7 Special Things to do in Lhasa, Tibet
1. Potala PalaceThe Potala Palace is also known as the Winter Palace of the Dalai Lama. This exquisite center of spiritual life for Buddhists involves lots of climbing up stairs, which at altitude, you are sure to feel. Take it slow, but not too slow. There is a time limit for how long you are allowed to stay in the Palace. I especially enjoyed the rooms with the ancient books, and the statues of the various Tibetan masters. Take your time and take in the spiritual atmosphere.
2. NorbulingkaNorbulingka, also known as the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama, includes exquisite flower gardens and a large park. There are often festivals and community events you can witness in the central areas of the park. The Summer Palace is where the Dalai Lama was, when he was forced to flee the country. Despite the old (and dusty) furniture, you can feel both the past opulence and spiritual heritage. Be sure to leave time to enjoy the flowers, gardens, walk around, and even have a picnic!
3. Jokhang TempleLocated in central Lhasa, Jokhang temple is the heart of the Tibetan culture and the Lhasa community. It is also the most holy and important temple to the Tibetan people. Jokhang Temple is definitely the first stop on a spiritual pilgrimage of special things to do in Lhasa, Tibet. You can join the Tibetans and circle the temple and spin the prayer wheels. You can also go inside and take in all the deities and great masters, and feel the spiritual power. Be sure to go up onto the roof for beautiful views of the mountains in the distance. You may also like to sit quietly and meditate on the roof to take in the spiritual atmosphere.
4. Barkhor StreetAfter visiting Jokhang Temple, you can head to Barkhor Street, the central shopping district of old Lhasa. You can find unique incense, beautifully woven shawls, medicinal mushrooms, silver and turquoise jewelry, and more. This is an excellent street to wander and take in the interesting and unique Tibetan culture, and also feel the peace even in the busy shopping area.
5. Sera MonasteryFor a glimpse into a working monastery and ancient Tibetan culture, visit Sera Monastery. Sera Monastery is located just a couple kilometers (about a mile) outside of Lhasa and is an easy 10-15 minute drive. If you arrive in the mornings, you can see the monks deep in debate, a traditional way to keep the Buddhist knowledge lively. When one monk finishes his point, he claps his hands together emphatically and sits down. It has as if his body language was saying, “So there!”. What a fun way to debate! You can visit their main temple, and also sit in the peaceful gardens under the trees. It is amazing to see all the ancient practices maintained in these modern times.
6. Drepung MonasteryDrepung Monastery was once the largest in the world, with over 10,000 monks living there. Now, you feel the deep peace (and higher elevation) of the area. Drepung Monastery is an excellent day trip from Lhasa, where you can enjoy the peace of the mountains and also for incredible views down to the valley. Depending on when you visit, you may get to witness one of the religious festivals or temple ceremonies of the approximately 800 monks still living in the monastery.
7. Nechung MonasteryNechung Monastery is only 10 minutes walk down the hill from Drepung Monastery, so the two can be visited during the same trip. This monastery was the seat of the Buddhist Oracle, who was consulted by the Dalai Lama for all important decisions. This monastery has a distinctly different dÃ©cor and feeling than other Buddhist monasteries, and is often associated with rituals involving possession, exorcism, and other spiritual practices pre-dating Buddhism. As it is just a short hike, it is worth it for the walk and to understand the different influences within Buddhism.
Final ThoughtsWhile dipping into all that ancient culture, you can also see the Chinese influence. For example, the grocery stores, modern cafes and fast food restaurants with Chinese characters are in abundance. It is almost like visiting two cultures in one! I recommend stopping in one of the traditional Tibetan teahouses, and if you’re not ready for salty tea, you can still enjoy a simple latte and some of the delicious Tibetan pastries. I’d love to hear: have you ever been to Tibet? Are you planning a trip? What would you like to do? If you want a downloadable map with all the destinations mentioned in this article, you can download it here. I will receive a small commission for your purchase, at no additional cost to you (a subscription is the best deal!) Cheers! Kimberly Want to remember this? Post these 7 Special Things to do in Lhasa, Tibet to your favorite Pinterest board!
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