Why visit Lhasa?
Lhasa ལྷ་ས་, literally the “Place of the Gods,” is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is located in the southeast of Tibet, and in the northern part of the Himalayas. The city lies in the middle of Qinghai Tibet Plateau, and due to its 3.650 meters altitude makes it one of the highest cities in the world.
If we go back to history, we will see that Lhasa was the capital of the Traditional Tibet Region Ü དབུས་, and today it is the capital of the entire Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Lhasa is a perfect city that includes the city of Lhasa and seven surrounding counties as well. It is a fantastic city and full of Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
Lhasa is a city blessed with all the mystery, spirituality and majesty of an ancient tale. Whether you traverse its resplendent landscape, reflect on ancient philosophies or spend your time seeking out a new favorite dish, Lhasa will provide you with a remarkable experience.
Best time to visit Lhasa
Lhasa can travel throughout the year. Each period of the year has different climatic characteristics. The best time to go to Lhasa is from April to October. Peak season is from May to September, in that period of the year the oxygen content in the air reaches its maximum, accounting for 66.3% on average.
During this period from May to October, the climate is warm and humid, and it is not as windy and dry as it is in the winter or early spring.
Lhasa has a long period of sunlight throughout the year, so it has a reputation for “Sunlight City.”
If your trip to Lhasa is during summer or fall, you should visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Drepung Monastery at daytime and you can feel the mysterious and robust religious atmosphere.
If your trip to Lhasa during the Shoton Festival you may receive discounts from the regular price.
On a budget, you can enjoy both in winter and spring when it’s a low season so that prices may be in half as opposed to High season in Lhasa.
Besides low prices, in the low season, you can enjoy and experience the plateau thermal spring and climb to the snowy mountain.
The festivals of Saga Dawa (varies, May/Jun) and Losar/New Year (varies, Feb) draw large numbers of pilgrims to the city. Shoton Festival (Aug) features Tibetan operas, yak racing, and Buddhist paintings.
Before you plan to take a trip to Tibet, I would suggest reading this guide about Traveling to Tibet.
Top Things to Do in Lhasa
Below are the top things you can do when visiting Lhasa
Engage in lively debates in the open courtyard of Sera Monastery
Learn about the philosophy and folklore behind ancient Tibetan medicine at Mentsekhang, a Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute.
Enjoy one cup of yak butter tea at one of Barkhor’s many teahouses
Tibet has many festivals, and most of the celebrations occur in Lhasa, so if the time allows while you are visiting Lhasa to be part of the festivals, you will experience the incredible energy of the local people. The first festival comes the Shoton Festival – taking place from 30th June in Tibetan Calendar and lasting for five days. During the festival, a giant Buddha Thangka will be set up in the Drepung Monastery, performing admirable Tibetan operas at Norbulingka Park. Local people during the festival gather in the park and celebrate the festival by eating yogurt.
The Tibetan New Year or known as Losar is also an essential festival in Tibet.
The New Year celebration begins on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. On the first day of the festival, the local people are dressed in new, beautiful clothes and wear precious jewelry and thus welcome the New Year.
The Potala Palace Square has stunning performances, and in the Jokhang Temple there is a Sutra-chanting.
Please keep in mind that during the celebration of Losar, Tibetan borders are closed for tourists for some years now.
You could contact our travel consultant for up-to-date information.
- Find your spiritual path in Lhasa by joining pilgrims on the Barkhor Street Pilgrimage route
- Experience a sensory feast at one of Lhasa’s night markets – Tianhai Night Market
- Hike at Pabongka Monastery
- Activities near Lhasa
- Explore Ganden Monastery and take a short hike around the Monastery for a nice view of beautiful valley of Lhasa Kyichu River
- Short trekking and horse riding at Thoilong village
- Following the shores of holy Yamdrok Lake
- Drak Yerpa meditation caves
- Excursion to Namtso Lake
Where to Stay in Lhasa?
- Comfortable and well rating hotels
- Shambhala Palace Hotel 4*
- House of Shambhala 4*
- Four Points by Sheraton Lhasa 4*
- The St. Regis Lhasa Resort 5*
- InterContinental Lhasa Paradise 5*
- Xuelong Zhuangyuan Hotel 5*
- TASHI CHOETA BOUTIQUE HOTEL 4*
Recommend If there are eco-friendly accommodation
- Lhasa Gang-Gyan Hotel Tibet 3*
- Yak Hotel 3*
- Lhasa Manasarovar Hotel 3*
- Tibet Xueyu Tiantang International Hotel 3*
Accomodation Tip: You can also check some Airbnb rentals in Lhasa and save up to $40 with an Airbnb First Time Booking Coupon.
Where to Eat & Drink in Lhasa?
Lhasa is a small town, but it will never disappoint you in finding the right place to eat.
The restaurants offer different types of cuisine: from traditional Tibetan, Sichuan cuisine, you can find Nepal or Indian food, and you can eat western food, snacks or drinks.
Restaurants can be found around Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street.
restaurants serving Western foods are mainly located on Beijing Road, and if you want to enjoy food as local people, then you need to visit Deji road.
Traditional traditional cuisine
Tibetans like to eat rice, wheat, and barley as staple foods, and usually, they eat food made of grain, such as Tsamba. The so-called Tsamba is stir-fried barley.
Tibetans to fight the cold weather eat a lot of meat. The most favored meat of Tibetans is meat from Yaks and sheep. They don’t like goat meat and eating dogs, horses or donkeys in Tibet is taboo.
Yak butter tea is a daily drink in Tibet, and the local people use a yak tea to welcome the guests as well.
Every house and family in Tibet keeps a lot of yak butter in their storage.
How do they prepare the yak butter tea?
Well, they put yak butter in a bowl of tea, and after the butter is thawed, it is heated in the cooking pot.
Yak butter tea is very convenient and rich in calories.
More details, read over traditional food and drink on the Tibet page and get a reference from Where to Eat in Lhasa – Lhasa Restaurants & Lhasa Cafes.
• Vegetarian Restaurants in Lhasa:
1. Tibet Kun Phan Vegetarian Restaurant at Yuthok Road, Lhasa
2. Holy Land Vegetarian Restaurant Address: North Lingkor Road, Lhasa
3. Father Vegetarian Restaurant Address: No. 9, Cemenlin 3rd Alley, Beijing Middle Road, Lhasa
How much time do you need in Lhasa?
At least 2-3 days for better acclimatization. If you are planning to visit only Lhasa it will be enough for about three days. If you decided to visit the surroundings near Lhasa then your tour should be a little longer.
Tours offered by travel agencies usually last from 5-6 days up to two weeks, but with including more tours around Tibet.
However, if you want to truly experience Tibet with all its beauties, we recommend you choose a tour that will last about ten days.
What to avoid in Lhasa?
There is an unwritten rule for the travelers: always, wherever you go, respect the local people and their tradition, respect their culture, and don’t do anything contrary to their beliefs or laws.
Every country has different traditions and rules, and we need to respect them if we want to be appreciated by the locals as tourists.
Tibet has some etiquettes and taboos, and this is the main thing that is very important.
When visiting Monasteries don’t:
- Visit monasteries without your guide’s accompany. Anywhere in Tibet is not allowed to walk alone without a tour guide, especially visiting the monasteries.
- Wear short pants or revealing clothes when visiting monasteries.
- Taking photos of Buddha statues in majority monasteries.
With local Tibetan people don’t:
- Take pictures of Tibetan local people without asking for permission.
- Touch the head of local people, not even children.
- Don’t spit or clap your palms behind the Tibetans.