Travel to Tibet Alone
- by Caroline
- Last Updated: 2022-09-13
Many foreigners have questions about traveling to Tibet alone. Is it possible for a foreigner to travel to Tibet alone? Is it necessary to join a group tour? What documents are needed to apply for a China visa and Tibet travel permit? Is it safe to visit Tibet alone? And so on. There are so many questions, and we have made a full list for your consideration.
Is Tibet Safe for Solo Traveler?
Tibet is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. With an average altitude of 4000 meters above sea level, Tibet is crowned with "the Roof of the World" or "the Third Pole". Many people have Tibet on their must-go lists because they want to experience the exotic culture, grand mountains, amazing plateau scenery, and mysterious Tibet Buddhism. The question most travelers ask themselves is - is it safe to travel to Tibet alone?
We can simply answer the above question, YES, traveling solo around Tibet is perfectly safe. Below are details to ascertain that no misfortune will come to you if you take a solo trip to Tibet.
Find a Reputable Travel Agency Early.
Since Tibet is a politically sensitive area, all foreign travelers need a Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet. Right now, foreign travelers are not allowed to apply for Tibet permits on their own. So in order to get your Tibet Travel Permit, you need to book with a Local Tibet Travel Agency, which can obtain your Tibet permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau. No matter you are alone or not, you have to join a tour organized by a Tibet Travel Agency for arranging all your travel details such as transportation, tour guide, itinerary, etc. and your Travel agency will be responsible for all your travel in Tibet. Then it's very important to find a reputable Tibet travel agency in advance especially if you are alone. To keep your cost down, a good travel agency would usually suggest a solo traveler joining a group tour unless you have some special requirements.
To assure the optimum traveling experience, a good travel agency would adopt an omnidirectional service. They provide English-speaking tour guides to look after you on arrival. The guide will stick with you until the end of your travel. A local guide will also come in handy in exploring the local culture and religion. The guides will show you easier routes to go, the best places to visit and the popular restaurants, shops, etc.
What Should You Prepare to Apply For the Tibet Travel Permit?
In order to travel to Tibet, you have to get a China visa first. It is easy to get a China visa, you should bring your passport, and international flight tickets to the Chinese embassy visa section, and they will give you a visa application form, please remember not to mention your trip to Tibet on your visa application form, otherwise, your visa application may get rejected.
After you booked a tour with registered Tibet tour operators, they will apply for the Tibet permit for you. You just need to email them a copy of your passport and China Visa.
Exploring The Barkhor Street Safely For Solo Travelers
Barkhor Street is one of the must-visit places for travelers in Tibet. The street, which is located in Lhasa, hosts thousands of pilgrims every day who pay homage to the temple of Jokhang. The temple was built in 647 A.D and is regarded as the world's Buddhist center.
An important thing to remember is that you should always walk in a clockwise direction like all other pilgrims. In this place, you will get a chance to check out the Tibetan culture, art, and religious articles as well as many other things. You can shop for souvenirs in Barkhor Street, but be sure to compare the price with other vendors.
It is easy to get lost at night, therefore, return to your hotel early enough. Be careful of the pickpockets, especially in some crowded areas.
How Safe Are the Tibetan Restaurants?
As a state which depends mainly on tourism as a driver of its economy, Tibetan restaurants are very safe and hygienic for travelers. The restaurants serve numerous types of traditional dishes and grabbing dinner in one of them would not be a bad idea.
However, Not all Tibetan dishes consist of barley and Yak. In case you have any dietary restrictions, it will be prudent to tell your tour guide or any other restaurant staff. They would make a corresponding arrangement for you.
Some famous Tibetan Dishes include Tsampa, roasted barley taken with tea, a mixture of noodles and beef stew known as Thugpa and a rare mixture of Yak fat and dough. Yak yogurt is also a must-try meal for any traveler.
Apart from Tibetan restaurants, you can also dine in Nepalese or Indian restaurants which serve different dishes. You can dine in any of these restaurants alone. A golden piece of advice: always drink bottled water and avoid tap water.
Can One Travel Outside Lhasa Alone?
After spending a day or two in Lhasa, you might start feeling that you are familiar enough with the place and you want to venture out. Well, it is very unadvisable for tourists to get out of Lhasa alone. Why?
Foreigners cannot travel out of Lhasa without a guide due to political reasons.
On the other hand, if you venture out of Lhasa without a guide, chances are that you might be pickpocketed by robbers and get badly assaulted. Tibetan mountains are also famous for their numerous wild animals which may attack lone travelers. The mobile signal in the mountains is also very poor and in case you get lost, it will be hard to contact anyone.
Additional Useful Tips for A Solo Traveler to Tibet:
1. The best seasons to travel in Tibet are from May to June, and September and October.
During this period, the climate is good for you to go trekking or hiking, and get a clear view of the tourist attractions. However, it’s also the peak season. Therefore, the cost is relatively higher than in the offseason.
2. 6-15 days of travel is enough for visiting Tibet alone.
For many solo travelers, a 6-15 days group tour is enough for you to explore Tibet. Because the itineraries in 6-15 days tours can cover the major sites like Mt. Everest, Mt. Kailash, Namtso Lake, etc. Just as most tourists choose. And all the itineraries include the top scenic spots in Lhasa city, you will not miss anything during the tours designed by us. If you like a natural landscape, you may enjoy Namtso lakeside sightseeing; if you want an extraordinary experience and feel the peak of the world, you may go to Mt. Everest; if you like a spiritual journey to the center of the world, you may go Mt. Kailash for trekking.
3. Be responsible for your own safety.
Many foreign travelers are worried about their safety as travelers are usually targeted by pickpockets, to avoid this, please keep your money, phone and anything valuable inside the bag in front of you, instead of your coat pocket. Of course, the public security in Tibet is good. Tibet has a low crime rate as the locals have faith, but you also need to pay attention to your safety after dark especially when you are alone.
The real danger is coming from the external natural environment of Tibet. If your body is in poor physical condition, it’s difficult for you to acclimate to the high altitude and the complex temperature. As a rule of thumb, especially when traveling alone, a good body state and caution are the key to having a safe trip in Tibet. So don’t worry a lot, traveling alone in Tibet is safe for you.
4. Take care of your possessions on your way to Tibet.
If you get to Tibet by train with valuable possession, then you are advised to take the first class train by purchasing a soft-sleeper train ticket. The trains are generally safe as there are railway policemen in each car. A first-class ticket gives you comfort and extra security for your belongings.
In conclusion, Tibet is one of the safest places to visit on earth. If the above precautions are observed, be sure to have a wonderful and unforgettable experience.
How to Get to Tibet?
You can travel to Tibet by flight, train, or road from China OR by flight or road from Nepal. The best way depends on your place of departure and travel plans.
Road to Tibet
The roads to Tibet are usually very costly and not all of them are available. Right now, only Kathmandu to Lhasa highway, Xinjiang to Lhasa highway, and Qinghai to Lhasa highway are applicable. Sichuan to Tibet and Yunnan to Tibet overland routes are not applicable.
Travel to Tibet From Canada
If you are Canada citizen, planning a trip to Tibet should be put into your schedule. Canada has an association with Tibet in cultures and history. Currently there're multiple ways to travel to Tibet from Canada.
Travel to Tibet from United Kingdom
Travelers from the United Kingdom can fly to Kathmandu then to Lhasa by flight or road. Or you can fly to mainland China, then to Lhasa by flight or train.
Travel to Tibet from Japan
Getting to Tibet from Japan is easy now. You are recommended to travel to Tibet via mainland China, then take a train or flight to Lhasa.
Riding from Lhasa to Kathmandu
Lhasa to Kathmandu is a popular cycling route across the Himalayans. It takes 13 to 14 days to complete this ride covering more than 1,000 kilometers.
Tuiwa Tibetan Village: World's Highest Village
Tuiwa Village is the highest village in the world, at 5,070 meters above sea level. It's situated by the lake of Puma Yumco.
Backpacking in Tibet
International backpackers must book a tour through Tibet Travel Agency and obtain a Tibet Travel Permit before entering Tibet.
Most Famous Sacred Mountains in Tibetan Areas
Top four most famous Tibetan sacred mountains include Meili Snow Mountain(Kawagebo), Amne Machin, Mount Kailash, and Gado Jowo.
Best Time for Trekking in Tibet
The best time to trek in Tibet is in Spring and Autumn, from April to May and September to October as there's no rainfall that quits your hiking.
Tibet Altitude - Elevation List of Different Places in Tibet
Tibetan Plateau is the world's highest plateau due to its high altitude. See the elevation list of Lhasa, Everest Base Camp, Mt.Kailash, Namtso, etc.
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