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How Many Days Should You Spend in Lhasa? For the First-Time and Second-Time Visitors to Lhasa

September,12 2023 BY Kham Sang 0 COMMENTS

Whether it is your first visit to Lhasa or your second, it is necessary to understand how long you should spend in the stunning Tibetan capital. A first tour normally takes in the main sights of this beautiful city, while second-timers are often looking for a more in-depth view of this high-altitude capital. In this article, our local Tibet travel experts will give you some ideas about the perfect length of your stay in Lhasa.

First-timers to Lhasa: Spend 4 Days in Lhasa for the Best Highlights of Lhasa Tour

For those who are visiting Tibet for the very first time, it can sometimes be hard to know where to go and for how long you should stay to get the best experience possible.

For anyone planning their first visit to Lhasa, the classic 4-day tour of the Tibetan capital is the obvious choice. An excellent introduction to Tibet, this amazing and unique tour gives you the perfect insight into the culture and people of the plateau capital at their very best.

Four days in Lhasa gives you enough time to explore the major attractions of this outstanding City of Sunshine, and lets you explore some of Tibet’s most exciting and exquisite tourist attractions. While four days may not seem like much for a holiday, in Lhasa it is ideal for experiencing the wonders of the Jokhang Temple and the Potala Palace, as well as giving you time to travel out to some of the more important Buddhist monasteries in the area and experience the sacred Barkhor kora, one of the most devout Buddhist rituals in Tibet.

First-timers to Lhasa: It’s Worth Having 1 or 2 More Days to Best-known Holy Lakes around Lhasa

For those who are looking for both Buddhist and natural splendor in and around Lhasa, you can add a couple of days to allow you to travel to some of the amazing holy Lakes that can be visited relatively close to Lhasa.

A. Day Trip to Lake Yamdrok from Lhasa

Lake Yamdrok, which lies around 110 kilometers to the southwest of Lhasa, in Shannan Prefecture, is one of three Sacred Lakes in Tibet. The closest lake to Lhasa itself, the freshwater Lake Yamdrok is renowned as the lifeblood of Tibet, and it is generally believed that, should the lake ever run dry, Tibet will become uninhabitable. Surrounded by legends of ogres and goddesses, teardrops, and jewels, this sacred lake spreads out across the plateau like a giant fan, though it looks more like an obscure Chinese character.

Enjoying the stunning view of Lake YamdrokEnjoying the stunning view of Lake Yamdrok with our travel guru

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains of the Nyenchen Tanglha Range, the nine lakes of Yamdrok are said to have been joined together by a goddess to ensure it never dries out. The lake is also the site of the famous Samding Monastery, which sits on a peninsula that juts out into the lake. The monastery is renowned for being one of a few monasteries that have a female abbot, who is the reincarnated consort of the deity Heruka, Dorje Pakmo.

You may take amazing photos of the panorama of Lake Yamdrok at Gampala Pass (4790m) and pet tamed Tibetan mastiffs as well. Lake Yamdrok is also a scenic gateway to historical Gyantse County. - Find more about Lhasa tours.

B. 2-Day Journey from Lhasa to Lake Namtso

Around 112 kilometers to the north of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,718 meters, lies the second of three Sacred Lakes in Tibet, Lake Namtso. Namtso lies in Damxung County of Lhasa, on the boundary with Nagqu Prefecture in northern Tibet. The highest saltwater lake in the world, Lake Namtso is the largest lake in Tibet, and the second largest in China, after Qinghai Lake.

The lake is a popular summer excursion for tourists to Tibet and is a two-day round trip, which makes the most of the unique location, between the high Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains and the vast Changtang Grasslands of Northern Tibet.

Namtso Lake, one of the holiest lakes in TibetNamtso Lake, one of the holiest lakes in Tibet

Surreal beauty surrounds this sparkling sapphire lake, which has five islands dotted across its surface. These islands were once used as summer retreats for monks, who would walk across the frozen surface of the lake in winter, to return when the waters froze over once again. Tashi Dor, the largest of the islands, is linked to the shore by a short bridge, and is the location of the Tashi Dor Monastery.

As well as being one of the best locations in Tibet for photography, you can also get some great views of the stars at night as you camp on the lakeshore, and the surrounding grasslands are a haven for the herds of yaks and their nomadic herders throughout the year. So, should you visit Lake Yamdrok or Lake Namtso?

Second-timers to Lhasa: Rediscover Lhasa in a 5-day In-depth Tour

For those returning to Tibet for a second visit to Lhasa, it’s a perfect time to go off-the-beaten paths and discover more local experiences, in hidden back streets and Buddhist retreats or countryside of Lhasa, etc.

If the normal four days of touring the capital are not enough for your second visit, you can opt for a longer five-day trip, which gives you the chance to get out of the city more to explore some of the hidden monasteries and secrets of the area. A more hands-on experience than before, you can take a trip to visit a unique nunnery in a tranquil location, discover a hidden monastery in the depths of the city’s winding back streets, learn to live, eat, and even cook like a local, explore the cliff-side retreat of Guru Rinpoche and King Songtsen Gampo, and experience the kora rituals around the many holy sites around the city. - Check the 5-day trip to rediscover Lhasa.

Explore Barkhor Street in LhasaYou can spare time to walk the Barkhor kora with locals.

Second-timers to Lhasa: Add 3 More Days to Visit Drigung Til Monastery and Tidrum Nunnery, Hot Spring

If you are looking to extend more to truly discover the unique culture and religion of Tibet, you can add another three days to give you a chance to explore some of the lesser-visited sites close to Lhasa that are well worth taking time to see. Taking you off the beaten track more than anything else in Lhasa, you can find exquisite canyon views and amazing spiritual experiences in the outer areas of this wondrous city.

Drigung Til Monastery in LhasaAdmiring the amazing valley view from Drigung Til Monastery.

On the first day out of Lhasa, you can drive out to the unique Drigung Til Monastery, in Maizhokunggar County. Built in the 12th century, this ancient monastery has long been the seat of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and was once one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. Lying on the southern slopes of a mountain ridge around 120 kilometers northeast of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,465 meters, the monastery is said to have the best sky burial site in Tibet. While you will be able to see the site from below, you will not be allowed to enter, due to the religious significance of the site. However, you can explore the traditional ceremony before the sky burial.

After an overnight stay at the monastery guesthouse, you can drive on from Drigung Monastery to the Tidrum Nunnery, to explore the area and experience their famous hot springs. Set in a beautiful valley around 110 kilometers from Lhasa, the nunnery was built on the site of numerous meditation and hermitage caves that date back to the very beginnings of Buddhism in Tibet. The unique aspect of the nunnery is that it is only accessible on foot. Vehicles are not allowed in the village, so you will walk a short distance to the nunnery to experience the hot springs.

The hot Sulphur springs of Tidrum NunneryThe hot Sulphur springs of Tidrum Nunnery

The hot Sulphur springs are said to have magical healing properties, which can heal any illness. They are said to be good for arthritis, gastritis, and other ailments, so magic or not, they are well worth taking a soak in. Even the nuns use the hot springs and are all in excellent health.

You can stay overnight at the monastery, and travel back to Lhasa in the morning, with more stunning experiences to wonder about as you consider where to go on your third trip to Tibet…

>> Check the 7 Days Reveal Sky Burial Ceremony at Drigung Til, Healing Hot Springs & Hidden Nunnery.

Second-timers to Lhasa: Consider A Day Trek from Pabonka to Pubjoi Monastery

Trekking is one of the most popular activities in Tibet, and while you can take treks that last for just a few hours, hiking around kora paths around several monasteries in Lhasa, you can also take a longer day trek around the outskirts of Lhasa to get an even wider experience of the beauty of this unique land.

Pabonka Monastery in TibetYou're able to enjoy a short trek from Pabonka to Pubjoi Monastery during your Lhasa tour.

A good moderate trek for those who already understand altitude on the plateau, this hike takes you around a variety of sites on the outskirts of Lhasa that are worth taking the time to visit. The trek starts at the amazing Pabonka Monastery, set on the cliff-side around 15km from the center of the city. The monastery has a sacred meditation cave said to have been used regularly by Songtsen Gampo.

The first stretch takes you uphill to the Tashi Chöling Hermitage, around 30 minutes from Pabonka. Then you hike upwards for around 40 minutes to reach the hermitage of Tagden Ritro, where you can stop for lunch. Then you descend to the Sera Ütse hermitage, with its stunning views of the panoramic Lhasa Valley, and then on down for another hour to the Purbu Jog Monastery. The route passes by the Raka Drak hermitage, and has some great views of the surrounding valleys.

For our clients, we prepared trekking poles for you, which will be quite helpful to keep your balance as you ascend and descend from parts of the treacherous mountain roads. Drinking water and convenient transfer, insurance, etc. are also available.


No matter whether it is your first or second trip to Lhasa, or your ninth or tenth, you can always find a wide choice of things to do to keep the trip as interesting as the first one, and as amazing as you thought it was going to be. We have a wide range of options for both first and second-time travelers to Tibet, and we can customize your trip to suit your own individual needs, to give you the best possible tour of the Roof of the World. Please don’t hesitate to share your inspirations with us and work with our friendly travel consultants to plan the tour.

Kham Sang

About the Author - Kham Sang

Kham Sang is responsible and honest with more than six years of guide experience in Tibet.She has strong interpersonal skills and can communicate effectively with tourists.

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