Many people dream of visiting Tibet, if not for the wonderful culture and well-preserved traditions, for the glamorous idea of visiting such an exotic place. It is hard to refute that it is difficult to visit Tibet, considering the necessity to join a tour group with private vehicle, driver and tour guide to even get a travel permit. On top of that, there are regulations against diplomats, journalists and government officials and off-limit areas near China’s border and military base in Tibet.
It is no wonder that many people might choose to visit another place instead. However, despite the difficulties, there are countless hidden gems in Tibet that definitely make it worth the trouble! Commonly referred to as the “Roof of the World”, the Tibetan Plateau is the highest and largest plateau in the world and is even termed the third pole due to harsh climates that rivals the weather at the Earth’s pole. Spanning across only two countries, Tibet is only one of two places where you can view the wonders of the Tibetan Plateau, the other being Ladakh, India.
Yet the wide a range of beautiful scenery of crystal-like lakes, glaciers, snow-capped mountains and grasslands are not even close to half of what Tibet has to offer. It is also one of the two places where you can climb the tallest mountain the world has to offer – Mount Everest – and the beautiful sunrise that turns the mountain golden is definitely a sight not to be missed.
Tibetan Culture is another extraordinary experience, especially for city dwellers. It is difficult to imagine how despite all the modern changes to their lives, they still hold so strongly to their traditional culture and live a pastoral lifestyle, even continuing the practice of their nomadic traditions. Visiting Tibet can leave you with a surreal feeling, like seeing someone using a cell phone while riding a horse, combining a modern invention with an occurrence hard to imagine out of the context of history. Yet these people exists in these unique combination – practicing pilgrimage prostration and sky burial while living towns with electricity, television and the likes.
Being part of China, most Tibetan also speak Mandarin on top of their native languages. The transportation to Tibet has also improved greatly, with the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the Lhasa Gonggar Airport which provide flights to many big cities in China. With majority of Tibetans still practicing Tibetan Buddhism and Bon, their monuments – such as the Potata Palace, Jokhang Monastery and Toling Monastery – still stand tall and proud. Most of Tibet’s traditional festivals including Tibetan New Year (Losar), Shoton festival, Monlam Chenmo, Butter Lamp festival and Saga Dawa festival are still being celebrated by the Tibetans today.