Travel with Riley: First Trip to Tibet in Winter (Lhasa & Nyingchi)

I took my very first trip to Tibet in early February. Yes, Tibet in February. Was I insane? Traveling to a place even much colder than where I live in, and I am not a winter person at all. In my head I always imagined my first Tibet trip during summer or fall, enjoying the warm sunshine, soft wind, green mountains, and blue lakes. But as a travel consultant, I am always busy during the best travel seasons. But I did get something special, something that was truly unexpected…and I couldn’t be happier about this first encounter.

Alright let’s get to the point, and I am gonna share with you all about my trip day by day.

Day1 Chengdu-Lhasa

To give myself a bit more time in Lhasa, I booked myself an early morning flight departing at around 6:30am, which was found out a really bad idea. I had to get up at around 4am and headed to the airport.

After a 2-hour flight journey, I landed in Lhasa, linked up with my friend flu from Kunming and easily found my way to get the bus to Lhasa downtown.

Lhasa Airport

Lhasa Airport

On my way to Lhasa downtown, I couldn’t see anything but bare mountains, no tree, no grass even no plant, I started to doubt myself, why would I come here, what could I expect?

View along the way

View along the way

After a 2-hour bus journey, we finally reached our hotel, hungry, sleepy and tired. I thought I’d get recovered after a short break, but I started to feel a terrible headache, felt like a huge stone pressing on my chest so I couldn’t breathe smoothly to get enough oxygen. I realized I am suffering from altitude sickness. It surprised me because I am a young lady, 25 years old and work out 3-4 times a week, I was confident with my physical condition. But it seems the altitude sickness is nothing to do with the age and physical condition, it could happen to everybody.

After taking some medicine, I spent 2-3 hours in the hotel, sleeping and relaxing, giving myself some time to acclimatize the air and high altitude. I didn’t get out of my room until late afternoon when I thought I have to get myself some food, I felt much better but still couldn’t walk fast so laugh out loudly.

I stopped by the Potala Palace where impressed me deeply. It was so beautiful that I couldn’t move and totally I forgot I was starving and ate nothing almost the whole day.

Potala Palace

Potala Palace

Day2: Lhasa- Yamdrok Lake- Phuma Yumtso – Lhasa

I’ve been turning and tossing the whole night, woke up every 2-3 hours because of lacking of \oxygen. But I was still excited and full of energy about the following trip to Yamdrok Lake and Phuma Yumtso.


Yandork Lake is around 2 hours ride away from Lhasa city at an altitude of 4,441 meters. It is a sapphire and the blue eye of Lhasa. It was frozen, just like a giant painting in front of me. Head pains but bearable.

Yandork Lake

Yandork Lake

I’ve got a chance to take the picture with Tibetan Mastiff, looks ferocious but friendly.

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff

Then we were headed to Phuma Yumtso at an altitude of 5010 meters. It was all frozen hard, so we could walk on the lake and take pictures. But we just spent around half an hour in there, because the thrilling wind made us extremely uncomfortable, it feels like something in my head is going to explode. Anyway, the magnificent iced lake worth everything.

Phuma Yumtso

Phuma Yumtso

On the way back to Lhasa city, we’ve got a chance to see the sunset of Yamdork Lake.




Day3 Lhasa- Nyingchi, staying overnight on the foot of Namcha Barwa.

Highlight of today: Namcha Barwa & Lulang Forrest

Today, we were headed to Nyingchi where is known as Eastern Switzerland and Jiannan of Tibet at an altitude of around 3000 meters. We spent 2 nights in Nyingchi and thanks to the lower altitude, I finally got a good sleep.


It took me around 5 hours from Lhasa to Lulang Forrest. It is a 15km long, 1km wide narrow valley of wild forests and flowers, grasslands and streams. Lulang, in Tibetan, means “Dragon Valley” or “the place where you won’t be homesick”. On both sides of the valley are lofty green mountains covered by prosperous spruce, pine trees, and brush. At the foot of the mountain are the beautiful meadows and villages. Winding streams flow through among the wooden houses. It is green as usual in winter.


On the way to Lulang Forest, I had a stop at Sekyim la Pass and take a distance view of Mt. Namjia Bawa. We call Mt. Namjia Bawa a “shy girl” because it is always hidden by clouds, only within 300 hours a year can be seen. Lucky me, I saw it twice in 2 days, even the sunrise!


Then we were headed to my hotel located in the foot of Mt. Namjia Bawa. I got myself a nice room with a big window in front of the mountain.


Day4 Mt. Namjia Bawa- Nyingchi city

Highlight of today: Sunrise of Mt. Namjia Bawa, Yarlung Zangbo River, Nanyigou Valley 


We got up in the early morning, had a simple breakfast then waiting for the sunrise. I saw a cloud cover on the mountain, then the cloud turns red, it was amazing.


Then, we were leaving for the next destination— Nanyigou Valley. The beautiful scenery along the way made the 4-hour car journey easier.


After lunch, we were finally got to Nanyigou Valley. Nanyigou Valley is a natural pasture with grassland, river, trees, and kinds of animals like pig, yak, and horse.


I didn’t see green grassland but yellow color there has been unexpected charming.


Me and my friends in Nanyigou Valley

Me and my friends in Nanyigou Valley

We had a good time play with snow and make kinds of snowman. Then we traveled back to Nyingchi city, enjoyed a delicious dinner, had a good sleep and refresh ourselves up.

Me and my friends in Nanyigou Valley

Me and my friends in Nanyigou Valley

Me & my snow baby

Me & my snow baby

Day5 Nyingchi-Lhas

Highlight of today: Basum-tso Lake

Me & my snow baby

Me & my snow baby

Basum-tso Lake is the 3rd lake during my trip, the only one that has not been frozen. Endowing the eye-popping sceneries of natural forest and snowcapped mountains, if you are interested in photography, I would highly recommend this place.


To get a panoramic view of the lake, we climbed to a viewing platform on a hill, it was only a few steps but felt like I was climbing Mount Everest lol.



We didn’t reach Lhasa until night falls. We treated ourselves a good Tibetan style dinner.


Day6 Lhasa- Chengdu

Highlight of today: Leisure morning time walking along Barkhor Street.


In my last morning in Lhasa, I woke up early and took a leisure stroll along Barkhor Street, It’s one of my favorite moments from the trip. I was deeply impressed by the devout pilgrims, they were young children, seniors, teenagers, the traveled alone, with friends or with families. They came all the way to Lhasa by walking only with a devotional heart.

图片42Till now, my first Tibet trip comes to an end, I’ve started to miss this city already. I still have so many places to be done, the temples, the Debating of Buddhist Doctrines, the Mt. Everest, Mt. Kailash, etc. Hopefully, I’d come back again in nearly future!


If you are interested in more tours about Tibet, you can head to our Tibet Tour with different experiences. Feel free to select yours to explore the beauty of Tibet!

>> 4 Days Holy City Lhasa Private Tour – Heart of Tibet

>> 8 Days Lhasa Mount Everest Private Tour ( Lhasa / Shigatse / Everest)

>> 10 Days Chengdu Lhasa Everest Overland Tour


Want to know more about the experienced travel expert Riley’s trip? You could just contact her directly or continue to read more about her travelogues.

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