Tibet Travel Guide

Tibet is a provincelevel autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It was created in 1965 on the basis of an administrative region which had been incorporated into China in 1951.Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft) for which it is calledthe roof of the world.  With its raw high altitude valleys and lakes,smell of juniper incense, the low murmur of Tibetan chanting and the warm glow of butter lamps in monasteries, Tibet is uniquely a spiritual place of magnificent monasteries, remote retreats and pilgrim paths. With an average altitude over 4,000m (13,120ft), Tibet possesses more than fifty peaks above7,000m (22,960ft) and eleven peaks over 8,000m (26,240ft). Bordered by China, India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Burma and Kashmir, Tibet is home of over two million people of rich ancient cultures.

 


Climate
Climate is not such a major consideration when visiting Tibet as many people might imagine. Winters (November to March)are cold (the average temperature in January is -2 degree Centigrade) but there is not much snow. Summers (May to September) have warm days with strong sunshine and cool nights. Spring, early summer and late autumn are the best times to visit Tibet. Mt Everest is particularly clear during April and May.
From mid-July through to the end of September the monsoon starts to affect parts of Tibet. (The months of July and August bring half of Tibet’s annual rainfall.) Travel to western Tibet becomes slightly more difficult, the roads to the east are temporarily washed out and the Friendship Hwy sometimes becomes impassable. Trips to Mt Kailash can be undertaken from April to October, although September and October are considered the best months. October is also the best time to make a trip out to the east.Lhasa and its environs don’t get really cold until the end of November. New Year (Losar) in January or February is an excellent time to be in Lhasa, as is the Saga Dawa festival in April or May.

 


Culture
Tibetans are such a deeply religious people that a basic knowledge of Buddhism is essential in understanding their world. Traditionally there have been at least three distinct segments of Tibetan society; the drokpa(nomads); the rongpa(farmers) and thesangha(monks and nuns). Each lead very different lives but share a deep faith in Buddhism.Pilgrimage has been raised to a level of particular importance. The ideas of accumulating merit, of sending sons to be monks, walking long distances to visit sacred places, and of devotion to the sanctity and power of natural places are all elements of the unique fusion between Buddhism and the older Bon faith.

 

 

Visas & Travelling Permit
Visas for individual travel in China are easy to get from most Chinese Embassies. But the Chinese Visa and Tibet Permits are different.All travelers entering Tibet must also obtain SPECIAL TRAVEL PERMITS from the Tibetan Tourism Bureau (TTB), Lhasa which is required to buy an air ticket into Tibet.One cannot travel to Tibet with Chinese Visa.  So, visitors need to enterTibet either through mainland China or Nepal. TRAVELLERSMUST OFFICIALLY BE PART OF A GROUP TOUR with a guide who will help dealing with the Chinese authorities at checkpoints. If you are traveling to Tibet via Nepal, you must obtain the Chinese visa which must be issued by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu but if you are planning to enter Tibet via mainland China, you need to get the Chinese visa from Chinese Embassy in your home country.As soon as you book the trip, Alpine Club of Himalaya arranges for the Tibet Travel Permits, for which you need to send us the copy of your passportif you wish to enter Tibet via Nepal and copies of your passport and Chinese Visaif you wish to enter Tibet via mainland China.

 

1.    Your passport should be valid for at least six months before travelling. Visa is not provided to the passports with less than six months’ validity. You need two passport-sized photos for the visa application.
2.    All Tibet permits can be obtained using photocopy of your passport but you need your original passport to apply for Chinese visa. Visa section in Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu is open on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday only from 10:00 hrs. to 11:30 hrs. for submitting and collecting passports.Normally Chinese Embassy takes 5 working days to issue the tourist visa but they issue visa even in a day charging an extra Urgent Visa Fee on top of normal fee.
3.    Travelers must use the same passport for Nepal and Tibet.
4.    Itinerary and the places to visit in Tibet must be stated clearly and finalized in advance because while applying for a Chinese visa from Kathmandu, a copy of this should be attached. Travel permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau (Lhasa) is obtained according to the places mentioned in the itinerary.
5.    The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu does not issue Chinese visas to individual travelers and will even cancel any existing Chinese visa once you apply for it from Nepal.
6.    Travelers are not allowed to carry any Tibetan religious books, literatures, photographs, especially related to Dalai Lama during your travel to Tibet. Possessions of such are confiscated and you are not allowed to enter Tibet.
7.    Rules and regulations regarding Chinese visa and Tibet travel permit keeps on changing very often, therefore we suggest our customers to consult us regarding the visa issues so that your all programs and plans goes smoothly without any obstacles.

 

Getting into Tibet
Tibet is accessible from either mainland China or NepalONLY.
Kathmandu –Lhasa is the only international flight to/from Tibet and the Friendship Highway connecting Nepal and Tibet (China) is the only international highway in Tibet.
For getting into Tibet the most popular options are:
By Air: Take a flight to Gonggar Airport, Lhasa, Tibet either from Kathmandu (Nepal), Chengdu (China), Zhongdian(China) or Beijing (China). Flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa run four times a week in the high summer season and twice a week in the low winter season.
By Rail: Take a train that links Qinghai (mainland China)to Lhasa (Tibet).
By Road: Or choose an overland drive over 865km stretch of road named Friendship Highway  from Kathmandu (Nepal) to Lhasa (Tibet).

NOTE: Whichever way you enter Tibet, from China or from Nepal , you will have to be officially part of a group tour purchasing a three to eight day package tour through a travel company. Please contact usfor a hassle free and enjoyable Tibet tour package of your choice and Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permits.

 

Customs
•    Legally bring in or take out only Y6000in Chinese currency and MUST declare any cash amount exceeding US$ 5000 or its equivalent.
•    Illegal to carry any printed material, film, tapes etc detrimental to China's politics, economy, culture and ethics.
•    Illegal to bring into China pictures, books, videos or speeches of or by Dalai Lama and even more illegal is to carry images of Tibetan National Flag.
•    Anything made in China before 1949 is considered antique and anything made before 1795 cannot legally be taken out of the country.

 

Health
Tibet is a remote location, so make sure you are as healthy as possible before you start travelling.
Like Nepal, Tibet (China) too doesn’t officially require any immunization for entry into the country. The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever, in case you have visited a country in the yellow fever zone within six days prior to entering Nepal.

 

 

Medical checklist
Following is a list of items that you should consider including in your medical kit:
•    Antibiotics – useful for everyone travelling to Tibet to avoid risks of receiving poorly stored local medications; see your doctor, as antibiotics must be prescribed, and carry the prescription with you
•    Antifungal cream or powder – for fungal skin infections and thrush
•    Antihistamine – for allergies, eg hay fever; to ease the itch from insect bites or stings; and to prevent motion sickness
•    Antiseptic (such as povidone-iodine) – for cuts and grazes
•    Bandages, Band-Aids (plasters) and other wound dressings
•    Calamine lotion, sting-relief spray or aloe vera – to ease irritation from sunburn and insect bites or stings
•    Cold and flu tablets, throat lozenges and nasal decongestant
•    Insect repellent, sunscreen, lip balm and eye drops
•    Loperamide or diphenoxylate – ‘blockers’ for diarrhoea
•    Multivitamins – for long trips, when dietary¬ vitamin intake may be inadequate
•    Paracetamol (acetaminophen in the USA) – for pain or fever
•    Prochlorperazine or metaclopramide – for nausea and vomiting
•    Rehydration mixture – to prevent dehydration, which may occur, for example, during bouts of diarrhoea; particularly important when travelling with children
•    Scissors, tweezers and a thermometer – note that mercury thermometers are prohibited by airlines
•    Sterile kit – in case you need injections
•    Water purification tablets or iodine

 


Insurance
Tibet is a remote location, and if you become seriously injured or very sick, you may need to be evacuated by air.  Be sure your policy covers evacuation along with medical, theft and loss and all the adventure activities in your trip.

 

 

Money
The currency in Tibet is Chinese Yuan. The Bank of China can exchange all foreign currencies. The banks in Tibet (China) are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Travelers Cheques and credit cards are very difficult to be cashed outside the banks especially outside Lhasa. ATM facilities are easily available in Lhasa and Shigatse; however, it may be difficult to find one in other smaller towns or in remote places.Moneychangers at Zhangmu (by the Nepalborder) will change Yuan into Nepali rupees and vice versa.