Top 15 Things to Do in Tibet
- by Nance
- Last Updated: 2023-09-18
Tibet, the roof of the world, is a vast and snowy land. It created an unbelievable draw on adventurers every year because of its profound culture, unique natural landscape, and mysterious Tibetan Buddhism that gives a tremendous experience for travelers. The following are the most famous tourist attractions to see and the best things to do in Tibet, especially for first-time visitors to Tibet.
Take a Train to Lhasa
Taking a train to Tibet is the best choice for travelers who have never been to a plateau because it's prone to altitude sickness if flying directly to Lhasa. If time is tight, you can take a plane on the return trip. In addition, you can enjoy much more plateau scenery by train than by plane. There are snow-capped mountains all the way, green grasslands, and wild animals. From time to time they encounter Tibetan antelope, yak, black-necked cranes, vultures, musk deer, and marmot, etc., which you can't experience by flying.
PS. The scenery from Golmud to Lhasa is the most beautiful, and it would be better to arrange your train travel during the daytime for this section. Tibet trains depart from popular tourist cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xián, and Chengdu, where you can also stay for a few days for sightseeing.
Lhasa is the gathering place with the most Tibet tourist attractions, which is also the first choice for tourists to enter Tibet. As the first stop for Tibet, Lhasa is also the economic and cultural center of Tibet. Not only are the World Cultural Heritage sites such as Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Norbulingka, but also Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Ramoche Temple, and Zongjiao Lukang Park are all worth visiting.
#1 Explore Royal Retreat at Potala Palace
Potala Palace is a must-see attraction as it's the landmark of Tibet. "Potala" in Sanskrit originally means 'Buddhist holy land'. This palace was constructed as far back as 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.
#2 Visit the Most Sacred Buddha Statue at Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Temple, with a history of more than 1,300 years, occupies the supreme position in Tibetan Buddhism. The Life-sized Statue of Shakyamuni of age 12 is the most precious treasure of Jokhang Temple. It was brought by Princess Wen Cheng as her dowry from Chang'an in 700 A.D.
#3 See Devout Pilgrims at Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street is a well-known circumambulation around Jokhang Temple and a commercial center in Lhasa. It has completely preserved the traditional appearance and living style of the ancient city. Here you can meet devout pilgrims traveling from thousands of kilometers away as well as various kinds of traditional Tibetan handicrafts, and exotic goods coming from Nepal, India, Bhutan, and surrounding countries.
#4 Visit Treasure Garden Norbulingka
Norbulingka is the Summer Palace of Dalai Lama, also the most characteristic garden in Tibet. In Tibetan, it means treasure garden. This beautiful garden was built during the period of the Seventh Dalai Lama in the middle of the 18th century. It was also the place where they handled government affairs and held religious activities. It is a place for taking a leisurely vacation and viewing Tibetan palace architecture.
After visiting Lhasa in Tibet, travelers can extend the trip to Shigatse or farther. Along the way, you can visit the Yamdrok Lake, the Gyantse Dzong, the Tashilhunpo Monastery, and the Everest Base Camp in Tingri. If you continue to go south at the end of G318, you can travel overland to Nepal via Gyirong Port.
#5 Gaze at the Stunning Yamdrok Lake.
Known as one of the top three holy lakes, Yamdrok Lake is the most beautiful lake in Tibet. It literally means jasper lake above the pasture in Tibetan. In the eyes of Tibetans, Yamdrok Lake is regarded as "turquoise earrings scattered by goddesses."
#6 Appreciate the Residence of the Panchen Lama at Tashilhunpo Temple.
Tashilhunpo Monastery means auspiciousness in Tibetan. It's the largest monastery of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism in the backend of Tibet, also the seat of the Panchen Lama. The most magnificent buildings in the monastery are the Great Maitreya Hall and the Stupa halls of the successive Panchen Lama.
#7 Worship the Highest Mount Everest.
Mount Everest is the main peak of the Himalayas and the highest peak in the world. Everest Base Camp is at the foot of Mt.Everest, at an altitude of 5,200 meters. Its straight-line distance from the top of Mount Everest is about 19 kilometers.
The scenery of Mount Everest is changing day by day, from the rainbow-like sunrise to the splendid starry sky, from cloudless to misty, which is beautiful. Set foot at Everest Base Camp to worship the highest mountain in the world, you may feel somewhat different.
Nagqu is the second to last stop on Qinghai-Tibet Train where are mainly alpine grassland landscapes and animal husbandry. The most famous tourist attraction is Namtso Lake. Also, The Nagqu Horse Racing Festival is very lively and fun. It's usually held around July and August (the Tibetan calendar is in mid-July).
#8 Visit Namtso, the Lake Closest to Heaven.
Namtso is Tibetan, which means heavenly lake. Known as one of the "top three holy lakes" in Tibet, Namtso is one of the famous Buddhist holy places. The lake is surrounded by vast lakeside grasslands. Nomads in northern Tibet usually herd yaks and sheep here before the arrival of winter. In the distance, you can see Nyainqêntanglha Mountains, amazing！
Nyingchi is known as the "Jiangnan of Tibet". The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon and the Draksum-tso Lake lie here. Generally, tourists only go as far as the Lulang Forest. The countryside, the forest sea, and the snow-capped mountains of Lulang Forest outline a beautiful picture. Lulang's stone pot chicken is also worth a try.
#9 Tibet's only 5A Spot of Nature Scenery - Draksum-tso
The Draksum-tso Scenic Area integrates snow-capped mountains, lakes, forests, waterfalls, pastures, cultural relics, historical sites, and ancient temples. All kinds of wild and rare plants grow here, making it a paradise on Earth. The water of Draksum-tso Lake is crystal clear, and the surrounding snow-capped mountains reflect in it. Sand gulls and white cranes float on the lake, and the transparent water of the lake shows flocks of fish swimming, which is full of fun.
#10 Visit The Dragon Valley at Lulang
Lulang in the Tibetan language means Dragon Valley or a place that "one will not miss hometown anymore". Lulang’s landscape is like an oil painting. Brightly colored wildflowers bloom in the field, and the wooden lodges are scattered among the flowers. What beautiful pastoral scenery!
Lulang is 3,700 meters above sea level and is located on the Sichuan-Tibet Road about 80 kilometers away from Bayi Town, nestled in the deep mountains. This is a narrow strip of typical plateau mountain meadows.
Shannan area is the birthplace of the Tibetans. Come here to experience the profoundness and essence of Tibetan Buddhism. You do not have to believe in Buddha, but you can understand some traditions in Buddhism.
#11 Experience the Profoundness of Tibetan Buddhism at Samye
Samye Monastery is the first Tibetan Buddhist temple with the three precious treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The Samye Monastery was built at the birthplace of King Trisong Detsen. The construction was presided over by Guru Padmasambhava.
In the early morning or dusk, you can climb to the top of Hapori Mountain, which is an excellent photography venue, to overlook the panoramic view of the Samye Temple and the Yarlung Tsangpo River.
#12 See Past Life by Lhamo La-tso
Another place to visit is the most legendary lake Lhamo La-tso in Tibet. Legend has it that one can see their past, present, and future life by this lake. It is said that you must first be reverent and meditate, sit quietly and watch the lake, and then you will feel that the lake erects up like a mirror, with different colors changing in the mirror, and various scenes appearing at the same time.
Ngari is a high-altitude area with an average altitude of more than 4,500 meters, where the Himalayas and Gangdise Mountains gather. Many lakes and rivers originate here, so it's called "the source of rivers". Ngari is in western Tibet, with a harsh climate and few people tread, which makes it a real pure land. However, the scenery here is most shocking and a paradise for photographers.
#13 Experience the Most Rewarding Pilgrimage Yatra at Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash is a sacred mountain in many religions. It means "Shiva's Paradise" in Sanskrit (Shiva is the Hindu god), and in Tibetan, it means "Mountain of Gods". Mt.Kailash is the main peak of the Gangdise Mountains, and it's covered with snow all year round, resembling a pyramid. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims come for Kailash yatra. Walking one circle around the mountain can help you amend all the sins you committed in your whole life.
#14 Wash Away Worries at Manasarovar
Manasarovar is one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world, which is located 30 kilometers southeast of Mount Kailash. Kailash Manasarovar is called "Sacred Mountain and Sacred Lake". As one of the top three holy lakes in Tibet, believers come here on a pilgrimage every year, dipping in holy water to wash away their worries and clean up sins. The water is blue and transparent. There are 8 temples around the lake, and a ghost lake Lake on the west side called Rakshastal. The scenery here is amazing.
#15 Explore the Lost Civilization in Guge Kingdom.
From the 10th century AD to the 17th century AD, in the remote Ngari, there was a kingdom called Guge. The Guge Dynasty promoted Buddhism and had a splendid history of civilization for 700 years. However, what is weird is that on a certain day more than 300 years ago, 100,000 people of the Guge Dynasty disappeared overnight, leaving infinite imagination for future generations. Tourists can explore the ruins of palaces, inscriptions, statues, and murals here.
How to Travel to Lhasa from Beijing？
Many travelers who are visiting Lhasa always take Beijing as the first stop, as it's convenient to fly to Beijing, then get to Lhasa.
How to Travel to Tibet from Beijing?
Traveling to Tibet from Beijing is a good choice as Beijing is an important international arrival hub and you can get to Lhasa by flight or by train here.
Monasteries are an important part of Tibet's scenery as the natural scenery here has already merged with temples, believers, prayer flags, and Tibetans.
How to Get to Tibet?
You can travel to Tibet by flight, train, or road from China OR by flight or road from Nepal. The best way depends on your place of departure and travel plans.
Most Famous Tibetan Monasteries and Temples
Tibetan Monasteries and Temples can be seen everywhere in Tibet. It's no exaggeration to say that Tibetan Buddhism is the foundation of Tibetan culture.
Travel to Tibet from United States
For US citizens, you can travel to Tibet via mainland China or Nepal. You need to apply for China Visa or China Group Visa and obtain your Tibet visa prior.
Travel to Tibet from Singapore
Singapore citizens are recommended to fly to Chengdu and then take a flight or train to Lhasa. Tibet Travel Permit is still an indispensable document for you.
How to Travel to Tibet from Germany?
German travelers can travel to Tibet from Frankfurt to Beijing, Chengdu, etc., and then get to Tibet by flight or train. Or travel to Tibet via Kathmandu.
How to Get to Tibet from Chengdu?
Chengdu to Tibet is a popular tourist route as there are multiple international flights to Chengdu and it's very convenient to travel to Lhasa from Chengdu.
How to Get to Tibet from Philippines?
For tourists from the Philippines to Tibet, you can fly to mainland China or Nepal first and then get to Tibet. The best option is via mainland China.
How to Travel to Tibet from US
Americans can travel to Tibet via Chinese cities such as Beijing by flight or train. You also can travel to Tibet via Kathmandu by land or plane.
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