Being one of the highest habitable regions of the world, the average elevation of Tibet is 4,900m.
Tibet has something in store for every kind of traveller. There is much to be explored and experienced in this land of mountains and monasteries. From quaint little tea houses to breath-taking view of the mighty Everest, Tibet can make you feel like you have found yourself and lost yourself at the same time.
With summits to be conquered, roads to be taken, and spirituality to be experienced, Tibet will never let you get bored.
Tibet is the kind of place where you feel like you are suspended from reality and entered a mystic and magical new world. Since it is away from the concrete jungle and rat race of rest of the world, you can feel the time slowing down here.
There really is no reason why you should not travel to Tibet. Here are easily top 5 reasons for a Tibet tour.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Tibet, China
1. Experience Unique Tibetan Buddhism
Once you enter Tibet, you will realise that Buddhism is more than just a religion for people there – it is a way of life and many principles of Buddhism are deeply ingrained in their day-to-day activities. The culture and identity of the people is tightly woven with Tibetan Buddhism.
You can see the influences of Tibetan Buddhism reflecting in their architecture, activities, actions, food etc.
Some things that highlight this are the monasteries, thangkas, Kora activities, pilgrimage activities, monk debates etc. There are monasteries that are centuries old in Lhasa. These monasteries played a big part in spreading Buddhism.
Most of the monasteries have universities and schools that still run and teach Buddhism. Kora is an important Buddhist activity that locals religiously perform. It is the act of walking in the clock wise direction around a sacred site; it may be monasteries, temples, lakes, or mountains.
In Lhasa you can see a lot of pilgrims performing Kora around Jokhang Temple. Lake Mansarovar, Lake Namtso, Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Lingkhor Kora and Potala Kora are some of the famous kora circuits for the pilgrims.
You can also perform kora with the locals to know the reason and sentiments behind it.
2. Tibet is a Haven for Photographers
Tibet is unquestionably a feast to your eyes, heart, and soul. The views are undeniably some of the finest and most beautiful in this world.
The towering mountains, pristine lakes, rolling grasslands, grand Himalayan peaks, vibrant localities, varied topography, colourful festivals, warm locals and unique handicrafts are the reasons why Tibet is a haven for photographers.
The strong sunshine makes everything a bit shinier; the dramatic blue skies reflect beautifully on the clear lakes; the night skies are peppered with clear sparkling stars; the snow topped mountains are like a silver lining in the sky.
Some of the famous attractions are views that are popular among photographers are the view of the mighty Everest from Everest Base Camp, Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Lake, Mansarover Lake, the highest Monastery in the world – Rongbuk Monastery, the debating monks in Sera Monastery, the Shoton festival in Drepung Monastery, etc.
The basic photography equipment needed are: Bag/kit, lenses-wide angle and normal, tripod and ball head, lens filters, reflector kit, lens hood, cleaning brushes and kit, protective weather guide, memory cards, battery charger, light meter, remote camera, lens cover and a stabilizer. Read more about my camera buying guide in this post.
Since Tibet is in a high altitude, the battery drains pretty fast, so it is advisable that you carry back up batteries. Carry UV-protected lens to guard against the harsh sunlight, and try to keep your gear light as there is a lot of walking involved.
3. Never Miss the Fervent Tibetan Festivals
There is no dearth of reasons to celebrate in Tibet. There are festivals all around the year be it a major or minor one. Though these festivals have spiritual roots, they serve as an opportunity to bring people together and have so much fun.
Some of the most popular festivals are Shoton festival (Yoghurt festival), Saga Dawa festival and Losar festival (Tibetan New Year).
Shoton is a 5-day festival with highlights such as Tibetan opera and Yak race. During this festival a huge painting of Buddha is unfurled at the foothill of mountains near Drepung Monastery.
Saga Dawa Festival marks the occasion when Sakyamuni became Buddha. This is considered the holiest festival in Tibet. People free doves from cages, pray, and enjoy a big picnic in the local park at the end of the day.
During the New Year people clean and decorate their homes, wear new clothes, cook delicious food, and enjoy entertainment such as dance and music. There are a lot more festivals and the locals let travellers be a part of it.
Festivals are the best way to know about people, culture, and see them at their happiest. The celebratory mood is infectious and the atmosphere is warm and filled with nothing but happy chatters during this time.
4. Make it to the Foot of Mt. Everest
Mt. Everest is one of the biggest and for many the only reason to visit Tibet. Towering over the rest of the world, conquering Mt. Everest has been an adventure that ignites many. If climbing it is not possible for you, you can always get a taste of what it is to see it up close in Tibet.
Everest Base Camp is located 800km from Lhasa and is located at an altitude of 17,000ft. The foot of the Everest is indeed the best spot to feel and experience the magnanimity of this majestic mountain.
You can also visit the world’s highest monastery, Rongbuk Monastery, in EBC.
Even the journey from Lhasa to Everest is filled with breathtaking views. From Lhasa, you will be going to EBC via Shigatse.
Some of the views and natural attractions you will get to see on the way are Gampala pass, Yamdrok-tso, views of Nyenchen Khangsar, Korola Glacier, Manak Dam Lake, Pelkor Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum.
As you near EBC, you will find how magical and suspended from the rest of the reality Mt Everest looks like.
Watching the sunset over the Everest from the roofs of Rongbuk Monastery will definitely be one of the most stunning and gorgeous view you would have seen in your lifetime no matter how extensively you have travelled.
5. Witness the Religious and Cultural Lives of Tibetans
Buddhism may not have been originated in Tibet, but Tibet is one of the regions where Buddhism is so deeply woven with their culture and way of life.
There are a lot of customs that are unique to Tibetan Buddhism that you will find interesting and get to know for the first time when you step into Lhasa.
With deeply rooted religion and rich culture, Tibet is a regions filled with interesting cuisine, art, architecture, dance forms, literature, customs and festivals.
Tibetan Weisang is one such custom where pine branches, cypresses, and other herbal leaves are burnt around a temple or any religious site during weddings or funerals. You will find a lot of prayer flags, prayer wheels and Mani stones which Tibetans consider sacred and worship.
Thangka paintings are a popular art form that you will find everywhere. These paintings are influenced by Chinese, Nepalese and Kashmiri painting techniques.
When it comes to architecture, you can see the Chinese and Indian influence. At the same time, you will find that it is deeply inspired by Buddhism.
Their conservative clothing also suit well for the weather and you can still find locals wearing their traditional clothes even today.
These are just some of the reasons for you to visit Tibet. Once you go there, you will discover a lot more reasons to revisit.