Tibet is named the Roof of the World with an average elevation of 4,900 meters. It is located in the northern plateau of the Himalayas, which is considered heaven on earth. This mysterious and exotic part of the planet is a place that many travelers yearn for. Tibet is filled with ancient history, manuscripts, sculptures, and majestic mountains. This place is considered as a point where Buddhism flourishes. Since the start of the 20th century, Tibet has drawn a massive amount of tourists. There are many breathtaking places to visit in Tibet.
Things to Know Before Visiting Tibet
The kingdom of Tibet was isolated for centuries that filled the land with spirituality. Many travelers get attracted by the mysticism of Tibet.
One of the Coolest Journeys
The vista of Tibet is considered one of the coolest journeys in the world. Warm jackets, socks, woolen caps, gloves, insulated bottles, and moisturizing creams are a must-have for the Tibet trip. Don’t go overboard with packing but packing less could also become a big issue when dealing with extreme negative temperatures. Take advice from a tour guide or your trip advisor for a list of essentials to pack.
No need for a Visa
There is no such thing as a Tibet visa as you don’t need visa approvals to enter Tibet borders. However, a Chinese Visa is mandatory for Tibetan entry permission. Tibet travel permissions can only be secured by your travel agent or guide. Tourists should not go to ask for a permit on their own. It is recommended by tour guides that you should never mention your plan to visit Tibet at the time of securing a Chinese visa.
Tibetan food for visitors
The food that is available in Tibet is not purely Asian rather it is a different cuisine. It is weird but wonderful especially for foreigners from the western side of the world. One can easily fall in love with Tibetan food, especially buttery tea, and the famous momos. For a sweet tooth person, it is recommended to carry some desserts or sweet candies on a trip. You’ll be hard-pressed to find desserts in Tibet, as the people of Tibet aren’t a major fan of desserts.
Lhasa the city of Tibet
Lhasa is a city and the capital of Tibet and is also considered the holiest city. The trip starts from Lhasa but it is advised not to fly directly to Lhasa as it has one of the highest altitudes 12,001 ft / 3,658 m, which can cause some serious altitude sickness. A better way to reach Lhasa while avoiding sickness is by landing in Xining first. Then, after a night’s stay, take a train to Lhasa by exploring amazing views in-between. By taking this route your body gradually gets adjusted to the high altitude and the chances of getting severe altitude sickness decreases.
Prepare yourself to Walk
In Tibet walking is the best way to get the real feel of traveling to all the sacred places. Tibetan people believe that “kor” which means to walk around sacred places is the best way to achieve spiritual awakening. It is highly recommended by the tour guides to purchase and bring comfortable sports shoes on a trip to Tibet. However, you can keep your feet warm in UGG boots as well.
Places to Visit in Tibet
Before we start exploring places to visit in Tibet, we recommend you to keep a journal with you so you can reflect your feelings and emotions through writing and journaling.
Without any further ado, let’s start our list:
1. Jokhang Temple
In Lhasa, the Jokhang Temple is considered the most popular attraction for tourists and is considered a must-watch on a trip to Tibet, located in Barkhor Square it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In 642, the temple was constructed by King Songtsen Gampo. However, Jokhang became famous after Master Atisha taught here in 11 century. He is considered an honorable and holy person in Buddhism.
Pilgrims from all over Tibet travel to Jokhang, a spiritual focal point to prostrate and create a clockwise circuit around the temple. Inside the sacred temple, there are more than 3000 images of Buddha along with many other treasures and manuscripts that date back to ancient times. No Tibet visit is complete without visiting Jokhang “The Sacred Temple”.
2. Explore the Palace
The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibet also known as the Palace of Art. Tucked into Lhasa’s red hills, blue skies and grey mountains, a majestic white and red building is an iconic image often called the Roof of the World. Built in 637, Lhasa’s Palace of Art is 12,000 feet above sea level making it the highest Palace in the world. Travelers, who venture to this sacred Palace, can relive history as Saint’s Chapel artifacts, Dharma cave, and hand-carved statues dated back to the seventh century. The white area of the Palace has its jail, school, seminary, gardens and also serves as a living quarter for the Dalai Lama.
3. Yamdrok Sacred Lake
Yamdrok Lake is among the three holiest lakes in Tibet, Yamdrok means “jade” in Tibetan. The lake has an almost unreal turquoise blue color which attracts millions of eyes. It is situated 70 kilometers from Lhasa on a way to Everest. On the southwest of the lake, you can also visit the famous Samding Monastery, the only monastery which is headed by a female tulku.
4. Sera Monastery of Gelugpa
One of the most acknowledged Monasteries in Tibet, Sera Monastery was built in 1419. The Monastery is dedicated to the Yellow Hat Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is also known as the monastery of debate. As young monks take part in philosophical debates as part of their training. The senior monks drill younger ones on various topics like doctrine in Tibet Buddhism and the teachings of Buddha.
Visitors and monks from around the world flock here to witness the debates. During the debate, they make many unique gestures that are interesting to watch. However, it may seem entertaining for visitors, but it is a crucial part of monks’ training.
Things to do in Tibet
1. Mt. Everest Base Camp
Mount Everest is Earth’s tallest peak and the view up there is quite breathtaking. Exploring Everest base camp to get close to the top of the world a tourist must explore Mount Everest base camp on a trip to Tibet.
The base camp of this majestic mountain is at an extremely high altitude of 5200 meters / 17,060 feet located between the China and Nepal borders. It is possible to sleep in the average accommodation available in the base camp, so you can wake up to the most unobstructed view of the golden-white Mother Goddess peak of the earth.
2. Princess Opera
Princess Wencheng Opera is a drama based on the life of the princess and King of that time, which explores the cultural aspect of Tibet at that time. More than 800 performers are featured in this Opera. The Act goes on for days, Local farmers and herdsmen work along with professional actors.
It is known as one of their best performances, it may seem inferior compared to operas around the world. However, for Tibet people, it is considered as their cultural activity. On an average estimation, the Opera attracts one million viewers yearly.
3. Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street is an ancient road used by pilgrims to reach the temple. Like something out of Aladdin’s cave, Barkhor Street has a variety of unique prayer wheels and other artifacts. It is also a home to Tromzikhang market that will feel like a treasure trove offering a variety of prayer wheels, tea kettles, and yak butter.
4. Nagchu Horse-Racing Festival
Nagchu is a horse racing festival in Tibet that showcases outstanding performances of locals on a breathtaking landscape. There are many other racing competitions in Tibet, but the Nagchu festival is the most magnificent. It takes six hours to reach the Nagchu festival, which is 320 kilometers northeast of Lhasa and lasts for 15 days.
The Magic of Tibet
The magic that Tibet leaves on your soul will stay with you forever. All the majestic mountains, lakes, and monasteries are a treasure trove for the people who love history. The trip to this magical land is not just about the scenery. It’s more of a spiritual awakening kind of a trip, which can connect you with your inner self. The spirituality of Tibet may change your world for good.
Tibet is truly one of the best places to visit. You will not only enjoy the scenic beauty but also a vast variety of cuisines which will help savor your taste buds. Besides, it has a lot to discover for history enthusiasts. The place itself will give you an idea about many of the mysteries as well. Make your next vacation to Tibet!