As the land nearest to the sky, Tibet has crystal sunshine and distinct culture. Although the climate and natural environment can be harsh in certain regions during winters, some of the happiest people in the world are found among Tibetans, which is related to their religion and tradition.
Join us for a spiritual journey across several famous monasteries and forest retreats in the Amdo Tibetan region: from the sky burial site against the backdrop of rocky mountains, to the longest prayer wheels corridor in the world; hiking from an ancient mountaintop monastery down to a vast valley near the Yellow River, or learning to use painting and sensations as a way of meditation in a quiet forest cottage.
This tour is designed to cater both your body and mind in an easy and balanced way. No matter you’re a Christian or an atheist, this experience will help you search for the secrets of peace, happiness and well-being in Tibet.
Please note: for this tour, please book in advance, at least 1 month prior to your arrival, to ensure availability of all resources.
Visit several of the most renowned Tibetan Buddhism Monasteries in Amdo, including Labrang, Shachong and Dzitsa. Meet face to face with accomplished monks, to get to know various ways of meditation and self-cultivation, which helps to achieve peace and happiness.
Develop knowledge and techniques that would be useful in your future, such as mindfulness, loving-kindness meditation, and using senses as an aid for meditation.
See a Tibetan physician to consult for advices on maintaining balance of your body.
Explore stunning landscapes in Eastern Tibet, including a sky burial site.
Labrang Monastery, the longest prayer wheel corridor in the world
On arrival in Xiahe or Lanzhou, you’ll be met by local English-speaking guides, who will escort you to your hotel. You will have plenty of time to relax, before seeking advice on maintaining the balance of your body from a Tibetan physician, and taking the 3km Kora (pilgrim path) that encircles Labrang Monastery to practice mindfulness.
As the most comprehensive Tibetan Buddhism university monastery, with six colleges covering philosophy, medicine, astrology and art, Labrang Monastery is also known for its longest prayer wheel corridor in the world. If you wish to turn the 1813 prayer wheels lined in long rows in the corridor one by one, it would normally take about 1 hour to finish the circle.
Throughout the process you’ll learn to be mindful of your actions, perhaps your thoughts and words as well. Awareness is required when rotating all the wheels one by one, otherwise your hands might get caught or even slightly bruised by the turning wheels.
Labrang, within and around the monastery
Pay a morning visit to the Monastery to get a feel of its atmosphere, by listening to monks chanting sutras and watching Tibetans burning aromatic plants for prayer. Stroll around the monastery, including the chapel to worship the God of Wisdom, where you’ll learn the ways to eliminate the causes of unhappiness, and let go the past.
The private tour within Labrang Monastery is followed by a hiking on the forested hills surrounding the monastery in the afternoon. Along the way you can help to collect rubbish on the hills, or even have a chance to clean your mind as well. After cleaning both the outer environment and your inner mind, you’ll feel content after a moderate workout.
The daily views of an old nun who gives packaged milk to a caged wolf, or a Tibetan woman who feed birds with highland barley, will give you a sense of mercy and compassion. At the end of day, you’ll practice the loving-kindness meditation with a monk, starting from care for yourself and people around.
Ganjia Grasslands, Sky burial site near Trakkar Gompa
After an hour ride in the morning, you’ll find yourself in front of the spectacular Trakkar Gompa on the Ganjia Grasslands. (Trakkar Gompa means the temple beneath white rocky cliff.)
The Sky burial site nearby is unexpectedly clean and natural, where you’ll learn some Tibetan concepts of the life and death cycle, and the meaning of sky burial—giving one’s body and life back to the nature. Given the chance to witness a sky burial, a much deep understanding of Anatman (selflessness) will arise, and you’ll eventually appreciate the benefits of sky burial to the whole eco-system.
By the sunset you’ll arrive Repgong for staying overnight.
Shachong Monastery, the vast valley with stunning view
A two-hour drive from Repgong will take you to Shachong Monastery, one of the most historic and renowned Gelukpa monasteries in Tibet. In 14th century, the founder of Gelukpa, Tsongkhap was studying here between the age of 6 to 16, before heading to Lhasa and became the most prominent Master of Tibetan Buddhism.
You may feel dull at the first glance, after the vehicle climbs up along the seemingly endless mountain road and enters the mountaintop monastery consisted of several chapels and countless living quarters for the monks, until you are led to the cliff overlooking a vast valley, where a range of snow mountains makes a splendid backdrop to the glowing Yellow River winding through the loess plateau.
“Space (emptiness) is like a door for you to open, to see an infinite world beyond,” said a monk at Shachong Monastery. From here you’ll head steeply from the summit down to the valley with a depth of over 700m, with black birds hovering and whistling around, until you hit the north bank of the Yellow River. This three-hour hiking would be a journey you’ll never forget, with horizons gradually unfolded step by step. At dusk you’ll be driven to Kamra Forest, dwelling besides the Yellow River or wooden houses in the forest.
This is a relaxing day surrounded by serene forest. A young but attained Tibetan monk, who is also an oil painting artist, will teach you how to use painting and all your senses as an aid to achieve inner peace.
If painting is not your cup of tea, you may use the techniques he just taught, to explore monasteries and retreats around this national park as you wish.
Taking a ferry on the Yellow River or a ride through forests from Kamra to Qunjia, on the way you’ll visit Dzitsa Gonpa, a monastery well-known for its quality of teaching, called “the second Nalanda”. Besides admiring the colorful architecture and watching monks debating here, you’ll have chance to ask Tibetan monks questions about love/unity, or any topic that might interests you.
Before dusk you’ll arrive Qunjia to rest in a log cabin surrounded by forest, enjoying the view of twinkling stars above quiet grasslands outside the glass panoptic windows. Perhaps dancing with local Tibetans for a while, before a delicious meal ready for you to enjoy.
Xining, return home
On the final day, you’ll have time to reflect on the whole journey at Qunjia Forest, before heading home from Xining.
Breakfasts, lunches, dinners,
English-speaking, native Tibetan tour guide
Mineral water during the tour
Pick-up and drop-off
Transportation for getting around