To plan the perfect Tibet tour you need the help of specialists like Tibet Discovery. We can make obtaining the necessary visas and permits painless; get you to Tibet and around the sites with ease and make your Tibetan adventure run smoothly from beginning to end. We also know how to adapt and answer to travelers’ needs. Our years of experience, local connections and professionalism make us the ideal choice as your Tibetan tour company. Tibet is a complex region, the terrain, culture and politics is best navigated with expert help from Tibet Discovery. To help you start planning your Tibetan adventure we have compiled a list of helpful tips using the insights of local Tibetan guides and our professional team.
Choose when to visit Tibet
Tibet is a large region with a variety of climates and so choosing the right season to visit also depends on where you are going. Generally speaking the best time to visit is April-May and September-October but May to September is also good if you don’t mind crowds and hot weather. Some places like Xinjiang are too hot for comfort in the summer. Due to political restrictions there are no entry visas issued for Tibet during the period around the end of February, March and sometimes into April. For example in 2017 Tibet will be closed to visitors from February 25th to March 31st. To be on the safe side don’t plan a trip to Tibet between February 1st and April 15th .The Golden Week of national Chinese holidays sees an influx of Chinese tourists in the first week of October and Chinese and other tourists in the summer so if you want to avoid crowds avoid the summer. For those wanting fewer crowds, cool weather and clear skies for beautiful photographs travel from the second week of October through to mid-November or in spring from mid-April to mid-May. For those who can’t stand the cold stick to the summer months where there is only occasional rain and beautiful greenery. Winter (December, January) is also a viable option if you are on a budget; staying in Lhasa and don’t mind the cold. Depending on your particular interests and the location you are visiting in Tibet the season you travel can vary.
February-April 15th – Entry is restricted so don’t travel to Tibet in this period.
April 16th-mid-May/June – A good choice for travel, the shoulder season has pleasant weather, fewer crowds than summer and better prices. Roads aren’t blocked by snow or bad weather and skies are blue. This is a good time to visit Everest. Trekking in the Himalayas.
Mid-July-August – Best for those interested in culture and looking for the hottest weather. Many cultural events in this period include Chokor Duchen; horse races; harvest festival and Shoton Festival. The countryside is bright with greenery and wild flowers. Festival lovers.
August-November – Good weather and clear skies with a few regional festivals. A good time for hiking and trekking. Festival lover and trekking in the Himalayas.
1st-7th October – Golden Week, a busy week in Tibet for Chinese tourism.
December-mid-February – The coldest period in Tibet especially in the north only travel at this time if you are staying in Lhasa; hate crowds; want cheap travel and don’t mind the cold. Expect icy winds; roads blocked by snow and freezing temperatures. However if you plan on staying in Lhasa the temperatures are bearable in the day and only really drop low at night. It can get crowded with many Tibetan nomads and villages coming into Lhasa on pilgrimages to the temples. Some tourists prefer these months as they can see many locals in traditional dress and lots of local activity in Lhasa. Travel prices are also cheaper. Travel in Lhasa.
Decide how long to stay in Tibet and what to see
Tibet is a vast region; as large as Western Europe and full of amazing places to visit. Covering the entire region would not be possible in one trip and so you need to prioritize and decide what is on the top of your list of things to see and do in Tibet. There are seven geographical regions in Tibet and so it is recommended to limit yourself to one or two regions during each trip depending on your interests. Tours last from 4 days to 15 days and are normally geared towards certain interest groups – culture; nature; religious sites or trekking. If you are most interested in culture then you will find what you are looking for in Lhasa; southern, central or western Tibet. Trekking enthusiasts should head for the Himalayan peaks and those wanting to see nomadic culture will love the northern and far-western regions. In addition there are beautiful natural spots; mystical lakes and the sacred Mount Kailash. For northern Tibet you will need about 15 days to get the most out of it. If your time is limited then perhaps a 4 day trip to the highlights of Lhasa or a 6 day tour of cultural sites in Tibet. Those visiting Mount Kailash or the Everest Base Camp will want to take a longer trip of 8-15 days. Remember that Tibet is at a high altitude and it take time to acclimatize so work that into your schedule. Check with Tibet Discovery about the physical fitness necessary for each tour. Those with health problems may not be able to handle some of the more remote, rigorous trekking. To make sure that you don’t suffer from altitude sickness it is often recommended to take a day or two relaxing in Lhasa before attempting any trekking or exhilarating site seeing around the region. You are welcome to consult with Tibet Discovery to find the tour which best suits you.
Plan how you will keep in touch with home
Tibet is a region with limited Internet access in some areas and even limited cell phone reception in some places. So you need to decide how you will keep in touch with family and friends at home. Larger cities in Tibet are not a problem. Lhasa, Shigate and a few other large cities have public telephones; Internet cafes and you can buy a local SIM card for your cell phone. Even in remote areas of Tibet there is often cell phone reception so a local SIM in your phone is usually the best option. You can also leave your Tibet tour guide’s contact details with your friends and family so that they can reach you in the case of an emergency.
Read up on altitude sickness
You really need to know your own body and its capabilities. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “it will all be alright” as you must be prepared. If you don’t know what altitude sickness is then read up about it and ask your doctor if you are in good enough shape for a trip to a high altitude region. If your doctor gives you the ok for a trip to Tibet then arm yourself with any medication you might need and a good first aid kit of headache pills; moisturizer for the dry climate and altitude sickness pills. Ask Tibet Discovery about the altitude in your travel destination.
AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness can occur when you go above 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). At such a high altitude there is low air pressure and low oxygen levels. People prone to altitude sickness can experience dizziness, nausea, lethargy, breathlessness, difficulty sleeping and headaches. After being at a higher altitude than you are used to for a couple of days your body acclimatizes and it does not affect you. This is why many tours include a day or two in Lhasa where you can relax while your body adjusts before setting off to remote regions of Tibet. To help cope with altitude sickness it is recommended to get a good night’s sleep; stay hydrated; avoid alcohol and cigarettes; walk slowly and eat light high-carbohydrate meals.