Our trip to the monastery started off badly as we had been told (and indeed the guidebooks say) that you can get the number 3 bus all the way to the top and then walk around the outside of the monastery grounds to avoid the 85 yuan charge. As we were on a tight budget, this was the plan. However we got turfed off the bus at a visitor centre and charged 115 yuan to continue on the road via tourist bus. We initially kicked ourselves for not being savvy, but quickly realised that this is how the system now works and there is no option for tourists to forgo the new 115 yuan charge. Despite my initial grumbles, the monastery is very much worth the money. Visually stunning, with plenty to explore inside, it's a great half day trip. We got some fantastic pictures of the gold roof against the blue sky and this place felt like a great introduction to Tibet.
Quick tip is to take the time to walk the wooden platform path around the lake opposite the monastery (approx 45 mins). Great views, rows of prayer flags, photo opportunities and a chance to escape the many Chinese tour groups.
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