Top 10 things to know before traveling to Tibet

Tibet, the roof of the world, still resembles a utopia not only in the imagination of western travelers; it is in fact a paradise even to the Asian travelers. A traveler dreaming to make a trip to Tibet must know about Tibet’s preliminary ideas before heading to this pristine Himalayan paradise.

  1.  Surrounded by four of the world’s ten highest mountains, the Tibetan plateau deserves the title “the Roof of the World”. It covers an area of 1.2 million square km, shares an approximate 3500 km international border line with Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. It is also encircled by Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan Province to the north and east.
  2. Although temperatures sometimes can drop to 15 degrees C, the climate is not as harsh as most people imagine it to be. The major cities in Tibet have mild weather all year around. It rains quite often during monsoon and reaches twelve inches of rainfall, but it hardly ever snows in the winter time because of its dry weather.
  3. The Tibetan cuisine is unique consisting mainly of (meat or vegetarian) Tsampa (roasted barley flour) and endless cups of butter tea. A steamed dumpling is called Momo and wind-dried raw meat (beef, yak or mutton) is the nation’s favorite.
  4. In the summer period, it always rains in the morning and stops at noon. It is mandatory to bring a raincoat who wishes to visit Tibet between Mid-Aug to Mid- Sep, and it is always better to bring an extra coat or sweater since the temperatures are not the same between sun and shade, outdoor and indoor.
  5. Most places in Tibet are 3600m and upwards, so heart pounding and shortness of breath are normal responses. It is due to lack of oxygen. If the mountain sickness is acute with headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, it is better to visit a doctor.
  6. It is highly recommended to be careful not to take pictures of sensitive objects or anything military. Photography in temples and monasteries may be allowed for a fee so you should ask first. Furthermore, always ask first before photographing people.
  7. In August, the annual opera performances of Shoton (Yogurt Banquet) take place in Norbu Lingka (the Summer Place) in Lhasa, and people also go to Drepung Monastery to watch the large-sized Thangka show displayed there.
  8. In the Tibetan New Year (which falls in February or March), the entire population greet one another with the words “tashi delek” (good luck and happiness) and “losar sang” (Happy New Year). Everyone drinks “chang” (barley beer) and butter tea, toasting each other and wishing everybody well. Both in the town and countryside Tibetan opera, round dances and tap dances are performed, while in pastoral areas nomads sing and dance around blazing bonfires throughout the night.
  9. This is a very essential religious festival to celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and nirvana, said to fall on the same date – the 15th April of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. The festival lasts from 1st to 15th of April.
  10. The yak is the most remarkable animal in Tibet. Yak can be herded easily as they never like to stay alone. Yak-hide boats are the most important means of transportation on waterways.

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