Lhasa Tibet museum finally reopens after a few years of reconstruction. It was completely renovated and modernized and displays a great collection of antique items and interactive installations. If you get overwhelmed by the collection, you can always take a break on the rooftop overlooking the iconic Potala Palace.
Location: near Norbulingka in Lhasa
Open: Every day except Monday
Hours: 9am – 5:00pm
Ticket Price: Free
Suggested time to visit: 1-2 hours
ABOUT TIBETAN MUSEUM
Tibet museum originally opened in 1999 to close for an extensive renovation project in 2016. It is said that the project cost was about 100 million U.S. dollars. As it reopened in the summer of 2022, the museum can welcome 7,000 visitors per day.
The expanded collection now features over 2,500 objects, ranging from old tools to exquisite examples of Buddhist art. Many of these items were never shown to the public before.
The museum is located a short walk from the Potala Palace on Norbulingka Road in a building with traditional Tibetan-style elements. There are 2 floors with exhibitions in the main building of the museum.
WHAT TO SEE IN TIBETAN MUSEUM
On the first floor of the museum, you will see a large collection of cultural and ethnographic items dating from pre-historic times to modern days.
TIBETAN DRINKING VESSELS
There is a large exhibit with everyday items. For example, Tibetan butter tea is an essential part of the daily routine for every Tibetan. Butter tea helps Tibetans to stay warm, energizes, and makes a great meal combined with another staple – tsampa or roasted barley flour.
During celebrations, such as weddings, important holidays, and large festivals, Tibetans enjoy barley beer. On display are various drinking vessels for tea and beer, as well as many teapots and storage containers.
Tsampa is not only the favorite breakfast food of every Tibetan but also serves as a snack during the day and an essential food while traveling. Tibetans mix tsampa with butter, cheese and butter tea and form small balls that are easy to eat. On display in the museum are containers used to mix butter, store butter and tsampa, leather pouches for traveling with tsampa, and various other storage containers. Don’t miss an impressive water mill that demonstrates how the roasted barley flour is grounded.
Aside from staples such as tsampa and butter tea, the Tibetan diet includes yak meat, noodles, momos – Tibetan dumplings, various vegetables, rice dishes, and a lot more. You will see some tools, eating bowls, utensils, and cooking and storage containers. If you are traveling to Tibet, you can learn more about the most popular and delicious food simply by visiting local restaurants. You can prepare by reading our detailed article about best dishes in Tibet:
TRADITIONAL TIBETAN COSTUMES
On display is a large collection of traditional Tibetan dresses from different regions. You will see traditional costumes, heavy ornaments with coral, turquoise, and other gemstones, as well as jewelry and decorative items. Many of the costumes reflect the harshness of life in the cold climate of the Tibetan plateau. Costume elements are made of thick wool, fur, and leather. You will also see traditional Tibetan fabrics with Tibetan ornaments and silk brocade.
Until recent times, most Tibetans were nomads. They kept herds of animals, mostly yak and sheep, and traveled with these herds chasing the best pastures for their animals. Even today the nomadic culture is very strong in Tibet and you can see nomads when traveling to remote areas of the Plateau. In the Tibetan museum, you can see a traditional nomad tent made of yak hair. The wool made of yak hair makes the tent strong, blocks the sunshine and it is waterproof. You will also see various items made of yak hair, such as travel bags and saddles, as well as some items made of yak leather. Tibetan nomads love their yaks and treat them almost like family members. That’s why you will see many yaks in Tibet decorated with bells and colorful tassels, examples of which are also on display in the museum.
In the Tibetan museum, you can see many displays of everyday items. There is a large exhibit with a traditional Tibetan house with colorful furniture, a place for enjoying tea, a setup with a kids’ game, and a lot more. You are invited to walk in and experience it for yourself.
You will also see a traditional house in the forest area, that is raised from the ground to keep insects and snakes away and with a roof protecting the terrace during the rainy season.
There is a traditional boat made of yak skin and various farming tools. Don’t miss traditional Tibetan sunglasses made of yak wool – an essential if you live in a Sunshine country with snowy mountains that reflect the sunlight.
TIBETAN BUDDHISM ITEMS
Undoubtedly, Tibetan Buddhism plays a vital role in the life of all Tibetans. Over the centuries, Tibetan Buddhism was evolving to affect virtually all aspects of life on the Plateau. It is reflected in the collection of the museum. You will see old Thangkas – religious paintings, Buddha statues, and other religious items.
TIBETAN CULTURE AND STATUS ITEMS
In addition to everyday items, there are some beautiful status items. You will see a gold plate scriptures and jade seals, and a traditional dress of a nobleman. There are other beautifully made items decorated with precious metals and gemstones, including some daggers, decorative items, personal items, and religious objects.
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MORE INFORMATION ABOUT LHASA
Lhasa altitude is 3,656 meters/ 11,995 feet above sea level. At that altitude, the oxygen level is lower compared to the sea level. For most visitors, it will take a few days to naturally acclimatize to such altitude.
On your first days in Lhasa, we recommend getting more rest, walking slowly, and taking your time going up the stairs. In addition, try to get more sleep, stay hydrated, and avoid exercising. Most people will naturally acclimatize after a couple of days in Lhasa and will be ready to explore high-altitude areas in Tibet.
All foreign visitors traveling to Lhasa need a valid Chinese visa. You can apply for a Chinese visa in the country where you reside. For travelers, who plan to travel to Lhasa from Nepal, the procedure is different and you will need to apply for a Chinese Group Visa in Kathmandu.
Your local Tibetan agency will apply for all necessary permits to travel to Tibet. It might take up to 15 business days to receive your permit, you need to arrange your tour in advance. Once the permit is ready, your agency will mail it to you. All foreign travelers need the original permit to travel to Tibet.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO LHASA
You can travel to Lhasa by flight, train, or overland. Because of the long duration of the overland journey and high transportation costs for tourists in Tibet, most travelers prefer to fly or take a train.
Flights are available from all major cities in China, including non-stop flights from Beijing, Xining, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lijiang, Kunming, and Shangri La. In addition, there are 90-minute long flights from Kathmandu in Nepal.
Traveling by train to Lhasa takes time, however, offers a great way to enjoy the scenery along the way. Cities with railroad connections to Lhasa are Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Xining, and Lanzhou.
MORE ABOUT LHASA
Lhasa is the capital of Tibet and its cultural and religious center. Read more about geography, history, and modern-day Lhasa. Main attractions, when to visit, and the best tours in Lhasa.