Lhasa Facts

Lhasa Facts

By Candice SongUpdated Mar. 29, 2021

Name: Lhasa (拉萨; lā sà (/la-sa/))
Meaning: "place of the gods"
Previous names: Rasa


  • It was originally the capital of the Tibetan Empire called the Bod Empire.
  • Political, economic, cultural and religious center of Tibet
  • Historic Tibetan buildings and cultural traditions are attractions.
  • Rugged Himalayan Scenery

Main Attractions

Jokhang temple with red wall and golden topJokhang temple with red wall and golden top
  • Potala Palace, Gandan Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery.
  • Most popular souvenirs and local products: Tibetan food, crafts, Tibetan rugs
  • Most popular food: Tsampa (the staple composed of barley), balep (bread), thukpa (noodle soup), yak butter, yak cheese, yak yoghurt, raw meat


The city was originally the capital of the Bod Empire that once stretched from India to Mongolia.

  • 618 Songtsan Gampo came to power over his small kingdom after the death of his father.
  • 637 Songtsan Gampo raised the first structures for his capital of Lhasa for his empire.
  • 763 Tibetan troops captured Chang'an (Xi'an).
  • 1642 The Fifth Dalai Lama made Lhasa the capital of his kingdom.
  • 1950 Communist troops captured the city.

Contact us for updated travel information


  • Significance of city: the historic center of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet's largest city.
  • Nearby cities: Shannan (95 km/59 mi), Shigatse (245 km/152 mi)
  • Municipality terrain: The city sits in a Himalayan river basin and is surrounded by high mountain ranges.
  • Average altitude: 3,490 meters (11,450 feet)
  • Main rivers: Kyi River

Location Information

  • City location: 29.39N, 91.07E, in southwestern China
  • Lhasa’s prefecture population: (2009) 1,100,000
  • Prefecture area: 30,000 sq km (11,583 sq mi)
  • Central city area: 544 km2 (210 sq mi)
  • Urban population: 250,000
  • City center: the Potala Palace (29.65N, 91.11E), in Chengguan District


  • Average highest temperature in July: 22.6 °C (72.7 °F)
  • Average lowest temperature in January: -9.0 °C (15.8 °F)
  • Semi-arid, high-altitude climate; the annual precipitation is 426 mm (16.8 in). The city is known for lots of sunshine and mild temperatures for such a high altitude. Oxygen levels are about 68% of that at sea level.


  • Lhasa Gonggar Airport; it is 68 miles from Lhasa.
  • Several highways
  • 1 railway station; connected with the rest of China via Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Contact us for updated travel information

We are here to help you...
start planning your tailor-made China tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip
China Highlights tailor-makes China tours to help travelers discover China their way. We're a passionate team of one hundred avid travelers who love to share our knowledge of China with those looking for a more authentic travel experience, more ...
Featured on
info template feature on