5 free things to do in friendly and spiritual Lhasa
By Bai Yiting
People living in big cities sometimes feel incomplete or anxiety about their lives. Some say they realize what they have lost and find themselves after a trip to Tibet. The autonomous region may be just the place whether you want to get away from hectic, noisy cities or forget about work.
Another wonderful part about traveling in Tibet is that often the best things to see are free.
This includes everything from snowy mountain scenery and turquoise lakes to smiling locals and ancient architectural wonders.
The following are five free things worth checking out in Lhasa, the autonomous region’s capital.
Gazing at the sun around Jokhang Temple
Lhasa is known as “Sunshine City” since it is bathed in sunlight more than 3,000 hours a year. Jokhang Temple is one the most revered temples in the city.
Basking in the sunshine in front of this temple, many pilgrims come to worship and pray. The devoutness of these Buddhists is impressive.
Mix in the blue sky and fluffy clouds and it’s no surprise travelers enjoy visiting the area.
With tourists from different places around the world congregating here to unlock the mysteries of Tibetan culture, take the time to introduce yourself and spread some of that famous Tibetan warmth.
Great deals on Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street is a great place for anyone curious about Tibetan culture, religion, art and business. Serving as a trading and religious center, it is an old street surrounding Jokhang Temple. Many pilgrims hold prayer wheels and walk around the temple clockwise from dawn to dusk.
The street’s market sells handmade souvenirs and religious objects like prayer flags, Thangkas, which are paintings on cotton or silk, sutras, prayer beads, musical instruments, gold and silver ware, masks and much more. Various antiques are also available.
With a little luck, you may find real treasures like precious natural gems, valuable porcelain ware, ancient coins or relics from temples. Buddhist sculptures and banners are some of the most popular items.
For a detailed look at the region’s geography, culture and history, be sure to check out Tibet Museum. With three exhibition areas, there are interesting displays including various statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva, ancient Tibetan books, the golden seal and ancient pottery.
Starting with the prehistory of Tibet, the multiple halls cover everything from weapons and musical instruments to folk handicrafts and ancient Thangkas, or religious paintings.
In addition to the Thangkas which almost makes an encyclopedic history of Tibet, the building is also an excellent example of Tibetan architecture. .
Hitting the high notes
Potala Palace, Lhasa’s iconic landmark, is an architectural wonder even by modern standards. The palace rises 13 stories from Red Hill and contains more than 1,000 rooms.
During the day, it’s glorious in red, white and gold with an azure sky in behind. At night, it offers resplendent views with the world’s highest music fountain.
Potala Palace plaza combines water with music in the evenings, creating magical scenes not seen anywhere else in the world.
A stroll along the Lhasa River
Walk along the river, which is clear and tranquil as a mirror. It reflects the sky, clouds, mountains and trees, making for some idyllic scenery pictured in many people’s dreams.
Mountains and lakes in Tibet are usually considered sacred and some travelers like to take a stone from the river bank home for luck. The riverside is also great for photos. If you bump into someone, say “tashi delek” with a smile, which means hello, good luck or goodbye in Tibetan.