Known as ‘The Land of the Gods’, Lhasa is a spiritual Tibetan city boasting a millennia of cultural history and one of the highest city altitudes in the world. As well as the mild climate, including an average three-thousand hours of sunshine per year, visitors arrive here for the splendid monasteries, fortresses and sacred Tibetan temples. Sera Monastery is a particular favourite, notably for its debating monks who ascend on the courtyard every afternoon (except for Sundays, their day of rest) to debate Buddhist philosophies. This is quite a spectacle, especially as the monks are dressed in beautiful ruby-coloured robes and spend the entire time slapping one another, depending on the quality of their debate.
We suggest you combine a trip to Jokhang Temple with an exploration of Barkhor’s octagonal street market, which encircles the temple’s eight corners. There are stalls selling rare Tibetan handicrafts as well as walls adorned with prayer flags and Buddhist pilgrim walkers. Complement this with pit-stops for traditional Thukpa, a noodle-based meat broth or, for the really brave, Tibetan buttered tea - a mild, boiled brick tea, mixed with a butter-like dairy product made from cow's/sheep’s milk. This delicacy has yet to establish itself as a western favourite, but you never know, you may be the first.