All travelers who are traveling in Tibet are requested to bear in mind that Tibet is extremely remote and isolated. The Himalayan ranges remain still one of the most fascinating but least developed parts of the world. On top of that, with its very short history of tourism (just about 15 years), the facilities for tourists, although being widely promoted, are still at a basic and limited scale. Therefore, visitors are requested not to have high expectations in terms of facilities in Tibet. You can rather take this tour as an adventure from every point of view e.g., road, hotel, visa, altitude, etc. However, we will always put all our efforts into making your journey as pleasant as possible.
How to get to Tibet?
Nowadays, there are several ways to get to Tibet, depending on how quickly you would like to get there and how adventurous you are. After the 1951 liberation of Tibet, it changed greatly in transportation conditions. Before pack animals were the main mode of transportation in the region. Now highways and airlines are connecting Tibet to other regions of China. Traveling to the 'Roof of the World' Tibet is no longer just a dream. The road is the most common and convenient way to travel in Tibet.
By 4-Wheel Vehicles:
For the adventurous, driving 4-wheel-drive vehicles in Tibet provides an incredible experience that you will remember for the rest of your lifetime. It is a difficult route, not for the faint of heart!
You can drive to Tibet via 5 routes:
- Sichuan (Chengdu) to Lhasa: 2159 kilometers to 2407 km
- Yunnan (Kunming) to Lhasa: 2317 kilometers
- Qinghai (Xining) to Lhasa: 1947 kilometers
- Xinjiang (Yecheng) to Lhasa: 2743 kilometers
- Kathmandu to Lhasa “friendship highway": 900 kilometers
The formal capital city Lhasa and other cities have road line networks of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, Qinghai-Tibet Highway, Yunnan-Tibet Highway, Xinjiang-Tibet Highway, and Sino-Nepal Highway connect all these neighbors with each other. Among those five highways, only Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Chinese-Nepalese "friendship highway" from Kathmandu to reach Shigatse and Lhasa are open to foreigners. The Qinghai-Tibet Highway starts from Golmud in Qinghai and is the only road providing bus service among the five highways and the main road to travel in Tibet. It averages 4000 meters (13120 feet) high, along the Kunlun Mountains and vast grassland, which amazes people living in modern civilization, the bituminous road is the best road leading to Tibet. There is now regular bus transportation between major towns in Tibet. The Qinghai and Kathmandu ("friendship highway") routes are the most accessible. We do not recommend any of the other routes unless you are a ‘professional driver’, equipped with all the necessary gear and backup support.
It has possible to get to Tibet by train via the “Qinghai-Tibet railway”, situated at the world's highest altitude. While traveling to Tibet by train takes much longer than by plane, you will witness thousands of miles of stunning landscape and natural fantasy.
Most tourists will prefer to take the most comfortable and fastest means to go to Tibet. Lhasa Gonggar Airport has opened with flights to Beijing, Chongqing, Xian, Xining, Guangzhou, Kunming, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chengdu (with daily departure), and other domestic and including Nepal and other international routes.
We always try to provide good English-speaking and experienced Tibetan Guides. Nevertheless, as per new regulations, guides are provided by the guide association on a queue basis. As the guides in Tibet do not get enough experience with the English language in Tibet, please do not expect fluent and spontaneous explanations from him/her. Your frequent questioning will encourage him/her to explain well, question by question.
The Chinese currency RMB is known as a basic unit called ‘Yuan’, which is substituted by the Chinese word ‘kuai’. The Bank of China has branches in Zhangmu, Shigatse, Lhasa, and some places. You can only use your credit card in the Lhasa Branch of the Bank of China and somewhere other hanging plates of Credit Cards. Getting telegraphic transfers to Tibet takes five weeks on average.
Clothes and Accessories:
During the summer months, unless you are not planning to go on a high-altitude trek, a couple of T-shirts and a good sweater will work enough. Thermal underwear, a down jacket, and even a balaclava for ear protection are essential during other months of the year. Dressing in layers is recommended. Basically, we advise you to bring clothing based on season and altitude. In addition, during the trip, you'll need down, medium fabrics, and comfortable walking shoes. Here below are some suggested clothing & equipment for your personal use during the batter Tibet tour with us.
Good walking boots, Wool and liner socks, sandals
Waterproof jacket and trousers or raincoat, Trekking trousers, Long sleeve shirts, Micro fleece, Mid to heavyweight fleece, Sleeveless or body warmer type fleece, Thermals or base layer for top & bottom (merino wool or synthetic), Fleece pants, Medium weight down jacket will be useful.
Fleece gloves, Warms mittens, and/or gloves.
Wool or fleece hat, Sun hat, Scarf, Head torch, extra batteries, Sunglasses.
A light sleeping bag would be an advantage and Backpack large enough to carry water bottles, a camera, lunch, and extra clothing, Stuff sacks for keeping your gear dry and organized, two water bottles (Nalgene wide mouth bottles are the best), sunscreen lotion, lips guard with a high SPF, Insect repellent, Water purification tablets (Pristine, Biox Acqua or Acqa Mira), Favorite snack food, Books, iPod and cards, etc, Trekking poles, Camera with spare batteries and memory cards, Insurance certificate, toiletries, etc are other needs for your travel.
There is no need to be overly worried about altitude sickness or other risks to health during travel in Tibet. Some travelers who fly or go overland to Lhasa are likely to experience some symptoms of altitude sickness but in most cases; they are mild and move away after a couple of days in Lhasa. Nevertheless, all visitors to Tibet should have knowledge about Altitude Sickness, its cause, prevention, and remedies.
Other health hazards are sunburn, cold, motion sickness, giardiasis, diarrhea, dysentery, etc. Your travel insurance should be valid in China and cover all expenses incurred due to health exposure.
Season to Travel:
Tibet is freezing cold most time of the year. That is why, most tourists visit Tibet only in the warmest seasons, June, July, August, and early September. You can travel to Tibet throughout the year but mid-July through to the end of September is the best period.
Tibet travelers are not supposed to expect luxury or many choices and options. Tibetan urban centers like Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, and Tsedang have better hotels but in the rest of our destinations, you might have to go into a truck stop or inns with a row of rooms each containing four or five beds. Hot water is provided in jugs or thermoses with a washing basin. Do not expect running water and electricity in such places.
Monastery Entry Fee:
Monastery entry fees are included throughout your tour for the monuments and monasteries as mentioned in the itinerary. However, the photography fee is not. So, kindly pay the photography fee accordingly if you keep on having the photos inside the monasteries.
Recommended Restaurants in LHASA:
- Having a meal out in LHASA is enjoyable. The following restaurants are recommended that serve cheap & best food ranging from Tibetan to Chinese, Continental to semi-Chinese.
- SNOWLAND RESTAURANT/BARKHOR
- MAD YAK RESTAURANT/BARKHOR
- DUNIYA RESTAURANT/BORKHOR
- KAILASH RESTAURANT/on the roof top of HTL BANAKSOL
- BARKHOR CAFÉ/ BARKHOR
- MAKEYAME RESTAURANT/BARKHOR
The temperature varies sharply from the south grassland to the north plateau. The south is warm and rainy. Most rain falls from May to September. It is warm from June to August. The coldest months are from December to February and crossing over the passes becomes almost impossible. Tibet has a dry, cold climate with an average annual temperature of 1° C (34° F). Temperatures in the mountains and plateaus are especially cold, and strong winds are present the entire year. The river valleys experience a more moderate climate. Lhasa and central Tibet have an average temperature of 0° C (32° F) in December and an average of 17° C (60° F) in June. The daily temperature range is great. On a typical summer day, the temperature can rise from 3° C (37° F) before sunrise to 27° C (81° F) by midday. In general, temperatures in Tibet frequently drop suddenly after sunset. The average annual precipitation is 381 mm (15 in), with the largest amount falling in the southeast.
Culture in Tibet:
People here are very unique and versatile having been influenced by the Bön tradition and other local beliefs. Mostly they follow Tibetan Buddhism and worship and circumambulate around temples, shrines, and other holy site. Buddhism has exerted a particularly strong influence on Tibetan culture since its introduction in the 7th Century. Based on their beliefs, culture, and knowledge, they have created brilliant arts and crafts like Thangka, murals, sculptures, Tibetan knives, Tibetan carpets, dresses, their own opera, calendar, Herbal medicine, language, and other unique local cultures and customs. Barkhor Street in Lhasa can see all kinds of these handicrafts as traveler souvenirs. Tibetans traditionally offer Khatag, propose a toast with their festive Chang and Tibetan Tea (Salt, Yak Butter, milk), and perform their expert singing and dancing to greet the guests, making it a really enjoyable experience to meet them.
Tibetan culture has been developing under the influence number of factors. Specifically, geography and climactic conditions - its altitude, short growing season, and cold weather have encouraged reliance on pastoralism as well as the development of different cuisine from surrounding regions.
Most of Tibet’s people live in rural areas, and a large but diminishing part of the population is nomadic (having no fixed residence) or semi-nomadic. The capital city Lhasa is the Tibetan principal center of trade, tourism, commerce, education, and government, and the headquarters of the region's major religious institutions. Likewise, Xigazê (Shigatse), the second largest city is also important for trade and commerce and the home of the Panchen Lama, the second most important leader in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama. The majority of people in Tibet are ethnic Tibetans, and the largest minorities are Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group. The 1990 census data shows 3.7 percent of Tibet's population was Han Chinese; however, this and other population figures are believed to be incomplete, as they do not include the much larger number of Han who have come to Tibet looking for work opportunities and has not officially registered as residents. A large number of Han has provoked already anxious relations between Tibetans and China’s central government over governmental policies in Tibet. Other ethnic groups, such as Lhoba, Moinba, Deng, Xiaerba, and Hui (Chinese Muslims), have smaller populations.
Travel insurance is essential for your tour. It protects your financial securities and compensates lost property as well as life security. Travel insurance should cover emergency rescue expenses, trip cancellations, medical expenses, and any other eventual mishaps. That’s why, we suggest you buy your insurance policy from your country before leaving for the travel.
All our field staff is adequately insured by the company that covers medical assistance, accidents, or deaths.