Tibet Tours FAQ
Planning a Trip for Tibet
1. Q: Is Tibet safe for travelling?
Generally, it is quiet safe for travelling in Tibet. Since most Tibetans are devout Buddhists, who believe good deeds will accumulate merit in their next lives, crimes are rare. Dangers in Tibet stem mainly from natural disasters, accidents and sometimes from encounters with animals.
2. Q: Can I travel to Tibet independently?
Since independent tour is prohibited in Tibet according to the local tourist rules and regulations, so you have to join in an organized group or have the travel agency to arrange for you.
3. Q: What is the feature of Tibet travel?
Tibet is a plateau region in Central Asia and the home to the indigenous Tibetan people. With an average elevation of 4,900 meters, it is the highest region on Earth and is commonly referred to as the "Roof of the World." It has been called 'the last pure land in the world' for centuries. With the mysteriousness and holiness, it is the dreamland for travelers and pilgrims. It is famed with its the pure waters, snow-capped mountains, the fantastic cultures, the mysterious religion and the exotic people. Your trip in Tibet will surely be an experience to be unique and unforgettable.
4. Q: What are the popular tourists¡¯ sites in Tibet?
No doubt, the holy Lhasa would be the first choice for you to pay a visit. Furthermore, Tsetang, Gyangtse, Shigatse, Dingri and etc. are all worth for you to visit in Tibet, for both normal and trekking itineraries. We have tours for all the popular destinations. For expedition, Mt. Everest should be highly recommended for you and would not let you down.
5. Q: What are the must-see attractions in Tibet?
There are a number of must-see attractions in Tibet since it has all kinds of natural, historical and cultural attractions. In the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa, the must see attractions include Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Norbulingka, Barkhor Street, and the three largest monasteries of Gelugpa Sect of Buddhism ¨C Drepung, Ganden and Sera. In the second largest city of Tibet, Shigatse, it famed with the seat of the Panchen Lama- New Palace of Panchen and Tashilhunpo Monastery; the highest monastery on the earth-Rongbuk Monastery, and the highest peak in the world ¨C Mt. Everest. Furthermore, the heavenly lake ¨C Namtso Lake, the sacred mountain and holy lake ¨C Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, the Great Canyon of the Yaluzhangbu River also will make your Tibet travel for an unforgettable experience.
6. Q: What are the highly recommended attractions around Tibet?
Tibet is surrounded by the beautiful places which worth seeing, like Qinghai Lake and Ta'er Monastery in Xining, Qinghai Province; the archetype of Shangri-la and Meili Snow Mountain in the Diqing Autonomous Region of Yunnan Province. Moreover, the Nepal border city of Katmandu can also be easily visited from Tibet.
7. Q: What is the best time for travelling in Tibet?
Normally, from May to October is the best time for Tibet tour. The weather is the finest during this period in Tibet. However, the high season in tourism makes the accommodations and transportation supplies fall short of demand and you may take the risk of pay higher or full price. Tibet winter starts from December to February, if you don¡¯t mind the cold weather, a winter tour in Lhasa will also be pleasant, you can avoid the tourist crowds and the economical hotel rooms and airline tickets are in great availability. While, remote area in Tibet is not advisable to visit during Winter due to the poor weather and heat keeper facilities.
8. Q: Is winter suitable for travelling in Tibet?
Normally, winter is the low season for travel in Tibet, but the sceneries do not vary much form summer to winter. Since the sunshine is adequate so you will not feel cold and gloomy, that¡¯s why Lhasa is also called ¡°sunshine city¡±. Furthermore, you can avoid the tourist crowds and the economical accommodations and transportations are in great availability, so that you may fully enjoy your tour.
9. Q: What are the altitudes of the main regions in Tibet?
Cities or Counties
Altitude (m. / ft.)
3,500 / 11, 483
3,650 / 11, 975
3,836 / 12, 585
4,040 / 13, 255
4,300 / 14, 108
3,000 / 9, 843
3,240 / 10, 630
3,700 / 12, 139
4,200 /13, 780
4,300 / 14, 108
4,507 / 14, 787
4,800 / 15, 748
10: Q: How to enter Tibet?
Nowadays, the transportation both entering and departure from Tibet becoming more and more convenient than before. There are mainly two ways of transportation: by air and by train. By air, some of big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xi¡¯an, Chengdu, Xining, Guangzhou,Chongqing and Kathmandu are available. By train, the most poplar entering routes are Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou. However, train takes much longer time than air, so air is more favorable.
Preparations for Tibet Tour
1£®Q: What are the tips for clothing when traveling in Tibet?
There is a great variation of temperature from day to night in Tibet, so warm clothes are necessity during the travel. Although during summer, feather down clothes, woolen underpants and also sweater are still needed. In northern part of Tibet, like Mt. Everest and Dingri, feather down clothes are needed throughout the year. Remember that anytime of the year the weather can change abruptly. It may be very cold in the morning, quite warm and sunny by midday, then plummet by dusk. So you¡¯d better watch the temperature of the day and decide what to wear. The smartest thing one can do is wear layers. That way one can strip away a layer or two if the temperature increases, or vice versa. Do not forget a pair of durable and comfortable shoes. Roads in Tibet may be much worse than you have imagined. Shoes must be water proof because it rains frequently. If you can bring a raincoat with you, it is better. As for bags, you'd better have a backpack and a waist bag.
2. Q: How to protect skins for the plateau weather when travelling in Tibet?
It's very easy to get sun-burnt in Tibet due to its high altitude and atmosphere, which make sun's solar radiation to strike the earth with unusual intensity. Sunscreen of high sun protection factor, quality sunglasses, lipstick and a wide-brimmed hat are good means of protection. Furthermore, don't wash your faces too frequently and you could eat more vegetables and fruits.
3. Q: What to pack for Tibet travelling?
Your necessary documents like Tibet Permit, Passport; your clothes, bags and comfortable shoes for travelling in Tibet; your necessary daily articles; skin care products like sunglasses, sun lotions, hat, lipstick and etc.; medicine to prevent and cure mountain sickness, and it would be wise to bring medicine for cold, headache, stomachache, and insect bite and so on; and a small amount of cash, since credit cards can only be used in big cities in Tibet, remember to bring some cash in different denominations. High-calorie snacks like cookies, chocolate and candies also should be packed in advance.
4. Q: What are the medical preparations before Tibet tours?
With the development of Tibet transportation and tourism, most Tibet tours we arranged are not in high demand of physical strength. However, the unique high land altitude and the atmosphere do need travelers to be in good health conditions and able to walk up and down moderate hills on a daily basis. The high altitude sickness can affect anyone who travels to the areas with the elevation of over 10,000 feet and it has nothing to do with the age, sex or state of fitness of the travelers according to the scientific studies. So it is better for you to have your body examined and consult the doctors for getting the prescribed medicines for avoiding the possible high altitude sickness before taking Tibet tours.
5. Q: Can I buy western medicines in Tibet or do I need to bring them all with me?
Yes, it¡¯s also very convenient for you to buy western medicine in Tibet since the medicine stores and hospitals sell western medicines apart from Tibetan medicines. Or you can bring some with you if your prefer to do so.
6. Q: I heard that some small gifts will make the communication with Tibetans easy, which ones shall I take?
Some small gifts will help the communications with Tibetans go smoothly like pencils, notebook, ball pen which are quite scarce in Tibet, and they are especially welcomed by the Tibetan students. Some other snacks will also be very helpful like cookies, chocolate, candies and so on.
7. Q: What are the emergency numbers in Tibet?
The following phone calls are the commonly used for emergency and can be directly made from any other telephones in Tibet once the emergency happens.
1. Police emergency: 110
2. Medical emergency: 120
Documents for Travelling in Tibet
1. Q£ºWhat documents do I need for traveling in Tibet?
There are two kinds of documents required for foreign tourists who want to travel freely in Tibet. Chinese visa and Tibet Travel Permit. For Chinese Visa, which you can apply in Chinese Embassy in your country. Tibet Travel Permit is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, which you have to obtain it in order to enter Tibet.
2. Q£ºIs there any special requirement on passport and visas for travelling to Tibet?
Yes, all individuals entering Tibet must hold a passport valid for at least six months. And only travelers with tourist visas (not business, resident or student visas) are permitted to enter Tibet. A tourist visa, issued to foreigners who come to china for sightseeing and visiting relatives, is marked with "L" in the many kinds of Chinese visas. Visa L is characterized by a short duration of stay, usually 30 days, no more than 90 days, and could not be extended upon expiration. Group visa, another kind of tourist visa, is applied by foreigner traveling in tour groups. Group visa is not issued on the passports, but on a separate paper, which requires the group members enter and exit the Chinese border together. For tourists who coming to Lhasa from Kathmandu in Nepal, are suggested to get China visa from Kathmandu, because it is regulated in an official memo between China and Nepal that tourists must get a visa in Kathmandu no matter you¡¯ve already got the visa in your country or not.
3. Q£ºWhat is Tibet Travel Permit and how to apply for it?
Tibet Travel Permit, also known as Tibet Tourism Bureau (T.T.B.) Permits, is required for entry to Lhasa or any other part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and is obtained as part of tour arrangements for travel to Tibet. It is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau for restricting the number of foreign tourists traveling in Tibet.
We will arrange the Tibet Travel Permit for you if you book a tour with us, and you have to submit your personal information to us beforehand by providing your Full name, Sex, Birth Date, Nationality, Passport Number, and Occupation. Please note that Government Officials, Journalists, Diplomat, and monks are forbidden to enter Tibet.
4. Q£ºCan I obtain a Tibet Permit from ChinaTourOnline.com?
Yes, we will arrange the Tibet Travel Permit for you if you book a tour with us. The Tibet Travel Permit is checked and issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) for free and is usually issued one week prior to your entry to Tibet.
5. Q£ºDoes everyone in a group need a permit or a permit for a whole group? Can we hold the permits ourselves and use them privately?
Everyone in a group tour will need a permit, and the permit can be kept individually. Foreign tourists should join in a organized tour by legal travel agency since individuals are forbidden to travel independently in Tibet.
6. Q£ºShould I handle the visa first or the Tibet travel permit first?
Normally, a visa is easy to obtain when you have a passport, we can arrange the Tibet travel permit after you have obtained your visa of China since we need your passport number and copies of visa and passport when handling the permit.
Mountain Sickness & Health Concerns
1. What is mountain sickness(or the high altitude sickness)?
Mountain sickness is also called high altitude sickness, is a problem that occurs when people travel from lower elevations to high elevations above sea level. An altitude over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) is usually defined as high altitude, since most places in Tibet are higher than this level, so mountain sickness is the biggest health risk to tourists in Tibet.
2. Q: Can you give me some advice before taking the Tibet tours?
Before visiting Tibet, get as fit and healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically. If you have record of heart, lung, other organ problems or anemia should consult doctors before making the decision to visit Tibet.
3. Q: How to prevent mountain sickness?
The following precautions may help to prevent or lessen the effects of mountain sickness:
Please try not to strain yourself and avoid excessive physical activity before taking Tibet tours.
Take the prescribed medication before going Tibet and continue to take the medication upon arrival there.
We suggest that do not smoke, drink alcohol or take other depressants such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These will depress the respiratory drive and limit oxygen intake.
Drink plenty of water.
Eat high-carbohydrate foods (e.g. rice, pasta, cereal) while avoid eating fatty food, do not eat too much for dinner.
Avoid excessive physical activity and try to relax in the first one or two days upon arrival in Tibet.
Do not take showers or bathes too frequently especially on your first night in Tibet. This will help you avoid catching cold.
It quite often happens that people feel short of breath. If it is not serious, please do not rely on oxygen equipment all the time so that you can accustom yourself to the high altitude as early as possible.
Always keep in mind that any sickness at high altitude is mountain sickness until proven otherwise, and never go higher with symptoms of mountain sickness.
If you feel uncomfortable, inform your guide or other members of the group immediately, the guide will send you to the best hospital available in the area.
4. Q: What are the symptoms of mountain sickness?
Mountain sickness is common at high altitudes due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. Most people will experience differing degrees of symptoms at high elevation. The occurrence of mountain sickness is dependent on the altitude, the ascent rate and individual physical condition. Symptoms of mountain sickness include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. Most people will experience one or more mountain sickness symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet. The symptoms will usually gradually decrease in severity during acclimatization. Mild mountain sickness usually will not interfere with mild activity.
5. Q: I¡¯ve got a cold, can I go to Tibet? What shall I do if I catch cold in Tibet?
If you get a cold before going to Tibet, we suggest you to postpone your travel date to Tibet, since the sufferers of common cold have a weak immunity to diseases, and a serious cold may easily result in pulmonary edema or other serious mountain sicknesses, which are quite dangerous without timely treatment. However, if you catch cold in Tibet, it will not be so serious for you since you have already had some acclimatization to the plateau environment. If you catch a cold in Tibet, please tell your guide as soon as possible, the guide will send you to the doctors in Tibet since they are quite experienced on treating cold.
When Traveling in Tibet
1. Q: What should I keep in mind when I contact with the Tibetans?
The Tibetan people are very kind and friendly, you can feel free to talk with them. But there are some rulers you should go by: Get permission before taking their photos, it is an act of showing respect to them. Buy some local products and encourage them, they are cheaper. Eating dog, monkey or horse in Tibet is forbidden. Avoid talking about the sensitive ics such as the religious or political matters.
2. Q: What can I do with Tibetan beggars?
Normally there are two kinds of beggars in Tibet, religious beggars and professional beggars. Religious beggars are considered to be an accepted part in Tibet society. It is considered to be an act of merit to give money or food to a pilgrim. Donations of five jiao (0.5 CNY) to one yuan (1 CNY) are appropriate to them. If you meet some beggars who are in tattered and bulky clothes, and the younger ones may have a monkey on a chain, it's a spectacle of great interest to the Tibetans. These are professional beggars. You can just wave them off as the locals do if you don't want to give them anything.
3. Q: How much should I tip in Tibet?
Tipping is not a custom in China as well as in Tibet. However, as the tourism develops, tipping guides and drivers become normal in Tibet. If they have done a good job, a certain amount dollars to the guide and the driver will be appreciated. However, it is not necessary tipping in restaurants and taxis.
4. Q: Are the monasteries in Tibet allowed to take photos?
Normally, photographing is not allowed inside the monasteries since they are the most sacred spots for the Tibetan people. We suggest you to ask permission first and this is an act of showing respect to them.
5. Q: Can I see a sky burial in Tibet?
In order to show respect to the local customs of the Tibetan people, to view sky burials or take photos of the practice, or do anything that is blasphemous around are forbidden according to the rules and regulations of Tibet government.
6. Q: Can I draw cash from the banks in Tibet?
Yes, you can draw cash from the counter or the ATM in the local banks. But sometimes the ATM there doesn¡¯t always in good work order, so we suggest that for your convenience, to bring some cash with you.
7. Q: What else currency is acceptable in Tibet other than Chinese currency?
Chinese Yuan is the only legal currency available in China, with no exception in Tibet. Whilst, US dollar are accepted in few places like big store and hotels. Visitors can change US dollars into Chinese currency in the Lhasa Central Branch Bank of China or at major hotels. Credit cards are not a recommended mean of payment in Tibet as the acceptance is very limited. Flights and hotels can not be paid using credit cards and they are also accepted at the Lhasa Central Branch Bank of China. So, for your convenience, your best choice is Chinese currency.
8. Q: Is the water in Tibet safe to drink?
Your guide will be in charge of all your water needs during day tour. He will make sure all water is boiled and treat it with iodine. Iodine is 100% effective in killing the bacteria in water.
9. Q: How safe is the food in Tibet?
In order to make your tour smooth and safe, the restaurants in our tour are carefully selected and investigated with clean and sanitary kitchens, hygienic cleaning facilities, safety and tasty food as well as the satisfactory services.
10. Q: How is the Tibetan food? Are there any other restaurants other than Tibetan restaurants?
Nowadays, the Tibetan dishes have been developed into a cuisine with both nutritious and tantalizing in taste, color as well as class. Tibetan cuisine tastes very light, aromatic, sweet and crisp. Most of the dishes are mixed with no spices except some salt, shallot and garlic. These kinds of local dishes are very popular with the travelers, however, but if they are not appealing your interest, you still have a lot of choices, there are both Chinese and Western restaurants in Tibet to meet your needs.
11. Q: What is the language of Tibetan restaurants¡¯ menus? Are they only in Tibetan?
As the tourism develops, many Tibetan restaurants are beginning to translate their menus into Chinese, English and some other languages.
12. Q: What is the condition of the accommodation in Tibet?
The condition of accommodation in Tibet is quite different from one part to another, there are hotels and guest houses for lodging in most cities and counties in Tibet, but the service may be inferior to those of the inner land of China. In Lhasa, lodging ranges from guest houses to the best five star hotels. In Shigatse, Gyangtse and Tsetang, the highest standard is three star hotel. In Dingri and Zhangmu, the highest are two stars while in other smaller or remote areas, accommodation is mainly guest houses.
13. Q: Are there any starred hotels in Tibet?
The two biggest cities Lhasa and Shigatse have more starred hotels than the other part of Tibet. There are 40-50 star hotels in Lhasa and 10-20 in Shigatse.
14. Q: Is the hotels¡¯ internet access available in Tibet?
The internet service is accessible in the business centre or the separate internet caf¨¦ in the hotels, and private internet service would be offered in the luxury rooms of a hotel. However, in some remote areas, the internet is not accessible due to the limited condition.
15. Q: Do the hotels provide drinkable water and coffee?
Usually every room of the hotel is equipped with a drinking trough or thermos, with drinkable water provided. And many hotels have separate caf¨¦ shops.
16. Q: Can I lodge in the local houses in Tibet?
As more and more travelers in Tibet, many Tibetans have opened hostels themselves, and which are very popular among the travelers who wants to closely contact with the local people and learn about their customs. However, the accommodation condition is inferior to the hotels and could not guarantee the safety. Then, we would like to suggest you to accommodate in the hotels.
17. Q: What is the trains like on Tibet Railway? Is it easy to buy tickets to Tibet?
The Tibet Railway has proved to be very successful since its opening in July 2006. The design of the trains take both the unique plateau natural environmental conditions and the safety and comfort of passengers into consideration. The Tibet Railway adopted the most advanced train in China, which are fully equipped with soft berths, hard berths, soft seats and hard seats, as well as washing closets, hot water, and other basic facilities. The floor of the train is covered with the gorgeous red Tibetan carpets, and all signs are in the three languages of English, Chinese and Tibetan. The wash room is more spacious than the normal which can provide three people at a time, with Tibetan styled mirrors. And every train has a translator familiar with three languages of English, Chinese and Tibetan. Between Qinghai and Tibet, the carriages are specially built and have an oxygen supply for each passenger.
However, as the tourism develops, the train has become quite crowded and tickets can be difficult to obtain. All seats are subject to ticketing and now can be booked 10 days in advance of travel. You should book it in advance to avoid disappointment, as an alternative you can also travel to Tibet by air.