Photography in Tibet

Tibet is such an incredible place not only for the sacred holy Buddhist land but also the perfect place for photography. It will satisfy your thirst for engaging photographs. The fabulous monasteries, breathtaking high-altitude walks, stunning views of the world’s highest mountains, all presents you a feast of vision. Indeed, Tibet is everywhere full of charm.

Photography Equipment

The photography equipment should be as light as possible due to the high altitude. And a UV filter in front of your camera lens can be helpful because of the strong and intensive ultraviolet rays in Tibet. Take a tripod if you can and pay attention to protect your camera from wind, dust or rain. Keep plenty of spares batteries in your pockets. A body with good ISO performance is best here and a good selection of lenses is between 150mm and 600mm. A wide-angle lens is good for capturing the feeling of temple interiors.

Best Time for Photography

For photographers of all kinds, the best time would be from April to early Feb of next year. June – September is for Tibetan Festivals and unique Tibetan customs; April is for rosy peach blossoms in Nyingchi; May to Oct is for holy lakes like Yamdrok Lake, Namtso Lake, and Manasrovar Lake; mid-April to early June and Sept. to Oct is for Mt. Everest, etc. Before 9am and after 5pm are the best due to the strong ultraviolet rays.

Top Mountains For Photography

As a traveler, taking photos is a popular way to record your travel experience. There are many mountains in and around Tibet, which are of tourist and religious significance to tourists and pilgrims from different places and beliefs. The most popular of them is Mt. Kailash, Mt.Everest, Mt. Namcha Barwa and Mt. Shishapangma.

Mt. Kailash 

Mount Kailash is a peak in the Kailash Range, which forms part of the Transhimalaya in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. It is considered a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The mountain lies near Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal.


Mount Everest(Qomolangma) is the main peak of Himalayas, which is located in the boundary between China and Nepal with its north slope in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and its south slope in Nepal. It is Earth’s highest mountain, the current official height of 8,848 meters (29,029 feets). 

Mt. Namcha Barwa

Namcha Barwa or Namchabarwa is a mountain in the Tibetan Himalaya. In addition to being one of the highest mountains in the world, it is also the third most prominent peak in the Himalayas after Mount Everest and Nanga Parbat.

Mt. Shishapangma

Shishapangma, also called Gosainthān, is the 14th highest mountain in the world at 8,027 metres (26,335 ft) above sea level. It was the last 8,000 metre peak to be climbed, due to its location entirely within Tibet and the restrictions on visits by foreign travelers to the region imposed by authorities of the Government of China and of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Top Lakes For Photography

Lake Yamdrok

It is known as the most beautiful water in the world. the whole name is meaning “the green jade lake above the pasture”. This is the literal interpretation of the lake. Yamdrok Lake is seen as a “turquoise eardrop(绿松石耳坠)” in the hearts of the Tibetan compatriots, because no matter which angle you are in, you cannot see the full picture of the lake.

Lake Namtso

Namtso Lake is the largest lake in Tibet, the second largest salt water lake in China, and the world’s highest lake. It is located between Damxung County of Lhasa and Bango County of Nagqu region. In the Tibetan language, “Namtso Lake” means “Heavenly Lake”. Every year, many pilgrims from Tibet and nearby regions will come here. 

Lake Manasarovar

Lake Manasarovar is the world’s highest freshwater lake which is revered a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism with an altitude of 4,587 meters above sea level. It is the holiest lake in Asia and an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus and Buddhists alike. It means is “invincible lake” in the Tibetan words.

Top Monasteries For Photography

Potala Palace

Regarded as landmark and the symbol of Tibet, Potala Palace is a great giant palace consisting of many houses, towers, chapels, etc. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Potala Palace is the highest place in the world. Because of its spectacular architecture style, it is honored as one of the most beautiful architectural building in the world.

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple (or Jokhang Monastery) is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan pilgrims. It is listed in the World Cultural Heritages with Potala Palace and Norbulingka. It is situated at the heart of the old town of Lhasa and surrounded by Barkhor Street.  

Ganden monastery

Ganden Monastery is one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, China. The other two are Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery. Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409. There are dramatic views over the valleys that surround it. Ganden Monastery is at the top of Wangbur Mountain with an altitude of 4,300 meters. 

Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery is one of the “great three” Gelug  monasteries of Tibet, located 1.25 miles (2.01 km) north of Lhasa and about 5 km (3.1 mi) north of the Jokhang. And it is the one place where you can take photos inside the monastery grounds of the local monks in their courtyard debates. The mountain behind is also well known for the wall with the Sunning Buddha, which can be shot from a distance to get the best image.

Drepung Monastery

Drepung Monastery is located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the “great three” Gelug university gompas (monasteries) of Tibet. It is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries and is located on the Gambo Utse mountain, five kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa. It is a great place to shoot the giant Thangka painting.

Dos and Don’ts for Photography

1. Respect the local Tibetan customs.
2. Taking pictures inside the chapels is forbidden and it is offensive to take photos, especially photos of statues in the shrine.
3. Always ask permission before taking photographs in monasteries
4. Remember not to take photos in sensitive military areas.
5. Do ask for their permission before you start to take photos of the Tibetan or lamas.

Tibet Photography Tour

10 Days Eastern Tibet Photography Tour

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