Tibet is a land of mythology and mysticism. In which the culture and religious devotion have barely changed since the ancient days of their ancestors. A hugely devout Buddhist region, Tibet has become a popular place to visit in Southeast Asia. It received millions of tourists, both international and domestic, heading for the high-altitude plateau every year. For many of these visitors, it will be their first time to travel to Tibet, and many of them will have little idea of what to expect for their first tour.
When visiting a country for the first time, it is normal to be a little confused and distracted by the sheer volume of things to see and do. And Lhasa is no exception. For those that have never been to the Lhasa City before, it can be an assault on the senses that can leave you overwhelmed. Tibet is not just the world’s highest plateau. But is a land of many records, from the highest railway line and railway station to the world’s highest capital city. The world’s highest freshwater lake, and five of the world’s highest mountains, including the spectacular Mount Everest.
Top attractions for first-time visitors to Tibet
Traveling to Tibet for the first time is the adventure of a lifetime. There are so many things to see in the region. And you may well find it hard to decide what you want to see first. However, there are some sites that are must-visit locations for a first timer to Tibet. So here is a list of the top sites in Tibet, for you to choose from for your first tour of the land at the roof of the world. Here are the top sites to visit in Tibet for the travelers.
The Potala Palace was constructed in the early centuries during the 33rd King of Tibet, Songsten Gampo. It is the epitome of Tibetan architecture. With two palaces in one, the Red Palace and the White Palace, the former seat of Tibetan government looks down on the city from its perch on top of Moburi, the Red Hill. It is the most attractive place in Lhasa city.
It is one of the oldest temples in Tibet. The Jokhang Temple was built in the 7th century. The gilded statue of Buddha was brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty, the “Chinese wife” of the 33rd Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. The most sacred temple in Tibet. This ancient temple in the center of Lhasa is the beating heart of Tibetan Buddhism and the most visited pilgrimage site in Tibet. The Jowo Rinpoche, the statue of Buddha, still resides inside the temple. And it is the oldest remaining statue of Buddha in China, believed to have been blessed by Gautama Buddha himself. It is must visit the site while traveling to Tibet.
While most people that travel to Tibet spend some time visiting the famous Jokhang Temple. And almost all of them will visit Barkhor Street at some point in their time in Lhasa. Barkhor Street is the main kora route around the Jokhang Temple for the Tibetan pilgrims. That can be seen daily prostrating and praying in front of the temple gates, Barkhor Street is much more than that. It is one of the most spectacular streets in the world. It is well-known as the place where you can buy almost anything that is made in Tibet. From authentic Tibetan clothing to Tibetan knives and even yak-hair handicrafts. However, you should be prepared to barter for the price of your souvenir. As this is actually expected by the traders there. Just take care to not go too low, or you may offend someone.
One of the Great Three Holy Lakes of Tibet, Lake Yamdrok lies a short distance to the southwest of Lhasa, on the road to Gyantse. It is believed to have been created from the earring of the goddess, Dorje Gegkyi Tso. This stunning lake is also known as the “life-spirit” of Tibet. The locals believe that if Lake Yamdrok ever dries up, Tibet will no longer be habitable. It is a major site of pilgrimage in Tibet. The lake is often associated with the Buddhist master, Padmasambhava, the Second Buddha, who was also known in Tibet and Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche.
It is also called as the “Heavenly Lake”. Lake Namtso is one of the most stunningly beautiful lakes in the world. It is located at around 200 kilometers to the north of the Tibetan capital. It is one of the Great Three Holy Lakes of Tibet, with Lake Manasarovar in western Tibet being the third. A trip to Lake Namtso is one of the most beautiful excursions on the plateau. Not only can you spend a lovely day exploring the shores of the lake and its monasteries. But you can also spend the night under the stars. As one of the few places in the world with little to no light pollution. The area around Lake Namtso is perfect for getting the best view of the Milky Way. The galaxy in which our planet resides, though you are actually seeing the opposite arm of the galaxy.
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
Located in Shigatse, the second city of Tibet, the Tashilhunpo Monastery is the seat of the second highest incarnation in Tibet, the Panchen Lama. The first Dalai Lama Gendun Drup had built the monastery in 1447. And it is one of the most culturally significant monasteries in the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. Tashi Lhunpo monastery is one of the largest university monasteries in the region. The sight of the monastery, which lies to the west of the city of Shigatse on the southern slopes of Mount Nyiseri. It is the most beautiful sight the mind can comprehend and will leave a lasting impression on you.
Everyone knows of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain. Lying in the far west of Tibet, on the border with Nepal, the line of the Sino-Nepal Border crosses directly over the summit. It has an elevation of 8,848 meters above sea level. The Everest mountain is one of the most visited places in Tibet especially at Everest Base Camp (EBC). It lies on the northern slopes around 12 kilometers from the peak, gives the world’s best view of the summit. Every traveler tries their best to reach Everest Base Camp while traveling to Tibet. It is the lifetime experience for most of the tourists.