Iconic Attractions in Tibet

There are many iconic attractions in Tibet. What are they? Where are they? What are their significance to Tibet? These are the kinds of questions we address in this section of Tibetpedia. For first time visitors planning a trip to Tibet it will feel like a big place to see if you don’t know what you are looking for. Or maybe you do know what you are looking for, and want to know more about a specific place. Either way, we hope the “Attractions” section will be helpful to you as you plan your Tibetan travels. Knowing the iconic sites in this land will help you to prioritize your time and resources so that you don’t miss what is most important. Whether your interests primarily lie in culture or scenery, this section of the site highlights the most significant of both: monasterieslakes, mountains, and other key places.


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 …

Peiku Tso

Salt line on the shore of Peiku Tso

Imagine you are a flea on the head of a king with a crown of peaks all around you. The stretch of road on the way to Peiku Tso is something like that. The king’s forehead is facing south with the crown jewel set upon the tallest point – Shisapangma – the 8,013 meter point that is the highest mountain …

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 …

Kang Rinpoche (Mt. Kailash)

Mt Kailash

Mt. Kailash (Kang Rinpoche/གངས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ) in Western Tibet (TAR) is one of the most venerated religious sites in the world. Four separate religions consider the mountain holy, so it is no surprise that it is pilgrimaged by thousands each year. Conceivably, that number would most likely be greater if it weren’t so difficult to obtain permits to the area. Kailash is …

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 …