Tibet Travel Guide

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Tibet Facts:

Chinese Name: 西藏 (xī zàng)
Abbreviation: Zang
Admin. Type: Autonomous Region
Capital: Lhasa
Average Altitude: Over 4,000 meters (13,123 feet)
Location: 26°50' to 36°53' N,  78°25' to 99°06' E
Area: 1,228,400 km²  (474,288 mi²)
Population (2010): 3,002,166

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Brief Introduction

Tibet enchants tourists from China and abroad with its landscape, religious traditions, culture, and its unsolved mysteries. At any mention of this land, the images of snowy mountains, mirror-like lakes, Potala Palace and Buddhist disciples immediately come to mind.

Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) occupies one eighth of the China’s territory. Due to its high altitude, it is often called the 'Roof of the World' and the 'Third Pole of the Earth'. It boasts the world's highest peak, the splendid Mount Everest, and the Tibetan Plateau, where the Yangtze River and Yellow River both begin.

 

History and Religion

The history of Tibet can be traced back by about 4,000 years, during which the Buddhist religion, Zang Language and culture are shaped up. Most of local inhabitants practice Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. They maintain many unique practices, such as pilgrimage prostration and sky burial, where the bodies of the dead are exposed to birds of prey. Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and Toling Monastery are among the most famous Buddhist temples.
 

Language and Culture

Most young and middle-aged people have command of two languages, their own language and Mandarin. The people living in this vast land are mainly Tibetan, an ethnic group with bold and uninhibited characteristics. Most live a pastoral lifestyle, earning a living by raising yaks, farming, as well as by making crafts. Some cultural highlights include the thangka, a style of Buddhist painting on cotton or silk applique, herb medicine, and local operas. The local people celebrate various festivals, such as Tibetan New Year, the Shoton Festival, the Monlam Prayer festival, the Butter Lamp Festival, and the Saga Dawa Festival.
See more about People & Life, Festivals.
 

Travel Restrictions

It is extremely difficult for non-Chinese citizens to travel independently in Tibet. There are various restrictions on foreign tourists. All foreign visitors are required to join an organized tour operated by authorized travel agencies. Diplomats, journalists, and government officials are not allowed to enter alone or with a tour group. There are also many areas closed to foreign travelers, like the areas near China’s border and military bases.
 A travel permit is required for every foreign visitor. The only way to obtain a permit is to book a tour package with an authorized travel agency in China, which can help apply for the Travel Permit through the local tourism bureau. No agency can provide "permit-only" service, and overseas tourists must book their tours with a private vehicle, driver and tour guide. Citizens of all nationalities can apply for the permit.
 

Transportation

In recent years, the local transportation transportation has improved drastically, particularly so with the completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The Lhasa Gonggar Airport also operates flights to the first-tire cities of China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi’an. A few international flights are also available.
How to Travel from Nepal to Tibet
 1. High Altitude: The Tibetan Plateau’s elevation can reach about 2 miles (3,000 meters) above sea level. As a result, people will be exposed to stronger ultraviolet radiation, increasing the risk of sunburn. The high elevation also means that the air is thinner, which can result in altitude sickness in those who are not acclimatized to less oxygen. Travelers are strongly advised to bring sunscreen and medication for altitude sickness.

2. Extreme Weather: The extreme climate makes Tibet one of the world’s harshest places to live. Although its summers are cool, winters are viciously cold, and the differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures can be vast. Visitors are strongly advised to prepare appropriate clothing according to the season they are traveling in. Summer and autumn, from June to October, are considered to be the best times to visit.

3. Religious Etiquettes and Taboos: Tashi Delek is a common greeting phrase, which means “Good Luck”. And presenting a Hada or Khata, a type of silk scarf to local people is also regarded as a practice to show respect, give blessings, and hospitality. Travelers are also advised to observe local taboos when visiting monasteries. Spitting, talking loudly, as well as touching, walking over, and sitting on sacred objects are considered taboos. According to the Buddhist custom, one must always walk clockwise around shrines, stupas, Mani stones and prayer wheels or risk bad luck.

 Further Reading:

- Last modified on May. 17, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Tibet Travel
Asked by Kwooi Hoon See from MALAYSIA | Jul. 07, 2019 19:04Reply
May I know, China tourist guide can help us apply the permit to enter Tibet?
Answers (2)
Answered by Kwooi Hoon See from MALAYSIA | Jul. 07, 2019 19:12
00Reply


May I know, China tourist guide can help us to apply travel permit to enter Tibet?
Answered by Mia from CANADA | Jul. 09, 2019 02:34
00Reply


As I know, if you book a tour with TravelChinaGuide, they can help you to apply for it.
Asked by Tjaart from SOUTH AFRICA | Apr. 03, 2019 07:11Reply
I'm planning to go to Lhasa in September.
I cannot find any planes or trains from Nanning to Lhasa, as this will be my departing point.

What are the alternatives and from which cities can one fly to Lhasa?
Answers (1)
Answered by John from CANADA | Apr. 10, 2019 20:23
00Reply


You can take a flight to Xi'an and then transfer there to Tibet.
Asked by Haryanto Kasih from INDONESIA | Mar. 10, 2019 21:19Reply
We are 8 planning to take a private tour this Sept. Can we take bath every day in Tibet ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Gaia from GERMANY | Mar. 13, 2019 01:02
00Reply


Well, you are not advised to take bath every day. You are not advised to take a bath at first days when you arrived in Tibet. The reason way is not limited by the objective conditions, but because of the special geographical environment. For the first time visitors to Tibet, it takes time for the body to adapt to this environment. Even if there is no obvious symptoms of altitude sickness, it is equally inappropriate to take a bath too early.
Asked by Margaret from UNITED KINGDOM | Oct. 09, 2017 04:14Reply
If you have to arrive into Tibet in a group, do you organise group trips from Kathmandu?
Answers (1)
Answered by Travel China Guide from CHINA | Oct. 10, 2017 02:34
00Reply


Dear Margaret,

Glad to tell you we have a tour including Kathmandu and Lhasa, and the tickets could be arranged. For more information, welcome to send us an email at tour: traveltravelchinaguide.com
Have a good day!

TravelChinaGuide
Asked by alfino from INDONESIA | Aug. 07, 2016 22:05Reply
I will visit tibet on 24 august. what is the weather?
how about the internet connection? can i buy SIM Card GSM after arriving there?
Answers (5)
Answered by Annie from UNITED KINGDOM | Aug. 08, 2016 01:55
12Reply


According to weather forecast, it will be rainy on August 24th. The temperature will vary from 50F to 70F. You may pack jackets, shirts, pants, sneakers, and an umbrella.

You can buy a GSM SIM card at China Mobile branches, so that you can connect your phone to the internet. :)
Answered by Alfino from INDONESIA | Aug. 08, 2016 10:17
20Reply


For china mobile branches,what brand do you prefer?
Can i buy at beijing airport?
Answered by Annie | Aug. 08, 2016 22:55
20Reply


Well, GSM is a nice choice for you. There are many China Mobile branches. For instance, you may go to the one at the crossroad of Century Avenue and Beijing Avenue, about 900 yards to the east of Lhasa Railway Station.

Yes, the card is avaiable at Capital Airport. You can consult the staff at Enquiry Desk for its exact location. :)
Answered by Alfino from INDONESIA | Aug. 14, 2016 03:03
10Reply


Later i go there the flight from hongkong airport. Can i buy the china mobile at hongkong airport? because i dont have enough time buy the sim card at beijing airport. Can i use the china mobile at guangzhou,xining?

Thank you
Answered by Annie | Aug. 16, 2016 04:36
22Reply


Yes! You can buy it at the OK Convenience Stores or 7 Eleven Convenience Stores at HKIA. Yes, it is applicable in Guangzhou and Xining. :)
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