Travel Resources

Tibet: General Travel Information
Getting There: By Air- Kathmandu – Gonggar, a twice-weekly flight, operates between Kathmandu and Lhasa from the beginning of April through October and sometimes till November, depending upon the weather conditions. The 55-minute flight offers spectacular views of the Himalayas and the southern Tibetan plateau. By Road: An approach that has great appeal for hardy and adventurous travelers is to enter or leave Tibet by road, following the footsteps of explorers, who for more than a century tried and usually failed to reach Lhasa overland.

: China has two kinds of visa systems: Group Visas for Tour Groups and Individual Visas. People can travel to Mainland China with a Group Visa or an Individual Visa, but for Tibet Autonomous Region, people must be in a Group Visa, if they are entering via Nepal. People traveling to Mainland China with Individual Visas also can travel to Tibet, but they must procure a Tibet Travel Permit and a number of other permits. The Government authorized Tibet Tour Operators and their overseas agents process Group Visas and Travel Permits only after you book the tour with them. The Group Visas and Permits are valid for the period of the trip that you buy with the operator. A Group Visa means that all the participants enlisted in one group visa must travel together while in Tibet, including entry and exit. In order to procure a Group Visa or Travel Permit, you will have to provide us your passport details (Name as on passport, current address, date and place of birth, passport no., date and place of issue, date of expiry and the profession) at the time we receive your booking. The details are forwarded to our Lhasa based representative who will process the visa and necessary permits. A copy of the visa approval letter will be faxed to our office. Our office then submits the visa approval letter, original passports of all the participants and list of the participants on a special format to the embassy in Kathmandu. Currently, the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu accepts visa applications only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Regular visa processing takes three working days. For emergency processing, the visa can be obtained on the same day or the second working day for an additional charge. People entering Tibet via mainland cities will need to bring their visas with their passports. In addition, a Travel Permit will be required to get into Tibet that will be pre-arranged, a copy of it will be at our representative’s offices in Chengdu, Xian, Shanghai or Beijing. There are numerous other permits, such as the inner line permit, road permit, military permits, etc. The basic job of the local operator is to secure these permits.

Best time for travel:
The best time to visit Tibet is from April to September. Tibet , being a Trans-Himalayan region, receives much less rain in the summer. From October onwards, the temperature drops significantly, and snow starts falling in the passes. You can travel to Central Tibet throughout the year. If you will be participating in the trekking or circumambulation walk of Mount Kailash and the western region, the best period is from June to Mid September. Air China suspends the flight between Kathmandu and Lhasa in the winter.

Travel within Tibet:
Travel within Tibet is only by motor vehicles or trekking. There is no domestic air service or helicopters, and Tibet does not have a railway system. The only way to see the country is either on foot or by road. The distances are huge, and the only recommended mode of transportation is hiring vehicles from the travel agents.

Money & Exchange
: Banks in Tibet/China are closed on Saturday and Sunday. So, you are kindly requested to carry about US $ 100 per person in cash over and above the tour cost to cover your extra expenses for main meals and others enroute until Lhasa. Even with cash dollars, local can people help you to get them exchanged to Chinese yuan. Travelers cheques and credit cards are very difficult to get cashed other than at the banks, especially outside Lhasa. The unit of currency is the yuan . Us$ 1 = 8 yuan. Communications: Many areas of Tibet are without communication facilities, including telephone and postal services. In Western Tibet , there is no telephone facility after Saga, the small city near the famous Brahamaputra River. In case of emergency, please ask your family and friends to contact the staff at our Kathmandu office that will provide information and respond to their needs accordingly. Accommodation: Only Cities like Lhasa , Gyantse and Shigatse have hotels with private toilets, hot showers and some modern amenities. Electricity and hot water supplies may be disrupted, although the hotels in these cities promise them. Hot water availability in some hotels may be for a few hours of the day only. You will have to check the reception desk at each hotel.
Guesthouse accommodation and dormitories with very basic facility are available in the rest of Tibet . In such places, do not expect a private toilet, hot shower, TV or any other amenities. In Mount Kailash and the trekking region, tent camps are used. Each two-person tent is furnished with mattresses and pillows. There will also be a dinning tent, a kitchen tent and a few toilet tents installed.

Go to Tibet for Adventure not Luxury: Tibet is the land of overwhelmingly beautiful landscapes, rich cultures, ancient religions, amazing myths and gorgeous mountains. Renowned as the last Shangri La in the world, Tibet is isolated by the high Himalayas and is one of the least developed parts of the world. Facilities are being upgraded and professionalism is still underway. So travelers are warned that they should not expect luxury and a full fledged professionalism in Tibet. Its extreme remoteness, harsh weather and difficult geography makes the journey challenging.

Food: In Central Tibet, the trip includes a daily breakfast in the hotels. While trekking and on the Mount Kailash trip, there will be a team of Nepalese and Tibetan crews to prepare three meals a day. Most of the supplies come from Nepal, and some vegetables are purchased locally. The cook changes the menu every day, from Nepali to Tibetan to Continental with whatever possible from the limited supplies that they bring from Nepal. The major cities like Lhasa , Gyantse, Shigatse, Tsetang and Zhangmu have choices of restaurants serving Continental, Chinese and Tibetan dishes. For snacks, you may want to bring energy bars, cookies, chocolate, nuts and dried foods to eat on the way.

Tibetan guides are reported to have limited English. So, a fluent explanation about culture and religion or any other academic topics should not be expected from them. They find their job well in dealing with the bureaucracies and clearing with the checkpoints. However, we try our best to assign trained and knowledgeable guides, certified by the Tourism Authority of Tibet. With a big group sized tour, a Nepalese Tour Leader will accompany the group from Kathmandu and make sure that everything goes in the right order.

Photography: Photography at the airport, bridges and government establishments is not allowed. In violation of this rule, the only penalty may not be that you will pay a fine, but you will also loose the film. Inside the monastery, pictures can be taken with permission only from the Lamas or monks, and you may have to pay 10 to 20 RMB in each chapel/chamber.

Climate, Clothing and Equipment
: Tibet is cold in winter, cool in summer and generally dry, receiving only 450 millimeters of rain or snow. Sunlight is extremely intense. The thin air neither blocks nor holds heat. So, sunshine feels warm, shadows are chilly, and temperatures can vary greatly within a day, exceeding 29 degree Celsius (84 f) in desert areas in the summer and plunging below 4 degree Celsius (40 f) the same night. The most pleasant months for tourism are from April to October. Clothing should be simple and consist of layers, which can be added or removed as the temperature varies during the day. A warm windbreaker and stout, comfortable shoes are especially recommended. Formal attire such as a necktie or dress is never needed, since trousers and sweaters are the style. Lhasa now has many pharmacies selling Tibetan, Chinese and some westerns medicines, but it is advisable to bring your own comprehensive first-aid kit, sunglasses with good ultra-violet protection, sun block and lip cream. A flashlight is important because many interesting sights are poorly lit.

Altitude & Health Tips: Travelling in Tibet is an adventure involving high altitude and could be strenuous. While most visitors have only minor effects from the altitude, guests with known heart, lung or blood diseases are encouraged to consult their doctor before travelling. A mild headache, fever, loss of appetite or stomach disorder can take place during the process of acclimatization. Our advice for better acclimatization is to drink a minimum of four liters of water a day, do not exhaust yourself too much, breathe deeply and take short rests more than usual.

Emergency Evacuation:
Seriously ill travelers should not consider trying to leave Tibet by road, as the difficulties and uncertainties of such a journey pose unacceptable risks. Your only choice is to fly.

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