Explore Lhasa: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Vibrant Barkhor Street
Lhasa, the city of sunshine, is a holy destination that attracts travellers seeking to bask in its charm. Regardless of distance, everyone yearns to embark on their own pilgrimage in their unique way. Curious about Lhasa’s essence and must-dos? This guide holds all the answers.
The Potala Palace was built by Songtsan Gampo to marry Princess Wencheng. It is the highest and most majestic palace in the world. It houses countless breathtaking pagodas, statues, whole paintings, thangkas and scriptures. According to the classics, the exterior of the palace is mainly composed of red and white, which contrasts with the blue sky of Lhasa, and looks magnificent and majestic from a distance.
There are 8 Dalai Lama stupas in the Potala Palace, representing the 9 deceased Dalai Lamas who resided there. However, the sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, is known for his tumultuous and enigmatic life.
The Jokhang Temple is the ultimate destination for Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. It is often said that “Lhasa begins with the Jokhang Temple.” Barkhor Street, encircling the temple, serves as the central hub for local pilgrims. At any given time, numerous devotees can be seen worshipping on the street. This spectacle not only holds great significance for the locals but also provides travellers with a magnificent view of the pilgrimage ceremony.
Barkhor Street is a renowned commercial street in Lhasa, known for its shops selling Tibetan souvenirs and local delicacies. It is also an ideal spot for sunbathing, with its vibrant and authentic atmosphere. Tibetan individuals can be seen spinning prayer wheels and quietly chanting scriptures around Barkhor Street. The temple’s mulberry furnace releases a soothing Buddha fragrance. The sun illuminates people of diverse beliefs, offering an opportunity to witness genuine Tibetan traditions.
When Princess Wencheng entered Tibet, she brought a 12-year-old lifelike statue of Sakyamuni. According to legend, the Buddha statue was shaped according to Sakyamuni Buddha himself and consecrated by him. It is very rare and precious. On the second floor, you can watch the golden dome of the Jokhang Temple, which is extremely bright under the sunlight, as if shrouded in the light of Buddha.
Barkhor Street has a vibrant humanistic style with bright colours, perfect for photography. It is great for capturing both cultural and portrait shots. If time allows, you might even consider hiring a local professional photographer who can provide expert services ranging from clothing and styling to makeup and hair. This will surely elevate your Tibetan travel experience! Must-photograph features include the prayer wheel, mask wall, Yellow wall, window and door frame, and teahouse.
Recommended outfits: traditional or modern Tibetan clothing, sheepskin, opt for solid colours like white or navy blue.
Taking Photo around Barkhor Street
In densely populated Barkhor Street, use a large aperture and telephoto lens to avoid a cluttered picture. Use makeup that creates a slight sunburn effect (not the kind of makeup sold by shopkeeper Tong) for a more harmonious painting style that matches the overall atmosphere. Remember to obtain permission before photographing locals, and be respectful of others by taking pictures in a civilized manner without causing any disruption.
You can choose a sweet teahouse or restaurant to spend a pleasant afternoon basking in the sun, such as Gamchung Teahouse, Zaydo Teahouse, Yogurt House, Akeding Tibetan Bakery, and Namasate restaurants are all worth a visit.
The Tibetan medical bathing method is a key practice in traditional Tibetan medicine. Princess Wencheng, as per records, consistently used the “Five Flavors of Ganlu Decoction” for healthcare upon arrival in Tibet. This decoction not only helps prevent illnesses, boosts the immune system, and enhances sleep quality but also regulates the endocrine system, making it particularly beneficial for individuals with suboptimal health.
Usually, a Tibetan medicine bath SPA includes three steps: shower, bath and SPA. After soaking in the Tibetan medicine bathtub, the body will sweat all the time, and there will be tea and oxygen bottles next to it, which is very considerate; after a whole set of procedures, the whole person will feel refreshed.
Night Life in Lhasa
Someone said: “If you have only been to the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple, but have not jumped over Zangdi in the Langma Hall with an oxygen tank in your arms, you should not have fully integrated into Lhasa.”
In addition to its beliefs, Lhasa is home to vibrant Tibetan nightclubs and bars. One of the most renowned establishments in the area is the Golden Horse Performing Arts Center, which exudes luxury and grandeur. This large-scale venue hosts a variety of performances, including traditional Tibetan folk songs and dances, as well as historical court music and Indian song and dance shows. Additionally, at the Langma Hall, adorned in Tibetan style, visitors can witness the enchanting sight of locals performing the Guozhuang dance, while tourists can experience the novelty of dancing disco while inhaling oxygen.
Sweet tea is to Lhasa people what coffee is to today’s young office workers. Sip it in the morning to refresh your mind; indulge in it at noon to savour the afternoon. It’s not just a few individuals, every household has numerous tea-loving friends when they visit. They gather, converse, and find serenity in the calmness. Lhasa, known as the Sunshine City, basks in long hours of sunlight daily, far removed from the chaos of metropolises. Grasp a cup of sweet tea and relish this precious, tranquil moment!
To embark on a journey to Tibet, it is essential to possess Tibet Travel Permits along with a Chinese Visa. The permits are specifically tailored to the destinations that the tourists intend to explore, and hence, the requirements may differ accordingly.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the sole railway connecting Tibet to other Chinese cities. It spans a distance of 2,000 kilometres, commencing from Xining to Lhasa, Shigatse and Nyingchi.
Foreign tourists visiting China need to restrict their travel time. Therefore, opting for air travel to Tibet is a perfect alternative as it is more convenient and time-efficient than other modes of transportation.
The road network in Tibet Autonomous Region has expanded to cover a distance of 22400 kilometers. However, on average, there are only 1.8 kilometers of highways for every hundred square kilometers of land area.
Tibetan cuisine comprises a variety of food and drinks. Meat and dairy products are the primary components, and vegetables are not abundant, resulting in a highly specialized cuisine.
Here are some commonly asked inquiries regarding flights, trains, permits, and travel in Tibet. We have curated them especially for your convenience. In case you still have any queries, feel free to ask.
Tibet’s weather is unique because of the high altitude of the Tibet plateau, which averages more than 4,000m above sea level. It is slightly severe with sparse air and strong UV radiation.
Hotels in Tibet vary from luxurious five-star establishments to simple guest houses run by locals. While larger cities such as Lhasa offer a wider selection of accommodations, remote areas have limited options with only basic amenities available.
The Tibetan Cartography (in English & Mandarin), is an extensive assortment of maps, which we have thoughtfully selected. They will aid in your thorough exploration of the enigmatic terrain in the Tibetan vicinity.