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Lhasa Tibet: 15 Unique Things to Know about Lhasa, Tibet

September,18 2023 BY Master Catherine Jigme 0 COMMENTS

Lhasa, the enchanting heart of Tibet Autonomous Region, rests serenely amidst the Himalayan peaks. Renowned for its stunning Potala Palace and the Jokahang Temple, it’s a spiritual, cultural, and political center of Tibet.

Tourists from all over the world want to come to see the real face of this Land of Holiness. As one of the most mysterious destinations in the Himalayas. To help you better understand this fascinating place here are 15 unique things you may not know about Tibet.

1. Lhasa City was originally a small town around Jokhang Temple

Nestled in the serene Lhasa valley, Lhasa's earliest incarnation was a small town that originated around the Jokhang Temple in the 7th century. With time, this sacred center gave rise to a bustling settlement, paving the way for Lhasa's transformation into the vibrant city it is today.

Jokhang TempleThe Jokhang Temple was the center of the ancient Lhasa town.

Today, when visiting the Jokhang Temple, you can still experience the ancient Lhasa town around Barkhor Street, which once formed the core of the old Lhasa city.

2. Lhasa became the religious and political center of Tibet after the construction of the Potala Palace

Lhasa became the spiritual and political center of Tibet after the construction of the iconic Potala Palace. Located on a hilltop, the Potala Palace not only symbolized Tibetan Buddhism's centrality but also housed successive Dalai Lamas, serving as the seat of both religious and political power. Its grandeur and historical significance made Lhasa an undeniable focal point, attracting pilgrims and tourists from around the world, and firmly establishing it as the beating heart of Tibet.

Potala PalacePotala Palace is the seat of both religious and political power.

3. The altitude of Lhasa is at an average level across massive Tibet

Geographically, the altitude of Lhasa is at an average level across massive Tibet. And to first-timers to Tibet, Lhasa is usually not only their first stop in Tibet but also a crucial starting point for them to explore other parts of Tibet.

The average altitude of the Tibet Plateau is 4,380m, while the altitude of Lhasa city is 3,650m above sea level. Due to its relatively moderate altitude compared to the rest of Tibet, Lhasa is often recommended as the ideal starting point for a Tibet tour. It offers a gentler introduction to the high-altitude environment of the region, allowing you to acclimatize gradually.

4. Lhasa is praised as the City of Sunshine

Lhasa is also called the ‘City of Sunshine’ , which is blessed with 3,000 hours of daylight annually. It is celebrated for its abundant sunshine throughout the year. Situated in a high-altitude region, its clear skies and sunny days are a remarkable feature, contributing to its unique climate and ambiance.

The great sunshine enhances the natural beauty of Lhasa. However, when visiting Lhasa, it's essential to protect yourself from the intense sun.

Apply a high SPF sunscreen to exposed areas like your face, neck, and hands, while donning UV-protective sunglasses shields your eyes. A wide-brimmed hat provides additional protection for your face and neck, and choosing lightweight, long-sleeved clothing helps cover your arms. To combat the dry climate, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and taking periodic breaks in the shade to cool down and recharge.

5. Lhasa's weather makes it an ideal destination for year-round travel

With its high-altitude location, Lhasa City enjoys a semi-arid climate characterized by mild winters and pleasantly warm summers. The highest recorded temperature is 30 degrees Celsius, while winter temperatures average around 4 degrees Celsius, with an annual average of 7.4 degrees Celsius.

This temperate climate allows for year-round exploration of its cultural and natural treasures, making Lhasa an appealing destination regardless of the season. Spring and autumn are typically the best times to visit Lhasa, and Tibet as a whole. While summer brings monsoon rains, they mostly occur at night, leaving daytime sightseeing in Lhasa unaffected. Winter offers a peaceful experience with fewer tourists and lower tour prices.

visit Sera MonasterySpring and Autumn is the best time to visit Lhasa.

6. Lhasa stands out as one of the exceptional Tibetan cities to explore during the winter months

While winter chills much of Tibet and makes some places inaccessible due to heavy snowfall, Lhasa stands apart as an accessible destination for a Tibet winter tour.

During winter, Lhasa and its environs boast breathtaking scenery, featuring snow-covered mountains and unspoiled landscapes. The Potala Palace and other historical treasures appear exceptionally magnificent against the clear skies, making it a unique and picturesque winter destination.

Visit Potala Palace in winterVisit Potala Palace in winter.

The sunny days and fewer tourists in the winter of Lhasa make it an ideal off-peak time to visit the holy city. Plus, if you need to warm up, nearby natural hot springs like Dezong offer a soothing escape within driving distance from Lhasa.

7. The Airport in Lhasa is indeed an international airport

Gonggar Airport in Lhasa is Tibet Autonomous Region's sole international airport, serving as the gateway to the world from Tibet. It hosts the exclusive international flight between Lhasa and Kathmandu.

In addition to these international flights, the Lhasa airport also operates domestic routes from several major cities like Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai, Xi’an, and Lanzhou. While Tibet has other airports, Lhasa Airport holds paramount importance for tourism in the region.

Situated in Lazhulin Town, Gonggar County, Lhasa Gonggar International Airport lies approximately 60 km from downtown Lhasa, taking around an hour to reach by car. When you choose to travel with us, our local guide will warmly welcome you with a traditional holy hada upon your arrival at the airport.

Lhasa Gonggar AirportOur Local Guide will meet you at Lhasa Gonggar Airport.

8. The Lhasa Railway Station operates both the Qinghai-Tibet train and high-speed bullet trains in Tibet

Just 20 km from the stunning Potala Palace, you’ll find the Lhasa Railway Station, a crucial travel hub in Tibet.

Opened in 2006, it’s the biggest station on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, welcoming travelers from cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Xining to Tibet by Tibet trains.

Recently, it added high-speed bullet trains to Nyingchi and Shigatse, making it more important. It’s not just a gateway for tourists coming to Tibet, but also a vital link for local Tibetans connecting to the world outside.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway to LhasaQinghai-Tibet Railway to Lhasa.

9. Visiting Lhasa only required a Chinese Visa and a Tibet Travel Permit

Lhasa stands out as both the most accessible and convenient travel destination in Tibet. Unlike some more remote regions (Mount Everest and Mount Kailash), a visit to Lhasa City mainly calls for a Chinese visa and a Tibet Travel Permit.

Tibet Entry PermitA Sample of Tibet Entry Permit

When you book one of our Lhasa tour packages, we will handle the application process for your Tibet Travel Permit, ensuring a hassle-free experience in this holy land.

10. A Lhasa city tour typically takes at least 4 days

A comprehensive Lhasa city tour typically spans around 4 days to fully explore the city’s rich cultural and historical heritages.

Most of the must-see attractions in Lhasa are gathered in the Chengguan District, including iconic landmarks like the awe-inspiring Potala Palace, the sacred Jokhang Temple, and the ancient Barkhor Street.

To make the most of your visit, it’s advisable to dedicate at least two days to exploring Lhasa’s urban highlights and the significant monasteries nearby, such as the Drepung Monastery and the Sera Monastery.

Upon your arrival, it’s wise to allocate the first day for acclimatization and rest due to the high altitude of Lhasa.

11. You cannot see Mount Everest from Lhasa

Many travelers often wonder if they can catch a glimpse of Mount Everest from Lhasa, but in reality, this world’s highest peak remains hidden from the city's view. Mount Everest lies roughly 600 kilometers to the east of Lhasa, and the considerable distance, along with intervening mountain ranges, obstructs any direct line of sight.

Mount Everest and Rongbuk MonasteryEnjoy a great view of Mount Everest from Rongbuk Monastery in Tibet

The journey from Lhasa to Mount Everest covers this extensive distance, typically spanning four days on an overland trip that includes detours to Gyantse and Shigatse en route. This gradual ascent takes you from lower altitudes in Lhasa to the lofty heights of Everest Base Camp at 5200 meters, with a stopover in Shigatse at 3836 meters to help acclimatize to the increasing altitude.

For a safer and more enjoyable journey, it's highly recommended to take your time when traveling from Lhasa to Mount Everest, as rushing may increase the risk of altitude sickness along the way.

12. There are 3 popular kora routes inside Lhasa city

When exploring Lhasa City, immersing yourself in the local culture by participating in the Kora alongside Tibetan pilgrims is an experience of profound significance.

To experience solemn religious rituals, the top 3 Kora routes in Lhasa are Nangkhor Kora, the closest to Buddha; Barkhor Kora, along bustling Business Street; and Tsekhor Kora, encircling the sacred Potala Palace.

Barkhor Street KoraLocal pilgrims kora around the Jokhang Temple along the Barkhor Street.

13. Lhasa has the most diverse accommodations in Tibet

Lhasa boasts the most diverse range of accommodations in Tibet, catering to a wide spectrum of traveler preferences and budgets. From budget-friendly youth hostels to opulent 5-star luxury hotels, Lhasa offers something for every type of visitor.

St. Regis Lhasa ResortThe luxurious St. Regis Lhasa Resort.

For those seeking the pinnacle of luxury, international 5-star hotels like the Four Points Sheraton and the luxurious St. Regis Lhasa Resort are available. Others, such as the Lhasa Brahmaputra Grand Hotel, immerse guests in Tibetan history and tradition through their distinctive architectural styles.

If you prefer a taste of tradition, Tibetan courtyard-style accommodations like the House of Shambhala offer an authentic experience. Alternatively, you can choose lodging strategically located near major attractions, such as the Lhasa Thangka Hotel near the Jokhang Temple or the Lhasa Shangbala Hotel for easy access to Barkhor Street.

14. What to eat is never a problem when visiting Lhasa

During your stay in Lhasa, you won't need to worry about what to eat. Influenced by its proximity to Nepal, India, and the mainland of China, Lhasa City offers a wide range of dining options, including Tibetan, Nepali, Indian, Western, and even Sichuan cuisine.

You can visit famous restaurants in Lhasa, such as Makye Ame, for authentic Tibetan dishes, or explore local Tibetan teahouses to savor traditional Tibetan snacks alongside locals. Lhasa also offers a variety of Western restaurants, Chinese eateries, cafes, and bars.

Tibetan Cuisine in Lhasa restaurantEnjoy Tibetan cuisine in a Lhasa restaurant

If you're looking for more dining recommendations, please don't hesitate to ask our local Tibetan guide, who will be happy to provide you with additional choices tailored to your preferences.

15. Lhasa provides the most colorful nightlife in Tibet

Nightlife is Lhasa the most vibrant in the whole region. There are a range of cultural performances that take place in the evening, including traditional Tibetan music and dance shows. For a truly unique nightlife experience, consider visiting Langma Hall, a Tibetan-style nightclub where you can enjoy a drink amidst a distinctive Tibetan ambiance.

nightlife in LhasaColorful nightlife in Lhasa

In addition to these cultural delights, the night markets in Lhasa remain lively into the night. You can take a leisurely walk around Barkhor Street to enjoy the evening ambience, and then head to a market for snacks or to shop for handicrafts and souvenirs.


Lhasa is an ancient historic city and the beating cultural and religious heart of Tibet. From attractions to food to accommodations, it is one of the easiest and most interesting places to visit in Tibet. Armed with these must-knows about the city, you'll be ready to start your Tibet tour in Lhasa.

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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