Tibet is unique. Most of the country lies above 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) and is surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides. Itís the ideal destination both for the indomitable adventurer and the spiritual wanderer. Sometimes called the last Shangri La or the Roof of the World, Tibet is certainly one of the places you just have to visit once in a lifetime.
After centuries of virtual isolation Tibet is cautiously opening up to the
western world. Tibet is an awesome experience, but itís not for the faint-hearted. Travel is often difficult and can be unpredictable. The infrastructure ranges from poor to non-existent.
Tibet’s capital Lhasa (elevation 3,700m) is a cultural city with a history going back 1,300 years. The magnificent Potala Palace, former seat of the Dalai Lamas, presides over the city. Built in 1645 on the top of a hill, the Palace contains 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 religious statues. The old city revolves around the Jokhang Temple and the quaint Barkhor market the surrounds it. The Jhokhang, built in the seventh century, is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Tibet. Its mural painting, finally worked golden roofs and other works of art are something to see. At a little distance from the old city core, Lhasa is also a modern capital of concrete high-rises, fancy department stores and wide boulevards.
Norbulingka consists of wooded greenery and three palaces once used by the Dalai Lamas as summer retreat.
The Drepung Monastery lies about 10 km from the city. Built in 1416, it is the largest in Tibet. The Sera Monastery, about 5 km to the north of the Lhasa, is another important center of Buddhist learning. It lies amidst serene surroundings.
Around Tibet, China
Shigatse(3,900 m) lies 274 km to the west of Lhasa. It is Tibet’s second – largest city and has a 500- year-old history. The highway runs alongside the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmapurtra) River passing through narrow gorges and board river valleys. Farmers plowing their fields with yaks, sheep grazing on the vast plains, awesome sand dunes and rocky hills in the distance are the scenic rewards on the trip.
The Tashihunpo Monastery, built in 1447, houses a 26-meter high statue of Maitreya (the Buddha to come). Other buildings contain images of Skyamuni ( the Buddha of our times) and embalmed bodies of lamas.
Gyantse(3,800 m) is located 260 km to the southwest of Lhasa. This trading town was a major stop on the legendary India-Tibet caravan route. Gyantse’s centerpiece is the Kumbum Stupa which is 32 m high and contains 77 rooms and 100,000 images of the Buddha. Pelkor Chode Monastery and Gyangtse Fort (built atop a massive rock) are the other major sights here.
The road from Gyantse to Lhasa takes you over three mountains passes: Simala (4,380 m high), Korola (5,045 m) and Ghanpala(4,794m). The highway skirts the Yamdrok Tso Lake before twisting up the Ghampala Pass from the top of which a fantastic view of the lake on one side and the Yarlung Tsangpo river on the other can be had.
Tsetang (195 km to the southeast of Lhasa is known as the cradle of Tibetan civilization. The ancient town offers a number of side trips that illustrate Tibet’s early history. The valley of the Kings (ancient capital of the Yarlung Kings who established the Tibetan nation), the Yumbu Lagang palace( built for the first Yarlung king), and the Tangdruk Monastery ( one of the three royal Buddhist temples) are some of the major sights.
Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar in western Tibet are intensely scared pilgrimage sites for the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and bon faithful, besides presenting an entrancing natural sight. Kailsh is 1,257 km over a mountain highway from Lhasa.
Tibet, China is a high desert plateau consisting of sparse grasslands and gravelly plains.
Altitude sickness is the effect of the thin air at great heights. Travelers to Tibet may suffer some discomfort like breathlessness and headaches before becoming acclimatized. Many hotels keep bottled oxygen.
Season: March through October is the best time ton visit. Layered clothing is recommended as day and night-time temperatures very greatly. Down jackets are required from October to March (there is snow). The rainy season is June – September. The average temperature in Lhasa ranges from –1.6 degree C.( January) to 16 degree C(July).
Climate: The temperature varies sharply from the south grassland to north plateau. The south is warm and rainy. Must rain falls during May to September. It is warm from June to August. The coldest months are from December to February and crossing over the passed becomes almost impossible. Below given is a table of average temperature, rainfall and sunshine hours in Tibet.
|| +20 to+5
||+27 to +9
||+21 to +8
||+12 to –7
You can get a Chinese visa from any Chinese embassy. You will also need a Travel Permit for Tibet, which is issued for groups with a minimum of five people. We can process both your Chinese visa and Travel Permit through our Lhasa-based Tibetan partner.
The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu is open only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 09:30 to 11:30. Normally, the visa takes three working days to get issued, but we can often get it the same day or on the second working day upon payment of additional fees.
Chinese embassies issue two kinds of visa. The Group Visa is valid only for Tibet and you have to apply through a travel agent only. But if you want greater flexibility for your travels in Tibet, or if you want to extend your trip to other parts of China, you should apply for an Individual Visa. Once you have the Individual Visa, we will arrange a separate Travel Permit for Tibet.
Your passport validity should not be less than 6 months from the date entry to Tibet and there should be enough blank pages for arrival and departure stamps. Beside passport, it would be useful to carry other identification cards.
China South West Airlines operates flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa throughout the year.
April to June: Tuesdays and Saturdays
Jul to October : Tuesday, Saturdays and Thursdays
November to March : Saturdays only.
Clothing and Other Travel Tips
A jacket and a sweater are pretty much essential throughout the year, especially for tours outside Lhasa as the weather may unexpectedly change at any time! Other useful items include a flashlight, comfortable walking shoes, sun hat, sunglasses, suntan lotion and more warm clothes.
Transportation will be either by land cruiser or by mini bus depending on the size of the group and road conditions. Trips to the Everest Base Camp will always be operated by land cruiser due to bad road conditions.
Tibet is 8 hours ahead of GMT, because it is the same as Beijing time. The time difference with Nepal is therefore +2.15 hours.
Tibet has only a handful of towns, and Tibetan cuisine is not exactly the most varied in the world. Although it is certainly possible to get some good food, you might want to bring additional items such as nuts, muesli, chocolate and other dry food. Since you can get hot boiled water almost everywhere throughout Tibet it is also handy to bring some instant coffee, hot
chocolate or soup.
Travelling in Tibet involves high altitude and can be strenuous. If you have heart or lung problems, blood diseases or other conditions that can be affected by altitude, you should consult your doctor before booking the trip. Very rare cases of altitude sickness have been reported but simple headaches, fever, loss of appetite or stomach disorders can happen during the acclimatization process. You are advised to drink at least 3 litres of water a day, not to strain yourself, to move slowly, breathe deeply and take regular rest breaks.
After bookings are confirmed, a cancellation fee of 50% will apply.
We will try our best to make your trip smooth and enjoyable as possible, but it may be necessary to change the program or re-route or hire extra means of transportation etc due to natural and other factors beyond our control. In such case all extra expenses have to be borne by the clients themselves on the spot. There will be no refund or any kind of compensation resulting from such losses or additional unforeseen expenses. So please make sure you have an insurance policy that adequately covers such expenses.