Archive for the ‘Lhasa Travel’ Category

Tips for Visiting Drak Yerpa (Tips, Photos & Map)

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021
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Plan your Lhasa Tour? In addition to including such stereotyped visits covering Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Temple, Norbulingka and so on, don’t forget to add an excursion to Drak Yerpa Monastery, which is located about 30km northeast to the city center of Lhasa.

There are two popular Tibetan verses in relation to Drak Yerpa. One verse says that “While Tibet‘s holy place is in Lhasa, Lhasa’s holy place in Drak Yerpa”. Another verse goes like that “Visiting Lhasa without going to Drak Yerpa is just like making a new clothe without adding the collar”. These two verses pinpoint the importance of Drak Yerpa in the hearts of the common Tibetan pilgrims.

I’ve done a little research about Drak Yerpa’s origin. The Drak Yerpa Monastery was first built as one of the meditation temples by Songtsen Gampo for his Nepalese Princess, Bhrikuti. The monastery was named after the valley where it was situated. Later many buddhist masters came here for meditation including the masters from India. Now Drak Yerpa has become one of the four meditation areas in Tibet.

Drak Yerpa Monastery is a hermitage built on a hillside of the mountain at the altitude of 4885 meters. The hermitage is composed of many meditation caves. Some say there are now still 80 meditation left on the hillside. Some houses were built to accommodate the caves, hence cave temples. So actually Drak Yerpa is a cave monastery. Many buddhist statues in the house or the temple were caved from natural rocks.

Drak Yerpa located about 30km northeast of Potala Palace

This morning we set off eastward at 9:30am from Lhasa city center along Nachan Road. It is a scenic drive with Lhasa River on our left side. Lhasa River is one of the important tributaries of Yalu Tsangpo, the mother river of Lhasa.

It is a scenic drive with Lhasa River on our right side

Since Drak Yerpa is located at the sea level of 4885 meters while the city of Lhasa at the altitude of 3600 meters, the big altitude difference means that we have to drive upward along the zigzag mountains.

About half hour later we drive through the Nachanla Pass at the alititude of 4500 meters. The pass is decorated with numerous prayer flags.

Drive through the Nachanla Pass at the alititude of 4500 meters

Crossing the pass, we drive down to the Yerpa Village where we are going to turn to the northeast and drive in the Yerpa Valley up towards to Drak Yerpa Monastery.

So at the Yerpa Village, we have to goodbye to Lhasa River running east to Lhasa.

We have to goodbye to Lhasa River running east

This is the Yerpa Village, a Tibetan village, which is located along the Yerpa Valley.

Later we are told that many monks are from Yerpa Village. The monks are fed by their families down in the village.

This is the Yerpa Village, a Tibetan village

At the main road forks in the Yerpa Village, we branch off the main road leading to Lindrup County, we turn left into the Yerpa Valley for another 15km mountain road drive to our destination – Drak Yerpa.

There is a signboard at the fork indicating the direction to Drak Yerpa with distance and altitude information.

There is a signboard at the fork indicating the direction to Drak Yerpa

The 15km mountain road is divided into two sections – the first 5 km road built with asphalt while the rest 10km road is poorly paved with gravels and crushed stones, the macadam pavement. 

The 15km drive is accompanied by the stunning views on the both sides. We still see some village houses located in the valley sparsely.

The first 5 km road built with asphalt

The Drak Yerpa is in sight! It is located on the hillside of the mountain in the northeast side of the Yerpa Valley with the peaks covere by white clouds accompanied by huge number of prayer flags to its west.

The Drak Yerpa is in sight!

We are closing in on the Drak Yerpa and high on the winding mountain road.

I turn my head and catch a beautiful view of the valley we have just passed and the distant Lhasa River. The barley fields are formed in the beautiful terraces.

Catch a beautiful view of the valley

A mountain of five coloured prayer flags.

A mountain of five coloured prayer flags.

We are approaching the parking lot of Drak Yerpa. A signboard standing by the parking lot tells we are near our destination.

We are approaching the parking lot of Drak Yerpa

People begin to get off the bus and are amazed by the stunning views on the all directions.

People begin to get off the bus and are amazed by the stunning views on the all directions.

I stand on the parking lot and take this picture. High on the hillside dotted by brilliant house temples and caves. Also we find lots of collapsed houses.

People can imagine that in its prime period, there would be more caves and temples accommodating more monks in Drak Yerpa.  

High on the hillside dotted by brilliant house temples and caves

The temple houses are built on the hillside accommodating the caves.

The temple houses are built on the hillside accommodating the caves.

More temple houses clung to the hillside.

More temple houses clung to the hillside

A close look at a hillside temple

A close look at a hillside temple

Due to high altitue and limted travel time, we decide to climb up to visit only one nearest temple. The entrance fee for Drak Yerpa is RMB30 per person.

We start to climb the steps up to the temple, a few local Tibetan vendors waiting for us on the path selling prayer flags to be hung high up on the prayer area to the west of the dotted temple houses.

They charge RMB 25 for a dozen of prayer flags. They will have the prayer flags hung people have just bought to the prayer flag area.

a few local Tibetan vendors waiting for us on the path selling prayer flags

We are climbing on the steps leading to the first temple clung to the hillside. People have to walk slowly because of the high altitude.

We are climbing on the steps leading to the first temple

People are turning the prayer wheels clockwise and walking toward the unknown temple.

People are turning the prayer wheels clockwise

People are entering the red and white temple house.

People are entering the red and white temple house

The visit to the unknown temple turns out to be a very good experience.

The monk in charge of the small cave temple allows us to take photos inside and have a nice talk with all the people visiting his temple.

People are having a nice talk with the monk
We are allowed to take pictures insde the cave temple
Rock carving statue inside the cave temple

After finishing the visit to the temple, we start to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains – Alpine meadows.

Alpine meadow on the mountain opposite the mountain where Drak Yerpa is located.
Alpine meadow on the mountain

Before we walk down to the parking lot and finish our Drak Yerpa tour, we have a final look at the valley viewed from high on the hillside.

we have a final look at the valley high on the hillside

Drak Yerpa Travel Tips

During tourism peak season in Lhasa, there are public buses going to Drak Yerpa with the bus terminal near the square of Jokhang Temple. If you visit Drak Yerpa in winter, you are able to enjoy the snow view on the mountains.

Hassle-free Lhasa Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for guided tours to Lhasa:

Lhasa Tour
Lhasa Tibet Group Tour
Lhasa Tibet Private Tour
Beijing Lhasa Tour
Lhasa China Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Lhasa
Top 10 Attractions in Lhasa
Lhasa Tourist Traps, Tourist Scams Lhasa
Where to stay in Lhasa
Makye Ame Lhasa Restaurant – Your Kitchen in Lhasa
Lhasa Airport, Lhasa Gonggar Airport
Xian Lhasa Flight Experience, Xian Lhasa Flight
Lhasa Railway Station Transportation, Taxi, Public Bus
Get around in Lhasa with Pedicab or Trishaw
lhasa Taxi
Best Places to Take Picture of Potala Palace Lhasa

4-Wheel Drive Trip from Lhasa to Ranwu
Tips for Visiting Drak Yerpa Monastery
The Pilgrim Kora in Lhasa, Lhasa Pilgrim circuits
Monks at Sera Je College at Sera Monastery in Lhasa
Beijing Road in Lhasa
A Fun to Walk along Lhasa River in the City of Lhasa
Lhasa Great Mosque, the Mosques in Lhasa
Lhasa Yamdrok-Tso Lake Road Trip

Qushui Bridge in Qushui County, Tibet (Tips, Photos & Map)
Nagarzê County and Scenic Road Trip to Gyantse
Gyantse County and Road Trip to Shigatse
Shigatse Trip (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shigatse Lhatse Tingri Road Trip
Drive from Tingri to Mt.Everest Base Camp
Gangkar Town ( Gangga Town ), Tingri County
Tingri County (Tips, Photos & Maps)
Nyalam Town & Nyalam County (Tips, Photos & Maps)
Zhangmu Port & Zhangmu Town (Tips, Photos & Maps)

Any questions, just drop a line.

Lhasa Yamdrok Lake Road Trip (Tips, Photos & Maps)

Monday, October 18th, 2021
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Plan your Lhasa tour? A side road trip to Yamdrok Lake is highly recommended. So to speak, Yamdrok Lake is a must for your first time visit in Tibet. Yamdrok Lake ( or Yamdrok-Tso Lake and Yamdrok Yumtso Lake ) is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet.

Tibet Tourist Map

Yamdrok-Tso Lake is 130km long from east to west and 70km wide from north to south with a total perimeter of 250km and the surface area of 638 square km, average depth of 20-40 meters. It is the largest lake at the north foot of the Himalayas.

Yamdrok Yumtso Lake is a kind of low salt lake formed by the snow melted water from the snow capped mountains nearby. The lake looks like a holy sapphire. Under the clear azure sky, the clean water of the lake is as smooth as the surface of fine blue jade. Yamdrok Lake is said to be be the female Guardian of Buddhism in Tibet. Every year, many local Tibetans and visitors from Lhasa and from other places would come here for pilgrimage or sightseeing.

Yamdrok Lake is situated within Langkazi County (Nangartse) of the Shannan Region of Tibet on the way between Lhasa and Gyantse – 110km southwest of Lhasa and 140 east of Gyantse.

The Parking Lot for Viewing Yamdrok Lake is located 110km southwest of Lhasa (Google)

If you start from Lhasa to visit Yamdrok Lake, you have to climb over Kampala Pass (5000m) where you have a bird’s eye view of the amazing lake. The lake lies several hundred meters below the road or the pass. Under clear weather the lake is a fabulous shade of deep turquoise. Far in the distance is the huge snow mountain – Mt.Nojin Kangsang (7194).

If you set off from Gyantse to view Yamdrok Lake, you have to climb over Karola Pass (5042m). Karola Pass is the divided line between Gyantse County and Langkazi County. (Nangartse).

Approaching the Kampala Pass (5000m)

Driving through the Pass
Parking cars and buses on the parking lot near the Pass or the road and viewing the lake

Birds’ Eye View of Yamdrok Lake from the parking lot or the road near Kampala Pass (5000m)

Birds’ Eye View of Yamdrok Lake from the parking lot or the road near Kampala Pass (5000m)

All the tourists get off at the car parking lot ( Yanghu Scenic Area Parking Lot). People walk to the edge overlooking Yamdrok Lake to view the lake and for photogenic opportunities.

Basiacally people walk around the Yanghu Scenic Area Parking Lot for a good angle to see and take photos of the lake.

Yanghu Scenic Area Parking Lot is the main area to view the lake.
On the right side of the lake
People take pictures with the huge carved roack with the Chinese charactors – Yamdrok Lake –
Visitors are taking photos with the yak
You may take a picture with a Tibetan mastiff
Overlooking Yamdrok Lake from the parking area near the the Kampala Pass (5000m)

Hassle-free Lhasa Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for guided tours to Lhasa:

Lhasa Tour
Lhasa Tibet Group Tour
Lhasa Tibet Private Tour
Beijing Lhasa Tour
Lhasa China Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Lhasa
Top 10 Attractions in Lhasa
Lhasa Tourist Traps, Tourist Scams Lhasa
Where to stay in Lhasa
Makye Ame Lhasa Restaurant – Your Kitchen in Lhasa
Lhasa Airport, Lhasa Gonggar Airport
Xian Lhasa Flight Experience, Xian Lhasa Flight
Lhasa Railway Station Transportation, Taxi, Public Bus
Get around in Lhasa with Pedicab or Trishaw
lhasa Taxi
Best Places to Take Picture of Potala Palace Lhasa

4-Wheel Drive Trip from Lhasa to Ranwu
Tips for Visiting Drak Yerpa (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Pilgrim Kora in Lhasa, Lhasa Pilgrim circuits
How to Visit Sera Monastery in Lhasa
Beijing Road in Lhasa
Lhasa River in the City of Lhasa (Tips, Photos & Map)
Lhasa Great Mosque, the Mosques in Lhasa
Lhasa Yamdrok-Tso Lake Road Trip

Any questions, just drop a line.

Top 10 Attractions in Lhasa (Tips, Photos & Map)

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021
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Plan your Lhasa tour? The listed top 10 attractions in Lhasa are solicited from the visitors we’ve escorted in the past. If you have more time available in Lhasa after visiting these big draw attractions, you are bestowed with many more things to do during your stay in Lhasa.

Lhasa Tourist Map

It’s always good to have some advice and recommendations from friends who have visited Lhasa.

Top 1:  Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is located in the middle of Lhasa city. The name of the palace was taken from Mount Potala, the living place of the Goddess of Mercy. The palace was first built by King Songtsen Gampo in 637 for the purpose of greeting his bride Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty in China.

During the reign of The Fifth Dalai Lama, the rebuilding of Potala Palace was started in 1645. Later the Dalai Lama and his government moved into Potala Palace in 1649. Today the Potala Palace has been turned into a museum. The Potala Palace was listed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

Read my another article Best Places to Take Picture of Potala Palace Lhasa for more information about finding a good angle to shoot the palace.

Potala Palace

The palace is 400 metres wide from east to west and 350 metres from north to south. It has the sloping stone walls with average 3 meters thick, and 5 meters thick at the base. There are 13 stories in the palace buildings, which accommodate more than 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues.

Top 2: Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple, the fist Buddhist temple in Tibet, is located in the center of Lhasa city. Jokhang temple was built during the reign of King Songsten Gampo to celebrate his marriage with Princess Wencheng of Chinese Tang Dynasty. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet.

The Jokhang Temple, a massive building consisting of three floors and an open roof all filled with chapels and chambers, has undergone extensive reconstructions and additions since the 7th century.

On the open roof of Jokhang Temple

The architectural style is based on the Indian design, and was later extended resulting in a blend of Nepalese and Tang Dynasty styles. The main hall of the temple houses the Shakyamuni Buddha Statue, besides there are also famous statues of Chenresig, Padmsambhava and King Songtsan Gambo and his two famous foreign brides, Princess Wencheng of China and Princess Brikuti of Nepal.

Now it has been the most popular attraction in Lhasa and part of the UNESCO World Hentage Site “Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace” and a spiritual center of Lhasa

Top 4: Barkhor Street 

Barkhor Street is a historical and religious street surrounding Jokhang Temple and located in the downtown area of Lhasa. Barkhor Street is the most important and popular devotional kora(circuit), actually a pilgrim circumambulation.

Barkhor Street

Everyday local Tibetans come all part of Tibet to pray and walk around the Jokhang Temple. Most of them come from the remote villages or mountainous areas. They come here once a year.

Top 4: Norbulingka

Norbulingka is a park-style park the west of Lhasa city. Its construction was started in 1755. It was used as a summer resort as well as administrative centre and religious centre for the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780s till the 14th Dalai Lama’s self-exile in 1959.

Norbulingka

In 2001, Norbulingka is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.It is a unique showcase of Tibetan palace architecture. Norbulingka park is regarded the first and best park in Tibet. Summer and autumn are at its best, becoming hubs of entertainment with dancing, singing, music and festivities.

Top 5: Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake literally means “the heavenly lake”, a mountain lake perched on the north of the Nyainqêntanglha range with a sea-level of 4,718m and a surface area of 1,920 square kilometres.

It is often quoted as the second largest salt lake (after Qinghai Lake) in China and the highest salt lake of the size in the world. Accompanied by the massive Nyainqêntanglha range, Namtso Lake appears like a charming lady, the most stunning body of water in Tibet.

 Namtso Lake

The best season to visit Namtso Lake is between June and September. Normally starting from October and November, Namtso Lake will be closed to tourists due to heavy snow. You may hire a SUV car with the help of the staffers from your hotel or inn. The cheapest way is to join in a shared coach organized by the local travel agencies.

Top 6: Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery is one of the three most important Gelukpa temple. It is located 2km north of Lhasa. The other two Gelupa temples are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery.” Sera” literally means wild rose in bloom, telling the fact that the temple was built on the hill covered with wild roses.Now there are over 3,000 monks living in Sera.

See my another article Monks at Sera Je College at Sera Monastery in Lhasa for more information.

The monks put on yellow hats

Sera is most well known for the lamas in the temple engaged in debating activity each afternoon starting from 3:000pm. The Sera Monastery is subject to the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, established by Tsong Khapa.

Top 7: Drak Yerpa

In addition to including such stereotyped visits covering Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Temple, Norbulingka and so on, don’t forget to add an excursion to Drak Yerpa Monastery, which is located about 40km northeast to the city center of Lhasa.

There are two popular Tibetan verses in relation to Drak Yerpa. One verse says that “While Tibet‘s holy place is in Lhasa, Lhasa’s holy place in Drak Yerpa”. Another verse goes like that “Visiting Lhasa without going to Drak Yerpa is just like making a new clothe without adding the collar”. These two verses pinpoint the importance of Drak Yerpa in the hearts of the common Tibetan pilgrims.

Check out my another article Drak Yerpa, My trip to Drak Yerpa Monastery for more information.

High on the hillside dotted by brilliant house temples and caves

Drak Yerpa Monastery is a hermitage built on a hillside of the mountain at the altitude of 4885 meters. The hermitage is composed of many meditation caves. Some say there are now still 80 meditation left on the hillside. Some houses were built to accommodate the caves, hence cave temples. So actually Drak Yerpa is a cave monastery. Many buddhist statues in the house or the temple were caved from natural rocks.

Top 8: Tibet Museum 

Tibet Museum is the provincial museum of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is located in the west of the city of Lhasa, not far from Norbulingka and Lhasa Hotel. Its construction was completed on October 5, 1999. Tibet Museum is the first modern museum in the Tibet Autonomous Region. It has a huge collection relative to the cultural history of Tibet.

Tibet Museum 

With an area of more than 53,959 square meters, Tibet Museum is mainly in Tibet style such as Tibetan doors, beam-decoration, patterns and so on, aimed at creating the atmosphere of authentic Tibetan art.

Top 9: Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery is located at the foot of Mount Gephel, 5km northwest of Lhasa. It is one of the three Gelukpa temples in Lhasa with the other two being Ganden Monastery and the Sera Monastery. Drepung Temple is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries.

Drepung Monastery

At its peak, Drepung Temple was the largest temple in the world with over 10,000 monks. The tombs of the Dalai Lamas from second to fifth are buried in Drepung Monastery.

From 1645, when the Fifth Dalai Lama founded the Potala Palace as Tibet’s political and spiritual center, the bodies of later Dalai Lamas were entombed here instead.

Top 10: Lhasa River

As you know, almost each great city in the world has a great river. Lhasa is no exception. Lhasa River, the Mother River of Lhasa is one of te five major tributaries of Yalong Tsangpo River with a total length of 551 km. Lhasa River passes the south area of Lhasa City from east to west, then runs south and meets Tsangpo River at Qushui.

Read my another article A Fun to Walk along Lhasa River in the City of Lhasa for more information.

Lhasa River

The section of Lhasa River in the city proper of Lhasa appears like a big lake nestled at the mountains in the south of Lhasa City. In the lake like river, there two islands – Sun Island and Xianzu Island. Three north to south bridges connect the downtown of Lhasa, and the two islands are linked by one bridge.

Hassle-free Lhasa Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for guided tours to Lhasa:

Lhasa Tour
Tibet Travel
Lhasa Tibet Group Tour
Lhasa Tibet Private Tour
Beijing Lhasa Tour
Lhasa China Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Lhasa
Top 10 Attractions in Lhasa
Lhasa Tourist Traps, Tourist Scams Lhasa
Where to stay in Lhasa
Makye Ame Lhasa Restaurant – Your Kitchen in Lhasa
Lhasa Airport, Lhasa Gonggar Airport
Xian Lhasa Flight Experience, Xian Lhasa Flight
Lhasa Railway Station Transportation, Taxi, Public Bus
Get around in Lhasa with Pedicab or Trishaw
lhasa Taxi
Best Places to Take Picture of Potala Palace Lhasa

4-Wheel Drive Trip from Lhasa to Ranwu
Tips for Visiting Drak Yerpa (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Pilgrim Kora in Lhasa, Lhasa Pilgrim circuits
How to Visit Sera Monastery in Lhasa
Beijing Road in Lhasa
Lhasa River in the City of Lhasa (Tips, Photos & Map)
Lhasa Great Mosque, the Mosques in Lhasa
Lhasa Yamdrok-Tso Lake Road Trip

Qushui Bridge in Qushui County, Tibet (Tips, Photos & Map)
Nagarzê County and Scenic Road Trip to Gyantse
Gyantse County and Road Trip to Shigatse
Shigatse Trip (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shigatse Lhatse Tingri Road Trip
Drive from Tingri to Mt.Everest Base Camp
Gangkar Town ( Gangga Town ), Tingri County
Tingri County (Tips, Photos & Maps)
Nyalam Town & Nyalam County (Tips, Photos & Maps)
Zhangmu Port & Zhangmu Town (Tips, Photos & Maps)

Any questions, just drop a line.