of Lhasa is quite different now, the “neo” Lhasa City has a small separate oriental part which is a stark reminder of the predevelopment era. As a tourist, one can stay in the finest guest houses and shop in the supermarkets there. When on China travel one must ensure that Lhasa is a part of the itinerary.

Yamdrok Lake, Yamdrok-Tso Lake – My Trip to Yamdrok Yumtso Lake

Monday, August 29th, 2011
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

 

Plan your Tibet tour? Yamdrok Lake is a must for your first time visit in Tibet. Yamdrok Lake ( or Yamdrok-Tso Lake and Yamdrok Yumtso Lake ) is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet.
 
Yamdrok-Tso Lake is 130km long from east to west and 70km wide from north to south with a total perimeter of 250km and the surface area of 638 square km, average depth of 20-40 meters. It is the largest lake at the north foot of the Himalayas.
 
Yamdrok Yumtso Lake is a kind of low salt lake formed by the snow melted water from the snow capped mountains nearby. The lake looks like a holy sapphire. Under the clear azure sky, the clean water of the lake is as smooth as the surface of fine blue jade. Yamdrok Lake is said to be be the female Guardian of Buddhism in Tibet. Every year, many local Tibetans and visitors from Lhasa and from other places would come here for pilgrimage or sightseeing.
 
Yamdrok Lake is situated within Langkazi County (Nangartse) of the Shannan Region of Tibet on the way between Lhasa and Gyantse – 110km southwest of Lhasa and 140 east of Gyantse.
 
If you start from Lhasa to visit Yamdrok Lake, you have to climb over Kampala Pass (5000m) where you have a bird’s eye view of the amazing lake. The lake lies several hundred meters below the road or the pass. Under clear weather the lake is a fabulous shade of deep turquoise. Far in the distance is the huge snow mountain – Mt.Nojin Kangsang (7194).
 
If you set off from Gyantse to view Yamdrok Lake, you have to climb over Karola Pass (5042m). Karola Pass is the divided line between Gyantse County and Langkazi County.  (Nangartse).
 
Approaching the Kampala Pass (5000m)
 
Driving through the Kampala Pass (5000m) 

Driving through the Pass

Parking the cars and buses on the parking lot near the Pass or the road and viewing the lake

Parking cars and buses on the parking lot near the Pass or the road and viewing the lake

 
Birds’ Eye View of Yamdrok Lake from the parking lot or the road near Kampala Pass (5000m)

Birds' Eye View of Yamdrok Lake from the parking lot or the road near Kampala Pass (5000m)

 
On the right side of the lake

On the right side of the lake

 
People take pictures with the huge carved roack with the Chinese charactors “Yamdrok Lake”  

People take pictures with the huge carved roack with the Chinese charactors - Yamdrok Lake -

Visitors are taking photos with the yak

Visitors are taking photos with the yak

 
You may take a picture with a Tibetan mastiff

You may take a picture with a Tibetan mastiff

 
Overlooking Yamdrok Lake from the parking area near the the Kampala Pass (5000m)
 

Overlooking Yamdrok Lake from the parking area near the the Kampala Pass (5000m)

Yamdrok Lake Travel Tips
1. Lhasa – Yamdrok Lake drive time: a land cruiser one and half hour; bus 3 hours
2. Gyantse – Yamdrok Lake drive time; a land cruiser 2 hours; bus drive 4 hours
3. Entrance fee for Yamdrok Lake; RMB 40 per person
4. Toilet on the platform near the Pass
5. Parking area on the platform near the Pass