Potala Palace, located in the heart of Lhasa, is one of the most iconic and must-see attractions in Tibet. This impressive structure, which served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas for over 300 years, is a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of Tibet. In this guide, we will explore two outdoor activities, two must-see places, and one unusual tip that will make your trip to the Potala Palace even more unforgettable.
One of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring outdoor activities you can do in Tibet is to trek to Namtso Lake. This pristine body of water, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, is located about 250 km from Lhasa and is one of the highest lakes in the world. The trek takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Tibet, including vast grasslands, snow-capped peaks, and turquoise lakes. It’s a challenging trek, but the stunning views and serene surroundings make it well worth the effort.
The Yarlung Valley, also known as the cradle of Tibetan civilization, is a beautiful and historic valley located about 200 km from Lhasa. It is the birthplace of Tibetan culture and the location of many important historical sites, including the Yumbulagang Palace and the Samye Monastery. Exploring this valley on foot or on horseback is an excellent way to immerse yourself in Tibetan culture and history.
The Potala Palace is, of course, the number one must-see place in Lhasa. This magnificent structure, with its towering walls and gilded roofs, is an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. Visitors can explore the palace’s many rooms, halls, and chapels, and marvel at the beautiful artwork, sculptures, and murals that adorn its walls.
The Jokhang Temple is the most important temple in Tibet and a must-see for any visitor to Lhasa. Located in the heart of the city, this ancient temple is believed to have been built in the 7th century and is home to many important Buddhist relics and artifacts. Visitors can join the throngs of worshippers as they make their way around the temple’s many shrines and prayer halls.
The Barkhor Market, located in the heart of Lhasa, is a bustling marketplace where you can find all manner of souvenirs, handicrafts, and traditional Tibetan goods. While the market is busy during the day, it takes on a different character at night. The crowds thin out, and the market takes on a more mystical and atmospheric feel. Visiting the market at night is a great way to experience the local culture and to pick up some unique souvenirs.
The Sera Monastery is a famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery located in Lhasa. It is one of the three great Gelug university monasteries in Tibet, and it is known for its unique style of debating among the monks. Visitors can witness the monks engaging in lively debates in the courtyard, a practice that has been carried out for centuries.
Drak Yerpa is a complex of caves and temples located about 16 km northeast of Lhasa. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in Tibet and is believed to have been used as a meditation retreat by many famous Tibetan figures. The complex includes many meditation caves, temples, and shrines, as well as stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The Yak Hotel is a budget-friendly hotel located in the heart of Lhasa, just a few minutes’ walk from the Potala Palace. This hotel offers simple but comfortable rooms with basic amenities like free Wi-Fi, cable TV, and private bathrooms. The hotel also has a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the city, and a travel desk where guests can book tours and transportation.
The House of Shambhala is a boutique hotel located in a traditional Tibetan house in the historic Barkhor neighborhood of Lhasa. This mid-range hotel offers elegantly decorated rooms with modern amenities like free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. The hotel also has a restaurant serving Tibetan and Western cuisine, a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city, and a spa offering massage and beauty treatments.
The St. Regis Lhasa Resort is a luxurious hotel located just a few minutes’ drive from the Potala Palace. This high-end hotel offers spacious and opulent rooms with amenities like free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and marble bathrooms with soaking tubs. The hotel also has a restaurant serving Tibetan and international cuisine, a bar, a fitness center, and a spa offering a range of treatments.
The Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Lhasa, just a few minutes’ walk from the Potala Palace. This luxury hotel offers spacious and tastefully decorated rooms with amenities like free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and marble bathrooms with separate soaking tubs and showers. The hotel also has a restaurant serving Tibetan and international cuisine, a bar, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and a spa offering a range of treatments.
The Potala Palace is one of the most iconic and must-see attractions in Tibet, and it offers a wealth of opportunities for outdoor activities, exploration, and cultural immersion. From trekking to Namtso Lake to exploring the Yarlung Valley, there are plenty of ways to experience the natural beauty and rich history of this amazing region. And with must-see places like the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple, as well as unusual tips like visiting the Barkhor Market at night, there’s something for everyone in Lhasa.