The Potala Palace Travel Tips

On August 17, 2011, in Lhasa, Palaces, Temples, Tibet, Tours, Travel Info, by Jack Li

Since the Potala Palace was built for religious use, there are some religious taboos in the palace. For example, it is forbidden for tourists to wear a hat, or take pictures, or step on thresholds in the palace. Tourists are not allow to stay in the palace, and are required to finish their visit within […]

Since the Potala Palace was built for religious use, there are some religious taboos in the palace. For example, it is forbidden for tourists to wear a hat, or take pictures, or step on thresholds in the palace. Tourists are not allow to stay in the palace, and are required to finish their visit within one hour. The palace is located on the mountainside, and it is relatively cold inside. You’d better take an extra coat with you and walk slowly during your visit. You can take photos with the overview of the Potala Palace on the Medicine King Hill to the southwest of the palace. You can easily reach the hill if you leave the palace from its west gate, and go along the path to its main entrance. It takes you 1 or 2 Yuan to take photos on the hill.

Best season to visit the Potala Palace

Lhasa is located in central Tibet with a very high altitude. It is called “the City of Sunlight” because the annual sunshine duration there is more than 3000 hours. The rainy seasons of Lhasa are from June to September, with an annual precipitation between 200 to 510 mm. The maximum temperature there can reach 28 ℃, while the minimum can be as low as -14℃. The temperature difference between day and night are very large.The air is thin, and there are many windy days during the year. The winter and spring in Lhasa are quite dry. Relatively speaking, it is comfortable to visit Lhasa from March to October. It is highly advisable the schedule your trip after May.

The Potala Palace Travel Route

The East Courtyard—The Gallery of the White Palace—The East Youjiyuanman Hall—The Sunlight Hall—The Hall of Maitreya—The Golden Top—The Tancheng Hall—The Shushengsanjie Hall—The Longevity Hall—The Stupa Hall of the 13th Dalai Lama—The Shangshi Hall—The Stupa Hall of the 7th Dalai Lama—The Hall of Guanyin—The Stupa Hall of the 8th Dalai Lama—The The Stupa Hall of the 9th Dalai Lama—The Shilun Hall—The Hall of Amitayus Buddha—The Fawang Cave—The Puxianzhuisui Hall—The Xiangluo Hall—The Gallery of the Red Palace—The West Youjiyuanman Hall—The Putidaocidi Hall—The Chiming Hall—the Stupa Hall of the 5th Dalai Lama—The Shixi Hall

The Potala Palace Ticket

Ticket for the Potala Palace:

RMB 200 per person in peak seasons (from May 1st to October 31th )

RMB 100 per person in slack season (from December 1st to April the 30th next year)

Ticket for the Golden Top: RMB 10 per person

Ticket for the Jewelry Show: RMB 10 per person

Ticket fot the Stupa Halls: RMB 10 per person

It is free of charge to visit the City of Snow beside the Potala Palace.

Openning Hours: 9:00 to 16:00 (Except for holidays or festivals, or the day when there are grand religious ceremonies held in the palace)

Notice: The Potala Palace sells only 2300 tickets a day. In peak seasons, you need to book the ticket at the West Gate of the palace one day earlier, and arrive at the palace twenty minutes earlier than the time on the ticket the next day.

How to get to the Potala Palace

By air

There is an airport located 100 kilometers away to the south of Lhasa. Tourists can fly to the airport from citis like Beijing, Shanhai, and Katmandu, and take a bus or a taxi to the city of Lhasa. It takes 2 hours to reach the city by bus, and the ticket price is 20 Yuan per person. You can also take a taxi, and the price will be 150~250 Yuan per ride.

By Coach

You can take a couch from Bayi, Changdu, Chengdu, Rikaze, Zhangmu, Jiangzi, or Geermu, and arrived at the Coach Station of Lhasa. The following is a list of ticket price.

Ticket price from Geermu to Lhasa: RMB 262 per person

Ticket price from Zedang to Lhasa: RMB 28 per person.

Ticket price from Changdu to Lhasa: RMB 228 per person

Ticket price from Chengdu to Lhasa: RMB 443 per person

Ticket price from Rikaze to Lhasa: RMB 40 per person

Ticket price from Zhangmu to Lhasa: RMB 113 per person

Ticket price from Jiangzi to Lhasa: RMB 38 per person

Transportation Inside the City of Lhasa

Although Lhasa is not a big city, the transportation system of the city is very well developed. There are more than 1500 taxis in the city. You can easily find one whenever you want to take taxi. It takes no more than ten Yuan to travel around the city by taxi.

It is also very convinient to take a minibus to the Potala Palace. The ticket price is 2 Yuan per person. You can take a bus, too.  The ticket price for bus is 10 Yuan per person.

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The Potala Palace Museum

On August 17, 2011, in Lhasa, Museums, Palaces, Tibet, by Jack Li

The Potala Palace Museum is located in the City of Snow on the foot of the Potala Palace. It is a three-floor building with a floor area of around 2000 square meters. Local government has spent more than 10 million on establishing the museum. It was not open to public until 2009. The whole museum […]

The Potala Palace Museum is located in the City of Snow on the foot of the Potala Palace. It is a three-floor building with a floor area of around 2000 square meters. Local government has spent more than 10 million on establishing the museum. It was not open to public until 2009.

The whole museum can be divided into 8 sections, with more than 200 invaluable cultural relics and their photos inside. Most of the relics displayed in the museum were from the Ming and the Qing Dynasty, for example, the Tibetan Buddhist scriptures.

You can see palm-leaf scripture from the 9th century, the white pottery bowl with classical patterns on it from the 12th century, the bronzen statue of King Kong from the 14th century, the agate cup from the 17th century, and the snuff bottle from the 18th century. There are also many precious ancient documents preserved in the museum, for example, the imperial edicts of the emperors in the Qing Dynasty. Visiting the museum is one of the best ways to gain a basic understanding of the Tibeten culture.

The Potala Palace

The Red Palace

On August 17, 2011, in Lhasa, Monasteries, Palaces, Temples, Tibet, by Jack Li

The Red Palace was located at the center of the Potala Palace. It was named “the Red Palace” because the outer walls of the palace were all painted red. The layout of the palace lies in the formation of Mandala. The main buildings in the palace are the Stupa Halls of Dalai Lama. In total, […]

The Red Palace was located at the center of the Potala Palace. It was named “the Red Palace” because the outer walls of the palace were all painted red. The layout of the palace lies in the formation of Mandala. The main buildings in the palace are the Stupa Halls of Dalai Lama. In total, there are eight Stupa Halls within the palace, where generations of Dalai Lama’s bodies were preserved. Many small scripture halls were dotted among the Stupa Halls, such as the Shangshi Hall, the Xiangtong Hall, and the Shixi Hall.

The west part of the Red Palace is the Jiyuanman Hall. It is the Stupa Hall of the fifth Dalai Lama. The Jiyuanman Hall is the largest Hall in the Potala Palace, covering an area of 725 square meters. You can see marvelous frescos on the wall of the hall. The most famous among them must be the one picturing the fifth Dalai Lama meeting Emperor Shunzhi of the Qing Dynasty. There is a Dalai Lama’s throne in the hall, with a big plaque saying “the place where lotus blossoms” above it. The inscription on the plaque is written by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty.

The Fawang Cave in here is one of the earliest buildings in the Potala Palace. There are statues of Sontzen Gampo, Princess Wencheng, Princess Chizun, and Ludongzan in the cave. These exquisite statues are invaluable relics now.

The Sushengsanjie Hall is the highest hall in the Red Palace. Inside the hall, you can see a portrait of Emperor Qianlong and an elegant eleven faces Guanyin made of silver. The hall is the Stupa Hall of the 13th Dalai Lama. Established in 1933, it is the latest building in the Potala Palace.

The Potala Palace

The White Palace

On August 17, 2011, in Lhasa, Monasteries, Temples, Tibet, by Jack Li

The White Palace is one of the major buildings inside the Potala Palace. It used to be the residence of Dalai Lama, the supreme religious leaders of Tibet. The seven-floor mansion was named “the White Palace” because its outer walls were all painted white. The top floor of the palace is the Sunlight Hall, which […]

The White Palace is one of the major buildings inside the Potala Palace. It used to be the residence of Dalai Lama, the supreme religious leaders of Tibet. The seven-floor mansion was named “the White Palace” because its outer walls were all painted white. The top floor of the palace is the Sunlight Hall, which once was Dalai Lama’s bedroom and study. In ancient Tibet, only high-ranking lamas were allowed to visit the hall. The layout of the hall can be divided into two parts, the West Sunlight Hall and the East Sunlight Hall. The West Sunlight Hall was built during the construction of the Potala Palace, while the East Sunlight Hall was established later in replication of it. Part of the roof of the Sunlight Hall is retractable so that duiring the day time, sunlight can enter the hall. That is why the hall was called “the Sunlight Hall”. The opening roof would be covered by tarpaulin during the night.

The fifth and sixth floors of the White Palace were the place where Dalai Lama handled offical business. The forth floor, the Yudong Hall, is the largest hall in the White Palace, with a length of 27.8 meters and a width of 25.8 meters. Dalai Lama’s throne is placed in the hall, with a big plaque saying “prosper the borderarea of China” above it. The inscription on the plaque is written by Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty. Grand ceremonies, for example,   coronation, were held there.

In addition, there is a hill in front of the White Palace, with a large square on its mountainside. The square is called the Deyang Square. It was the place where Dalai Lama used to enjoy theatre performances and held outdoor activities. And to the south and north of the square, there are schools for lamas. The weather-beaten White Palace welcomes a great many of visitors everyday.

The Potala Palace

The Potala Palace

On August 16, 2011, in Lhasa, Palaces, Temples, Tibet, by Jack Li

The Potala Palace, pearl on the roof ridge of the world, is situated on the Red Hill in the northwest of Lhasa, provincial capital of Tibet. Originally, this architectural wonder was intended as a welcoming gift from Sontzen Gampo, founder of the Tibetan regime, to his bride, Princess Wencheng, who travelled a long way from […]

The Potala Palace, pearl on the roof ridge of the world, is situated on the Red Hill in the northwest of Lhasa, provincial capital of Tibet. Originally, this architectural wonder was intended as a welcoming gift from Sontzen Gampo, founder of the Tibetan regime, to his bride, Princess Wencheng, who travelled a long way from the territory of Tang to Tibet. After its renovation in the 17th century, it has become residence to Dalai and has witnessed all the major political ceremonies of Tibet ever since the reign of the fifth Dalai. Also, in the Potala Palace there enshrined the Stupa Halls of Dalai and an extensive collection of priceless treasures. The Potala Palace is without doubt the glamorous centre of Tibet in terms of politics, religion, culture and art.

Built on a mountain slope, the Potala Palace is an awe-inspiring construction of solid granite walls, glittering gilded roof and golden spires dotted with Buddhist pennants and streamers. In clear weather, the holy Potala Palace shines in a mixture of red, white and gold. Apart from its exterior magnificence, the Potala Palace is reputed for its exquisite layout. The entire complex consists mainly of the White Palace and the Red Palace. The thirteen-storey main building measures 115.7 metres high and is divided into Chamber Palace, Buddha Hall, Stupa Hall, Monk Residence. The White Palace, namely residence to Dalai, stretches from the east to the west of the palace site and contains extremely ornate halls and corridors of diverse sizes and shapes. The walls are decorated with elaborate Buddhist paintings; most of them are compositions of prominent artists. The Red Palace lies in the middle of the Potala Palace. In it there is an amazing quantity of statues of Buddhas, Sontzen Gampo, Princess Wencheng and Princess Chizun of Nepal, amounting to several thousand pieces all together. In addition, there enshrined the Stupa Halls of the Dalais adorned with glittering jewels, gold and wall painting of more than 2,500 square metres. The Potala Palace, occupying an area of 100,000 square metres with thousands of richly furnished houses arranged in an orderly fashion, demonstrates the skilfulness and innovation of Tibetan architects.

The Potala Palace has a store of delicate priceless Buddhist treasures and relics. The Stupa Tower of the fifth Dalai Lama is 14.85 metres high and dwarfs all the other towers in the palace. It is sheathed with a layer of gold foil studded with different kinds of jewels and precious stones. The construction of the tower cost a total of 5,500 kilograms of gold. The lesser towers are also richly decorated with gold and jewels, which renders the Potala Palace a dazzling world.

For hundreds of years, the Potala Palace has been held a sacred realm for both the Buddhists and the worldly people. On Buddhist festivals, thousands of pious Tibetan Buddhists from all nationalities set out on their pilgrimage journey toward the Potala Palace and gather around the palace gate in worship. The boisterous sight offers you an impressive view of the power and charm of the third largest religion of the world.

The Potala Palace Attractions:

The White Palace

The Red Palace

The Potala Palace Museum

The Potala Palace Stories:

Sontzen Gampo and Princess Wencheng

During the 7th century, the Tibetan region was under the reign of the Tubo Dynasty. The king, Sontzen Gampo, was a diligent and kind ruler. Due to his efforts, the Tubo Dynasty grew more powerful than ever. In order to set up a good relationship with the Tang Dynasty and introduce advanced culture and technology into the Tibetan area, Sontzen Gampo decided to ask for Princess Wencheng’s hand in marriage. When his envoy, Lu Dongzan, arrived with generous betrothal gifts in Chang An, capital of Tang, he discovered that several other neighbouring nations had also sent out envoys to propose to the intelligent and beautiful Princess. The emperor of Tang thought of a solution: he put three questions to all the envoys, and the one who could solve all of them would win the princess for his king. So Lu joined the competition with the other envoys. At last he alone solved all the questions. The questions and his clever solutions are:

1. There were ten cylinder logs, and each had two ends of the same size. Tell which end was the bottom and which was the top.

Lu put the logs in a pool. Because the density of the bottom end is larger than that of the top end, Lu was able to tell the bottom from the top.

2. There was a small jade stone with a hole running twisted through it. Pull a thread through the hole.

All the other envoys were squinting and fumbling with the thread when Lu applied some honey to one end of the hole and tied the thread to the waist of an ant. He then placed the ant at the other end of the hole. The ant, attracted by the smell of honey, quickly went into the tiny hole and came out on the other side. The thread slipped through with the ant.

3. One hundred mares and one hundred foals were mixed together. Tell which mare gave birth to which foal

The other envoys tried to match them according to their colours or looks and failed. Lu locked up all the foals separately from the mares for one night and put them together again the next day. Every foal rushed to its mother to feed, and Lu was able to tell which mare gave birth to which foal.

As Lu had solved all the three questions, the Emperor decided to put forward an extra question: Lu had to pick out the real princess from among 500 girls with their heads veiled. Fortunately, Lu had learned that the princess preferred a particular kind of perfume which attracts the bees. So he carried some bees with him and let them go. The bees all flew towards one girl. Lu knew immediately that she was the real princess.

The emperor was very impressed with the resourcefulness of Lu. He consented to Sontzen Gampo’s request and married Princess Wencheng to the Tubo King. Sontzen Gampo received the happy news from Lu, and ordered to build 999 halls to welcome the princess. This is how the Potala Palace came into being. Now you can still find the painting recording the story of the proposal on the wall of the Potala Palace.

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