Tibet Travel FAQs and Tips
1. Is independent tour allowed in Tibet?
In order to protect the centuries-old cultural relics, Tibetan fragile environment and respect the tradition of Tibetan people and considering the limited reception capacity in Tibet, the China National Tourism Administration stipulate that all foreign tourists, Taiwaneses and non-Chinese passport holders are not allowed to travel to Tibet by themselves. They are only permitted to travel to Tibet with arranged travel service, including travel guide, driver and vehicle from a travel agency.
Hong Kong and Macao residents just need a Home Return Certificate instead.
Thus, independent tour is prohibited in Tibet. Foreign tourist should take part in an organized tour or group tour to have the local travel operator to arrange details for you.
2. When is the best time to visit Tibet?
Scenery in Tibet is various in different seasons and different regions. Generally, it is suitable to travel to Tibet from April to October to visit different destinations in Tibet, such as watch exuberant Nyingchi Peach Blossom in spring, enjoy the spectacular Mount Everest in early summer, experience popular Lhasa attractions in golden autumn and have a warm Tibet sunbathing in winter.
Specifically, August and September is the best time to Tibet where weather is rather good for most sightseeing in Tibet. Meanwhile, attraction tickets and hotels are in high demand during high season when crowds are everywhere. If you only have enough time for a winter tour and can bear the cold weather, you can take a dollar-saving winter Tibet tour to avoid the crowds.
3. What to bring if I travel to Tibet?
Tibet travel is dissimilar to inland tour. For the clothing, we suggest you dress casual style and layered clothes because temperatures in Tibet vary greatly within a day. Down jacket and warm coat is necessary if you go beyond Lhasa and Shigatse to remote areas, e.g. EBC or further to Mt.Kailash. A pair of comfortable and wearable shoes is needed. For sunprotection on plateau, sunhat, sunglasses, sun screen, etc. are must have items. And there is more equipment you are recommended to take …
4. Is it OK for me to bathe every day?
Since you visit Tibet where is located at high elevation, your health and following travel is very important. It is not a good idea to bathe immediately when you arrive in Tibet in case you catch cold or loss of energy, maybe severe. We strongly suggest you not to take bath in the first two days after your arrival in Tibet. You can bathe one or two days later when your body has acclimatized to the conditions. In fact, it is very dry and cold at night, so travelers usually choose not to bathe very often in Tibet.
5. Can I see a sky burial in Tibet?
Sky Burial (also called Celestial Burial) is a Tibetan traditional funeral ritual and is under protection of the laws. Any organization or individual are forbidden to watch, take photos and record video of the Celestial Burial. No newspapers, magazines, books, broadcast, films, television, internet and media are allowed to publish, play and any reports about Sky Burial. And no tourist’s exhibition of Sky Burial is allowed either.
To respect local customs, all visitors CANNOT view sky burials or take photos of the practice without permission, or do anything that is blasphemous around.
6. Are credit cards accepted in Tibet?
Credit cards are not recommended as a way of payment in Tibet because they are only accepted by the Bank of China, up-market hotels and large shopping departments in Lhasa and Shigatse. During your travel in Tibet, you’d better prepare enough cash – RMB for all tourists’ purchasing and shopping.
1. What documents do I need if I am planning to travel to Tibet?
First, you need to have a valid passport, and then apply for a valid Chinese visa for your travel to China. A Tibet Travel Permit (sometimes people call it Entry permit or TTB, or Tibet visa) is needed for your Tibet tour. More visas or permits, like Aliens’ Travel Permit, Military Permit and Border Pass, Group Visa are also required if you want to visit more further regions outside Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse.
2. Do I need double/multi-entry visa if I come to Tibet from China mainland and return China mainland after the trip?
No, because Tibet is a part of China, if you enter Tibet from other cities in China mainland and after your trip in Tibet, get back to mainland China again, only a single entry visa is required.
3. If I travel via Nepal to Tibet, are there any special requirements on China visa?
If you want to enter Tibet via Kathmandu, Nepal, you'd better get Chinese visa from Kathmandu as no matter you've already got the visa in your country or not, you must get a ROUP VISAG in Kathmandu, which is an official agreement between China and Nepal.
4. With Tibet Travel Permit, where can I go in Tibet?
Tibet is in southwestern China and adjacent to India, Nepal and some South Asia countries. Tibet Travel Permit (or TTB) only endorses you to enter Tibet, to stay in Lhasa area and two another major towns of Tibet like Gyantse and Shigatse in central Tibet areas. If you are planning to travel beyond and farther, even to border areas like Mount Everest, you are required to prepare more permits the PSB Permit for Tibet access TibetDIscovery could help you to apply.
5. When do I need to apply for the Tibet travel Permit?
All Tibet Travel Permits will be issued by the Tourist Bureau of Tibet Autonomous Region. In order to make sure you will book train/flight ticket successfully, you can contact us to prepare Tibet Travel Permit application in advance.
You need to apply for the travel permit at least 15~20 days prior to your entry date, which means you should prepare all the information and documents in hand before this period of time.
Lodging and Dining:
1. What are the hotels like in Tibet?
Tourism in Tibet developed a lot in recent years and hotel facilities and service are also greatly improved. Due to special location and geography, living standard in remote cities may not be as you expect from a hotel in other parts of the world. Some hotel workers can speak English, but some staff will probably not. Hotels in small cities and the Everest Base Camp are very basic and simple. Usually you only have a public bathroom with squat toilet to use.
2. Does the hotel room have access to internet?
Tibet large and deluxe hotels usually provide wireless access to internet for guest rooms. Tourists have the most and the best hotels in Lhasa to choose compared to other destinations in Tibet. But there are still some hotel rooms, not all, in Lhasa and rest Tibetan cities don’t have access to internet, so you should inquiry your travel advisor for accurate information before making decision. Or you can use public internet service in business center or hotel lobby.
3. Is there 24-hour hot water running?
Due to basic condition in Tibet, sometimes with the poor pressure, the water flow small and water sometime is not hot but just warm. In remote area, the condition can be even worse. 24 - Hour hot water supply depends on different hotels and hostels where you can check first, do some preparation or choose an available one in major cities like Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse. But it’s hard to find perfect one in remote and harsh places.
4. What can I eat in Tibet?
Tibet owns its distinctive Tibetan food, like Tsampa, Yak Meat, Tibetan Noodle, Momo, Milk Curd, Yogurt and local dishes. With the development of tourism, there are more cuisines brought into Tibet, e.g. Sichuan Cuisine, western food, Nepali food, Indian food and many other Chinese cuisines. In Lhasa, tourists have a wide range of choice in Lhasa, while limited options in remote towns and areas.
1. Is it easy to purchase a train ticket to Tibet now?
The popularity of train travel to Tibet has resulted in the huge demand for Tibet train tickets among visitors. Train ticket will be quickly sold out in high season, months of summer holidays and autumn especially. It's very difficult for individual travelers to get a ticket on their own. Reliable travel agencies can NOT guarantee successful booking. We advise you to confirm your Tibet itinerary early so we can help you to book train/flight ticket beforehand. Plan-B is that you can fly into Tibet and return by a train.
2. What vehicle do you use in Tibet?
If your arranged tour is mainly in downtown Lhasa, you can easily get to Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street or nearby attractions at short distance by walking or taking a local rickshaw. If you want to tour around Lhasa, we suggest you to use minivan as the road condition around Lhasa is pretty good, and the minivan cost less as well. If your tour covers some places with bad road condition and has long distance to reach, we offers 4WD off road vehicles for you.
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