Lhasa Prefecture is the prefecture where the capital of Tibet resides. You don't need a travel permit to visit anyplace in the prefecture.
Cities, Towns and Villages
- 1 Lhasa - The only real city, is a major tourist destination, and never stops being fascinating.
- Damzhung - A busy transport oriented town, with lots of restaurants and shops, it's the closest town with public transport to Nam Tso (lake). You can usually arrange a jeep to the lake here, or trek to the lake from here in two or three days.
- Hepu - A small village on the Ganden-Samye trek.
- Nam Tso Lake - An enormous salt water lake with a small monastic retreat center called Tashidor Gompa on its shore. It's a popular destination for an overnight excursion from Lhasa, often done on a jeep tour, but reasonably easy to arrange independently. If trekking, bring a tent, as thunder showers are common here, and there's not shelter between Damshung and Tashidor Gompa. Once at the lake you can either stay in the guesthouse at Tashidor Gompa, or in one of the many small caves at the base of the two steep stony hills where the guesthouse is.
The ancient Tibetan king, Songten Gamp, transferred the capital from the Yarlung valley to Lhasa, which was known as Ra-sa or 'Place of the Goat', in the 7th century. This name was quickly left behind after the adoption of the present name of Lha-sa, meaning 'Place of the Deity', as Buddhism took hold throughout the Tibetan lands.
In the 17th century, The Dalai Lama's government completed the unification of Tibet and built the massive Potala Palace to symbolize their authority in matters of religious and political life within the country. The city flourished as it was a vital link in the trade between India and China.
Since the Dalai Lama left Tibet in 1959, Lhasa has slowly been losing its identity as the ruling government has been proceeding with a model of development aimed at turning the city and the surrounding region into another typical Chinese-style regional center.
The dialect spoken here is the one that's normally considered standard Tibetan, and as such is what most phrasebooks are written in. In the city everyone you will likely encounter will speak Mandarin.
Lhasa is the first stop for many travelers entering Tibet, so the get in info is covered on the Tibet page.
- Lhasa - Lhasa is the main city within Lhasa Prefecture and is also the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The three major sites of Lhasa relate to the religious as well as political history of Tibet. Potala Palace, perched upon the Marpo Ri Hill 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, is the greatest monumental structure in Tibet. Home of the leaders of the Gelukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lamas, as well as being one of the premier religious pilgrimage sites. Jokhang Temple & Barkhor Street - considered as the spiritual center of Tibet. The Barkhor is the oldest street in Lhasa as well as the traditional center of old Lhasa. It is a place where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble. The last location is the Norbulingka which was built as a summer palace in the woods outside of Lhasa.
- Pentoc Guesthouse one of the finest places to stay located above the restaurant listed below, just round the corner from the Jokang Temple, on East Zang Yi Yuan Road, directly opposite Snowland.
- Snowland Hotel May have the only CD burning service in the city (for foreigners).
- Pentoc Giftshop The gift shop itself is nothing remarkable but located directly above it is cozy, comfortable restaurant. Be sure to try the Yak Burger with fries.
If you have come to Lhasa for its night life then you have been misled, go to Shanghai.
- Yak Butter tea is the Tibets most famous drink and though everyone should try it, some think it is revolting.
By and large if you are staying within the city centre you are safe of most things except pickpockets and con men.
Most of the city is early to rise early to bed, and as such there is little cause to try robbing people at night, and in the day a foreigner is enough of a sight to avoid violent crime.