15 Best Places to Visit in Tibet for First-time Visitors

Tibet, the highest plateau on the earth, is also the most mysterious region in China, housing a lot of natural and historical wonders. For first-time visitors, what are the places to visit in Tibet. Below is a list showing you the best landscapes including mountains and lakes, unique architecture, local customs, and distinctive Tibetan Buddhism.

Potala Palace
Potala Palace, built around 1,300 years ago in the center of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is definitely a Tibet must see and landmark. It is the most majestic palace with the highest altitude all over the world. Climbing hundreds of steps to Potala Palace on Red Hill, you will first reach the White Palace for lama – the religious leader of Tibet, and then the Red Palace for holding religious ceremonies. There are also a large amounts of ancient collections to see, including funerary stupas, frescoes, Thangkas, carvings, paintings, sculptures and murals.

 Recommended Tour:   4 Days Private City Tour in Lhasa from $619
Namtso Lake
Namtso Lake is the largest lake in Tibet and the second largest salt lake in China, located at the foot of the snow covered Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains. So you can admire not only the blue lake, but also the high mountains as well as its reflections on the lake. Besides, Tibetan Buddhists consider the lake as a holy land, and you may meet the pilgrims circulating the lake holding prayer wheels. All these make Namtso one of the best Tibet places to visit. During Shoton Festival, the mega hiking activities are held there, which might be the most bustling time by Namtso.
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Mount Everest Base Camp

Mount Everest Base Camp
Mount Everest – the world’s highest mountain is the final goal among worldwide professional mountaineers. For regular tourists, especially those loving mountaineering and adventuring, you are highly advised to visit the Mount Everest Base Camp. At this place to see in Tibet with an altitude of 5,200 meters (17,060 feet), you can get the best view of the summit of Mt. Everest on clear days. When the sunlight paints the snowcapped mountain into golden at dawn or dusk, it’s especially charming. At night, the starry sky over the summit is also astonishingly beautiful.
Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Temple is the final destination of pilgrims for Tibetan Buddhists, thus it’s a very holy land at local. It is listed as one of the best places to visit in Tibet for not only the Tibetan Buddhists but also tourists. Here, the splendid ancient temple architecture and the diverse relics thousand years ago are preserved well. The 12-year-old-like statue of Lord Buddha is the highlight in the temple, which was brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng in Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD).
Sera Monastery
At the foot of Serawoze Mountain or called Tatipu Hill in the northern suburb of Lhasa, Sera Monastery is one of the three holiest temples in Lhasa, hence counted in the places to go in Tibet. Here, it is surprising to see the magnificent halls in Tibetan style, old Buddhist statues, the ancient Buddhist texts, fine Thangkas and old murals, etc. In particular, some statutes were transported from India in ancient times. Up on the hill, you can also get a full view of Lhasa downtown.

Recommended Tour:   8 Days Private Adventurous Tour in Tibet from $1749
Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash in Ngari might be the holiest place among Tibet destinations, for multiple religions, including Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainsism, believe it’s the center of the world. You will never see snow on the shaded slope, but there is always snow on the sunny slope. This illogical natural phenomenon makes Mount Kailash more mysterious and holier. Looking afar, it shapes like a pyramid with a round top covered by snow year round.
Yamdrok Yumtso Lake
On the list of Tibet points of interest, Yamdrok Yumtso Lake cannot be missed. This is an out-of-shape lake formed from the melted snow. It is also a holy lake equally famous with the Namtso, but it’s closer to Lhasa with a distance of only about 70km (43mi) between. Local Tibetans take it as the calaite earbob of a goddess that dropped from the Heaven to the earth. On the mountain pass nearby, you can overlook the entire Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, and take its panoramic photos. The winding lakeside road is the best camping site, providing you a good position to see the starry night sky and sunrise in the early morning.
Samye Monastery
In Shannan Region, Samye Monastery is an ancient temple hidden by Yarlung Tsangpo River. Apart from the old relics including Thangkas, murals, and sculpture, you would marvel at the old architecture as well. The three-storied hall of Samye Monastery has a Tibetan style on the ground floor, the traditional Han Chinese style on the middle floor, and a Hindu style on the top floor. It is quite unique among all places to visit in Tibet. On the mountain behind the temple, you could enjoy the panoramic view of Samye Monastery.

Recommended Tour:   5 Days Private Tour of Tsetang - Lhasa from $909
Lake Manasarova
Lake Manasarova is situated in Ngari near Mount Kailash. According to the local folk tales, it’s the wife of Mt. Kailash. It is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet together with the above mentioned Namtso Lake and Yamdrok Yumtso Lake. Actually it is the clearest lake out of the three Tibet visiting places, and the locals believe that the lake water has a magic effect of clearing away guilt and bringing good health. You may meet quite a few Tibetans, Hindus and Nepalese rubbing their bodies with a bedewed towel for these purposes. The Tibetan Buddhists would also like to hike around the lake to pray for good fortunes.
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Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon

Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon
It’s the greatest canyon worldwide, lying in Nyingchi with a length of 504.6 km (314 mi) from Pai Town, Mainling County to Pasighat Village, Motuo County. Compared with other Tibet places to visit, it is completely a virgin land rich in flora and fauna, glaciers and cliffs, and the peach blossoms from mid-March to early May are very charming. The most visited section is from Pai Town to Mt. Namcha Barwa. You can either trek, travel by car, or cruise along the Yarlung Tsangpo River to admire the scenic views. For hiking tours, early May and early October are the best time in consideration of weather.

Recommended Tour:   6 Days Tibet Hiking Tour to Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon
Tashilhunpo Monastery
Temples are the essential Tibet places to see while Tashilhunpo Monastery is the essential place to see in Shigatse. It is the largest temple in Shigatse, and where generations of Panchen Lama lived and is living. You can visit the pagodas for the past Panchen Lamas and the palace for the current. The bronze statue of Maitreya Buddha in Maitreya Chapel draws a lot of attentions, as it is giant and decorated with diamonds, pearls, ambers, corallites, etc. You can also see the Thangka wall, and the relics of porcelains, silk paintings, jade wares, and so on.

 Recommended Tour:  7 Days Private Tibet Tour of Lhasa - Gyangtse - Shigatse - Lhasa from $1139
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Karola Glacier

Karola Glacier
Karola Glacier can be seen in a distance on the highway between Yamdrok Yumtso Lake and Gyantse County. It is the closest glacier to a highway in Tibet, only 300 meters (330 yards) away. This place of interest in Tibet is so spectacular that the ice extends from the summit all the way to the roadside, and you would find some crystals in the rock cracks. For the fugitive dusts from the highway year after year, the lower edge has been dyed to be variegated with black and white. Seen from afar, Karola Glacier is like a giant Thangka hanging on the mountain.
Ranwu Lake is a pretty large glacial lake under the snow peaks in Baxoi County, Chamdo. Famous Laigu Glacier extending to the lakeside provides water source for Ranwu. In addition to the clear blue lake, the surrounding crop fields, alpine meadow with stellera flowers, dense forests, bushes with azaleas, and snow-covered peaks make it a worthy place to visit in Tibet. Autumn is the best time to go there, to enjoy the colorful autumn landscapes. You could get to the viewing platforms to see the lake as well as the reflections of the surroundings landscapes clearly.
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Motuo

Motuo, meaning a hidden lotus flower literally, is the only county without highway in China, making it kind of mysterious. It is located in Nyingchi of southeast Tibet. Different from many parts of the high plateau, it is rich in lush forests, lakes, and waterfalls. And the most part of Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon are in the area. Many trekkers go there to have an adventure. The trekking route starts from Pai Town and goes southwards to Beibeng Town at first, which may take about 3 days across the snow mountains and primitive forests. Getting to Beibeng Town, one more day is needed to go upstream along Yarlung Tsangpo River to Motuo downtown.
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Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains

Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains is an important mountain range in Tibet covering large areas in Lhasa, Nagqu and Nyingchi. Its main peak has an altitude of 7,111 meters (23,330 feet), around 130 km (80 mi) north to Lhasa. It is thought as the Protector of Tibet who coupled with the holy lake Namtso to its north side. You may see Dangxiong Meadow and the viewing platform with colorful prayer flags at it foot, and then go into the mountain along the highway. It is challenging to climb up the glaciers and snow-covered summit, and the weather is always unsettled. Even though it greets a large number of mountaineers as a national mountaineering base as well as an adventurous place to visit in Tibet.
- Last updated on May. 26, 2023 by Catherine He -
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