Many Westerners imagine Tibet as a Shangri-La, cut off from the rest of the world in a
barren landscape rising to 16,400 feet above sea level. It is the fascination and mystery
of the region that brings increasing numbers of tourists each year, who come to explore
the "roof of the world."
Lhasa is located on a plateau more than 12,000 feet above sea level and 812 miles west
of Chengdu. Lhasa is the famous, exotic capital of Tibet.
The essence of
Tibetan architecture, Potala Palace is one of the architectural wonders of the world.
Dating from the 17th century, it is located on the site of a former structure built one
thousand years earlier. The palace is 363 feet high and its 1000 rooms cover 102 acres.
The Red Palace is for religious affairs and the White Palace is for daily living.
This golden-roofed temple is 1,300 years old and one of Tibet's holiest shrines. You can
follow pilgrims who pay homage here through a labyrinth of shrines, halls, and galleries.
Traditional lifestyles are maintained here, in the center of the old city. Rich and
colorful ethnic handicrafts are available that you won't find anywhere else.
An easy minibus or bicycle ride from Lhasa, this was once the largest monastery in the
world. Today, the number of resident monks has dwindled from 7,000 to about 400.
The main attraction of Tibet's second largest city, 304 miles east of Lhasa, is Tashilunpo
Monastery's 90-foot Buddha and Grand Hall with a tomb displaying 190 pounds of gold