As the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Lhasa is the epicentre of Tibetan culture, tradition and religion. Colorful Buddhist flags adorn the streets that brim with hustling Tibetans. This city of 1.1 million is nestled between the mountain ranges and sprawled beneath a brilliant blue sky, this city is full of fascinating surprises. Lhasa is known as ‘The City of Sunshine’ for its copious amounts of Vitamin D. However, we believe that it’s because of the kind, gentle and genuine people. Lhasa literally translates to the ‘Place of the Gods’ and we wholeheartedly agree. From stunning panoramas of the city, to dynamic people and lifestyle, there is never a dull moment in Lhasa, Tibet. So, let’s say TASHI DELEK to Tibet!
How to Get There
You will require a Tibetan Entry permit to enter this region. You can only access this permit through a qualified and certified tour company like BEFORE Travel. While you can walk through Lhasa freely without a guide, your visit will need to be registered and organized through a licensed tour company. Ensure that you have a Chinese Visa first. You can fly into Tibet, or take the train from China.
Upon arrival, you’ll receive a traditional Tibetan Hada. The white scarf with tassels that is placed around your neck represents purity, honesty, sincerity and respect.
Must-See Sights and Attractions in Lhasa
With over 1000 rooms and 10,000 shrines, Potala Palace is a gigantic beast. Rising above the heart of the city and shimmering in the sun, the palace is an extremely sacred place for Tibetans. Thousands of Tibetans circle the palace daily, praying and prostrating in the presence of their spiritual core.
Housed at the back of the gigantic Barkhor plaza, filled with sunlight, is the Jokhang Temple. Take a walk around the plaza and ‘people watch’ the pilgrims who have come from all over Tibet to prostrate in front of the temple. Absorb the incredible aroma of burning incense, and enjoy the traditionally Tibetan decorations and adornments of the temple.
After experiencing Jokhang Temple, take a walk down this busy street. Filled with tourist trinkets and a gob smacking array of souvenirs, Barkhor street is an adventure in itself.
This monastery showcases an intriguing aspect of spiritual life for Tibetan monks. Every afternoon at 3:30pm, the monks gather here to debate Buddhist Doctrine and philosophy. Dressed in their traditional red robes and clutching prayer beads, their passion and determination is infectious and you’ll be captivated.
Drepung is the largest monastery in Tibet, and it once housed up to 10,000 monks. The monastery was founded in 1416 and is wedged half way up a mountain range. The view from the highest point, which is the main prayer hall, is breath-taking.
This city is for everyone. It pulls you in, ensnares your attention, and doesn’t let go. If you’d like to make the pilgrimage to Potala Palace or debate with the monks at Sera Monastery in Lhasa with us, you can. Here is the link to our tour.
Author: Michelle Hyde
Images captured by: Benjamin Fehervary