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5 Days Photography Short Break Tour in Tibet

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - Roof of the World

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Why Tibet is so attractive to photographers? Because Tibet is such an incredible place that cameras become alive from a controlled machine. Even a regular digital camera can take some excellent photos.

Tibet is not only the sacred holy land for Buddhist, but also the perfect destination for photography. If you are crazy about landscape, Tibet is your paradise. Here you can see the splendid scenes only existing in Qinghai Tibet Plateau in front of which you wish your camera lens could be as wild as the plateau. Clean blue sky, endless grasslands, imposing snow mountains, tranquil holy lakes. Most fortunate thing is that all these fabulous sceneries are not hidden only in some very remote places instead of every place you get to. While, some cultural works of photography in Tibet really can shock and touch the world. This holy land is the home of millions Tibetan who keep reverent belief in Buddhism in their entirely. Buddhism emerges its incredible impacts on every inch of Tibet. You will definitely get lost in the ancient Buddhist temples, palaces, ornate Tibetan villages, etc.

This Tibet photography tour can be customized depending on what photos you want to take, and on the weather condition when you go. Feel free to tell your interests and ideas to your personal travel consultants!

Basic Photography Info

Travel Route: Lhasa / Namtso Lake / Lhasa

Travel Length: 5 Days

Tour Code: CD-TPT-05

Tour Type: Customizable Private Tour

Departure: You Choose (you may plan it according to the best season and time.)

Lhasa Photography Guide

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There are many reasons that you must cover Lhasa in your Tibet photography tour. It is not only the capital city, but also the cultural and historical center of whole Tibet. In our opinion, the breathtaking scenery is the appearance of Tibet, while the sacred Buddhist culture is her attractive soul if Tibet is a beautiful lady as a metaphor. Lhasa is the SOUL.

There is no high snow peaks, large lakes, wild forest, and grassland in Lhasa city, the brilliant cultural existence is Lhasa’s best feature which varies with architecture, Buddhism, folk tradition, etc. Since Buddhism is the essence of Tibet culture, here in Lhasa, many sites are themed by Buddhism. We have selected some unique and outstanding sites for you to learn, and record with your cameras.

Best Highlights for Photography in Lhasa

Potala Palace

Potala Palace is the symbol of Tibet. It is the highest palace complex with thousands of rooms and chapels. It is also the perfect embodiment of the essence of Tibetan Architecture. It used to be the royal place of Kings of Tubo, then became the administrative office of Dalai Lamas when the Fifth Dalai Lama moved to Potala in 17th century. The grandiose appearance is the photographers’ favorite scenes to shoot. The place is 117 meters high, 3700 meters above the sea level, and covers more than 130,000 square meters. The white and red walls, golden tiles, orderly windows form a harmonious and large scene. Inside the palace is a treasure full of arts and relics of Buddhism, but they are not allowed for taking photo.

Tibet Photography Tour

There is a specially built deck on the right side of Potala Palace which is the best angle to take photo. From there, you can get panoramic front views of the palace both in day and night. The large square in front of the palace is another shooting place where you can find some great framing of the front body of Potala Palace. The local Tibetan, clouds and far mountains are some good background scenes.

Buddhist Temples

Lhasa is the holy Buddhist city of monasteries and temples. Many influential monasteries gather in and around Lhasa city, such as the Three Greatest Monasteries (Ganden, Sera and Drepung) and Jokhang Temple. Among all these Buddhist sites, Jokhang and Sera are two most recommended for shooting photo.

The holiest temple Jokhang features in long history and unique architecture which combines both Chinese and Tibetan styles. Jokhang Temple is also the most popular with pilgrims. The meditation in front of temple is very heartshaking. Sera Monastery is a traditional Tibetan monastery. Its best highlights is the famous Buddhism Debating which is allowed to be watched and shot.

Tibet Photography Tour

Local Folk Culture

Spend some quiet time observing the living culture of Tibetan is a spectacular experience. You can capture the prostrating Tibetan on Barkhor Street, talking ladies in the tea house, playing kid in garden, etc. To show your respect, you can ask for their permission if you want to take some close picture of Tibetan.

Best Season for Photography

Lhasa is known as the City of Sunshine. It is suitable for sightseeing and photography all year around. Different seasons have different scenes to shoot. Spring is the festival season. You can take the chance to take photos of local ceremonies and gatherings in monasteries and temples. Summer is the peak season for travel when the nature expresses her beauty. Autumn is the season for colors and harvest. You can go to explore the farmlands near the Lhasa River. Winter is a quiet season. Everybody enjoys the cozy sunshine and leisure day. You will meet amazing snow scenery when it snows in winter.

Tips from Our Experts

1. Learn before you go

Lhasa is a historical city which is noted for the unique Buddhism culture. A basic understanding about its history, culture and people is helpful when you have no idea where to find a view.

2. Manners and taboo

Tibet is a very special land with different custom, living style, dining, religious believes, Buddhism rules. We should respect its custom and people. Get permission before you take photos of Tibetan people, monks and other.

3. Lens

Lhasa is full of sites to shoot. Only a lens is not enough to shoot many kinds of scenes. So you can pack at least two kinds of lens - telephoto lens and wide-angle lens.

Namtso Lake Photography Guide

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On the remote Qinghai Tibet Plateau, there is a BLUE place keeping pulling thousands of photographers to witness her beauty – she is the Namtso Lake. Namtso is the Holy Lake of Tibetan, the second largest salt lake in China, the highest lake in the world, the Most Beautiful Lake in China commented by National Geography.

Blue is the main color of Namtso Lake. Here you can see many kinds of blue: pale blue, grayish blue, azure blue, sapphire blue, deep blue, etc. As you know, the blue color is one of the favorite colors of cameras. You may wonder the existence of God, but after seeing the endless blues of Namtso, you can’t help yourself paying homage to our mother nature. For most people who visited Natmso, the place is not only a fairyland of holy lake and mountains, but also a magic heaven to clean your mind as well as your camera.

There are a great number of perfect views to shoot, including natural landscape and Tibetan culture. The weather condition usually changes rapidly, and creates different incredible scenes, which notices you to get prepared for shooting at any time. So what are the best highlights to shoot in Namtso?

Best Highlights for Photography in Namtso

Holy Lake

The sapphire blue water of Namtso Lake touching the pure blue sky, several clouds floating above the snow mountain in far horizon, the lake shoreline sketching a beautiful contour – this is the most classic scene for photography in Natmso. The early morning and later afternoon are the best hours to shoot the lake photos when the lights and colors differ in different moments. Other daytime is for you to shoot some clean photos of lakes, snow mountains, grassland, yaks, etc. Use the yak horns placed on the Mani stones as the front setoff, then find a natural view ahead, which is helpful to rich your framing and create some visual touching.

Tibet Photography Tour

Snow Mountains

The southern beach of Namtso Lake is surrounded by continuous snow mountains looking like a huge white wall. The main peak Nyenchen Tanglha dominates in the sky like the Excalibur. In the early morning, the soft sunlight shines on the peak, the silver white peak changes to golden color. In the daytime, the pure snow mountain stands quietly like guards of Natmso Lake. Near the feet of mountains is the blue Namtso Lake.

Grasslands

The vast grasslands nearby the Natmso Lake give you chances to take some fabulous photos which is full of vigor. You can have a wide sphere of vision of clustered yaks and sheep, cute wild animals, green grassland under snow mountains, tents of local nomads interspersing on the grasslands.

Tibet Photography Tour

Nani Stones and Prayer Flags

In Tibetan Buddhism, a stone is zoetic with intelligence. So Tibetan carve Buddha and scriptures on the stone for worship and good wish. These stones are the famous Mani Stones. The pilgrims place the stone one on another. As time passing by, the stones become tall heaps. You can add the Mani Stones to your framing to take some unique photos. Tibetan hang many colorful prayer flags along the lake which are some special setoffs.

Tibetan Living

The vast grasslands nearby the Natmso Lake give you chances to take some fabulous photos which is full of vigor. You can have a wide sphere of vision of clustered yaks and sheep, cute wild animals, green grassland under snow mountains, tents of local nomads interspersing on the grasslands.

Best Season for Photography

Namtso Lake is located about 4,718 meters above the sea level, which creates extreme high plateau weather especially in winter. September to November is suitable for traveling and photography. June to August is rainy season, but still available for shooting. From December to May of next year is not recommended for travel because the heavy snow, cold weather. The whole lake is frozen.

Tips from Our Experts

1. How to frame

It is humdrum to shoot the lake, so you can flexibly use surrounding objects to enrich your photo, such as Mani Stones, Prayer Flags, Yak Horns, etc.

Horizontal framing is most recommended to express the wideness of Namtso as well as the combination of lake, snow mountains, clouds and grass. A polarizer is helpful to reduce the strong reflect light.

2. Extreme weather

The extreme weather condition and environment requires high quality equipment, such as long life of battery, large – memory card, firm camera and lens.

There is a large temperature gap between daytime and night. You can wear light comfortable clothes with long sleeves for the daytime photography, and wear thick warm clothes, trousers and boots for morning and night.

3. Transfer advice

Driving is only way to get to Namtso Lake, and takes about 4 hours from Lhasa. Road condition is basic.

4. Accommodation and dinning

The accommodation at Namtso is very basic. There are a few small guest houses and tents for you to stay which also offer some local food. Food supply here is very expensive, so you can bring some before going to Namtso.

5. Health care

For your healthy safety in Tibet, you should take a healthy examination before your trip to Tibet. And pack some basic medicines, especially for preventing high altitude sickness.

Itinerary Details Day by Day

Day 1 Lhasa Arrival

Welcome to Tibet, the holy land of Tibetan Buddhism! Your tour guide will pick you up at the airport arrival hall and escort you to your downtown hotel in Lhasa while you enjoy the stunning views along the Yarlong Tsangpo River.

After check in, the rest of the day is for you to acclimate to the high altitude and weather of Lhasa. Avoid strenuous physical activities during this first day since that may cause high altitude sickness.

Orientation Tips: 1) avoid vigorous activities but do take some leisurely walks in the city to acclimatize to the air and high altitude of Lhasa city (altitude of 3600m); 2) do not drink liquor in the arrival day, instead plenty of water and fruits are recommended.

Lhasa Gonggar Airport

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Day 2 Lhasa ( B )

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The overwhelming Potala Palace is your first stop for photography. It used to be the royal place of Kings of Tubo, then became the administrative office of Dalai Lamas when the Fifth Dalai Lama moved to Potala in 17th century. The grandiose appearance is the photographers’ favorite scenes to shoot. The white and red walls, golden tiles, orderly windows form a harmonious and large scene. Inside the palace is a treasure full of arts and relics of Buddhism, but they are not allowed for taking photo.

In the afternoon, you'll visit the Jokhang Temple, the spiritual center of Tibet. The holiest temple Jokhang features in long history and unique architecture which combines both Chinese and Tibetan styles. The meditation in front of temple is very heartshaking. Finally, walk the special circular pilgrimage route as local followers always do at Barkhor Street. This street is the best place to shoot local custom of Tibetan.

Potala PalaceJokhang Temple
Day 3 Lhasa ( B )

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After breakfast, you will go to visit the Norbulingka Park, the former summer palace of Dalai Lama. This complex conisists of several individual palaces which are decorated by luxury Tibetan royal style. Unlike other monasteries and Potala, the virescence in the Norbulingka Park is as good as some green parks in southern China. Leave Norbulingka Park, and drive to visit  Drepung Monastery, once the largest Monastery housing 10,000 monks in its heyday.

Your tour ends at Sera Monastery, and the 'Buddhism Scriptures Debating' in Sera is very famous. Enjoy the debate!

Monks Debating at Sera MonasteryNorbulingka
Day 4 Lhasa – Yangpachen - Namtso ( B )

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Today, you’ll be driven to visit the Namtso Lake, the second-largest saltwater lake in China. It is over 70km long and reaches a width of 30km. In clear weather the water is a miraculous shade of turquoise and there are magnificent views of the nearby mountains. The wide open spaces, dotted with tents of local nomads, are intoxicating.

Optional: It would be a nice choice to overnight at guest house beside the Namtso Lake. Watching amazing sunset at nightfall and sunrise in the next morning will be unforgettable experience for your Tibet tour. Of course, this arrangement needs you add one extra day to your tour.

Namtso buddhist meditation
Day 5 Lhasa Departure ( B )

Today is free for you until we transfer you to catch your flight (or train) leaving Tibet. Please check your luggage and make sure everything is packed, then check out your hotel before 12pm.

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5 Days Tibet Photography Tour Map

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