Lhasa Guide

Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region, and the political, economic, cultural, religious and traffic centre of Tibet. It is located in the south central Tibet, on the north side of the middle and lower reaches of Lhasa River, the branch of Yarlung Zangbo River. Lhasa is bordered by Nyinchi  to the east, Shannan  to the south, Shigatse  to the west, and Naqu  to its north. The urban area covers 52.3 square km and has a population of about 600,000. There are 31 ethnic groups including Tibetan, Han and Hui, among which Tibetan population accounts for over 87%.

Lhasa Map

Lhasa means "sacred place" in Tibetan. It is originally established in the early years of Tang Dynasty. It was a wetland area and people lived primarily on grazing. After the establishment of Tubo regime by Songtsen Gampo, he moved the capital from Tsedang to Luoxie (today Lhasa) in 633 and built monasteries, palaces and roads, thus forming the early Lhasa. After Princess Bhrikuti Devi of Nepal and Princess Wencheng of Tang Dynasty came to Tibet, Jokhang Temple  and Ramoche Temple  were built in succession. In order to commemorate the great contributions of goats carrying earth to build the monasteries, upon the completion of Jokhang Temple, the city was named "ra-sa-vphrul-snang-gtsug-lha-khang" which meant "goats carrying earth to build the Temple". Since Jokhang Temple is the earliest architecture in this area and the centre of the city, thus the city was named "Rasa" which means "Goats". After the prevalence of Buddhism, "Rasa" became the sacred residence of Buddha, and was called "Lhasa" by convention. In 1409 Master Tsongkhapa of Gelug sect established Ganden Monastery  in Dagzê District which is 40 km east of Lhasa. His disciples built up Drepung Monastery  in western part of Lhasa and Sera Monastery  in the northern part of Lhasa in succession. In the middle of 17th century, when the 5th Dalai Lama established Ganden Phodrang regime, Drepung Monastery became the centre of governing power. In the early years of Qing Dynasty, the 5th Dalai Lama was officially conferred a title by Shunzhi Emperor, thus the Tibet local authority led by Dalai Lama was further strengthened. Lhasa has been the capital city of Tibet ever since. From 1727 to 1788, lots of noble mansions, living Buddha, ancestral shrines, government offices, shops, workshops, teahouses, hotels and folk houses were built in Lhasa. Lhasa centering on Jokhang Temple began to radiate in all directions and continued to expand to Masjid in the east, Liuli Bridge in the west and Ramoche Temple in the north, basically forming the structure of the old city of present day.

Lhasa aerial view

Lhasa, located on the valley plain downstream of Lhasa River, the branch of Yarlung Zangbo River with an average altitude of 3658 metres, is one of the highest cities in the world. The average oxygen level is 78%. The terrain inclines from east to west. Lhasa River flows from northeast to southwest, running through the southern part of Lhasa City. Chagpori and Potala Mountain tower in the middle of the plain. Namtso Lake  in the northwest is the largest lake in Tibet and the highest lake in the world. Due to its location on the northern side of Himalaya and under the influence of downdraft, most of days are sunny while most of the nights are rainy in Lhasa. The relative humidity is quite low and frog seldom happens all the year round. Lhasa lies in the temperate plateau monsoon semi-arid climate zone and the city receives an average of 3005.7 hours of sunlight annually, which makes it a "city of sunlight". The highest temperature is 28℃ and the lowest could reach -14℃ with an average annual temperature being 7℃. The average annual rainfall is 500 mm and the rainfall concentrates between July and September. Lhasa is an alpine semi-arid scrub plain. Sand dunes scatter on part of southern bank of Lhasa River. The geothermal energy reserve ranks the first in China. Wild animals are primarily wild yak, wild donkey, Mongolian gazelle, Tibetan antelope, dwarf musk deer, red deer and black-necked crane.

pilgrims in Jokhang Temple

Lhasa is not only a famous historical and cultural city, but also a sacred place of religion. Natural landscape include the main peak of Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains  and Namtso Lake  in the northwest of Lhasa, Lhasa River, Yarlung Zangbo River  and  Yamdrok Lake  in the south and Yangpachen Hot Spring . There are about 200 cultural relics and historical sites, monasteries and tourist attractions. Lhasa hosts many old palaces, monasteries, relics and streets, Linkas and markets, such as cultural landscape including the Potala Palace , Johkang Temple, Norbulingka Park , Pabonka Palace, Ramoche Temple, Reting Monastery , Drak Yerpa Caves , Nietang Buddha, Ganden Monastery, Tsurphu Monastery, Drigum Kagyu Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery  and other monasteries.

Travelers' Questions Might Help

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions please contract us, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

Ms. Ho*** from: When to get my Tibet permit
January 15, 2020 05:11

Hello, we are considering to travel in Tibet in summer. We are a family of 5, two adults and three kids, age 13(then), 10, 8. We are interested in the 10 days Mt. EBC & Namtso Lake Group tour. We are US citizens with valid 10-year Chinese multiple entry visa, which we have applied when we went to Beijing in 2019. We are currently living in South Korea.  


1. Are kids suitable (or even allowed) for this tour?  

2. If kids can join, are there any discount deals for kids?

Answered by Helen
January 15, 2020 07:54

Dear Ms. Ho***,

    Greetings from Helen at Budget Tibet Tour and welcome you to join our 10 days Mt. Everest & Namtso Lake group tour. For your questions: 1. Your kids are suitable for this tour. Travelling in Tibet is as safe for kids as it is for their parents. While the high Tibetan plateau may be the highest place on the planet, very often, the kids that visit this region are more adaptable and have fewer problems than their parents. We also have arranged wonderful Tibet tours for many families with kids such as a tour to EBC for a family with a 3-year-old son, a 9-year-old girl and a 11-year-old boy, they did have fun in Tibet and there is no problem for them. Or you can take some medicine under the guidance of doctor to prevent high altitude before enter Tibet. 2. If kids travel with you, we'll offer some discount for them, please check your email and find more detailed information. Thanks & Regards

Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

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