Tibet is often referred to as the ‘Roof of the World’, given its high elevation which averages more than 4,500 metres. The humbling scale of the landscape impresses travellers with soaring snow-topped mountains overlooking vast, empty plains, centuries-old glaciers and shimmering turquoise lakes. The culture is equally as fascinating, with a people devoted to their faith and heritage despite over half a century of Chinese oppression.
Travel restrictions and other factors often mean that many tourists are reluctant to explore the wonders of Tibet. However, for those that do, the benefits are plain to see. Michael Kern, former Osteopath and trustee of Drukpa Trust, which works in the Himalayan region, has travelled extensively throughout this world-famous mountain range, visiting Tibet, Ladakh and Bhutan, among other destinations.
With some of the world’s highest mountains, magnificent monasteries and breath-taking scenery as just a handful of its attractions, Tibet has a lot to offer even the most seasoned traveller. In the short video attachment, you can learn more about when to visit Tibet to experience some of the country’s most exciting festivals.
Tibet Tourism Bureau Permits (TTB)
The first thing any potential visitor to Tibet needs to know is that a Tibet Tourism Bureau permit, or TTB visa, is required for anyone not native to China or Hong Kong. A valid Chinese visa is also required for anyone except citizens of Japan, Singapore or Brunei, in addition to the TTB. This needs to be applied for at least a month in advance and travellers are advised not to mention their intention of visiting Tibet when applying for their Chinese visa.
Independent travel is not allowed, so visitors must book with an organised tour. The upside to this is that anyone offering these tours will be able to help organise the TTB for all those that book with them. The requirement for getting a Chinese visa so far in advance is mainly to ensure the tour operators have time to organise the TTB before the arrival date.
Everest Base Camp
Mount Everest is the highest and therefore possibly most famous mountain in the world and is one of the reasons many people wish to travel to Tibet. Soaring above the landscape at more than 8,848 metres high, Everest is known in Tibetan legends as the ‘sacred mother of the land’. You don’t have to be a mountain climber to appreciate the vast beauty of Everest; tourists are able to visit the base camp that was first used by the British Expedition in 1924, which stands at 5,200 metres above sea level. The best times to visit for the most stunning views are between April and June, then again between September and November.
In the infographic attachment you’ll find some of the world’s tallest mountains, many of which are in Tibet and the Himalayas.
The Potala Palace in Lhasa has a rich history as the Dalai Lamas’ winter residence and the former seat of Tibetan government. The towering architectural wonder, which has fortress-like walls and rises 13 storeys, contains the Red Palace for religious functions and the White Palace, which is where the Dalai Lamas stayed, along with more than a thousand rooms.
These are just a couple of the spectacular opportunities awaiting travellers to Tibet. You can see an overview of some more places of interest in the PDF attachment to this post.