Potala Palace

 From Nov. 1, 2023 to Mar. 15, 2024, Potala Palace is free for visiting. Tourists still need to make a reservation 1-10 days in advance online.

Potala Palace Facts

Location: on the Red Hill of central Lhasa
Height: 3,767.19m (12,359.55ft) at the topmost point
Built in: 631

Map of Potala Palace
Click the map to enlarge it,
or go for more Lhasa maps

Potala Palace is the highest ancient palace in the world. Potala named after a holy hill in South India is a Sanskrit word meaning "Abode of the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy)."  The Potala Palace is said to be used for greeting a Han Princess. Legend has it that in the 7th century, to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) of China, the then Tibet King Songtsen Gampo built a 9-storey palace with a thousand rooms up on the Red Hill and named it Potala. The palace was mainly made of stones and woods, and decorated with special local willow branches called Baima Grass. Later, with the collapse of the Songtsen Gampo Dynasty, the ancient palace was almost destroyed in wars. What we see at present is the architecture of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) and the continuous expanding work outcome since the 17th century.

Potala Palace is a symbol of the cultural and economic communication of Tibet and Tang Court. Now, with high historical value, the palace is very important to China.

The Palace is composed of 2 parts, the Red Palace as the center and the White Palace as two wings.

Red Palace in Potala Palace

The Red Palace or Potrang Marpo is the highest part in the center that is completely devoted to religious study and Buddhist prayer. It was painted to red to represent stateliness and power. It consists of a complicated layout of different halls, chapels and libraries on many levels with an array of smaller galleries and winding passages: The Great West Hall, Dharma Cave, The Saint's Chapel, The Tomb of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and etc. The 725 sq meters (about 7,804 sq ft) Great West Hall is the largest hall, with beautiful murals painted on its inner walls. Around the Great West Hall are three chapels, the east chapel, the north chapel as well as the south chapel. The Dharma Cave and the Saint's Chapel are the only two remained constructions of the 7th century with the statues of Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng, and Princess Bhrikuti inside.

Our Tour Group at Potala Palace
Our Tour Group at Potala Palace
Potala Palace, Lhasa

White Palace in Potala Palace

The White Palace or Potrang Karpo once served as the office building of Tibet local government makes up the living quarters of Dalai Lama. Its wall was painted to white to convey peace and quiet. The Great East Hall on the fourth floor, occupying a space of 717 sq meters (about 7,718 sq ft), was the site for momentous religious and political events. The fifth and sixth floors are used as the living quarters and offices of regents while the seventh floor, the top one, is the living quarters of Dalai Lama consisting of two parts named the East Chamber of Sunshine and the West Chamber of Sunshine due to the plentiful sunshine.

Other Annexes in Potala Palace

Potala Palace has other annexes including the School of Buddhist Logic, the seminary, the printing House, gardens, courtyards and even the jail. For more than 300 years, The architecture has treasured many culture relics such as murals, stupas, statues, thangkas, and rare sutras.
Buildings in Potala Palace Potala Palace

Travel Tips

1. The travel route here is set strictly. Visitors all have to enter from the east main entrance.
2. The visit time is limited in 1 hour.
3. Note that expect the toilet at the right side of the White Palace Square, there is no rest room during the route of the rest time. The water closet at the back gate of the White Palace is said to be distinctive and worth a try.
4. Watch your steps due to the high altitude. Bring along an overcoat as it is a bit cold and damp in the hall.


1. Any kind of liquid is not allowed there, including beverages and mineral water, which yet can be purchase at a cost of CNY10 for one bottle at the hill top.
2. Smoking is prohibited and cigarettes are not allowed to be taken into the Potala Palace. Any violation of the rule will invalidate the entrance ticket.
3. Oxygen Bag is prohibited.
4. Be aware of the taboos of Tibetan Buddhism during the visit. Don't wear a hat or sunglasses; don't step on the doorsill; don't take photos in the palace although it is allowed outside it.

Ticket Purchase Procdure in High Season

During the high season (May 1 to October 31), visitors are suggested to book the tickets through travel agencies. Otherwise, they are required to apply for free reservation tickets with their valid identity documents, such as ID cards and passports one day in advance before they visit the palace. Each valid ID document can be used only once within a week. However, one visitor can have as many as four reservation tickets (one for himself and the other three for his companions) at a time. The reservation ticket window is open at 09:00 and closed after all tickets are sent out.

The visiting date and exact time, number of visitors and ID document numbers are printed on the reservation tickets. Visitors have to visit the palace at the given date and time. Those visitors who have reservation tickets should make their tickets extended or canceled if they can’t visit the place for personal reasons. Otherwise, they will be forbidden to apply again within a week because their names are added to the blacklist.

On the following day, visitors should go to the main gate to have their reservation tickets and ID documents checked and walk to the ticket office in front of the White Palace to buy the entrance tickets. Then they can start their tour after another security check.

Special notice: Visitors should queue up for applying for the reservation tickets as early as they can. The tickets are sent out quickly because there are too many visitors.  

How to get to Potala Palace

1.  Take bus 8, 13, 24, 32, 34, 35, 36, L2 or Tourist Night Line Y1 to Baita Bus Stop and then walk east for 5mins to the ticket office.
2. Take bus 32 to Lazhong Bus Stop and then walk southeast for 10mins to the ticket office.

 Tourists can take airport shuttle bus from Gonggar Airport to Minhangju Bus Stop and then visit the palace. It costs CNY 25. If they arrive at Lhasa Railway Station, they can take bus no. 13 and get off at Yaowangshan Caishichang Bus Stop.

Entrance Fee May - Oct. : CNY 200;
Nov. - Apr. : CNY 100;
Free for children under 1.2m (3.9 feet).

 Free admission from Nov. 1, 2023 to Mar. 15, 2024.
Tourists need to make a reservation online 1-10 days in advance.
Opening Hours 9:30 - 15:20

  See detailed introduction to Collections of Potala Palace, including its stupas, frescos, thangkas, carvings and sculptures, etc.

 Recommended Tours
4 Days Lhasa Tour from $559
12 Days China Tibet Tour to Beijing - Lhasa - Xi'an - Shanghai from $2689

Read more: China Sightseeing Tours to Top 6 Attractions on CNY Banknotes

- Last updated on Nov. 03, 2023 by Gabby Li -
Questions & Answers on Potala Palace
Asked by Indu from UNITED KINGDOM | Aug. 30, 2018 13:36Reply
How much for portals palace
Answers (1)
Answered by Charles from UNITED KINGDOM | Aug. 31, 2018 01:25

The entrance fee from May - Oct. is CNY 200; from Nov. - Apr. is CNY 100.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)