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Living in Lhasa

A comprehensive guide about living well in Lhasa

Living in Lhasa is a total immersion in the local culture: religion and architecture blend together creating fascinating landscapes and a rich heritage, strongly connected to the presence of the Dalai Lama. Find out more about this city on the top of the world in our guide!

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Life in Lhasa

Culture and Leisure

The cultural significance of Lhasa in the region of Tibet and throughout Asia is huge, and there are several landmarks that are very significant for your stay in Lhasa. The Jokhang Temple is possibly the most famous landmark, and at over 1,400 years old is home to statues of Buddha that were a gift from princesses of the Tang Dynasty in China. It has grown over time, and more works of art have been brought to this temple over the years.

The Potala Palace is also a place of much fascination. This is a fort that is almost as old as the Jokhang Temple and has been the home of many Dalai Lamas throughout the last century. Up on Red Hill, the Potala Palace can be visited on guided tours. As the cultural center of Tibet, Lhasa is a much sought-after destination, to those living in Tibet along with foreigners from all over the world.

Transportation in Lhasa

The most popular way to get into Tibet is by plane; these fly from several Chinese airports to Lhasa Gonggar Airport. A taxi or shuttle bus can then be taken into the city of Lhasa. There are also trains from various cities in China into Lhasa, but foreigners will have to arrange to purchase these tickets through a travel agency, as they are not allowed to buy them independently.

Once you have gotten to Lhasa, getting around the city center is very easy on foot as the area is not too large. A taxi anywhere in the city of Lhasa will cost 10 CNY, which is roughly 1.50 USD. This is a standard fare — do not be surprised if the driver pulls over to pick up more people on his journey, so he can make extra money through the day.

Safety and Security

Lhasa is a religious city and there are lots of monks walking around the area. Anything considered as blasphemy will cause you problems in Lhasa, particularly regarding the Dalai Lama, and if you show any pictures of the Dalai Lama to any monks, this can get you in trouble with the authorities. In terms of crime rates, there are few large issues in Lhasa, though opportunists will take advantage of a foreigner who is not keeping a close eye on their possessions, so guard your belongings when you are out and about in the city, particularly in busy areas.

You will also see children begging on the streets in Lhasa, but be careful with giving them money; the risk of giving money to one child is that this can draw a crowd of beggars around you. The other risk to your safety when living in Lhasa is altitude sickness, which you should not underestimate. At almost 4,000 meters above sea level, it is important to allow your body to acclimatize, which is why flying into Lhasa can cause more health problems than taking the train and slowly getting used to the altitude.

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Updated on: September 21, 2015
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