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lhasa Tibet, Lhasa Travel Guide

Lhasa is the cultural capital of Tibet as well as the administrative center for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Situated in a high-altitude valley at 3,700 meters surrounded by even higher mountains and with the scenic Kyi-chu River flowing right through town, making it wonderfully picturesque in spite of its rapidly modernizing skyline.

In the older parts of the city, especially near the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, expect to be enchanted by spinning prayer wheels, colorful flags and traditionally clad Tibetans going about their Buddhist business. Lhasa has been occupied for over a millennium, and you are guaranteed both expected and unexpected cultural experiences as you explore the streets, squares and numerous attractions of this dynamic city at the heart of an ancient land.

Major Attractions

Potala Palace

Picture of White Hall of Potala PalaceA palace originally built at this site in 637 by Songtsen Gampo, and even though none of that original structure remains, it's clear that the place had some spiritual draw because the Fifth Dalai Lama built the present-day Potala Palace in the same spot in the late 17th century. The massive palace was at one time the largest building in the world and remains a spectacular position to Lhasa's landscape today.

It's hard to keep your eyes off the palace's many levels and hard not to wonder what went on in all those rooms (over a thousand) over the centuries. It was for hundreds of years a self-contained fortress of religious and political significance.

Jokhang Temple

Picture of the Roof of Jokhang TempleLhasa's premier temple is considered the most sacred Buddhist building in all of Tibet. An impressive restoration in recent decades makes it almost impossible to detect what was built in this century and what has been there since 647, when Songtsen Gampo began building the site.

Concerning the choice of Jokhang's location, Gampo's Chinese wife Wencheng Princess detected the presence of a demoness under the location and commissioned the temple be built over the evil spirit to pin her underground. 

The temple houses incredible statues and other works of art and all the regalia of Buddha worship. Pilgrims and monks are all over, chanting and prostrating, and while this may be overwhelming, the experience is inimitable anywhere else and is as authentic as it gets. Don't miss the views from the roof of the city of Lhasa and the Potala Palace in the distance.

Barkhor Street

Picture of Barkhor StreetAny trip to Lhasa will warrant a few visits to Barkhor Square-the religious heart and market center of the capital. Take a ride with the circumambulating pilgrims-their clockwise-moving, chanting mass is sure to sweep you up, or shop to your enlightened heart's content at a variety of traditional handicraft-selling stalls. There are plenty of permanent and temporary cultural delights in this square, which surrounds Jokhang Monastery.

Ganden Monastery

Ganden Namgyeling Monastery Lhasa Tibet70km to the east of Lhasa, one of the three great monasteries in Lhasa and one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug Sect, Ganden is the first monastery belonged to Yellow Hat sect. It’s surrounded by a barren dusty village overlooking Kichu valley and lush green mountains in summer. In addition to its magnificent architecture and religious importance, there is an extremely fabulous view on top of the Ganden Wangpo Hill. Ganden means happiness and contentedness in Tibetan. The Ganden Monastery was built in early 15th century under the supervision of Zonggaba, the founder of the Gelug Sect. The main buildings include the Coqen Hall, the Chamaber of Zonggaba and the colleges of Yangbajian.

It is suggested to hike for a while at Ganden and take a bird's-eye view of the Kyichu valley. You can have a easier or harder hike at Ganden. High kora or low kora depends on your physical condition. The high kora climbs Angkor Ri south of Ganden and then drops down the ridge to join up with the lower kora. The low kora is easier than high kora.

Drepung Monastery

Picture of Sunning Buddha in Shoton Festival at Drepung MonasteryLocated at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the "great three" Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet.The other two are Ganden and Sera. Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries, and indeed at its peak was the largest monastery of any religion in the world. It was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Chojey, a direct disciple of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa school. It is located on the Gambo Utse mountain, 5 kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa.

Tsurphu Monastery

Tsurphu Monastery LhasaLocated in the Doilungdeqen County, 70 kilometers away from Lhasa. Tsurphu is the main monastery of the Black Cap Group of the karma Sect. The system of succession to grant the living Buddha was originated here and has become popular among various sects of the Tibetan Buddhism.

Sera Monastery

Picture of Monks Debating in Sera MonasteryFour kilometers north of Lhasa lies Sera Monastery, one of the three Gelugpa monasteries. Sera remains one of the oldest original structures important to Tibetan Buddhism.

It is here that the resident monks famously debate Buddhist doctrine in a highly stylized manor with ritualized clapping and stamping to designate starting and stopping points. During most afternoons (around 3:00 p.m), you can witness this fascinating procedure except Sundays.

The hill behind Sera is the only place near Lhasa where sky burials still take place. These are not advertised and not open to the public, but if you are lucky enough to happen upon one, keep your distance and remain respectful of this extremely sacred act.

Kyichu (Lhasa River)

Picture of Rafting Trip on Kyichu Lhasa RiverKyichu is also known as Lhasa River. It's a tributary of Yarlung Tsangpo. In the beginning of the 7th month of Tibetan calendar, local people are enjoying their bathing and washing in the river. That is Tibetan's Bathing Festival. It is said that the water in the river is good as the holy water during the festival time.


The Norbulingka palace complex was built by the Seventh Dalai Lama (1708-1757) to house Tibet's government officials during the hot summer months, providing a cool shady retreat from Potala Palace's exposure to the sun. The procession from Potala to Norbulingka was an important spectacle for many years, marking summer's arrival in Lhasa. The palace complex is still in much disrepair, but the New Summer Palace retains some interesting exhibits on Tibetan Buddhism history, including 301 lovely murals depicting Tibet's story.

Pabonka Hermitage

Lhasa Pabonka Hermitage Monastery Pabonka monastery marks the site of Songtsan Gampo's living quarters before the construction of the Jokhang, as well as his favorite place for meditation. It can be found near Sera Monastery to the North of Lhasa city. Pabonka offers very good panoramic views of the hillside towards whole Lhasa valley. Interesting to hike from Pabonka to Sera Monastery, even witness the sky burial ground on the tekking route.

Tibet Museum

The museum houses a rich collection of cultural relics including various kinds of cultural relics of pre-history, handwritten Tibetan classics, colorful Thangka pictures, music and ritual instruments, unique handicrafts and pottery. From the exhibition, the visitors can see the long-standing history and profound culture and art of Tibet.

Yangpachen Hot Spring

Damxung Yangpachen Hot SpringYangbajain is a town 90km to the north of Lhasa, and lies sout of Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains or Nyainqentanglha. Tibet railway is just 20km north of the vally. Well-known for its hot springs, grasslands and geothermal power plant, Yangpachen Valley is with upland lush green surrounded by the tents of nomads with grazing yak and sheep populating the hillside. A small monastery called Yangpachen Monastery is near the Yangpachen hot pring. Yangpachen Altitude Training Base was newly built in 2012. The base will provide with montaineers with better training conditions and services for mountain climbing in Tibet.

How to get in?

By plane

Flights to Lhasa are operated by 8 mainland cities' airport including Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Kunming, Lanzhou, Xi'an and Diqing or Shangri-la.

The most convenient way is to fly from Chengdu to Lhasa as there are so many daily flights to Lhasa. Only one daily flight to Lhasa in busy season from other cities as mentioned except 2 daily from Beijing. But 3 flights each week or 2 flights each week in off season. Pay attention to the latest flight schedule released on our web site.

By train

Lhasa Railway Station is open on July 1, 2006. It's 20 km away from Potala Palace. You can take the train to Lhada directly from 7 mainland cities, Beijing, Chengdu, Chonqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xining and Lanzhou.

The railways between Beijing and Lhasa, Shanghai and Lhasa, Guangzhou and Lhasa are available everyday but other trains every other day. See the detailed timetable and price of train to Tibet.

By road

It's amazing and cool to go to Tibet by road. No matter the harder but more spectacular way from Sichuan or Xinjiang or comparatively not-so-difficult way from Qinghai or Yunnan, it would be an unforgettable life-time journey! 

Find our detailed tours operated in Tibet and contact us directly to get Tibet travel permit 100% guaranteed to start your Tibet tour once in a lifetime immediately.

Best Time to Come

You can come to Lhasa all year round. The four seasons are hardly noticeable. Temperature in daytime could be up to 20 °C, but might be down below 0 °C at night.

June, July, August, Septempber and October are the warmest and best time in Lhasa. The Shoton Festival is held in August which attracts many tourists both here and abroad.

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