The Tibetan Autonomous Region is a place often dreamed of for years in advance of a visit. Visitors always realize the restrictions available to foreign travelers about where they can and cannot travel within the TAR. Here are some guides to help in planning a trip around the TAR traveling as an independent traveler on public transportation and where you will need to hire a car and driver. Permit status can change at any time.
Travelers can follow five steps to prepare for their journey
Step one: Design an itinerary. It is not difficult to design the itinerary at all because one will easily find classic tour guides book on internet. Tibet is a huge land and roughly divided into five tourist areas, Lhasa, Eastern Tibet, Western Tibet, Northern Tibet and Yalong Valley. Travelers need to consider where to go and how long to travel. A trip to Tibet generally takes 7 to 20 days.
Step two: Choose a reliable travel agency. Most travelers know that all foreigners traveling to Tibet must be part of an organized tour, and that a travel agency is a must. Although there are dozens of travel agencies offering Tibet tour services, only a few, like Tibet Travel CITS, Wind Horse Tours, Friend Ship Nepal are able to provide high-quality services and authentic local experience at reasonable price.
Step three: Apply for a Chinese Visa and Tibet Permits. One can apply for a Chinese visa from a Chinese Embassy easily. However, travelers should take note that Tibet is a politically sensitive place. Besides a Chinese visa, travelers need to apply for two more documents, Tibet Entry Permit issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau (aka Tibet visa among westerners) and Alien’s Travel Permit issued by Foreign Affairs Division of the local Public Security Bureau.
Step four: Think about the way to get to Tibet. Currently, foreign travelers can fly or take a train to Tibet from mainland China or fly to Lhasa from Kathmandu. Getting to Tibet by train is very popular among both domestic and overseas travelers because the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is known as the worldâ€™s highest and the most scenic railway in China. But whichever way a traveler chooses depends on his interest, budget and the length of the travel.
Step five: Prepare luggage. As Tibet is a remote place with high altitude and harsh climate, it is highly recommended to double check your luggage before the trip. Do not forget your travel documents, warm clothes, sunglasses, sunhat, skin care products, common medicine and other necessities.
Tours Not Sanctioned by Government – Some may tour Tibet on a tour that is not sanctioned by the government. These sorts of tours may rely on buses and hitching lifts from trucks. While generally physically safe, this is illegal according to local law and not recommended. If caught by the Public Security Bureau, you may be fined and/or jailed and then requested to leave the area. This may also affect your ability to obtain Chinese travel visas in the future.
Stay safe – Plan your route to manage altitude sickness; the main thing is to give your body enough time to acclimatize before going higher. Be prepared to adjust your plans, descend or spend a few extra days acclimatizing if it proves necessary. labour, donâ€™t overeat in order to reduce the burden on the digestive organs, donâ€™t drink and smoke, but eat vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins, stay warm, don’t bath to avoid cold and exhaustion. You can also take some drugs to mitigate altitude sickness, and butter is also good to mitigate altitude sickness.
When travelling in the countryside be prepared for the vehicle to break down and for bad weather. Carry a snack and some warm clothes. Water and fluids are essential.
Beware of the dogs! In the travellers have problems with them. See also aggressive dogs.
Steer clear of political protests. They’re rare, but suppressed brutally by the authorities, who do not look kindly on Western witnesses (especially those with cameras). Stay clear of pro-independence talk both in person and on the internet. You are putting LOCAL people at risk.
- use the local Tibetan dialect when communicating with Tibetans. The further from Lhasa you travel, the more often Tibetan is used.
- Avoid placing any Tibetan at risk by discussing political matters or associating with other pro-Tibetan anti-Chinese foreigners / guides / agencies – this includes anything about the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. These topics are quite sensitive especially following the recent pro-independence demonstrations in Tibet, which cost more than two-hundred lives.
- Religion is extremely important to the majority of Tibetans, and endeavour to respect their customs and beliefs. Always walk around Tibetan Buddhist religious sites or monastery in a clockwise direction, and when in a monastery do not wear a hat, smoke or touch frescoes. In addition, refrain from climbing onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects.
- Don’t photograph people without permission, and be aware that some locations prohibit photography without a fee. Sky burial sites are obviously off-limits.
- Tibetan Buddhism and its impact of Tibetan culture is a major draw for tourists. Be aware that funds used to pay entry fees at major religious sites will probably go into the coffers of the local Communist Party and its Chinese members. Funds donated directly to individual monks and nuns and left on altars will remain and be used to maintain and support the local religious infrastructure. Appreciate the work of the monasteries and those within and help support these great institutions with non-monetary donations and by attending the festivals and just spending a little time getting to know the monastic community.
- Supporting the Tibetan economy by purchasing from Tibetans is a great way to help. Pay a fair price while bargaining. Beware that some vendors may try to swindle tourists by selling at very high prices.
- Try to eat more genuine Tibetan dishes. On the edge of the Plateau this becomes more difficult.
- Antiques, family or religious items should not be purchased as this destroys the culture.
- Help protect Tibet for future generations by not purchasing products made from wild animals. Many items are made from endangered species. Remember to leave only footprints and take lots of photographs while visiting Tibet. Take the initiative and pack out trash and recyclables you see around while travelling outside of urban Tibet. The ecosystem in the Himalayas is very fragile due to the weather being so cold, so be careful of where you hike and try to keep erosion down.
- Help to keep Tibetan culture alive. It is very important to use Tibetan resources such as hotels, restaurants, guides and souvenir stalls, as Tibetan culture is gradually being eroded. It is also important to benefit financially the Tibetans, who are rapidly becoming a disadvantaged minority in their own country. When visiting temples, monasteries or shrines you may wish to leave a donation, which will help their upkeep. It is best to leave it on the altar or give it directly to a monk or nun. This will ensure it stays in the temple. You may also wish to give a small donation to pilgrims from rural Tibet.
- Do not wear a hat inside the Jokhang, Potala or other sacred sites. shrines it is customary to leave a small money offering, especially where you do not have to buy a ticket!
- clock-wise direction.
- Do not climb onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects.
- Avoid eating garlic before visiting a temple. Tibetans find the garlic breath in a temple disrespectful.
- Photography is NOT allowed inside the Potala Palace. You can take photos in the Jokhang temple. Some monasteries will allow photography upon payment of a small donation or fee. Monks begging will often allow a photograph after you make a small contribution. When in doubt, ask before snapping your camera.
Eat – The traditional Tibetan diet is largely limited to barley, meat (mutton or yak) and dairy products, with very few spices or vegetables, although brutally hot chili sauce is often served on the side. Even good Tibetan food is very monotonous with most Tibetan restaurants serving nothing other than thukpa (noodle soup) and tea. By comparison, Chinese restaurants in villages often put out some excellent food.
neighbouring provinces such as Sichuan. All Tibetan restaurants in Lhasa featured in guidebooks and frequented by non-Chinese tourists are westernized ones serving a few Tibetan dishes along with pizzas, spaghetti, pancakes, etc.
A selection of popular Tibetan fare:
- Momos – dumplings filled with meat or vegetables, steamed or fried
- Tingmo – bland, nearly tasteless steamed bread
- Thukpa – a hearty noodle soup with veggies or meat
- thukpa with handmade noodles
- Yak butter tea – salty tea churned with butter, a Tibetan staple and a rather acquired taste for most Westerners
While traveling be prepared for the bus to depart late or break down. Carry a snack on short trips and enough food for a few days or a week or more for longer journeystravel food because it’s already cooked. Eat it mixed with tea, butter and salt, or as a high energy snack by mixing it with water, milk powder and sugar.
Drink – Tea houses are an important social venue in Tibet, and offer a chance to sit down and relax. The tea houses in the larger town and cities offer sweet tea, or salted; in the villages you may only have the option of salt tea. The line between a tea house and a restaurant is blurred and many also offer thukpa.
Chang, or Tibetan beer made of barley, has a lighter flavor than a western-type, bottled beer, since they do not use bitter hops. Often home-brewed and with as many taste and strength variants as industrial beers.
The following Text was entered by chang: the yeast is still alive in it, and will carry on fermenting and producing alcohol in the warm temperatures of your stomach! Usually no germ risk since yeast prevents bacteria proliferation.”
The truth alcohol even if it could ferment your stomach’s sugar contents.
Monasteries & Temples of Tibet • Locations & Activities