Tibet Travel Information

Tibet has long been known as the Roof of the world. It is in the south western part of China bordering India, Bhutan, Sikkim Nepal. The region is full of spectacular skylines of majestic mountain peaks, breathtaking canyons, scattered highland lake, rolling pasture & farm land & pristine forests. The population of the region consists mostly of Tibetans, Monbans & Lhobans cultivating for centuries very unique ethnic traditions & glorious cultures unseen any where else. This is a land of enduring enchantment & tantalizing mystery.

For centuries, Tibet has fascinated mankind. This land beyond the mighty Himalayas on the highest plateau of the world, was hardly accessible to the outside world. Maya Holidays, a leading Tibet tours & treks operator offers its various fascinating packages for you to experience & make that one dream that you have always cherised -to come true.

First & foremost, all visitors traveling to Tibet are kindly requested to have the understanding that Tibet being extremely remote & isolated by the formidable Himalayan ranges still remains one of the most captivating but least developed parts in the world. Within its very short history of tourism the facilities provided to visiting tourists are still at basic and limited scale. So the visitors are requested not to have high expectations in terms of facilities in Tibet. However we will always put in all our efforts to make your visit as pleasant as possible. The roads, especially the highway from Kathmandu can be rough & is subject to blockages due to land slides & floods & the high altitude does pose a serious threat to quite a few people. The average altitude of the Tibetan plateau is 4000m above the sea level & that is a lot higher than most people have been in their lives.

Location

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Asia

Area

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471,700sq. Miles Border 2.5 million sq. km, appro. The size of Western Europe.

Terrain

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70% Grassland, from high plateau to tropical forest.

Climate

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Average temperature 28 degrees Celsius (Summer) 15degrees Celsius (in which), extremely dry except during raining season (July- August)

Population

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2.62 million

Ethnic groups

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Ethnic Tibetans, Menba, Lhoba, Mongols, Hui and a growing number of Han Chinese.

Religions

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Tibetan Buddhism, and Animism

Culture

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Wedding, Funeral

Languages

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Tibetan, Chinese

Festivals

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Tibetan New Year, shoton festival, Bathing Festival

Currency

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Chinese Yuan Renmindi (CNY)

Time

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Local Time = UTC + 8h6


Entry Procedure

All individuals entering Tibet must hold a passport valid for at least six months. If you are entering Tibet from China, your Chinese visa must be valid. Only travelers with tourist visas (not business, resident or student visas) are permitted. Entering Tibet from Nepal, either by friendship highway or by air requires a separate visa valid for Tibet from the Chinese embassy in Katmandu (30-60 day visas are the normal and it normally takes 2 weeks to obtain it.). You may apply for a group visa from us (minimum of two people in a group and you must leave China with this person unless you can change the visa inside China).

You are required to present this document when boarding the flight to Tibet. Mountain Delights make all necessary arrangements to obtain the correct documentation for you if you book a tour with us.

Tibet Entry Permit is not available by independent travelers at the moment(at least before the Olympics). Travelers have to travel in tour group and ask their travel agent to apply it for you. Please prepare the following documents before asking your travel agent to apply permit.

  • a copy of your Passport;
  • a copy of your China visa (tourist visa);
  • Full names, gender, Date of Birth, Passport number, nationality, occupation;
  • Additional Requirements for F visa customers

If you are F visa (business visa) holders, you are required to provide additional information to Tibet Tourism Bureau to get a Tibet

Entry Permit:

If you are working in China, a certification in Chinese by your company in China is required; If you are invited to China for business, research, lecture, scientific-technological and culture exchanges, short-term advanced studies or inter practice for a period of no more than six months, a certification by your Chinese travel agency is required.

As for the certification, you are required to provide your full names, nationality, passport number, dates of entry and exit China, and the stamps of your company or your travel agency.

Tibet - Getting there

Getting to Tibet can be either very easy or very difficult, according to the way you travel.

Get to Tibet by Air Plane
For typical tourists, the best way to get there is to take a plane. There are flights to Gongkar airport, 95km (59mi) from Lhasa, from Beijing, Chengdu(daily departure!), Chongqing, Xining, Chamdo, Xian, Zhongdian, and Kathmandu. Click on the following link to get the full flight timetable on a new page.

A Full Flight Timetable in and out of Lhasa
Chengdu is a very important hub city for flights going to and from Tibet. There are at least two flights form Chengdu to Lhasa EVERYDAY. If you want to go there from Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou, you have to make a stop in Chengdu. Anyway, Chengdu is the best place to see Giant Panda Bears, and the Ancient Sanxingdui Ruins, the "terro-cotta warriors No. 2", is also in Chengdu. So an overnight stay in Chengdu is a good idea.

The flights going to Lhasa from Chengdu are all very early, and the planes are all Airbus A340, very comfortable ones. The flight itself is a great experience. When you look out of the window about 20 minutes before landing, you will see a breath-taking and incredibly beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains!

Bird View from Aircraft
On the way to Lhasa, the plane flew ever soooo closely to the snow capped mountains, so close that I could almost touch the peaks! Never have I seen so many mountain peaks at an altitude of over 7000 meters concentrated in a single location! Yes, Tibet has numerous of them! It was quite an exhilarating experience even if I only got to see it from the inside of the plane.

Drive to Tibet in 4 Wheel Vehicles!
For those very adventurous people, driving a 4 wheel-drive vehicle to Tibet is an incredible choice that will be remembered for the rest of your life. This drive does require a lot of courage and determination.

You can drive to Tibet via 5 routes:

  • Sichuan (Chengdu) to Lhasa : 2159 kilometers to 2407 km
  • Yunnan (Kunming) to Lhasa: 2317 kilometers
  • Qinghai (Xining) to Lhasa: 1947 kilometers
  • Xinjiang (Yecheng) to Lhasa: 2743 kilometers
  • Kathmandu to Lhasa

Among the above routes, driving from Qinghai or Kathmandu ("friendship highway") is the easiest route. We do not recommend that you drive to Tibet using any of the other routes unless you are a professional driver and an adventurer with all of the necessary gear and backup support.

Access Tibet Tour can operate 4 wheel driving tours to Tibet. If you would like to take a real adventure by driving all the way to the rooftop of the world, please click here to contact us .

Travel to Tibet by Train
A modern train runing on the Qinghai-Tibet railway going to Lhasa
First time for the Tibetans taking a train on the roof of the world
Now you can take a train to Tibet on the worlds highest Qinghai-Tibet railway! By traveling on a train to Tibet, although it takes much longer time than by plane, you can enjoy the wonderful landscapes and unique experience of seeing thousands of miles of the worlds roof. landscapes and unique experience on the thousands miles of "world-roof".

Tibet - Travel Permit & Visa

There are two kinds of permits (Tibet visa) for traveling in Tibet: the entry permit (TTB permit) and the Aliens travel permit (PSB permit). You can get them easily from Access Tibet Tour.

TTB Permit - Tibet Entry Permit (Tibet visa)

When you fly from any city to Lhasa you will need to show this permit when you check in at the airport. Furthermore, whenever you buy a flight to Lhasa you need to show this permit. TTB permits are also needed by groups traveling by Land Cruiser but this will be arranged by the travel agency organizing the trip. Here is a picture of TTB permit (click on the picture to enlarge):

PSB Permit - Aliens Travel Permit

If you want to go further to the "unopened" areas, you need an Aliens travel permit issued by PSB of Tibet. It is called "Aliens Travel Permit" or "PSB permit".

Tibet Festival Tibetan New Year (February)

It is the greatest festival in Tibet . In ancient time, when the peach tree was in blossom it was considered as the starting of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 A.D the first day of the first month became fixed as the New Year. On the new years day families unite auspicious dipper is offered & the auspicious words Tashi Delek are greeted.

Great prayer festival (February)

It is the greatest religious festival in Tibet . Instituted by Tsong Khapa in 1409. The founder of the Gelukpa sect. Monks from the three great Monasteries of the Tibet of Tibet assemble in Jokhang for prayer to Shakyamunis image as if it were the living Buddha. Philosophical debates are held among candidates for the doctor of Metaphysics. Pilgrims come from every corner of Tibet & donations are offered to monks.

Butter Lamp (February)

t is the last day of the great prayer festival. In order to celebrate Shakyamunis victory over non-Buddhist opponents. The lord of Neu Dzong a noted patron of Tsongkapa illuminated numerous butter lamps in 1409. Ever since the festival has flourished.

Saga Dawa Festival (May or June)

It is the holiest in Tibet , memorable occasions coincide on this day, Buddhas birth and Buddhas enlightenment. Almost every person within Lhasa joins in circumambulations round the city to spend their late afternoon on picnic at Dzongyab Lukhang" park at the foot of Potala.

Gyanste horse race & Archery (June-July)

Horse race & archery are generally popular in Tibet and Gyanste enjoys prestige of being the earliest in history by starting in 1408. Contests in early times included horse race, archery & shooting at gallop followed by a few days entertainment or picnicing. Presently, ball games, track & field events, folk songs & dances barter trade are in addition to the above.

Changtang Chachen Horse Race Festival (August)

There are many horse racing festivals in Tibet , the one in Nagqu of Northern Tibet is the greatest. August is the golden season on Northern Tibet s vast grassland. Herdsmen, on their horsebacks, in colourful dresses, carrying tents and local products, pour into Nagqu. Soon they form a city of tents. Various exciting programs are held, such as horse racing, yak racing, archery, horsemanship and commodity fair.

Shoton Festival (August)

It is one of the major festivals in Tibet , also known as the Tibetan Opera Festival. The founder of the Gelugpa (Yellow Sect of Buddhism), Tsongkhapa set the rule that Buddhists can cultivate themselves only indoor in summer, to avoid killing other creatures carelessly because creatures are most active in summer. This rule must be carried out till the seventh lunar month then Buddhists go outdoor, accept yoghurt served by local people, and have fun. Since the middle of 17th century, the Fifth Dalai Lama added opera performance to this festival. Famous Tibetan opera troupes perform in Norbulingka (Dalai Lamas summer palace).

Bathing Festival (September)

It is believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky, the water in the river becomes purest and cures diseases. During its appearance for one week, usually the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth lunar months, all the people in Tibet go into the river to wash away the grime of the previous year.

Kungbu Traditional Festival (November or December)

Long ago, when Tibet was in danger of large scale invasion, the Kongpo people sent out an army to defend their homeland. It was in September and the soldiers worried that they might miss the New Year, highland barley wine and other good things. So people had the Tibetan New Year on 1st October ahead of time. To memorize those brave soldiers Kongpo people present three sacrifices and stay up at night from then on. And now it has become the Kongpo Festival for entertainment like Kongpo dancing, horse race, archery and shooting.

Harvest Festival (September)

Farmers in Lhasa , Gyantse and Shangnan celebrate their bumer harvest in this time. During that time, people enjoy with horse racing games, custom fashion show, songs and dance Archery and picnic etc.

The Festival of Banishing Evils:

falls on December 29 on the Tibetan calendar (pre-New year Eve) Similar expressions are found in ethnic celebrations around the world with a theme of driving away evil spirits. On that day, a sorcerers dance is performed in monasteries and a general cleaning is done in every household to get rid of misfortune and pray for godly blessings. Every family will have a traditional New Years Eve dinner of Guthuk and torches are lit and howling are heard everywhere in a collective prayer for a new year free from misfortunes