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On the Tea Horse Road to Lhasa

Best time to travel
May – Jan
Ideal length
16 Nights
Perfect for

At a glance

  • International flights from Dublin to Lijiang and home from Chengdu.
  • All private transfers, domestic flights and guiding requirements.
  • 16 nights’ hand-picked accommodation in Chengdu, Lijiang, Meili, Rumei, Laigu, Bome, Nyinchi and Lhasa.
  • Enjoy exciting day tours to local villages, historic churches and monasteries, and partake in prayer ceremonies.
  • Test your physical limits with hiking adventures to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Tiger Leaping Gorge.
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From the centre of the Three Parallel Rivers to the very highest mountain peaks, the Songtsam Yunnan to Tibet route is designed for intrepid travellers to discover the region’s living heritage through comfort, authenticity, and an enlightened spirit of adventure. Extended across dramatic altitudes within the Tibetan plateau, the area is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the demographic contains Tibetans and most of the twenty-five ethnic monitories found in Yunnan province, many of who still follow ancient traditions and customs.
For centuries people have been fascinated with the idea of Shambhala, a mythical kingdom and Buddhist pure land. It is rumoured to have inspired British author James Hilton who published the 1933 novel Lost Horizon in which Shambhala is called Shangri-La, a paradise on Earth hidden in a Tibetan valley.

Trip Overview

Depart from Dublin to Lijiang.
This is where your adventure along the road to Lhasa begins. You’ll be met on arrival and privately transferred to the first luxury accommodation of your journey.
Settle into a Naxi village called Ciman.
Spend three nights here surrounded by pinewoods and pear trees. The lodge has stunning views of the old town, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Lashi Lake. Learn about Naxi culture with a masterclass in hieroglyphics at the property.
Naxi Woman
Explore the wonderful atmosphere of Lijiangs’ old town.
Allow us to arrange a private walking tour of the old town where you will be amazed by the winding narrow lanes and ancient architectural structures that give insight into a way of life from centuries ago. The food in the old tow is incredible and there are plenty of little shops to browse.
Lijiang, China
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is an important part of the landscape.
It consists of 13 peaks which tower over Lijiang. The mountain range is the southernmost glacier in the northern hemisphere and is a sanctuary for rare plant and animal species. A visit to this natural phenomenon is a must.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
After a whirlwind stop in Lijiang, privately transfer to Shangri La.
You will spend one night in a luxurious lodge as you continue on your journey to Lhasa.
Songtsam lodge Shangri-La
Travel along the Ancient Tea Horse Road to Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Hike through the rugged rocky landscape of one of the deepest gorges in the world. Visit Shaxi, a historic market town renowned for trading tea and horses during the Tang Dynasty.
Tiger leaping Gorge bridge
Before arriving at your next destination, visit Napa Lake.
Located just 30 minutes from the village, this stunning lake is surrounded by grasslands where herds of cattle and yaks graze. With such incredible views there are ample photo opportunities so don’t forget to bring your camera.
White yak standing near lake
Arrive in Meili and check in to a cosy yet luxurious lodge lying on the border of Tibet and Yunnan.
Enjoy a jam-packed afternoon in Meili with an array of exciting excursions before settling in for a relaxing evening at the lodge.
Songstam Lodge Meili
A visit to Dong Zhu Lin Monastery is a must.
The architecturally magnificent structure was built in 1667 and has fantastic mountain views. The monastery is home to approximately 300 monks and is full of Buddhist relics, fresco artworks, mandalas and sculptures which have to be seen to be believed.
Tibetan mandala
Learn to make traditional Tibetan prayer flags.
This one of a kind experience allows you to get to know the people that have made this unique environment their home.
Prayer flags
The following day, wake up to the sunrise over the sacred Mount Kawagebo.
Once the day has begun, take part in a traditional Tibetan Ceremony using the prayer flags printed the day before.
Sunrise Mount Kawagebo
Depart from Mount Kawabego and privately transfer to Rumei.
Pass through the Mekong River Valley and officially enter Tibet. Spend two nights in a wonderfully remote lodge surrounded by farmland.
Songstam Lodge Rumei
Drive for one hour to reach Maiba Pasture where yaks graze on the rolling pastures.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in this scenic setting and soak up the views around you. Keep an eye out for Plateau Pika, a small diurnal mammal that is native to the area.
Yaks grazing on pasture in Tibet
Depart for Rawu, climbing in altitude as you traverse the landscape in a private vehicle.
Stop off for a quick picnic lunch at the Bangda Grassland before continuing on to Laigu. Arrive at the lodge and spend two nights in a beautiful cliffside property.
Rawu, Tibet
Enjoy an early breakfast before heading to Duosong Tso, a holy and secret lake where few tourists go.
The beautiful views of towering forests, the blue water of the lake and snow-capped mountains in the distance are not to be missed.
Mountains and lake in Tibet
Laigu Glacier is another incredible natural landmark that is well worth a visit.
In the afternoon, take a 30-minute drive to this collection of icy masses that have formed a fascinating landscape of their own.
Laigu Glacier
Then, depart for Bome in a private transfer.
Along the way, stop off at sights such as the mirror-like Rawu Lake which is surrounded by dense forest and snowy mountains.
Namtso, Tibet
Continue along the Palong Tsangpo River all the way to Bome.
Arrive at your accommodation and enjoy a relaxing lunch and check in for two nights. After lunch visit the vast Guxiang Lake, one of the most well-known freshwater lakes in Southeast Tibet.
Songtsam Bome
After a night of rest at the lodge, drive to Zhuxi Glacier before visiting Pulong Temple.
The 400-year-old structure is a wonderful example of Tibetan architecture and due to its off-the-beaten-track location, is generally free of other tourists.
Tibetan Temple
Later on, enjoy a trek to Linzhi Spruce Forest.
Stretch your legs with a 90-minute hike through the densely forested land, enjoying beautiful scenery and the tranquil sounds of the forest. The area is full of protected ancient trees, some up to 400 years old and many rare animal species populate the undergrowth.
Linzhi Spruce Forest
Depart for Nyingchi in a private transfer.
After a quick stop off for lunch, break up the journey with a hike into Zhanxigang Village. The small hamlet is located at the foot of the jiabalielei summit. The trek should take you approximately two hours and provides incredible views and photo opportunities of the valleys below.
People walking on dirt road, Tibet
Arrive at your accommodation and enjoy a relaxing evening.
You’ll spend just one night in Nyingchi.
Nyingchi, Tibet
In the morning, depart for Lhasa and visit the Basong Tso holy Lake.
This alpine lake has clear blue water and is surrounded by verdant forests, creating idyllic scenery comparable to Swiss and Canadian lakes.
Lake in Tibet
Make a visit to Tsozong Gongba Monastery which sits on Tashi Island, located at the centre of the lake.
Take a short boat ride out to the island and explore this unique monastery which few get to visit.
Namtso, Tibet
Arrive in Lhasa and enjoy dinner at the lodge.
Enjoy two nights in Lhasa soaking up the sights and sounds of the city.
Lhasa City view
Allow us to arrange an exciting tour of the city.
Visit Potala Palace, the highest palace in the world and the centre point of Tibetan Buddhism. Then in the afternoon, visit Jokhang Temple, a world-famous pilgrimage site.
Potala Palace, Tibet
A trip to Lhasa is incomplete without a visit to Barkhor Street.
Here, an incredibly vibrant bazaar thrums with energy every day of the week. The street fills up quickly with locals who set up stalls and sell hand made commodities. This is the perfect opportunity to buy gifts for your friends and family.
Barkhor Street, Lhasa
Privately transfer Chengdu for the final leg of your journey.
Completely unwind and relax at a luxury spa resort in Chengdu, for two nights. Indulge in relaxing massages and other holistic treatments which will send you home feeling serene and rested.
After two days of peace and quiet, privately transfer to the airport.
It is time to fly home. Arrive in Dublin.

Tailoring your holiday

OROKO Itineraries are created with you in mind and no two are the same. These can be used to help plan your trip - or we can design a completely different itinerary to suit you.

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Where to rest your head

Looking for the best accommodation? We've got the contacts

Songstam Linka Lijiang

Songtsam Linka Lijiang

Songtsam Linka Lijiang is located in a Naxi village called Ciman. This charming boutique property allows guests to experience Tibetan culture and its traditions first hand. The property’s 42 rooms are decorated using Nxai design and feature floor to ceiling windows, Tibetan carpets, and traditional Chinese paintings. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool, a stylish spa, modern fitness centre and a large open terrace where guests can relax and enjoy the scenery.

Songstam Linka Shangri La

Songtsam Linka Shangri La

A cosy cultural retreat, the Songtsam Linka Shangri La is comfortably situated in a small Tibetan village close to Sonzanlin, a sacred monastery. The property is surrounded by lush greenery, farmlands and mountain scenery. The remote and rural location creates a calming environment perfect for guests looking to get away from it all. Hand-built stone structures dotted about the hillside make up the sleeping quarters of the property and there are 72 rooms and suites altogether. Traditional building techniques, materials, carpets and other decorative features all honour the local culture.

Songstam Lodge Meili

Songtsam Lodge Meili

Sitting at an altitude of 3600m, Songtsam Meili has incredible views of the Meili Mountain Range and the Yunnan region. Large windows in each room allow guests to make the most of what the gorgeous views. Be sure to grab a table at the book bar for sunrise and sunset when the stunning mountain range can be seen at its best. Although the property sits on the border of Yunnan and Tibet, the property features mainly Tibetan décor and architecture.

Songstam Lodge Rumei

Songtsam Lodge Rumei

Located next to the northern village of Zhuka, Songtsam Lodge Rumei is a calm oasis surrounded by farmland. The beautiful landscape creates painting-like views from each window. The lodge has 28 rooms of varying sizes and is perfect for both families and couples. The property is surrounded by beautifully paved patios and landscaped garden areas. Tranquil rock pools and shaded seating areas make perfect spots to relax and enjoy the views.

Songstam Lodge Laigu

Songtsam Lodge Laigu

Built at an altitude of 4200m, the impressive Songtsam Lodge Laigu is the highest property in the area and boasts incredible architectural features, deemed almost impossible at this altitude. In order to maintain a harmonious existence with nature, the property is practically invisible and embedded into the cliffside. The 20 rooms within the property offer gorgeous views of the mountains and feature traditional yet minimalistic furnishings.

Songstam Linka Bome

Songtsam Linka Bome

Songtsam Linka Bome boasts a unique aspect over Guxiang Lake with a backdrop of dense forest as far as the eye can see. With so much natural beauty surrounding the property, guests can spend as much time exploring their surroundings as they do relaxing. The property itself combines modern and traditional Tibetan décor for a refreshing and airy interior that showcases local craftsmanship.

Nyingchi Tingyard Hotel

Nyingchi Tingyard Hotel

Nyingchi Tingyard Hotel is a luxurious waterfront property located in Nyingchi country. The hotel was newly opened in 2017 and offers all modern amenities. The interiors are modern and bright with some traditional elements adding interest to the design. There is a large outdoor swimming pool, luxurious spa and plenty of common areas where guests can relax. Most of the local tourist attractions are located close to the hotel and can be reached within a short drive.

Songstam Linka Llasa

Songtsam Linka Lhasa

Songtsam Linka Lhasa is a beautiful boutique property built into the hillside. The quiet retreat offers views of the nearby Potala Palace and features incredible architectural features of its own. Lime coloured walls, indigo carved windows and a fin-shaped façade are just some of the unique architectural features that make this property so interesting. Décor at the lodge is super traditional and includes Tibetan carpets, textiles and copperware.

Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain

Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain

Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain is a quiet and relaxing resort located at the foot of the Qing Cheng Mountains. The area known as Dujiangyan is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a joy to explore. The Six Senses property embodies understated luxury and offers an award-winning spa to help guests fully unwind. The resort is fully eco-conscious and has been designed to complement the surrounding landscape. The property itself has been built in the style of a Sichuan village allowing it to blend in with the beautiful surroundings.

What people are saying

“I’ve been a customer of OROKO for the last 12 months and have booked family holidays, ski trips and short breaks. The whole experience is brilliant; you explain the type of holiday that you are hoping to have, without specifying necessarily where and the team will present you a series of ideas and options, all costed out. It takes away all the stress of planning a trip. On top of this, you receive a full itinerary, and all activities can be sourced in advance. I’m a big fan.”

Emmet & family – Abu Dhabi, Jan 2018 | Dubai, Apr 2018 | Tenerife, Dec 2018 | Skiing, Megève, Feb 2019


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