Being the highest region and hence settlements at highest altitude in the world with an average elevation of 4,900 meters above sea level, Tibet is an ancient kingdom with a unique topography and culture which dates back to 7th century. The capital of this region is Lhasa. Most of the Tibet has a desert steppe, tundra, or permafrost type of climate since the mountain ranges catches the rainfall before it reaches the plateau.
Means of Travel to Tibet
There are two ways of going to Tibet; by air, by train and by land. Tibet has one international airport called Lhasa Gongga International Airport however the direct international flight to Tibet is only available from Kathmandu, Nepal. Else, you'll have to travel to China and from there you'll have to take the domestic flight to Tibet. Flight from Nepal is the easiest and our recommended way for traveling to Tibet for certain reasons which we will explain below later. The other means to travel to Tibet is through train. Train service to Tibet is available from different regions of China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Chongqing, Lanzhou, and Xining. Since the trains are not high-speed trains, the duration of the travel extends from 20-40 hours and the facilities/accommodation provided during the travel are limited so you might want to make sure if the services provided by the train service to Tibet will suffice you needs beforehand. And finally the other means of travel to Tibet is by land. There are three main highways from China that goes to Tibet. Qinghai-Tibet highway is the most preferable following with Sichuan-Tibet and Yunnan-Tibet highway. The road trip is long and rough but if you're an adventurer and enjoy long rides then this might be the one for you, especially for Enduro touring. There is an international travel route through Nepal as well but it's not active at the moment since after the major earthquake in Nepal during 2015.
Visa and entry requirements to Tibet
There's a certain procedure you'll need to go through in order to get a visa for Tibet. You'll need a special permit from the local authority of Tibet in order to be able to travel to Tibet. Remember that getting a Chinese Visa is not enough for you to travel to Tibet. This is the reason we recommended earlier to use the travel route through Nepal if you're planning on going to Tibet and we'll explain why. If you're a foreigner and planning on traveling to Tibet through China, you'll need to apply for two separate Visas beforehand; for China and for Tibet which can be a tedious process. However, going to Nepal is easy since they have on-arrival Visa system so now you only have to worry about getting the permit for traveling to Tibet. This can be done through Travel agencies in Nepal and it will take a minimum of three working days to get the permit. The Visa entry fee varies according to countries which ranges from $75-$170.
Cost and Expenses in Tibet
Tibet is not that expensive for travelers. Travel agencies offer different packages regarding their trip to Tibet but most of the tour to Tibet done through travel agencies will cover for Bed & Breakfast, entrance fee and transportation (excluding airfare). An average meal would cost you $10-$12 dollars where as a cup of coffee would cost you $3-$5. Accommodation are mostly covered in travel packages and the hotels are usually three stars or above.
Currency and Payments in Tibet
The Chinese currency (CNY or RMB) is the universally accepted currency. If you have a credit or debit card issued from any Chinese bank then it is very easy to get your money from Chinese banks or ATMs throughout the Lhasa city but if not then you can exchange your money from the tour guide, Tibet Visa's office. Currency exchange is also available on some of the 4 or 5 star hotels. However, it is recommended to keep enough cash for yourself if you're traveling to Tibet and other areas surrounding Tibet.
Tibet and its culture
Tibet is a place filled with uniqueness in every aspect whether it is geographical, religious or cultural. The settlements here are unique in itself and the people are highly committed in their faith and spirituality. Travelers can see the panorama of Tibetan culture through the richness of Tibetan history, arts, medicine, festivals, handicrafts, architecture, food and drinks. The religious norm in this region is Tibetan Buddhism which had has a strong influence on Tibetan culture. Tibet is also famous for being the homeland of Dalai Lama whom the Tibetan considers as their spiritual leader and is an important figure for most people of Tibet.
Things to do in Tibet
Since you cannot travel to Tibet by yourself, travel agencies from Tibet and Nepal provides different packages that you can choose from. The most popular ones include Everest Base Camp expedition, sightseeing tours to various monasteries and palaces with the most famous ones being Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, cultural and heritage tours, and pilgrimage/religious expeditions. The unique way of lifestyle that revolves around the people of Tibet gives its travelers a chance to experience and immerse themselves into a different side of the world from a different perspective that they've been used to. There are beautiful Lakes with amazing landscapes scattered around Tibet and trekking are available to some areas such as Nyenchen Tanglha to Lake-Namtso and Genden trek.Tibet is best to travel during all the time of the year except for the winter season which extends from December to Februrary.
Traveling to Tibet is really a unique experience. The historic kingdom and the plateau also known as the roof of the world has something very different to offer its travelers from other part of the world. Traveling here is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity and it does take a little bit of patience to be able to reach year but the experience is definitely worth it. We here at Core Treks provide our travelers with various travel packages to Tibet and we're in the business of making your travel experience as pleasant and enjoyable as much as possible. For further details and inquiries, please visit our website www.coretreks.com.