Welcome to Lhasa
The centre of the Tibetan Buddhist world for over a millennium, Lhasa (ལྷ་ས་; 拉萨; Lāsà; literally the ‘Place of the Gods’) remains largely a city of wonders. Your first view of the red-and-white Potala Palace soaring above the Holy City raises goosebumps and the charming whitewashed old Tibetan quarter continues to preserve the essence of traditional Tibetan life. It is here in the Jokhang, an otherworldly mix of flickering butter lamps, wafting incense and prostrating pilgrims, and the encircling Barkhor pilgrim circuit, that most visitors first fall in love with Tibet.
These days the booming boulevards of the modern city threaten to overwhelm the winding alleyways and backstreet temples of the Tibetan old town, but it is in the latter that you should focus your time. If possible, budget a week to acclimatise, see the sights and roam the fascinating backstreets before heading off on a grand overland adventure.