Frequently Asked Questions about Tibet Travel

We have designed the below FAQS to address many queries of people who are planning and preparing to visit Nepal. The below listed questions are the general guideline to assist your holiday plan in Nepal. The relevant answers help you to organize and manage the perfect holiday plan before you set your journey. These are the rough guides to make your travel easy and comfortable.  You will find many outstanding travel books anywhere in the world for detail information- just grab and go through it. If you can’t – don’t worry, you can easily find it in Nepal. 

Where is Tibet?

Tibet, Tibet Autonomous Region is the historic region and autonomous region of China that is often called “the roof of the world.” It occupies about 471,700 square miles (1,221,600 square kilometres) of the plateaus and mountains of Central Asia. It is bordered by the Chinese provinces of Tsinghai to the northeast, Szechwan to the east, and Yunnan to the southeast; Myanmar (Burma), India, Bhutan, and Nepal to the south; the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir to the west; and the Uighur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang to the northwest. Lhasa is the capital city. The name Tibet is derived from the Mongolian Thubet, the Chinese Tufan, the Tai Thibet, and the Arabic Tubbat. Before the 1950s Tibet was a unique entity that sought isolation from the rest of the world. It constituted a cultural and religious whole, marked by the Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism. Little effort was made to facilitate communication with other countries, and economic development was minimal. After its incorporation into China, fitful efforts at development took place in Tibet, disrupted by ethnic tension between the Han (Chinese) and Tibetans and Tibetan resistance to the imposition of Marxist values. Official policy since the early 1980s has been somewhat more conciliatory, resulting in slightly better Han-Tibetan relations and greater opportunities for economic development and tourism.

Why is Tibet popular destination?

Tibet holds the imagination of Shangri-la to many westerns for centuries. The place attracts millions of travelers each year to admire its surreal natural beauty and old religious culture. Some of the most popular places that makes Tibet really worth visiting are  TibetThe Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Namtso lake, Yamdrok Lake, Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, Yangbajing Hot Springs, Barkhor Street, Norbulingka, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Lulang Forest. There are many other attractive places in Tibet that are worthy of visiting, such as Drepung Monastery, Samye Monastery, Sakya Monastery, Basum Lake, Manasarovar Lake, Tibet Museum, and Segrila Mountain..   

How to enter Tibet?

For most international travellers, getting to Tibet will involve at least two ways: first to a gateway city such as Kathmandu (Nepal) or Chengdu (China) and then into Tibet. The most popular options from the gateway towns into Tibet are as follows: flights from Kathmandu, Chengdu, Kunming, Xian or Beijing; the train link from Qinghai to Lhasa; or the overland drive from Kathmandu to Lhasa along the Friendship Hwy. Massif Holidays organizes all Tibet tours via Kathmandu, Nepal. We do arrange your visa and travel permit in Kathmandu so the easiest way to get in Tibet via Kathmandu is fly to Lasha Airport or drive to Lasha from Kathmandu (recently this option is not available as the roads are blocked after the massive earthquake in 2015).

How long does it take to get Tibet Visa?

Tibet visa can be obtained in about seven days to three days in urgent cases.

Is it possible to get Tibet Visa/Permit with tour package?

Tibet Travel visa and permit can be arranged by Nepalese tour company with your tour package. Massif Holidays arranges all required permit and visa for you.

Can I Travel Tibet Independently?

Yes you can but it will be quite expensive to acquire for a single person, sometimes can be rejected by Chinese authority due to some reason beyond our control, however we try our best to obtain a single visa if not, where we will find and join you with other group of travelers to Tibet as per the holiday itinerary and duration of travel within Tibet.

What is the different between Tibet Travel permit and Tibet Visa?

Tibet visa and Tibet Travel Permit is must to travel Tibet. Tibet Visa is required to enter Tibet while Tibet Travel Permit is required to travel inside Tibet. We do arrange Tibet visa and travel permit will be arranged on entry point as well with the help and service of our Tibetan guides.

How to apply for Tibet Travel Document?

You can apply through Massif Holidays for Tibet Travel Documents. Please contact us with name of the trip and duration and we will provide you with information and details respectively as per your need.

What is required to get Tibet Travel permit?

To obtain Tibet Travel Permits first you need Tibet Entry Visa, beside your China visa (if traveling around mainland) full details of your passport and purpose of travel and duration in Tibet.

Necessary document to apply Tibet Visa?

Full Passport details and information with passport size photos and purpose of travel in Tibet.

Will somebody come to pick up me at the airport on my arrival?

Yes, our airport representative will be displaying the Massif Holidays sign board or your name card outside the airport terminal to pick up you. Then you will be transferred to your respected hotel by our tourist vehicle.

Is the credit cards accepted in Tibet?

Credit Card are accepted in major stores-shops- restaurants and hotels, but not in tiny places and in the villages.   

What kinds of foods are available in Tibet?

The traditional Tibetan diet is largely limited to barley, meat (mutton or yak) and dairy products, with very few spices or vegetables, although brutally hot chili sauce is often served on the side. Even good Tibetan food is very monotonous with most Tibetan restaurants serving nothing other than thukpa (noodle soup) and tea. By comparison, Chinese restaurants in villages often put out some excellent food. Some travellers feel that Hui (ethnic Chinese Moslem) places are cleaner because of halal food laws; they can be recognised by the green flags and crescent moons (and because they do look cleaner). Unfortunately there is not a single genuine Tibetan restaurant of high quality in Tibet; those can only be found in neighbouring provinces such as Sichuan.  These are the most popular Tibetan food

Momos - dumplings filled with meat or vegetables, steamed or fried

Tingmo - bland, nearly tasteless steamed bread

Thukpa - a hearty noodle soup with veggies or meat

Thenthuk - thukpa with handmade noodles

Yak butter tea - salty tea churned with butter, a Tibetan staple and a rather acquired taste for most Westerners. Carry a snack on short trips and enough food for a few days or a week or more for longer journeys, such as to Mount Kailash. Instant noodles are convenient even if you don't have a camp stove. They can be eaten cold or softened with boiled water. Tsampa (roasted barley flour) is an ideal travel food because it's already cooked. Eat it mixed with tea, butter and salt, or as a high energy snack by mixing it with water, milk powder and sugar. Despite being a predominantly Buddhist country, Tibet is not particularly vegetarian-friendly - the altitude being the main justification for this. In rural areas, vegetarians need to be prepared to compromise or live on very simple diets. Even if a thukpa is without meat, you can bet the broth they use is a meat broth. However, monastery restaurants and some large towns do offer restaurants serving vegetarian food and even some Tibetans observe a vegetarian diet on particular days of the religious month. So it is worth asking. On some monastery restaurants or in Lhasa, where there are Tibetan vegetarian restaurants.

What sort of transportation do I get?

You will get transportation as mentioned in our itineraries. Most of our itineraries include private transportation. We also arrange yak, horse or mule rides in trekking trails if you want to have such experiences.

What is the best season to travel Tibet?

The best season to travel Tibet is from May to October. During this period the weather is not very cold, averaging above 10°C. This is naturally the busiest travel time in Tibet, when people come for the warmer weather and higher oxygen content. July and August is the rainy season in Tibet, though, apart from in the southeast, there is still not a lot of rain. The best months for camping are May and September when it hardly rains at all. April, May, September, or October is the recommended months if you plan to travel to Mt. Everest. These months are more likely to see the peak clearly. Tourists with interest in Tibetan festivals and culture are recommended to visit Tibet in August when the Shoton Festival, Nagqu Horse Racing Festival, and Ganden Thangka Festival are held. But expect to see huge crowds during the festivals. Late September to October is the best time to see autumnal colors in Tibet.

What are the weather/ temperature like in Tibet?

Undoubtedly, Tibet is one of the harshest places for human existence. Weather there is cool in summer, but excruciatingly cold in winter. In Lhasa, the relatively humane city of the region, although the temperature may exceed 29 degrees C (84 degrees F) in summer, it can also plummet to minus 16 degrees C (3 degrees F) in winter! Solar radiation is extremely strong. The sunlight in Lhasa is so intense that the city is called Sunlight City. The thin air can neither radiate nor absorb heat, resulting in temperature extremes during both day and night. However it is not impossible to visit the holy snow land. The period from April to October is the best time to visit Tibet, avoiding the coldest months from December to February. In northern Tibet, the climate is not favorable with the average temperature is subzero and winter lasts from October through May or June. July and August are the best time to visit the area, enjoying warm temperatures, intense sunshine, beautiful scenery, and festive events. Tibet Climate In eastern Tibet, May, June and September are the height of the tourism season. In winter, roads are all blocked by heavy snow. Landslides are frequent occurrences, making travel difficult. Although southern Tibet is balmy during May through October, most rainfall also comes during this season between June and September. Heavy rains during the nights block roads and make travel difficult. However, during this season, the scenery is at its best and there are also great festive events held. Hence, it is the preferred time to visit Lhasa, Shigatse, and Nyingchi. From November through May, strong winds are common occurrences.

 Is there any problem for vegetarian people?

Despite being a predominantly Buddhist country, Tibet is not particularly vegetarian-friendly - the altitude being the main justification for this. In rural areas, vegetarians need to be prepared to compromise or live on very simple diets. Even if a thukpa is without meat, you can bet the broth they use is a meat broth. However, monastery restaurants and some large towns do offer restaurants serving vegetarian food and even some Tibetans observe a vegetarian diet on particular days of the religious month. So it is worth asking. On some monastery restaurants or in Lhasa, where there are Tibetan vegetarian restaurants.

Who will guide us in trekking/tour?

We provide the professional government license holder fluent English speaking tour and trekking guides. All guides will be Tibetan people who  are carefully selected on the basis of their appropriate experience, leadership skills and personal skill. They are all trained, certified and approved by the Chinese Government. 

Do we book our international flight to and from Kathmandu?

We always recommend you to book your own International flights but we also arrange it upon your request.

Can I charge my gadgets during tour in Tibet?

All places in your hotel have charging facilities. Its good if you brings TWO or THREE pin travel adapter.

How much additional money do I need per day?

All foreigners planning to go to the Tibet Autonomous Region are required to be part of an organized tour that includes travel permits (certain areas require multiple permits), a tour guide, a private vehicle and a driver. There are no exceptions to these regulations. Since all foreigners have to be on an organized tour in order to go to the Tibet, the costs of traveling to the region are considerably higher than the rest of China.  Besides your tour cost expect to pay anywhere between 80 RMB to 120 RMB per day, per person for food. But if you want to eat in local food the cost will down a bit.

Is Massif Holidays environmentally & socially responsible?

Being a part of society and environment, we have lots of social and environmental responsibilities. We are operating any of our holiday packages without making any harm to environment and social code and conduct. We jointly participate with Kathmandu Educational Environment Project (KEEP) for different clean up campaigns and social awareness programs. We have decided to contribute certain amount of our profit for the developments and maintenance of different trekking trails & child orphanage home.  We believe on “joint hands can hold the Universe” and kindly appeal all our travelers to contribute something in our social and environmental project.   

What is the number requirement of any trip?

We have indicated the minimum numbers of people in the right hand side of our trip page in our website. We operate the group joining trips, private group trips and individual trips. If you want to do any private trip we are ready to organize for solo traveler as well. We operate any kinds of trip from one person to big groups.  

Does your company help to arrange domestic & international flights, hotel reservation, and other travel services?

We deal with all kinds of travel services like domestic flights, international flights, hotel reservation, and private transportation rental and many other travel services.

What will be the altitude in trekking/ tour?

We have mentioned the highest altitude related to your trekking in “Trip Highlights” section. Please find the related Massif Holiday Packages and feel free to write us to get the complete information about your trip by our export corresponding team.

What are the recommended souvenirs from Tibet?

Shopping in Tibet is one of the most popular holiday activities as Tibet has lots of unique & local made things to offer. Shopping tour is also one of the most popular activities done by lots of foreigners. Travels have always full of option for Shopping in Tibet with various things. Shopping is an interesting part of travel. It is an amazing experience that you possible find a lot of spectacular stuffs, such as foods, handcrafts, paintings, jewelry, etc. You may want to buy some interesting souvenirs to your friends or families before leaving Tibet. You may also want to bring a valuable art or other works home to keep your journey memorable. There are much special, rare and precious stuff which are worthy buying in Tibet. Some of them are beautiful arts of Tibetan culture, such as Thangka, Tibetan jewelry, Tibetan carpet, Tibetan knife, Tibetan mask, etc. Some are useful specialties of Tibet, such as Buttered Tea, Saffron Crocus, Yak Meat, etc. You can also consult your Tibet Guide for shopping in Tibet.

What do you suggest we bring with us if we travel to Tibet?

For the clothing, we suggest casual attire style and layered clothing. In day time you may need only a T-shirt or at most a jacket, but at night you may need a down jacket. Down jacket is necessary if you go beyond Lhasa and Shigatse to remote areas, the Everest Camp or further to Mt.Kailash.

Is individual travel possible in Tibet?

Yes it is possible, but restrictions are imposed on travel to many areas.

 What are the hotels like in Tibet?

Tourism is Tibet is in its infancy and the number of 4 Star hotels is quite limited. The newer hotels have been built away from the city center in order to protect the city history and environment. These hotels have central heating which is used in winter but no cooling is available in summer. We would still warn that the facilities and service standard may not be as you would expect from a hotel with this rating in other parts of the world. Older hotels located in the city have a good location but will not provide the level of comfort of the newer hotels and may not have any central heating. The level of service and facilities may be quite basic. Staff will probably not speak much English. Hotels in small cities and the Everest Base camp are very basic. They will usually have a public bathroom with squat toilet.

Can explain what the budget guesthouse, comfortable hotel and best available hotel are?

One thing you should bury in mind is that hotels in Tibet concerning its facility and service are not what you imagine. Not like hotels in other cities abroad.

Budget guesthouse has a few kinds. One is the twin room with or without the bathroom in it. The other is triple, four-bed rooms, and more beds rooms named dormitory which all have no private bathroom in them. Former one can be easily found in Lhasa and Shigatse, while later one is often the choice in remote area in Tibet.

The best available hotels are the 4 star hotels. 4 star hotels can only be reached in Lhasa. The best available hotels in the region out of Lhasa are generally 3 star hotels, and in some places hotels with no star, but comparatively of good condition.

What are the hotel rooms like in hotels in Tibet?

Often, in a room, there are two beds which we call twin-sharing room. Some hotels have queen bed room and some even have triple room. But the number of queen bed room and triple is very limited. Twin-sharing room with two beds inside is commonly used in Tibet.

Does the hotel room have access to internet?

Some hotel rooms, not all, in Lhasa have access to internet, so you should inquiry us for accurate information before making decision. But some hotel has business center where you can use internet service.

 Is there 24-hour hot water running?

Due to basic condition in Tibet, sometimes with the poor pressure, the water flow may small and water sometime is not hot but just warm. In remote area, the condition can be even worse.

Do I need to tip my guides and porters? How much would that be?

This is very personal question and difficult thing to tell. Tipping is not obligation but the way to thanks your guide and other staff. Normally the level of your satisfaction should be reflected on tipping. We have seen everything from USD 10 to USD 1000 per person for guides and porters. Our recommendation will be always to spend minimum 10% of your total trip cost for tipping to all local staffs. You can also talk in detail about it in our pre-trip meeting in Kathmandu.

What types of travel insurance do I need to buy before coming Tibet?

Yes all travelers traveling with Massif Holidays must have travel insurance. You need to have a travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss, medical problem before coming Tibet. Choose a policy depending on the holiday activities you are doing. You need to have normal medical insurance in tours.

NOTE: - The above mentioned questions with answers are the outline information before stepping on the road. Please contact our expert team to get more and detailed information about your trip.