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The Ultimate Tibet Travel FAQ

Author: Himalayan Trekkers08 Nov 2020
The Ultimate Tibet Travel FAQ

It has surely taken place a lot of times that you desired to plot that picture-perfect family trek up the hills or accomplish the long-anticipated after-college trip with your colleagues to the graceful yet challenging mountains. While your mind has it planned already, on the other hand, packing at the eleventh hour without knowing anything about the place can be perplexing especially if it is where you are the head of management: from arrival to departure. Do not worry, for we always have your back! 

Planning to visit Tibet but have unanswered questions? This article can assist you and act as your potential minute-made FAQ guide on the region. Get ready to clear your doubts and pack your bags, for an amazing trip experience awaits you.

 

Where is Tibet positioned in the World? 

The region is ideally located in Eastern Asia. Tibet also called the “Roof of the World”, is located on the Tibetan plateau and extends to over an area of around two and a half million square kilometers. It is the highest regional plateau on the earth, reaching up to an elevation of 5,000 m (16,000 feet above sea level) and also the northern side of Mount Everest, standing at 29,000 feet above sea level. The Everest Expedition is much easier and faster from the North Col (route) in Tibet rather than South Col in Nepal. The general population of the land includes traditional tribes like the Monpa, Lhasa, Sherpa, and Tamang along with Hui Chinese inhabitants. The languages spoken are mainly Tibetan or a special Tibeto-Burman dialect for locals. 

Furthermore, the capital of Tibet is the city of Lhasa. Tibet is spread at an area of 474228 mi2 and holds a population of about six million Tibetans and seven and a half million Chinese settlers together. With wonderful opportunities to go trekking to the Everest Base Camp, vising beautiful lakes, and revered monasteries, Tibet can be your go-to destination for a culturally submerged and informative heritage trip. 


During which time of the year should I visit Tibet?


You can visit the region at any point in time except one period, but to experience the best weather and natural beauty; one significant period is recommended: from May to October is the ideal time where you can enjoy the trip. The period mentioned to avoid traveling to Tibet is during February or March because it is entirely closed for visitors due to the profound issue of the Tibetan New Year. Get your trip chalked out at least a month ahead of your actual departure. The reason is that it can take up to ten days for the respective government to allow/deny your permit and some additional days to make the permits etc. However, due to political turmoil, journalists or media-agents are not usually allowed in the region or helped by any travel agency. So make sure you are approved by the Chinese government in such cases. 


Do I need a permit to travel to Tibet?


EVERYONE except Chinese passport holders requires a permit to visit Tibet. The first step to getting a Tibet travel permit is making a China visa, so make sure you have applied way ahead of your departure. It is very essential you make it on time, or else you shall not be allowed in any way to enter the region. You CANNOT travel ALONE in Tibet, no solo trips are allowed. All your bookings and transportation are to be handled exclusively by a licensed Chinese company and your group will be assisted by a licensed Chinese local tour guide. Remember you can only enter Tibet via China or Nepal and not any other places, national or international. Hence make sure to know all rules and regulations of a permit. You need a group visa while entering Tibet directly from Nepal. 

Always keep your passport conveniently close while dealing with a permit and such related transactions. Make sure you also bring four to five of your passport-sized photographs for purchases of a new SIM card if needed. It is also safe to keep four to five scanned copies or photocopies of the passport and the permit since it shall be required at every step: your hotel, car, and sometimes even in any tourist spot.


Is Tibet a safe country?


Tibet is a safe country if and when you follow all rules. Travelers have very low chances of harassment due to the intensely tight security but any mishap can take place in the form of molesting, abusing, stealing, catcalling, and so on. It is advisable you do not team up with a suspicious guide and rather join licensed ones while on trips. It is also advised strongly to avoid any alleys or deserted streets after night and strongly advised not to trek or hike along stealthily at night, you might be punished.

 Keeping your passport and money out of sight into a safe bag is needed, and it is better you do not travel with these while in the city. Try to avoid buying overpriced materials from the market and do not get tangled in any tumult or demonstrations of any nature, political, or otherwise. Do not buy anything made of fur or bones as it could irk tensions in the local community and visits to temples and other religious shrines should be experienced best if you can cover your feet and shoulders; i.e. dress reservedly to not attract unnecessary attention. 

Also, do not ever provoke just for “fun” any animals you see, specifically those raised by locals. Respect the Tibetans and make this a basic human decency. Always resort to the police in case of any complaints. It is always advisable that you make a proper Tibet travel permit before you go. Also, make a separate trekking permit if your travel does not cover it when you happen to participate in the EBC trek.


Is Tibet a politically safe and sound country?


Although it has a history of turmoil frequently, Tibet currently faces no political confusion. The environment is safe and harmonious for travel and Tibetans are in reality very warm and welcoming people. There are uprisings that can lead to transportation or other hikes and make traveling around the markets a problem, but it is not that frequent and generally not an issue to any tourists. It is recommended you do not get involved in any of the uprisings if any occur. Also do not discuss any political or politically incorrect debates with the guides or locals. Your guide could be punished for what you have done; please be careful. It is also advisable not to take very old seniors or very young children to Tibet, the altitude and cultural attractions might not be suited to the two groups respectively. Tibet travel and trek insurance is essential and required.


How worthwhile is the Tibet trekking experience?


If you plan to trek up to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Tibet, it can be a wonderful memory lasting with you for years to come. If you are a trained mountain climber then go for the eight-day long Tibet Everest Base Camp trek. There are innumerable experiences waiting to be explored, but a bit of research and training, and pairing up with professional mountain climbing groups can be beneficial in this case. Do not forget to pack your trek gear and clothes separately for the trip. 

Make sure to take altitude sickness medicines and oxygen cylinders if possible, they are actually a must. The city and the mountain altitudes have varied temperatures, and sometimes even day and night times have vastly different degrees. While subzero temperatures will be freezing, the cities are usually warm and pleasant. You need a separate permit to climb Mount Everest from the Tibetan side and again, you cannot embark on any form of SOLO trips. So it is advised that you contact an expedition team.


What are some of the Tibetan dishes I should taste?


Some of the must-try dishes in Tibet include the Tsampa or the Tsamba, yak meat/momos, and different varieties of tea and yogurt specials. The Tsampa or the Tsamba is a traditional Himalayan staple convenience dish made out of barley or roasted flour and then stirred with butter tea. Apart from being a traditionally accepted energy-giving dish preferred by Sherpas, it is also culturally significant in many Tibetan rituals. Another specialty of Tibet is its yak meat. There are famous steamed or fried yak momos or other meat preparations to taste from. 

You can also enhance your taste buds with special Tibetan sweet milk tea or butter tea. The yogurt there is made from yak milk and can be a taste changer. Other dishes include spicy Chinese cuisines available in different restaurants but it might be extremes for light or picky eaters or Westerners. A lot of tourists have water problems- try not to drink from tap water at all. You might catch water-borne diseases, so make sure to take anti-diarrhea medicines if needed. Make sure to purchase bottled water of brands/companies known to you from a highly populated restaurant or at least one with a decent amount of revenue. 


What are places can I visit around Tibet?


Travelling Tibet is not very lightly priced since there are a lot of permits to be made and many restrictions to be taken care of: make sure you have sufficient money. For example, a five-day Lhasa travel can average standardly cost around 1,000 USD per person and if you include the Everest Base Camp it can shoot up to average standardly to 2,300 USD per person which differs according to travel agents but must include guide service, private vehicles, accommodation, permits, and as well as your interest, budget, and availability. Here are some most beautiful and places you can visit in Tibet that are worth your money: The Potala Palace, Mount Everest Base Camp trek, the Namtso, and the Yamdrok lakes and the Lulang forest, Mt. Kailash, and many other. The Potala Palace is a declared UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and was previously the palace of King Gompo. It is now the palace of the Dalai Lama and it hosts beautiful artworks. The EBC trek is one of the most interesting and challenging tasks you can undertake in Tibet. The Yamdrok Lake is an honored lake and among the three holy lakes found in Tibet. 


To the southwest of the lake is the Samding monastery, the only one in the region headed by a female priest. Namtso Lake is the most beautiful attraction in Tibet, with its bright aquamarine and turquoise blue waters. The Lulang forest is famous for its Chinese alp trees and a wonderfully exquisite natural beauty; the forest is filled with high to low ranging pine trees and other bush spruces. Apart from these, Tibet is filled with holy monasteries to visit. They include the Drepung (once the largest in the world), the Ganden, the Sera, the Samye (considered the first in Tibet), and the Tashilhunpo, the monastery of Panchen Lama. In addition to EBC, tourists of approving faiths can visit the pilgrimage journey to Mount Kailash. This is essentially not a trek; many pilgrims climb it on foot or try to use horses/etc. to reach the pilgrimage site at the peak. Traveling to Tibet is always ideal if you start from Kathmandu, Nepal because the Chinese rules will make it hard for you to travel directly. 


How do I travel around tourist spots?


All of the tourists use the vehicles provided by their Chinese travel agencies to travel, there is no allowance of any private cars or transport in Tibet. Hence you should usually opt for a car from the licensed tour planning agency if they have not already provided you with an all-rounder travel pack. The drivers are well-versed in English. Your travel would be more interesting and informative if your guide and driver are Tibetan so that you could experience the real Tibetan experience and also know about the places better. Car rides are personalized and take much less time. You shall have the liberty to stop and start whenever you like. Car rides are nevertheless costly but can save time if you are tied to the clock. Also, remember that not all spots are open for visitors: some like the Brahmaputra Grand Canyon and the Tibetan Kings’ tombs are visitors restricted. Apart from them, you need several permits to visit different spots. You will not be allowed if you do not have the necessary permit.


From giving permits to arranging your travel plans, Himalayan Trekkers will help you in the entire process and make the experience worth remembering. Without any further delay, contact us and gather the details soon.

 



 

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