TIBET CITY INFORMATION

LHASA
11,850 ft above sea level Lhasa was and still is the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet. Places of interests include the Potala Palace, the 13 storey - 1000 rooms winter palace of the Dalai Lama; the monasteries of Drepung & Sera; Norbulingka, the Jokhang Temple, the holiest shrine in Tibet. The circular Barkhor street with innumerable shops & wayside pedlars intermingle with devotees walking clockwise around the Jokhang shrine.

XIGATSE
Most famous for its Tashilhunpo monastery - the seat of the Panchen Lama, is 12,600 ft. above sea level. Places of interest include the relics of Sakyamuni Buddha, the hall of Buddha Maitreya and mind-boggling collection of old and rare thankas, etc. built in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama. There is also bustling "free" market at the foot of the ruins of the Xigaze fortress and one can buy local handicrafts embedded with coral and torquoise, chinese porcelain and yak butter etc.

GYANTSE
This small agricultural town is at 13, 050 ft above sea level and is famous for its wool carpets and palkhor choide chorten. At the lamasery it is the unique structure built in 1414 of five storeys representing the five steps to enlightenment, topped by the thirteen rings which symbolise the stages of achieving. There are 108 halls inside, 'buddhahood' each with frescoes and buddhist shrines.

ZHANGMU
This town is 7,000 ft above sea level and is known by its Tibetan name Khasa and is a major trading town enroute Tibet from Nepal border through Friendship bridge. The hills around Zhangmu are heavily wooded with inumerable waterfalls in the summer and frozen 'icicles' during the winter.

XEGAR
13,800 ft. Above sea level, this is a new chinese commune built 7 kms of the highway at the foot of the ruins of xegar dzong. With population of 3000, it is the centre of a large and remote country and also the base for the expeditions to mt. Everest and other peaks.

 
 
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR TRAVELLERS

To visit Tibet, the legendary, forbidden land on the roof of the world, has been the dream of many Westerners.

GETTING THERE

BY AIR
Kathmandu - Gonggar Airport: a twice-weekly flight operates between Kathmandu and Lhasa from the beginning of April through October and sometimes till November depending upon the weather conditions. The 55 minute flight offers spectacular views of the Himalayas and the southern Tibetan plateau.

BY ROAD
An approach that has great appeal for hardy and adventurous travellers is to enter Tibet by overland, following the footsteps of explorers who for more than a century tried to reach Lhasa overland from Kathmandu.

VISA
The Chinese government prohibits individual traveller to visit Tibet. The Chinese embassy will only issue visas to travellers on group tours i.e if there is a single tourist or a tourist group of less then 5 persons then they will have to join a group in order to get a visa.

In addition to the visa, it is necessary to obtain an aliens' travel permit for travel in Tibet. Please carry 4 passport size photographs + smaller us dollars denominations for faster completions of visa formalities.

CUSTOM REGULATIONS
Art objects and antiques in Tibet fall under special restrictions forbidding their export. Anything made before 1959 is considered an antique. Rugs may be bought and exported, so may the small religious objects that are sold in open markets, providing only one or two are taken as souvenirs. Customs officials have been known to confiscate jewellery or other objects if they consider that a tourist has purchased 'too much'.

CLIMATE, CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT
Tibet is cold in winter, cool in summer and generally dry, receiving only 450 millimeters or rain or snow. Sunlight is extremely intense. The thin air neither blocks nor holds heat, so sunshine feels warm, shadows are chilly, and temperatures can vary greatly within a day, exceeding 29 degree Celsius (84 f) in desert areas in summer, and plunging below 4 degree Celsius (40 f) the same night. The most pleasant months for tourism are from April to October.

Clothing should be simple and consist of layers which can be added or removed as the temperature varies during the day. A warm windbreaker and stout comfortable shoes are especially recommended. Formal attire such as a necktie or dress is never needed - trousers and sweaters are the style.

MEDICINES
Lhasa now has many pharmacies selling Tibetan, Chinese and some western medicines but it is advisable to bring your own comprehensive first-aid kit, sunglasses with good ultra-violet protection, sun block and lip cream and a flashlight is important because many interesting sights are poorly lit.

TRANSPORTATION
There are no air routes within Tibet. The distances are huge and the only recommended mode of transportation is hiring 4WD vehicles from the local travel agents.

HEALTH & ALTITUDE TIPS
Travelling in Tibet is an adventure involving high altitude and could be strenuous. While most visitors have only minor effects from the altitude, we advise specially the guests with known heart or lungs or blood diseases to consult their doctor before travelling. Mild headache, fever, loss of appetite or stomach disorder can take place in a process of acclimatization. Our advice for better acclimatization, drink 4 litres of water a day, do not exhaust yourself so much, breathe deep and take rest more often.

EMERGENCY EVACUATION
Seriously ill travellers should not consider trying to leave Tibet by road, as the difficulties and uncertainties of such a journey poses unacceptable risks. Your only choice is to fly.

MONEY MATTERS
Banks in Tibet/China are closed on Saturday & Sunday. Visitors are kindly requested to carry about US $ 100 per person in cash over and above the tour cost to cover your extra expenses for main meals and others enroute until Lhasa. If it is cash dollars, even local people help you to get them exchanged in Chinese yuan. Travellers cheques & credit cards are very difficult to be cashed outside the banks especially outside Lhasa. The unit of currency is yuan . US$ 1 = 8 yuan.

COMMUNICATION FACILITIES
International postal mail is reliable and quite fast if sent by airmail. ISD phone and fax services are available in most hotels.

VISA
The Government of India has withdrawn the temporary landing permit facility till further notice. Hence it is compulsory that all foreign tourists planning to visit India, must be in possession of a valid Indian Visa. Tourists also visiting Nepal, Sri Lanka, and other neighboring countries must possess multiple entry Visa. You must be in possession of a valid passport. We will obtain your visa for Tibet , and the following information when making your reservation:

- Full Name (as it appears in the passport)
- Passport Number
- Date of Issue
- Place of Issue
- Date of Expiry
- Nationality
- Date of Birth
- Occupation
- Two Passport Size Photographs

 
 
FESTIVALS OF TIBET

If possible, try to coincide your visit to Lhasa with one of the city's festivals. Pilgrims often flock to Lhasa at these times and the city takes on a colorful party atmosphere. The following Tibetan festivals are calculated according to the Tibetan lunar calendar. Check before for the precise dates.

TIBETAN NEW YEAR - LHOSAR
It is the greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times when the peach tree was in blossom, it was considered as the starting of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 A.D., the first day of the first month became fixed as the new year. On the new year's day the families unite for an "auspicious dinner" and greetings "tashi delek" are exchanged. It is the most colorful festival of Lhasa.

MONLAM (great prayer festival of Lhasa)
Known also as the great prayer festival, this is held midway through the first lunar month. An image of maitreya from the jokhang is borne around the barkhor, attracting enthusiastic crowds of locals and pilgrims.

SAGA DAWA FESTIVAL (May or June)
It is the holiest festival in Tibet, memorable occasions coincide on this day, Lord Buddha's birth and Buddha's enlightenment. Almost every person within Lhasa join in circumambulations round the city and spend their late afternoon on picnic at "Dzongyab Lukhang" park at the foot of the Potala Palace.

GYANTSE HORSE RACE & ARCHERY FESTIVAL (May or June)
Horse race and archery are generally popular games in Tibet, and Gyantse enjoys prestige of being the earliest in history by starting in 1408. Contests in early times included horse race, archery and shooting on gallop followed by a few days' entertainment or picnicking. Presently ball games, track and field events, folk songs and dances, barter trade are in addition to the above.

CHANGTANG CHACHEN HORSE RACE FESTIVAL (10 August)
As the most important festival in north Tibet during the golden season on the grassland, thousand of herdsmen throng to Nakchu riding fine horses, and carrying the local products. They form as city of tens south of Nakchu town. There will be exciting horse race, archery and demonstrations of horsemanship. Songs and dance troupes from all part of Tibet will add to the fun.

SHOTON FESTIVAL (August)
It is the opera festival and the greatest festivals in Tibet. In ancient times pious folks went into mountain hermitages of which yoghurt was served for meal followed by entertainment of folk songs and dances. Since 7th century, opera performances were held for days in Norbulingka - the summer Palace of the Dalai Lama. Presently, opera contests and distribution of prizes are held for seven days.

GANDEN FESTIVAL
On the 15th day of the 6th Tibetan month, 25 precious articles belonging to Ganden Monastery, which are normally locked in their treasure house, are displayed in the main shrine hall. A grand offering ceremony accompanies the display. These articles consist of the images of the sixteen Arahats, Akshobhaya, the secret assembly, the four great kings, the Upasaka and Hashang image.

HARVEST FESTIVAL (September)
The farmers in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shangnan celebrates their bumper harvest in this festival. During which people enjoy horse racing games, costume fashion show, songs and dance, archery and picnic.

BATHING WEEK
It is believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky, the water in the river becomes purest and can cure diseases. During its appearance for one week in the sky, all the people in Tibet go into the river for bathing.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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