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Welcome to Tibet - The Roof of the World.

Tibet: the Land of Snows, the roof of the world. For centuries this mysterious Buddhist kingdom, locked away in its mountain fastness of the Himalaya, has exercised a unique hold on the imagination of the West. For explorers, imperialists and traders it was a forbidden land of treasure and riches. Dreamers on a spiritual quest have long whispered of a lost Shangri-la, steeped in magic and mystery. When the doors were finally flung open in the mid-1980s, Tibet lay in ruins. Between 1950 and 1970, the Chinese wrested control of the plateau, drove the Tibetans’ spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and some 100, 000 of Tibet’s finest into exile and systematically dismantled most of the Tibetan cultural and historical heritage, all in the name of revolution. For a while images of the Buddha were replaced by icons of Chairman Mao. Today, Tibetan pilgrims across the country are once again mumbling mantras and swinging their prayer wheels in temples that are heavy with the thick intoxicating aroma of juniper incense and yak butter. Monasteries have been restored across the country, along with limited religious freedoms. A walk around Lhasa’s lively Barkhor pilgrimage circuit is proof enough that the efforts of the communist Chinese to build a brave new (roof of the) world have foundered on the remarkable and inspiring faith of the Tibetan people.

For travellers, Tibet is without doubt one of the most remarkable places to visit in Asia. It offers fabulous monastery sights, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning views of the world’s highest mountains and one of the most likeable peoples you will ever meet. There's Gyantse, in the Nyang-chu Valley, famed for the largest chörten (stupa) in Tibet, and hiking in Yarlung Valley, widely considered the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Base yourself in Tsetang and marvel at the monkey cave in Gangpo Ri or walk the monastery kora (pilgrim path). Your trip will take you past glittering mountain turquoise lakes and over high passes draped with prayer flags. Find a quiet spot in a prayer hall full of chanting monks, hike past the ruins of remote hermitages or make an epic overland trip along some of the world’s wildest roads. The scope for adventure is limitless.

  • Geography and Natural Scenery:
  • This place is called 'Roof of the World' and the 'Third Pole of the Earth'. Five mountains exceed the altitudes of 8,000 meters (26,240 feet) and most rise to 7,000 meters (22,960 feet), making them a natural challenge for mountaineers. The world's highest peak, Mt. Everest is situated in this region. The vast land is also the river source for the Yangtze River, the Yellow River, the Yarlong Tsangpo (Brahmaputra), the Indus, and the Ganges. Its lakes: the Heavenly Lake Namtso, the Yamdrok Yumtso Lake and the Lake Manasarova set the region apart as an exceptional scenic place.

  • The People and Life:
  • The people living in this vast land are mainly Tibetan, an ethnic group with bold and uninhibited characteristics. They take beef, mutton and dairy products as staple food, which protect them from severe cold. The locals grow crops under harsh climatic conditions. The main grain crop grown here is the barley. The popular zanba and barley wine are made from it. Traditional local clothing are usually thick, warm and loose with wide waist and long sleeves and skirts. Hada, a ceremonial scarf, is highly regarded. People here usually present Hada as a mark of esteem when holding celebration parties, welcoming visitors, visiting the elders or seeing someone off. This land is reputed as the 'Sea of Dances and Songs', where people enjoy these pursuits. People here also engages in wrestling, horse racing and archery on festivals. You have an opportunity to do home visits and learn more.

  • Religion:
  • The area is synonymous with devout religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. In the 16th century, every family produced a member in the holy orders: a quarter of its population. It has been built into the culture with 1,700 Buddhism monasteries in the country. The Bon comes second with 88 Bon religious places of worship. Religious festivals are celebrated like national holidays. You come across religious artifacts year round there.

  • Tibetan Culture:
  • Renowned for its vibrant culture and spiritual traditions, a remarkable civilization has flourished for more than a thousand years on the ‘roof of the world.’ With Tibet at its heart, this Buddhist civilization has grown to encompass a vast area stretching from Bhutan, Nepal, and northern India, over the Himalayas and across the high plateaus of Asia to Mongolia, Buryatia and beyond.

    Enriched by a thousand years of Buddhism brought from India, this civilization emerged from the Tibetan plateau to embrace a sweep of peoples and lands stretching from China to Afghanistan, indelibly marking the character of cultures from one end of Asia to the other, through its religion, its language and its arts.

    From the 8th century on, this Buddhist culture spread from central Tibet, Amdo and Kham, to Himalayan Nepal and Bhutan in the south, to Mongolia in the north — and into Russia, crossing the steppes from Buryatia and Tuva, to take hold in Kalmykia in the far west. Throughout these lands, great monasteries and renowned teachers rose up — one of whom so impressed the Mongol Altan Khan that he called him Dalai Lama or “Ocean of Wisdom.”

    By the dawn of the 20th century, millions of people across a swath of Asia rivaling the sizes of India and China looked to Lhasa and the Dalai Lamas for spiritual leadership.

    This civilization has managed to survive a half century and more of repression in its Tibetan and Mongolian homelands. Indeed, Tibetan Buddhism lives on in the mountains and valleys of Nepal, home to the world-famous Sherpas and a rich array of other Tibetan Buddhist peoples; in remote Himalayan regions ranging from Ladakh and Mustang to Sikkim and Tawang; and in the kingdom of Bhutan, which has entered the 21st century with its millennium-old Buddhist culture vibrant and alive.

    And in newly-independent Mongolia (formerly Outer Mongolia), Tibetan Buddhism is once again openly practiced without fear after surviving underground for 70 years, with its monasteries being rebuilt with the help of the current Dalai Lama and others — a tribute to the ties which still bind these peoples together.

    Together, these peoples represent the legacy of a millennium-old civilization and the lasting influence of Tibetan culture.

  • How to get Tibet permit or visa in 2013?:
  • How to get Tibet permit or visa in 2013 must be a headache for many travelers since it probably requires at least five tourists with the same nationality to apply for Tibet permit and travel in Tibet together. It means that you must join in a tour group if you wanna make a Tibet tour in 2013.

    The Tibet permit is not issued for you, but for your tour group. Thus, there is only one piece of Tibet permit for all of you. If you travel to Tibet by air, the original Tibet permit is required when boarding the flight to Tibet, but if you travel to Tibet by train, one copy of the Tibet permit is ok for you to board the train to Tibet. Therefore, you have to take the same flight to Tibet with other travelers in your group who also fly to Tibet; while, it is not necessary to take the same train to Tibet with other group members.

    I suppose how to get to Tibet is not a big headache for you. Once you get the Tibet permit or Tibet entry permit, how to get to Tibet is just a piece of cake. So just be patient to keep reading.

    Firstly, tell us your nationality and Tibet tour plan, even China or Asia tour plan if you are an individual traveler. Then we will see whether there is a Tibet tour group matching your nationality and schedule. If there is, that’s great. You are welcome to join in them. If not, we will set up a new group for you and find travel mates for you. Once there are travelers in the tour group as Tibet Tourism Bureau requires, we will make arrangements to apply for Tibet permit for you. When we get the Tibet permit, we will send it to your reserved hotel in the city from which you will take train or flight to Tibet.

    If you are travelling with friends or family members and prefer a private tour in Tibet, we will also try all our efforts to meet your requirements once all of you are from the same country. Specifically, we may apply Tibet permit for you with other travelers, but you and your friends or family member will not share the tour guide and tourist vehicle with other travelers.

    Honestly speaking, it is best to join in our nomral group tours. On one hand, you can find travel partners and get Tibet permit easier. On the other hand, you can cut down the cost by sharing the tour guide, tourist vehicle and rooms with other tourists.

    1. What documents do I need to visit Tibet?
    To visit Tibet you should have a valid passport, a Chinese visa and a Tibet Travel Permit, also called a Tibet Entry Permit or Tibet Visa. We will obtain the Tibet Travel Permit for you from the Tibet Tourism Bureau.

    2. What documents do I need to send you to apply for TTP?
    Once you have confirmed your tour with us, we need you to send us clear scanned copies of Passports and China Visas for every member of the group to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit. If your China Visa is not an “L” visa, then you must also provide additional documents such as student certificates, work permits, residence permits and so on.

    3. How do I obtain the Tibet Travel Permit?
    To obtain Tibet Travel Permits, it is necessary to make your travel arrangements through a genuine local travel agency, providing clear scanned copies of you passport and China visa. Please note that it’s impossible to board any flights or trains to Tibet without the Travel Permit. The permits themselves specify every destination and all the towns that you would visit during the tour and cannot be changed once you have arrived in Tibet; therefore, be sure to detail all possible destinations as well as the route before you decide your trip. It usually takes 3 working days for the Tibet Travel Permit to be issued. I can take 5 to 7 days if your particular tour requires the Military Permit and PSB permit.

    4. What kind of trip requires the Military Permit, PSB Permit and Alien's Travel Permit?
    Military and PSB Permits are only needed for those trips going through sensitive areas or a border region; these trips include the Mt. Kailash trip, Sichuan-Tibet Overland Tour, Tibet-Kashigar Overland Tour and so on. Alien's Travel Permits are necessary if you are going to Mt. Everest Base Camp, Samye Monastery (southern part of Tibet), Nyinchi (Eastern part of Tibet) and Mt. Kailash, but these can be issued from the local PSB just before you enter the region.

    5. How long does the Tibet Permit application process take?
    Normally, Tibet permits can be issued in 3 working days, but if your tour itinerary covers some restricted or unopened area like EBC, Mt. Kailash, Sichuan-Tibet highway and Yunnan-Tibet highway, you may need several different permits which could take around 7 working days.

    6. How and when do I receive the Tibet Permit?
    Normally, we are able to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit 10-15 days before the trip’s starting date. If you are going to fly into Tibet, you should provide us with details about your hotel or residence address in China (including the correct name under which the booking is made) and we will send the original permit to you by EMS which takes 24hrs to 3 days within China. Since you will need the original permit to board the flight to Tibet, we never mail it abroad as it takes longer and could be delayed or lost. If you don't have a long layover in China (overnight), you can send us your detailed flight information and we can arrange for someone to deliver the permit to you at the airport.

    If you are taking the train to Tibet, we will send you a copy of the permit by email and you can print it and bring it on board the train.

    7. How we can enter Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal?
    There are two main ways to get into Tibet from Nepal, either through a direct flight from Kathmandu to Tibet (normally available on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) or by an overland drive to Tibet. The overland drive poses a greater risk of getting Altitude sickness due to the extreme increase in elevation along the way.

    8. What documents are needed if we enter Tibet from Nepal?
    If you plan to enter Tibet from Nepal, you must get the TIBET GROUP VISA from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu despite whether or not you already have a Chinese Visa. The Tibet Group Visa is an A4 size sheet of paper, with the name, sex, nationality, passport number, date of birth and occupation of each member of your group listed. The dates of entry and exit are precisely recorded. Usually, the visa is valid only for the length of the trip you have booked but it's possible to get the visa extended for few additional days, for stays in Lhasa only. There will be two original copies of the Tibet Group Visa, one for immigration at the entry and one for the exit. We can easily help you with the Tibet Group Visa application. We also highly recommend if you enter Tibet via Nepal not to apply for an individual Chinese Visa in your country; when you arrive in Kathmandu, you will need to apply for the Group Visa to enter Tibet and the Chinese Embassy will cancel your individual Chinese Visa when you receive the Group Visa.

  • Avoid High Altitude Sickness
  • As Tibet is a remote area at a high altitude, altitude sickness (or acute mountain sickness, AMS) easily occurs. A thorough physical examination is advisable before travelling to Tibet. People with serious heart diseases should not visit Tibet. Those with less serious heart problems need to consult a doctor before starting your trip. People with high or low blood pressure need to consult a doctor before traveling. Try to keep healthy and not to catch a cold before entering Tibet. The first day arriving in Tibet, visitors are advised not to take a bath, smoke and drink alcohol.

    Altitude sickness is considered as the biggest health risk for travelling to Tibet. An altitude over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) is usually defined as high altitude. Tibet is a land with average elevation above 4,000m. Most part area where people can travel and trek is more than 3,000m, so you need to know how to avoid altitude sickness.

    Acute mountain sickness is common at high altitudes due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. Most people will appear different degrees of symptoms at high elevation, like headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. The occurrence of altitude sickness depends on the altitude. The higher altitude, the serious symptoms appear. If a tourist suffers from altitude sickness, the best remedy is to take him to a lower altitude. It is extremely dangerous to let him traveling to a higher place that may cause more serious symptoms even death within few minutes.

    Though altitude sickness can be very serious, there is only a small part of tourists really suffering from that. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. Most people will experience one or more altitude sickness symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet. And they can soon acclimatize on the first one or two days in Lhasa. The symptoms will usually gradually decrease or disappeared.

    Here are some good methods to help you avoid altitude sickness in Tibet.

    1. Before visiting Tibet, get healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically. Visitors having heart disease, high blood pressure or other organ problems or anemia should consult their doctor before making the decision to visit Tibet.

    2. If you go to Tibet for trekking, please make physical exercise plan one month before you fly to the high altitude, swimming, long distance walking, tennis or something.

    3. Please take care of yourself and avoid catching cold before you go to Tibet, you will easily suffer from altitude sickness under weak physical condition.

    4. Please do not drink any alcohol on the first two days you are in Tibet. You need to bring enough water or drinks and fruits, snacks with high caloric content, like chocolate.

    5. It is better not to take shower at the first two days you are in Lhasa, because you are facing the danger of catching a cold.

    6. Don’t be so exciting upon your arrival in Tibet, and do not run, jump or do some taxing job at the first two days. Being peaceful and having a good rest are important.

    7. Once you have the symptoms of altitude sickness, please report to your tour guide immediately, and don’t go higher with symptoms of altitude sickness.

    8. Medication and oxygen also help to prevent altitude sickness. Mild altitude sickness symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication and oxygen do not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to a safe altitude!

    9. Oxygen can help you relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness, but please do not use it often in Lhasa while your symptoms of altitude sickness are not serious. Most of our clients has more than 4 days itinerary covering Namtso(4800m), Everest Base Camp(5200m) etc, the oxygen treatment does not work at a higher altitude if they take too much at a lower altitude.

    If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you need to tell your guide about this. You guide could send you to the best hospital available in the area.

    Except altitude sickness, there are another health risks in Tibet. Insects might be one of them, particularly in the wild. Protect yourself from insect bites by using insect repellant or spray. Some tourists may be confronted with life-threatening allergic reactions after being bit by insects. In this case, go back to a city nearby to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Do not eat food bought from the street venders. Otherwise, gastrointestinal disorders might visit you and spoil your trip.

    If you want to enjoy a trek in Tibet, especially a long trek, it is necessary to work toward excercising a few times a week for about 30 minutes each time. Walking, running, cycling and Hillwalking with a pack weighing 5-10 Kilos or10-20 pounds are good preparation for trekking. Swimming is also a fun and excellent form of training because it does not put stress upon your joints. In order to arrive for your expedition in top shape, please take plenty of rest and do not over-do it. Adequate rest and a well balanced diet are essential to avoid injury and illness before trekking.

    More tips:
    1. Drink plenty of water while traveling in Tibet. Eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy and avoid alcohol so as to decrease the risk of dehydration.
    2. Sunscreen, sunglasses, lip creams are recommended to protect your eyes and skin because the solar radiation strikes the earth with unusual intensity due to the high altitude and the thin atmosphere in Tibet.
    3. In addition to the normal medications for traveling it is advisable to bring high altitude medication. Seek suggestions from your doctor.
    4. Tell your guide quickly if you don't feel well and follow the guide's advice.
  • What to Pack
  • Deciding what to pack is not always easy, but do try to remember this principle: Pack the minimum wherever you travel! Planning a trip to Tibet is just the same as in any other places. But remember Tibet is on the roof of the world and most part of it is remote area. The things to pack should be in your consideration beforehand. As Tibet is on the highland with a special climate, you need to prepare suitable clothing and travelling paraphernalia.

    1. Most Important Ones
    The passport with all necessary visas and Tibet travel permits.

    2. Clothes
    The temperatures change greatly on the altiplano. In the north part of Tibet, people wear thick coats all year round (including July and August which are the hottest months in most of the areas in China). The highest temperature is 4-5 degrees centigrade in northern Tibet. It also snows in July and August.

    The temperature difference in a single day is big. In Lhasa, the temperature in July arrives at 30 degrees centigrade at daytime, but falls to 10 degrees centigrade at night. Sometimes it will snow or sleet at night, so you'd better take some down garments (those with hats will better), woolen sweaters, warm gloves, warm and wind-proof shoes and socks. Wearing several layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed is the wise choice since temperatures may vary greatly within a single day.

    Most hotels in Tibet have no central heating. The air-conditioners in single rooms do not work well in the cold night. In winter, from November to next March, of course you need bring down jackets, warm sweaters, gloves, warm pants, woolen hats. It is very cold in the morning and evening. In summer, wearing a T-shirt in day time but the Jacket is necessary at hotel in the morning and evening.

    During the peak tourism season, April, May, September and October, you need to prepare T-shirts, overcoats and jeans, warm sweaters. Besides, frequent rainfall in this season makes waterproof clothing and raingear absolute necessities.

    Even in summer, a down coat is necessary for those who are traveling beyond Lhasa and Shigatse into more remote areas such as the Everest Camp. A windbreaker plus a sweater will work nicely for strolling around Lhasa in summer.

    Other essentials to pack include four or five pairs of cotton or woolen underwear, four or five pairs of woolen socks, long sleeve cotton or lightweight wool shirts and T-shirts. Women should avoid skirts or dresses.

    Also, whenever you visit Tibet, if your plan includes overnight at Everest Base Camp or Namtso Lake, or a several days outdoor trek in mountain area, to keep warm is very important. The winter clothes are a must, However, you do not worry too much about clothing, you can buy any kind of what you need in Lhasa and clothes is quite cheap.

    3. Shoes
    It is very important to have a strong comfortable pair of boots, specially your travel covers remote area and you have to walk for a long distance. For example, if your travel reaches Everest Base Camp, you need to cover 8 km from Rongpuk Monastery to EBC and back. Lightweight boots are fine, but Tibet can be wet and we will do extensive walking, so make sure your shoes fit well and are suitable for cold and puddles. You should also have a pair of comfortable and tough sandals.

    4. Bags
    A large backpack, a smaller one, plus a waist bag make it perfect. The smaller one can be used for daily activities and can also be put into the big one when necessary. The waist bag is for take some small and important things with you. Please do not take any big suitcase with you, as a wise traveler knows, the outdoor backpack is the best bag for travel because you can move more freely.

    5. Daily articles
    Hotels in some areas are very simple, without towels, soap etc. You need to bring your own items such as a cup, a small towel, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and slippers. Or you take some disposable items in better hotel you stay in Lhasa. It is not convenient to wash clothes when traveling at remote places, you can buy some disposable underpants.

    6. Medicine
    Take an adequate supply of any prescription medication you use regularly, including medicine for cold, headache, stomach ache, and insect bite, diarrhea and so on. Most over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and anti-diarrheal pills, are available in Lhasa, but are more difficult to obtain outside of urban areas. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to bring enough cleaning solution for the term, since this is hard to find, and expensive. Bring diamox pills which are believed to prevent the altitude sickness. Please consult your doctor prior to your travel to Tibet.

    7. Skin care products
    Wind and solar radiation are quite strong in Tibet. The skin care products are quite necessary, such as lip balms, sun block, and skin creams,sunglasses. Ladies should take the high SPF sun-cream. By the way, do not forget to wear a hat and a long-sleeved T-shirt which can effectively protect you from being exposed under sunshine. Please pay much attention to this advice. Many people just neglect it and are seriously burnt on the trip.

    8. Cash and credit cards
    In Tibet, credit cards can only be used in big hotels in big cities such as Lhasa and Shigatse. Remember to bring some cash in different denominations and prepare enough cash for the days you are out of Lhasa since ATMs are few in the more remote areas.

    9. Trekking equipments
    Most areas in Tibet are extremely remote, with few inhabitants. It is necessary to prepare trekking equipments beforehand, including sleeping bags, sleeping mats, stoves, cookware and camp kitchen, water filter and purifiers, backpacks, dry bags, pack liners, trekking poles, hydration system, headlamps and lighting, camp bathroom, tents and tarps, first aid kits, emergency shelters, random handy gear, navigation, expedition food, hammocks, multi tools, lock knives, Swiss army Knives, etc. Some trekking supplies like down and fleece jackets, boots, bags are available in Lhasa, but it is better to be prepared before departing since supplies are unpredictable. But if you choose, we can help you to prepare trekking equipments in advance.

    10. Food and drinks
    When traveling to remote areas of Tibet it is a good idea to pack some food, snacks, and drinking water. It is not always easy to find food or drinkable water in these areas. Water purification equipment, such as hand pump filters, is not necessary, as bottled mineral water and thermoses of boiled water are available everywhere throughout Tibet. Water purification tablets can be useful during trekking.

    It is a good idea to take a good quality multivitamin to supplement your diet since a supply of vegetables and fruits may not be readily available.

    11. Electrical current
    The electrical current in Tibet is 220v, AC 50 Hz. There are numerous different plug types used in Tibet , so it might be easier to purchase an adapter once you get there.

    12. Oxygen bag
    Oxygen bag is also necessary, for there are lots of places of high elevation. To avoid anoxic accidents, you can buy some oxygen bags in Tibetan hospitals or some of the hotels.

    Other Useful Notions
    I) Bring a sturdy padlock with you since some of the rooms in the hostels located in the more remote areas do not come equipped with locks on the doors.
    II) Candles may also be useful in these hostels.
    III) Maps of the areas that you plan on visiting can be very helpful.
    IV) All necessary toilet items including small packages of tissues and either a battery operated shaver or razor.
    V) Plastic bags, a flashlight, extra batteries, sewing kit, lighter, and a pocket knife.
    VI) Don't forget your camera and plenty of film and spare batteries.
    VII) There is really a lot to remember but if you forget something many of these items are available in Lhasa.