Tibet, an autonomous region in southwestern China, offers one of the most beautiful ways to discover the Himalayas. Set high in the Himalayas at over 4,000meters, it sits one world’s highest plateau, which is why it is often called the Roof of the World. The traditional Tibetan culture with its monks and monasteries, tea houses and delicious food, plus the breathtaking mountain surroundings make Tibet a dream destination for many people.
It can, however, be difficult to visit Tibet, since the region still suffers from independence-related civil unrest, and a travel permit is needed. Sometimes Tibet is closed to foreign tourists by the Chinese authorities. Read on to find out everything you need to know about Tibet’s travel permit and the best ways to visit this region:
Tourism to Tibet is controlled by the Chinese government and travelers have to stay with an organized tour during their entire time in Tibet. You’ll have to choose a tour operator that offers the exact trip that you’re looking for, but there are many options.
First-time visitors to Tibet can choose between trekking tours through the mountains, an introduction to Tibet with a trip from Lhasa to Mount Everest, including must-see attractions like the Jokhang Monastery, Potala Palaca and Namtso Lake.
About the Tibet Travel Permit
If you’re planning to visit Tibet, it’s important to know that you need the Tibet Travel Permit in addition to your Chinese Visa. The tour operator of your choice will apply for this permit for you (you actually can’t apply yourself). Make sure to find out everything you need to know about the Tibet tourist visa, what kinds of permits there are, what the current regulations are (they change often) and what documents you’ll need to get them.
You basically have to decide first on what kind of tour you are going, depending on your interests, book your spot on a tour, apply for a Chinese visa and after that, the tour agency of your choice will take care of your travel permit and everything else. There are lots of agencies that offer similar tours of Tibet, but make sure to choose a Tibet travel agency with a good reputation, experienced tour guides and that offer the exact package you are interested in.
Tibet highlights: Which places shouldn’t be missed?
This is the classic introduction to Tibet, starting with the famous Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remarkable White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings are built on the Red Mountain in the center of Lhasa and are one of the most impressive sites in Tibet. Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery and Drepung Monastery are other stunning, not-to-be-missed site in Lhasa. Lhasa sits at 3,700m and is also an easy introduction to the altitude of Tibet.
Famous Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world (8,844m) doesn’t have to be climbed to be experienced – you can also just enjoy the spectacular views, for example from Rongphu Monastery, the highest monastery in the world.
Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarova
Mount Kailash is a holy mountain and sacred destinatioin for Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims alike. Lake Manasarova, 20km southeast of Mount Kailash, is a holy lake and at 4,588m one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world. Both sights make for stunning photo ops, and shouldn’t be missed – no matter if you’re a pilgrim or not.
Nam-tso Lake is the highest saltwater lake in the world at 4,720m) and the largest lake in Tibet – a magnificent sight, surrounded by mountains and with bright blue waters.
Have you been to Tibet? What places do you think visitors shouldn’t miss?