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Ganden to Samye Trek

Hiking from Ganden to Samye is one of the most popular routes in Tibet. This trek route covers lakes, beautiful alpine forests and meadows, and you might see nomads and some animals and beautiful birds in alpine area. This is also a well-used pilgrimage route for Tibetans.

Ganden to Samye Tibet trekking route is regarded as one of the best hikes in the world. It is a fulfilling and pleasant pilgrimage trip with much to offer, an overview of Tibetan Buddhism and religious culture, blue holy lakes, high snowy passes and mountains, lush alpine meadows, sporadic herders’ camp, tranquil Tibetan villages, time-honored sacred sites, finally culminating at the barren, desert-like surroundings near the Samye Monastery. If you travel to Tibet, we highly recommend you to try this trek, which will make your Tibet tour more interesting.

Along the high passes, you will find secluded valleys — only inhabited by high-altitude nomads and their yaks. This is also a well-used pilgrimage route for Tibetans for it is convenient to combine a visit to Ganden (the principal monastery of the Gelugpa) with a reasonably direct but hard walk to Samye (Tibet's first monastery). Though it is an attractive route, do not underestimate the trek. Starting at 4180m (13,940 feet) at Ganden Monastery, passing Shogu-La Pass at 5250m (17,224ft) and heading toward the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet, Samye Monastery 3540m (11,600ft), the trek is a challenge and the altitude gains are higher than what is often recommended. Only those with experience hiking and camping in higher-elevation wildernesses should attempt this trek unsupported. If you’re coming straight from Lhasa, you should spend at least one night at Ganden Monastery to acclimatize.

Ganden Monastery Brief

Route: Ganden to Samye
Distance: 80km trekking
Duration: 4-5 Days
Permits: Tibet Entry Permit, Alien's Travel Permit
Start:Ganden Monastery (4180m)
End: Samye Monasetry (3540m)
Highest Point:Shogu-La Pass (5630m)
Difficulty: Medium to difficult
Accommodation: Camping
Food:Cooked/Brought by youself

Trekking Map

Ganden Samye Trek


As one of the most popular trekking tours in Tibet, Ganden to Samye trek is a scenic route offering beautiful views of lakes, valleys, alpine forests and meadows, snowy passes and mountains, nomad tents, herds of sheep and yaks, ancient Tibetan villages and monasteries. The most famous tourist sites on the trail are Ganden Monastery and Samye Monastery.

Ganden Monastery

Ganden Monastery

Ganden Monastery is one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, famous for its Buddha Painting Unfolding Festival. It was founded in the early 15th century by Tsong Khapa, a well-known Tibetan religious philosopher. 45km away Lhasa City, the monastery is located on Wangbur Mountain, on the southern bank of Lhasa River. Its significance as a religious, artistic, political and cultural relic led to it being preserved by the National Key Cultural Relic Preservation scheme in 1961, and is now known as being one of the 'Three Great Temples', together with the Sera Monastery and the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa.

After arriving at Ganden, spend at least a half day to explore the attractions in and around the ancient monastery, home to the earliest monastery of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Although the monastery is mostly in ruins, it is a fascinating place. Pilgrims arrive in Ganden from all over Tibet to walk around the site of the monastery, and one can observe the rituals they perform on this ‘Kora’ around the monastery.