10 Things to Do in Tibet that You Can’t Travel Without
Tibet is way too big!
Covering 1, 22 million square km, Tibet abounds with enigmatic places and exotic cultures for exploration. From holy Buddhist temples, pious Tibetan monks, and awestruck Mt. Everest, to grand festivities, and superbly-made frescoes...you name it.
Faced with varied itineraries and loads of choices, you may be at a loss to decide where to go and how to plan your Tibet tour.
No worries! Here, we have handpicked Top 10 things that you can’t travel without in Tibet. No matter you are the first-timers to Tibet, or with a hectic schedule, these will make your time in Tibet worthwhile.
Meanwhile, the difficulty ratings and days of itineraries are shown below so that you can easily arrange them on your Tibet tour.
1. Do not Travel to Tibet without Visiting the Potala Palace
Incredible vista of Potala Palace in Lhasa
To our Tibetans, Potala Palace is indisputably our most revered palace and the pride of Tibetans.
To you, who visit Tibet for the first time, you can’t travel to Tibet without exploring the highest and grandest Palace in the world.
As the landmark of Tibet, Potala Palace was officially written on World Cultural Heritage List in 1994. It used to be the residence and meeting place of the supreme Dalai Lamas.
Perched on the Red Hill, Potala Palace juxtaposes the architectural features of the palace, castle, and Buddhist monastery. It is the best-preserved and largest religious complex in Tibet. A variety of dazzling treasures, Buddhist fresco, Thangka, etc. can be seen inside.
Unequivocally, Potala Palace serves as the treasure house of Tibetan Buddhism and culture. You will get a better understanding of Tibet by visiting Potala Palace.
Rating: easy; half-day is needed for the visit; a must-visit place during the Tibet tour.
2. Do not Travel to Tibet without getting to the golden roof of the Jokhang Temple
Once you visit the Jokhang Temple, don't forget to get to the Golden Roof
One thing Tibet never falls short of is the Buddhist temple. No matter the massive Buddhist academy that can accommodate thousands of monks, or tiny Buddhist retreats and caves hanging on the rock face, it won’t be difficult to spot a Buddhist site steps away.
Among all the monasteries and temples in Tibet, the Jokhang Temple is the most important one. Revered as the Spiritual heart of Tibet, the Jokhang Temple is located at the center of old Lhasa town. Built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, the Jokhang Temple holds a life-size statue of 12-year-old Sakyamuni Buddha, , which is a precious heritage for Tibetan Buddhism.
Your Tibet tour will not be complete if you have not visited the Jokhang Temple. Here you can see the precious Sakyamuni Buddha statue, admire the exquisite Buddhist murals and learn more about the history and essence of Tibetan Buddhism. And don’t forget the golden roof of the Jokhang Temple. From there, you will see the Potala Palace towering on the Red Hill, and will also overlook the temple square where local pilgrims devoutly worship.
Rating: easy; 2-3 hours is needed for the visit; a must-visit place during the Tibet tour.
3. Do not Travel to Tibet without tasting Local Food and Snacks in the Tibetan Teahouse
No matter how many days you stay in Tibet, just find an afternoon to go to a teahouse to taste the authentic Tibetan food.
A trip to Tibet is not only the sightseeing to popular tourist attractions and monasteries. On your days in Lhasa, it is highly recommended to have a cup of sweet tea in a Tibetan Teahouse.
You can easily find one near the Potala Palace or the Jokhang Temple in the old town of Lhasa. The local tea houses are to Tibetans what cafes are to Westerners. Local Tibetans love to come here to meet and chat with friends while sipping traditional Tibetan sweet tea.
When you come to the Tibetan Teahouse, of course, do not miss to taste the authentic Tibetan food and snacks, such as sweet tea, Tibetan noodles, Tibet dumplings, and so on. This is a good place to experience daily life in Tibet and the best choice for you to integrate into the local area.
Rating: easy; a must-do experience for your Tibet tour; just ask your guide to take you to a teahouse.
4. Do not Travel to Tibet without facing the top of the World - Mount Everest
Enjoy the top peaks along Himalayas at Gawu La Pass(5198m)
Staying one night at the base camp at 5200m above sea level and facing the top of the world could be the coolest thing to do in Tibet. You can trek to the foot of Mount Everest, the world’s highest summit, and closely observe its full grandeur. The Everest Base Camp in Tibet is the highest place a tourist can reach, one of the bucket lists for all travelers.
If you long for the best mountain vistas, you shall not travel to Tibet without visiting Mount Everest. The Great Himalayas would grant you the ultimate visual ecstasy.
The great Himalayas, the spine of the world, consists of over 110 lofty mountains, each with an average altitude of above 7300m. Incredibly, amid the 14 highest mountains (all above 8000m) in the world, 10 find their home in the Himalayas. You can enjoy the panorama of the Himalayas at Gawula Pass (5198m) on the way to Everest Base Camp.
Rating: easy to moderate; at least 7 or more days are needed for travel; the distance between Lhasa and Everest Base Camp is around 615km.
5. Do not Travel to Tibet without seeing the Holy Lake
Follow the winding road, and round a bend, the stunning Yamdrok Lake appears.
Though lying miles away from big oceans, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is well-adorned by over 1500 amazing alpine lakes dotted across Tibet. These enchanting lakes and rivers make Tibet the most beautiful place on our planet.
What makes Tibetan lakes so special is their unbelievable hues of the water, dazzling with turquoise and sapphire colors. Besides, each lake is surrounded by snow-capped towering mountains. In Tibet, all mountains and lakes are believed to be holy and worshipped by Tibetans.
The 3 most sacred lakes in Tibet namely Lake Namtso, Lake Yamdrok, and Lake Manasarovar. Yamdrok Lake is located in Nagarze County that 150 kilometers away from Lhasa. It can usually be visited in a 1-day round trip, or on the way to Shigatse or Mount Everest. The famous Namtso Lake is 220 kilometers north of Lhasa. A classic Lhasa and Lake Namtso tour takes 6 days. Lake Manasarovar in western Tibet is far from Lhasa. It is usually visited together with the sacred Mount Kailash. The epic Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar tour takes 15 days,
Rating: easy to moderate; please feel free to contact us for more details and get the best recommendation on which lake to visit based on your itinerary and points of interest.
6. Do not Travel to Tibet without experiencing the Tibet Train Journey
Running Tibet train on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
Tibet train, also known as Qinghai-Tibet Railway, stretches as far as 2000km and it bridges inland China with Tibet Autonomous Region. Running on the plateau at an extreme altitude ( 4000m-5000m), the Tibet train is crowned as the “Celestial Road”, one of the greatest man-made wonders of all time.
The train ride gives you a rare chance to grasp the unparalleled plateau scenery along the way: snowy craggy peaks, vast prairies and steppes, alpine lakes, grazing Tibetan yaks, etc. much more for exploration. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience since you travel to Tibet.
Ever since the opening of the Tibet train, it has never failed to attract tourists and has been one of the top things to do in Tibet for both domestic and global tourists.
Rating: easy; Tibet train is the top choice for a Tibet tour. You can board the train departing from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xining, etc to Lhasa. The average duration ranges from 24-45 hours. At least 7 or more days are needed for a Tibet train tour.
7. Do not Travel to Tibet without taking a Mount Kailash Kora if you are true adventures
Tibetan family walking the kora around holy Mt.Kailash
Revered as the center of the world by Tibetan Buddhists, Hinduists, Bonists, and Jainists, the sacred Mt. Kailash is taken as the holiest mountain in the world. For centuries, Mt. Kailash has been the ultimate destination for pilgrims and adventures.
If you are a true adventurer, not matter what your religious beliefs are, you can’t have a trip to Tibet without Mount Kailash Kora.
It is a 3-day trek around Mount Kailash, the main peak of the Gangdis Mountain in western Tibet. The average elevation of the kora around Mount Kailash is about 5,000m, with the highest point of Drolma La at 5,630m.
However, a Mount Kailash tour is not only a physical challenge, but also a way to experience the power of religion in Tibet. You will meet devout pilgrims doing prostration along the trekking trails around Mount Kailash.
Prostration is a unique way for Tibetan pilgrims to worship this holy mountain. In the pilgrimage season, pilgrims of different religions from Tibet, India, and Nepal form endless streams along the ancient kora routes. When you see them, you will be impressed by their devotion.
Rating: strenuous; at least 2 weeks are needed for the tour; the distance between Lhasa and Mt.Kailash is around 1199.7km.
8. Do not Travel to Tibet without seeing the Monks Debate in Sera Monastery
It is one of the top things to do to see the monks debating in Sera Monastery.
Although there will be more than one monastery mentioned in your Tibet tour, you can not travel to Tibet without seeing the monks debating in Sera Monastery, which is a special cultural thing to do in Tibet.
As one of the ‘Great Three’ Gelug monasteries in Tibet, Sera Monastery is famous for monks debating, which is a form of discussion of Buddhist knowledge and a kind method for monks to learn.
The monks debates take place every Monday through Saturday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the backyard of Sera Monastery. If this is of interest to you, please make sure with your travel consultant that you can visit Sera Monastery at the correct time before you travel.
Rating: easy; 2-3 hours are needed for the visit; a must-visit place during the Lhasa tour.
9. Do not Travel to Tibet without visiting a local family in a village
Visiting a local Tibetan family is the best way to see the REAL Tibet.
Near downtown Lhasa, there are several local villages where you can have a home visit to the local Tibetan families. It could make you get close to the real life of Tibetans and have a better understanding of the family relationships of Tibetans.
You can enjoy the family food made by the locals and do some farmwork with them. It is one of the best family things in Tibet if you travel with kids.
Rating: easy; 2-3 hours are needed for the visit; a must-visit place during the Tibet tour.
10. Do not Travel to Tibet without enjoying a Tibetan Festival if your time is flexible
Shoton Festival is one of the most important festivals in Tibet that attracts many tourists to come and experience it.
There are rich local festivals in Tibet, not only the worship ceremonies of Buddha and Buddhist masters, but also a series of historical festivals related to religious life and agricultural production.
If your travel time is relatively flexible, then it is highly recommended to travel to Tibet during a local Tibetan festival, so that you can not only visit the attractions, but also feel the strong festive atmosphere, which is the best experience of Tibetan customs and people.
Rating: easy; the popular festivals for travelers to attend include the Shoton Festival, the Saga Dawa Festival, Tashilunpo Tangkar Festival, and the Horse racing festival. You can contact us for the latest festival calendar and let our local travel expert help you arrange the best Tibetan festival tour according to your requirements.
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