Lakes picture
Lakes
1 of 3
MuYeeTing/Getty Images

Key Info

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.1scorecard
  • 4.5Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Tibet's mountain ranges get a lot of love, but the region's many alpine lakes are just as noteworthy. In fact, the Tibetan people consider these lakes to be holy and take pilgrimages to them. The most popular (and the most sacred) are Yamdrok Lake, Lake Namtso and Manasarovar Lake.

Yamdrok Lake is a freshwater lake that is lauded for its vibrant blue waters. The color of the water varies depending on the position and intensity of the sun. The lake, which is surrounded on either side by rolling hills and mountains, is known to be a very pretty landscape. The best way to take in Yamdrok is to climb one of its hills for panoramic views of its grandeur (the lake is a whopping 45 miles long). 

Lake Namtso is another top pick among travelers for its majesty. Namtso differs in that it is a saltwater lake and higher in elevation. Because of this, you should not visit this lake until after you've acclimated to the altitude. Namtso, which means "heavenly" or "sacred" lake in the Tibetan language, lives up to its name, according to recent visitors. Its surrounding glacial mountains and vast nature (the lake is 760 square miles) left many travelers in awe. Plus, the locals that live around the area like to take their yaks out to play, so bring some extra yuan to snap a picture with the furry creatures.

The most sacred of all lakes is Lake Manasarovar, the highest freshwater lake in the world. Taking a dip in or ingesting the waters of Manasarovar is supposed to have healing and cleansing powers. But it's best to just observe it, should you decide to visit. While here, make sure to look for the nearby Mount Kailash, which Buddhists believe to be the center of the universe.

If you want to go to any of these lakes, it will have to be included in your tour to Tibet. Under the terms of the Tibetan permit, foreigners are not allowed to travel outside Lhasa independently. Lake Namtso and Manasarovar are located hours from Lhasa, with the latter close to the border of India. Despite the long journeys to reach these lakes, many recent travelers said the natural beauty was worth the lengthy travel time. 

See all Hotels in Tibet »

More Best Things To Do in Tibet

Jokhang Temple
Barkhor Street
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 6
#1 Jokhang Temple

Alongside Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple is one of the most important sites in Tibet. The Jokhang Temple was built in the seventh century to promote Buddhism in Tibet, and as such earned the distinction of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Jokhang translates to "house of Buddha," or more specifically "chapel of the Jowo." And it lives up to its name. The temple houses more than 3,000 images of Buddha, deities and other historical figures in the religion, including the Jowo Shakyamuni.

Jowo Shakyamuni, or also referred to as the Jowo Rinpoche, is considered to be the most sacred image of Buddha in Tibet. It is said that the statue was sculpted by Vishwakarma – the Indian god of architecture – between the fifth and sixth century B.C., when Buddha was still believed to be alive. This has led to the belief that the Jowo Sakyamuni, as one of the earliest accounts of Buddha, is the most accurate visual representation of Buddha. Research has shown that this story is factually inaccurate, but that hasn't stopped crowds of Tibetans from coming to the temple to pray. The statue depicts Buddha the moment he reached enlightenment – legs in lotus position, one hand gesturing meditation with the other gesturing the "earth to witness."

Read more
Sino Images/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Tibet »

Explore More of Tibet

Recommended

The 5 Best Kauai Helicopter Tours

See the Garden Island's far-reaching beauty from the air.

Holly JohnsonJune 14, 2019

The 6 Best Las Vegas Helicopter Tours

Get a thrilling look at the lights and sights of Sin City and its surroundings with one of these tours.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

20 Road Trip Essentials for Your Vacation

These road trip must-haves can help you save money, travel more comfortably and ensure you stay safe on the open road.

Holly JohnsonJune 13, 2019

13 Top Charlottesville Wineries to Visit

Sip a glass of Virginia's signature viognier as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Gwen PratesiJune 12, 2019

The 16 Best Seattle Tours

Explore the Emerald City's natural beauty and urban offerings with these guided excursions.

Lyn MettlerJune 12, 2019

The 24 Best London Tours

Whether it's your first time in London or you're a repeat visitor, you'll experience a side of the city you've never seen with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJune 6, 2019

The 21 Best Paris Tours

Enhance your visit to the City of Love with one of these top tours.

Claire LawtonJune 5, 2019

The 20 Best New York City Tours

These guided tours help make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

John RodwanJune 4, 2019

The 24 Best Rome Tours

Enjoy the efficiency of an organized tour led by experts who bring Rome's history to life.

Kyle McCarthyMay 31, 2019

The 8 Best Savannah Ghost Tours

Prove you're not afraid of the dark by taking one of these terrifying tours.

Gwen PratesiMay 31, 2019