Fun Facts About Tibet
- Tibet's plateau is the world's highest plateau with an average elevation of over 4,500 meters
- Chinese Yuan Renminbi is the currency to Tibet
- Tibet Autonomous Region, China is predominantly Buddhist
- The yak is an integral part of Tibetan culture
- The staple food of Tibetan is Tsampa (roasted barley flour), while the national drink is salted butter tea
- There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Tibet, Potala Palace & Norbulingka Palace
Best Time to Visit Tibet
May to September is the best time to visit Tibet. Warm weather and clear sky make the trip joyful. Likewise, the snow/ice starts to melt and unblock the blocked roads. It is also expensive to travel during this time of the year as it is a peak season.
You can save around 20% of your money if you visit Tibet either in April or from October to November. The weather will be cold, but the crowd will be less.
Winter is not the preferable time of the year to visit Tibet because of the extreme cold. However, hotels and transport are considerably cheaper.
Best Time to Experience Tibetan Cultural Festivities
June to August is the best time to visit Tibet if you want to experience Tibetan cultural festivals. From grand Saga Dawa festival, dazzling Nagchu Horse festival, high-spirited Shoton festival to several ritual dances and parades, you will get rewarded with all the authentic Tibetan experience.
From Kathmandu, there are two direct flights to Lhasa operated by Sichuan Airlines and Air China. Flying from Nepal to Tibet offers stunning aerial views of the Himalayas including Mt. Everest.
Driving is the most common way to enter Tibet. Flying to Kathmandu is cheaper than directly flying to Tibet, which has attracted the attention of lots of travelers. Most of the tourists prefer to fly to Kathmandu and then drive to Tibet via land. Kerung, Simikot, and Kodari are the three borders from where one can enter in Tibet. Kerung border is mostly used as it is only 3 hours away from Kathmandu. Likewise, the Simikot border is usually used when the traveler is visiting the Kailash area. And, Kodari border is temporarily closed after the 2015 earthquake.
From Mainland China
All together five routes join China and Tibet via train route. The most popular one is Qinghai to Tibet that takes 2 days to reach Lhasa from Beijing. Likewise, Xining to Tibet takes around 21 hours, whereas there is a daily train service from Shanghai to Tibet. Similarly, you can find Chengdu to Tibet train every other day, which takes around 43 hours. Guangzhou to Tibet train is the longest route and takes 54 hours.
There are three flights from Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu to Tibet within 7 hours. You can find winter discounts on many airlines from Chengdu to Lhasa. These days, there are several direct flights to Lhasa from Shanghai, Kunming, Beijing, Guangzhou, Xining, Shangri-la, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Xian. Also, there are daily flights from Chengdu to Shigatse & Nyingchi in Tibet.
It can cost extremely expensive to enter Tibet from China. You need 7 to 15 days through Qinghai-Tibet highway (1937km, an estimated 5-7 days) and Xinjiang-Tibet highway (2086km, an estimated 10-15 days).
Passport Visa Information
You need to get a Chinese visa and Tibet travel permit to enter Tibet. Both of them are available in Kathmandu you can obtain with the help of a Travel Agency. Even if you have a Chinese tourist visa, you need to get a Tibet travel permit.
To get the permit, you need to book a guide for your entire journey and have to pre-arrange private vehicles to move outside Lhasa. Moreover, to travel out of Lhasa, you need to get additional permits that get arranged in advance for you by the company you are traveling with.
Travel insurance is very necessary while traveling to Tibet. As Tibet is a very remote location, you might have to get evacuated in an emergency. Therefore, make sure your travel insurance covers air evacuations.
Banking Foreign Exchange
The Renminbi (RMB) is the main currency in Tibet. Foreign exchange service is only offered by the Bank of China. You can find banks like China Construction Bank, Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China.
You can also find exchange services in a few 4/5 stars hotels. Tibetans do not use and accept coins. If you are traveling to isolated areas like Shigatse, Shannan, Ngari, Nyingchi, and Nagqu, then do carry extra cash with yourself.
You will find power sockets of type A, C, and I in Tibet. The standard voltage is 220 V, whereas the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
If the standard voltage in your country is between 220 to 240 V (as in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa), you can easily use your electric appliances in Tibet. However, if the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V to 127 V (as in the US, Canada & most South American countries), you need a voltage converter in Tibet.
There are high chances that you will not find voltage converter in Tibetan stores, therefore get yourself one in your home country or buy in Kathmandu.
If the label in your electric appliance states INPUT 100 to 240V, 50-60 Hz, then the appliance can be used all over the world. It is common in chargers of tablets/laptops, cell phones, cameras, toothbrushes, etc.
The water served either hot or cold in most of the hotel in urban areas are firstly boiled. While trekking, make sure to boil your water before drinking it or use water purification tablets. The water in Tibet is hard water&; so you have to boil it for at least 10 minutes before drinking it.
Useful Tibetan Phrases & Expressions
- Hello: tashi deleg
- Good Bye: kale shoo
- Goodnight: sim-ja nan-go
- Yes: la-yo-re
- Thank You: thoo jaychay
- You're Welcome: kay-nang-gi-ma-ray
- Sorry: gonad
- I don't understand: ha ko ma song
- See you later: jay la shong
- Bus: Lam-kor
- Bus station: Lam-kor kak-sa
- Car: Mo-tha
- Taxi: Te-ksi
- Plane: Nam-dhru
- Boat: Dhru
- Train: Ri-li
Dos and Donts in Tibet
Take plenty of rest in Lhasa to avoid altitude sickness. Listen and follow the Tibetan guide to acclimatize to Tibetan Plateau
Make sure to carry down jacket, wind/rainproof jacket, thermal underwear, and sun protection products so that you can survive thin sir, strong wind, and arid climate with powerful solar radiation and huge temperature change between day & night
Tibet is a Buddhist utopia. Make sure to dress properly and avoid religious taboos while exploring the sites. Ask your guide before doing anything you are not sure about