Is It Safe to Travel to Tibet?
- by Beatrice
- Last Updated: 2022-08-01
Tibet, a holy land in the Himalayans which is known as the “third pole of the world”, attracts countless travelers all over the world to explore its unique beauty. Besides its breathtaking landscapes and mysterious Buddhist culture, travelers wonder that is it safe to travel to Tibet? Let's show you the concerned issues among travelers such as altitude sickness, road conditions, criminal, food, etc.
Is Tibet Safe Now?
The coronavirus epidemic that broke out in early 2020 has lasted for two years. During this period, Tibet did not find any new cases of COVID-19 infections except for one infected tourist from the mainland who took a train to Lhasa in January 2020. And this case was reported in time after arrival and it did not infect anyone else. Right now, mainland China is still implementing strict entry prevention and control policies such as mandatory centralized quarantine for inbound people. For this reason, only expat travel is possible in China, but quarantine requirements make foreign inbound tourism impractical. >> See more restrictions of Tibet travel
Now countries around the world have launched and implemented injection vaccines one after another, and European countries are opening borders step by step. Some Asian countries are also gradually loosening travel restrictions. If these countries succeed in opening up, it will not be long before China opens its border. It is expected that China, which is relatively cautious, will also be able to open up within half a year.
Altitude Sickness is the most concerning issue for many travelers. Tibet is located on a plateau. When you go to Tibet from the plains, you could be worried that altitude sickness would occur due to changes in altitude. Don't worry! On the first day when you arrive in Tibet, as long as you have a good rest and avoid exercise vigorously, altitude sickness will generally not occur. >> See more about Altitude Sickness
Tibet is a tightly controlled place, there are many checkpoints on the roads which entail stopping. Checkpoints will check passports, permits and other documents. As a result, driving on Tibet’s roads means having stops, slow speed, and waiting. For example, there are more than 2 checkpoints on the road between Lhasa and Shigatse. What’s more, most vehicles are equipped with speed-monitors, which will alert when the driver is driving too fast. During a long journey in remote areas in Tibet, particularly when you are looking forward to visiting Mount Everest or other attractive sites, the speed may be frustrating. However, the speed limitation and checkpoints ensure you a safe trip in Tibet, please be patient.
Most Tibetans in Tibet are devout Buddhists. They are modest and kind, and they are very taboo about stealing and killing. They are modest and gentle, if you have something to ask, they will be happy to help. If you pay a visit to their house, they will very hospitable and make you feel at home. Their smiles are bright and pure, like the sunshine here, warm as spring. >> See more about people in Tibet
Criminal is rare in Tibet. However, there are some petty criminals in Tibet, and the majority of them are theft. In crowded areas in Lhasa, particularly in Barkhor Street, you may encounter pickpockets. Take care of your bags and pockets, and don’t bring a large amount of cash with you. Hold your camera tightly when you are enjoying the breathtaking scenery. Make sure your digital equipment, such as phones and tablet computers, are always in your bag. There are some common scams in Tibet and foreign travelers are vulnerable to them. Don’t go with people who approach you and invite you to drink at a bar or café. What’s more, ATM scams are common in recent years. Using ATM accompanied by your travel guide is suggested to avoid ATM crime or your card being swallowed. You’d better use ATM during the daytime in banks, shops, and big shopping centers. Don’t go out at night.
Dogs and Other Animals
Tibet owns more than 800 species of wild animals, 200 species of which are native. As a wonderland for the wildlife, you are suggested to protect the animals and yourself by respecting laws. Brown bears, yaks, and snow leopards attacked local people during past years. Travelers are not suggested to trek or cycle in those wild areas alone but companied by a local travel guide. When you see wild animals, keep a safe distance from them and never approach them. In the countryside and pastoral areas, almost every local family owns a Tibetan mastiff. Tibetan mastiff is a species of dog, which is powerful, ferocious and dangerous. When you see a dog during your journey, keep away from it. >> See more about Tibetan Animals
Money and Valuables
Don’t carry much cash with you, and don’t show your wealth in public. Take care of your valuables, such as jewelry, cameras, and expensive watches. Don’t leave them in vehicles or hotels. If your thing was stolen, report it to the nearest Public Security Bureau. You will fill in a loss report and claim the loss on your travel insurance, which will cover it.
Your passport is valuable, since criminals may commit crimes with lost passports. To avoid your identity being used by criminals, take care of your passport and always bring it with you. Contact the nearest Embassy as soon as possible once you lost your passport.
Although you will be surrounded by attractive local food, which is cheap and delicious, you’re suggested to eat in the big restaurants. A meal in a big restaurant in Tibet is not cheap, which costs about CNY 60 per person, but it’s worth trying. Food from vendors is not always safe, and it may be cooked with stale meats and vegetables. For your health, you’d better have your meals in reliable restaurants with better sanitary conditions. >> See more about Tibetan Food
Local Customs and Taboos
When you come to Tibet, learn about some local customs and taboos, which can make you a more popular person and make the journey more pleasant. For example, the local people are very devout to the Buddha, so we should respect their beliefs. Do not whistle in Tibetan homes at night. Do not make loud noises in the temple, or touch the Buddha statues casually. Don't hug the Tibetans' shoulders or touch the Tibetans' heads. The local people are shunning to kill and have dogs, horses, donkeys, or fish in some places, so remember not to persuade them to eat them. Do not step on the threshold when entering the door. When you see Mani stones, stupas, and temples, you should go around from left to right, and the direction of turning prayers wheels should be clockwise. When Tibetans service tea for you, you have to take it with both hands. When Tibetans offer you khata scarfs, please bow down and accept it. If Tibetans put their hands together, they show their sincere blessings to the guests. And, if Tibetans stick out their tongues, they show humility and friendliness.
In a nutshell, it’s safe to travel to Tibet as a foreign traveler. Located in Lhasa with 17 years' experience, we offer group tour packages with seasoned travel guides and drivers. We guarantee you a safe, unforgettable and rewarding travel to Tibet.
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