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To optimize your time in Tibet, we offer these 9 important travel tips.
All Tibet tours must be booked at least 20 days in advance. It normally takes 2–3 days to confirm hotel bookings, and about a further 10 days for the Tibet Tourism Bureau to issue the Tibet Entry Permit.
You should make sure you secure an Entry Permit, especially if new restrictions are brought in, before you apply for a visa and make the final preparations for your trip, unless you are willing to consider alternatives to Tibet once you arrive in China.
Recommended duration for a Tibet trip: If your travel will be limited to areas around Lhasa, 4 days is enough; if you want to go to Mt. Everest, you need at least a week.
All non-Chinese passport holders need a Tibet Entry Permit to visit Tibet, and the only way to enter Tibet is to travel in groups. No individual travelers are allowed to travel to Tibet at the moment. All tours must be booked in advance by a Chinese travel agency, like us. Your whole tour in Tibet must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide.
The Tibet Entry Permit is very important. It will be checked at the train station/airport, when you enter attractions in Tibet, and even when you check in to a hotel. So take care of it.
In general, the best time to visit Tibet is from May to October when the weather is comfortable and oxygen content higher. This is Tibet’s high travel season.
You may consider visiting Tibet in the low season to enjoy a less-crowded trip and various discounts.
Tibet is usually closed for most of February and March for the politically sensitive time of Tibetan New Year. So we suggest you to plan a Tibet tour from April 10th onwards to be on the safe side.
Usually it takes about 5 working days to apply for the permits, so the earliest dates you are suggested to entry Tibet after the Tibetan New Year closure are from:
Read more on Tibet weather.
Read more about what to pack for a Tibet tour.
Try to keep healthy and not catch even a cold before entering and while in Tibet, as illness makes any altitude sickness feel worse. Take it easy and rest well, keep warm, drink a lot of water, and eat simply the first two days in Tibet to reduce any altitude sickness symptoms.
If you don't feel well before you depart for Tibet you are not suggested to go to Tibet. Even a cold can make altitude sickness feel a lot worse.
Read more about Tibet's altitude.
The quickest and most convenient way is to fly in and fly out. But if you want to experience the train trip, and see amazing mountain plateau views, you can take a train out.
We don’t suggest you take a train to Tibet as the long journey on the train may make you very tired, which is bad for high attitude acclimatization. And because of high demand for and limited supply of trains to Tibet, tickets are very hard to get.
The Potala Palace: the highest ancient palace in the world. Its spectacular physical structure and importance in Tibetan history make it one of the wonders of the world.
Jokhang Temple: the spiritural center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. You can see lots of pilgrims kowtowing in front of Jokhang Temple.
Drepung Monastery: the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Many people come here to see the Thangka Unveiling at the Shoton Festival.
Lake Yamdrok: The turquoise water will take your breath away.
Mt. Everest: the tallest mountain in the world.
Photography: Taking photos of Buddha statues is not allowed in the majority of Tibetan monasteries. In some monasteries, such as Tashilhunpo Monastery, tourists can take pictures of the Buddha statues after paying some money. Ask permission first before taking pictures of other people in the Barkhor areas. Sometimes they will ask you for money, but most of the time it is ok to give them a little gift.
Monasteries: Smoking is not allowed when visiting monasteries. Dress properly, not in shorts or sunglasses.
Visiting a local family: If you have a chance to visit a local family, let the oldest people go first when you walk together with them. Do not step on the threshold when entering a tent or house. Do not touch the heads of people with your hands.
Manners: If you have a chance to have dinner with Tibetans, do not eat with your mouth overfull, and do not chew or drink noisily. When the host/hostess hands you something, for example a cup of tea, take it with both hands to show your respect and appreciation.
Shopping: Do not buy anything made from wild animals' skin or bones, as it may cause problems when you try to leave the area.
Don’ts: Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics when in Tibet. Do not try to debate with lamas about their lives and religions. Do not enter monasteries without permission.
Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street, especially during the rush hour of pilgrimage from 9 am to 6 pm.
During religious festivals, many pilgrims come to monasteries to pay religious homage. At some monasteries there are special passages for tourists. Do not join with the pilgrim crowds or queues.
Beggars: It is suggested that you prepare about 20 easily accessible 1 yuan bills if you want to give to beggars when encountered.
Keep in mind that you travel to Tibet for its old culture and scenery, but not comfort. Visiting a Tibetan house will probably be a big culture shock.
The facilities and service standard of hotels in Tibet is not what you would expect from a hotel with the same rating in Beijing or Shanghai. Hotels in Lhasa are relatively comfortable with heating systems and hot water in winter. Some star-rated hotels have in-house doctors to take care of minor discomforts.
Hotels in small cities and towns outside Lhasa only have very basic facilities, some even without a heating system and hot water in the freezing winter.
If you are planning a Tibet tour, you may want to see our most popular customizable itineraries for inspiration:
Or you can contact us to tailor-make a Tibet tour according to your interests. We will help you get a Tibet Entry Permit if you book your tour with us.