The Land of Snows. The Roof of the World. For centuries this mysterious Buddhist kingdom, locked away in its mountain fastness of the Himalaya, has exercised a unique hold on the imagination of the West. For travellers, Tibet is without doubt one of the most remarkable places to visit in Asia.
For many people, Tibet is a uniquely spiritual place. Those moments of peace, fleeting and precious, when everything seems to be in its proper place, seem to come more frequently in Tibet, whether inspired by the devotion, apparent in the face of a pilgrim or the dwarfing scale of a beautiful landscape. Tibet can truly claim to be on a higher plain.
Before You Go to Tibet
You'll need to do a bit of planning before you go to Tibet. The Chinese government requires all foreign visitors to go with a designated "travel group" and permits are necessary. Aside from these planning necessities, you may need to visit your physician to get some altitude medication as most of the places you'll visit while there will be above 4 000 meters. You'll be out of the way in terms of first-class health care so you may want to take a few first-aid precautions as well.
Tibetan Shoton Festival
Shoton is a Tibetan word that literally means yoghurt banquet. Going to Tibet during the Shoton Festival is a great way to see some local activities and soak up Tibetan culture. Try not to be too dismayed at local Chinese bureaucrats overlaying the festival with non-traditional activities. The origin of the festival started from the 17th century. When monks stopped their summer retreat which was intended not to kill newly hatched insects, pilgrims came to serve them with yogurt. Later Tibetan opera performances were added to the event to amuse monks in monasteries. During the festival, giant Thangkas of the Buddha is unveiled in Drepung Monastery and Tibetan opera troupes perform operas at Norbulingka. This opera festival is one of the greatest festivals in Tibet.
Camp with Nomads
Nomadic culture is decreasing around the world, and Tibet offers one of the last great ways to experience this ancient lifestyle. You will have opportunities to work with Yaks, make cheese, eat traditional food, and sleep in traditional Tibetan style tents.
Amdo is an ethnically and culturally Tibetan region, located across much of Western China in Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces. The region contains a mix of traditional nomadic and farming lifestyles. The landscape consists of beautiful grasslands, rugged mountain ranges, and picturesque examples of Tibetans’ unique cultural achievements, such as brilliantly white stupas and unique monasteries that dot the countryside.
The World Famous Potala Palace
Potala Palace is located on "Moburi (Red) Mountain", to the west of old Lhasa. The Potala Palace rises a further 170 meters and is the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. Potala Palace was on the list of Chinese national key protected cultural relics from 1960; In 1994, the Potala Palace was declared the United Nations World Cultural Heritage site.
Potala Palace is a huge treasure house for materials and articles of Tibetan history, religion, culture and arts. The Palace is widely known for the precious sculptures, murals, scripture, Buddha figures, murals, antiques, and religious jewellery treasured up, they are of great cultural and artistic value.
“Mother Goddess of the Universe”
The Mount Everest is the highest peak on earth, which is accurately described by its Tibetan name Mount Qumulangua, meaning “Mother Goddess of the Universe”. With its 8 840 m height it is the most coveted mountain to crest in the eyes of experienced climbers. The peak can be reached from the southern side (Nepal) and from the northern side (Tibet). The starting point for mountaineers trying to conquer the world’s highest peak via the northeast ridge and the last stop for common tourists travelling Tibet is the Northern Base Camp. It is located at an altitude of 5 208 meters high in the mountains. Those who intend climbing higher stop here for some days for acclimatization and to prevent altitude sickness. The camp receives supplies by porters and animals and thanks to the Friendship Highway it is also accessible by vehicles in summer. But each overnight guest has to bring his/her own camping and cooking equipment. The trek along the Base Camp is one of the most popular trekking routes in the Himalaya and is done by thousands of trekkers per year.