Tibet is still a largely unexplored part of the world that features high on the list of many adventurous travellers. With the majority of the region being above the altitude of 4000m, it is also known as the “Roof of the World.”
Mount Everest and the Himalayas line the south, the majestically quaint city of Lhasa sits in the east, while many scenic lakes scatter themselves in between mountainous plateaus. The stunning natural, and largely untouched, landscape combined with the rich Tibetan culture and history, make it a fascinating destination to explore.
Tibet has suffered from much conflict over the years; it is a primarily Buddhist region and most Tibetans allegiances lie with the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, but it is governed by China. It has long been fighting for independence, as there have been suggestions that China has politically and religiously repressed the Tibetan people. At present, the situation in Tibet is stable. Be sure to check advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office before you travel for current recommendations: https://gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china.
Considering a trip to Tibet? Check out our suggestions for top sights to see here:
1) The Potala Palace
The magnificent Potala Palace has been the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century. It is a stunning example of Tibetan architecture, with the iconic red and white building dominating the landscape, framed by staggering mountain scenery. The palace is located in Old Town Lhasa so is easily accessible, but tours are restricted to just one tour group per hour in order to preserve the site and enhance the viewing experience. The palace houses an array of ancient monuments, statues, porcelain, gold, silver and works of art, so there is much to see.
2) Visit Lake Yamdrok
Lake Yamdrok is one of the largest lakes in Tibet at 45 miles in length and up to 60m deep. Lakes are considered sacred to Tibetan people and they will frequently visit them to pay pilgrimage. The lake is located approximately 2-hours drive from Lhasa and is only accessible from April - October. At other times, the snow and icy conditions make the journey impossible. The lake makes a pleasant day trip from the hustle and bustle of Lhasa. You can hike around the perimeter, which is often lined with yaks grazing and local pilgrims. The fresh water appears a bright shade of turquoise which is astoundingly beautiful against the backdrop of the mountains. It is a true natural and little explored wonder.
3) Barkhor Street and the Jokhang Temple
Barkhor Street, in the heart of Lhasa, is a collection of streets that encircle the Jokhang Temple. It is a fantastic place to stroll around, people watch, sample cheap Tibetan food and bargain with local traders for souvenirs. The Jokhang Temple is part of the huge Potala Palace complex. You can take a couple of hours to go inside and explore the temple. The architecture is original and is a good example of ancient Tibetan style. There are many Buddhist pilgrims in this part of town and you can observe them worshipping, clockwise circling Barkhor Street and progressing body-length along the street. It is a great place to soak up culture and learn more about Buddhist practice.
Health in Tibet
Tibet is still considered a developing region so healthcare facilities are very limited, so it is vital to ensure that you are fully immunised before you travel to Tibet. The most important vaccinations are Hepatitis A and Typhoid - diseases which are both spread via food and water contamination. Make sure you only consume bottled water and use water when brushing your teeth. Remove any ice from drinks and ensure any food you eat is cooked thoroughly and boiled to kill any bugs. It is also vital to ensure your Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio (DTP) vaccination is up to date. Hospitals and clinics in Tibet have a very poor level of sanitation and routinely use unsterile equipment on patients. This means that if you are treated, you may be at risk of blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and HIV. You can do a course of Hepatitis B vaccinations before travel to prevent contraction; this requires 3 doses to be given over 1 month, so make sure you plan ahead. It would be a good idea to carry a basic sterile kit with you to ensure you have access to your own sterile equipment if you do end up in hospital. You can purchase one of these in our clinics for just £20. Tibet also has a high risk of Rabies which is spread via animals and animal bites. If you are travelling to remote regions, doing trekking or likely to have close contact with animals, then you may also want to consider the Rabies vaccination course - this is a course of 3 vaccines to be given over 1 month.
Contact us now to book an appointment with one of our specialist travel clinic nurses. Your Tibetan odyssey awaits!