Tibet Travel Tips Guide
TIMING,FESTIVALS AND SENSITIVE PERIODS: Rules and regulations concerning travel in Tibet change as often as the weather does with El nino,so the following sections may be out of date by the time you plan your visit.If so,make adjustments.There are several times of year when it is difficult or impossible to get into Lhasa.Winter is an obvious one - there are no flights from Kathmandu and fewer from Chengdu.The Chinese may be nervous if some military bigwig or political leader is visiting,and they migth just shut the whole of Tibet down for a few weeks.Nothing is guaranteed in Tibet,and no guidebook written in stone.Allow for changing information.
the Tibetan calendar is filled with unofficial anniversaries,and security is tight at these times,with Chinaese troops on alert ten days before and after the sensitive period.You may have trouble getting into Tibet or travelling around at these times.The easiest travel months are April,june and August (however,June to August is the most heavily booked period for flights into Lhasa).Among the 'hot' times are:
Losar Tibetan New Year,around February
5 March Commenmorating major protests in 1988-89
10 March Anniversary of 1959 Lhasa uprising,and marks the start of the Tibetan spring - protests across the entire plateau in 2008
23 May Marks the 1951 surrender to the Chinese with the 17-point Agreement
6 July Dalai Lama's birthday
27 September Dalai Lama's birthday
1 October 1987 protest in which Tibetans were shot dead
10 December Inbernational human rigths day,which sparked a protest in 1988
Tibetans sometimes gather at countryside locations to picnic and throw tsampa in the air to mark special occasions - in Lhasa,this practice has been banned by Chinese authorities.
Because the Chinese are nervous about large gatherings of Tibetans,traditional festivals are low profile - indeed,for a number of years,festivals were banned outright.If you get a chance to see something more formal,like a festval in the countryside,go! If you're lucky there might be a horse-racing festival in progress at Damxung or Gyantse,or a tanka-unfurling ceremony at one of the monasteries within reach of Lhasa.There used to be festivals at every full moon in Tibet,but many were abolished by the Chinese authorities.The festivals that survive are based on the lunar calendar,which is complex and unpredictable(usually only announced in February,at losar or Tibetan new year).Ask around when you arrive in Tibet to confirm if there are likely to be any festivals in progress.
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