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.
Entry from Nepal
Current regulations require that all foreign visitors entering Tibet from Nepal do so on a Group Visa. Your tour leader will arrange for a Single Entry Group Visa in Kathmandu on Day 1 of your tour. Please do NOT obtain a Chinese visa before you travel. Any existing Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled upon application for the Group Visa. The cost of the Group Visa is approx US$115 per person (US citizens US$200) to be paid in cash to your group leader.
We require a clear copy of your personal passport page. Please send these through to your booking agent at time of booking or no later than 60 days prior to your departure so that we can then apply for the permit for your group. This is not a visa, rather a document held by your tour leader and Tibet guide permitting your travel in the region.
Please make sure that the passport details you supply are of the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well. This may also cause significant delays in obtaining your Tibet permit so please plan ahead. If we do not receive these documents from you in time, your name and passport details will not be listed on the group permit and you will not be able to board the flight or train to travel to Lhasa with the group.
This is a politically sensitive area of China which has in the past been closed to foreign travellers without warning. A change in the political situation can also lead to unforeseen delays in issuing visas and permits. We aim to keep our travellers as up to date as possible with any changes, however these are often made without any official announcement by authorities and as such are out of our control.
All travellers must arrive and depart Tibet as part of the group. Independent travel or extending your stay is not possible.
Returning to China
If you are planning to travel in China after your tour (ie. flying from Kathmandu to Beijing) you will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa at the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. Please check with the embassy for any specific application requirements. At time of writing the embassy is open for visa applications on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and may be able to provide same day service.