Tibet Travel Guide

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a sacred lake

a sacred lake

Caroline Bowker

Tibet (Xizang) is a culturally, religiously, ethnically, linguistically and geographically distinct region located to the north of India. It has the formal status of Autonomous Region ( Xizang Zizhiqu) within the People's Republic of China.

For some people Tibet is the Shangri-La for travelers. A land of exotic sounds, sights and (rather unfortunately) smells. The best starting place to visit Tibet is Lhasa, the capital, where you can find the famous Potala palace.

Shigatse is a 5 hour ride from Lasa, and trips can be arranged from there. The main sights in Shigatse is the Tashilhunpo Monastery. 180 south of Lhasa you can find the Tibetan royal tombs in Chonggye. Lake Yamdrok Yamsto can be visited as a daytrip form Lhasa.

There are two things you have to take into account when traveling here. The first is the political situation - which means you need a special permit to go here and you should be careful of expressing any political ideas when you are there. Immediately prior to 1951 Tibet was a defacto independent country with its own governmental, political and judicial systems. For centuries Tibet had remained stubbornly isolated and aloof from the rest of the world, partly through its own volition and partly due to Chinese encouragement. However its independent status, though self-declared, was never recognised by any outside party. China has made consistent territorial claims over Tibet and has in the past exerted varying degrees of political control. Since 1951, when China invaded Tibet, it has been fully incorporated into the Peoples Republic of China. This pretty much forced the exile of the Dalai Lama who lives since then in Dharamsala in India.  Many Tibetans will ask tourists for pictures of the Dalai Lama, but you would be putting them danger if you were to distribute his photo.

The second advice is on altitude sickness: at a minimum, it can ruin your trip. It is necessary to drink enough and eat many sweets.  Many people are advised to take a diaretic drug called Dyamox and drink huge quantities of water starting on the morning of the day they fly into Tibet and take the Dyamox for the first 5 or six days in Tibet. You should get advice from a medical doctor, preferably one who specializes in travel medicine.

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