Visiting Tibet

Naiqiong Temple
Potala on a sunny day
Potala at night
Today’s guest post on Tibet is by Carl Nielsen (Website | Facebook | Panoramio | more Tibet pictures):

If you wish to visit this beautiful country, it requires preparation. You’ll need a Chinese Visa and a Visa/Permit to visit Tibet. You can obtain the Visa/Permit through your travel agent. The standard Visa gives you only permission to locations within the city limits of Lhasa. If you plan to go outside Lhasa, you need a special permission for each location.

Munks at Sera Monastery
Munks at Sera Monastery
It is not possible to enter into Tibet as backpackers, so you need the help of a Travel Agency from your own country, or a Tibetan one (from Lhasa). To visit Tibet you must follow an organized trip and plan everything beforehand. The Chinese Government often adds or removes rules defining how to enter into Tibet and how and where you are allowed to travel; so get hold of the current status as a part of the planning phase.

What to see in Lhasa city:

There is so much culture and nature in the thin Tibetan air. The Lhasa city’s population is very diverse because every day thousands of pilgrims come from all over Tibet, to go the Kora (walking and pray around the different monasteries). It is peaceful to just sit and look at all the various people so take your time to sit down and let the experience pass you.

There are a variety of monasteries in and around Lhasa, they are all different and a new experience waits each time.
The 1300-year-old Jokhang Temple is the spiritual heart of Tibet: the continuous waves of awestruck pilgrims prostrating themselves outside. The central golden Buddha here is the most revered in all of Tibet.

The Jokhang was originally built to house a Buddha statue. Today, another statue, the Jowa Sakyamuni, was later moved here, and it is this statue that has given the Jokhang its name. The Jokhang is best to visit in the morning before the number of pilgrims becomes excessive.

old Tibetan grandmother
old Tibetan grandmother
About 5 km north of Lhasa, The Sera Temple complex was founded in 1419. It is by one of Lhasa’s two great Gelugpa monasteries. About 600 monks are now in residence. A must see is the monks debating that takes place from 3pm to 5pm in a garden near the assembly hall. The monks individually test their knowledge by arguing loudly towards a mentor.

The Potala Palace is the greatest of the landmarks of Tibet and Lhasa. The first building goes back to year 631. Potala was actively used by the 14th Dalai Lama until he was forced into exile in 1959. You need a special permit to enter the great Palace, but it is a great experience to walk through the amazing palace together with hundreds of pilgrims.

Tibetans walking around the Jokhang Monastery
Munk in a Monastry
Kora at Potala
Outside Lhasa city:

We managed to join a trip to a sacred lake called Yamdrok. The lake is located 100km vest of Lhasa towards the Nepal border. The Surface elevation is 4440 m and the lake has a very bright blue color witch is very clear up in the thin and cold air. We got a chance to visit a Tibetan farm family on our way to Yamdrok. Tibetans in the countryside live sparingly and it is as if time has stopped 80 years ago. The pictures show the old great grandmother aged 80, she is the head of family, and the little girl is the great-granddaughter. The whole family had two small runs and an outdoor wood-fired stove (N 29°14.873′ E 90°37.531′) copy & paste into google earth to get the location.


Moden part of Lhasa
tired old people rests during the kora
Yamdrok lake
On the road to Yamdrok you must pass several mountain passes above 5000m (15000feet) and you may experience headache due to altitude sickness. The single most important way to prevent altitude sickness is to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration in the thin air.

Photo equipment on the trip:

  • Camera Nikon D800
  • Tele zoom Nikon 70-200mm f4
  • Wide-angle Nikon 16-35mm f4
  • Different filters like Graduated Neutral Density Filters

Children's clothing in Lhasa
Happy old Tibetan man
If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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