Top 10 Things to Do in Tibet

Located in southwest China and covering 1/8 of the country’s total area, Tibet holds the title of the "roof of the world" with an average altitude above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). Lately, the serene snowy plateau and the mysterious religious sites have attracted a flow of tourists. If you only have a few days, you can just explore Lhasa and its environs but if you like to have an in-depth tour of the vast land of Tibet, a fortnight is needed. Here’s a roundup of the top 10 things to do in Tibet and the best places to visit.


Potala Palace, Lhasa

Potala Palace, Tibet
As a symbol of Tibet, the Potala Palace is a holy place in the hearts of all pilgrims. One of the top things to do in Tibet is to take in the special architecture of the palace and appreciate a great number of historical relics like pagodas, statues, murals, Tangkas and scriptures. As the largest and most complete palace complex in Tibet, it is composed of two parts – the lower White Palace where Dalai Lama used to live and hold political activities; and the Red Palace on the central top consisting of shrines housing Buddhist stupas of previous Dalai Lamas. Visitors should notice that hats, sunglasses, and skirts are not allowed inside, while no photograph in the halls and no tread on the door sills.

 Recommended Tours:
 4 Days Lhasa Tour from $559

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Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

Jokhang Temple, Lhasa
As one of the best places to go in Tibet, Jokhang Temple is the pilgrimage’s end for Tibetan Buddhists. Jokhang Temple is a holy place which has a lofty and holy status in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The temple was built in the 7th century at the order of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, for housing the life-size statue of 8-year-old Sakyamuni brought by his Nepali queen Princess Bhrikuti Devi. Later the king’s Chinese queen, Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), brought a statue of 12-year-old Sakyamuni, which became the most valuable treasure of the Jokhang Temple. Other fantastic attractions you cannot miss include the thousand-meter long mural “Princess Wencheng entering Tibet” and two thangkas from the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644).

 Recommended Tour:   7 Days Lhasa - Gyangtse - Shigatse from $1089

Buddhist Sutra Debating in Sera Monastery, Lhasa

Sera Monastery, Lhasa
As the second largest temple in Tibet, there are many Buddhist statues enshrined in Sera Monastery and it contains a large number of sutras, exquisite thangkas, embroidery, murals and other art treasures. Besides that, going to Sera Monastery to watch lamas debating on Buddhist doctrines is definitely one of the things must do in Tibet. In the afternoon from Monday to Saturday, lamas will have a 2-hour fascinating debate in the northern arena of the monastery. When they debate, the lamas will use exaggerated body language to express their ideas. The mountain behind the monastery is a must-see place for energetic hikers, where you can enjoy the panorama of the whole city of Lhasa.

 Recommended Tour:   12 Days Tibet Tour with Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai from $2672

Stroll around Barkhor Street, Lhasa

Barkhor Street, Lhasa
Barkhor Street, one of the symbols of Lhasa, is named one of the 10 famous Historical and Cultural streets in China and surely a must-visit place. It’s a circular trodden path for pilgrims to hold prayer wheels around the Jokhang Temple. The street is lined with old buildings and boutiques of local products. You can not only learn about the customs and local culture but also experience the special payers wheel turning like the local people. The important thing is that you should walk clockwise from the gate of Jokhang Temple.

Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, Shannan

Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, Shannan, Tibet
Yamdrok Yumtso Lake, one of the three sacred lakes in Tibet, is located in Langkazi County, 70 km southwest of Lhasa. The lake elevation is at 4,441 meters (about 14,570 feet) and covers an area of 638 square kilometers. It is also known as the "Coral Lake" because of its coral-like convoluted shape. One of the top 10 things to do in Tibet is to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Yamdrok Yumtso Lake in sunny days. The clear blue lake will show various hues depending on the sunshine at different times of the day. It’s even more beautiful when you appreciate it from a distance.

Mount Everest

Mount Everest, Tibet
Mount Everest, also called Mt. Qomolangma, is the highest mountain in the world. It’s definitely one of the must-see places in Tibet. The altitude of the mountain is now about 8,844.43 m high (29,017 ft.) and you can see it is covered with snow all year around. The first stop to the mountain is Rongbuk Monastery(5,000 m) in Shigatse, which is the highest temple in the world and a good place to watch the Mount Everest. Another place you cannot miss is the North Everest Base Camp at 5,200 m ( about 17,000 ft), which is the terminus of most people. There is a high possibility of altitude sickness, so remember to avoid strenuous activities. Tourists can enjoy a fantastic view of the Mount Everest and buy a postcard in the world's highest post office.

 Recommended Tour:  15 Days China Tour with Tibet from Shanghai, Xi'an & Beijing from $3752

Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, Nyingchi

Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, Tibet
Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon is a horseshoe-shaped river valley that surrounds Mt. Namcha Barwa in Nyingchic area. One of the top things to do in Tibet is to visit the largest valley in the world, which also holds the title of the most beautiful valley in China. It is now partially open to visitors and there are several ways to sightsee. You can take a tourist bus to see the snow mountain Mt. Namcha Barwa and appreciate the rustic old villages near the Yarlung Tsangpo River or cruise on the river to enjoy the scenery on both sides and the spectacular waterfalls. The last but the most difficult way is hiking, which attracts a lot of outdoor enthusiasts. It takes about 2 days to complete the whole journey and the hikers will have a better chance to enjoy the snowy mountains and see more original villages.

Mt. Namcha Barwa, Nyingchi

Mt. Namcha Barwa, Nyingchi, Tibet
One of the most fun things to do in Tibet is to appreciate a magnificent snow mountain. As the most beautiful snow mountain in China, the peak of the Mt. Namcha Barwa, covered with ice and snow, is always surrounded with clouds and fog. It's located in Nyingchi area and on the east side of the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. The best time to travel is from April to October. The scenery at the foot of the mountain is completely different from the top. Green forests thrive and flowers blossom. Two distinct pictures make a perfect fairyland.

Mt. Kailash, Ngari - Holy Mountain

Mt. Kailash
Mt. Kailash with an altitude over 6,600 meters (21,654 ft.), a must-visit place in Tibet, is considered a holy mountain and a world center for Hindu, Buddhist, and Bonist pilgrims. It is the birthplace of the Ganges, the Indus River, as well as the Yarlung Tsangpo River. According to some legend, people who circle around the mountain can wash away the sins of life, which attracts a great number of pilgrims. As a matter of fact, it’s also one of the best things to do in Tibet for most tourists. Walking around the mountain may not only show people better scenery but also help them find peace in their heart.

Taste Tibetan Food

Tibetan Food
The authentic Tibetan food is a must-try. The local food is known for its oily, sweet and crisp texture. It is related to its high altitude and cold climate, since high-calorific food can increase the ability to withstand low temperatures. The most representatives are Zanba, a staple food made from highland barley or pea flour, buttered tea, beef, mutton, highland barley wine and dairy products.

 Further Reading:  Tibetan Food & Drink
- Last updated on May. 26, 2023 by Catherine He -
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