Tibet, popularly known as the “Roof of the World” lies at an average height of 4,000 meters (13,123ft) above the sea level. It is also the highest plateau of the world. The highest mountain in Tibet is non-other than Mount Everest (8,848m/29,028ft). Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet. Tibet is generally considered as one of the most interesting, mysterious, enchanting, remote and underdeveloped regions of the world. Buddhism is believed to have transformed the population from a warring and aggressive to a peaceful, virtuous and gentle people, which is amazing. Its diverse climatic and geographical conditions strongly attract people of all types from historians, adventurers, to pilgrims.
Likewise, Tibet has a unique culture of its own, having various ethnic groups including Tibetan, Han, Monba and Lhota. Almost all Tibetans follow Buddhism; they believe in a Living Buddha. Bon is the oldest and ancient religion known after Buddhism spread in Tibet. This religion is a blend of Bon and Buddhism. When Buddhism first arrived in Tibet during the reign of Songtsen Gampo, it had already flourished for some 1100 years and had become the major faith in all neighbouring countries of Tibet – Nepal, India, Myanmar (Burma), Bhutan, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Entering into Tibet:
There are 2 gateway cities to enter into Tibet by air, such as:
Chengdu has broad connections with major domestic and international cities and has frequent flights to enter into Tibet. It is possible to enter overland also from Chengdu.
Note: Chinese Visa and Tibet Travel Permit are necessary to visit Tibet.
This is probably the best way to enter into Tibet in terms of acclimatization and adventure. There are 2 ways to enter into Tibet:-
- via overland above 5,000 meters (16,405ft) and
- via flight which provides a chance to enjoy breathtaking views of Everest and the trans-Himalayas.
Kathmandu to Lhasa Overland:
The journey from Kathmandu on road is already an adventure and not just a sightseeing tour. There are chances of road blockades by landslides in summer before the border. So, it is advisable to make the tour as portable as possible. You will also enjoy the breathtaking views of water falls pouring down into the great river Trishuli. The landscape changes from green forest to barren Tibetan plateau or vice-versa. The most portion of the friendship highway from Kerung border further to Lhasa is blacktop and the drive is through the altitudes of over 5,000m on many occasions. However, there are also the chances of snow fall that can block the road. So, it is advisable to have patience until the road becomes clear.
We use comfortable jeep, van, mini bus and deluxe coaches as per your requirements. Most vehicles generally have air-conditioning system.
The amount of time of everyday drive may vary from 3 hours to 8 hours including lunch, tea and toilet breaks depending upon the condition of the road.
The choice of hotels en-route has limited options. Budget hotel en-route is very basic and provides dormitory accommodation with common toilets. Most of the hotel staffs do not speak English. You can also see the people from Nepal working in many Tibetan hotels and restaurants. Hotels except in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse are basic; most of them have showers, flush toilets and some now have attached facilities. They are likely to have a small shop, a restaurant and laundry facilities. There are many five-stars and other deluxe hotels sprung up in bigger cities such as Lhasa, Yangtze, Shigatse and Tsedang that offer quality accommodations while in the smaller towns, accommodation facilities are still pretty basic. During the peak holiday seasons like in July and August, there is often difficulty in getting rooms. We offer our tour price based on 3 different categories of tours: deluxe, standard and budget hotel basis.
Please note that all tours are available on a twin share basis. If you want to have a single room, you will have to pay single room supplement. Please inform us before the start of the tour so as to enable us to book the room in advance.
Tibetan guides have limited efficiency in English and you may not expect a fluent explanation about culture and religion or any other topics. So, he will serve more as a geographical guide and will be responsible for dealing with government agencies and hotels on the way. Your frequent questioning will encourage him/her to explain more in details.
The weather in Tibet is mostly cold and dry. You will need enough warm cloths including shoes, sun cream, sunglasses, sun hat, scarves and lip guards etc. Four season warm clothes are required to avoid the frosty cold weather during the months of October, November, December, January, February and March; while April, May, June, July, August and September can allow you to wear light clothes against the heat. As the weather can unexpectedly change at any time in Tibet, it is wiser to have a jacket and a sweater all the year round. Other recommended items include a domestic first aid kit box that has high altitude medicine (please get suggestions from your doctor), water purification tablets, toilet and tissue paper, flashlight with spare batteries, comfortable walking shoes/sandals, anti dust masks etc.
There is no restriction and official formality required on taking still and video cameras, I-pod, walkman or radios as long as they are for personal use. Printed matters considered unsuitably by the Chinese government are prohibited. Custom regulations forbid the export of art objects created prior to 1959, antiques and souvenirs in amounts deemed to be excessive. Any document or object related to Tibetan freedom is strictly prohibited and if found in possession and carrying of such materials, authority can deport the guest immediately and the tour company could be penalized. Therefore, our staffs will be co-operating you on passing through the immigration.
Food is not readily available en-route to Lhasa until you reach the stopover hotels or guesthouses. There are some Tibetan and Chinese restaurants in smaller town for local foods. You may speak to your guide for suggestions as of your taste and nature. You should bring additional snack and drinking water to supplement during the traveling time. Some canned food, biscuits, chocolates, cheese, drinking chocolate/coffee, instant noodles, nuts and chewing gum are all worth considering.
In China, they call RMB for their currency. The units of the RMB are Yuan. Banks close on Saturday and Sunday. So, you may want to carry about 200-300 dollars in cash for lunch/dinner and for small souvenirs. Money can be exchanged at the bank of China at Zhangmu, Shigatse and Lhasa. If the banks are closed, you can exchange them with the local money changers at the border. In Tibet, the only place to change foreign currency is the Bank of China. Some bigger hotels in Lhasa have exchange facilities but available for guests only.
Tip is expected by your Guide and Driver and in fact it motivates them to work harder and provide better service.
High Altitude Sickness:
People who are undertaking Tibet tours are reported to experience mild symptoms of high altitude sickness. So, it is recommended to take some measures of precaution and remedies. Headache, fever, loss of appetite, uneasiness, stomach disorder etc can cause as altitude problems. People with heart and lungs diseases should consult with their doctors before they sign up for a trip to Tibet. Consumption of enough liquid food (not liquor!) and enough rest will help against the symptoms of sickness. It is quite likely to have some symptoms in Lhasa that lies at above 12,000 feet or 3,600m. Please drink more water and take rest until your body adjusts to the elevation if any symptoms appear. This might take a few hours to a couple of days and proper hydration is the best way to keep your body acclimatized.
Some High Altitude Warnings:
- You may feel breathlessness on exertion; although some headache is treatable by aspirin.
- You may have some difficulty in sleeping and a little loss of appetite.
- You may also wake up suddenly at night trying to catch your breath.
- The lack of oxygen in the system will first affect either the brain (HACE – High Altitude Cerebral Edema) causing loss of physical and mental coordination OR the lungs (HAPE – High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), coughing up persistent sputum or both.
- Do not drink any alcohol on the outward trek. It seriously impairs the ability to acclimatize, and confuses the symptoms of AMS.
We provide reserve oxygen cylinders in all our private tours only. However, there will be minimum charges for using it.
The best time of year to travel to Tibet is from April to the beginning of November. The central Tibet, including Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Tsedang, generally has very mild weather from April to November, though July and August can be rainy. These two months usually cover around half of Tibet’s annual rainfall. October and November often bring some dazzling clear weather and daytime temperatures can be quite comfortable at Tibet’s lower altitude. The coldest months are from December to February. It is not impossible to visit Tibet in winter though. The low altitude valleys of Tibet (around Lhasa, Shigatse and Tsedang) see very little snow. Spring does not really get under way until April, though March can have warm sunny days and is not necessarily a bad month to travel to Tibet.
Average Temperature & Rainfall in Lhasa:
Photography is prohibited in sensitive areas like Check Posts/Army Areas etc. in Tibet. There is still an additional charge if you wish to take photographs inside the monasteries. Monasteries sometimes may charge you extra for each different section of the same Monastery. However, if you want to take a photograph of an individual, please get him/her permission first.
China time is 2 hours and 15 minutes earlier of Nepal time in winter and 3 hours and 15 minutes in the summer.
There are internet centers and private phone booths available in almost every town in Tibet. So, please ask your guide for any assistance should you wish to connect to the internet through a smartphone’s 3G or 4G service. Sometimes hotels will also offer the internet in the lobby only.
All travelers’ wishing to visit Tibet are strongly advised to remain fully equipped with the insurance in their own home country that adequately covers issues such as medical, emergency rescue and evacuation, trip cancellations or any other eventual mishaps.
All tourists visiting Tibet requires a valid Chinese visa and a special Alien Travel Permit which they can obtain only by joining tours organized by recognized travel agencies in Nepal. Trekking Encounters operates all tours and treks directly in association with the Tibetan Travel Companies based in Lhasa. Those who arrive in Kathmandu with a Chinese visa issued earlier by the Chinese authorities outside of Kathmandu sometimes may find it useless for entry into Tibet.
There is no minimum group size requirement for traveling into Tibet. Individual visas are also organized for those who purchase a tour package to Tibet. Please also note that Tibet visa regulations often change and hence given information may not be true at the time of your travel. So, please feel free to contact us for latest update on Tibet visa regulations.
There are many religious festivals to celebrate in Tibet such as New Year (February or March), Saga Dawa Festival (May or June), Gyantse Horse Race and Archery (May or June), Changtang Chachen Horse Race Festival (August), Shoton Festival (August), Harvest Festival (September), The Main Folk Festivals Bathing Week (September), Kungbu Traditional Festibal (November or December) are the main festivals of Tibet, celebrated by each individual in Tibet.
The agency reserves the right to amend the itinerary at the last minute without prior notice as per the local conditions.
Risk and Liability:
Trekking Encounters will put every effort into making your journey smooth and well. However, all our tours designed for Tibet will run strictly under the supervision of Tibet Tourism Authority. Therefore, our agents in Tibet shall not be responsible for any change or cancellation of programmes due to any unavoidable circumstances such as road blockade, flood, snow, political unrest, cancellation of flights, delayed arrivals, sickness or accidents. Any resulting cost additionally are payable by our clients. Therefore, we advise our clients to have full insurance against medical and personal accidents, etc. Insurance for trip cancellations and any other eventual mishaps is also advised to purchase from your home country.
All mentioned services are guaranteed.