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The Lung of Lhasa – Why You Must Include the Lhalu Wetlands in Your Tibet Tour

Tibet is certainly a place you have heard of but probably haven’t known many people to travel to. It may be a mystery to you, something that you didn’t even consider visiting because it just didn’t occur to you that it was somewhere possible to visit. Or perhaps, it is too out-of-the-way. On the other hand, it is most likely a place you would love to see if you had the chance…


Well, whatever you know about Tibet, it is worth researching as a possible place to include in your future plans. There are some seriously beautiful spots in the Central Asian region. Maybe you were unaware that there was an Everest Base Camp in Tibet, the northern one. Tibet had, and still has, a huge impact in growth of Buddhism. On top of that (pun intended), Tibet is the highest region (in terms of altitude) in the world.

touring in Tibettouring in Tibet.

Lhasa – A Quick Glance

When you feast your eyes upon the mountainous backdrops and the crystal blue lakes around Lhasa, you will be instantly hooked. When you meet the locals in the teahouses, in the city streets, sit with the monks in monasteries as they pray and sing, follow your enthusiastic guide’s footsteps throughout your tour, you will be overjoyed to have made it to Tibet. The cadence of life here is pleasantly slow, unlike back at home.

Monks in the city streetsMonks in the city streets.

Many tourists stay only in Lhasa when they arrive. They just want to experience Tibet for a few days and so only base their tour and their budget around Lhasa. Some do continue on to the far reaches of Tibet to explore Mt. Kailash, Everest and the Holy Lakes. Whichever tour you choose, we implore you to give the area around Lhasa some of your valuable time. There are some fantastic spots to visit; monasteries and old temples atop rickety mountain staircases, and beautiful sunrise and sunset spots to set up a tripod.

And then there’s the Lhalu Wetlands. The so-called “Lung of Lhasa”.

Introducing Lhalu Wetlands

This vast and expansive plain is a huge deal to the people of Tibet, let alone the people of Lhasa. In a nation that has historically seen its fair share of troubles, the Lhalu Wetlands remind everyone just how peaceful and tranquil Tibet can be. Those that include the Lhalu Wetlands in their tour will be guided around the area with the knowledge of a local guide, and will see for themselves the importance of this 12 square kilometers piece of land. It is a main source of life for the city, with many types of birds such as shelducks, geese and storks feeding and bathing in the rich ecosystem. There is also an abundance of other wildlife that will catch your eye, especially during migration season. Buffalo will be drinking from the river alongside otters and variations of deer. It is a peaceful and lovely place, one that probably hasn’t changed that much in a very long time, due to its careful protection and preservation.

Lhalu WetlandsLhalu Wetlands.

These wetlands are also situated, along with the plateau that Lhasa is based on, around 3500 metres above sea level, so oxygen in the air is already quite thin. However, due to the vast areas of protected trees and vegetation, it acts as if it is Lhasa’s oxygen tank! This is such a beautiful thing to experience, spending time in this part of Lhasa that holds the key to life for all creatures simultaneously.

picturesque sights in Lhalu Wetlandspicturesque sights in Lhalu Wetlands.

Useful Information for Visitors of the Lhalu Wetlands

As this place is so precious to the Tibetans, there are strict rules about trash and footwear, etc. Before setting off to the Lhalu Wetlands, make sure your tour guide has given the gatekeepers plenty of notice so that you will be allowed in. The gatekeeper’s job is to maintain security and preservation of the surrounding wetlands and needs to be informed of future visits. Of course, they are very friendly and welcoming when you arrive there, but just be prepared.

wildlife in Lhalu Wetlandswildlife in Lhalu Wetlands.

There are lots of opportunities to help out, too. Trash sometimes finds its way from Lhasa’s streets into the wetlands. These are the only wetlands that can be found in China that are situated within a city so there is constant supervision to make sure they stay protected. Helping with the clearance of trash in the waters will see the utmost respect towards you, from locals. Just a couple of hours of your time and you’ve done your good deed for the day!

A Little Advice

If this is relatively early on in your trip, make sure you put some effort into your own safety and wellbeing, as altitude sickness can be a terrible thing. A good thing to do before your trip is to concentrate on your fitness and work up to a decent level of aerobic endurance. This will be vital in your ability to walk around for the day in Lhasa and its surrounding areas. Even though Lhalu provides the area with the majority of oxygen, you still need to plan ahead!

people enjoy their time in Lhalu Wetlandspeople enjoy their time in Lhalu Wetlands.

A Photographer’s Guide

If you are into photography, like we are, then we would suggest a fast shutter speed and a decent zoom lens for those wildlife shots. As it is not advisable to disturb the animals in their natural habitat, you will get some amazing shots of them with a lence of around 200-300 mm. For landscape shots, you will find some amazing viewpoints to include the water, the nearby hills and the mountainous backdrop, all in one shot. Be sure to take a wider lens, and you will have more of a chance in capturing the serene surroundings. Ask your guide to take you to as many spots as possible that will capture the very essence of Lhalu, so you can do this area some justice! The lush greens and pastel blues will make your photos pop, no matter what angle you are at, and with such a fabulous natural ambience, you will find that very little editing will be needed for these photos!

the animals in their natural habitatthe animals in their natural habitat.

If you need any more advice of this part of Lhasa, or indeed any other part of the city, be sure to get in touch with us.

Master Catherine Jigme

About the Author - Master Catherine Jigme

With exceptional passion and outstanding leadership, Mrs. Catherine has dedicated herself to Tibet inbound tourism and China tour for 15 years. As one of the handful females who see great potential of Chinese inbound tourism, Catherine has made great contribution to promoting Tibet tourism and enhancing the employment of Tibetans and prosperity of local Tibetan community.

Over the years, she travelled overseas with Tibet Tourism Bureau many times to promote Tibet tourism. Currently, Catherine works as the marketing director of Tibet Vista, an opinion leader behind the whole team of Tibet Vista.

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