A century ago, a visit to Lhasa took stamina, nerve and a good deal of luck. Isolated by formidable geographic barriers and guarded by its government, the Tibetan capital was truly a Forbidden City. Few Westerners met the challenge, but the tales they returned with tantalized the imagination of the world. Tibet was the epitome of all that was magical, mysterious and unknown.Today, visiting Tibet is considerably easier, but the adventure remains. Hidden behind the Himalayas and rising nearly five kilometers above sea level, Tibet is a land unlike any other, a magical realm of vast open spaces, clear light and pure color, dominated by an intensely blue sky. Two kinds of people live in this timeless setting: farmers settled in small villages who grow barley and other crops, and the roving nomads, drokpa, who wander the higher regions with their herds of yaks and sheep.Since the 8th century, Tibet has been devoutly Buddhist, merging influences from Indian Buddhism, Tantra, and the indigenous religion called Bon into a complex synthesis of beliefs. Tibetan Buddhism has inspired centuries of splendid art and architecture, serving as the cornerstone of Tibet's unique and highly developed culture.
A Visits to Buddhist monasteries and temples are an integral part of any journey to Tibet. Worshippers move slowly through dimly lit chapels, refilling flickering butter lamps. Faith manifests itself in many ways: flags printed with prayers for the wind to spread; main walls of flat stones engraved with mantra; chorten or symbolic monuments scattered across the countryside.
Tibetans are a deeply religious, open, spontaneous people, admirably good-humored and quick to joke. Visitors to Lhasa invariably marvel at the non-stop smiles. Traveling in Tibet is not always easy, but it rewards with glimpses of a land and life unlike any other.
People of Tibet
Tibetans share their region with Menpa, Luopa, Han Chinese, Hui, Sherpa, and a few Deng people. Tibetans are the main inhabitants on the plateau. Tibetans are optimistic and happy people.
Traditionally, farmers settled in small villages with barley as their main crop. The roaming nomads earned their living by herding yaks and sheep. Most Tibetans in cities made a living as craftsmen. However, nowadays more and more people are migrating into businesses. The Tibetan language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan phylum. People in U, Tsang, Kham, and Chamdo speak different dialects.
Most Tibetans are devout Buddhists while a few believe in the old Bon. Islam and Catholicism also have a few followers in Lhasa and Yanjing respectively. Since China's Family Planning program is not carried out among Tibetan people, the Tibetan population keeps growing. According to the census conducted in 2000, there are 2,616,300 people in Tibet, with Tibetans totaling 2,411,100 or 92.2% of the current regional population. The census also revealed that the Tibetan's average lifespan has increased to 68 due to the improving standard of living and access to medical services. Illiteracy has decreased to 850,700.
The unit of currency is Yuan US $ 1=8 Yuan. Foreign currency can be directly use in Tibet travelers check and foreign currency in bank of China. You can with draw the cash with a credit card in bank of china.Insurance: Personal traveling insurance should be made by the client prior to arrival in Nepal. Full Insurance coverage particularly for trip cancellation and interruption is strongly recommended.
Climate & Weather:
Winter, spring, summer & autumn are major seasons. Winter from December to February Tibet Introduce it self a remote isolated country. Major highway, roads, trail cover the snow. Air China, Air China Eastern close its flight Schedule between mainland China and Kathmandu during winter. From end march to end of October, flight operates from mainland China and from Kathmandu to Lhasa. All tours in Tibet initiate from March to November. March and November Kathmandu to Lhasa, return to Kathmandu overland trip possible. From middle of May to the middle or end of September. In fact for the month before the monsoon hits, and for the month after it has officially receded, the weather patterns are similar, so the following applies nearly the whole time that we run trips. The monsoon washes over Tibet sometimes bringing brief showers of rain and lots of cloud but mostly the main Himalayan chain stops the real monsoon from reaching Tibet. Tibet is mostly fine for the whole year and it is very rare for it to be covered in thick cloud, rather big, fluffy clouds often in the afternoon. Sometimes these obscure views but often they don't, merely add to the whole panorama. If you would like to combine Tibet Tour and Nepal Tour at same time March April, May and October is recommended. June, July, August & September rains most of time in Nepal but in Tibet doesn't rain much.
Festival of Tibet:
Shoton Festival ( Fall in Lhasa).
In august when summer is at its height, the annual opera performances of Shoton(Yogurt Banquet) take place in Norbu Lingka( the summer place of Dalai Lama)many thousand peoples go to Drepung monastery to watch the large sized Thangka show displayed there.
Tibetan New Year
It is a traditional festival for Tibetans. On the first da of the Tibetan new year that falls in February /March entire population greet each other with the word TASHIDELEK( Good luck and happiness). And Losar Sang Happy New Years children let off fire crackers and everyone drinks Chang(barely beer) and butter teas, toasting each other and wishing every body well Both in the town and country side Tibetan Opera round dances and tap dances are performed while in Pastoral areas nomads sing and dances around blazing bonfires throughout the night various contest are held during the new year's Holiday such as wrestling, stone tossing, tug of war , horse races and archery.
Saga Dawa Festival
This is very important religious festival to celebrate Buddha's birthday, enlightenment and nirvana those are said to fall on the same date 15th April of Tibetan Lunar Calendar. The festival last from 1st to the 15th of April but off course the most important date is 15th.During the period of time, Tibetan walk three pilgrimage paths to commemorate the merits of Buddha Sakyamuni. How ever, it is also a merit for Buddha to donate money to beggars.
Nachu Kyagen Horse Racing Festival
This is the most important event for Tibetan nomads in the northern Tibet, the high altitude grassland. This festival takes place from August 10 to 16 th. In Nachu town,the capital of Nachu prefecture. During this time, there is always a fair trade, and Local song and dances performances are shown of course horse racing and archery are main festival.
Tibet Travel Information
This chapter provides full information for the visitors including the planning of Tibet trips, practical information and some Tibet travel tips. Through them, hope you can have a good preparation before your Tibet trip.
Considering the special ethnic traditions, the cultural relics, the environmental protection and the transportation capacity of Tibet, Chinese Government regulates that non-Chinese citizens, including foreign tourists, Taiwan tourists and overseas Chinese must have a Tibet Travel Permit as well as a valid passport and a visa (Travelers from countries having visa exemption agreement with Hong Kong do not need a visa) to visit Tibet. A visa can be obtained from the local Chinese consulate in your country. However, the foreign journalists and diplomats are not allowed to go to Tibet as a tourist.
Who has to carry a Tibet Travel Permit?
1. The Taiwan tourists, who do not have the valid identity card of China
2. Non-Chinese passport holders
3. The overseas Chinese, who do not have Chinese passport
Note: The Hong Kong and Macau citizens who hold SAR passport, Home-Visiting Certificate or Permit to Traveling to and from Hong Kong and Macau do not need a Tibet
Since the government encourages group tours to Tibet, the permit is issued only to tour groups traveling with a Chinese tour operator. The Tibet Travel Permit is issued for free by China Tibet Tourism Bureau. Your travel agency will represent you to facilitate the application process.
For those overseas tourists want to travel to Tibet as an individual, the administrative offices of Tibet Tourism Bureau in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu (in Sichuan) and Golmud (in Qinghai) will answer for the related affairs.
Transpotation Transportation condition in Tibet has changed greatly since the liberation in 1951 when pack animals were the main mode of transportation in the region. Now highways and airlines are connecting it to other regions of China. Planes are by far the fastest means to move to the Roof of the World. There are two airports in Tibet while Gonggar airport connects Lhasa, hence Tibet, with Chengdu, Xian, Beijing, Chongqing, and even Katmandu and Hong Kong. There is no air route within Tibet at present. Traveling by air into Tibet will surely brings visitors unique and thrilling experience. Just imagine that you are above the world highest snow and cloud clad peaks! However, since planes travel fast and there is little time for acclimatization.
There are five highways stretching into Tibet. Sichuan-Tibet Highway is the longest, 2413 kilometers (1496 miles) long, built in 1950 and opened for traffic in 1954. The roads ply the uneven terrain over 14 mountains which average 4000-5000 meters (13120-16400 feet) high, and over a dozen of famous rivers such as Lantsang River (Mekong). The climate along the road presents beautiful scenery ranging from spring to winter. However, the road condition is not good.
Qinghai-Tibet Highway starts from Golmud of Qinghai, the only road providing bus service among the five highways and the main road to travel Tibet. 1160 kilometers (720 miles) long and averaging 4000 meters (13120 feet) high, along Kunlun Mountains and vast grassland, which amaze people living in modern civilization, the bituminous road is the best road leading to Tibet.
Xinjiang-Tibet Highway starts from Yecheng in Xinjiang. It runs 1455 kilometers (902 miles), winding its way among fives mountains soaring more than 5000 meters (16400 feet) high above the sea level. A spectacular view of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarova overwhelm travelers while traveling along the road.
Yunnan-Tibet Highway spans 800 kilometers (492 miles) to reach Markham, a less beaten track by travelers.
Chinese-Nepalese Highway is another main road traveled often. It stretches 900 kilometers (558 miles) from Kathmandu to reach Shigatse and Lhasa.
Among the five highways, only Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Chinese-Nepalese Highway are open to foreigners at present. Inside Tibet, there are now regular buses shuttling between major towns.
The conditions of minor roads are only passable by jeeps. In Lhasa minibuses are the main transportation, charging 2 RMB per person. It is easy to hire a taxi which is painted verdurous and silver. The fare is 10 RMB no matter where the destination is within the city. Pedicabs are unique vehicles to look around the highest city in the world. Bikes can be easily hired at Lhasa at most hostels.
Best Season in Travel
Access to Tibet
Tibet's border extends western south of China, north of Nepal, western & eastern north of India, east of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and north Bhutan. NEPAL is a main gate way to enter main land Tibet using land transportation or flying to Lhasa from Kathmandu. Goverment of China has opened its border for Tourist to enter LHASA Capital city of Tibet solely from Kathmandu, Nepal & main land China. You can fly from Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Kathmandu Nepal. Many tourists get in to Tibet driving from Kathmandu via Kodari Border and trekking from western north Nepal Simikot. From Simikot require about a week trekking to reach border.
Entering by Air & Land
China south west airline fly every Saturday and Tuesday from Kathmandu to Lhasa from April to November. You can fly from Chendu, Xian, Beijing, quinquing, Shanghai. Overland trip can be made from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Mount Kailash and can be enter from simikot western Nepal. Explore Tibet & Nepal trekking offers Group tour and individual tours from Nepal side and from Mainland China, fly in & out. One can start trip from Mainland China and end the trip in Kathmandu Nepal. Start trip from Nepal and end in Mainland China. November to may is low tourist Season , it is still good opportunity for tourists to get to know the land and people and its local folklores particularly in Lhasa , Shigatse, Lhoka and Nyingtri, The best time to visit Tibet is March to October best time; may June, September and October and April can be the golden .
Altitude Mountain Sickness and Treatment
An altitude over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) is usually defined as high altitude. Since most places in Tibet are higher than this level, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), also called Altitude Sickness is the biggest health risk to tourists in Tibet. AMS is common at high altitudes due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. Most people will experience differing degrees of symptoms at high elevation. The occurrence of AMS is dependent on the altitude, the ascent rate and individual physical condition. Symptoms of AMS include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. Most people will experience one or more AMS symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet. The symptoms will usually gradually decrease in severity during acclimatization. Mild AMS usually will not interfere with mild activity.
However AMS can be very serious, with the most serious symptoms being High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), which can be fatal. Symptoms of HAPE include weakness, shortness of breath, even at rest, impending suffocation at night, and a persistent productive cough with white, watery, or frothy fluid. Symptoms of HPCE may include headache, ataxia, weakness, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, coma and loss of memory. Both approach and strike at night and can be fatal! Immediate descent is the surest treatment.
Before visiting Tibet, get as fit and healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically. Visitors having record of heart, lung, other organ problems or anemia should consult their doctor before making the decision to visit Tibet.
AMS can be lessened or avoided with proper acclimatization, which will also ease and reduce AMS symptoms. A gradual ascent will allow your body to acclimatize to higher altitudes and the decreased oxygen supply. Go no higher 300 - 400 hundred meters (984 - 1,312 feet) daily and have a rest after each 1,000 meter (3280 feet) ascent. Medication also helps to prevent AMS. Mild AMS symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication does not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to safe altitude!
The following precautions may help to prevent or lessen the effects of AMS:
- Since fluid loss usually accompanies the acclimatization process, drink plenty of fluids (3 - 4 litres daily at least) and eat carbohydrate food to keep the body properly hydrated;
- Do not over exert and only partake in light activity immediate after your arrival;
- .Don't smoke, drink alcohol or take other depressants such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These will depress the respiratory drive and limit oxygen intake. Always keep in mind the following rules which will ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip to Tibet:
- Any sickness at high altitude is AMS until proven otherwise; · Never go higher with symptoms of AMS;
- iIt is significant that you report any symptoms of AMS immediately to other group members in the trip.
Tibet - Currency & Exchange
In Tibet, only US dollars can be accepted besides Chinese Yuan. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China.
As in the rest of China, Renminbi (RMB) is the legal currency in Tibet. Only the Bank of China offers foreign exchange services and facilities in Tibet and certain up market hotels . The Bank of China has a main office (0891-6835078) and several sub-branches in Lhasa, which all cash travelers' checks while only the main office offers cash advances on major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and Amex). Its main office is located on Lingkhor Bei Lu 28, north of the Yak Statue and its hours of operation are 9:30 am -1pm and 3:30 - 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Another convenient sub-branch lies on Beijing Dong Lu, between the Kirey Hotel and the Banak Shol Hotel. Its hours of operation are 9:30am-6:00pm, Monday to Friday, and 11am-3pm, Saturday and Sunday. The Bank of China Shigatse office, near the Shigatse Hotel, can provide travelers' checks exchange services also. Cash advances on credit cards are not available here. Zhangmu has two sub-branches also. Due to a lack of conversion outlets, visitors may have to change their extra RMB on the black market before their exit.