Tibet Travel Information
The rooftop of the world, Tibet, also known as the Lost Kingdom, is an autonomous region of China located behind the Himalayas. Tourism in Tibet is strictly controlled and monitored by the Chinese Government. The highlands, mountains, lakes, temples, monasteries, and palaces of this exotic land make all its visitors fall in love with Tibet.
Visa for Tibet
Visa is mandatory for anyone traveling to Tibet. Six weeks prior to the travel, intended tourists will have to begin their visa procedure. To begin the visa procedure, travelers will have to reach out to authorize Chinese agents who will further process their entry permits. This permit is for Lhasa only, tourists will require different permits to travel outside Lhasa.
The visa application will be checked by the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB). The visa cost differs based on the home country of the visitor. Apart from the permit from TTB, a valid Chinese visa is also required, but citizens of Brunei, Japan and Singapore will not require it.
How to Reach Tibet?
There are only two ways of reaching Tibet: through Nepal or China. From Nepal, there are direct flights daily from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu run by Sichuan Airlines and Air China separately. The other alternate is 20 hours long drive from Kathmandu to Lhasa through Rasuwa- Gyirong port. The road is not in good condition, hence the duration of travel will most likely extend.
From China, daily multiple flights and railways are reaching Lhasa. There are seven Chinese cities (Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou, andXining) that run train service to reach Lhasa. Depending on the city, one can choose to travel by train taking about 20 to 55 hours. Xining is the closet Chinese city to Lhasa. Traveling by air will reduce commute time. There are daily flights from multiple cities in China.
Best Places to visit in Tibet
On the list of popular places to visit in Lhasa, the number one is the Potala Palace. Situated on the top of the Red Hill, this UNESCO world heritage listed palace overlooks the entire city of Lhasa. Along with the stunning views of the city, the Potala palace holds multiple historical and cultural treasures.
One should also visit the great three holy monasteries of Tibet: Sera, Drepung, and Ganden. The visit to these monasteries will have a calming effect on the traveler, introducing them to their spiritual side. Tibet will prove to be a rich cultural experience.
Apart from the monasteries, Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash hold religious importance and are widely visited. Besides the mentioned places, tourists love to visit Shigatse, Ngari, and Namtso Lake too.
Accommodation and Communication in Tibet
Most of the hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes provide free Wi-Fi. Buying a Chinese SIM card is easy in Lhasa and costs 60 Yuan. The 3G network coverage is quite good in Tibet with some places even offering 4G network services. However, social networking sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, and even Google are banned in China. Tourists use a VPN to access them.
Currency of Tibet
As Tibet is a part of China, the official currency in use is Chinese Yuan or RMB. The bank of China easily exchanges other currencies to RMB. Other than that, hotels and money exchangers in Lhasa will also easily exchange the visitor’s home currency for Chinese RMB. The shops in Tibet do not accept other currencies.
Climate, Temperature and Altitude of Tibet
As Tibet is located in a high altitude and a rain shadow region, the climate is cold and dry climate throughout the year. The temperature ranges from 15 degrees in summer (June- September) to -12 degrees in winter (December- February). The annual precipitation is less than 100 cm and the average annual snowfall is about 20 cm. Temperatures start rising from March, welcoming the spring season. The best time to travel to Tibet is from March till November.
Religion and Culture of Tibet
Tibetans follow Buddhism. Their festivals depend on the Tibetan calendar, and the date will vary from one year to another. One of their most important festivals is the New Year, Lhosar. Lhosar is a merry festival with Lamas passing fire torches, singing and performing acts on the streets.
Saga Dawa is another big festival in Tibet. It is the celebration of the birth, entrance to the Buddhahood, and the death of Lord Buddha. Shoton or the yogurt festival is another amusing tradition in Tibet, where people offer yogurt to the monks and perform Lhamo (Tibetan Opera).
Tibetan people have lost their identity and land, but they are never going to lose their rich culture and heritage.
Despite being oppressed for years and being victims of human rights violations, the Tibetan people have a big heart. They are kind, friendly, and generous. While visiting Tibet, Tibetans will likely befriend many tourists. Many might even offer them food and drinks.