Tibet, the remote plateau and holy land of Buddhism known as the “roof of the world”, is governed by China as an autonomous region. With its particular geographical location and glorious culture, Tibet attracts more than 30 million tourists at home and abroad annually. Especially when a series of preferential policies were carried out, more and more tourists all over the world would like to go to Tibet to enjoy its wonderful scenery.
However, before setting your foot on this mysterious continent, it’s necessary for you to know some important tips about Tibet travel. Now, please follow us to uncover the veil of this snowy land.
Part 1. Travel Documents
Part 2. Tibet Geography & Climate
Part 3. Best Time to Visit Tibet
Part 4. Means of Transport to Access Tibet
Part 5. Health Concerns in Tibet
Part 6. Tibetan Foods and Drinks
Part 7. Hotels in Tibet
Part 8. Money & Shopping in Tibet
Part 9. Safety Issue in Tibet
As an international tourist, before heading to Tibet, you need to know some special requirements for traveling into Tibet.
Different from other tourism destinations in China, Tibet requires international tourists to obtain a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) Permit (also known as Tibet Visa or Tibet Entry Permit) via a certified travel agency before entering Tibet. Only you get this permit, could you be allowed to enter Tibet and visit places there. Know more details on how to get a Tibet Travel Permit.
In addition to obtaining a travel permit ahead, international tourists group must be escorted by a local tour guide when visiting a tourists site while in Tibet (Note that this does not mean your guide will be with you 24 hours around, he or she will be only with you when visiting a tourists site in day time). So, you can see the best approach to stay away from the hassles is to book a Tibet tour with a reliable Tibet tour operator that can handle your Tibet Travel Permit with ease and deliver you good tour guide. BudgetTibetTour has been in business for 10 years, and we have been serving tens of thousands internationals already with recommendation from Lonely Planet and RoughGuide. Our Budget Small Group Tours could offer you a glimpse of what our routes cover.
The climate of Tibet is largely influenced by its special topography, geographical environment and atmospheric circulation, which forms an unique and complex climate.
Tibet, known as the “roof of the world” and “the third pole on earth”, is located in the west and south of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Covering approximately half area of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with an average altitude of 4000, Tibet is also regarded as the highest place in the world.
Geographically, Tibet is composed of three major parts: the Northern Tibetan Plateau, Southern Tibet Valley and Eastern Tibet Canyon. In terms of topography, Tibet is divided into 6 types: plateau, high mountains, middle mountains, low mountains, hilly and plains. Besides, it also has some spectacular landforms like perigalcial landforms, Karst physionomy, aeolian geomorphology, volcanic landform, etc.
Anyway, the land forms and physiognomy of Tibet is various in shapes and rich in kinds. Such a spectacular place is perfect fit for tourists who have challenging spirit, for example, you can get up close to the world’s highest peak - Mount Everest >. I promise you will never look back if you get there .
Deeply influenced by its unique topography and geographical environment, Tibet forms a typical plateau climate, which is cold in winter, cool in summer and the temperature difference between day and night is sharp. Don’t forget to take warm jacket and warm trousers if you ever want to travel to Tibet, even in summer.
The average temperature of Tibet is lower than other regions in China. The highest year-round temperature in this region is about 25℃ ( 77℉) and lowest is about -10 ℃ (-50℉ ). Notably, whether in winter or in summer, the temperature between day and night is much different. Therefore, you’ d better always take some warm clothes to prevent yourself from getting a cold, especially when you plan to travel into Himalayan regions.
|The monthly temperature of different Tibetan cities (°C)|
Moreover, due to its 4km elevation and far inland location, Tibet also features in a thin air, strong sunlight and ultraviolet radiation, etc. The annual daylight hours of Lhasa has reached 3000 hours, be worthy of the name " The City of Sunlight ". For the long sunshine time and tense UV rays on the plateau, it’s necessary for you to take glasses and sunscreen to prevent you from sun burning.
Actually, it’s hard to say what is the best time to visit Tibet. It all depends on what you want to see and do. Different seasons have different scenery, any of the them has its unique beauty.
In Spring when the climate gets warm, you can go to Nyingchi to visit the peach blossom everywhere, see the wild duck groups swim freely along the Lhasa River, or visit the frozen Namsto Lake, ect. Every scenery is like a beautiful painting that will present you a visual feast.
Note: In the past, international tourists are not allowed to visit Tibet in March, but from 2019, they are allowed to enter Tibet as long as they have Tibet Permit and are organized by certified travel agency.
Summer is the busiest travel season around the year in Tibet. In Summer, the air has a higher oxygen content than other seasons, so many Tibetans start to hold their outdoor market fairs and encampments, festivals, and sports contests at this season. You can join them to experience local traditions, arts and culture. The only two disadvantages to visit Tibet in summer are the tourists crowdness due to the summer holidays and the misty weather caused by the monsoon that might hinder the view of lofty Himalayan peaks.
Autumn is also a busy travel season in Tibet. Weather in fall is clear and cool, which is suitable for hiking and trekking. For example, trekking around Mount Kailash >
In Winter, it is a little bit tricky for traveling in Tibet, cause some roads near core Himalayan areas of Tibet maybe closed due to the heavy snow. But tricky does not mean impossible, you can go to some places at a lower altitude like Lhasa, Shigatse, Nyingchi and Tsedang. At this low season, there will be no tourists pushing and squeezing, you can enjoy one place thorough-paced. More importantly, some hotels and travel agencies will offer discounts in winter, which can save you big bucks.
Transportation condition in Tibet has improved greatly since the liberation of Tibet in 1951 when animals were the most popular means of transportation. As the development of technology, some convenient and modern modes of transportation like highways, trains and airlines have replaced the animals to become the main mode of transportation in this region.
All of the three means of transportation will surely bring you unique and beautiful scenery, among which, the train scenery is noticeable.
Due to Tibet’s special geographic condition of high altitude and harsh climate, while traveling in Tibet, you may face many health issues like Acute Altitude Sickness, Hypothermia, Sunburn, Dog bite, Diarrhea and etc.
To ensure that you can easily handle these possible health problems in Tibet, we strongly recommend you to take all available precautions in advance. For example, prepare some medicine in common use, bring a sunscreen with ultra violet protection and SPF not less than 50, and make sure to have enough rest, etc.
For a foodie, one of the important things for traveling to Tibet is to enjoy the traditional cuisine and local delicacies. To fight against the cold weather, Tibetan often eat some high protein food like meat and milk. Anyway, they have a wide variety of food. Let me make a brief introduce for you as below.
Staple food: Beef, Mutton, Tibetan Noodle (Thenthuk or Thukpa), Tibetan Sausages, Ginseng Fruit Rice, Yak wraps, etc.
Snacks: Tsampa, Tibetan Yohhourt, Momos, Tibetan pastries, Naizha Cake, etc.
Drinks: Butter Tea, Tibetan Sweet Tea (Tibetan Milk Tea), Tibetan Barley Wine (Chang), Lhasa beer, Tibetan yogurts, etc.
Due to its remoteness, the facility level of accommodation in Tibet is relatively lower than other cities in China. But compared with the past, it has been greatly improved because of the rapid development of Tibet tourism. There are many star-rated hotels and basic hotels for your choice. And star-rated hotels, including some international brands, are mainly situated in some big cities like Lhasa, Shigatse, Tsedang, and Nyingchi, and other hotels in small cities are very basic. But you don’t have to worry much about the accommodation, cause the travel agency will help you arrange the best one according to your needs.
The legal currency in Tibet is Renminbi (RMB), also called Chinese Yuan. The unit of RMB is the yuan, designated by a ‘¥’ ( the word “kuai”). Usually, the daily cost for a tour in Tibet is between US$75 and US$150, Of course, you can spend more than that, which depends on your demands. If your tour includes no meals in Tibet, your daily consumption on meals and drinks in Tibet is around US$15-20 depends on your choices.
If you don’t bring enough money, you can withdraw money from ATM, which has a limit of ¥2400 per withdrawal but no daily limit. ATMs are scattered in Lhasa and Shigatse. In addition, the Bank of China offers you currency-exchange service, there you can exchange the cash currency like US dollars, British pounds, Euros and etc.
There are many traditional Tibetan products are worth buying like traditional Tibet crafts, Tibetan Medicine, Thangka, Tibetan Carpets, Tibetan Textiles, Tibetan Jewellery, Tibetan Mask, Tibetan Incense, Tibetan Knives, Tibetan Commodities, etc. Before buying these products, you can bargain with the seller. But remember to be polite, aggressive bargaining might cause conflict.
Most Tibetans are simple, kindhearted, warm and hospitable. But as you know, everywhere has good and bad people, Tibetans are of no exception. In Tibet, violence and crime like theft, robbery and scams occurs at times. To ensure your personal and property safety, you need to be vigilant to your personal security and possessions in public, be alert to some common scams like ATM crime, and try not to go out at night.
Besides these human-caused safety issues, natural disaster and animal attack also are the factors that might put you in danger. In summer, as temperatures and levels of rainfall rise, Tibet is very likely to happen natural disasters like torrential flood, landslide, snow slide and mud-rock flow. To ensure you have a good travel experience in Tibet, we suggest you to make a perfect plan before traveling there. Of course, you can contact us to give you some advice.
In addition, due to its rich natural and animal resources, so the animal attack also is a factor that might threat your safety. Don’t worry if you encounter with wild animals in Tibet, you can scream to ask for the help or pretend to pick up stones to scare them off.
The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.
Hello I am planning a trip to Katmandu and on to Lhasa and Mt. Kalias. I am pilgrim. Let me know costs and details I intend to fly or go overload from Katmandu Lhasa etc. Thx.
Dear Mr. To***,
Thanks very much for your inquiry. Travelling to Tibet from Nepal, you need to apply for Chinese Group Visa in Kathmandu. Firstly, we'll apply for visa invitation letter with copy of your passport. Next, we'll send visa invitation letter to you and our partner in Kathmandu. When you arrive in Kathmandu, you need to meet with our partner and give them your original passport, then they will go to Chinese embassy and apply for Chinese Group Visa for you. When you board plane from Kathmandu to Lhasa, they'll only check your passport and Chinese Group Visa. Apart from Chinese Group Visa, you also need Tibet Permit, we'lll apply for Tibet Permit for you in Lhasa, and our guide will pick you up at Lhasa airport with your permit. I will send detailed itinerary to your email, please check it. Thanks & Regards
Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side