Sok Tsanden Monastery

This impressive monastery perched on an outcrop in the southern suburbs. Built in 1667 by the Mongol leader Gushri Khan, this Gelugpa monastery, home to 150 monks, looks like a miniature version of the Potala. The best views of the building are from the south as you leave town.

The monastery was made off limits to foreigners in 2001 after tourists smuggled out a letter from the monks to the Dalai Lama. Local authorities remain very suspicious of foreign visitors and threaten a large fine for anyone trying to sneak into the monastery. If you want to try to get permission to visit, make sure that Sok Monastery (not just the town) is specifically written on your travel permits. Even this is no guarantee.