The capital of Tibet is a treasure trove of monasteries, palaces, and temples. Geographically, the city is divided into a Chinese Quarter to the west and a Tibetan Quarter to the east. The Chinese neighborhood is where you'll find older hotels and Norbulingka Summer Palace. The more colorful Tibetan Quarter is full of small guesthouses, laid-back restaurants, bustling street markets, and Jokhang Temple. There is also a small Muslim Quarter to the southeast of the Barkhor. The winding lanes in and around the Barkhor are immensely walkable and a great way to rub shoulders with the locals. Don't worry about getting lost: most of the thoroughfares are circular; if you follow the pilgrims, you'll make it back to the circuit.
Many of Lhasa's best sites are clustered around the city center, but three of the most important are more remote. This trio of monasteries are known as the "three pillars of Tibetan Buddhism," having all been founded by religious patriarch Tsongkhapa at the beginning of the 15th century. All three are worth the effort it takes to reach them (especially Ganden Monastery, 90 minutes east of Lhasa) and should be part of any tour of Lhasa.
Lhasa at a Glance
- Ani Tsangkung Nunnery (Āní cāngkōng nīgū ān)
- Barkhor (Bākuò)
- Drepung Monastery (Zhé bàng sì)
- Ganden Monastery (Gān dān sì)
- Jokhang Temple (Dàzhāo sì)
- Kundeling Monastery (Kūndélīn sì)
- Muslim Quarter (Mùsīlín xiǎoqū)
Elsewhere in Tibet
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