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Top 10 Things to Do in Tibet

Top 10 Things to Do in Tibet

Written by Carol WangUpdated Jan. 19, 2022

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 9 attractions to see and things to do in Tibet according to their popularity and accessibility.

1. Explore the Potala Palace

 Potala Palace Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibet. The majestic white and red building complex, set against green mountains and blue sky, is an iconic image of the Roof of the World. The fifth Dalai Lama rebuilt this palace and it became the winter home of Dalai Lamas from 1649.

After the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, the palace has been more like a museum. It contains 1,000 rooms with precious sculptures, Buddha statues, murals, antiques, and religious jewelry housed within.

Every year the Potala Palace's walls are painted for the celebration of the Buddha’s Descending Festival, which is on the 22nd day of the 9th month of the Tibetan calendar (November 15 in 2022).

You can see an interesting scene of a group of men on ropes climbing down the outside wall of the Potala Palace like spiders during that period.

The good news is that the Potala Palace is free from entrance fees during the winter, from December to February. Entrance tickets need to be booked at least 5 days before via a travel agent, though, so please send us an inquiry to tailor make a trip to visit the Potala Palace.

2. See the pilgrims at Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street

 the Pilgrims at Barkhor Street the Pilgrims at Barkhor Street

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No Tibet tour would be complete without visiting Jokhang Temple. It was built to house a life-sized sitting statue of Sakyamuni. It is the place Tibetan pilgrims from all over Tibet have made their spiritual focal point for getting blessings from Sakyamuni.

You can witness Tibetan people walking a circuit around Jokhang Temple while spinning prayer wheels with their hands. 

They prostrate themselves on the ground in worship after every few steps. Whether you are a Buddhist or not, you can appreciate their reverence and faith, as you respectfully make the clockwise circuit yourself.

Most travelers stroll around Bakhor 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.

Jokhang Temple is free of charge in winter (December to February), see our 4-Day Lhasa Highlights Tour for an expertly planned way to explore the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor street.

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3. Set Eyes on the World’s Tallest Mountain

Everest Base Camp

In any trip to Tibet, there is nothing more sublime than Mount Everest itself. Everest Base Camp (EBC) is the closest place to the actual mountain that travelers can reach without a climbing permit. 

At the lodging area in EBC, which has been moved back to around Rongbuk Monastery, you can have a night camp where you can see the sunrise on Everest’s peak if weather permits (the clearest months are April, May, September, and October).

Everest Base Camp is almost 700 km (400 miles) from Lhasa and can be journeyed to by a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, with two overnight stays recommended en route.

On our 8-Day Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Tour, you would start from the holy city, Lhasa, and explore beautiful and holy Yamdrok Lake, a magnificent glacier, splendid Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and remote Tibetan villages on the way to Everest.  

EBC is at an altitude of 5,150 m (16,900 ft), so, if you have asthma, high blood pressure, or similar conditions you are suggested to consult your doctor before traveling.

It is usually perfectly okay for ordinary people to travel to Tibet, including seniors or kids. The youngest Tibet traveler we served was 7 years old and the oldest was 83 years old.

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4. Camp with a Nomadic Family on Their Pasture

Galai Village is a beautiful Tibetan nomad village, which is a 4-hour drive from Lhasa. Local people make their living by growing barley and raising yaks.

Walk around beautiful Galai village, say hello to the villagers, and visit a local Tibetan's house to discover the authentic rural life of Tibetan people. In the evening, you will cook and have dinner with the local Tibetan family. Sleep in a tent right by the nomads’ tent.

This experience is only offered in summer (June to August), as it may be too cold at night at other times, and the scenery is not so good either.

5. Watch monks debate at Sera Monastery

Watching monks debate their 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 every afternoon. During a debate, they may jump up 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 will always be flexible in changing your itinerary to make sure you won't miss this highlight.

Monks Debate Scriptures at Sera MonasteryMonks Debate Scriptures at Sera Monastery

If you fancy hiking to Sera Monastery, you can start from Phabongka Monastery, which is on a mountain near Lhasa city. The total length of the hike is about 13 km (8 miles) and takes about 6 hours.

Our 7-Day Tibet Hiking & Camping Tour includes the hike from Phabongka Monastery to Sera Monastery and a camping experience in Galai Village.

6. 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.

Hiking from Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery is one of the most popular adventure trips in Tibet. >>Read more on Ganden Monastery to Samye Monastery Trek 

Send your inquiry to tailor-make a trip to visit Samye Monastery 

7. Experience Tibetan Incense Making

There is a small Tibetan village in Lhasa prefecture that is famous for producing hand-made Tibetan incense. In the village, local people still follow the traditional way to make incense.

Tibetan Incense Making

You can learn about the different materials used and the method used to tell their quality. You can also experience the processes, such as grinding paste, kneading paste, and shaping.

Burn the incense sticks you make and enjoy the fragrance and a peaceful moment that the incense brings.

Travel with us, for example on our 8-Day Tibet Tsedang, Shigatse, and Lhasa Tour, and we will enable you to explore the Tibetan incense village.

8. Gaze at the Beauty of Lake Yamdrok

Breath taking scenery of Lake YamdrokBreathtaking scenery of Lake Yamdrok

Resting at an altitude of 4,800 meters (16,000 ft), Yamdrok Lake is about a 3-hour drive from Lhasa. It is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in China, and one of the three sacred lakes of Tibet, along with Lake Namtso and Lake Manasarovar.

Lake Yamdrok is said to be able to help Tibetans find the reincarnated soul of the Dalai Lama. It is also the largest habitat for waterbirds in Tibet, attracting countless swans and gulls.

If your travel schedule allows, you can journey 2 hours by car along Lake Yamdrok to get to a small lamasery, which is regarded as the loneliest lamasery in Tibet. It is on a small island with a causeway and has a history of 700 hundred years.

Our 5-Day Lhasa Classics and Lake Yamdrok Tour will offer you an enjoyable way to see Lhasa’s highlights and a lakeside picnic near Tibetans’ holy lake.

9. Walk on a Charming Blue Glacier — In Winter 

Every year, particularly in January and February, blue ice lakes are a unique scene in Tibet. Laigu Glacier is one of the places where you can see blue ice. It is in Rawok District, 750 km (450 miles) from Lhasa.

In winter, you can walk across frozen Rawok Lake to get close to the glacier tongue. If it is sunny, the huge ice blocks appear to be a charming blue color. It is amazing to have a photo in a blue ice cave.

From March to May and from October to December, you will see ice blocks on the glacial lake. June to September is the rainy season. Then the view of the glacier is not so impressive. It is suggested to avoid this period.

10. Take a Mount Kailash Yatra (Pilgrimage Walk)

Mount Kailash Yatra

Sacred Mount Kailash is located in the remote Ngari region of western Tibet and is believed by Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists to be the center of the world.

Every year, pilgrims travel all the way there for a yatra (pilgrimage) and a kora (a worshipful walk around the mountain). The starting point for Mount Kailash kora is a small town called Darchen, which is about 1,200 kilometers (700 miles) from Lhasa.

Usually, 3 days are needed for a Kailash pilgrimage walk from Darchen, with the lowest altitude being 4,675 meters (15,340 feet) and the highest 5,648 meters (18,530 feet). >>Read more on Mount Kailash Yatra.

No matter whether you are religious or not, a Kailash or Lake Manasarovar yatra is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge just waiting for you to undertake. We can give you a helping hand. 

Check out our 14-Day Tibet Tour including Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.

Explore Tibet with China Highlights

If you are interested in traveling Tibet, please see our popular tours below for inspiration:

Not interested in the above tour? See more popular Tibet tours, Or tailor-make your own unique tour by telling us your interests and requirements. We will help you design a perfect trip.

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