It is a huge region with fabled settlements hidden between some of the world’s highest mountains. Tibet is a land with an average altitude of 4,500 meters (14, 800 feet). As an example, Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, stands at 3,656 meters (11,990 feet) above sea level. Everest Base Camp is situated at the height of 5,200 meters (17,056 feet). That is why they call this region “The roof of the world”. Tourists come to Tibet to become a guests of completely different world. Lots of natural wonders are spread throughout the region. Finally, Tibet is a land of devout pilgrims who live in the impressive temples. If you are going to visit Tibet, you first must know a few things about the region.
Tibet as a part of China
Yes, the Tibet Autonomous Region is officially a part of China. After the 50 years under the rule of China, it is estimated that Tibet is an oppressed nation that have very little freedom of speech and religion. You should not discuss any political issues with your guide or other travelers. It is also prohibited to give out any political materials or photos of Dalai Lama. These actions are illegal there.
Necessary travel documents
To travel to Tibet for all foreigners it is necessary to have the Tibet Travel Permit and the China Visa. If you are going to visit Mount Everest, the Samye Monastery, Changdruk Temple and Basumtso Lake, you also need to have the Aliens’ Travel Permit. To visit some areas of military significance like Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, you must have the Military Permit. You have to be ready to present the documents any time during the trip.
How to get to Tibet
You can travel to Tibet by plane, train or car. Flights depart every day from some cities in China and Kathmandu in Nepal. It takes from 1,5 to 4 hours to get the Tibetan capital airport in Lhasa. Trains also run every day from several cities across mainland China. If you start your trip in Nepal, you can travel overland by car with your guide.
Best time to go to this region
There are three main seasons in Tibet: dry and warmer season, rainy and warm season, and winter season. For that reason, the best time for traveling to Tibet is from April to October. During this period the weather is perfect for trekking, sightseeing, traveling around the plateau and enjoying the wonderful scenes.
Things to pack for a trip
It depends on the season you are coming to Tibet. In winter you need to bring some warm clothes like sweaters, jackets, gloves, scarves and hats. In the spring and autumn months, you should take some warm jackets for cold evenings. For summer trip you can pack a couple of jumpers for cool mornings or evenings. You also need thermal underwear and socks, trekking boots and sunglasses.
The most popular attractions in the region
There are hundreds of interesting places and sights in the region. You can visit the 17th cent. Potala Palace in Lhasa, the 14th cent. Palkhor Monastery in Gyantse, the 15 cent. Tashilumpo Monastery in Xigatse, the 15th cent. Sera Monastery and Ganden Monastery not far from the capital city etc. It is important to see the large Kumba Stupa in Gyantse, Yamdrok Lake near Lhasa, Mount Kailash and Everest Base Camp.
Where to stay in the region
In many large cities such as Lhasa or Nagqu, there are lots of different inns, from small hotels to five-star luxury palaces. But the further out from the cities, the less hotels or even guesthouses you can find. Moreover, such accommodations have only a few amenities and their facilities are very basic. So, living in such places is a real adventure for tourists.
Costs of a trip to Tibet
The total cost depends on many things. You can choose the individual or group tour in accordance with your own needs. The majority of group tours provide the best value for money. Except the tour cost, you have to pay for taking photos or filming at monasteries and other landmarks. Of course, you need some cash for souvenirs.
Food and drinks in the Tibet region
The local dishes are really unique. Tibetan food is influenced by both Chinese and Nepali cuisines. Such tasty meals as Tibetan blood sausages, Tibetan momos, tsampa, local yak, beef and mutton meat are the most popular with tourists. Tibetan Sweet Tea and Butter Tea are world-known drinks that are obviously served in the local eateries.
What else is important to know about the region
Since Tibet is a high-altitude region, the air has 40% less oxygen. So, your heart rate and breathing patterns will change. Altitude sickness is a common ailment and cause headaches, breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, lack of appetite, and insomnia. There is no cure for disease. You can take some painkillers for headaches or anti-nausea pills. Your body need to get used to the altitude. If you always feel badly, you definitely should descend.
You should definitely travel to Tibet. It is a really unique place in our world. The Tibetan vacation will be one of the greatest moments in your life. As the Dalai Lama said, “people should visit Tibet, and then they should tell the world about it”.