Potala Palace

Brief Intro

Map of Potala Palace
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Situated on the Red Hill of central Lhasa, Potala Palace is the highest ancient palace in the world, reaching 3,767.19m (12,359.55ft) at the topmost point.

Potala named after a holy hill in South India is a Sanskrit word meaning "Abode of the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy)." Legend has it that in the 7th century, to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty (618B.C. - 907B.C.) 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. 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 (1644B.C. - 1911B.C.) and the continuous expanding work outcome since the 17th century.

Major Structures

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

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
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.

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), all visitors 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.

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.

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. They 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 no. 1, 7, 11, 13, 20, 21, 22 or 26, get off at Minhangju Station and then walk to the ticket office.
2. take bus no. 7, 12, 14, 20 or 23, get off at Longwangtandongmen Station and then walk to the ticket office.

 Tourists can take airport shuttle bus from Gonggar Airport to Minhangju Station 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 Minhangju Station.

Adminssion Fee:

May 1 to October 31: CNY 200;
November 1 to April 30: CNY 100
Tips: Only 4000 tickets are issued each day and about 100 tickets are issued every 20 minutes.

Opening Hours:

08:40 to 17:00 (visitors are not allowed to enter at 16:00)
* Tickets are sold from 08:40 to 16:00.

 Free entrance from Feb. 1 to Apr. 30, 2018.

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

 Recommended Tours
4 Days Lhasa Tour: to visit Potala Palace, Sera Monastery, Tibet Museum, etc
12 Days China Tour: luxury tour of Beijing - Xian - Lhasa - Shanghai

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