Monasteries of Tibet

There are almost too many monasteries to count throughout Tibet. Every monastery represents a school of Tibetan Buddhism and reveres a respective teacher or Lama associated with that school of thought and practice. Here we aim to include monasteries of particular significance in Tibet’s past and present from the different regions of Central, Kham, and Amdo. The list below is only a beginning and is not intended to be exhaustive.

To view the monasteries by region, along with other attractions nearby, visit:

To view a map of Tibet and an introduction to the three main Tibetan regions, visit our page on Tibet Travel Essentials.


TurJe Chen Po (Guanyin Temple)

entrance to Guanyin Temple (TuJa Chan Po)

Located in the Jinchuan County of the Rgyalrong Tibetan Region, one will find the TurJe Chen Po(ཁྲོ་སྐྱབས་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོ།). Known in Chinese as Guanyin Temple(观音庙), this is the most pilgrimaged site in Amdo Tibet. The monastery is located at the top of Guanyin Mountain, and overlooks the Checen River as it flows through Guanyin Town. History of the Guanyin Temple In the …

Yachen Monastery

Yachen Monastery valley

History of Yachen Monastery Hidden away in a remote valley between Garze (Ganzi) town and Baiyu town, Sichuan, is the isolated Yachen Monastery ( ཡ་ཆེན་དགོན་པ།). Established in 1985 by a Nyingma Rinpoche, the current population of this monastic community is approximately 17,000 monks and nuns, with nuns holding the majority. Despite living conditions becoming more difficult and strains on supplies becoming …

Sertar Larung Gar (school & monastery)

Seda Monastery 2.0

Population Explosion at Sertar Larung Gar Known around the world as the largest school for Tibetan Buddhism, Sertar Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Institute and Monastery (གསེར་རྟ་བླ་རུང་དགོན་པ། ) has caused the population of its surrounding town to grow exponentially in recent years. This monastic community is located in a remote and treeless valley of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Region, in Sichuan Province. The …

Rongwu Monastery

Rongwu Monastery

History of Rongwu Monastery Named for the Rongwu River, which it is located alongside, the Rongwu Monastery (རོང་པོ་དགོན་པ།)rests in Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and is less than 200 km from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. The Monastery first began as a site for three temples in 1341. Initially established by Rongwu Samten Rinpoche, his younger brother was …

Lhamo Gompa (Langmusi)

Langmusi in Winter

Different Faiths in Langmusi Two Gelugpa monasteries are located in the unique town of Lhamo(ལྷ་མོ།). The provincial border runs through the center splitting the town between both Gansu Province and Sichuan Province. Here, Islamic and Buddhist faiths live quietly together in this monastic village. There are two Tibetan Buddhist monasteries located in town as well as an Islamic Mosque, offering …

Labrang Monastery

Rooftops of Labrang Monastery

In the Tibetan area of Amdo, the Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu, the Labrang Monastery(བླ་བྲང་དགོན་པ།) houses the largest population of monks outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The site is a popular tourist destination and only a four-hour drive from the provincial capital of Lanzhou. History To Tibetan Buddhists this is one of the most important monasteries today …

Dzongsar Monastery

Dzongsar Monastery

History of Dzongsar Monastery Throughout its dozen or so centuries of history, the Dzongsar Monastery (རྫོང་སར་དགོན།) has seen expansion, transformation, utter destruction and ultimately, rebirth. While it may not have been restored to its former glory, what the monastery has seen and accomplished over the years is nonetheless remarkable. Located in Dege County, in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of …

Palyul (Baiyu) Monastery

Mani piles at Baiyu Monastery

Location Initially built in 1665,  Palyul Monastery (དཔལ་ཡུལ་དགོན།), also known as Baiyu Monastery( 白玉寺) in Chinese  sits above the many homes along the hillside, at the center of a small village in the Ganzi Prefecture in the western part of Sichuan province. The monastery overlooks the town and valley below with an elevation around 3,150 meters. Sticking with the traditional …

Potala Palace

Potala Palace, Lhasa.

Located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, one can find the famous Potala Palace(  ཕོ་བྲང་པོ་ཏ་ལ། ). As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this remarkable set of buildings is visited by thousands of tourists daily. “Potala” itself comes from the Hindi name of a mountain in Southern India, while in Sanskrit it means, “The Abode of the Buddha.” Construction of the palace …

Drepung Monastery

drepung Monastery Tibet

Historically, the most significant monastery in Tibetan Buddhism, Drepung Monastery(འབྲས་སྤུངས་དགོན་པ།) used to be the seat of political and religious power in Tibet (before the Potala Palace was built). This significance came in part due to its location just outside of Lhasa, and in part due to it being the primary seat of the Gelugpa sect. The Gelugpa sect practices celibacy, …

Samye Monastery

Samye Monastery

History of Samye Monastery Two hours drive southeast of Lhasa sits Samye Monastery(བསམ་ཡས་དགོན་པ།) – the oldest Buddhist training institution in Tibet, established in the lifetime of Padmasambhava in the eight century. The temple monastery compound is enclosed by a circular brick wall. It is said that from above, the circular wall and its contents resemble a Mandala – a Hindu and …

Ganden Monastery

Ganden Monastery Hillside Tibet

Located 50 km northeast of Lhasa, Ganden Monastery (དགའ་ལྡན་དགོན་པ།)is a relatively quick trip outside of Lhasa for visitors who wish to see the monastery, and enjoy the beautiful view of the valley below. Ganden Monastery is the biggest of the Gelugpa Monasteries, and was the first founded in the sect. Tsongkhapa was the founder of the Gelugpa sect (also known …

Sera Monastery

Sera monastery

Sera Monastery (སེ་ར་དགོན་པ།) is one of the most beautiful monastery compounds you will see in Tibet, and one of Lhasa’s several great religious institutes. Built on the gentle slope of a mountain overlooking Lhasa, its white stone roads and walkways feel almost Mediterranean. The roads are lined with beautiful trees and the debating courtyard looks like a private garden for …