Denominated the ‘ceiling of the world’ and touted as the original Shangri-La, the mystical land of Tibet entails a potent draw over travelers looking to delve into Buddhist spirituality, mystical landscapes, and long-held traditions.
No rays of doubt cemented in the minds of western travelers, thanks to the Hollywood film, named “Seven Years in Tibet’, based on the story of a bestselling autobiographical book of the same name. Also, Tibet has for many decades been another name of dignity, majesty, and mythology. Many globetrotters flock towards this holy land, hoping for some sort of life-affirming or astonishing experience but is this the reality of visiting Tibet?
Read the full blog and answer yourself! This blog deals with every aspect of traveling in and around Tibet.
Tibet is renowned as the ‘Ceiling of the World’ for good reason: with an average elevation exceeding 4,600 meters, the Tibetan Plateau is sometimes the world’s highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometers. Challenging as it may seems, here’s our blog on how to travel in and around Tibet and get the optimum from this incredible part of the world.
Talking about the geography of Tibet, it is on a humbling scale — dramatic snow-cl added mountains loom over vast plains, serpentine highways weave their way through high passes bedecked with bedecked prayer flags, while shimmering turquoise lakes sit in the shade of centuries-old glaciers. Haven to several of the world’s highest peaks and the celebrated Everest Base Camp, Tibet is potent enough to impress even the most hardened backpackers.
But amidst the jaw-dropping natural landscapes in Tibet, it’s the locals of Tibet that truly move most of the travelers. Despite mass modernization and dilution of their culture under China’s influence, Tibet remains untouched from the world of modern theme and is a resilient land dominated by a rich culture along with deep faith.
Tibet is full of glorious monasteries rich with the aroma of butter tea, prayer halls of chanting monks, and streets lined with prayers’ wheels all nudge us that, Tibet is a land of majestic past, eclectic mix of present and a delightful future.
For many of us, Tibet is still a mysterious and strange region at the end of the earth. These days the idea of traversing to Tibet is very popular, but few flocks there. What is so alluring about Tibet? Why do so many people want to make it to Tibet? After a look at the reasons below, you too will start fancying about a tour to Tibet.
Here are a few reasons:
Believe us! Tibet is a puzzling place even for Chinese people. Nowadays many young Chinese people talk about embarking on a month-long bike ride from Chengdu to Tibet, but this infrequently happens.
Hence, to traverse through the roads less traveled and community less exposed, one should travel to Tibet.
Tibet is the region and a pool of tropical and exotic scenery. We should not forget that the tallest mountains in the world reside in this area.
Even without climbing the Himalayas we will be catching the mesmerizing vista of those snow-capped mountains and nice-looking glaciers. As we walk our way up we’ll feel close to the big blue sky; at night we’ll feel as we can pick stars right out of the sky.
Maybe the high altitude of Tibet has avoided the haphazard development of the Tibetan plateau so as a consequence, there is much less pollution, comparatively.
Because the Tibetan region is so religious and the environment is pretty pure, Tibet can be a place to take a temporary break from modern life and contemplate the spiritual aspect. Perhaps you will be super-amazed while witnessing the religious devotion of the locals. It is no wonder many people make it to Tibet to cleanse their souls, test their body and refresh minds.
Independent travel is not entertained in Tibet. Foreign travelers need to prearrange a tour to obtain a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permit; only Chinese and Hong kong travelers can enter freely without a visa. We, at The Nepal Trekking, are running Tibet tours for more than a decade now, will help you obtain a TTB when you book a tour with us.
We will help you to travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and other famous trips to Tibet. We will be more than happy to assist you all to explore the holy landscape of Tibet.
NO worries! Tibet can be visited all year round — but the perfect time to explore is in Spring and Summer (from April to October) when Tibet’s weather is mild and almost regions of Tibet are accessible by roads. This also depends largely on our Tibet itinerary as few parts can only be traversed in Summer (for instance, Mount Kailash is covered with snowflakes throughout the year except in summer.)
Also, most of the Tibetan festivals fall in spring and summer too, including the month-long Saga Dawa Festival (primarily observed to mark the birth of Buddha, enlightenment, and Nirvana). Other are the week-long Shoton festival (Tibetan opera performance and Buddha Thangka unfolding ceremony) and Nagqu horse racing festival. Hence, Tibet travel is obviously at its best in spring and summer.
On the flip side, winter is low season for travel in Tibet, as the dropping level of mercury can get quite extreme at such high altitudes. We generally wouldn’t recommend visiting random cold destinations in and around Tibet which goes below 0 degrees Celsius.
Normally, flights to Tibet are quite high-priced, and mostly many people tend to suffer from altitude sickness when flying straight into Lhasa. So, it is highly recommended to take a flight via other cities in China or Kathmandu (the only international transit point in Nepal) to get to Lhasa regardless of where you’re coming from.
Additionally, an alternative way to enter into Tibet is on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. This railway track is the highest railway in the world, with more than 960 km (600 miles) at an elevation of more than 4,000 m (13,123 ft) and almost half of the tracks lie on permafrost. The rail journey gets commences from Beijing, the capital of China, taking 40 hours to reach Lhasa.
On the straight note, the landscape only begins to amaze from Xining onward, tranquil past high-altitude lakes, vast plains, and mountains. Train tickets are not so cheap, at around US$280 for a soft sleeper and $200 for a hard sleeper (prices may vary depending on seasons) each way.
International visitors are not permitted to take public transport in Tibet. As mentioned, we need to manage a tour to enter Tibet and roam around the region. Our tours always include transportation that will not only take you around Tibet but also will help you to explore it in depth.
However, holidaymakers are liberal to explore Lhasa’s markets, squares and old town on their own. There are a handful of things to experience in Lhasa, and you can readily spend a week there exploring the holy temples, palaces, and narrow alleys.
All in all, you only need to be facilitated by a trip guide when exploring tourist attractions (any monastery and temple). Cabs are easily available in Lhasa and a one-way journey anywhere in the city costs you around 10 Yuan (approximately US$1.50).
Most trips include accommodation in Tibet. On our trip, we will be a managing stay at comfortable and standard hotels that offer surprisingly luxurious accommodation right in the mid-part of Lhasa and Shigatse. Indeed, accommodation should be location-friendly.
For more, It is authorized to explore Lhasa on your own and we can easily book hotels in Lhasa online too. Prices are pretty affordable — $50-$60 can get you a worthy three-star hotel in the historical center.
When talking about the culinary facet in Tibet, expecting gourmet meals is a joke; traditional Tibetan fare is-simple and basic. As we have already mentioned in our Tibetan food blog, Tibetans are well depended on Tsampa (barley flour) and butter tea, but these days many Chinese dishes have been introduced to their culinary diet. There’s no scarce of Chinese fare around, but if we won’t find anything beyond that out of Lhasa.
Most of the tea houses serve typical items like Yak mo: mo (steamed dumplings with yak meat), Tibetan noodles in broth, and stir-fried vegetables with rice. Chinese items that are usually common on the menu include chili chicken, double-fried pork meat, cashew chicken, and yak’s meat mixed with vegetables. Also, in Lhasa, we will find international restaurants serving Pizzas as well as Nepali and Indian Thali sets.
Traveling in and around Tibet isn’t economical as we need to go on a tour to travel there. It’s peculiarly high-priced if you want to spend more than a week there and explore more remote regions. For a week-long tour, we should expect to expense at least US$ 900 for all accommodation, guides, and visas.
Because of the rigid competition, trip prices you encounter online are usually around the same range. Our tours from Leaf Holidays Treks and Expedition are reasonably priced, keeping the quality of accommodation, the solace of our transportation and the full-fledged services from our guide and driver.
There are no safety issues when it comes to safety and security in Tibet. If you have all the papers, permits and guided activities, it is not a matter of worry.
It is always crucial to maintain a healthy body during our travel. The capital city of Lhasa itself sits at 3,550m above sea level, while Everest Base Camp stays at 5,088m. For a few of us, at such dizzying heights, it can be easily prone to suffer from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) if you don’t take the time to acclimatize yourselves.
As we all know that, Tibetans, on the other hand, are genetically adapted to residing at higher altitudes. They have comparatively more red blood cells than most of us and that simplifies them to live with the lesser amount oxygen at even at soaring altitudes.
Most people flying into Lhasa tend to suffer from AMS; symptoms might include lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath and headaches. Just make sure that you have got some Diamox (Acetazolamide) before embarking on a trip and start the medication at least one day before landing in Lhasa in the case of need. Giving yourself plenty of time to rest and acclimatize in Lhasa before you start traversing is not also a bad idea, though.
The perfect time to explore Tibet is from May to October when summer sunshine melts the snows and roads with high passes are free to travel. It is highly recommended in autumn for fiery foliage or spring for wildflower sprawling as natural carpets. If you’re just heading for Lhasa, however, don’t discount winter – when Himalayan snows offer breathtaking scenes.
Witnessing monks at Sera Monastery debate can be a pupil-dating experience.
You can also pay a holy visit to the legendary Potala Palace, an iconic landmark of Tibet and the most renowned building across the country. This used to be a fortress like haven of nine Dalai Lamas but is sad and acts as a museum now.
The jaw-dropping vistas from Shigatse to Lhasa will bring WOW to everyone’s soul while traveling through lime-green barley fields, pristine turquoise lakes, time-warped villages and mountains studded with Chortens.
As a concluding stanza, we would like to invite you all of our readers to come along with us [Leaf Holidays Treks and Expedition] so that we can assist you to ramble around the roof of the world, Tibet.
P.S. If there are any queries regarding Tibet trip, please write to us. We would be more happy to help, recommend, respond, guide, as well as collaborate. Please feel free we are here to serve you and make your trips most out of it.