Lhasa Day Trips

April 22nd, 2010  |  Published in Destinations  |  3 Comments

Namtso Lake in Lhasa

There are many locations near Lhasa that are worth visiting for a day or two. These sights, which include Namtso Lake, Ganden Monastery, Pabonka Hermitage, Drigung Til & Tedrom Nunnery, Samye Monastery, and the Drak Yerpa caves, give you a chance to experience the beauty of Tibetan land and culture outside the city.


Namtso Lake

This beautiful turquoise lake, which is considered holy by Tibetans, is the highest saltwater lake in the world. It is surrounded by snowy mountains, and nomads camp here in the summer. While it is a popular place to visit in the summer, there are ways of making the trip unique — for example, take a short hike up a nearby mountain for a great view, challenge the nomads to a game of pool, and get a picture riding a yak. If you stay overnight, sleep in a nomad family’s tent guesthouse and sample some traditional tsampa dough. (1-2 days) Note: Namtso is inaccessible in the winter


Ganden Monastery

One of the three most important monasteries in Lhasa (along with Sera and Drepung), Ganden sits high on a mountain ridge. Explore the monastery prayer halls, then hike around the ruins on the backside of the mountain and do a kora (circumambulation) around the monastery — it’s a short hike that offers great views over a vast valley. If you’re up for it, do the longer kora, and climb way on top of a mountain ridge and fly some prayer flags. (1 day – can also be included as part of a 2 day trip to Drigung Til & Tedrom Nunnery)


Pabonka Hermitage Hike

Behind Sera Monastery is a hermitage known as Pabonka. In order to get here, walk through a small village and then hike up the mountain side. Hardly anyone makes it out here, and you can visit the small chapels, climb around the ruins, and check out the nunnery nearby. From the vantage point on the side of the mountain, you can see great views of the Lhasa valley and the backside of the Potala Palace. (Half-day or 1 day)


Drigung Til & Tedrum Nunnery

Driving out of Lhasa, head through small villages on the outskirts of Lhasa to Drigung Til Monastery. This monastery is famous for its sky burial site. On the backside of the mountain ridge where Drigung is located is Tedrum Nunnery. Tucked away in a small, idyllic mountain village, there are hot springs at the nunnery and rolling green hills to climb and explore. Though it’s a popular place to visit in the summer, try hiking around a little and you might find yourself helping a nun milk yaks! (2 days)


Drak Yerpa Caves

A hermitage about 30km north of Lhasa, Drak Yerpa is one of the holiest cave retreats in central Tibet. Carved out of the side of a mountain, it is very peaceful and beautiful here. The drive passes through a small village and you can explore the many caves at this site. You might see some pilgrims meditating in the caves! (1 day)


Samye Monastery & Yumbulakhang Palace

Samye is Tibet’s oldest monastery, boasting over 1200 years of history. Nestled in a scenic valley, Samye is an important pilgrimage location shaped like a mandala. After visiting Samye, drive down through Tsetang to the Yarlung Valley and visit Yumbulakhang, a historic palace perched atop a craggy hill. If you extend the trip to two days, explore nearby monasteries or hike up to Chimpuk Hermitage (also known as the Guru Rinpoche caves) near Samye Monastery.  (1-2 days)


Tsurphu Monastery

The traditional seat of the Karmapa Black Hat lineage, Tsurphu Monastery was founded in 1159. The monastery was built in the middle of a valley with high mountains surrounding the complex. Above the monastery are traces of rock paintings and some meditation retreats. A kora (circumambulation) trail takes visitors on a beautiful 2-3 hour trek that overlooks the Tsurphu valley. (1 day)


Yangpachen Hot Springs

On the way to the hot springs, pass by Yangpachen Monastery. Perched on a top of a hill, the monastery overlooks a range of Himalayan peaks. Visit the small chapels, admire the detailed protector deity murals in the main assembly hall, make a few offerings, and then head to Yangpachen town. In the early morning, mist rises from the geothermal lake, clouding the snow mountains in the background. Enjoy a soothing hot bath, relax your sore muscles, and then return to Lhasa. (1 day)


For more information, contact us at info@snowliontours.com.


  1. Barbara says:

    January 30th, 2011at 2:08 pm(#)

    Kudos!! I love your well organized and comprehensive website.
    Clear and uncluttered, with up to date information.
    Your website has really evolved over time.
    The map with Tibet’s highways is great!!!!!!!!

    Best Regards,

  2. Poetic Universe says:

    December 6th, 2011at 12:25 am(#)

    Great information.
    Will definitely be bookmarking this sight.

  3. Poetic Universe says:

    December 6th, 2011at 12:39 am(#)

    The Kora around Ganden was absolutely one of the highlights of Tibet. The views over the valley are spectacular. You used to be able to jump on an early morning pilgrim bus to go there. !s that still possible?

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