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Lhasa City

In Potala, the treasures of Tibetan Buddhism and culture are in storage waiting to be discovered. In front of this palace built XIV centuries ago is its square. Lukhang Zongjiao Park is just behind it, where you will see the traditional Lhamo and Guozhuang shows that combine dance and music showing the local culture. Going deeper into the Old City of Lhasa, Bakhor Street offers the best local jewelry and clothing, not to mention its booths and restaurants, offering authentic and delicious local food. And, of course, you cannot forget the liveliest festivals that are held every year in October and December at Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery, the main monasteries and temples of Tibetan Buddhism that are centuries and centuries old. Above all, this first is considered the Heart of Lhasa, one of the most representative buildings of the Tibetan Empire which, in fact, is considered as the center of the Tibetan faith and has an irreplaceable place in the minds of Tibetan believers. It is said that "if there were no Jokhang temple, there would be no Lhasa".

Things to do +

Enter to Potala Palace (布达拉宫པོ་ཏ་ལ)

Description: located on Maburi Mountain (Red Mountain), it is a complex of palace-style buildings on a large scale, formerly built in the dynasty of the Tibetan Empire, under the mandate of Songtsen Gampo (7th century). After its reconstruction in the 17th century, it became the residence for the Dalai Lamas, and the center of government for the political and religious unity of Tibet. It has a very remarkable Tibetan style, with a very majestic figure on the hillside, and housing innumerable treasures within the Palace.

When you get to the place where they check the tickets, you have to go directly to the right and enter through the south door, since the Tibetans are praying go on the other side. It is recommended not to follow them so as not to go around the palace.

Among the most interesting places in Potala Palace, there’s the Palace Square and the observation deck of Chokpori Mountain. Many go to these places to visit and take photos of the place, as they are considered the best points for it. Above all, something that everyone usually likes to do is take the ¥50 bill and take a picture of it with the palace behind, since as many know, that bill has the figure of the palace printed on it.

You can rent an automatic guide that will explain all the different points of the palace through which you will pass. The rental price is ¥30 and you have to leave a deposit of ¥100. However, it is much better to hire a tour guide in person at ¥50 per tourist.

In this tourist complex there are a large number of Tibetan Buddhist treasures, such as murals, figures of the different Buddhas, Songtsen Gampo, pagodas… And also, in terms of infrastructure, there are many rooms on the different levels of the palace, including the East Room, the Jiyuanman Room (寂圆满大殿), etc.

Here you will get to know Tibetan culture and religion in a very detailed way and you can even buy a souvenir at the exit, where there is a kind of souvenir shop that sells small gifts at a very affordable price.

At the exit on the left, there’s a lot of prayer wheels, which blend in perfectly with the surroundings. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, turning the prayer wheels has the same effect as reciting the prayers. So, you will be able to gain great wisdom, your kindness will increase, and you will be lucky in all aspects.

Ticket price: ¥200 (May 1 to October 31) or ¥100 (rest of the year), including the pass to all the tourist attractions both in and around the foot of the mountain.


If it is a purchase in person, you must go the day before at 9 in the morning to get a reservation ticket (limited quantities), which will have to be taken to the box office the second day and the ticket would be bought directly right before entering. Each person can purchase a maximum of 4 reservation tickets, once a week. The reservation has no costs, and can be made with a national identity card or passport.

On the website, each person can buy a maximum of 5 tickets, among which one must be the buyer’s own. It can only be done by those with a national identity card (which can also be a provisional one).


Have a walk at Lukhang Zongjiao Park (宗角禄公园)

Description: it is located at the foot of the mountain on the east side of Potala Palace, behind the building. With centuries-old willows planted by the lake, a wonderful landscape is created. The word Zongjiao means behind the palace, while Lukhang refers to the Lushen room, which is often translated as Dragon God or even Dragon King. So, this is why the name of this lake is Dragon King Lake.

As mentioned above, in the park there is a lake named Dragon King Lake (龙王潭). Here you can get on a boat and take a ride, seeing how the rear of Potala is reflected on the water, as if it was a real mirror.

On the grass, you can go with your friends and family and have a picnic outdoors, in a very cool and relaxing environment.

Every weekend you can see in the park some shows called Lhamo (ཨ་ཅེ་ལྷ་མོ), which are typical theatrical works from Tibet, combining music and dance, similar to opera. Also, other shows called Guozhuang (锅庄表演) are performed, typical in Tibet, as in Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gangsu, but with some small local differences.

After having typical Lhasa food, you can do like the Tibetans and go for a walk in the park, one of the most typical ways of relaxation and enjoying local life.

There’s no need to buy a ticket.


Try the typical local food at Barkhor Street (八廊街/八角街)

Description: It is a street that is located in the old city of Lhasa. It is a famous place of transit and commercial center of the capital that preserves its original and traditional appearance. Formerly, it was just a street that surrounded Jokhang Temple, which the Tibetans called “Sacred Street“. However, over the years, it has gradually spread to a large area of ​​old-style streets surrounding the temple, divided into North, South, East and West.

In the old alleys of this area, you can find a lot of shops that sell everything. From small souvenirs, to caps, jewelry and local Tibetan clothing. Not only that, but it is full of small stalls and also restaurants that will offer you the most authentic dishes in the area.

To have a really good souvenir of this place, you can go and have a session of photos to have your own photo book. Many offer it in the streets, and will invite you to take photos with Tibetan clothing in the most beautiful streets of the area. The price would be between ¥299-399, depending on the style and number of photos you choose.

There’s no need to pay any ticket to go into the streets.

The opening hours are from 8:00 to 20:00.


Visit Sera Monastery (色拉寺སེ་ར་དགོན)

Description: it is one of the six main Gelug monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in the early 15th century. In the late 20th century, it was announced as part of the second group of key national cultural relics to be protected. The monastery is large-scale, built on the hillside and all in one color (white and red), so the central building is taller, giving the feeling of power.

At 3 in the afternoon every day, an activity called “Sutra Debate” is celebrated, in which people discuss on the different points of knowledge about Buddhism and serves as a learning for the lamas. This activity is not open to the public on weekends and holidays.

On December 27th of the Tibetan calendar, the Selabengqin (色拉崩钦) festival is celebrated. On this day, thousands of Tibetan believers come to the temple to worship, expecting to be blessed by the temple’s golden Vajra, asking for peace and prosperity for the entire year.

If you are a hiking lover, you should climb the “back mountain” of the temple. Approaching the entrance where the tickets are checked, you do not have to pass it, but you should go directly to the left and walk up. It is not an easy route, so you must have a little experience and enough energy to climb up to the peak of the mountain, where the altitude is 4300 meters. The duration of the tour is about 3 hours.

At the top of the mountain, you will be able to see the sunset that gives an orange glow to all the buildings and temples in the distance. From there, you will enjoy one of the most complete panoramic views of this destination. Not only that, many love this observation point because the starry sky that illuminates the city at night creates an incredible landscape that you will not always see elsewhere.

Price of the ticket: ¥55 (April 21st to October 19th) o ¥25 (rest of the year).


Watch the performances at Jokhang Temple (大昭寺 ཇོ་ཁང་)

Description: it is the most famous Buddhist temple in Lhasa. In fact, it is considered the Heart of Lhasa, and one of the unique buildings of Tibetan Buddhism. It was probably built in the year 642, under the mandate of Songtsen Gampo, and today it is considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with Potala Palace and Norbulingka. It has 4 floors, with roofs covered with bronze tiles.

January 15th of the Tibetan calendar is one of the most interesting days of the year. Lots of people visit the temple and its surroundings for the Butter Lamp Festival (酥油花灯节), which celebrates the victory of the great debate between Buddha Gautama and the other sects. On this date, Tibetans display figures of flowers, birds, fish, and insects made with ghee flower. Also, many of them are put together to make multiple images that tell the ancient legends of the Tibetan people. It is, without questioning, one of the local activities in which you will learn the most about Tibetan culture.

In addition, on October 15th of the Tibetan calendar the Palden Lhamo Festival (白拉姆节 དཔལ་ལྡན་ལྷ་མོ།) is celebrated, also known as Fairy Day (仙女节) or Women’s Day (妇女节), an exclusive festival dedicated to Tibetan women.

On this day, women prepare themselves and go to the streets to perform a ritual called Weisang (煨桑). They offer tsampa and wine to the goddess Palden Lhamo and burn incense in front of the statue to pray and ask good wishes for all. In addition, they also prepare dances and shows that they perform in the streets, creating a lively and fun atmosphere.

For the believers of Buddhism, another of the things that can be very important is to put gold on the figure of Gautama Buddha. He was a philosopher and sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. It is something traditional in this religion, which represents the maximum respect and admiration because the gold that is put is very expensive. This way, you can ask for good luck and prevent bad things from happening to you.

The lamas will help you in the process. They will give you the prepared gold and they will take you to the right place, where a professional will be in charge of putting gold on the figure for you.

The price can vary depending on whether you want to stick it on the figure’s face (¥700) or all over its body (¥11200).

The tickets are ¥85 each.

How to get +

Transport within the city of Lhasa is quite good, and public transport is highly developed.

In case you are foreign travelers, as we mentioned above, it will be necessary to go by transport prepared by the travel agency (such as a tourist bus).

Otherwise, for those who travel on their own, they will be able to go by bus to most of the destinations.

To go to Potala: you will have to get off at Yaowangshan Nongmaoshichang stop (药王山农贸市场) on line 8. In case you are in Lukhang Zongjiao Park, you can walk, since it’s only 10 minutes away.

To go to Lukhang Zongjiao Park: you must get off at Longwangtan stop (name of the lake), line 7.

To go to Jokhang Temple or Barkhor Street (really close to each other): Baojianyuan (市妇幼保健院) stop, on lines 9, 10, 11, 12, 15,17, 18 y 19; or Cuomeilin (措美林) stop, on lines 23, 25, 28 y 29.

To go to Sera Monastery: you must get off at Selasi stop (monastery name in Chinese, 色拉寺), going on buses of lines 6, 16 or 24.

Travel tips +

In Potala Palace:

You can’t bring oxygen bottles, water, lighters…

You can’t take pictures of the place.

Arrive an hour in advance at the main entrance, which is the southern gate of the palace. This is because you have to pass three points (check) to finally enter the tourist attraction.

You should be dressed without having many parts of the body exposed (miniskirts, shorts, etc.) or wearing hats or dark sunglasses.


Try to bargain whenever is possible. Also, you have to be sure that what you buy is authentic, since many stores sell imitations and fake products (jewelry) without people realizing it.


If you hike up to the “Back mountain” of Sera Temple:

Do not constantly stop in the middle of the road, as even that is a waste of energy.

Walk on roads with foot marks, as there are parts with gravel stones and there may be a serious danger of falling. In this case, no one may be able to save you.

Go down the mountain by vehicle if possible, because the night is very dark and it is very dangerous to walk on the mountainous roads. Otherwise, take the concrete path, do not go down from where you came up.


Wear shoes that do not drain easily and enough clothing because it is cold in the high parts of the mountain.

Useful contacts +

Potala’s customer service: 0891-633-9615.

Potala tourist information: 1398-998-7403.

Lukhang Zongjiao Park customer service: 1868-9014-111.

Lhasa Tourist office: 0891-633-1175.