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Sera Monastery picture in Tibet
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  • Churches/Religious Sites Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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One of the best places to immerse yourself in Tibetan Buddhism is the Sera Monastery. Situated about 5 miles north of central Lhasa, this monastery is one of the most important in Lhasa. It focuses on Gelugpa, a sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and houses monks in training. As a part of the monks' training, every afternoon at 3 p.m. (except Sundays), young monks are required to gather in the monastery's courtyard to debate important Buddhist doctrines with their superiors. The gathering is quite lively, with young monks sitting and waiting to be called on by older monks. But instead of raising their hand when they know the answer, older monks aggressively slap their hands together to signal a younger monk's participation in the lesson. And thus, the spirited debate begins.  

This ritual alone has drawn travelers in droves to the Sera Monastery. Travelers say being able to witness such an important part of Tibetan Buddhist monks' training was incredibly fascinating. As for the monastery itself, there were mixed reviews. Some found the monastery to be beautiful while others said it was nothing special. Either way, if you're looking for an immersive cultural experience in Tibet, watching these debates is one way to do it.

The monastery welcomes visitors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Chapels close at 3 p.m., then the debates start. It's important to note that you are allowed to take photos, but only with your phone. Admission is 50 yuan (about $8). The best way to get here is to take a taxi, as the monastery is located in a suburban area north of central Lhasa.

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#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 ... Read more » Sino Images / Getty Images

#2 Barkhor Street After days of visiting temples, palaces and monasteries, treat yourself to some souvenirs on Barkhor Street. Barkhor Street is one big circular street that goes around Jokhang Temple and is ... Read more » bawanch / Getty Images

#3 Potala Palace It's hard to miss Potala Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This grand, imposing structure stands more than 12,000 feet above sea level on Marpo-ri, or Red Hill ... Read more » Rat0007 / Getty Images

#4 Sera Monastery One of the best places to immerse yourself in Tibetan Buddhism is the Sera Monastery. Situated about 5 miles north of central Lhasa, this monastery is one of the most ... Read more » dotstone / Flickr

#5 Lakes 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 ... Read more » MuYeeTing / Getty Images

#6 Mount Everest Base Camp A trip to Tibet would not be complete without getting an eyeful of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Everest sits on the border of Nepal and Tibet ... Read more » benedek / Getty Images

#7 Tashi Lhunpo Monastery Like the Potala Palace, the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery holds a lot of significance in Tibetan Buddhism. Not only was the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery founded by the first Dalai Lama, but ... Read more » crystaltmc / Getty Images

Jokhang Temple picture in Tibet
Buddhas at Barkhor Street picture in Tibet
Potala Palace picture in Tibet
Sera Monastery picture in Tibet
Yamdrok Lake picture in Tibet
Mount Everest Base Camp picture in Tibet
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery picture in Tibet
Jokhang Temple picture in Tibet
Buddhas at Barkhor Street picture in Tibet
Potala Palace picture in Tibet
Sera Monastery picture in Tibet
Yamdrok Lake picture in Tibet
Mount Everest Base Camp picture in Tibet
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery picture in Tibet

Jokhang Temple is one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Lhasa. The temple is famous for housing Jowo Shakyamuni, a Buddha statue that is considered among the most sacred in Tibet. Sino Images / Getty Images

Barkhor Street is a great place to pick up religious motifs and statues, including Buddha.  bawanch / Getty Images

Potala Palace stands high above Lhasa at 12,000 feet above sea level. Because of the altitude, you should ascend the stairs slowly.  Rat0007 / Getty Images

A lot of travelers visit the Sera Monastery to witness its famous debating monks. Every day, monks go out into the monastery's courtyard to debate Tibetan Buddhism doctrines in a lively fashion. dotstone / Flickr

Yamdrok Lake is 45 miles long and is known for its vibrantly hued waters. The color of the water changes depending on the position of the sun and the season.  MuYeeTing / Getty Images

The Mount Everest Base Camp is pretty basic. Should you camp, expect bathrooms to be in separate tents, eastern toilets and electricity run by a generator.  benedek / Getty Images

The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery was built by the first Dalai Lama and acted as the seat of power for the Panchen Lama, the second most important leader in Tibetan Buddhism.  crystaltmc / Getty Images

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