Lhasa is the capital of the Tibetan autonomous region in southern China, but often you will hear it referred to as Tibet. There is a tumultuous history between the Chinese government and the Tibetan people; go for the incredible Buddhist culture and the fascinating architecture but know that there is still an undercurrent of animosity toward the Chinese.
Getting to Lhasa is much easier than it used to be. You can fly directly to the Lhasa Gonggar Airport, which is about an half an hour from the city. There is an extensive rail network as well. The Qinghai–Tibet Railway has five passenger services per day that can get you all the way to Beijing, among other destinations.
You can easily find a hostel in Lhasa. Most of the accomodation is on the west side of the city. Expect to find hostels in old buildings. In general, hostels in China aren’t as well-appointed as hostels in Europe or Australasia, but they are often staffed by friendly and helpful people. In Lhasa, the hostel staff can help you arrange tours of the many attractions. Lhasa also has a few Western-style chain hotels if you can’t find a dorm bed. They tend to be less expensive than their western counterparts, or you could seek out a guesthouse.
Lhasa is the ancestral home of the Dalai Lama, who lived at the Potala Palace until fleeing to India during the Tibetan uprising in 1959. The architecturally stunning palace overlooks the entire old city known as the Barkhor. This is where you will want to spend most of your time in Lhasa. There are temples everywhere, Buddhist pilgrims in their traditional white garb, and alleys with tiny stalls selling butter tea and street food. The alleys of Lhasa still feel like you are in another era.
Don’t miss the palaces: the Potala Palace, the Red Palace, and the White Palace, the Jokhang Temple, or the Sera Monastery, which are the most popular tourist attractions in Lhasa. You could easily spend a week here!
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