Tibet, the holy place where breathing-taking natural scenery and fascinating cultural customs merge, is a once in a lifetime destination for many tourists. So how to plan the exciting journey? What do you need to be prepared? Here are some suggestions that may be inspiring to you.
Decide Where to Visit
Before Moving to Tibet: Many foreign tourists choose to cut into Tibet by launching their journeys from other China inland cities. Here are some recommend cities for you which lie in the different regions of China.
Beijing – Political & Cultural Capital of China
To the majority of first-timers to China, Beijing is definitely the first visit. Beijing wows countless international tourists with its architectural wonders, and rich history. With winding Hutong, jaw-dropping imperial palaces, and modern Olympic stadium and alluring night life, it would be a perfect choice to dive into the massive Beijing city, filled with contradiction of modern and ancient charms right before heading to an utterly religious kingdom in holy Tibet.
Xi’an – Most Famous Ancient Capitals in China
A popular city of tourism with profound history and various delicious snacks. It is also the home to world-famous architectural miracle, Terra-Cotta Warriors. We strongly recommend you to experience the charm of this old city and witness the extraordinary construction technique of ancient Chinese before heading into Tibet.
Shanghai – Paris of the East
If you intend to enter Tibet from eastern China, Shanghai will be your preferential choice. Being the most economically-vibrant metropolitan in China, Shanghai is attracting more foreigners every year to experience the vitality and vigor of the International financial center. The Bund, the oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai Museum and Zhujiajiao Water Town are popular spots that worth a visitation.
Guangzhou – Ram City & City of Flowers
A city located in the southern end of China also with long history and unique food culture. Cantonese morning tea is the must for every traveler. You will be amazed at the diversity and delicacy of the traditional Cantonese food. Canton Tower, Shamian Island, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Chen Ancestral Shrine are generally the favorites for most travelers.
Chengdu – the Homeland of Giant Pandas
As “a city of abundance”, Chengdu, the southwest central city located in Sichuan basin, is so far one of the most welcomed tourism destinations in China. Icon of this city-the Giant Panda-has attracted countless numbers of tourists every year to see the cuteness of the Chinese national treasure. If you want to challenge yourself with spicy food, never forget to try the hotpot. The pungent and spicy flavor of it will bring you to an amazing world.
Xining – Starting Point of Tibet Train
To many living in eastern China, Xining seems to be a remote frontier city situated on eastern margin of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In fact, Xining was once an important stop on the century-old Silk Road that ran through Tibet. Xining’s importance in the old trade route meant that it has a lot of historical sites, and has been a gateway to the West for a long time. Kumbum Monastery, one of the two most important Tibetan monasteries outside the Tibetan Administrative Region, and Qinghai Lake, the largest inland salt-water lake in China will be the highlight of your journey which worth a visit for their astonishing scenery.
What to Expect in Tibet
There is a huge number of high-quality places to see in Tibet.
If you want to experience the mysterious Buddhism in Tibet, there are many monasteries ready for you to visit. Sera, Drepung and Ganden are three major monasteries in Lhasa in which you can experience the purest Buddhist culture and watch the distinctive “monk debate”. Besides, Jokhang Temple, center of Tibet Buddhism is another major monastery that you won’t miss.
Additionally, there’s more to Tibet than just monasteries. This mix of spectacular buildings represents a millennium of Tibetan history ready for you to be explored. Potala Palace, Gyantse Dzong, Tsaparang, Gyantse Kumbum, Jampaling Kumbum will impress you.
If you are longing for the fascinating natural view of Tibet, there are many choices. Everest Base Camp may be one of the most sacred places that most tourists want to catch a glimpse of it.
Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet, Asia’s most sacred mountain that is worshipped by more than a billion Buddhists and Hindus is another good choice for you. Here you can experience the unique religious rites in Tibet-Kora-to witness the sincerity of Tibetan Buddhists and enjoy the stunning view of Mt Kailash.
Generally, natural scenery in Northern route and Western Tibet are all fascinating that worth appreciating. Herds of antelope and wild ass graze by huge saltwater lakes in this empty end of the world are the scenery that you will never forget in your life.
Find out Your Ideal Means of Transportation
To travel to Tibet, taking an airplane or train are two major ways adopted by most tourists. If you are going to head to Tibet by setting out from some of China’s inland cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Xining, Chengdu and Chongqing can be preferential choices owing to their convenience in transportation. In these cities, you can take ride off a train or flight directly heading to Tibet. The two means of transport has their own characteristics and suit tourists with different need.
Go To Tibet by Train
The most economic and rewarding way to Tibet is by train. As the world’s highest railway, Qinghai-Tibet Railway, also called as “the railway nearest to heaven”, is by far the most popular means to enter Tibet. You have plenty of time to get acclimatized to the gradual increasing altitude on the train.
Besides, along the route, there are many fascinating scenic wonders such as Mt. Kunlun, Kekexili Nature Reserve, Ulan Moron, etc embellishing the route, attracting many tourists to choose this way to enter Tibet. Compared with flying to Tibet, taking a train to Tibet will save as much as 3/5. Since the time you will spend on the train is over 40 hours, it’s advisable for you to choose a soft sleeper.
Go To Tibet by Flight
If you have a tight schedule, taking a flight to Tibet will undoubtedly be of your best choice. In these major cities, non-stop flights are available, generally taking no more than 7 hours to arrive Tibet. However, you may miss some scenery along the route.
Besides, experiencing a climb of altitude from 44m (Beijing) to over 4000m in a short time will likely cause you minor symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, shortness of breath, etc. However, normally all these symptoms will go away in a couple of days. In the peak season, few discount of air ticket to Tibet is made and are generally hard to be bought. But we can provide you with professional ticket agent service to free you from the worries of ticket shortage. When lack season arrives, you can even enjoy a 70% of discount.
Therefore, if you have plenty of time or limited budget, or if you want a memorable experience taking a Qinghai-Tibet train, it would be better for you to choose railway transportation. However, please note that spending about 2 days on the train can be tiring, so it may not be a wise choice for a kid or the aged or others with poor health condition;
If you are in a short vacation or have additional plans to other destinations, taking an airplane will undoubtedly be more convenient and effective. But please be prepared for the altitude sickness and it will help you a lot to carry with some medicine to prevent and lessen high altitude sickness, such as Diamox. Besides, Medicine for cold, headache, stomachache, diarrhea, nausea, insect bite, etc. such as Aspirin, Diphenoxylate, and Prochlorperazine will also be of great help.
How Many Days are Needed for travel
Many foreign tourists tend to launch their journey to Tibet from some of China’s inland cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Xi’an Chongqing, Xining, etc to appreciate more scenery along the road. These cities are both convenient in railway and airline transportation, making them ideal cities to initiate the trip. If you want to start your journey from Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, here is the recommended itinerary enabling you to enjoy diverse landscape and to gain completely different experience.
Beijing – Tibet Tour
As the capital of China where ancient and modern civilizations converge and many scenic spots cluster, Beijing is the most visited destination in China. Initiating your journey from Beijing to Tibet, you can experience the exciting contrast between traditional Chinese culture and the holy religious kingdom, fulfilling your journey in China. You may need about 7-8 days to accomplish your journey. 3 days in Beijing and 3 days in Lhasa, you can generally cover most of main scenic spots in the two cities. Having arrived in Lhasa, don’t forget to have a rest for a day to make yourself accustomed to high altitude.
Guangzhou – Xi’an – Tibet Tour
If you want to departure from the southern end of China to cover more scenic spots along the road, Guangzhou will be a perfect choice, not only for its geographical location, but also for its convenience in transportation. It’s recommended for you to start from Guangzhou and have a stop in Xi’an, and finally, to reach Tibet. This is an effective way to appreciate more beautiful scenery and save more time. We suggest you to spare 9 days for this trip. 2 days in Guangzhou, 2-3 days in Xi’an, spend about 2 days on Qinghai-Tibet train to appreciate the scenery along the road, and finally, enjoy the last 2 days in Lhasa, your Guangzhou Tibet tour will end with fulfillment.
Among all of the main inland cities in China, Chengdu is the one that has the shortest distance to Tibet. Here we recommend you a 7 day classic Chengdu and Tibet Impression Tour via Qinghai-Tibet Railway. On your first day in Chengdu, you can visit the hot scenic spots like Jinli Street, Wenshu Monastery and Kuanzhai Alley. In the next day, having watched the cute giant pandas, you can take ride of the train to Tibet and spend about 2 days on it to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the road. In the following 2 days, you can launch your journey in Lhasa to see Potala Palace, Johkang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery and the bustling Barkor Street. In the last day, you can finish your pleasant Chengdu Tibet trip.
If you have plenty of time or budget, there are other itineraries covering more cities with more activities. We are ready to offer you more suitable routes and perfect traveling experience! You may also like:
>> Shanghai Tibet Tour
>> Xining Tibet train Tour
>> Xian Tibet Tour
>> Chongqing Tibet Tour
>> Hong Kong Tibet Tour
>> Yunnan Tibet Tour
Consider Your Best Time for China and Tibet Visit
The best time to travel Tibet begins from April to October every year which reaches its climax during July to October. In this period, many domestic tourists flood into Tibet, accordingly, leads to the raise of commodity price. While from November to March, winter arrives, bringing Tibet to its lack season, which will also bring down prices.
Tibet is closed each year through the end of March. Also, Chinese National Holidays around May 1 and the first week of October are heavy Tibet travel seasons for Chinese people, who also pour into Tibet every summer. Therefore, try to avoid visit Tibet in these dates.
Accommodation and dining for China Tibet tour
Staple food in many inland China cities is very similar-pasta or rice made into different forms. While the food and drink in Tibet is very much like the people themselves – unique with a very distinct character.
Here you can have a taste of Tibetan food contrasts greatly with those in inland China cities: Tsampa, one of the most recommended Tibetan food for travelers; beef and mutton, daily food essential for keeping out the cold in the high altitudes of Tibet; Tibetan noodle, also called as Thenthuk or Thukpa, are normally served with simple vegetables, diced beef, chopped scallions cooked in a pot together. And milk curd and yogurt, the local form of cheese, etc. There are also some other distinctive Tibetan food. So just go for it and have a try. It will be impressive for you.
In major China inland cities, you have many options from the guesthouse to five-star hotels, which are mostly clean and tidy with a complete set of facilities despites their ratings.
As a remote area, Tibet does not have very favorable accommodation conditions as they do in inland China, but the lodging condition in Tibet has been greatly improved due to rapidly developing tourism in Tibet.
Generally speaking, the overall level of accommodation in Tibet is lower than that in other cities of China. You can find hotels in different ratings here, from youth hostels to the five-star hotels, which also differs in prices and seasons, especially in Lhasa. In the peak season, the prices are often 50% higher than usual, and generally, the cost of a four-star hotel in Lhasa ranges from US$90 to US$150. And hotel rates are relatively higher than other parts of China.
Most of the hotels in Lhasa can offer you hot showers, while in smaller towns, you may be limited to rooms with a shared bathroom, and in the countryside, electricity and running water are luxuries that cannot be relied on. You can have some meals in dining rooms of which the surroundings are also relatively simple. In some simple places, bedding is provided, but in the cheapest places it’s often not that clean and a sleeping bag can be a nice luxury. Here are some recommended hotels for you:
In Lhasa and Shigatse, you have more choices, and starred hotels are more than other regions of Tibet. Lhasa Yak Hotel and Lhasa Gang Gyan Hotel are four-star hotels with comfortable environment and predominant location-center of Lhasa. Luxury St. Regis Lhasa Resort is a five–star luxury hotel, providing high-quality services and modern luxury amenities.
In Shigatse, the most common accommodations are three-star and four-star hotels. Shigatse Hotel, Shigatse Yak Hotel and Shigatse Manasarovar Hotel are recommended for their convenience for shopping and modern amenities.
If you are going to head for Nyingchi, you may find an ideal hotel or guesthouse in Bayi Town in which hotels cluster. Most of them can offer you modern facilities and perfect services. Nyingchi Shangbala Hotel, Fujian Hotel in Nyingchi and Chongqing Cygnet Hotel in Nyingchi will all be preferential choices for you for booking.
Check Online and Find a Reliable China Tibet Tour Operator
There are literally many operators online that could offer this trip. Therefore, how can we choose a most suitable one? Most of the tour and itineraries offered by these operators are same, though often different in prices. Some customers tend to choose those who offer lower prices, but it could be a disaster to your tour.
To avoid this situation, TripAdvisor, one of the best websites to find out what the companies are really like will help you a lot to figure out which one is the perfect operator for you. All the reviews on TripAdvisor are real reviews from real tourists that have done what you are looking at doing, and usually give an honest and unbiased description of the trip. You also get the opportunity to ask the reviewers their personal opinion about the companies through the messaging system on the posts. – Check our clients’ reviews of Tibet Vista on TripAdvisor
Lonely Planet is another website that offers independent reviews of companies in the travel industry on which the comments are credible as well. If you have any doubt about the operator you are going to pick, search reviews on the Lonely Planet, you may find helpful comments.
Before cutting into Tibet, there are many necessary certificates and documents need to be transacted by your tour operator, including Tibet Travel Permit (the most important one) and some additional documents if you want to travel further places outside of Lhasa. These documents also include: Alien’s Travel Permit, Border Permit and Military Permit.
However, you don’t need to be bothered by the complicated procedures. We can offer you professional service to guarantee you a Tibet Permit. So tell us your tour date and activities and other preferences, we promise to offer you the most reliable Tibet permit service for your Tibet travel.
Besides, we have also some excellently designed itineraries waiting for you to be experienced, such as, 4 Days Lhasa Impression Tour, 8 Days Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Tour, 15 Days Kailash and Manasarova Tour and many more for your exploration. If you have other priorities, don’t be reluctant to contact us. We are ready for you inquiry.
Other Miscellaneous to Remember
To make sure that you can enjoy your journey safe and sound in Tibet, here are some suggestions necessary for you:
Be careful for altitude sickness
Before taking the trip, you should be considering your physical fitness, and continuing a regular exercise routine to prepare yourself fully for the journey to the plateau. After arriving at Tibet, never rush to visit attractions and have a good rest. Walking at a slightly slower pace than normal and avoid any extreme physical exertion. Besides, drink and eat properly. Sweet tea and butter tea can help reduce the risk of altitude sickness. If necessary, take proper medication with the help of local doctor or pharmacist will also be of great help to relief the symptom once you are uncomfortable.
The “thinner” atmosphere on the Tibetan Plateau filters less UV radiation than the air at lower elevation. The WHO says that “UV levels increase by 10% to 12%” for every 1000 meters increase in altitude.” The sun in Tibet is fierce. So please remember to bring a good, broad spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF factor and a high SPF lip sunscreen to protect your lips too. Besides, sun glasses and scarfs are also essential to prevent you from the striking sunshine and the gale in the mountain pass.
Protection from dog bites
There are a lot of stray dogs in Tibet, and travelers in more remote areas are at risk of being bitten especially by dogs guarding yak herds or nomad homes. Also wear thick pants and boots to keep yourself out of the harm’s way. If they chase you for any reason pick up a stone and try to scare it away instead of running in fear which might prove more harmful in consequence.
Keeping warm and dry
There is a good likelihood that it will rain at some point in your journey to Tibet, so bring some good rain gear, or at least get an umbrella or rain poncho somewhere along the way. It will definitely get cold in the evening, especially in spring, fall or winter, and you’ll need some cold-weather gear: very warm jacket, warm hat, gloves, long underwear or fleece-lined pants. Days can be very hot in the strong sun, so you’ll need layers.
Having a knowledge about the customs for eating and drinking
You will be offered tea or Tibetan butter tea in a Tibetan home. Central Tibetans normally politely refuse the offer several times, while the host insists until the guest accepts. Even if you don’t really want any, it’s polite to take one cup and pretend to drink a little, then you can cover the cup with your hand to show when you really don’t want any.
Be aware about how Tibetans feel about shoes and feet
In Tibetan culture, shoes and feet are considered as low and dirty. It’s quite disgusting to them the way that some people put their feet up on chairs or train seats with shoes on, for example.
Above are the general suggestions we offer to you. If you want more details about travelling in Tibet or need some help, please feel free contact us. We will guarantee you a safe and pleasant trip to Tibet and leave you a once in a lifetime of wonderful travelling memory!