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Ganden to Samye Trek in Tibet

This 10 day journey starts in the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa, where you will spend 3 nights exploring all of the main sites. You will start by strolling through the ancient market area around the Barkhor, where you will rub shoulders with countless Buddhist pilgrims. From there, you will go through the Jokhang, the holiest temple in all of the Himalaya. Inside, thousands of Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims will be chanting mantras and giving offerings of butter to the candles inside. You will then explore the huge monastery of Sera, one of the most influential monasteries in Tibet. Your next day in Lhasa will take you to Tibet's most iconic building, the Potala Palace. The Potala Palace has more than 1000 rooms and dominates the skyline of Lhasa. You will finish your time in Lhasa by exploring Drepung, another of Tibet's huge monastery complexes.

After 3 nights in Lhasa, you will make the short drive to Ganden, one of Tibet's most unique monasteries. From here, you will begin the fantastic 5 day trek to Samye Monastery, located about 80 kilometers away. This trek is the most popular in Tibet, and for good reason! It allows you to see stunning landscapes, alpine lakes, Tibetan nomadic culture, rural Tibetan village life and so much more! During this trek, you will be fully supported with a guide, pack animals (yaks), a cook who will prepare all meals, all camping gear, all required permits and all ground transportation. At the end of your trek, you will arrive at Samye, the very first monastery in Tibet with a history stretching back over 1200 years!

For more information about this 10 day journey, which includes the 5 day trek from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery, please send an email to:

Day 1: Lhasa  Elevation: 3600 meters

Arrive in Lhasa. When you arrive to Lhasa, you will be met by your guide and transported to your hotel. You can spend the afternoon wandering around the Barkhor, Tibet’s ancient market area that surrounds Jokhang Temple. Each day thousands of Buddhist pilgrims make their way around this sacred temple.

Day 2: Lhasa

You will explore the Jokhang, the holiest Buddhist temple in the Himalaya’s. Founded nearly 1400 years ago, Jokhang Temple houses the most sacred statue of Buddha. You will work your way through this fascinating temple alongside Buddhist pilgrims from the faraway regions of Tibet. The sound of pilgrims chanting mantras fills the air as does the smell of yak butter candle offerings. In the afternoon, you will go to the 600 year old Sera, one of Tibet’s largest Buddhist monasteries. Each weekday afternoon starting at 3pm, monks engage in Buddhist philosophy debates, which are fun to photograph.

Day 3: Lhasa

You will start the day by exploring the Potala Palace, Tibet’s most iconic building. Towering above Lhasa with more than 1000 rooms, the Potala Palace served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lama’s for hundreds of years. After lunch, you will go to Drepung, another of Tibet’s huge monastic complexes. The pilgrimage circuit around Drepung takes about an hour or so and offers spectacular views.

Day 4: Lhasa to Ganden, Trek to Yama Do  Time: 6 hours  Elevation: 4505m

After breakfast, you will make the 50 kilometer drive from Lhasa to Ganden, one of Tibet's largest and most impressive monasteries. The 600 year old monastery is unique and built along the side of a mountain. After exploring Ganden, you will begin your 5 day trek to Samye Monastery, located 80 kilometers to the south. The first stage of the trek will take you around the monastery along the pilgrimage path before taking a fork and heading into the mountains in the south to the open valley of Yama Do. The trekking distance this day is around 17 kilometers and will take about 6 hours to complete.

Day 5: Trek from Yama Do to Tsotup Chu Valley  Time: 6 or 7 hours  Elevation: 4985m

The second day of the trek will lead you from Yama Do over the pass of Shugu La, elevation 5250 meters. This pass is the highest along the trek from Ganden to Samye. The top of the pass offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. From the top of the pass, you will descend to the valley floor until you reach the camp site at Tsotup Chu. Along the way, you should encounter some Tibetan nomads with their herds. The distance today is 10 kilometers taking 6 to 7 hours to complete.

Day 6: Trek from Tsotup Chu Valley to Herders Camp  Time: 5 hours  Elevation: 4465m

The midway point of your trek will take you to a herders camp that is used seasonally. Along the way, there are excellent mountain views and as well as pristine alpine lakes. You will cross another high pass today, the Chitu La at an elevation of 5210 meters and then descend to the valley floor. The distance this day is 15 kilometers and will take around 5 hours to complete.

Day 7: Trek from Herders Camp to Nyango  Time: 6 hours  Elevation:

The fourth day of the trek is all descent. The last 2 days of the trek will take you through pleasant villages and through some junipers and rhododendrons. The villages you will pass through are excellent places to see traditional Tibetan culture. The trekking distance today is around 18 kilometers and will take about 6 hours.

Day 8: Trek from Nyango to Samye Monastery  Time: 4 or 5 hours  Elevation: 3630m

The final stretch of your trek will continue going through nice villages offering great mountain views before arriving at Samye, Tibet's first monastery. Samye has a history stretching back more than 1200 years. After completing the trek, you will stay in a basic guesthouse located a short walk from Samye. The trekking distance today is around 18 kilometers and will take 4 or 5 hours to complete. 

Day 9: Samye Monastery to Yumbulagang Temple and Tsedang  Elevation: 3520m

After breakfast, you will make the 60 kilometer drive along the Yarlung River Valley to the Yumbulagang Palace. Yumbulagang is considered the oldest building in Tibet and overlooks the fertile valley below. From the Yumbulagang, you will continue along the Yarlung River Valley to the small city of Tsedang, where you will stay for your last night in Tibet.

Day 10: Depart Lhasa

In the morning, you will be transferred to the Lhasa Airport and depart Tibet.

The Trek from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery can be done anytime from May through October. This is a fully organized trek that includes all hotel stays before and after the trek, pack animals, trekking guide, a trek cook, all meals on the trek, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, all permits and transportation to and from the trailhead.

For a price quotation for this trek, please send us an email at:

Included in the price:

  • All accommodations (based on double occupancy)
  • Breakfast each morning in Lhasa, Samye and Tsedang
  • All meals during the trek from lunch on Day 4 to breakfast on Day 8
  • All ground transportation in Tibet
  • All entrance fees for the itinerary listed
  • All required travel permits
  • Local Tibetan guide fees
  • Trekking cook
  • Tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats
  • Lhasa Airport or train station pick up and transfer 

Not included in the price:

  • Passport and Chinese Visa fees
  • International airfare to/from Lhasa, Tibet
  • Lunch and dinner while in Lhasa, Samye and Tsedang
  • Travel vaccinations
  • Insurance (travel, medical, etc)
  • Souvenirs or personal items such as laundry, snacks, alcohol/soft drinks, etc
  • Photography fees inside temples and monasteries
  • Porters or pack animals
  • Gratuities to the Tibetan guides and driver

Travel Gear: Upon joining, each participant will be sent a list of required and recommended gear for this journey that they will be responsible for.

Accommodations: In Lhasa you will stay in a pleasant and comfortable locally rated 4 Star hotel in the Old Town of Lhasa. In Samye you will stay at a basic guesthouse near the monastery. In Tsedang, you will stay in a locally rated 3 Star hotel.

Meals: Breakfast is included in the price for each morning you are in Lhasa, Samye and Tsedang. Lunch and dinner are not included while in Lhasa, Samye or Tsedang, but all meals are included during the trek.

Eligibility: Participants must be in good health and be able to spend each day walking around towns, villages and monasteries and be able to complete this 5 day trek from Ganden to Samye. This journey has 5 days of trekking at elevations between 3500 meters and 5250 meters (11,480 feet to 17,225 feet) above sea level. All of our travel routes are designed with altitude acclimatization in mind to minimize the risk of altitude sickness.

Responsible Tourism: Himalaya Journey is foreign-owned, but staffed with local Tibetans in Tibet. All of our guides and drivers are local people who have been working in tourism for many years. During this tour, all of the hotels you will be staying at in Tibet are locally-owned. The preservation of the culture of Tibet, as well as the protection of the environment of Tibet, are extremely important to us. In fact, when we are not out leading and arranging journeys across the Himalaya, we are working with local people in numerous eco-tourism and conservation projects.