Top 5 Reasons To Visit Lhasa, Tibet with Kids

Visiting Lhasa, Tibet with kids is one of the most interesting trips we’ve ever taken.  We have all seen the Tibetian oppression from the Chinese government on TV, but to see and witness it firsthand was fascinating, and a little unsettling. Throughout the small city of Lhasa, you feel the presence of the Chinese government everywhere.
Welcome to Lhasa Tibet! White prayer scarves for the kids.Religion is the most important aspect of Tibet’s culture and for the Chinese government, religion in Tibet is a political and security issue. The Chinese government and communist party officials (think young soldiers carrying AK-47’s on every street corner and surrounding every religious monument) controls all aspects of how Tibetans practice their religion and live on a daily basis.

Lhasa Tibet praying lady
It is very common to find people on the streets pausing to pray

Monasteries are required to fly Chinese flags and have portraits of the leaders of the Communist Party.  The mention of the 14th Dalai Lama is strictly forbidden and our tour guide was very fearful and would not even utter his name.  Tibetans face harsh punishments for any mention of the 14th Dalai Lama.

Taking photographs of Chinese soldiers is strictly forbidden, and there was a very clear understanding that we must not test this under any circumstance.
Why you should visit Lhasa Tibet - kids hanging out with kidsLhasa is not a big city, and it’s very accessible via foot. The Tibetans are incredibly friendly and inviting, and nowhere on earth can you find such a beautiful blend of spirituality, art and raw natural beauty.  Be sure to allow time to acclimate to the altitude and bring lots of sunblock regardless of the month you are visiting as the sun is extremely strong. Lhasa temples - the real home of the Dali Lama

Here are 5 sights you must see in Lhasa, Tibet with kids

Lhasa Tibet Potala Palace

1.  The Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is a symbol of Tibet. The stunning white and red building complex, set against grey mountains, clouds and blue sky nestled in the Himalayas, is an image that is familiar to everyone. The Potala Palace is referred to by Tibetians as “the highest place in the world” but that’s a literal description in terms of altitude. Instead, it refers to its lofty spiritual significance and its unique position in Tibetan Buddhism.
Lhasa Tibet Potala Palace

Potala Palace is the former winter home of the Dalai Lamas, and the 14th Dalai Lama was the last to live there prior to his exile in 1959. It towers over Lhasa, almost keeping a watchful eye over the city.  No building is allowed to be higher than the Potala Palace in Tibet.

Lhasa Tibet Potala Palace
Prayer flags hang all over Tibet

The Potala Palace stands as a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism and was the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Its impressive architecture, rich history, and religious significance make it a revered site, often considered “high” in a metaphysical or spiritual sense. Hearing this story in Lhasa with kids really made an impact on our family.

Today, it is a museum. Nobody lives there but inside there’s a collection of various buddhas, shrines, and stupas, each with its own deep meaning to the people of Tibet. There are many Tibetans praying at the buddhas, lighting yak-butter candles, and leaving money to help maintain the palace. This is truly the essence of Buddhism in Tibet, and Buddhism is incredibly important to the vast history and culture of this area – about 95% of people in Tibet are Buddhist.
Visit the amazing Potala Palace with kidsThe Chinese government limits the number of visitors to the palace each day (2300 per day) and they limit visiting time to one hour per group.  This is heavily regulated by armed soldiers at every checkpoint.

The palace sits at a whopping 12,139 feet (3,700 meters) above sea level atop Marpo Ri hill in Lhasa. The 13-story stair climb to get there was a bit tiring (especially at high altitudes!)

Lhasa Tibet Potala Palace

2.  Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple is the most sacred temple for the Tibetan People.  Pilgrims travel from all over Tibet to their spiritual focal point.  This large temple is located in the middle of the old city. It is said to be the most important pilgrimage for believers. They lay on the ground face down, stretched out at the temple entrance in prayer, and circle the building complex several times in a clockwise direction.Jokhang Temple - Lhasa Tibet

Tibetans and foreigners from all walks of life visit the intensely beautiful chapels that come alive with the hum of prayers and chanting.  The temple is filled with Buddhist history, statues, relics and yak butter candles.  The views from the roof of the square below and surrounding mountains are simply fantastic.Lhasa Tibet - kids visiting the Jokhang temple

However it’s hard to ignore the Chinese government with guns drawn around this spectacular monastery.

Jokhang- a courtyard filled with temple prayers

3.  Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street street is next to Jokhang Temple and is bustling with Tibetan daily life. We shopped for souvenirs, ate local food and joined the pilgrims as they circled clockwise around Jokhang Temple rolling prayer wheels.

I found myself drawn to Barkhor Street, a unique blend of spirituality and daily life. This street isn’t a tourist attraction; it’s a living, breathing part of Tibetan culture. Monks, locals, and international visitors converge here, creating a vibrant tapestry of humanity. The atmosphere is charged with devotion. We watched pilgrims performing a kora ritual—walking in a clockwise direction around the temple, some spinning prayer wheels, others prostrating fully on the ground.

It’s an incredible experience to watch the local people interact with each other.

Lhasa Tibet Jokhang temple

Barkhor Street is also a bustling marketplace. The narrow alleys are lined with stalls and shops selling an array of Tibetan crafts, jewelry, traditional clothing, and religious artifacts. The handmade items each told a story of Tibet’s rich cultural heritage or the Tibetian persecution by the Chinese.

4. Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery is set in a gorgeous location, on the side of a mountain with meditation huts dotting the hillside.  The courtyards surrounding the monastery are used by monks who are debating Buddhist scripture, doctrine and philosophy. Sera Monastery in Lhasa

This tradition is accompanied by vigorous dramatic gestures and hand clapping.  It looked a little chaotic and random, but apparently, the monks follow a strict set of procedures and rules. It is fascinating to watch!

Lhasa Tibet sera monastery monks

The monks became more and more animated while challenging each other forcefully and cheerfully, slapping their hands and thighs to punctuate their debate. The monks are highly respected and extremely passionate about their country.

5.  Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery, built in 1416, was once Tibet’s largest and most influential monastery, with over 10,000 monks. This monastery is about 7 km outside of Lhasa.Lhasa Tibet Drepung monastery

Today, Drepung houses about 700 monks and attracts pilgrims and visitors from around the world.

Drepung Monastery, has incredible views of Lhasa, and was home to several Dalai Lamas  (1-5) before the fifth Dalai Lama built Potala Palace.
Lhasa Tibet Drepung Monastery with local kids

Lhasa Tibet Drepung Monastery prayersLhasa Tibet Drepung Monastery with kids and momWe had to walk slowly, taking time to adapt to the high altitude of the mountain. It was tough with headaches and we had difficulty breathing. Be sure to bring plenty of water to fight altitude sickness.  It is famous for its burial stupas (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dalai Lamas are buried there and for the sacred throne of the 14th Dalai Lama (the actual Dalai Lama).Lhasa Tibet Drepung Monastery with kids

We loved the Tibetian people and seeing so many important Tibetan Buddhist temples, as well as the sights and sounds of a simple way of life. We also felt bad for the tormented and marginalized Tibetans. It’s clear the Chinese are intent in drowning out their customs, traditions and way of life. After visiting Bhutan with kids, we know how peaceful this society must have been before the invasion.

We visited Tibet on a whirlwind tour of China. We traveled with our kids to Bejing, Xian, Chengdu, then to Lhasa, and ended in Shanghai.

Have you visited Tibet with kids? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments below and join me on Instagram and X (Twitter)!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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