Potala Palace

Potala Palace, Lhasa

Potala Palace
4.5
Architectural Buildings • Religious Sites
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
About
The residence of the Dalai Lama is an immense religious structure and a masterpiece of Tibetan architecture.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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4.5
2,499 reviews
Excellent
1,997
Very good
405
Average
80
Poor
7
Terrible
10

taitaimimi
113131447 contributions
May 2021 • Family
It’s grand, beautiful and very interesting. It’s a must see and the highest building in Lhasa offering a great view of the city. No photos inside. We were with small kids and took our oxygen canister, which was useful.
Written May 8, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

BhasinRohit
New Delhi, India38 contributions
Dec 2019
Potala Palace or the Winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas is hard to miss and located right in the middle of Lhasa city. The palace is beautiful and grand and a sight to behold specially during evenings. The palace is now more of a tourist attraction and has been declared a Heritage Site
Written January 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

P W 132
66 contributions
Oct 2020
Facinating place to visit. Very authentic and almost worth the trip to the middle of no where to see it. Only regret is that the tour is a bit rushed, especially towards the end and that many areas are not open to vistors.
Written February 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Icke_T70
Stuttgart, Germany31 contributions
Nov 2019
An amazing and magical place. I can't find words to describe this wonderful experience!!!
We spend a half exploring this magical place, we took a private tour to Tibet for 11 days with TravelChinaTibet (Bruce Tang) which is a local agency. And a half day to Potala palace was one of the highlights of the Journey!
I will recommned to visit the Potala with a Guide, not only to have a better understanding of the spirituality and history of the place but also to avoid being disrespectful to the spiritual meaning that the place represents. Sometimes is sad to see a Tibetan person praying on the floor and next to him a visitors making selfies with facial grimaces or jumps.
In Tibet our Travel agency provide us a great local guide, one of the best local guides we have had during our trip to China. Our Guide (Tibetan) spoke very well English and during all journey, he made us fall in love with his culture, the beauty of this beautiful land; its spirituality and fascination for its mountains.
Some day we will back again.
Written June 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Are G
The Villages, FL25 contributions
Jan 2020
History and grandeur are incredible. Ignore the wimps who whine about the steps. You can do it. Some Tibetan pilgrims go up those steps on their knees. Go with a guide if possible, much more enjoyable. This is a UNESCO site for good reason. A must.
Written January 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

KodoDrummer
Yekaterinburg, Russia64,074 contributions
Oct 2020
Very historical and still a principal place of worship for pilgrims and also a World Heritage Site. Well maintained.
Written December 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

KodoDrummer
Yekaterinburg, Russia64,074 contributions
Sep 2019 • Business
Throngs of photographers out at night and in the early morning, trying to take the best photos possible. Our tour visit was excellent.
Written January 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

vmimartins
Guimaraes, Portugal1,536 contributions
Aug 2011
All the history and data about the Potala palace is available online or in books.
So, my review is not an information pamphlet about the Potala, but my reaction and feelings about it. The first impression is the location - on the Red Hill of central Lhasa, at 3,767.19m – 12,359.55ft and the colors with the contrast of the white/dark red and yellow gold ceilings. The colors meant the separation of the different spaces: red was the school and white was the office building of Tibet local government.

Our tour begin with our local guide making sure that we understand the history and the spirituality of the palace. After that, we begin climbing the stairs to the palace – I don´t know why but I was always remembering the “Stairway to Heaven” song from Led Zeppelin. It´s hard to climb at that altitude but it´s doable.

The palace is a complicated layout of chapels, libraries and halls with tombs, stupas, statues, thangkas and rare sutras on many levels with smaller galleries and passages:
It´s like a giant maze, a bit dark and smelly due to the butter used as candles.

My only disappointment was the bad condition of some interior parts of the building.
The tourists pay a 100Yuan fee – for local economic it´s very expensive so it could be better kept. There also lots of money everywhere (offers and gifts) ??

Potala was one of the highlights of our China Tour .
Written September 14, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

wrongturnking
Australia52 contributions
Plenty of other reviews will tell you that you must see this place, so I won't say that again. I'll give you some hints which may help improve your experience.

1. It's not that bad climbing up there. Sure - be awed by the prospect of climbing 20-30 stories at such a high altitude. But my asthmatic wife who had -ehm..shh don't tell her- below average fitness (36yo) climbed without any drama. We stopped twice along the way, but mainly to check out the architecture, building materials, take in the surrounding sights, and photos. Just take it slow, and most people should be fine. We purposely made our itinerary very loose so that we had plenty of rest every day in Lhasa - it reduced our risk of getting altitude sickness.
Climbing up the stairs do not count towards your "1 hour" limit, so relax. The "1 hour" limit is also fairly arbitrary once you get inside - it is fairly hard to be enforced in practice, and it's not like they will escort you out once your hour is up. However, they do hurry people up inside.

2. Bring your passport, or you may be denied entry.

3. Avoid peak season. We went after the Oct national holiday, and the weather was perfect, and the crowd had subsided a great deal. Our guide told us that Lhasa's winter is very mild, and there is no reason not to visit during winter. There are guards inside hurrying tourists along, and the crowd and the hurrying are horrendous during peak season. When there are less tourists, the guards are more relaxed.

4. Go with a small group (3-4 people). The standing room is limited inside the chambers, so it is impossible for a big group to stand around their guide to listen. Besides, during peak seasons, there is usually no time for the guide to finish talking before having to be hurried along by the guards.

5. The tickets are booked 1 day beforehand, and an entry time given to you. This should have been arranged by your guide, so you don't have to worry. Unfortunately you cannot decide your entry time.

6. You cannot carry any water, fluid, lotion etc - just like going onto the plane. Even the guides can't take these up. They sell bottled water up there. RMB 5 for 500ml bottle. Not like you have a choice.

We booked our Lhasa tour through Adventure World in Australia, which offered the cheapest quote for staying in Four Points Sheraton. Adventure World booked through China's CITS. So you can book through CITS directly if you are game enough. Because we tailored our tour to 5D4N to allow plenty of rest, we were given 1 driver 1 guide for the whole tour just for the 2 of us, which was awesome.
Written November 10, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

OhioEngineer
Vermilion, OH138 contributions
Oct 2013 • Couples
I agree with most of the reviews that the Potala Palace is a fantastic place to visit. So rather than repeat many of the same things, I will try to give some practical advice for your visit.
1. Leave room in your schedule. For security reasons, the government will not give you much warning of the exact day of your visit, so your schedule has to have some flexibility.
2. Be well hydrated before you start the climb. For some strange reason no water bottles are allowed between the entrance and the first floor of the palace. This means that you have to make the majority of the climb without drinking any water. Once you get to the actual entrance into the palace itself - this is after the 380 steps - you can purchase water.
3. Wear a hat and sunglasses - this is good advice for Tibet in general. But on this climb the sun seemed particularily brutal and I had forgotten my hat and broken my sunglasses.
4. Don't carry any unnecessary items. The climb is hard, so leave your backpack behind. You will probably want a jacket at the bottom, but this will quickly come off as you climb. So just bring your camera.
5. Take lots of pictures. While you can't take pictures inside the palace proper, you can take pictures during the climb and from the top of the palace itself. With the crystal clear air and the bright sun, you will have some great pictures.
6. Be prepared for the crowds. While the inclines and steps to the palace weren't that crowded, once we got inside the palace proper we were back in the Chinese culture where pushing, shoving and line-jumping are considered fair game. Most of the staircases wouldn't come close to meeting OSHA requiremens - very steep, narrow and dark - add in the crowds and you will need to be very careful.
7. The walk down is much easier. The layout of the palace is such that you climb up one side and come down on the back side. This walk is enjoyable and the scenery is fantastic.
8. Souvenirs - don't be afraid to bargain, as the prices will get better the closer you get to the exit.
Again, overall this is a great experience. If at all possible, employ a guide as that is really the only way to really appreciate your visit.
Written November 27, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Potala Palace

Potala Palace is open:
  • Sun - Sat 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
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