Holidays to Lhasa, China

Perched high above the world at 2,500 metres, the Tibetan city of Lhasa in western China has an aura of spiritualism about it. Visitors come here to satiate an interest in the Buddhist rituals of the Tibetan people and explore their culture and history, as well as admire the beautiful structures and the treasures that are held within them.

From its hilltop position, the imposing Potala Palace presides over the city and can be seen from almost anywhere in Lhasa. Comprising of the Red Palace and the White Palace, this gigantic citadel was once the winter home of Tibet’s past Dalai Lamas. Many of the palace’s 1000 glittering rooms can be explored by visitors who can follow the captivating story of Tibet by marvelling at the artefacts, statues, murals, antiques and art throughout the palace.

The ancient Jokhang Temple is still the spiritual heart of Tibet today. The golden Buddha within it is the most revered in Tibet and attracts waves of dedicated pilgrims to worship. If you visit in the morning, you can witness the pilgrims lining up, then moving around the temple and rubbing their heads on the sacred images. A holy atmosphere is created by the Monks chanting, the incense-filled air, and the flames of yak butter candles glowing.

Running clockwise around Jokhang Temple is the Bakhor Circuit, a steady crush of pilgrims flowing steadily around a hexagonal loop, dipping in and out of the chapels on this pedestrianised route. Join them for a lap or two - each cycle takes about twenty minutes. Bakhor also has a colourful market where you can buy prayer beads and jewellery.

Elsewhere in Lhasa, the Drepung Monastery is one of the largest in the world. Together with the Sera Monastery and the Ganden Monastery, they make up the Three Monasteries of Lhasa. Thousands of people once lived here, although numbers have significantly dwindled. Visitors can explore the zigzagging alleys of Drepung around an area so large that it could be a town in its own right.

Highlights

  • Breathing in the air of spiritualism that permeates Lhasa

  • Wonder at the majestically elevated red-and-white palace of Potala

Map of Lhasa