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Lhasa

Experience the home of Buddhism on your China tour!

Lhasa is world-famous for its sites of historical interest related to Buddhism, such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, and more. The Tibetan ethnic group have a long history in this region and rich culture to go with it. 

Lhasa, meaning “the Sacred Land” or “Buddha place” in the Tibetan language, has been the cultural, economic, political and religious center of Tibet since ancient times. Tibet was a theocratic state and Potala Palace was the symbol of the theocratic regime many centuries ago.

However, with the peaceful liberation of Tibet on May 23, 1951, the theocratic ended and Lhasa entered a new era. In 1960, the State Council officially approved Lhasa as a prefecture-level city. In 1982 Lhasa was selected as one of the state level historical and cultural cities.

Ready to explore this beautiful, one-of-a-kind city?  Let China Tour guide your next adventure!  Call us at (888) 878-1777 or fill out a simple form to get started.

Things To Do

Drink Sweet Tea in Guangming Teahouse

In Lhasa, drinking sweet tea in Guangming Teahouse is an indispensable things to do just like strolling around Hutong area in Beijing. Guangming Teahouse is well-known with long history in Lhasa. This teahouse is an indispensable part for people’s life and has become a good place to interact with the locals in Lhasa.

In olden times, sweet tea consumption was limited to the noble class, but today the sweet tea can be enjoyed by people of all walks of lives.

Enjoy Sunbathing

Lhasa is called “sunlit city” because it enjoys over 3,000 hours of sunlight annually. Undoubtedly, Lhasa is the best city to enjoy sunbathing in China. Find a place you like and relax under the sun, but don’t forget the sunblock.

Stroll around Barkhor Street

The Barkhor is an area of narrow streets with public square situated around Jokhang Temple. There are many shops and booths selling various kinds of traditional and unique Tibetan handicrafts. It is a holy pilgrimage site so you should stroll around Bakhor Street in clockwise direction according to Buddhist tradition.

Visit the Temples

Besides the famous Jokhang and Ramoche temples, there are many other unknown temples which are mostly patronized by locals. These small temples are free of charge to enter.

Scripture Debate in Sera Monastery

Scripture debate in Sera Monastery is so famous that the scenes of debate are printed on the tickets. Even if you have witnessed the debate in other temples, the debate in Sera Monastery should not be missed.

Potala Palace

Potala Palace is easily the most prominent attraction in Lhasa and as such is not to be missed. Tickets for the Potala Palace are limited. Take your passport and head to the southwest exit and look for ticket stand where you will get a free ticket voucher. The following day, arrive at the south entrance 30 minutes before the time on the voucher. After checking in, you will be allowed to enter the palace.

Get Lost in the scenery of Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake is a mountain lake about 112 kilometers away from Lhasa. It is a holy lake in the eye of Tibetans. The lake is crystal-clear blue, though it changes with the weather.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Lhasa is from August to October. The weather during this period is humid and warm compared with the dry and windy weather in spring and winter.

When visiting Lhasa in the summer, you can pay a visit to some palace-like monasteries such as Drepung Monasteries and Jokhang Monastery. In the evening, you can relax in the Tibetan-styled bars and immerse yourself in the exotic atmosphere. Although it is the rainy season during the summer, your journey will not be effected, because it always rains at nigh and clears up the following day.

If you happen to visit Lhasa during the Shoton Festival in August, you can not only watch the performance of Tibetan Opera, but also witness the exhibition of precious Thangka in Drepung Monastery.

Lhasa Attractions

Drepung Monastery
Jokhang Temple
Namtso Lake
Norbulingka
Potala Palace
Ramoche Temple
Sera Monastery

Lhasa Tours

Luxury

8 Days Tibet Pilgrim Tour by Train from Xining (TT05)

From$3,999$1,099
8 Days and 6 Nights
Spend 6 Amazing Nights in Xining and Tibet. Traveling to the Mysteries Potala Palace and many other Tibetan Palaces and Temples by Train.
Affordable

10 Days Tibet Adventure with Everest Camp (INTB0901)

$2,099
10 Days and 8 Nights
Visiting the Roof of the World, including Lhasa, Gyangtse, Shigatse, Dingri and the Everest Camp.
西藏-羊卓雍湖 - China travel agents
Affordable

9 Days Experience of Lhasa, Tsetang, Gyantse and Shigatse (INTB0801)

From$3,499$1,499
9 Days and 7 Nights
Spend 7 Amazing Nights in Tibet. Traveling to the Mysteries Potala Palace and many other Tibetan Palaces and Temples.

Lhasa Culture

The Best Tour Packages of Tibet

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, has a history of more than 1,300 years and is the cultural, economic, political and transit center of the region. It covers an area of 30,000 square kilometers and its downtown is 59 square kilometers. The total population of Lhasa is close to 1 million people, among which the Tibetan ethnic group makes up 87%.

Lhasa was named “Re Sa” in ancient Tibet. In the Tibetan language, goat is “Re” and earth is “Sa”. In the seventh century CE, Songtsen Gampo moved his capital to Lhasa and the powerful Tubo kingdom was established after unifying the whole of Tibet.

At that point, Tibetans set about building Great Brightness Temple and Little Brightness Temple. After the completion of these two temples, monks and pilgrims gradually came to reside at Lhasa. By the 640s, 18 hospices had been erected near Great Brightness Temple for pilgrims from afar and the houses of many local residents had also risen nearby, forming the beginning of the old quarter of the Lhasa centering around what is now know as the Octagon Street.

Meanwhile Songtsen Gampo built an extension onto his palace, i.e. Potala Palace. This world-famous plateau city came into being and “Re Sa” gradually became known as “the Sacred Land”.

Culture

Traditional Architecture

Potala Palace can be regarded as the embodiment of traditional Tibetan architecture. Potala Palace is a large-scale palace/castle architectural complex located on the top of Red Hill at the center of Lhasa. Symbolizing Tibetan Buddhism, art, history and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet, Potala Palace is considered the ‘Tibetan Historical Museum’. Important religious and political ceremonies has been held here since the fifth Dalai Lama (Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, 1617-1682). Moreover it is the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century CE. The numerous valuable historical relics are well preserved in the palace.

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism, also named Esoteric Buddhism, is a branch of Buddhism which is regarded as a mysterious and pristine Tibetan religion. The Tibetan Buddhism is characterized by celestial burial, a funerary practice during which a human corpse is left in certain locations to decompose or be eat by scavenger birds.

Traditional Customs

Due to its altitude and long history, Tibet has formed its own unique customs over countless generations. Tibetan wine culture gradually came into being over the course of about 1,000 years. In Tibetan culture, wine symbolizes happiness, such that it is a necessity during festivals.

A Hada, or khata and katak is a traditional ceremonial scarf common in Tibetan and Mongolian cultures. The Tibetan people always offer a hada to their honorable guests.

Tradition Handicrafts

One of most valuable handicrafts in Tibet is Thangka which is a silk painting with beautiful patterns depicting a Buddhism deity, scene, or mandala. The themes of Thangka are derived from the Tibetan history, Tibetan medicine or astronomy.

Lhasa Food

Lhasa boasts some of the best food compared with other places in Tibet. The food can be divided into Tibetan food, Sichuan cuisine and western-style cuisine. Nepalese and Indian food are also available in some restaurants. The flavor of Tibetan food is light and not very greasy. Any spicy ingredients are not added in the food except garlic and green onions.

Lhasa has some food streets which you can taste authentic Tibetan food where visitors can try a taste of local Tibetan cuisine such as Yak beef, buttered tea, and Tsampa, etc. Deji Road which contains about 100 restaurants is the most popular dining place among locals. Western-style restaurants can be found in Beijing Road and Barkhor Street.

Food

What to Eat in Lhasa

Tsampa

As a staple of Tibetan cuisine, Tsampa is eaten at every meal. Tsampa is made of ground barley and pea flour. When eating, Tsampa is often mingled with butter tea.

Blood Sausage

Blood sausage is made of yak and sheep’s blood, which is very popular among Tibetan. Most Chinese visitors will be fond of it but for Christian foreigners, blood sausage won’t added on their menu.

Thukpa

Thukpa is the most popular noodle compared with other Tibetan noodles. It is slightly similar with hand-pulled noodles. The noodles are cooked in the beef soup with some salt and green onions. It is always eaten with yak beef or mutton.

Tibetan Liangfen (bean noodle)

Tibetan Liangfen can be eaten in most places in Lhasa. It is characterized by peppers which are soaked in water and put into Liangfen when eating. It can be tasted on Barkhor Street.

Drinks:

Chang

Chang, a Tibetan beer, is brewed from barley. With low alcohol content, Chang is favored by nearly all Tibetans including children and the old.

Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea is an ancient highlight in Tibetan cuisine. It is concocted of black tea, milk and sugar.

Buttered Tea

Buttered tea is alway used to treat guests. When traveling in Tibet, you’d better drink buttered tea as much as possible for it can help to cure cold and acclimatize yourself to Tibetan Plateau.

Where to Eat in Lhasa

Restaurants

Lhasa Snowland Restaurant

Cuisines: Tibetan, Nepalese and western-style food
Address: Zang Yiyuan Lu (near Barkhor Square)
Telephone: 0891-6337323; 6323687

Alu Cang Restaurant

Cuisines: Napali/ Tibetan
Address: Duosenge Lu 21-32, Lhasa
Telephone: 0891-6338826

Ganglamedo

Cuisines: Napali/ Tibetan food
Address: Beijing Dong Lu 127, Lhasa
Telephone: 0891 6333657

Holy Land Vegetarian Restaurant

Cuisines: Vegetarian
Address: Linkuo Bei Lu Waibanshang Pingfang 10, Lhasa
Telephone: 0891-636-3851

Lhasa Shopping

In Lhasa, the most popular souvenirs are Tibetan artworks, Tibetan medical herbs and traditional Tibetan knitting. The most attractive souvenirs for tourists include Thangka and religious objects such as prayer wheels.

Barkhor Street is a famous shopping center where all sorts of traditional Tibetan handicrafts, such as traditional clothes, Thangka, Tibetan carpet, can be easily found. Remember that bargaining is permitted with shopkeeper when you buy souvenirs in Barkhor Street. But there is shopping mall nearby Barkhor Street in which the handicrafts are inexpensive and of good quality.

Shopping

What to Buy in Lhasa

Thangka

Tangka is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery depicting themes of Tibetan Buddhism. There are many Tangka shops on Barkhor Street. Some shops are run by Tangka painters. When buying, you can bargain with shopkeepers over the price. But if you do not buy Tangka, don’t touch it.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps is a kind of very precious medicinal herb which exists in Tibet. It is known as yartsa gunbu in Tibetan and in Chinese as dong chong xia cao (literally, “winter worm and summer grass”). Most cordyceps sold in Barkhor street are fake, so you should purchase it in Tibetan medicine factories and other drugstores, but you cannot bargain in these places.

Tibetan Knives

It is a customary for Tibetans to wear a waist knife which is used to cut meat and defend themselves. It is also a type of handicraft which has been made for centuries. The knives are very popular with tourists but they are not allowed to bring to the airport.

Tibetan Mask

Tibetan masks are an essential element in traditional Tibetan culture. The masks are separated into three types including religious, folk and Tibetan Opera masks. In Tibet, the masks are indispensable during the important religious festivals. The masks are also noted for their diversity of shapes, styles and sophisticated beauty.

Where to Buy in Lhasa

Barkhor Street

It is not only a famous shopping center but also one of major tourist attractions in Lhasa. Barkhor Street is located around Jokhang Temple. The buildings in the area are best preserved in Lhasa. There are more than 120 shops and 200 booths, over 1,300 business dealing with more than 8,000 types of goods.

All kinds of Tibetan handicrafts such as Tibetan carpets, snuff pots, knives and masks can be found on the street. Some handicrafts from India, Burma or Nepal can also be bought here.

Tips: don’t stay too late. The Barkhor Street changes into a common flea market after 18:00, so you could get lost easily. Remember to bargain. The price of the same item in different booths greatly differs. Check items carefully before handing over your money.

Beijing Road

Beijing Road is the busiest shopping place in Lhasa. Beijing Road is located right in front of Potala Place. On the both sides of the street, there are many distinctive alleyways with Tibetan-style buildings. Famous hotels, department stores, post offices, and shops can be found in this area.

Lhasa Maps

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