Days
8
Price from
2410EUR
Map of Tibet's Shoton Festival - Limited Edition including China

Discover Tibet for yourself during a vibrant summer festival

Travel from mainland China to Tibet and experience the splendour of the ancient Shoton Festival on this 8-day tour. Begin and end in the capital of Sichuan – Chengdu – and journey into Lhasa, the capital and spiritual heart of Tibet. Here you will encounter ancient mythology, historic temples and rich and fascinating culture the region is known for. Watch pandas at a research centre in Chengdu, discover the grand former residence of the Dalai Lama, be captivated by a monk debate and celebrate Shoton with locals and pilgrims.


Start
Chengdu, China
Finish
Chengdu, China
Destination
China
Style
Peregrine
Code
PCTB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 3, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Experience the vibrant celebrations and grand traditions of Tibet’s Shoton Festival, like the mountainside unveiling of a 40-metre-high Thangka and a traditional outdoor opera.

  • Watch giant pandas munch bamboo, relax and play at Chengdu’s Panda Breeding Centre and learn about what is being done to help this threatened species.

  • Immerse yourself in Tibet’s Lhasa, exploring the grand Potala Palace – formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama – and wandering among pilgrims at Jokhang Temple.

  • Watch monks debate each other on tenants of Buddhism in a highly stylised and theatrical discussion at the Sera Monastery, a fascinating spectacle even if you can’t speak Tibetan.

  • Walk the kora circuit around Ganden Monastery to get a real sense of this meditative practise, then enjoy a serene picnic lunch with a view of the Lhasa River.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Medical and health information’ section of the Essential Trip Information for further details.

  • In recent years there have been some restrictions on certain nationalities being able to travel on specific departures. Tibet has also been known to be closed to foreign tourism without warning.

  • Lhasa can be very crowded during the Shoton Festival, as pilgrims and locals flock to Tibet’s holy sites. Keep an open mind, practise patience and enjoy this unique chance to meet local people.

Itinerary

Ni Hao! Welcome to Chengdu – the capital of Sichuan Province. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive with a few hours (or a few days) to spare, perhaps begin exploring the vast city independently. Tomorrow will bring a guided tour and panda encounter, so spare time today might be best spent getting familiar with the spicy cuisine the region is known for. The classic dishes that originate from Chengdu are widely considered the best in the country, which is no mean feat in a country this food-focused. After the group welcome meeting, get to know each other and the cuisine over an authentic Sichuan hot pot dinner, known locally as 'huo guo' (which roughly translates to 'fire pot').
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
The arrival transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through us. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.
Visit the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre and witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are only around 1000 pandas left in the world and 80% of them are found in the mountains in Sichuan Province. The facility was set up 30 years ago with just a handful of rescued animals and there are now more than 80 giant and red pandas living at the base. The pandas have over 600 acres of parkland to live in and you can get up close and watch them play, eat bamboo and climb the trees. In the afternoon, explore Chengdu on a leader-guided tour. Begin with Tianfu Square, overlooked by a large statue of Chairman Mao, then unwind at Renmin Park (People's Park). Enjoy a cup of tea and relax with the locals, observing games of mah-jong, choir practise and group exercise. Enjoy a peaceful evening in preparation for tomorrow’s adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (entrance fee & transport included)
  • Chengdu - People's Park & Tianfu Square
  • Chengdu - Tea Tasting
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Board a plane and fly into Tibet's capital of Lhasa (approximately 2.5 hours). Colourful, historic and holy, Lhasa is a lofty valley town that sits at an eye-watering altitude of 3650 metres. For years even the most adventurous and hardy of foreign explorers rarely reached the city, either because of treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. Nowadays, tourists are welcomed, but Lhasa remains a city of strong tradition and deep mythology. Your Tibetan leader and driver will greet you at the airport. Make the 1-hour drive to the hotel. It’s advisable to limit any physical activity for the rest of the day as you give your body time to acclimatise.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
It is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude – regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary! Take it easy and give yourself time to acclimatise.
Rise and shine to begin your exploration of Lhasa. Visit the Potala Palace, the historic winter residence of the Dalai Lama between 1649 to 1959. Perched 130 metres above the city, Potala is an architectural wonder with breathtaking views. Explore the complex with your local guide, including the tombs of former incarnations of the Dalai Lama, then continue to Jokhang Temple, considered the most sacred in Tibet. Wander around the six-acre site and take in both the temple itself, the golden Buddha which stands in the centre and the throngs of devotees who are overcome with emotion upon entering. In the afternoon, visit Sera Monastery to watch monks debate each other on tenants of Buddhism. While you won’t understand much (unless you’re fluent in Standard Tibetan), this stylised debate is a joy to watch unfold.
Accommodation
  • Lhasa (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace
  • Lhasa - Sera Monastery
  • Lhasa - Jokhang Temple
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
You are required to remain with your guide throughout the tour of Potala Palace.
Translating literally as ‘Yoghurt Banquet’, the Shoton Festival (or Sho Dun Festival) began as a religious event in the 11th century where locals would offer yoghurt to monks returning from prayer retreats. Today, it is one of the largest – and grandest – festivals in Tibet. This morning get your first taste of the revelry when you travel to Drepung Monastery to witness the ceremonial unveiling of a 40-metre-high Thangka painting of the Buddha, the official opening of Shoton. In the afternoon, travel to Norbulingka Palace to witness an outdoor opera among the colourful flower gardens that decorate the Dalai Lamas former summer residence. Rub shoulders with the locals as you take in the colourful spectacle of a traditional Tibetan opera.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lhasa - Drepung Monastery
  • Lhasa - Norbulingka Palace
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
A huge crowd will be present at Drepung Monastery today for the unveiling of the Thangka. Be prepared for a loud and festive crowd. We will have to park about one kilometre away from the monastery, meaning you will spend a few hours on your feet this morning.
Travel to Ganden Monastery (approximately 2 hours) for a day tour of the rambling 15th-century complex. Participate in a kora, a form of meditative pilgrimage that involves walking the circumference of the monastery. Enjoy as picnic lunch with views of the surrounding grey mountains and the Lhasa River. Return to Lhasa in the afternoon for free time to explore of relax at your leisure. Perhaps wander the hand-polished stones that pave Barkhor Street and shop for souvenirs or simply watch the pilgrims who come to use the circular road for kora, as was originally intended.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lhasa - Ganden Monastery
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Board a morning flight to Chengdu, arriving at around midday. Enjoy a free afternoon to soak up Chengdu further. Perhaps visit the tranquil grounds of the Wenshu Temple, or take a ramble down the Jinli Pedestrian Street, where Qing Dynasty-era buildings house shops, cafes and bars. As night falls, choose whether to enjoy an optional dinner with your group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

The tour will come to an end today after breakfast. If you have booked a late flight, it is possible to store your luggage at the hotel during the day if you need.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Hotel check-out time is 12 pm.

Meals

7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Private Bus, Public bus, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nights), Feature accommodation Lhasa ( 4 nights)

Included Activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (entrance fee & transport included)
  • Chengdu - People's Park & Tianfu Square
  • Chengdu - Tea Tasting
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace
  • Lhasa - Sera Monastery
  • Lhasa - Jokhang Temple
  • Lhasa - Drepung Monastery
  • Lhasa - Norbulingka Palace
  • Lhasa - Ganden Monastery

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. When applying for your Chinese visa it is imperative that you do NOT mention travel to Tibet. You must first apply for your Chinese visa as instructed. Once you have this visa, we will apply for the Tibet entry permit on your behalf.
4. Please provide a scanned copy of your passport bio page, Chinese visa, and advise us of your profession so that we can apply for your Tibet entry permit. We require these details no later than 35 days prior to departure.
5. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes (above 3000 meters/9800 feet), a Self-Assessment Form is required for this trip. Your booking agent will supply this.
6. Please be aware that in recent years there have been times when certain nationalities are banned or restricted from travelling to Tibet, or Tibet has been closed to all foreign tourists without warning.
7. It's a criminal offence for anyone to carry images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag while travelling to the region. Doing so may lead to confiscation of the items, detention, arrest or imprisonment by Chinese authorities.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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