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Tibet guide

Young Buddhist monks, Tibet
Above: Young Buddhist monks, Tibet

Overview

A staunchly Buddhist country for centuries, the huge Himalayan plateau of Tibet is now an autonomous province of China, with increasing Chinese influence over its running and infrastructure. Tibet's culture is unique and one of the big attractions of visiting the country. The Tibetan people's hospitality is legendary and many Tibetans find it a great honor to welcome guests into their homes. Tibet's distinctive communal cultures such as etiquette, dress, marriage and burial ceremonies are colorful, unique, and unforgettable.

Highlights

  • Potala Palace - former chief residence of the Dalai Lama, now a museum
  • Everest Base Camp - view Everest peak from the Tibetan side
  • Gyantse - world famous Gyantse Kumbum
  • Xigatse - Tashilhunpo monastery and Xigatse fortress
  • Mount Kailash - holy site for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains
  • Yarlung River National Park - king cobra, leopards, red pandas, musk deer, monkeys and tigers
  • Yamdrok Lake - sacred lake

Geography

Bound to the south by the Himalaya, to the west by the Karakorma and then to the north by the Kunlun and Altyn ranges, the Tibetan Plateau is one of the most isolated regions in the world. Four of the worlds highest mountains are found in the south of the country, straddling the border with Nepal. Overall, the country is about the size of Western Europe and has an average altitude of around 4,000m with many parts of the country well above 5,000m.

Weather & Climate

Tibet has similar seasons to China, but with lower temperatures due to the higher altitudes.

The winter season of November to March is very cold with temperatures as low as –2C in January. The summer months of May to September have warm days with strong sunshine but can still be cold at night. At higher altitudes, it remains cold all day long. There are a few regional variations within Tibet with the higher north and western areas being much colder than other regions. The main monsoon season lasts from mid-July until the end of September and can affect travel around parts of Tibet as the heavy rainfall can cause landslides blocking roads.

Security

We advise you check your local consular advice for up to date security information before you travel. Tibet is a friendly and generally trouble free country with little crime affecting tourists. However, the borders can be closed with very little notice by the Chinese authorities, particularly around important anniversaries such as the Tibetan uprising on the 10th March. We generally advise avoiding planning to travel to Tibet during the whole of March to avoid disappointment. 

Flights (from the UK)

There are no direct flights into Tibet from the UK or other Western cities. Flights are available from Kathmandu in Nepal and Chengdu in China.

Religions

Tibetan Buddhism >90%, Islam <10%, Others (trace).

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Factfile

Time: GMT+6
Dial code: 00 86
Area: 1,200,000 sq km
Elevation: Lowest point: Lake Shuku 366m
Highest point: Mt. Everest 8,850m
Population: 2,840,000 (2008)
Capital: Lhasa
Government: Communist
Language: Tibetan and other regional dialects, Mandarin Chinese is also used in government and business

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Customer feedback

"Really good value for money, guides were faultless! Full marks and cheers for an amazing experience."

Stephen Roberts (Everest Base Camp)

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