Travel Advice for Tibet Winter Tour
Tibet offers fabulous monasteries, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning views of the world’s highest mountains and one of the most likeable peoples you will ever meet. For many people, the highlights of Tibet will be of a spiritual nature: magnificent monasteries, prayer halls of chanting monks, and remote cliffside retreats. Tibet’s pilgrims are an essential part of this appeal, from local grandmothers murmuring mantras in temples heavy with the aroma of juniper incense and yak butter, to the hard-core visitors walking or prostrating themselves around Mt Kailash. Tibet has a level of devotion and faith that seems to belong to an earlier, almost medieval age. It is fascinating, inspiring and endlessly photogenic.
Benefits of Winter Tour of Tibet over High Season of Tibet Tour
Summer is normally the peak season for touring Tibet, and most people think that it cannot be done in winter due to it being freezing cold and covered in deep snow. This is, in fact, something of a myth. While it may well be a little cold in winter, with nighttime temperatures reaching as low as minus 12 degrees, the daytime temperatures can be just as high on the positive side of the thermometer. In fact, the average winter temperature in Lhasa is normally around 12 degrees, which, with the bright sun shining in the clear skies, is quite warm. The clear winter skies are also excellent for photography, with crisper, sharper images due to the bright sun and thinner air.
Tibet in Winter
As with every decent tourist location, summer in Tibet is a crowded mess of thousands of people all trying to cram into one small temple at the same time. Roads get busy, and the smaller towns and cities seem to be thronged with foreign and Chinese tourist, snapping everything in sight and taking selfies with whatever they see. Much more relaxing is a tour in the winter months. From November onwards, the roads are less busy, temples less crowded, and there are less weekend photographers all vying for the same shot. Peace reigns in this land at the roof of the world, making it an ideal time to visit and experience this unique culture in more detail.
Aside from the lack of people, there are also other benefits to starting tours from November. Winter sees a series of discounts on hotels, restaurants, entry tickets, and even the train tickets. Hotel prices drop by around 40% to 60% during the winter months, and entrance tickets for many attractions are normally around half price.
Festivals are another attraction in the winter, with many festivals being held between November and March, such as the Palden Lhamo Festival, Tsongkhapa Festival, Losar, and Monlam.
How to Prepare for Tibet Winter Tour
November sees the start of the winter season in Tibet, and is the ideal time to book a tour. To book your perfect tour to Tibet, simply follow a few easy steps, and then Travel Tibet China will take care of the rest.
Send Your Inquiry and Book Your Tibet Tour
First, send in your inquiry from our official website and let us know what kind of tour you are interested in. There are huge discounts available from November to January, when you can make big savings on your ideal tour. There are lots of winter tours to choose from, from a short tour of Lhasa and the surrounding monasteries to longer tours covering all of central Tibet, and on to Everest and Mt. Kailash in the far west of the region.
Work with Your Travel Consultant to Customize Your Winter Tibet Tour
Your consultant will work with you, asking questions to get a better understanding of what you are looking for in your itinerary, and what kind of places you want to visit, and will make recommendations based on your choices and their years of expertise. The consultant will make up the proposed itinerary for your approval, and will happily work with you free to make any additions and changes that you need, to get your ideal trip perfected.
Once that is all complete, and you are happy with your tour itinerary, you can fix the schedule, and agree to a price quote. The consultant will prepare the formal tour papers, to include travelers info, travel company info, fixed itinerary, price quotation, payment info, insurance info, terms and condition of booking a tour, etc. Once you are happy with it, just sign the papers and send it back to the consultant.
Lhasa and Its Surroundings during Tibetan New Year
Tibetan New Year Festival, also known as Losar Festival, is the most significant festival in Tibet. Just as its name implies, the New Year takes place on 1st January of Tibetan calendar. Tibetan people begin to celebrate on 29th December and the festival lasts for about 2 weeks, with the main celebrations on the first 3 days. Tibetan New Year Festival is not only celebrated in Tibet, but also in Bhutan and Mongolia. Even in Tibet, different areas have different ways to celebrate it, and the festivities in Lhasa are the most representative.
The locals are celebrating Tibetan New Year
Visiting major religious sites like Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple for pilgrimage is extremely important and auspicious on the first day of Tibetan New Year. This centuries-old tradition has remained unchanged. Tourists can climb Potala Palace and add butter oil to lamps inside, and enjoy the view of Lhasa from the roof. Barkhor Street is also full of pilgrims at New Year, with thousands lining up to pay worship at the region’s most sacred site. Sera, Drepung, and Ganden monasteries are also important sites in Lhasa at New Year, with the monks chanting and praying for blessings and peace.
Lhasa to Namtso
Only exploring the exotic culture of Tibet is not enough, you also have to enjoy its natural beauty. Take a tour to visit the picturesque Namtso Lake to marvel at the beautiful but harsh landscape of the holy lake Namtso. Namtso Lake, in Tibetan, means the Heavenly Lake, and the scenery is just that. The pure water waves slightly under the pure and blue sky, and along the shore are enormous well-proportioned Mani stones. The colorful prayer flags hanging on the hills and monasteries make Namtso Lake holy and mysterious. You will also visit the Yangpachen Hot Springs, which have been harnessed to provide hydro-thermal electricity to Lhasa, and the nomadic herdsmen of the Nagqu plains.
Lhasa to Everest Base Camp
After touring Lhasa and seeing the sights of the Potala Palace and Jokhang temple, it is out on the road to Everest, via Gyantse and Shigatse, to view the peak of this great mountain. There are also many sights along the way, including local pilgrims making the trek to Lhasa to pray at the sacred Jokhang Temple. Some of the best sites of this tour are Drepung and Sera Monasteries, Lake Yamdrok, Karola Glacier, and the beautiful view from Gampala Pass.
In the far west of Tibet, the mighty Himalayan Mountains stand tall, their jagged, snow-covered peaks stretched towards the heavens. In Gyantse, you can see the famous Pelkor Monastery, and after visiting Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city, you will travel to the world’s highest monastery, Rongbuk. Then it is a short trek to Everest Base Camp, where you can get that all-important view of the peak of the world’s tallest mountain.
Send Your Travel Documents to Apply for Tibet Permit
All non-Chinese passport holders need a Tibet Entry Permit to visit Tibet, and the only way to enter Tibet is to travel in groups. A registered travel agency, such as Travel Tibet China, must book all tours in advance and a licensed tour guide must accompany your whole tour in Tibet.
The first things you need are your passport and Chinese Entry Visa, or work/student visa if you are working or studying in China. Travel Tibet China will then apply to the Tibet Tourism Bureau for the Travel Permit, and will forward it to your hotel before you leave China for Tibet. The Tibet Travel Permit is very important. It will be checked at the train station or airport before you leave China and on arrival in Lhasa, when you enter many of the beautiful attractions in Tibet, and even when you check in to a hotel.
While the Tibet Travel Permit allows you to visit Tibet, and explore Lhasa and the immediately surrounding area, for those wishing to go further afield to the “unopened” areas of Tibet, an Alien’s Travel Permit is required. Also known as the PSB Permit, it is obtained from the Foreign Affairs Division of the Public Security Bureau in Lhasa, and will be arranged by your guide once you are in Lhasa. It is not possible to apply for it in advance, since it requires your original passport, Chinese Entry Visa, and Tibet Travel Permit for the application. The permit normally takes just a few hours, and only costs around 50 CNY per application. For those wishing to do an overland tour to Tibet from Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, or Xinjiang Provinces, you need to get the PSB Permit before the tour starts.
The Military Permit is required for entry into certain sensitive areas of Tibet, such as Ngari, Nyingchi, and Nagqu. It is issued by the Military Office in Lhasa, and is arranged by your guide. Your original passport and Tibet Travel Permit are required for application, and it takes around 1-2 business days to process. Your guide will normally do this as soon as you reach Lhasa, and it costs 100 CNY per person.
For those who wish to travel from Nepal to Tibet, the Group Tourist Visa is a kind of single-entry visa that is obtained through the Chinese Embassy in Nepal by your tour operator. Individual applications to the embassy are not permitted. Your tour operator will require a scanned copy of your passport. The Group Tourist Visa can be obtained for an individual, as there is no required minimum number of travelers per group. Normally, all the members of a group will be named on the visa, and it is required that all members enter and leave Tibet at the same time and through the same port of exit. There is also a restriction on the number of nationalities in a group, and it is limited to two only.
Take Tibet Train or Flight to Tibet
There are many ways to get into Tibet; by road, by rail, and by air. Each has its own pros and cons, but the best - and most scenic - has to be by train. Although the journey can be long, it takes up to 2 days to get there from China; it is well worth it for the breathtaking scenery and the excellent service while on the train. While planes are faster, there are several disadvantages to traveling by air. Tibet is a region that is on a high-altitude plateau, and the air has lower oxygen content at altitudes above 2,500 meters. When flying into Lhasa from China or Nepal, you will need to spend a couple of days acclimatizing to the high altitude, or you will risk getting altitude sickness, or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).
Traveling by Tibet train has major advantages over other means of travel. AMS occurs when you ascend quickly from low altitudes to high altitudes, and can have severe effects such as shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and generally feeling unwell. While this can be easily treated with oxygen and rest, if not treated it can develop further complications that could mean the end of your holiday.
While it is faster, flying to Tibet is more expensive than taking the train, and although you get there quicker, there is more risk of AMS from the fast ascent. There is also the route that plays an important role. The flights do not offer much in the way of a view, as you cross onto the plateau. However, the train takes a very scenic route to Lhasa, crossing some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, and is almost like a mini-tour before your tour.
Tibet Winter Travel Tips
Firstly, preparing enough winter clothes is the most important. Enough thick clothes can keep you warm and prevent you from catching a cold or getting upper respiratory tract infections. The temperature in winter varies greatly between daytime and night. Down and feather garments or fur coats, fur boots, thermal underwear, gloves, hats and so on are of great help for a Tibet winter tour.
Secondly, skin care products are also necessary for a winter tour to Tibet. The sunlight in winter is rather skin-damaging in Tibet. You'd better take along sunglasses, glacier caps, sunscreen cream, lip protectors and other skin care products with you to prevent over-exposure to intensive sunshine and snow blindness.
Thirdly, a camera with the ultraviolet filter will help you to take perfect pictures. The ultraviolet radiation is strong in winter in Tibet. With the ultraviolet filter, the pictures taken in winter will not be purple. When photographing a person against the light, you'd better use the flash lamp to make up for the shortage of light. The time for photographing is between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm for the color effects produced by low angle sunlight then can be of great visual impact.
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