Ampersand's mini-guide to Tibet
WELCOME TO TIBET!
Tibet is a vast country - five times the size of Nepal and even with its current high political profile it is still seen as a mysterious entity by the West. It is the high-altitude Land of Snows, the mystical inspiration for James Hilton's best-selling novel Shangri-La, and the possessor of some of the most desolate yet magnificent scenery on the planet.
Its towns and cities have suffered from the leaden hand of Communism, with bombastic architecture and insensitive road systems. Underlying everything is a profound religious sensibility; Buddhism arrived in the 7th century, merging with the indigenous religion, Bön, evidence of which can still be seen. From a visitors' point of view, Tibet is not only very large but very high; Lhasa, the capital, is 3,650 metres above sea level and the bulk of the country is above 5,000 metres, rising to 6,000 in the south - the highest plateau in the world. Tourists are drawn by the picturesque culture and dramatic landscapes. Lhasa is home to the forbidding white-and-ochre Palace and JokhangTemple, the religious centre of the country, and is ringed with temples, monasteries and nunneries. In the south is Mount Everest - on the Nepali border - whose north face can be seen from Rongphu Monastery. The views are marvellous and it is possible to divert to Everest Base Camp.
HOTELS IN TIBET
The accommodation in Tibet is basic and some of the journeys long but we believe the unique landscape and culture make it worth it. Tibet is ideal for those who want to see a fascinating ancient culture and experience a taste of authentic local life, and who don't mind staying in some somewhat uninspiring hotels to do so.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN TIBET
Tibet's vast and dramatic plains will make you feel as it you have entered another world and time. From the mystical capital of Lhasa, which means “Land of the Gods”, to Gyantse, Shigatse and Tsetang, the Tibetan Plateau is scattered with remote monasteries, palaces and ancient sites. Tibet is the perfect destination for those seeking isolation and spiritual awakening – for centuries Lhasa was home to the Dalai Lamas and it still attracts Buddhist pilgrims. The landscape feels achingly desolate at times, but the drama of the architecture and the traditional Tibetan crafts and culture make for a fascinating experience.
TIBET: WHEN TO GO
Because of its elevation, Tibet's climate is extreme; even in summer (May to September), at night or in shadow it can be very cold, and the sun is intense. Winters (November to March) are severe - January averages minus 2ºC - but largely dry and snow-free. Eastern Tibet has a monsoon season from around July to October, with high rainfall. Spring and autumn weather varies wildly, often during a single day, so be prepared.
GETTING TO TIBET
There are no direct flights from the UK to Tibet and the trips we organise always originate in Kathmandu. You may fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa and, if you prefer, drive back on the Friendship Highway - a journey of about a week.
VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR TIBET
Ampersand will arrange the required visa. A scanned copy of your passport will be sent to Nepal before your trip. On arrival in Kathmandu it will take one working day to process after which you can proceed to Tibet.
HEALTH ADVICE WHEN TRAVELLING TO TIBET
For information on vaccinations and health requirements, we suggest you contact your GP at least 2 months prior to departure for advice and to arrange immunisations. Recommended vaccinations for travel to Tibet are polio, tetanus, typhoid, meningitis and hepatitis A. We would also recommend you take anti-malarial tablets, but please consult your doctor for his/her advice.
FLYING TIMES FROM THE UK TO TIBET
Lhasa: 13 hours not direct flight to Kathmandu, followed by 1 hour connecting flight (no daily flight)
SUGGESTED TRAVEL ITINERARIES TO TIBET
Overland Tibet & Nepal... From Lhasa to Kathmandu: An adventurous itinerary taking in the exotic sites and smells of Kathmandu and journeying to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Next, cross the border into Lhasa and beyond in Tibet. Accommodation is basic and journeys long but the unique landscape and culture are worth it. > Click here.
The Best of Nepal & Tibet: Visit some of Tibet’s most important temples and monasteries, including the iconic Potala Palace and Samye Monastery, and enjoy rugged drives across the dramatic Tibetan Plateau. This tour is ideal for those who want to experience Tibet’s fascinating culture and don't mind staying in some uninspiring hotels to do so! > Click here.
View our Tibet Inspiration Gallery or get in touch for more information on planning a trip to Tibet: +44 (0)20 7819 9770; firstname.lastname@example.org