Most complete Guide to Lhasa Tour
"Lhasa" in Tibetan means the land of Gods. Sitting right next to the Lhasa River, this place is indeed an abode of monasteries and spiritual houses. It is the capital city of Tibet and the most important tourists’ destination of Tibet. Lhasa’s cool, semi-arid climate becomes a privilege that draws a lot of tourists every year. Lhasa tour includes visiting all the major and minor sight scenes which would require an intricate knowledge about the place. Non-Chinese nationals must carry a Tibet Travel Permit to tour and visit Lhasa.
How to Get to Lhasa?
Tourists can get to Lhasa by the aerial route or by availing the famous Tibet train (Lhasa Express).There are flights available from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Xining, Shanghai and Zongdian, etc. Flights will land the tourists to Lhasa Gonggar Airport. While flights are much faster, tourists are often suggested to take the Tibet train for a unique kind of experience.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway in which trains are punctually available from the above-mentioned seven cities serves the tourists with a memorable and joyous ride. These trains are completely safe to travel and as they run winding like a python through mountains, the tourists wrap themselves in an all encompassing thrill.
The journey from the airport or the train station has to be made by a taxi. The taxi would take the tourists to the main urban area. For our group tour's clients, our shuttle bus will take you form Lhasa Gonggar Airport to your hotels in downtown Lhasa.
4 Days in Lhasa
Tourists are advised to confine their Lhasa trip to 4 days, mathematically sorting each day into visiting a particular tourists’ destination. The day of arrival generally doesn't have much to offer since most of the tourists remain tired enough from the long journey. The tourists may pass the first day hovering around the market place or exploring the surrounding. Do remember, not strain your body and get your body more time to acclimatize to the environment, esp. the altitude of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
Day 2 must begin with the awesome Potala Palace, the residence of Dalai Lama. It is the first and foremost attractions of Lhasa tour. It has its name written in golden letters in the Guinness book of world records as the highest place in the world. The main building is located on the Red hill by Lhasa river.
The palace is situated in an advantageous location which is 1.5 km away from Barkhor Street. The Potala Palace highlights the antique Tibetan architecture and it is also the place that has preserved age-old artworks within itself. The murals on the walls, the Tangkas, and the paintings tell so much about Tibetan history that the tourists spend here hours losing themselves in a labyrinth of mystery and glory.
The palace also stands as a central symbol of Buddhism and tourists may also find pilgrims flocking here and observing Kora around the palace. However, one must always take a skilled professional local guide along to give him the full fledged information of the place he is in.
The greatest attraction of Lhasa is the house of the Buddha popularly known as the Jokhang Temple. Lying at about 1,000 meters to the east of the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple is a 1,300 year old temple. The second day of Lhasa tour should thereby include visiting this holy house in which resides the 12 year old statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. The tourists will find the typically dressed pilgrims observing Kora around the Buddha hall.
The majestic architecture of the temple, the soothing perfume of Tibetan incense and the interior decorated and illuminated with candles are enough to offer a spiritual solace to the visitors. The exterior is engraved with figures of deer and wheel thus depicting many of Buddha's teachings. The tourists are often seen chanting holy rhymes like the locals while spinning the prayer wheels in the vicinity.
The one favourite glory of this temple rests upon Jowo Rinpoche-the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha which is considered the holiest object in Tibet. There is also an image of Palden Lhamo, known to be a protector of Lhasa and Dalai Lama. There are strange stories connected with this ancient temple which are often narrated by the guides.
The Day 2 trip ends with Barkhor Street at the ancient city center of Lhasa. It is an enchanting place adjacent to the beautiful Jokhang Temple. Barkhor Street is famous for its utterly religious atmosphere and exotic markets. The street has been an essential pilgrim route since the foundation of the Jokhang Temple.
Buddhist pilgrims can be seen throughout the day and night walking, or prostrating themselves clockwise along Barkhor Street spinning their prayer wheels and chanting sutras. On the other side, the shops on the street exhibit an array of souvenirs and the tourists are naturally drawn towards it like butterflies towards nectar.
Tip: When walking around Barkhor Street, always walk in a clockwise direction.
Day 3 should be preoccupied by the visit to Sera and Drepung Monastery, the two of the three most fabulous monasteries. Tourists are advised to make the first visit to Drepung monastery in the morning followed by Sera monastery in the afternoon.
Interestingly enough, Drepung Monastery was called “the Nalanda of Tibet” because of the high academic standards there. The largest monastery in Tibet is this Drepung monastery founded in 1416. Drepung was the principal seat of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and it retained the premier place amongst the four great Gelugpa monasteries. The tour guide provides for the transportation to Drepung monastery. Tourists generally spend half a day in experiencing this monastery which looks like a city in itself.
In the afternoon, tourists move to another great Gelugpa university monastery - Sera Monastery. As one of the three famous monasteries in Lhasa, the monastery has housed 550 Buddhist monks in 2012. And what is most attractive about this monastery is the occasional debates held among monks on Buddha's teachings and sermons. The debating of Buddhist doctrines is the highlight of this monastery, which can be seen from 3 pm to 5 pm at the yard of this monastery. Such an event is not only enriching but also enthralling.
On the fourth day the tour shall move onto the surroundings of Lhasa which too have a bundle of memories to offer the journeying minds.
The trip to this monastery will need one complete day. There are shuttle buses from the Jokhang temple square to get there. If one chooses to trek, he must be prepared with all kinds of equipments. This monastery will give you a view of your lifetime. The landscape seems to change before your eyes. It is one of the earliest monasteries in Tibet and also the most favourite of the tourists. If you can manage to stay there during the Buddha painting unfolding festival, you will get an experience to cherish your entire life.
Another day should be reserved for visiting Samye Monastery. It was the first Buddhist monastery to be built in Tibet. The sacred mandala design, symbolic of the legendary Mount Meru, centre of the universe happens to be the greatest attraction of this monastery. It is also a symbol of Tibetan sacredness and pilgrims often walk barefooted for weeks to reach there.
It is also the oldest monastery and university in Tibet which stood there since 8th century BC. In spite of being deconstructed and reconstructed several times over,it shows no signs of demolition. Who can better speak of Tibet if not this monastery?
Namtso Lake, owing to its situation at high elevation is considered to share its neighborhood with heaven. The highest saltwater lake in the world with snowy mountains and greenish backdrop becomes one of the most stunning destinations of Tibet. Tourists must devote two days to this amazing place. The sky blue colour of the lake makes it look like the mirror image of the sky. The yaks and nomads roaming in the grassland give a glimpse of the rural livelihood.
The sunrise must not be missed. It is a breathtaking view. Whereas at twilight, the clouds become red and golden. It is an entire catalogue of colors that play within the sky. Tourists spend a lot of time gazing this beautiful scenery at the bank of this lake. There is also a place called Tashi Peninsula at the centre of the lake which is yet another spot to ogle and wonder. Namtso lake is also a famous Kora route in Tibet.
Drak Yerpa Monastery
Drak Yerpa Monastery is located 16 km northeast of Lhasa and is a meditation cave retreat. There are 108 meditation caves around the monastery and it may take one full day to cover the entire place. This monastery with its location at the heart of solitude is a placid place to be in. It is one of those vital trips without which the tour would be incomplete.
Lhasa River is the longest tributary of Yarlung Tsangpo river. It is called Kyichu River in Tibetan which means a happy river. The tourists take a day to visit the destinations around the river like Sichuan-Tibet Highway monument and Qushui water and burial platform. They may also stroll at the bank and watch the locals fishing while taking rest for a bit.
This entire trip with all these mentioned places visited will surely give you a gallery of memories for your travel diary. Lhasa tour is one of the most beautiful aspects of Tibet tourism and one must make this trip at least once in a lifetime.
Recommended Tibet Train Tour including Lhasa city sightseeing:
We offer you various Tibet tours including the most classic city trip in Lhasa. Train tickets to Lhasa, Tibet are included, you can also tailor your own Tibet tour with us.
A. 6 Days Beijing to Lhasa Train Tour
(Train from Beijing - Lhasa)
B. 8 Days Xining and Lhasa Tour by Train
(Xining - Train to Lhasa - Lhasa)
C. 9 Days Shanghai Lhasa and Everest Base Camp by Train
(Train from Shanghai - Lhasa - Yamdro Lake - Shigatse - EBC - Kathmandu)
D. 9 Days Chengdu Lhasa and Everest Base Camp by Train
(Train from Chengdu - Lhasa - Yamdro Lake - Shigatse - EBC - Kathmandu)
E. 10 Days Best of Tibet by Train from Beijing
(Train from Beijing - Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - Everest Base Camp - Lhasa)