Here’s a movie about Lhasa. This movie will give you a quick impression of the destination. The movie is produced for IFLYtheworld.com by bluepig.nl.
Walking around Jokhang Temple (2 hrs)
The Jokhang temple is the spiritual heart of Lhasa. It’s a temple in front of a big square. This square is filled with pilgrims who sometimes walk for weeks to reach the temple. Before entering the temple the walk through the centre of Lhasa clockwise around the temple. Sometimes they do this by kneeling every meter and saying mantras.
It is wonderful to walk around the temple through the small streets in the same directions as the pilgrims do. You will have some beautiful picturesque moments and you will see a lot of beautiful small shops and markets around there. You will smell Yak meat and butter and will see some beautiful pilgrims and sometimes local women who are a bit drunk of their self brewed drinks.
It’s also possible to enter the temple. From the rooftop you have a wonderful view at the square and the pilgrims. Visiting can be done all day, but at the end of the day is advisable, so after your visit you can have a drink or something to eat at one of the small bars and restaurants around the square.
Drepung Monastery (½ day)
Just 5 kilometres outside Lhasa in the mountains is Drepung Monastery. It is a huge complex and still in use as a monastery. Perhaps not as beautiful as the Potala Palace, but for sure you will see real life here.
Unfortunately there are not as many monks as in the old days. There used to live several thousands of them. Nowadays it’s only a few hundred, but at least the monastery is in use. The sights inside the monastery are wonderful but the views to the surroundings are absolutely stunning.
And if you are lucky you will see some Yaks on your way to or from the monastery. Best time to visit is in the morning.
Potala Palace (½ day)
When you are in Lhasa, it is impossible to miss the huge Potala Palace. The Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India. Today the Chinese have changed the Potala Palace into a museum.
The complex is huge with over 130.000 square meters and there are several palaces and chapels inside, which are not all open. There is a certain ‘route’ through the palace, but it’s best to select what you like to see before you enter. For sure you will need some time in this palace and there’s a lot of stairs in the palace as well. And remember; you are at an altitude of 3700 meters, so take it easy.
You will see beautiful things and taking pictures is allowed almost everywhere, but of course you have to donate before you can take your pics. Depending on the season and how busy it is, you can buy your ticket at the gate in the morning or you have to book your ticket a day in advance.
Former Holiday inn (1 hr - 2 days)
If you like to ‘taste’ the real Lhasa, you should book a hotel in downtown Lhasa. From there you can walk through the small streets and try the local restaurants and bars. A little outside the city centre you will find Lhasa Hotel or ‘Former Holiday Inn’ as they still like to call it.
The hotel is famous from the book ‘Hotel on the roof of the world’, by Alec Le Sueur. It’s good to read the book first, perhaps during your travel through Tibet and then visit the Hotel. The book is absolutely hilarious and if you enter the hotel, it looks like time stood still.
The hotel pretends to be the best in Lhasa but don’t expect much. Just go there, visualize the wonderful book you just read, have a drink in the Yak Cafe and continue your travels.
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Language of the world
Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Lhasa.