Tibetans follow their own form of Bhuddism, which is a blend of Indian religion, with an existing native religion. The present Dalai Lama, the 14th, has been in exile in India since 1959 and to this day continues to be a spokesman for Tibet.
Tibet's main language is Tibetan, an Indo-Aryan language derived from Sanskrit. It's generally acknowledged that the present language (and the script) was developed sometime during the Tsanpo Period (between 127 BC and 847 AD), when the Buddhist scholar Sambhota was sent to India to study Sanskrit. On his return to Tibet, Sambhota, under the aegis of the ruler, Songtsan Gampo, developed the script for Tibetan. Today, besides the standard Tibetan used in Lhasa and its surrounding areas, there are other dialects too, spoken in different parts of the region. Officially, Tibet being a part of China, Chinese too is used, but it's limited to official circles. With the increasing influx of foreign tourists, English (and a few other Western languages) are now used as well.
Area (sq. km):
12,000,000 square meters
Tibet is 8 hours ahead of GMT, and 2 hours 15 minutes ahead of Nepal.
The temperatures over most of the area are fairly low through much of the year, as Tibet lies in one of the coldest parts of Asia. The months of summer are, between April and October, is the most tolerable part of the year, when it can even get quite hot in low-lying places like Lhasa and Shigatse - the upper reaches of the Himalayas remain snow-bound even in the hottest of summers. Winters are very cold, with the temperature going to below freezing point - more so in the high altitude areas. Considering the fact that it is so cold in this region, is is also an extremely sunny region - around 3000 hours of sunshine annually.
Lhasa's Gongkar Airport is located 95 kilometres southwest of the city. A taxi will cost approximately Y200 for the long journey.
The international dialling code for China (Tibet) is +85. You can try to make international calls with mixed results. Your hotel will also mail letters for you.
Tibet's electricity is 220 volts. Throughout Tibet electricity is subject to failure on occasions, so a torch is an essential piece of equipment for your tour.
The hotels we use in Tibet are reasonably comfortable, with en-suite facilities. They are, however, basic and those travelling to Tibet should be prepared for some discomfort. Accommodation is on bed-and-breakfast basis only. Though there are numerous hotels and restaurants to select for lunches and dinners, you are travelling to a remote destination and our experience shows that most travellers find the food to be relatively unexciting!
Lhasa has a fine range of handcrafts like hand-woven woollen carpets, traditional paintings and brass and copper ornaments. Outside of Lhasa there is not much opportunity for shopping. Be aware that the export of antiques is strictly forbidden.
All nationalities require a visa and entry permit for Tibet. It is issued as a group visa/permit and can only be issued by our ground operator. We require you to email to our office at least 6 weeks prior to departure, a colour scanned copy of your personal passport page, displaying your photo, full name, date of birth, passport number, passport issue and expiry date and place of issue. The format must be either PDF or JPG. If you are travelling on a tour that starts in China, we require a colour scanned copy of your Chinese visa as well.
Please note that if you have a Chinese visa in your passport, this will be cancelled upon entry into Tibet. This will occur even if you have a double or multiple entry Chinese visa. If you are intending to visit any part of China after this trip, please discuss your situation with your agent or with us well before departure.
For tours that start in China, your Tibet visa will be issued on a group basis in Beijing or Chengdu, depending on which tour you are travelling on. The cost is US$114 for all nationalities (except US passport holders cost is US$198). These costs are subject to change at any time. Please bring the visa fee in US dollars cash (new notes required). VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that your Chinese visa covers the length of your stay in Tibet.
For tours that start in Nepal, your Tibet visa will be issued on a group basis in Kathmandu. You MUST be in Kathmandu on Day 1 of your trip to enable the application of the Tibet visa/entry permit to be lodged in sufficient time. Failure to arrive on Day 1 for any reason will result in the Chinese authorities refusing to include you in the group visa/entry permit and will effectively prevent you from joining the trip. The cost is US$114 for all nationalities (except US passport holders cost is US$198). These costs are subject to change at any time. Please bring the visa fee in US dollars cash (new notes required). You will also require a double entry visa for Nepal. You will need to provide two passport size photographs and will have to pay the relevant visa fees. To avoid delays at the border on your way back from Tibet, we recommend that you obtain all Nepal visas prior to commencing your tour.
Tibet-Lonely Planet Seven Years in Tibet-Heinrich Harrer Tears of Blood-A Cry for Tibet-Mary Craig