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Top Things to Do in Tibet

  • by Nance
  • Last Updated: 2020-04-29

Tibet is a fantastic place everyone would like to visit, and it’s situated at the southwestern border of the country, China. Tibet is positioned above the sea level with an elevation of 4,000 meters, and due to this height, Tibet is popularly called the “Roof of the World.”

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the vast and snowy land created an unbelievable draw on adventurers every year because of its fantastic scenery, fascinating religious culture, and other beautiful sites that give a tremendous experience for tourists. The following are the top 10 things to do for tourists, especially first-time visitors to Tibet.

#1. Potala Palace - Explore Royal Retreat

Grand Potala Palace.

Tourists who have visited Tibet without some moments at the Potala Palace have practically not been to Tibet. "Potala"  in Sanskrit originally means 'Buddhist holy land'. This palace -- constructed as far back as during the reign of the 33rd king of Tibet -- Songten Gampo in the 7th century. It later became the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas and the site of major religious and political ceremonies.

It was beautifully designed and constructed by ancient architects in Tibet. There are two known Palaces in Potala Palace – the Red and the White Palace. "Potala" is Sanskrit, also translated as "Putuo", originally refers to the residence of Avalokitesvara bodhisattva. Potala Palace is also the holy place in the mind of all pilgrims. There are stupas, statues, murals, thangkas, scriptures, and books in the collection, among which the most remarkable are the eight stupa towers of the Dalai Lamas since the fifth generation. If you’ve always wanted to explore the most attractive spot in the entire Lhasa, the Potala Palace is a must-see place to go.

#2. Jokhang Temple - See Devout Pilgrims

Jokhang Temple would be your great memory for your Tibet trip.

There are various temples to visit in Tibet, but one of the oldest temples is Jokhang Temple, which was built by Songtsan Gampo in the 7th century to commemorate the arrival of the Princess Bhrukuti. It is often said that first there is Jokhang Temple first, then the city of Lhasa. Jokhang temple, where shrined the 12-year-old gilded statue of Buddha,  is the most sacred temple in Lhasa. The biggest attraction of the temple is the statue. The reason why Lhasa is called "holy land" is related to this Buddha statue as well. In short, the Jokhang temple is the heartbeat and most visited site by pilgrims in Tibet. A visit to the Jokhang temple would add memories to your trip to Tibet.

#3. Mount Everest - Witness Sunrise at the Roof of the World

Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest, lies along the border of Nepal and Tibet, is the highest peak in the world. As the highest point of the world, Mount Everest is covered with snow throughout the year. When the glaring sun comes out, the peak becomes very pure and beautiful. In addition, many precious plants and animals live in the National Nature Reserve, which was built in the area of Mount Everest.  There are two Everest base camps - one is in the south of Nepal, the other is in the north of Tibet. The north side of Everest in Tibet offers a far superior view than the Nepal side. Unlike the south side of Everest, where you only can trek to Everest base camp in 3 to 4 days, you can drive to Everest Base Camp in Tibet directly. Before reaching to Everest base camp, you will come to the Rongbuk monastery to enjoy the splendid landscape of the world's highest peak. And, of course, you will see the magnificent sunset/sunrise at the foot of the highest mountain in the world.

#4. Mount Kailash - Experience The Most Rewarding Pilgrimage Yatra

The center of the world.

Mount Kailash is one of the famous Sacred Mountains and known as "Treasure or Saint of Snow Mountain" in Tibetan. It's located in far western Tibet’s Ngari prefecture, more than 1200 kilometers from the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. As it only rises to 6,714 meters, it is not particularly high as far as peaks in the Himalaya, but there are no other mountains in Tibet that are as holy as Kailash. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit the Mt. Kailash for kora/yatra. Walking one circle around the mountain can help you amend all the sins you committed in the whole life.

#5. Namtso Lake - Photograph The Heavenly Lake 

Stunning Lake Namtso.

Namtso Lake, which is one of the top three holy lakes in Tibet, should not be missed by any tourists who travel in Tibet. In Tibetan, Namtso means "Heavenly Lake”. It’s a holy lake for pilgrims. In the earlier times, pilgrims will go to one of the islands in the lake, living in seclusion for the whole summer on the island. From late May to mid-September, you will see nomad Tibetans herding a group of yaks and sheep in the area. If you only have time to visit one lake in Tibet, Namtso Lake is a great choice for viewing the amazing scenery!

#6. Guge Kingdom - Explore The Lost Civilization

Guge Kongkom ruins

Located in the western part of Tibet, the ancient Guge kingdom is a surprising place where a few visitors have the experience. It was established in the late 10th century and close to the modern town of Zanda country. Seven hundred years ago, Guge kingdom was a Buddhist religious center and an important trade hub between Tibet and Central Asia. Now, tourists can view the ruins of palaces, inscriptions on a tablet, statues, and murals. Besides, Guge Kingdom has also charming attractions such as Monastery, Dungkar Village, and the Piyang Caves. You will have a great memory of exploring the lost civilization here.

#7. Tashilhunpo Monastery - Appreciate The Seat Of The Panchen Lama

Tashilhunpo Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery was built in 1447 by Gendun Drupa, who's the first Dalai Lama and disciple of Tsongkhapa. And it is one of the great six monasteries of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. In August 2017, it was approved as a national 5A tourist attraction.

Covering an area of 150,000 square meters, the monastery is surrounded by a ring of palace walls, palace wall with mountain meandering. The monastery has 57 scripture halls and 3,600 houses, the whole temple built by the hillside.

The most magnificent buildings in the monastery are the Great Maitreya Hall and the Stupa halls of the successive Panchen. The Great Maitreya Hall is located on the west side of the monastery, which is 30 meters high. It enshrined the sitting statue of Maitreya, which was casted by the ninth Panchen in 1914. The Cuoqin Hall is the earliest building in the monastery. In front of the hall, there is a teaching scripture yard with 500 square meters, where Panchen teach monks scripture and monks debate scriptures each other.

The Tashilhunpo Monastery is the largest temple in the area, and its influence is comparable to Potala Palace. Every day, many devout Tibetans come here to worship. There is no off-season, so you can visit and worship all year round. You can not only experience the Tibetan Buddhist culture but also appreciate religious art here.

# 8. Yamdrok Lake - View The Stunning Turquoise Lake

Yamdrok Lake

Situated near the southwest of Lhasa along Gyantse, Yamdrok Lake is regarded as the most beautiful lakes in Tibet. Besides, Yadrok Lake is known to be one of the Great Three Holy Lakes in Tibet.

Historically, Yamdrok Lake is generally believed to have been formed from the turquoise earring of the goddess in Tibet named Dorje Ggegkyi Tso. Also, the locals believe that Yandrok Lake makes Tibet habitable, and comfortable. If the Lake eventually drys up, Tibet would no longer be habitable as the Yandrok Lake is the life spirit of Tibet.

Also, pilgrims visiting Tibet count it a point of duty to explore this lake as it is always associated with Master Padmasambhava – the Second Buddha.

#9. Barkhor Street - Stroll Around the Old Town of Lhasa City

Barkhor Street

Located in the old town of Lhasa, Barkhor Street is a gathering place of religious, economy, and culture in Lhasa. It is a famous holy road around Jokhang Temple with the original Lhasa street style. It is also one of the most distinctive and charming cultural blocks in China and even the world and has become the historical epitome of the development of Tibet.

Barkhor Street was built for the constructing of Jokhang Temple. It has a long history of more than 1300 years. On Barkhor Street, you can meet the devout pilgrims from thousands of kilometers away, whose ultimate destination is the Jokhang Temple. On this street, you can see various kinds of traditional Tibetan handicrafts, exotic goods coming from Nepal, India, Bhutan, and surrounding countries.

# 10. Yarlung Tsangbo Grand Canyon - Marvel At The World's Deepest Canyon

Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon

Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is the deepest and longest canyon in the world. It began at Mount Kailash and then reached the junction of Mainling and Medog counties, carved with a U-shaped canyon near the mountain Namjagbarwa, which's the highest peak in the eastern part of the Himalayas. The Grand Canyon is home to many wild animals and rare plants. There are nearly 5,000 species of vegetation in the Grand Canyon. So it has won the reputation as a natural arboretum, natural zoo, Plant Gene Bank, and much more.

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