Welcome to Tibet
This is the land of majestic mountains, exotic culture and
gentle people. Tibet, 'the roof of the world', lay largely
undiscovered by the rest of the world until the beginning of the
20th century, but has since fascinated travellers seeking the
unspoilt and more remote corners of the globe.
China invaded and annexed Tibet in 1950, since when the country
has officially been known as the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Travelling through Tibet is no longer allowed unless visitors are
part of a package tour, and must remain with the tour for the
duration of their stay. In recent years there has been a massive
influx of Han-Chinese immigrants to Tibet, and Chinese-Tibetan
relations can be strained, though most visitors find locals
friendly and hospitable.
This vast territory in the southwest of China consists of a
massive plateau surrounded by towering mountain ranges. The
Himalayas ring it in the south, the Karakoram Range is to the west,
the Kunlun to the north, and smaller ranges fringe the east forming
a barrier between Tibet and China's internal provinces. Most of
Tibet is several thousand feet above sea level, meaning that the
air is thin. The region is a major draw for mountaineers,
containing some of the world's highest mountain peaks, capped by
Mount Everest at 29,029 feet (8,848m), in the middle section of the
Himalayas in Tibet's Tingri Country.
Tibet is scenically rich with snow-covered peaks, glaciated high
passes, aquamarine lakes, primeval forests and almost continual
bright-blue skies. Despite its altitude and thick snow covering the
mountains, Tibet actually has snowfalls only a few times a year
with plenty of sunshine the rest of the time. Tibet's major cities
and towns are congregated mainly in the southern part of the
region. Here, in the agricultural sector, are the capital Lhasa and
the other major city of Shigatse, which offer the region's most
important tourist attractions, including the Summer Palace of the
Dalai Lama, and The Rongbuk Monastery, which is the highest in the
world and has fantastic views of Mount Everest.
Information & Facts
Tibet has a dry, cold climate; it is particularly cold in the
mountains and plateaus, which are also swept by strong winds all
year round. In summer the daily temperature fluctuates greatly
between day and night. At midday it may be 80°F (27°C), but after
sunset the mercury plummets abruptly to as low as 32ºF (3°C). Best
time of year in Tibet is between April and November, when the
weather is mild. July and August are the wettest months,
particularly in the central area around Lhasa, but average annual
precipitation is very low.
The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are
hundreds of local dialects.
The currency used in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). The Yuan
is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange
your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can
be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques,
preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in
cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger
hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners
will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit
cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments,
but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce
outside the main cities.
Local time is GMT +8.