An order of Momo's, Please.
Favorite thing: Well, not an activity or site but one of my favorite things in Tibet is an order of Momo's. Momo's are basically dumplings. They typically will come in either meat of vegetable filling. Also, they are usually steamed but can be fried. If you do not specify, they will come steamed. The Momo's come with a red dipping sauce that is a bit spicy.
This is a typical Tibetan dish, ordered as an appetizer or snack. I can eat them as main course. Every Tibetan style restaurant will have these on the menu. Some may on occasion have alternative fillings. Unless described they will be meat filled.
A definite must try when visiting Tibet.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Food and Dining
5-person of same nationality policy lifted
Favorite thing: latest update: the 5-person of same nationality policy has already been lifted. now u can do the tour with u & your husband alone. and there wont be any problem of appying the Tibet Entry Permit.
but since the cost of Kailash Kora is always high,it's always nice if u can share the cost with some others.
so now u can start looking for any traveller of any nationality to join u.
How to see Tibet
Favorite thing: Your choice of how to visit is probably the most important decision you have to make:
Unless you have a lot of money, or the rules have changed radically since May, you have no real choice. The Chinese government requires you to be on an organized tour. You can not travel by public bus outside of the cities. (I do not think you can even do this with a paid licensed guide. I have never even heard of this as a possibility.) You can not even visit inside any of the sites in Lhasa without a licensed guide.
You have two choices: either take a "private" tour either individually (you have lots of money) or with others who join you to share the expenses including driver, vehicle and guide; or take a "standard or packaged tour". Over the several years that I was trying to go to Tibet agencies mentioned trying to help me join with others in a customized tour, but in the end they just said that I would have to find my own partners. Perhaps, you could do this in Chengdu, or Beijing, or perhaps via the "Travel buddies" website. (I would not recommend trying in Golmud (Golmur) or Xining because what I saw there in April it appear unlikely that you would find partners there.)
The disadvantages of the pre-set group tours are; 1) the uncertainty about how many people will be on the tour, 2)the pain of possible single supplemental charges, and 3) the one size fits all type of packages that may include services you do not want or a class of accommodation beyond your usual budget, and the possibility that you may be signing up to be with a group of people that you do not like or who just irritate the heck out of you. (Do not even think about trying to join a tour group with Chinese nationals, let alone Tibetans; It is not allowed.)
Although, you might hear of people beating the rules, it would not be easy. There are many check points and enforcement is widely known to fall heavily on anyone who aids you. This would include individuals and travel agencies. The travel agencies will sympathize with you, but they actually do well selling the required services. Admittedly, they are held responsible for the actions of anyone using their services.
Fondest memory: Tibet as a whole is a great memory. If I had to point to one best memory it would be the lucky time we were able to stop along the highway and go across the fields to a village having a celebration with horsemanship. Our guide, Sam, had the flexibility of character to allow this to happen even though it was "not on the tour" and we were running late.
In late April, I went to Tibet from Golmur by train for a 8 day CITS tour that I contracted for via the internet from an agent in Chengdu. They got me the permit that I picked up in Golmur and they also arranged my train tickets into Tibet and back toward Beijing. The tour has both a regular and economy version. I paid for the economy (hostel) version partly because it had no single supplement, but in the end they put me in the regular hotel for their convenience since the other 6 people had booked for the regular hotel. The 6 other people in the group were all fun and interesting to be with. The driver was excellent as was the Tibet guide. I was surprised at how well it went. (I was able to add an extra day of free time for the agency charge for an extra night of a hostel bed.) My only hesitation about recommending this tour that included the first three places mentioned plus Everest Base Camp plus had an optional extension to Lake Namtso) would be my fear that in end of July or early August the tour could fill up to its maximum of 20 people. That would make it a very different experience.
Weather & general tip
Favorite thing: thanks !
it was a great and breathtaking trip.. contrary to what others say visiting during winter is recommended -- it was not as cold as one might think, in fact weather is much better than Shanghai at that point in time :)with warm sun and all.
yes, the altitude sickness is there, but only during night time and in 2-days it'll be gone in no time amidst the euphoric emotions whilst there :)
if ever come back to tibet, will remember your tip above !
Oh yes, recommend to visit the Anglamedo restaturant -- spend most nites in Lhasa there ..
Tibet - Group Travel is essential
Favorite thing: Independent travelers are allowed in Lhasa and Shigatse or so. But those big cities have nearly lost all flavor because of the strong Chinese influence. To visit real Tibet you need a trip on its own, bringing you to the East (Shangri-La) or West (Tibetan Plateau, Guge, Kailash), and for this special permits are required (very expensive), group travel is mandatory and also recommended because you need reliable cars, to camp at night, enough food, most important a good crew! There are many checkpoints on the way, and even with all the permits you might end up with a corrupt policeman, in our case simply stating our lorry was overloaded. He did not let us pass, but our crew had connections to the authorities, this guy received a phone call 5 Minutes later, became quiet and we could continue our journey.
Fondest memory: To meet the people and talk in silence is my most overwhelming memory from Tibet. Moreover the landscape around the northern plateau and the West (Guge) is spectacular, with usually clear skies in October. More pictures from TibetRelated to:
- Historical Travel
Land of Rivers
Fondest memory: I was amazed by the number of rivers and lakes that you can find in Tibet. I never thought that at such altitude there is so much water.
Tibet has about 365 rivers, of which the Yarlung Tsangbo river is the "cradle' of the Tibetan people. It is also the highest river in the world.Related to:
- Road Trip
Fondest memory: In the south of Tibet lies the world youngest but highest mountain range: the Himalayas. This range of snow-capped mountains forms a breathtaking view after driving for many hours through dessert and rocky landscape.Related to:
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: In a monastery the Assembly Hall is the spiritual center of the lives of the monks. It is mostly a dark place with banks for the praying monks.
The walls are painted with scenes from the life of Buddha, other religious subjects or with representations of holy places. The framework is finely scuplted and painted, and columns decorated with colourful fabrics.
At the end of the hall, you can find Buddhas statues, Boddhisattvas and other deities, like Songtsen Gampo, Tsongkappa, Rimpoche, ... Often the hall is surrounded by small chapels.
The monks gather here several times a day for prayers. They chant the sacred texts accompanied by the sound of tibetan horns, drums and bells.
Fondest memory: First of all you need to know that permit regulations can change from day to day. It all depends on what is going on in Tibet or China at that moment.
Anno 2007 you cannot enter and travel around Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) without a Chinese visa and the necessary permits.
To enter Tibet you will need a TTB (Tibet Tourism Bureau) permit. This permit can be bought at a Chinese travel agency (however, only in combination with a flight or train ticket). Chengdu and Xining are the best places to buy the permit. You cannot book a flight or sometimes train ticket without the permit. You will never receive the original permit, which stays at the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa, but do ask your Chinese travel agent for a copy (in case you won't get one ask for the references of the Lhasa travel agency that helped your Chinese travel agent to get the permit, so you can tell whomever asks about it in Tibet to get into contact with the Lhasa travel agent).
We bought our flight and permit in Chengdu at Sim's Cosy Guesthouse for about 2000 Yuan. They need at least 2 days to issue the permit. We wired a deposit and send copies of necessary documents in advance and got our flight tickets and permit the moment we arrived at the guesthouse.
In Lhasa you can travel around at own ease but outside of Lhasa you will need an other permit: an Aliens' Travel Permit. This permit can be bought at travel agencies in Lhasa.
If you are entering Tibet through Kathmandu (Nepal), you need to be part of a group. There are many travel agencies in Kathmandu that can arrange your trip to Tibet.
It is less expensive to arrange your trip to Tibet from Nepal or China instead of a travel agency in your own country.Related to:
Favorite thing: Yaks are long-haired oxes that live on high altitude. They are very important in Tibet. People eat their meat, drink their milk, make cheese and butter for yak tea. The skin is dried to make boats and their fur is used for cloths and blankets.
Fondest memory: Until I visited Tibet I had no idea that Mount Everest is just the name that the western world gives to the highest mountain in the world. It's real name is Mount Qomolangma.
This mountain, with its 8,843 metres, is the highest peak of the Himalayas and is located on the border between Tibet and Nepal.
Did you know that this mountain is still rising? About 3 to 12 mm per year! Most of the time the peak of the mountain is surrounded by clouds. The best time to see the peak is early morning or just before sunset.Related to:
- Mountain Climbing
Need to join a tour to visit Tibet?
Favorite thing: No, definitely do not need to join a tour to get into tibet. There will be plenty of travel agencies to choose from once you arrive in Lhasa if you preferred a tour. Prices are less expensive and the itinaries are a lot more flexible too.
There are reasons in joing a tour though. If you have limited time but want to get in as many itinary as possible, a tour can save you headache in having to find your own transportation vs. everything prearranged by the tour; the when what how are all listed, all you have to do is show up very early (most tours leave 7am) in the morning. Do expect lowered quality of site seeing experience. For example: By regulation, an organized tour can only spend 1 hour in the Potala Palace, where as we spent 3 hours wandering in the Potala and still did not finish seeing everything.
Get train tickets ahead of time?
Favorite thing: Yes, we emailed a travel agent in Beijing, and asked him to buy train tickets for us 7 days ahead of time. He's commission was 50 rmb per ticket (about 7 usd). Ticket price is printed on the train ticket. Ours was 813 rmb for a lower berth hard sleeper.
Need a tibet permit to buy plane/train tickets?
Favorite thing: We bought our train ticket through a travel agent from Beijing. He did not ask about permit. When we flew out from Tibet to Beijing, no one care about the permit either.
*We do not have first hand experience on regulations of FLYING INTO Tibet.
Do you need a permit to visit Tibet?
Favorite thing: That depends on where you want to go once you arrive Lhasa. If you plan to visit only Lhasa area, Ganden, and Namtso, then no, don't bother with a permit if you take the train in. We took the train in from Beijing and did not have a permit. No one checked nor asked. Only passport and train ticket were checked.
*but if you know you will be traveling to other area in tibet other than the above mentioned, it is worth while to get the tibet permit ahead of time.
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