The Tibet Autonomous Region is a region of China, high on the Himalayan Plateau. Often nicknamed the “Roof of the World”, Tibet shares Mt. Everest and other towering peaks of the Himalayas with Nepal. It is a country full of spectacular views, quaint villages and mountain temples, and of course famously linked with the Dalai Lama. The capital, Lhasa, sits at 11,000 feet above sea level and is home to the striking, hilltop Potala Palace, once the Dalai Lama’s winter home as well as Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s spiritual heart, revered for its golden statue of the young Buddha. Be amazed as the colourful temples and flags stand out against the stunning vistas in this amazing mountain land.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay. It should also have sufficient bank pages for entry and exit stamps. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
As Tibet is part of China, travellers will require a valid Chinese visa when travelling to Tibet. In addition, you are also required to obtain a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permit to travel in the Tibet Autonomous Region. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements for China before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
Travelling to Tibet from China-
Your will require a Chinese travel visa, which must extend for the duration of your time in China as well as Tibet. You will also require the an additional TTB permit to enter Tibet and 1 x passport sized photo for the application form. We will apply for the Tibetan travel permit as a group during our stay in Shanghai. This is a simple process, usually taking one day, the price of which is included in your package price.
Travelling from India and Nepal-
We will apply for the necessary Chinese travel visa and Tibetan Permit (TTB) as a group. To obtain this visa, we will send you a copy of the application form which you must complete and return to the Big Journey Company office by the date specified prior to departure along with one additional passport-style photo and the visa fee of US$175.00 per person (fee subject to change). Your tour group leader will submit all visa and TTB applications on arrival in Kathmandu, Nepal, ready for onward travel. Two working days in Nepal are required to process the visas, submitting your original passport with the application. Your passport will not contain individual visa stamps - it is issued as one paper document for the whole group.
• Consular Information
As Tibet is an autonomous region of China, embassies for the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and the UK are located in Beijing, with many consulates located around the country. The only international representation in Tibet is a Nepali Consulate-General located in Lhasa. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking. Please advise your insurer you are travelling to Tibet and that you will be at altitude, as some policies only cover up to a certain height above sea level.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs.
Tibet is located at a high altitude above sea level. You may wish to speak to your doctor about how this may affect any existing medical conditions. You might also want to discuss precautions available to you to avoid the inconveniences that altitude causes to some people.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Tibet Tour is an Activity Level 2 tour and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you. Please note, medical facilities in Tibet may be scarce outside of the main town, so please bring all your required medication with you and have adequate health insurance. Important:
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations however please take note of the information below.
Yellow Fever Certificate. Though Yellow Fever is not present in Tibet, depending on areas you have previously travelled to you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination prior to travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Tuberculosis, and Rabies may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking and your medical history. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/countries
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
Dress in layers and bring a waterproof coat, trousers, t-shirt and jumper. Shawls, long skirts, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts are recommended for temple visits. We also suggest carrying 2-3 pairs of socks since shoes must be removed when entering religious buildings. Comfortable, soft soled walking shoes with low or no heels are ideal for sightseeing. In city restaurants, a lightweight jacket, with some smart casual attire is recommended. Insect repellent, a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunblock sun cream are also essential items. Don't forget your camera, with charger/spare batteries and memory cards.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
China and Tibet Tour – This tour includes an internal flight from China to Tibet. Please check with The Big Journey Company regarding specific luggage allowances for this flight.
Luggage handling is not included in our Tibet tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services may available in some hotels on the tour.
The main language of Tibet is Tibetan, though the language varies greatly throughout the valleys and regions, where other Himalayan dialects are also spoken. English is spoken by some in the hospitality industry.
The time zone in Tibet is GMT+8, 8 hours ahead of London GMT.
The weather in Tibet in the autumn is cool, with daily highs of around 17°C, but it may fall as low as -1°C during the night. Early morning starts and evenings will be cool. Rainy weather is possible at this time of the year. UV levels are still very high so remember sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
In Tibet, the standard voltage is 220V and the frequency is 50Hz. They use three types of plugs in Tibet – Type A, the North American style plug, Type C, the European style plug and Type I, used in Oceania and Argentina. You will need an adapter, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Tibet has a limited communications infrastructure. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer coverage and there are landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate or be non-existent. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels provide WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Tibet and China with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Tibet, as in the rest of China is the Yuan ¥ (RMB) pronounced RenMinBi. Only the Bank of China and certain hotels in Lhasa are permitted to offer foreign exchange. ATM cash machines are available but limited, and you can only withdraw a maximum of RMB2000 in cash, which equates to around £20 GBP / $300 USD. Prior to your departure, we recommend notifying your bank of your travel plans so they can inform you of any applicable foreign transaction fees and/or restrictions. Credit and debit cards Visa, MasterCard and American Express are usually accepted in tourist hotels and shops in Lhasa but are not widely accepted elsewhere.
Tibet can be quite inexpensive for western visitors when there, as due to the country’s tourism regulations, accommodation, transport and most meals are already included in your package price. However, please bring along some money for drinks, snacks and of course, souvenirs.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Tibet are usually open 9.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 10.30am – 4pm Saturday and Sunday.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
The Tibetan cuisine is not as interesting as that of some of its neighbours, consisting of staples to keep you going but not much with regards to fancy food. You will find a lot of noodle soups and broths, as well as stews. In the bigger cities, you will find a more cosmopolitan cuisine and Chinese restaurants are available all over the country, though prices are more expensive than in the rest of china. Most meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
The tap water in Tibet is not advisable to drink. Bottled water can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Tibet offers lots for visitors to buy. As with many of the Himalayan kingdoms, you will find rafts of brightly coloured clothes, as well as intricate handicrafts from locals, including jewellery, tea and incense.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 10am – 9pm Monday–Friday, though may vary locally.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Crime levels in Tibet are generally low. However, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports, in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards.
The political situation in Tibet has been unstable in recent years. The area is highly controlled by China. You should avoid demonstrations and other large public gatherings. Ongoing tensions can lead to unrest and protest, which sometimes and turn violent and may be dispersed by force. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities. Do not film or photograph any protests or outbreaks of violence.
Any Tibet-related reading material may be confiscated on arrival and it is illegal to bring anything deemed to be ‘detrimental’ China into the country, as well as regarding the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan national flag. Equally, do not carry out of the country any packages for Tibetans to be posted abroad. Plain-clothes police officers operate across the country, including in monasteries – each monastery has government security personnel posted there. It is wise to refrain from political conversations with strangers.
Tibet is a country at altitude – please discuss with your doctor how this may affect you and any existing conditions you may have.
Smoking is banned in most indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited on all means of public transport. Tibet’s altitude is high and smoking can and will exacerbate altitude sickness.
Tibet is a famously Buddhist nation, and home of the Dalai Lama.
Tibet offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card! Pack a dust-proof case, or sealable plastic bags, and an air brush to protect camera equipment from dust. Etiquette requires that you ask permission before photographing local people, unless you are shooting a crowded public scene. Many people in Tibet believe it is inauspicious to be photographed and do not wish to have their photograph taken - please be considerate of this. Photography in Buddhist monasteries often requires permission and carries a fee. Photography is not permitted at some designated locations such as temples, usually clearly marked. In general, avoid taking photographs of airports, government buildings and installations, bridges and military or police personnel. If in doubt, please ask.
ARRIVAL IN TIBET
Upon arrival in Lhasa Airport, we must clear immigration formalities together as we have a group travel permit.
On occasion, some travellers have had their Tibet-related reading material and images confiscated by immigration officials on entry to Tibet. It is illegal to import any printed material, film, etc deemed ‘detrimental to China’s politics, economy, culture and ethics.’ It is illegal to import anything regarding the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan national flag. Do not carry any packages, letters or photos for someone else out of Tibet for the same reasons.
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in China, or other Himalayan countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated December 2019