Lhasa: where to eat

1. Breakfast - Bakhor Cafe Bakhor St, Lhasa, Tibet Barkhor Cafe has various drinks and foods and a few PCs with internet access are available. Stay away from Yak Butter tea, unless you are feeling adventurous and want to cleanse your stomach - which it will do no matter how strong you thought your body was. Don't tell me I didn't warm ya.
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Photo by Yowangdu
  2. Lunch - Magiyia Ngami restaurant Bakhor St, Lhasa, Tibet Magiyia Ngami refers to a small restaurant located at Barkor. Covering a total area of less than 200 sq m (2150 sq ft), it is dwarfed by a giant tower. Most foreigners visiting Lhasa know it, and more than 30 journals and TV stations including those in Beijing, Hong Kong, Germany and Thailand have produced reports about it - it is sort of a local celebrity if you will.
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Photo by Yowangdu
  3. Dinner - Crazy Yak Saloon BeiJing East Road, Lhasa, Tibet 0891-6331999 With traditional Tibetan decor, this place offers a decent Chinese or Tibetan buffet style dinners. Next door to Kirey Hotel on Beijing East Road, it is easy to find and quite safe to eat at - be prepared to continue your discovery of varieties of dishes that can be prepared with yak meat - a staple in Tibet. However, the place is known not for the food as much as it is known for their music shows - a 30 minute performance of traditional Tibetan music every couple of hours - a crazy and fun experience that will make you forget about your food anyway.
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Photo by trip advisor.com
 

Lhasa: what to see

Administrative capital of Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Lhasa is a highly spiritual and unique city. At an altitude of 3,490 metres (11,450 ft), Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. The city contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace and Jokhang temple, but it is also an amazing place to see and amazing culture to experience.
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Photo by D. Jaroschik
  1. First and foremost - the reason for many to travel to Lhasa in the first place - is Potala Palace. World Heritage Site and a museum, it was previously a residence of Dalai Lama until his fled to India in 1959. The building measures 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 m. thick, and 5 m. (more than 16 ft) thick at the base, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes. Thirteen stories of buildings – containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues – soar 117 metres (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the "Red Hill", rising more than 300 m (about 1,000 ft) in total above the valley floor.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
  The travel route here is set strictly. Visitors all have to enter from the east main entrance and visit time is limited in 1 hour. Be aware of the taboos of Tibetan Buddhism during the visit: don't wear a hat or sunglasses; don't step on the doorsill; don't smoke in the halls; don't take photos in the palace although it is allowed outside it. There are only 2300 tickets sold a day,  and the earliest you can buy a ticket is after 5 pm the day before and you would need a valid ID to buy it. Each valid ID document can be used only once within a week. However, one visitor can have as many as four reservation tickets (one for himself and the other three for his companions) at a time. The reservation ticket window is open at 08:30 and closed after all tickets are sent out. Buying a ticket and not using might get you on the blacklist which forbids you to re-appy within one week, so if you plan to visit it you better come timely or make sure to cancel or extend your ticket beforehand. Adminssion Fee is CNY 200 ($12) on May 1-Oct.31 and CNY 100 ($6)  Nov. 1-Apr. 30, but it is free for children under 1.3m and seniors above 70.
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Photo by D. Jaroschik
  2.The Jokhang temple, 2 km(1.2 miles) to the east of the Palace, has become the spiritual hub of the country. It is located in Lhasa’s city centre, conveniently next to the Barkhor street. The Monastery is in no way second to the Potala Palace, and is also one of the most popular attractions for tourists in the Tibetan region. Construction on the Monastery began in 601 AD. It has had many names, including “Resha” and “Luoxie,” but in the ninth century its name was changed to “Jokhang Temple Monastery” which means “Palace of Classic Books.” This is the oldest wooden architectural structure in Tibet crafted in Han-Tibetan Tang style.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
  3. Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple and the locals are always proud of it. As a symbol of Lhasa, it is also a must-see place for visitors. It's said that in 647, the first Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo (617 - 650) built the Jokhang Temple. Due to its magnificence, it quickly attracted thousands of Buddhist pilgrims. As a result, a trodden path appeared. That is the origin of Barkhor Street. Today still many pilgrims hold the prayer wheels to walk clockwise there from dawn to dark. Some of them are teenagers and have experienced thousands of miles' walk to reach this sacred place.
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Photo by D. Jaroschik
  For visitors, Barkhor Street is a magical place showing the original outlook of Lhasa. It was paved by hand-polished stone boards. Though it is not broad, it accommodates thousands of tourists every day. Varied shops stand on its both sides and thousands of floating stands are on every corner. Most of them offer the prayer wheels, long-sleeve 'chuba' (the Tibetan people's traditional clothes), Tibetan knives and some religious articles for sale. Furthermore, some shops sell 'Thangka' (the Tibetan scroll painting), which is a unique art of Tibet with the themes of religion, history, literature, science and customs. Not surprisingly, there are some articles from India and Nepal in this street as well.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
 

Lhasa: fun facts

1. Construction of the Palace was started by Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama; after a spiritual advisor, Konchog Chophel, pointed out that the site between the city of Lhasa, Drepung and Sera monasteries was ideal for the seat of government.
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Photo by F. M. Bailey
  2. The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara.
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Photo by Norbulingka
  3. The Palace measures 400 m (1300 ft) east-west and 350 m (1150 ft) north-south.
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Photo by Quaimer
  4. From 1653 to 1889, the Potala Palace was the world's tallest building.
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Photo by infographicality.com
  5. From the palace's roof and balconies, one can see Lhasa city and, beyond, the valley countryside and distant snow-capped Himalayan mountains.
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Photo by Wes Phelan
  6. The palace is one of the most treasured Tibetan artistic and architectural marvels. It boasts colorfully painted mural art work. With a whopping 689 murals, it might be the only place in the world you can see such a huge pool of Murals.
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Photo by travelpod.com
  7. The Potala Palace is the highest placed building in the world at 3,700 meters (12,000 feet) above the sea level. Visitors to the palace are advised to get acclimatized to high attitude before visiting.
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Photo by National Geographic
  8. Amazingly, the Potala Palace is a 13-storey building with three sets of stairs. Unfortunately, only the Dalai Lama is allowed to use the middle one and the easiest. You will have to be ready to burn calories if you want to get to the building's roof.
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Photo by Tibetan Review
  9. Unlike other religious shrines that have adopted modern incense, visitors to the Palace will encounter the ancient chanting and incense such as yak-butter burning lamps.
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Photo by Yasunori Koide
  10. Potala Palace is one of the symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. Do not be surprised to meet Buddhists paying their respects to the fallen Dalai Lama's.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
 

Lhasa: getting around

Minibus is the main form of transport in Lhasa. It is a quick and convenient way to get across town. At 2 CNY per ticket (that's less than 50 cents!) it's a steal and gets you to places the cheapest way. Although it only operates late morning till early evening, so basically that is a great way to get around during the day light. Bus No. 1 and 2 goes through the Norbulingka to the coach station. Bus No. 3 and 5 run to the Drepung Monastery. Bus No. 4 runs to the Sera Monastery. Bus No. 91 runs between the city center and the Railway Station. Eight more public buses including No. 82 and 83 were open in 2007.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
  It is much easier to hail a taxi. The fare is CNY 10 (less than $2) for going anywhere within the city. For longer journeys, you will need to negotiate with the drivers. Local population lives in extreme poverty so paying an extra dollar should not set you back too much and will probably get you a much better service from the driver anyway.  In fact if you have 24 hours and extra $50 you can negotiate a car for an entire day - with a helpful local driver and THAT is priceless. Pedicabs are unique vehicles to get around downtown. A pedicab can carry two people and generally costs RMB 4 to 7. It is a more time-consuming journey than traveling by minibus but is an interesting and unique experience - so hop on and have fun.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
  Riding a bike is another great way to get around the city in summer time. Bikes can be rented from many hostels along Barkhor Street. Generally, the rental for an ordinary bike is CNY 2 per hour and CNY 20 ($3) per day - but be aware that bicycle theft is very common and you will have to pay the full price if you lose it.
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Photo by D. Jaroschik
 

Lhasa: pack smart

Traveling in winter times requires big fat bulk of warm attire - traveling in winter for Tibet requires SERIOUS big fat bulk of warm attire. Tibet-weather-infographic-of-best-time-to-go50ede890598f November through April is a real test for survival skills - temperatures drop to -2 degrees C (low 20s F) and the altitude adds discomfort. If you absolutely have to go during these months - stock up on warm socks, mittens and long johns. Does not sound glamorous - I know - but gets you in all the fun activities and lets you stay ALIVE.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
  Breezy May and October are a perfect chance to get out your wind-proof jackets and Timberland boots you've been dying to use. With a slight chance of rains it might also be a good idea to pack an umbrella or a hat.
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Photo by TIBET.CN
  June through September is the busiest traveling season. Get ready to stand in lines and pay extra for anything that you want to do - however the weather is warm and sunny and levels of oxygen are higher. Pack hiking attire - shorts and Ts, and throw in a couple of sweaters - nights get chilly.
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Photo by TIBET.CN