homeChina travel guide > Tibet (Xizang)
China guide
Regions
Traveler café 
Travel directory
 
Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Tibet (Xizang)
Tibet - TravelPuppy.com
Known as ‘the Roof of the World’, Tibet only opened up to tourists in 1980. It is possible to travel to Tibet as an independent traveller (if a permit is obtained), however, it is much easier to go as part of a tour group with an organised itinerary. The scenery is amazing and Tibetan culture is uniquely fascinating: its tradition of esoteric Buddhism is followed all over Asia and is historically very important. The Cultural Revolution, lead by Han Chinese, inflicted grave damage on Tibet’s cultural identity, but still, it has preserved its way of life and religious traditions, helped occasionally by an apologetic Chinese attempts at restoration.

Visitors should be aware however, that the Chinese government has been actively settling Tibet with Han Chinese for quite some time, and many people they come across will not be Tibetans. Some travellers could experience health difficulties as a result of the altitude, so it is a good idea to consult a doctor before departing.

Lhasa

Known as ‘city of the gods’, Lhasa is situated at an altitude of 3700m (12,000ft). Its great light and clear skies are unique to its high mountainous terrain, however for 6 months of the year it is extremely cold. The main attractions for tourists lie in the Potala or Red Palace, which houses successive Dalai Lamas, and dominates Lhasa and the valley. This 7th-century edifice, constructed on a far more ancient site, is now a spectacular museum whose exhibits include labyrinths of dungeons underneath the Palace, huge bejewelled Buddhas and vast treasure hoards, 10,000 chapels containing human skull and thigh-bone wall decorations along with beautiful Buddhist frescoes, with influences from Nepal and India.

The Potala Palace boasts UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Other notable buildings include the Drepung Monastery, the Norbulingka (Summer Palace) and the Jokhang Temple, adorned with its golden Buddhas. Seek permission prior to taking photographs in Buddhist temples.

Note

Individual visitors desiring to travel to Tibet should be aware that they must first obtain permits from one of the Tibet Tourist Authority’s Tourism Offices (see Contact Addresses and Passport/Visa sections). Keep in mind that, local border officials occasionally demand additional fees, sometimes violently. The Chinese authorities do not react kindly to foreign visitors who become involved with any political activity for Tibetan independence, including photographing or videotaping demonstrations, or accepting Tibetan nationals’ correspondence or parcels to take out of the country.
Useful travel links
Tibet information about Tibet
Welcome to Tibet about Tibet