From the earliest times to the present day, the western people have always been curious about China, this big oriental dragon. Located in the southeast of China, Tibet may be the most mysterious place to foreigners, not only because of the complicated political situation but also the relatively isolated circumstance. Coupled with the splendid landscape and devout religious culture, Tibet is defined as the last virgin area in the world. For the past decades, the tourism of Tibet has a rapid growth along with the development of the economy. More and more foreigners want to travel to Tibet, which makes Tibet become a hot tourist destination and seems the popularity will not dip in a quite long time. Before planning a suitable Tibet tour, those international tourists usually search online to collect every aspect of information about Tibet. Then here comes the problem. There are a lot of unreal information or experiences that released by those people who have never been to Tibet but just heard of something online or from someone else. Here we list the five common mistakes about your tours in Tibet, hope to help travelers distinguish the rumor and make the right choice.
This may be the wrongest conception of Tibet. Yes, the political situation of Tibet is not stable, but it’s only the contentious foreign affair of China. Actually, in Tibet, it’s full of kind people with their peaceful lives. Violence and terror happened in the past time, but only an accidental chance. Anyway, it’s much safer than any of those really terrorist areas on earth. For foreigners, the regulations are just stricter than China Passport holders. After all, Tibet is an autonomous region and not the same as the other provinces in China. The government has to make special laws to control foreigners in case of any problem and protect the profit of local Tibetans.
This could not be more mistaken. Although it happened in the old times, the new regulations had been carried out since 2008. According to the law of China, all the foreign travelers are required to book a tour from an authorized agency or operator before traveling to Tibet. Foreign travelers must be in the company of a tour guide during the whole trip and have to obtain certain permits to enter Tibet and visit some sensitive un-opening areas. This is a strict regulation, no one could be the exception. The travel agencies have to take responsibility for the behaviors of their clients. Anything wrong, they will be seriously punished and get suspense of business for several days depends on the extent of the problem. So, if you ask any travel agency whether they can get you the Tibet travel permits without booking a tour, the only answer you can get is no. The travel agencies must submit the tour schedule and itineraries to the Tibet Tourist Bureau in advance to apply for those permits. And once they are issued, nothing could be changed.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Tibet is not as poor as it used to be. Especially these years, the rapid development of tourism also brings great business opportunity. More and more modern tourist facilities were built in Tibet, such as airports, railways, hotels, shopping malls, etc. The Tibetan locals start to become rich. Nearly each family has a car, even some have more. Besides, the living standard of Tibet is higher than other provinces in China. For instance, a bottle of water sells CNY2 in Sichuan but may be 3-5 in Tibet. So, you could imagine that the cost of Tibet tours will not be low, but of course, you could find a reasonable price if you have a tight budget. Joining in a group tour is a good choice to share the cost with other members.
Many people think the high-altitude thickness is inescapable during the whole Tibet tours. What worse, it may kill people. Please take it easy. Only a few people would really suffer from Acute High-Altitude Disease and have to stop tours. Actually, most of the tourists just have some mild symptoms on the first one or two days after arriving at Lhasa, like a headache, insomnia or loss of appetite, etc. It’s only because suddenly reaching the plateau with a higher elevation from the lower one. A good rest is absolutely helpful to acclimatize to the high altitude, then the symptoms will finally disappear. That’s why most of the tour itineraries are arranged with nothing but only rest in the first arriving day and a few activities on the second day. So, you don’t need to worry about high-altitude sickness as long as you are healthy.
Another classic mistake. People always consider that Tibet is very cold as the elevation is very high. So, they take it for granted that it’s not suitable to visit Tibet in winter, they may freeze to death! But the truth is, it’s kind of warm in Tibet during winter, especially when there is the sunshine. For example, the average temperature is around 12 degrees Celsius in the daytime in Lhasa. And the weather at many must-see tourist sites is great that there is no problem to pay a visit. Besides, it’s the off season of Tibet tours, the cost of hotels, cars, the salary of tour guides are relatively lower, which means you can spend more money on something else you want to explore. The last and the biggest advantage, there are no flush crowds which make you can only watch people’s heads when you visit attractions. In another hand, Winter is the relaxing season for local Tibetan residents, when they can spend times with families and do religious kora with other pilgrims. You can see dressed-up Tibetans everywhere in Tibet in winter, which can get you understood Tibetan culture more deeply.