Culture, Kayaking and Rafting Trip to Tibet

Trip Facts

  • Duration: 15 Days
  • Challenge level : Moderate
  • Group size :6-10 People
  • Best TimeSpring / Autumn
  • Destination :Tibet

About Culture, Kayaking and Rafting Trip to Tibet

River and Culture Journey to Tibet, the top of the world!

Rafting and Kayaking

From most descriptions of Tibet, it is hard to believe that Tibet is home to a large number of spectacular rivers. Mt Kailash, in the west of Tibet, is the source of the subcontinent's four greatest rivers: the Ganges, Indus, Sutlej, and Brahmaputra. In the east, the forested land of Kham is home to the source of the Mekong and the Yangtse, the 2 largest rivers in East Asia. In the summer months, regular rains swell Tibet's rivers and a result is a surprising number of world-class rafting and kayaking rivers.

Adventure Hub Nepal (AHN) has partners in Tibet who are able to organize all the official permits to operate rafting and kayaking trips. We employ international guides who work alongside our Tibetan guides to ensure a very high standard of safety, service and cultural experience. We also run a variety of trips that combine some of the striking cultural visits in our general catalog with rafting and camping in areas of overwhelming beauty. We also have the ability to suggest, guide and handle logistics for first descents by experienced kayakers or rafters.

Safety and Experience

All our international guides are trained in wilderness first aid and river rescue. Our international rafting guides and safety kayakers have extensive experience running challenging whitewater expeditions in the Himalayas and elsewhere. Expert safety Kayakers are used on every whitewater run. Ram Bhandari is our trip leader who has and had over 20 year's experience guiding, instructing, and managing rafting and other outdoor adventure operations around the world. All clients are provided with international standard safety equipment including a full wetsuit, helmet and buoyancy vest. We use state of the art rafts, kayaks, and equipment.

When we design your itinerary, we consider seasonal weather patterns, water levels and temperatures, altitude, accessibility, as well as surrounding scenery and cultural sites to ensure that you have the best possible experience on the water.

Travel options to Tibet.

The options are to travel through Kathmandu Nepal or Beijing China.

***If you decide to go through Nepal we need three days in Kathmandu to apply for the Chinese visa and Tibetan permit.

***Alternatively, if you decide to go through Beijing then we will get to Lhasa in two days and for your Tibetan permit we will sort it out and have it sent to Beijing, you will only need a Chinese visa. 

Note: You will be flying into Chengdu, China and then to Lhasa return journey when you book your ticket.  We believe it might be cheaper for you to buy a ticket this way. If you are keen to go via Nepal then you need to talk to Adventure Hub Nepal about the ticket from Kathmandu to Lhasa return because we have to stay three days in Kathmandu to get our Chinese visa and Tibetan permit.

 Fixed Departure: 10th - 24th September 2020

Trip Highlights

  • The Potala Palace is the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century and symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet.
  • Toulung Chu which river in Tibetan test out how we feel paddling in the highest point in the world. It’s a fun whitewater adventure only 1 hour from Lhasa.
  • Reting Tsangpo River this incredible river journey was first paddled in 2005. We take a gear boat and say good-bye to the road for four days, carrying our supplies along with us. We access the Reting Tsangpo by its north fork, beginning as a small alpine stream with amazing views of the Nyenchen Thanglha range near Namtso.
  • Visiting hot springs and nunnery and paddle some primo whitewater on the Drigung Chu.
  • Yarlung Tsangpo River which is the biggest river in Tibet in terms of volume and paddle for two days. This is a truly unforgeable whitewater paddling journey as you are immersed deep in the heart of Tibet and all its wildness.
  • All lovely local villages that we paddle past on these four rivers.
  • We will visit a few world heritage sites like The Potala palace, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor street. You can visit the Dalai lama’s summer palace and stroll in the old alleys of Barkhor street where you can enjoy the sweet tea and chat with locals or bargain with the street vendors to understand the real life in Lhasa.


This itinerary is intended as a guide only. Local conditions and weather may necessitate variations to the program and can affect the availability of views and panoramas described.
Be aware that all time stated are approximate and may vary with individual and group fitness, weather, Trekking route, river level and road conditions.

You will arrive in Lhasa and be transferred to Hotel Yabshi or Kiychu to relax after jetlag. 

We will do sightseeing around Lhasa and have an acclimatization day. It’s very important that everyone becomes used to the high altitude. We will go to visit the famous Patala Palace and some amazing monasteries where all the monks do their meditation and prayers.

The Potala Palace is the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century and symbolizes Tibetan Buddism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet.  The complex, comprising the white and red palaces with their ancestry buildings, is built on the red mountain in the center of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3700 meters.


We will head to the river today and test out how we feel paddling at the highest point in the world. It’s a fun whitewater adventure only 1 hour from Lhasa. It is a perfect warm-up for paddling into Tibet but it is recommended that you are physically fit and have acclimatized in Lhasa for a few days so you are ready for this trip. We will paddle 3 hours on the lower section and maybe the next day we will drive back and paddle the challenging upper section as well depending on how people are feeling.

This incredible river journey was first paddled in 2005. We take a gear boat and say good-bye to the road for four days, carrying our supplies along with us. We access the Reting Tsangpo by its north fork, beginning as a small alpine stream with amazing views of the Nyenchen Thanglha range near Namtso. The North fork enters the main river on day 2 and we paddle big water through incredible alpine juniper forests and past nomad camps. In high water, big volume rapids are interspersed by lazy flat sections and awesome surf waves for kayakers. This is the quintessential Tibetan rafting experience. Its a wonderful mix of mountains, nomads, monasteries and the whitewater is bound to make this a classic.

We will have an early morning breakfast and drive to the put-in point and depending on the time we may paddle that day. If we arrive on or before lunchtime we will paddle a couple of hours today, if we arrive after lunch we will stay overnight at the put-in point, driving is 4 hours.

After a lovely breakfast cooked by our personal cook, we will get on the water and paddle for the day and find a nice campsite near the Reting Monastery so we can explore it and surrounding areas.

Delight in another day of paddling and exploring spectacular Tibet and its monasteries.

This day will be our last full day on the water on the picturesque Reting Chu River. Let’s enjoy this as much as we can and experience the beautiful views and see the way the Tibetan nomads live their everyday life.  Make camp at the take out point and then load the van and truck for our next river the incredible Drigung Chu the following day.

After breakfast, we will drive to the Drigung Chu River. Arrive at the relaxing Drigung hot springs and set up camp on the riverside.  Head up to visit the hot springs and then prepare for our next paddling day.

In the morning, we will visit the hot springs, nunnery and after lunch, we will go whitewater kayaking and rafting. Make camp at the riverside. 

Today we will have a nicely cooked breakfast prepared by our Tibetan cook and then pack up everything onto our truck or van and then get on the water for another wonderful day of whitewater on the incredible Drigung Chu. After we finish paddling we will drive to Lhasa around 3 and a half hours. Overnight in a hotel in Lhasa and enjoy a hot shower.

Note: Dinner not included

After a quick breakfast, we will drive to the Yarlung Tsangpo River which is the biggest river in Tibet in terms of volume and paddle for two days. This is a truly unforgettable whitewater paddling journey as you are immersed deep in the heart of Tibet and all its wildness.

Find a nice camp spot with a sandy beach and enjoy our night out in the Tibetan river environment. 

After breakfast, we will pack up all our gear into our truck and van. This will be; anything that we are not going to use on the water apart from our paddling gear.

Paddle for a couple of hours until lunchtime and then pack up everything for the last time into the truck including all our kayaks and rafts. Sit back relax and enjoy the scenic drive back to Lhasa. This evening we will have our farewell dinner with local guides and international guides to finish off our night of nights of our Tibet, top of the world paddling trip!

Fly back home and people who are flying to Kathmandu, Nepal transfer to airport.  

What's included


  • Tibet entry permit and all Tibet travel permits. (couriered to)
  • All transport from Lhasa airport pick-up to drop-off and throughout the trip using well maintained and safe bus 15 seats or 17 seats. (includes all fuel, maintenance, driver expenses etc.)
  • Local Tibetan guide (good English with excellent cultural knowledge)
  • Twin share (double bed) accommodation (extra added folding bed) with Breakfast
  • All meals outside of Lhasa (as listed in itinerary: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
  • Entry fees to all monasteries and sights as listed in itinerary. (extra sites may be visited; time permitting, at the client’s expense)
  • All camping equipment with 1 equipment truck
  • 1 trekking cook with all cooking equipment
  • Kayak, and raft.
  • First aid kit with oxygen cylinder
  • Lhasa breakfast included only in hotel you are staying
  • Full meals arrangement out of Lhasa and during camping

What's Excluded


  • Chinese tourist visa. (Must arrange in your home country)
  • Travel insurance (recommended) with rescue helicopter included in your insurance
  • Flight ticket to and from Tibet
  • Items of a personal nature (such as laundry, extra snacks, alcohol etc.)
  • Lunches and Dinners when in Lhasa, snacks and extra drinks throughout trip.
  • Tips to guides and drivers etc.
  • International flight ticket to Tibet and return

Know before you travel

Travelling in Tibet at the best of times can be awe-inspiring and will push your perception of the world as you thought you knew it. At times, it can be downright much of rural Tibet is still very rough and wild and for many this is the greatest attraction of Tibet. We are here to ensure that you have the most comfortable trip possible for the places you want to go and the things you want to do. Generally, infrastructure has gotten much more efficient and convenient here in the last few years. Roads are greatly improved; new hotels have been built (some with heating!) but Tibet still involves a number of special considerations. The standard of service in Tibet cannot be compared to western standards, food is often very different and you will have to adjust your expectations. Below are some of the factors that you should bear in mind before and during your time in Tibet.

Anyone with a good level of fitness can join one of our kayaking or rafting trips. However, for your own enjoyment, it is important that you read the information we have provided and ask us questions. We give each of our trips a rating. These indicate the effort and challenge level based on the length of time paddling each day, the difficulty of terrain covered and the altitude reached.

All travel in Tibet involves some degree of difficulty. Adjusting to the high altitude can be challenging and roads can be rough. This information will help you understand the trip.


Many of our River, Trekking and cultural tours fall into this category. The trip is venturesome simply because it is in Tibet, but your tour will not involve strenuous physical activity apart from paddling. Short walks and stairs will be involved but these tours are suitable for anyone in decent health. Roads can be rough with high altitude passess and accommodation on some nights will not have hot running water.


A good level of fitness is required. Accommodation often includes camping. The comforts of hotels and restaurants may not be available for extended periods. Long driving days on rough roads over high altitude passes are common and there will be several nights in basic accommodation without running water.


A high level of fitness is required and some pre-trip training should be undertaken. Paddling days may be long on difficult paths at high altitude. Rafting and kayaking may involve long physical days on difficult whitewater. These trips often involve camping for extended periods and the comforts of hotels and restaurants may not be available.


A specific skill is required such as kayaking or rafting. These trips will require working together as a team to meet a difficult goal such as a first descent of a river on an extended kayaking expedition. A high level of physical and psychological stamina is required and prior experience must be discussed with the trip leader.

Getting to Tibet for better or worse, Tibet is not particularly close to anywhere. There are two standard entry points into Tibet: from Nepal, and from mainland China. We can arrange for transit from either place, either by flight or overland, but we cannot book international flights. You must make your own international flight arrangements; however, we can look after all logistics once you arrive in either Nepal or China. (We do book the Kathmandu – Lhasa flight). From China, we can arrange for transfers through Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Kunming, and a number of other cities. We can also arrange sightseeing in some major Chinese cities.

Tibet is an official province of China so you need a Chinese visa to enter China and Tibet. (Officially you also need a Tibet entry permit). If you are coming to Tibet through mainland China, you need to apply for your Chinese tourist visa before you arrive. Contact your local nearest Chinese consulate for visa application details. NOTE: When you fill in your application form it is recommended that you do not mention Tibet as some consulates have an unclear policy regarding travel to Tibet. Just put down Beijing or Chengdu as your itinerary and write down the hotel you will be staying at as your contact. IMPORTANT: If you are planning to enter Tibet from Kathmandu DO NOT get your Chinese visa in advance. The Chinese visa is issued as a group visa in Kathmandu and is arranged by Adventure Hub Nepal along with your Tibet entry permit.

Adventure Hub Nepal has partners in Tibet and is obliged under Chinese law to arrange the Tibet Entry Permit and specific travel permits if your itinerary takes you outside of the Lhasa prefecture. This permit is arranged in advance and will be couriered to your point of entry (usually your hotel). For Adventure Hub Nepal to arrange permits and visas (if coming through KTM) we need a digital copy (photo or scan) of your passport info page and your Chinese visa (if coming through mainland China) well in advance. As soon as you commit to your booking, please email your whole groups passports and visas image. (make sure the file is a jpg format readable on your screen but under 200kb please)

Independent Travel to Tibet is currently not allowed in Tibet. This situation may change in the near future but at this stage only groups fully booked in advance (with the correct permits) are allowed into Tibet.

The “normal” tourist season in Tibet is from May through until October. The busiest months are usually July and August. However, this is changing as infrastructure development (roads and hotels) makes traveling at other times far easier.

Summer weather can be cool to warm. Summer is the rainy season but it rarely rains for long before the sun comes out. Trekking is possible from April through October. You can trek in winter but it is cold and you should be very experienced.

Fall & Spring are often cool and clear and can be excellent for trekking and cultural trips as you don’t have to face the crowds of Chinese tourists in Lhasa and Shigatse.

Winter is generally cold and clear in Tibet. It is not advised to attempt remote or high journeys during this time without prior experience. However, cultural tours to Lhasa and other regional centers can be very rewarding during winter months as there are hardly any other tourists and it is the customary time for Tibetan pilgrimage to central Buddhist temples. The overland journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu is usually possible year-round now that the new road has been built.

In general, this is not in this website except for specific trips. This is because our prices vary according to the level of services you request and the exact itinerary you choose. Travel here is relatively expensive because most of our itineraries require 4 wheel-drive lands-cruisers, special camping equipment, guides and cooks. We service some of the best international adventure travel companies for your Tibet holiday and if you compare our prices with those available internationally you will see the obvious value.

Because of its high altitude, largely remote destinations, and semi-arid weather Tibet comprises a unique set of health concerns. You don’t need to worry about Malaria or odd strains of para-typhoid here, but you should certainly consider the sun and altitude. We do not want to supplant advice from professionals and more complete suggestions available in guidebooks, so we suggest you consult appropriate sources before coming (the CIWEC clinic in Kathmandu provides extensive information that is partially applicable to Tibet). Our trips our designed so you do not over-exert yourself in the first few days, and our guides are experienced and aware of the dangers of altitude sickness. There is preventative and symptomatic medication to help with the minor symptoms of altitude sickness (headaches, nausea) and we recommend that you bring some. We also strongly suggest that you bring sunglasses, hat and sunscreen — Tibet is not the place to work on your tan. Further clothing and equipment depends on the type of trip you are doing here. We are happy to make suggestions (some further notes are included with our “Adventure travel “(B) introduction) or recommend published sources for more information on appropriate supplies.

About Adventure Hub Nepal

Adventure Hub  Nepal has been operating adventure holidays trips since 2007. Today we can help you discover whole Nepal and we can offer high-quality, excellent –value, small group adventure to your interested area of Nepal, Extend your holiday by booking some pre or post tour accommodation- ask Adventure Hub Nepal.

Other Information

This itinerary is intended as a guide only. Local conditions and weather may necessitate variations to the program and can affect the availability of views and panoramas described. Be aware that all times stated are approximate and may vary with individual and group fitness, weather, Trekking route, river level  and road conditions.

Travelling with responsibility

We care about the place and people that we meet on our journeys, and we try to ensure that we give something back, as well as taking away so many incredible memories, for more information on our commitment to people of Nepal and responsible tourism please visit.

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