Tibet’s 13 Best Attractions according to Lonely Planet
Namtso is renowned as one of the most beautiful places in the Nyainqêntanglha mountain range. Its cave hermitages have for centuries been the destination of Tibetan pilgrims. A surfaced road across Laken Pass at 5186 m was completed to the lake in 2005, enabling easy access from Lhasa and the development of tourism at the lake.
12. Ganden–Samye Trek
Tibet is one of those places you really should experience at the pace of one foot in front of the other. This classic four-day trek between two of Tibet’s best monasteries takes you past herders’ camps, high alpine lakes and a Guru Rinpoche hermitage, as well as over three 5000m-plus passes.
11. Ganden Monastery
Ganden Monastery is one of the ‘great three’ Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. Its full name is Ganden Namgyal Ling. Ganden means “joyful” and is the Tibetan name for Tuṣita, the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside. Namgyal Ling means “victorious temple”.
10. Guge Kingdom, Western Tibet
The spectacular lost kingdom of Guge at Tsaparang is quite unlike anything you’ll see in central Tibet; it feels more like Ladakh than Lhasa. There comes a point when you are lowering yourself down a hidden sandstone staircase or crawling through an inter-connected cave complex that you stop and think: ‘This is incredible!’
9. Saga Dawa Festival
Buddha Jayanti, or Saga Dawa in the Tibetan language, is the most important religious festival for Buddhist Tamangs. This festival is held on the full moon of the 4th month of the Buddhist calendar. On this day in different years of his life, Lord Buddha took birth, achieved enlightenment and attained nirvana.
8. Sera & Drepung Monasteries, Lhasa
Founded in 1419 by one of Tsong Khapa’s eight disciples. It became famous for its tantric teachings, while Drepung drew fame from its governing role. Sera was smaller than Drepung, with 7,000 monks, but was very rich and comparable in power. The monks of Sera were considered clever and dangerous
7. Yak-Butter Tea
Yak butter tea is a daily staple dish throughout the Himalaya region and is usually made with yak butter, tea, salt and water churned into a froth. It is the “Tibetan national beverage” with Tibetans drinking upwards of sixty small cups a day for hydration and nutrition needed in cold high altitudes.
6. Riding the Rails to Lhasa
For all its faults, China’s railway to Tibet (the world’s highest) is an engineering wonder and a delightful way to reach the holy city. Pull up a window seat to view huge salt lakes, plains dotted with yaks and herders’ tents, and hundreds of miles of desolate nothing, as you inch slowly up onto the high plateau.
5. Samye Monastery
The first Buddhist monastery built in Tibet, and the location of the famous 792CE debate when Indian forms of Buddhism were pitted against Chinese. The Indian traditions prevailed and consequently were established as the state religion.
4. Views of Mt Everest
Tibet has easily the best views of the world’s most famous mountain. While two-week-long trekking routes on the Nepal side offer up only occasional fleeting glimpses of the peak, the view of Mt Everest’s unobstructed north face framed in the prayer flags of Rongphu Monastery or from a tent at the Base Camp will stop you in your tracks.
3. Jokhang Temple, Lhasa
Constructed in the 7th century AD to house the statues of Buddha that princesses Bhrikuti from Nepal and Wen Cheng from Tang Dynasty China brought as gifts for their future husband, King Songtsan Gampo. The temple has been enlarged many times over the centuries and now also houses statues of King Songtsan Gambo and his two famous foreign brides.
2. Potala Palace, Lhasa
A stronghold probably existed on Red Hill as early as the 7th century AD when King Songtsen Gampo built a fortress on it for his two foreign wives. The palace was rebuilt by the Fifth Dalai Lama in three years, while the Thirteenth Dalai Lama extended and repaired it into what it is now.
1. Mt Kailash, Western Tibet
This Mountain is considered holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. In ancient texts, it is referred to as the center of the world. The reason can be understood from the geographical significance of it’s place: within 30 miles radius, are the sources of mighty rivers.