Top 8 Things to Do in Tibet
Tibet, the roof of the world, is every traveler's dream. The land keeps its centuries-old traditions, mysterious religious culture, and untouched pure natural scenery.
Below are the top 8 attractions to see and things to do in Tibet according to their popularity and accessibility.
1. Explore the Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibet. The majestic white and red building complex, set against grey/green mountains and blue sky, is an iconic image of the Roof of the World.
It is a huge treasure house of materials and articles from Tibetan history, religion, culture, and art. The palace is widely known for precious sculptures, Buddha statues, murals, antiques, and religious jewelry housed within. It is the must-see attraction which is included on almost all Tibet tour itineraries.
The number of travelers to the palace is limited each day to protect the building complex. Visiting time for the Potala is limited to one hour per tour group.
2. See the pilgrims at Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Temple is the most sacred temple for Tibetan People.
Pilgrims travel from all over Tibet to their spiritual focal point. They prostrate themselves in front of the temple, and circle around the temple clockwise.
No Tibet tour is complete without visiting Jokhang Temple. The temple with Potala Palace is the most classic attraction in Lhasa.
3. Make a circuit of Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street is Lhasa’s pilgrimage circuit around Jokhang Temple. The street is also a busy shopping street, selling a mind-blogging array of souvenirs from Tibet and Nepal. Join the pilgrims as they circle clockwise around Jokhang Temple to roll the prayer wheels, or join the locals or travelers haggling hard over souvenirs.
Most travelers stroll around this street after a visit to Jokhang Temple. Allow plenty of time to explore the local shops. All shops on the street close early in the evenings.
4. Watch monks debate at Sera Monastery
Watching monks debate scriptures at Sera Monastery is a highlight considered not-to-be-missed by many travelers. The monks in their traditional red robes gather at the monastery courtyard each afternoon. During a debate they may jumps or make many other interesting gestures. It is really interesting to watch.
Note that the monk debates don't take place on Sundays. If you travel with us, your Travel Advisor and Tibet guide are flexible to change your itinerary to make sure you won't miss this highlight.
5. Visit Samye Monastery, the birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism
Samye Monastery was the first monastery built in Tibet, and the place where Tibetan Buddhism was established. Inside the monastery there are numerous frescos, sculptures, and prayer wheels.
The monastery is set in a valley surrounded by barren mountains and sand dunes. The scenery around is austerely striking.
- It is located in Shannan Prefecture, 1.5 hours' drive from Tsetang.
The monastery can be easily combined with Yongbulagang Palace as part of a day in Tsetang. See our Tibet Two Cities Tour.
- If you travel from Lhasa, it will take a day to visit the monastery.
6. Gaze at the Beauty of Lake Yamdrok
Yamdrok Lake will take your breath away with its stunning scenery. On clear days it is a fabulous shade of deep turquoise. On the lake side, they are Tibetan villages and fields of yaks. For a balance of scenery and culture combine this lake with monasteries in Lhasa. It is a refreshing experience to see a lake after the cultural experiences of Lhasa.
- The lake is 2 hours' drive from Lhasa, on the way from Lhasa to Shigatse.
A visit to the lake takes about half a day.
- The road to the lake is closed each year in November through to March, because of snow and ice.
7. Set foot on the world’s tallest mountain — Everest
Mount Everest is many travelers’ dream. Most travelers only stay around 30 minutes at Mt. Everest Base Camp to take some photos and admire the majestic mountain. Although it is a long and tiring trip from Shigatse, those who make it (when it is clear enough to see the summit) say it is well worthwhile.
Although Mount Everest is attractive, and to see it closely is every traveler's dream, the trip is not suitable for the faint-hearted. Altitude sickness is the biggest trouble, and almost everyone is affected at Mt. Everest Base Camp, at altitude 5,200 meters.
Travel to Mount Everest is relatively expensive. Some travelers prefer to join a group to share the price. But it is better to take a private tour, so that you will be cared for individually by a private guide. Any small health problem may become serious quickly at such altitudes. See our private tour of Mount Everest.
8. Appreciate Tibetan Architecture at Tashilunpo Monastery
Tashilhunpo Monastery is the seat of the Panchen Lama. The monastery architecture is a grand view to behold. Topping the red building complex are gold roofs that shine under the sunshine. There is a busy cobbled pilgrimage circuit around the monastery.
Tibet Tour Best Sellers
- 4-Day Essence Tour of Lhasa — the Potala, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Sera Monastery
- 8-Day Everest Base Camp Tour — the above + Yamdrok Lake, Everest, and Tashilunpo Monastery
- 6-Day Tibetan Discovery Tour — the above without Everest
I updated this article on February 19, 2014
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