The Fantastic Destinations in Tibet You Shouldn't Miss in Your Tibet Trip
Tibet or the land of snow is a beautiful place to spend quality time with your family, to indulge in a holiday and even to gather experiences in different fields. In this article, we are going to discuss the various different places in Tibet that will enlighten you with the authentic Tibetan culture, help you to prove your physical strength, provide you with sheer delight and make you experience Tibet as a whole in a beautiful way.
For First Timers to Tibet: Lhasa and Its Surroundings
1.Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
Lhasa is the beautiful capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region. Standing at an altitude of 3658m, Lhasa holds wonders for the tourists. It is not only the political capital of Tibet but also the economic capital. To reach Tibet, you have to first descend in Lhasa as it contains all the modern day facilities. Also the place itself contains many important tourist destinations that are famous and significant. Lhasa has great many places that have a whole lot of Tibetan culture embedded in it.
Amongst the many number of places, one such significant place is the famous Potala Palace. Potala Palace is the UNESCO world heritage site and is the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas. It is very beautiful containing some unique epitomes of the greatness of Tibetan art and architecture. It consists of many chapels, towers and houses. It mainly consists of two important structures namely the Red Palace and the White Palace. While the White Palace was the residential place for the Dalai Lamas, the Red Palace contained chapels and prayer halls. The Palace is mainly the storehouse of the various artworks and the splendid Tibetan architecture.
You will get to see the exotic Thangkas stored in here along with some Uranium paintings, paintings on silk and several Buddhist figurines. Even reaching Potala Palace is very easy as it is situated 70km away from Lhasa Gonggar Airport and 20 km away from the railway station. The best time to visit the palace is from April to October as the palace can be best photographed during this clear atmosphere.
From Potala Palace, you can make a journey to the splendid Jokhang temple. The Jokhang temple is an important site for performing the religious circumambulation or more specifically the kora. The temple is very old and here also, glimpse of the ancient Tibetan architecture can be achieved. The temple hordes the life sized statue of Sakyamuni and thousands of other figurines and statues of Buddha in different positions.
You will also see many Thangkas and murals depicting the life of Buddha. You can even get a panoramic view of the Potala Palace from the terrace of Jokhang Temple. Except for the treasured artifacts you can also witness the early morning kora performed here and soak in the ambience of the place. It is said that the admission time to Jokhang temple is from 11:30 in the morning till 17:30 in the evening. The ticket is priced for 85 CNY. You should keep in mind that you are not allowed to take pictures inside the temple unless you have an exclusive permission. But you can take pictures from outside and also from the golden rooftop.
Surrounding the Jokhang temple is the famous Barkhor Street or the pathway that can also be said to be the mini-Tibet as a whole. The famous Barkhor street is a very famous tourist spot because of the innumerable shops present here. Also it is a very famous kora route. The shops and the restaurants here sell some of the most authentic and exotic Tibetan products like the Tibetan incense or the masks and lot of other things. However few tips have to remember by you like bargaining is very important while you are buying something from Barkhor street. Secondly if you are buying something costly, go for certified shops. Also try to cover Barkhor street in the morning as the mazes can be difficult to solve during evening.
2.Sera Monastery, Ganden Monastery, Drepung Monastery
Tibetans followed a unique sect of Buddhism known as the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism. This sect of Buddhism combines all forms of Buddhist dictums and then transformed them accordingly to suit their own lives. The three main important monasteries that became the headquarters for propagating Gelugpa sect of teaching are the Sera Monastery, Ganden Monastery and the Drepung monastery.
Sera monastery is amongst the ‘three great’ monasteries of Tibet along with Drepung and Ganden monasteries. It is surrounded by beautiful wild roses in bloom, from where it gets its name. It contains 19 hermitages, including four nunneries, all of which are located at the foothills of Lhasa. There are three colleges associated with the structure, known as the Zhacangs. There are also dormitories known as Kamcun. The Sera monastery takes an active part in the Shoton festival. Therefore the best time to travel to this university is from April to June when this festival takes place. Except for this festival, there is the Sera Bengqin festival. It is celebrated every year during the month of December, on the Tibetan calendar. It includes the showcase of Dalai Lama praying to Buddha to get his blessings and also the Ngaba Zhacang placing the pestle in the monks.
Ganden monastery is yet another important monastery propagating the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism. Located in Lhasa, it is also a very charming monastery that has even been transformed into a university on the Gelugpa sect of teaching. The Ganden monastery will remain incomplete if you do not visit the famous Lagyi Hall that is about 2000 square meters in area and has a length of three storeys. There are many stupas in Ganden Monastery and also many scriptures are indeed present in the monastery.
Next there is also Drepung Monastery, located in the outskirts of Lhasa. Drepung monastery is the storehouse of fascinating temples and caves. There can be seen many pagodas also. The Coquen Hall is the most important place within the monastery containing the many scriptures and murals and also the famous figurines of Buddha in different shapes. The admission fee to Drepung monastery is 55 CNY. The opening hours are from 9:00 in the morning to 17:00 in the evening. It takes about three hours to behold this entire monastery.
3.Canggu Nunnery, Norbulingka, Chagpori, Drak Yerpa
Besides the monasteries, Lhasa also holds other wonderful places and one such example is the Canggu Nunnery. It is the only Buddhist nunnery present in Lhasa. It occupies a small area of land and has been well-maintained for many decades. The windows are regularly washed, there are flower pots maintained. If you go early, you will be able to see the nuns performing the morning rituals with utmost reverence. There are also hoarded many ancient Buddhist scriptures that are quite ancient. With the latticed windows, beige walls and colourful garden flowers, the nunnery appears very fascinating. Also, it endorses other services like restaurants owing to the large tea garden maintained inside it, clinics for a minimal fee and the shops for selling certain goods. The opening hour of the nunnery is from 8:00 in the morning to 20:00 in the evening.
Another attraction in Lhasa is the Norbulingka - the famous summer palace of Dalai Lama. It has been lately transformed into an educational centre. The palace is great as it exhibits the wonders of Tibetan architecture to the fullest. Also it is an immense storehouse of many unique Buddhist murals and scriptures. Norbulingka is an important place where all the festivals take an initiation.
Up next, there is another beautiful destination known as Chagpori. These are the famous and sacred hills, located in the south of the Potala Palace. The hills are important for photographic purposes as they give a clear view of the Potala Palace. Except for that it was also a place for the monastic medical college. Except for these importances, you can also get a serene atmosphere in these hills.
Drak Yerpa is another beautiful site, located in the northeastern side of Lhasa, about 16km from it. The place is a hermitage area that contains about 108 caves, all hording significances. While you drive to Drak Yerpa, try to start visiting the caves in the clockwise direction. In one cave you will get to see the footprints of the famous religious leaders, on the other you have to sip the holy water and pass through the hole in the rock. The place is of magnificence to the core and it should not be missed while visiting to Lhasa. You will also find many small figures and statues of Buddha and armed forces and also scriptures within these caves. The admission fee to the caves is 25 CNY and the opening timing is from 9:00 in the morning to 17:00 in the evening.
4.Lhasa to Namtso
While you travel in Lhasa, you must take your time out to make a visit to the famous Namtso lake. This lake exhibits heavenly beauties with the crystal blue water and the surrounding snow-clad mountains. Many migratory birds come to this lake also. It is an important site for kora as Namtso is considered holy by Tibetans. In the surroundings of the lake, you will also see various monasteries like Tashi monastery, Tashi Dor peninsula, caves, and lot of such beauties.
Namtso exhibits heavenly beauties.
From Lhasa, it is very easy to travel to Namtso. However Namtso is situated at a much higher altitude(4718m) and therefore you have to be careful while making this journey. Try to acclimatize your body and then either board a car to Namtso as there are no regular buses. Also sharing your vehicle with other travelers will be a good option as it will reduce the cost of the journey.
Join-in the Most Classic Lhasa City Small Group Tours
For Trekking, Cycling, Mountaineering: Lhasa to Everest Base Camp
1. Yamdrok Lake
From Lhasa to Yamdrok lake, you can indulge in any form of travel - either by car or by trekking or by cycling. From Lhasa, the beautiful Yamdrok lake is not that much a distance. You have to pass over the famous Gampala pass. You will also be able to view the endless snow mountains and then take a walk in the shore.
2. Karola Glacier, Simila Mountain Pass
Karola Glacier is just a thirty minutes drive from Yamdrok lake. When you are visiting the famous Yamdrok lake, do not forget to visit Karola Glacier. On the way also, you will get through the beautiful Simila Pass with snowy mountains surrounding it. The Glacier occupies an area of 10 square kilometers and is huge. There are small temples and stones where the names and mantras are engraved.
For trekking to any site from Lhasa, you need to visit the place via Gyantse. Gyantse is a beautiful county, small and fabulous. It is just a few hours’ drive from Lhasa. However if you are trekking to Gyantse, it might need some more time. In Gynatse, if you spend some time, you will come across certain beautiful aspects like the famous Kumbum Stupa, Gyantse Fortress, Palcho monastery and the old street in Gyantse. Gyantse fortress is almost ruined. The Kumbum stupa is the most attractive tourist spot of Gyantse inside Palcho monastery. Once in Gyantse, do take a stroll through the old streets and soak in the essence of the old Gyantse.
Tashilhunpo monastery, like Ganden and other Gelugpa sect of monasteries, teaches Gelugpa Buddhism. The monastery is huge, covering an area of about 300,000 square meters and is divided into four structures. They are the Maitreya Chapel, the Kelsang Temple, Panchen Lama’s Place and the monastery in general.
The monastery appalls the visitors with its white walls, golden roofs and the exquisite figurine of Panchen Lama. The statue is covered with 246,794 precious jewels and 868 precious stones. There is also another statue of Sakyamuni and Maitreya Buddha. Except for the several statues, the monastery also exhibits some great paintings on the walls and the scrolls. The admission fee to this monastery is about 80 CNY during May to October and falls to 40 CNY during November to April. The opening time is from 9:00 am in the morning to 17:00 in the evening. It can be reached from Lhasa by a car drive or even by trekking.
5. Sakya Monastery
Sakya monastery, located in Shigatse was initially divided into two portions - one was for the religious education and the other for fortification. There is a moat surrounding Sakya monastery, especially in the southern portion of the monastery. Initially the monastery will not startle the readers with any exquisite architecture but the real wonder lies inside. Besides propagating Buddhist thoughts, the monastery is also a grand storehouse of authentic Tibetan Thangkas. Also it contains huge bookshelves containing over 40,000 books. You will also get to see the famous scriptures and the proceedings going on inside the Sakya monastery. The monastery can be visited all the year round except for mid-February to March during which it remains closed. You can also see the Cham dance festival in here, if you go on time. The monastery can be easily reached from Lhasa by a drive of four to five hours. There are also many numbers of accommodations in Sakya County.
6. Tsola Pass, Gyatsola Pass, Gawu La Pass, Vista of Himalayan Range
On your way to Everest Base Camp the Tsola Pass, Gyatsola Pass and the Gawu La Pass are inevitable and hence are required to cross. These passes, standing at a high elevation, are the beauties themselves. While travelling from Shigatse to Rongbuk, via Lhatse and Segar, you will come across these passes. The Tsola Pass is at a height of 4600m. The Gyatsola Pass stands at an elevation of 5200m. From this pass, you will get to see the surrounding trans-Himalayan ranges and the snow-clad beauties of the place. It gives a panoramic view from this site. The Gawu La Pass stands at an elevation of 5198m. From here, tourists are able to enjoy the magnanimous mountain peaks like Mount Everest itself along with Mount Makalu, Mount Lhotse, Mount Cho Oyu and Mount Shishapama.
Gawu La Pass
7. Rongbuk Monastery and Everest Base Camp
After crossing the beautiful passes, the final journey in the trekking to Everest Base Camp is the Rongbuk Monastery. Rongbuk Monastery not only holds its significance in preserving the Tibetan culture, but also it provides accommodations to the tourists involving in this hiking journey. The monastery appears very decent in its architecture-there is not much decoration done to exemplify this monastery. It is said that a local Lama ad built it.
Many monks and nuns live in this monastery and take part collectively in Tibetan festivals. Rongbuk monastery plays an important role also because of its near distance to Everest Base Camp. It is just a two hours trekking distance from Rongbuk to Everest Base Camp. Many travelers follow this path also. On reaching Everest Base camp, standing at an elevation of 5200m, you are certain to feel the thrills of the journey. You can spend the night and also visit Mount Everest Natural Reserve. In the morning or in the evening try to capture the sunset and its golden hue against the backdrop of the world’s loftiest peak.
Join-in the Most Popular Tibet Everest Base Camp Small Group Tours
- 8 Days Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Small Group Tour
- 10 Days Lhasa to EBC and Namtso Lake Small Group Tour
- 7 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Small Group Tour
- 7 Days Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland Trip with EBC Small Group Tour
- 19 Days Tibet Biking Tour from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp
- 22 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu Bike Tour with EBC
For In-depth Tour: Lhasa to EBC and Mt. Kailash
1.Peikutso Lake (starting from EBC to Saga)
The many attractions that you will come across, once you start your journey back from EBC are sure going to sweep you off your feet. One such is the beautiful Peikutso Lake. It is the largest lake in Shigatse and has an area of about 300 square kilometers. The lake is the home of different varieties of fishes and also in the shores of it, you will get to see the Tibetan donkeys, antelopes, wild horses, yellow and grey ducks also. The lake exhibits its immense beauty to the core. Also surrounding the lake, you will get to see a lot of examples of Tibetan wildlife, including fox and wolves. Also the presence of Mount Shishapama near it makes the scene altogether charming.
Lake Manasarovar is not only counted holy amongst the Tibetans but also amongst the Hindus. This lake is quite huge and a distinct kora route has been carved around it. The lake, with its sparkling blue clear water and the serene beauty has the capability to transfix any tourists whether the first timer or not. The lake stands against Mount Kailash, yet another of the holy aspect for the Tibetans. Together, these two enhances the beauty of the place. In order to photograph Lake Manasarovar, choose the sunset and the sunrises. They perfectly add to the beauty. Also the night view of the lake, widely stretched, exudes a solemn and perfect beauty.
3. 3-day Kora around Mt.Kailash
As has already been mentioned, Mount Kailash holds am immense religious significance amongst the Tibetans. Therefore, a distinct kora route has been carved. The three day kora around Mount Kailash is by far the most significant amid tours of Tibet. They are known as the outer kora route. It involves a trekking from Darchen to Drirapuk Monastery. The distance between them is about 20km with 200m of ascent and the time taken is 6 hours. The road is quite uneven and it takes utmost attention to cover this part of the journey. In this way, you will pass through many prayer walls and ruins. You will also encounter the nomads.
3-day Kora around Mt.Kailash
After taking rest in Drirapuk monastery, you have to make your journey to Dzultripuk monastery. The distance between them is 18 km with 550m ascent and 600m descent. The total time taken is about 7-8 hours. In this route, you will come across Kangam Glacier and pass through Drol-ma pass. Also the rocky expanse, Shiva-Tsal will be encountered by you during this phase of the kora. Next phase will be from Dzultripuk monastery to Darchen. The distance is 14km with 150m descent and the time taken is three to four hours. The road condition is extremely unwell and therefore be very careful while you make this journey.
4.Guge Kingdom, Zada Clay Forest, Tholing Monastery
Ngari prefecture contains some of the topmost tourist attractions that cannot be missed if you are making your journey to Tibet. One such attraction is the Guge Kingsdom relics. The destruction site holds immense significance for the ancient Tibetan culture. Still if you are visiting the site, you can make out distinctly, the place for the king, the rooms, the caves and other such parts of the entire kingdom. Even though in dilapidated state, there are even the presence of the Mandala hall, the Scripture hall, the secret tunnels, and the vast temples and other such places.
Zada Clay Forest
Try to photograph Guge Kingdom during the sunset as the serenity is best portrayed during this time. Another attraction in Ngari prefecture is the Zada Clay Forest. This has been formed by the movement of the crust of Himalaya and hence is also known as the Grand Canyon. It has many different and interesting shapes, even though it is a ruin completely. The ruin is mostly famous because of the beautiful photography that can be done here.
Next in Ngari, we have Tholing monastery. this monastery is the oldest of the monasteries in Ngari prefecture. It contains three temples namely Yeshe-O temple, the Dukhang and the Lakhang karpo. The monastery looks as if it has been located in the sky from where it has got its name. It exhibits a unique architecture that fascinates as soon as a person places his eyes upon it. Near the monastery, there are about 108 destroyed towers that should be visited by you if you are visiting Tholing monastery. The admission fee is around 50 CNY and the opening hours are from 8:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening. you can visit this monastery at any time of the year.