Home keyboard_arrow_right Destinations keyboard_arrow_right Lhasa

Lhasa

Lhasa is one of the most well-known locations in China and is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is one of the highest cities in the world and contains many significant Tibetan Buddhists sites. Lhasa is undoubtedly one of the best locations to visit if you are interested in the history of the Tibetan religion and culture.

Tours and activities in Lhasa

Lhasa is a city steeped in history and with so many wonderful sites to choose from. However, current regulations mean it is almost impossible (and certainly not recommended) to try and visit Tibet without an organized tour. Your permit to visit needs to be applied for 200 days in advance and should be valid for your entire stay in Lhasa.

Our guides can help you organize your perfect Lhasa itinerary, and can arrange tickets for attractions and events on your behalf.

Best time to visit

Lhasa is known as the “City of Sunlight” as its high altitude means there is rarely any cloud cover. The climate is mild all year round and is divided into a dry and wet season. The best time to visit is between March and October.

Top Attractions in Lhasa

Lhasa is a magnificent city with a rich history. You can experience Tibetian lifestyle, culture, history and architecture here. There are museum, lake and a bunch of temples which can make you love the city. On the other hand, Lhasa city is famous for the hospitality of its habitats. You can meet with locals and spend a day with them. 

Potala Palace
1. Potala Palace
Landmarks and icons

The most prominent landmark to see in Lhasa on your visit is the Potala Palace. This is a site sacred to Tibetan Buddhists and the people of Lhasa. You must show ID in the form of your passport before entering, and there is a charge – tickets costs ¥100 per non-Tibetan visitor. The site itself is an imposing palace high on a hill – it is the highest ancient palace in the world. It is strikingly colored in red and white and contains the living quarters of the Dalai Lama. There’s much to see here, but tour times are strictly limited to one hour long, and you can’t take any kind of liquids into the site.

 

Jokhang temple
2. Jokhang temple
Landmarks and icons

In the heart of Lhasa, the Jokhang temple, which dates back to the 7th century AD, houses beautiful statues of Buddha brought to Tibet by princesses from Nepal and China for King Songtsan Gampo. The four-story temple is an impressive building in itself, and worth a visit if you’re in the old town of Lhasa.

 

The Tibet Museum
3. The Tibet Museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

The Tibet Museum in the southeast of the city is a wonderful, modern exhibition space preserving many vital relics and artifacts. It is designed to combine Tibetan and Chinese architectural styles seamlessly and has an abundance of displays to enjoy.

Exhibits are described in Tibetan, Chinese, English, and Japanese, meaning you’ll be able to benefit from the rich texts that accompany the costumes, statues and arts and crafts on display.

Heavenly Lake Namtso
4. Heavenly Lake Namtso
Nature, parks and outdoors

Heavenly Lake Namtso is a must-see for nature lovers. The second-largest saltwater lake in China, it is also the highest altitude saltwater lake in the world. The water itself is an incredible crystal-clear blue, seeming to blend into the sky on the horizon.

It’s best to see this spectacular location in someone where you’ll catch glimpses of local wildlife such as yaks, hares and a variety of birds.

Visit a Yak Ranch
5. Visit a Yak Ranch
Things to do with kids

Children always delight in seeing the gentle yaks, and you can visit a yak ranch where you can see them up close. It’s also possible to visit Tibetan schools, where a guide can introduce them to Tibetan children of their own age. This is a wonderful way for your family to immerse themselves in Tibetan culture and see how they learn.

Barkhor Street
6. Barkhor Street
Leisure and shopping

Shopping is plentiful on Barkhor Street, which is the pilgrimage circuit around the Jokhang Temple. Here you’ll find a stunning wealth of local arts and crafts and plenty of souvenirs to take home. You can walk with the pilgrims as they spin the prayer wheels and you’re encouraged to haggle well over purchases.

Sera Monastery Monk Debate
7. Sera Monastery Monk Debate
Regular festivals and celebrations

One event, in particular, that is well-worth seeing actually takes place every afternoon (except Sundays). At the Sera Monastery, you can watch the monks gathered together in their red robes to debate scripture. Often becoming quite animated as they talk, it is very interesting to watch them.

Getting here and getting around

Most visitors from outside China arrive in Lhasa by flying to Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Chongqing or Xining. From there, they arrive at the Gonggar Airport of Lhasa by plane. There are daily flights from Beijing, while from other cities there are a variety of flights across the week.

You can also take the road into Lhasa, with only two highways open to foreign visitors. The road is in poor condition, though, so travelers are advised to take a Land Cruiser to the city.

Lhasa has a train station that is part of the Tibet Railway system, the longest plateau railway system in the world. Due to the altitude of travel, oxygen masks and respirators are available.

You can travel around the city by minibus with a fixed charge of ¥2. Buses start late in the morning and stop early in the evening as the temperature drops. Taxis are also readily available and can be flagged down on the street. Prices are usually between ¥10-15 to get to most parts of the city.

Eating and drinking

Food in Lhasa is a combination of Tibetan, Sichuan and Western cuisine. You’ll pay more here for Sichuan dining than in most other parts of China, but there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, most of them situated in Barkhor Street.

The Crazy Yak Saloon on Beijing East Road has traditional Tibetan décor and furnishings and is your best bet for Tibetan cuisine, including Yak. They also put on a local song and dance show every evening.

Snow-Deity Palace Tibetan Style Restaurant also offers Tibetan dishes like freshly fried mutton chops and steamed stuffed buns but is a more upmarket affair than Crazy Yak Saloon.

The night market on Duosenge Road is a bustling location where you can purchase street food and drink for inexpensive prices and is the perfect opportunity to try out a number of local dishes.

Getting a good night's sleep

For high-end accommodation, you can’t miss the wonderful House of Shambala. The building itself is in a traditional style and the entire hotel, including rooms, is furnished in a traditional Tibetan style too. There’s a rooftop restaurant serving local dishes and has fantastic views of Potala Palace.

Honey Bee Hub is a great mid-priced hotel located just 10 minutes from Dazhao Temple and is close to Potala Palace and the Tibet Museum. This has more modern furnishings and a fitness center, although you’ll find Tibetan accents in the furnishings throughout.

Jixue Hotel is a budget accommodation that doesn’t skimp on luxury. Traditional Tibetan furnishings run through the building and rooms are basic but well appointed.