I thought that I would be able to spend some time in Tibet for some research on a project. Unfortunately/fortunately I arrived in Lhasa for the March 14th Uprising in Lhasa, meaning I barely got out and the whole overland journey nearly collapsed. Read about the Lhasa riots here in my travelogues.
Note: Any photographs here of the riots have been purposely blurred to protect the people in them.
The Friendship Bridge: The border between Nepal and Tibet/China.
The Border- Lots of waiting for permits to be checked, stamped and staring at signs that request blood and urine samples (you don't).
The Bridge - "No photos, You are in china." Just about everyone on this bridge is a Chinese police man looking to shout at you for taking out a phone or camera. Try getting a photo with no camera, and looking up Google earth while on the bridge to have a good close up peak at it's massive strategic importance at not being photographed.
At 4,300 meters and a base for Everest trekkers it is a remote desolate and beautiful place. A true taste of Tibet.
Qomolangma: Stop off here to take a peak at Mount Everest!
Gyatso-la Pass: 5,200 Meters and the highest point. Throw multi colored confetti and prayers flags into the wind as you gasp a head at Everest.
Shigatse: Tibet's second largest city and home of the huge Tashilunpo Monastery.
Gyantze: Ganden Chökhorling Monetary destroyed by the Chinese but has been restored since, minus some artifacts and texts. Probably the best monetary I have been too. Huge, with plenty to travel around to see. The town is big as well, with plenty of choices on where to go and what to eat.
Yamdrok Yumtso Lake:
One of the largest sacred lakes in Tibet, frozen solid during winter, and a very beautiful turquoise blue.
Lhasa: The capital of Tibet, former home of the Dalai Lama.
Potala Palace - I do not think I have ever seen so many depictions of Buddha than I have here. Seriously, there are hundreds, the place is huge. Take some food, and spend the day if you are not "statued" out too much. It's quite dark, so be prepared for low light photography.
Jokhang Temple - We went here on the morning of the riots. A big square with lots of unsuspecting soldiers still marching around outside. Inside it's the most important Tibetan temple. Taking a peek at all the rooms would take half a day.
The Riots - Many will condemn me for saying this was a memorable place to be. But like it or not it was a part of history and great to be there during that time. I have written more about it in my travelogues.
T28 Train: The highest train in the world on the way to Xi'an (3 days)
The Train - Built to be air tight, they supply you with extra oxygen, and for those wanting more, some tubes of oxygen to stick up your nose.
The Train Window - 3 days of opening blockbuster scenery. A great place to practice taking high altitude photos through glass.
Basically from Nepal you have to get a Tibet permit. Do not buy a Chinese visa, it will be cancelled. I have written about this here. Its much easier coming from China into Nepal or Pakistan.
|Try my custom flight search for the lowest priced flights to and from Tibet!
Nothing too exciting. Momo's and noodles all around. Then Thuk - Noodle Soup is good though. Having said that everything is very fresh, and the vegetables are amazingly good. Have fun walking into a local restaurant and looking at the Chinese writing then pointing at something on the menu and hoping for the best! Really, try it for fun!
Again a touchy subject. You can tell the Tibetans from the Chinese relatively easily. And yes there is a difference much as there is in any huge regionally divided country. That said I was on the well frequented friendship highway. Jump out of your vehicle for a scenic photo of a local farmer and be prepared to be surrounded with little hands asking for dollars. Outside the tourist route, it's about as welcoming as it gets. Avoid questions about China, as people are terrified beyond description about what will happen to them if they comment.
Good luck. Learn the basic greetings and a few people will get a surprise, and yes Tibetan is different from Chinese.
Do respect the culture of the people. Do not ask about Chinese oppression or the riots. If you do, don't think about what can happen to you, think about what will happen to them. Everywhere there are people listening. Do remember most tourist shops sell things made in Nepal, do shop for local shawls, scarf's and so on in the villages.
Where I stayed
I was incredibly surprised by the high standard of accommodation on offer in Tibet.
I will not be mentioning places due to the circumstances we were there under. But no complaints at all. The first few towns had no hot showers.
Please note: before booking accommodation in Tibet make sure you have your Tibet Permit!
Try my custom search for the lowest priced hotels in Tibet!
Try Airbnb (get up to USD $40 discount)
No chance. If it were apart of Nepal, then maybe it would have opportunities abound. Dare I mention independence, it is after all one of the few officially "occupied" countries that the rest of the world still trades with?! But in this day an age, to live there, nope.
How much is a daily budget?
I came up from Nepal on an overland tour, everything bar dinner, lunch and water was included. The tour cost me $385 USD today a tour costs USD$485.
Meals in Tibet are very cheap $2 at local eateries.
There are super posh government hotels that charge a fortune for food an accommodation. Average dorm room is $6 while private room is $20-$30.
Did you suffer high altitude sickness?
Yes. Quite a few people for headaches. Drinking alcohol or lots of coffee is not recommended. Read up about Altitude sickness and treat it seriously. You will be in the middle of nowhere, and hospitals are quite a stretch from each other. That said everyone was fine.
What were the riots like in Lhasa?
You can read about my experience in my travelogue section.
How to get a cheap tour?
Firstly in china I do not know. From Nepal, head to Kathmandu and understand this. There are four official tour operators, everyone else just acts as agents. Prices range from $1000USD+ to $485. Find the four official tour operators and you will find the cheap prices. I have that info somewhere and will try to dig it up if anyone is interested. Keep this in mind. No mater who you go with, they will double up and merge the tours. So if you just paid $800 USD you will be getting the exact same tour as the person on the same touring who paid $485. It will annoy you to find this out on the tour, so do some running around KTM first.
I've written a full guide on how to travel overland from Nepal to Tibet.
New regulations state that the minimum number allowed on the tour is 2. And you both most be the same nationality.
As of Sept 08 the border between Nepal and Tibet is still closed.
The border is now open once again, and the prices have shot down for overland travel tours.
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