Updated Feb. 25, 2019
Traveling to Tibet is usually high on the list of every China-travel-enthusiast but planning a trip there might be a bit complicated.
Don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of all the must-know to help you get started:
Please note! The below information is relevant mostly for foreign passport holders
* Make sure you double check if Tibet is open for visitors. In 2019, for example, you won’t be able to travel to Tibet between January 30 and March 31.
* You need to apply for a special Tibet travel permit that is separated from your China-visa. Applying for this permit can only be done after you received your visa to China (regardless of the visa type).
* It can take any-time between 10 to 21 working days to issue this travel permit.
* Only a travel agency can apply for the permit on your behalf and not every agency is certified to do it.
* For the travel permit, you will need to submit a copy of your passport and visa to China, along with a daily travel itinerary (issued by a local, certified agency) and your flights or train tickets’ details as well.
* You are not allowed to travel in Tibet on your own. You can either travel with a group or in a private tour, but you must be accompanied by a local Tibetan, certified tour guide.
* Traveling with a Chinese friend won’t matter in this case, you will still have to get the local tour guide.
* Tibet’s altitude is at 4500 meters above sea level (about 14,760 ft). This means low levels of oxygen which can result in health issues. It is recommended to consult with a doctor before traveling to high places, especially if you have high blood pressure or any blood/ heart related medical condition.
* It is also advised to let yourself climatize and take things slow in the first 1-2 days, after arrival. You can buy oxygen cans as well.
* Manage hotel expectations – in Lhasa, you will be able to find some large hotel chains and all level of accommodations. In more remote places, expect accommodations to be more modest.
* Internet and hotel-Wifi are common in most hotels and destination around Tibet.
* Western-style restaurants or fast-food chains are almost nonexistent. Expect to eat only local food – noodles, soup and Yak or lamb meat.
* Due to the high altitude, weather is on the cold side of the thermometer year-round. In Winter, you can expect snow and ice everywhere.
* Recommended months for travel (weather-wise) are April through October.
* Expect long hours of driving between destinations and construction of roads is improving but still in progress. The view is beautiful, though, so you should be fine.
* In some places, you will be able to travel with trains too. Lhasa to Shigatse is a relevant example.
* In terms of budget, a trip to Tibet is usually not cheap. Flights or trains are expensive to begin with, then land arrangements will be costly as well, compare to other places in China.
Visiting Tibet might be a bit more complicated to plan, but we can say it is worth it! Simply make sure you start planning in advance, to make the most out of your trip.
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