Know Before You Go
Tibet Travel Guide
Lhasa - Capital of Tibet
The city sits at an altitude of 3,650 meters and has a history of more than 1,300 years. As 300 days out of 365 enjoy sunlight and the total amount of annual solar radiation in urban Lhasa is 202 kilocalories per square centimeter, Lhasa is referred to the "Sunshine City" and it is dry in most months. The Potala Palace is regarded as the symbol of Tibet and no doubt the most famous structure in Lhasa.
The name of "Lhasa"
Lhasa is a city of history and culture. The word "Lhasa" is a Tibetan name. According to Tibetan Buddhism and the Bon Religion, "lha" means "god," sometimes the greatest God. Thus the Tibetan meaning of "Lhasa" should be the "Place of God." In the old times, "Lhasa" was also called "Rasa" (Land of Goats). This name is related with the legend that herds of white goats carried rocks for the building of the Jokhang Monastery. In Chinese annals, Lhasa is sometimes called "Lhoxia" which came from the Tibetan pronunciation of the city's name.
Location, Topography, Climate and Map of Lhasa
Lhasa is situated on the northern bank of the Lhasa River, a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo, in the mid-south of Tibet Autonomous Region. To the east and southeast of Lhasa are the regions of Nyingchi and Sharman; Nagqu neighbours Lhasa on the north and west; Xigaze lies on its southwest. Map of Lhasa Prefecture-Level City
Lhasa tilts from north to south, with the mid-south taken up by the valley of the Lhasa River, a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo. The administrative sphere of the city covers 277 kilometres from east to west and 202 kilometres from north to south. Among its total area of 29,518 square kilometres, the urban area of Lhasa is just 50 square kilometres.
With an annual average temperature of 7.5'C, its average temperature in January is 2.3 °C and 15.41C in July. The climate here is of the temperate plateau monsoon type.
Before its peaceful liberation in 1951, Lhasa had no road reaching the outside world. Only a shabby path connected the Potala Palace and the Norbulingka. Small vans assembled with components carried across the mountains and rivers by yaks and human labor fumbled along this path. Click here to learn more about the history of Lhasa.
Today, Lhasa has become a transportation pivot both on land and in air for Tibet. The Qinghai-Tibet Highway, Sichuan-Tibet Highway and China-Nepal International Road converge here. The centre of Lhasa is about 100 kilometres from the Gonggar Airport. When the new road crossing the river and mountains is completed, the distance will be cut by half. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway has become the main means of transportation for visitors to Tibet.
Tourist Attractions in Lhasa & Detailed Map of Lhasa
There are some 200 scenic spots in and around Lhasa. Among them, over 20 are famous ones and over 30 more spots are under planning. The important sites inside the city of Lhasa include the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Ramoche Monastery, Norbulingka, the Tang Dynasty-Tubo Alliance Tablet, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Zongjolukang (commonly known as the Dragon King's Pool), the square in front of the Potala Palace and the Tibet Autonomous Region Museum.
Then there are the Gandain and Yerba monasteries in Dagze County; the Curpu Monastery in Doilungdegen County; the Razheng Monastery in Lhunzhub County; the Bri-gung Monastery in Maizhokunggar County; the Zhoimalhakang and Xungse Monastery in Quxu County, etc. For natural scenic spots, visitors shouldn't miss the Namtso Lake, the Yangbajain geothermal grounds and the Nyainqentanglha Mountains which are located in Damxung County. In addition, the Dezhong Hot Spring of Maizhokunggar County, the Doilung and Xungba Gyura hot springs of Doilungdegen County, the nature reserves at Lhunzhub and Maizhokunggar counties are also worthy of visiting. Click here to see classic Lhasa tours, which will show you the way to enjoy the best of Lhasa.
Seven counties, Chengguan, Damxung, Lhunzhub, Doilungdegen, Nyemo, Quxu, Dagze and Maizhokunggar, are under the administration of Lhasa. Among its total population of 474,500 (by the year 2000), the Tibetan people take up 87 per cent, with the rest of the population consisted of Han, Hui and some 30 other nationalities.
Traditional Arts & Crafts
Tourists can find here a variety of famous traditional arts and crafts souvenirs: the wool carpet for one to sit on, larger carpet, waist sword, bangdian (colorful apron worn by Tibetan women), wooden bowl, gold and silver jewelry. The waist sword at Lhasa is the most famous.
Agriculture & Wildlife
Lhasa is one of Tibet's most important agricultural zones. The main grain crops include highland barley, wheat, corn, broad bean and pea. The main cash crops are potato, turnip, cabbage, tomato, cucumber, eggplant, etc. The fruit trees are apple, peach, pear and walnut. There are poplar, willow, birch, fir and other trees. The animal hus¬bandry is centered on yak, pianniu (offspring of a bull and a female yak), cow, sheep, goat, etc. The typical medical materials are: Chinese caterpillar fungus, the bulb of fritillary, Rhodiola sachalinensis A. Bor., snow lotus, Solamwn Muicatnm, musk, etc. The wildlife here includes wild yak, kiang, Mongolian gazelle, Tibetan antelope, river deer, red deer, black-necked crane, swan, Tibetan snow pheasant, etc.