Combined with the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, the Jokhang Temple makes up Lhasa’s UNESCO World Heritage complex. It’s an essential stop on any visit to Lhasa or, indeed, Tibet—and most Tibet tours visit here, from multi-day overland adventures through to boutique private day tours. Tickets are reasonably priced for a monument of this stature.
As travelers from outside China are not allowed to visit Tibet without a guide, everyone who is not Tibetan or Chinese visits on an organized tour, which are available at price points from budget to (relatively) luxe. Travelers with a specific interest in Tibetan Buddhism should look for a monastery tour.
Things to know before you go
- The Jokhang Temple is an essential stop for anyone visiting Lhasa, and a place of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists from around the world.
- As the temple is a sacred site, please dress respectfully, covering shoulders, upper arms, and legs above the knees.
- Lhasa is 11,995 feet (3,656 meters) above sea level. If traveling from lower elevations, leave the Jokhang for your second day in the city so you can acclimatize.
- Try to join the pilgrims in a circuit of the Barkhor, the pedestrianized street that leads around the temple.
- The first floor of the Jokhang Temple is wheelchair-accessible, but the second floor is not.
How to get there
The Jokhang Temple sits on the Barkhor, the historic and spiritual heart of Lhasa, around a 1.5-mile (2.5-kilometer) walk from the Potala Palace. Most tours drop travelers outside the Old Town and follow a scenic walking route.
When to get there
The Jokhang Temple typically opens in the morning, closes for a lengthy lunch break, then opens again in the mid-afternoon. While the pilgrim crowds are most intense in the morning, this remains the best time to visit, not only for local color but because more areas of the temple are open. Tibetan New Year—in February or March—is a particularly colorful time to visit, although the weather is cold.
Tibet’s Must-See Temples and Monasteries
Besides yaks, glaciers, mountain lakes, and Mt. Everest, Tibet’s spiritual heritage is a major draw for most travelers, with religious monuments like the Jokhang a must-visit. Don’t miss: the Ganden Monastery, under a 1-mile (1.5-kilometer) stroll from the Jokhang; the Drepung Monastery, just outside Lhasa; and the Sera Monastery, in the northern suburbs. If you have more time, head further afield to Tashilunpo Monastery and Palkhor Monastery.
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