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Planning a Tibet Tour in 2014

Tibet is on our list of Five Recommended China Tourist Destinations for 2014, and our predictions of a relaxation of entry regulations were correct. Our advice is still to apply early and have alternative plans.

Festival Times

potala palacePotala Palace

Tibet was closed again for most of February and March 2014 for the politically sensitive time of Tibetan New Year, including the time of the Monlam Prayer Festival and the Butter Lamp Festival. Winter is not a recommended time for visiting Tibet anyway because of the harsh weather conditions.

Tibet's summer time is a "sea of festivals", with thangka unrollings, horse races on the grasslands, and other significant Tibetan Buddhist events. See more on Tibetan Festivals and Tibet festival dates for 2014.

Tibet Entry Permit Policy

A Tibet Entry Permit is  required. If you travel with China Highlights we will make all necessary arrangements for the Entry Permit.

The only things that may inconvenience your Tibet plans now is a lack of train tickets or plane tickets at the peak times, the Alien Travel Permit for remoter areas, or a doctor's assessment saying you should not go high-altitude areas.

Tibetan Alternatives — like Tibet, but more offbeat

tashilunpo monasteryTashilunpo Monastery

The reality is that there is still some difficulty in touring Tibet. Though it is becoming much easier in 2013, flights/trains are limited, remoter parts of Tibet, like Shigatse, require an Alien Travel Permit, and altitude sickness may be an issue. Therefore it is worth considering our alternative tour options.

Provinces bordering Tibet (Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan) have many of the attractions Tibet does. The following places will be less-crowded, less high (less risk of altitude sickness), and less expensive.

We are confident that we can tailor-make you a tour to include a true Tibetan flavor even if you can't get to Tibet for some reason.

Tibetan Culture

Shangri-la in Yunnan may not have the Potala Palace, but it does have Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Tibetan villages and people.

Ganzi's Dege Scripture Printing Lamasery near the Tibet border is storehouse of Tibetan culture.

Tongren in Qinghai Province may not have monasteries as famous as Ganden or Tashilunpo, but it is the birthplace of Tibetan thangkas, and has some notable Buddhist temples/monasteries.

Tibetan Landscapes

zhumulangmafengMt. Everest

Sichuan Province may not have Mount Everest, but Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture does have Mount Gongga, the most easterly 7,000m+ peak in the world, and a beautiful scenic area in Hailuogou Forest Park, to appreciate it from.

Nine Village Valley (Jiuzhaigou) may not have Lake Namtso, but it's placid mountain lakes, and the rainbow-colored waters in its unspoiled valleys, are every bit as inspiring.

Characteristically Tibetan landscapes of Yunnan's Shangri-la include sacred snowy mountains, tranquil lakes, glaciers, and high-altitude valleys.

See our most popular Tibet tour for inspiration: Four-Day Essence Tour of Lhasa

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