Once an independent kingdom, Tibet has come under Chinese rule since the middle of the 20th century. Contentions are rife, and there are many issues surrounding the preservation of the culture and heritage in Tibet, as well as the wish to be an autonomous area again.
A journey to Tibet can be challenging, but for those who do go through the red tape and make the trip there is a wealth of fabulous things just waiting to be experienced, discovered, and seen.
Tibet is home to religious sites, cultural attractions, natural places of beauty, lively cities, and traditional rural communities.
There are plentiful things to do in Tibet, and it is rather difficult to select just a few. The below five, however, are good starting points for anyone visiting the area:
Sitting high on top of Marpori, the Red Hill, in the area’s capital of Llasa, Potala Palace is a fabulously grand and ornate building, beautiful inside and out. It was the principal home of the Dalai Lama until the late 1950s. Nowadays Potala Palace is an interesting museum. Steeped in history, construction started on the palace in the mid 1600s. Rising 117 metres into the sky, and sitting at a high altitude, Potala Palace is one of the highest places on earth. There are 13 different floors and over 1,000 rooms.
From the outside, you can enjoy the stunning architecture with a magical mountain background. The golden roof positively shines like a beacon in the strong sunlight. Inside, you can enjoy elegant and elaborate designs and a plethora of statues and shrines. The Potala Palace houses more than 200,000 statues and more than 10,000 shrines – there is certainly enough to look at! It is near to the ancient city of Llasa, and situated between two important monasteries. The location was chosen because it was believed to be a powerful spot for political, religious, and spiritual matters.
This is the biggest monastery in the whole of Tibet, where you can see the enduring strength and belief of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a major site of spiritual importance. An old monastery, it has a long and interesting history. There are a few resident monks, although numbers dropped dramatically following invasions in the past.
This fantastic and sacred temple is the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism. You can almost fell the pulse of the religion walking around the ornate temple. You will likely experience your visit along with many pilgrims, many of whom will have made long and arduous journeys to pay their respects. It is the most holy place for Tibetan Buddhists. The atmosphere is one of peace, serenity, contemplation, and respect. Different architectural styles merge together to create a truly outstanding temple. It is in the centre of the ancient city of Llasa.
This large and glistening lake is another revered spot for Tibetan Buddhists. It is the highest salt water lake in the whole world, and is set against soaring snow capped mountains. Dripping in mysticism, spirituality, and glorious beauty, the lake really is a sight for sore eyes.
Although difficult to access, a journey to this rural part of Tibet offers many rewards. The Qiangtang Plains are rugged and wild, with dramatic landscapes and an unspoilt environment. Native animals roam the area, including yak and antelope, and local farmers make their living from the land.
With careful preparation, determination, and a strong sense of adventure, a journey around Tibet is like no other adventure.