Unless you are working on doctorate or a pilgrim, do not bother seeing any monasteries other than Portola. Other than age, location (altitude) and size, all are about the same. Monk debate is staged for tourist... entertaining but like a reality show. We had snow in August so be prepared for excellent to cold weather. Thankfully, you can buy oxygen in large light weight containers. Lhasa starts at 10,000 feet and climbs..therefore, when you climb, you need a shot of o2 often unless you are from high altitude yourself. One last item, one of the problems with large group tours, if one person desires to visit every monastery on the list, you are stuck sitting on the bus if you do not partake. We had our own family small group so we opted out of the rest of them and returned to Lhasa for shopping. The desperately poor people outside begging for money are not asking for themselves, they need the money to gain admission and to exchange with the monks for "funny money" to burn as an offering...do not think you are helping this man, women or child to purchase food.
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