Samye Kora

  • China Tibet, Samye Kora, Crossing the great river, Walkopedia
  • China Tibet, Samye Kora, Pilgrims, Walkopedia
  • China Tibet, Samye Kora, Ferry, dust behind, Walkopedia
  • China Tibet, Samye Kora, Pilgrimess on ferry, Walkopedia
  • China Tibet, Samye Kora, Samye, autumn sun, Walkopedia

Key information: Samye Kora

    • A moving kora, around Tibet's oldest monastery, near the mighty Yarlung river.
    • Walk in the company of Tibetan pilgrims muttering mantras, prostrating and sometimes even crawling around the site.
    • The profound spiritual importance of these places, combined with their spectacular settings, make them unforgettable places to walk and think.
    • The altitude here can hurt. Be prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating82
  • Beauty26
  • Natural interest10
  • Human interest18
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points4
  • Total rating82
  • Note: Negs: altitude

Vital Statistics

  • Length: An hour
  • Maximum Altitude: 3,750m
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Samye Kora: Ferry, dust behind - © William Mackesy


Samye, Tibet's oldest monastery, with a history of over 1,200 years, lies in a sandy valley to the north of the mighty Yarlung river.


The monastery is remarkable - built inside a high circular wall on a plan modelled on a mandala, a Buddhist representation of the universe. Around the magnificent central monastery, the enclosure is dotted with delightful little buildings, many with sunny courtyards filled with azaleas and geraniums. In a sun-dappled glade outside the compound, two seated monks practiced, when we were there, on enormous horns which extended across the grass in front of them: long, monotone blasts, tenor and bass.  Another pair of monks accompanied them with cymbals.


The kora is interesting, winding outside the monastery walls, but the climb up Hepo Ri, a sacred hill to the east with predictably wondrous views, is not to be missed.


The hour-long ferry ride to get to Samye is wonderful, a few foreigners dotted among a crowd of pilgrims, including when we were there a group of nuns in varying states of decrepitude: a feisty old abbess who had to be helped to her feet by her slightly cowering acolytes and one shy old woman with shorn hair and an angelic (if wrinkled) face, which she hid behind her robe for most of the journey.  When she ventured out to stare at her fellow travellers (how often had she been out of her nunnery in the last 40 years?), she greeted us with the traditional but increasingly rare stuck-out tongue and a grin which revealed one single tooth in an otherwise perfect set of baby's gums.

See our Monastery Koras page for detailed practical information.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Samye Kora: Pilgrims - ©William Mackesy

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Samye Kora: Pilgrimess on ferry - ©William Mackesy

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Samye Kora: Samye, autumn sun - ©William Mackesy...

Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more

Our partners Responsible Travel 

have carefully chosen expeditions 

and holidays around the world.    

Great walking, and much else...

Walkopedia Sponsor

See their site for inspiring ideas.

For £100 off your trip, contact them quoting WW50

All material on this website is © Walkopedia Ltd 2008 - 2024, unless specified otherwise.