Tibet, a rich and beautiful land, is located at the main part of Qinghai-Tibet plateau, south-West frontier of China. Tibet borders with Sichuan, Yuannan, Qinghai and Xinjiang; to the south contiguous to India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Burma, and bounded by Kashmir on the west.
Geographically, Tibet can be divided into three major parts, the east, north and south. The eastern part is forest region, occupying approximately one-fourth of the land. Virgin forests run the entire breadth and length of this part of Tibet. The northern part is open grassland, where nomads and yak and sheep dwell here. This part occupies approximately half of Tibet. The southern and central part is agricultural region, occupying about one-fourth of Tibet's land area with all major Tibetan cities and towns such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse and Tsetang located in this area, it is considered the cultural center of Tibet. The total area of the Tibet Autonomous Region is 1.2 million Sq. Km. and its population is about 2 million.
Basically, the Tibetan climate is not as harsh as many traveler imagine it to be. The best time of year to be in Tibet is from April to the beginning of November, after which temperatures start to plummet. The central Tibet, including Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Tsetang, generally has very mild weather from April to November, though July and August can be rainy - these two months usually see around half of Tibet's annual rainfall. October and November often bring some dazzling clear weather and daytime temperatures can be quite comfortable at Tibet's lower altitude.
The coldest months are from December to February. It is not impossible to visit Tibet in winter. The low altitude valleys of Tibet (around Lhasa, Shigatse and Tsedang) see very little snow. Spring does not really get under way until April, though March can have warm sunny days and is not necessarily a bad month to be in Tibet. More specific information in different areas:
Lhasa - the border of Nepal/China: The Friendship highway is basically in good conditions year around. But from December to February, the thawed road could make some trouble besides, try to avoid August - landslide could happen in the rainy season.
Mt. Everest Region: Early May and early October are the best time to visit Mt. Everest. Due to the clear weather, you have great chance to see Mt. Everest's true face. From December to February, it's too cold to go to this region. But the magnetism of Mt. Everest always attracts people anytime of the year.
Ali (Mt.Kailash): Even without climate restrictions, this area is already inhospitable. Big rain and snow could make the journey worse. However, for those determined tourists, the appropriate time is May, June, July, September and October.
Eastern Tibet: Don't touch this area in July or August, the rain could ruin the road, and make terrible landslides. While in winter, the road could be frozen.
Northern Tibet: With the average altitude of 4,500m, this area offers very limited time for tourists. Summer is the prime time to enjoy the great plain in northern Tibet.
Temperature in Lhasa
|Month||The Highest (°C)||The Lowest (°C)|
Present hada is a common practice among the Tibetan people to express their best wishes on many occasions, such as wedding ceremonies, festivals, visiting the elders and the betters, and entertaining guests. The white hada, a long narrow scarf made of silk, embodies purity and good fortune. Proposing a Toast and Tea
Proposing a Toast and Tea When you come to a Tibetan family, the host will propose a toast, usually barley wine. You should sip three times and then drink up. To entertain guests with tea is a daily etiquette. The guest has not to drink until the host presents the tea to you.
Greetings don't forget to add "la"after saying hello to the Tibetan people to show respect. Make way to others. Try not to make any sounds while eating and drinking.
Sky burial is a common form in Tibet. There are many prohibitions. Strangers are not allowed to attend the ceremony. Visitors should respect this custom and keep away from such occasions.
Also known as the Lamaism, the Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Tibet from the mainland and India in the seventh century. The Tibetan Buddhism consists of four major sects, the Ge-lug-pa(Yellow) Sect, the Nying-ma-pa(Red)Sect, the Saturday-kya-pa(Variegated) Sect, and the Ka-gyu-pa(White) Sect.
The immediate motivations of pilgrimage are many, but for the ordinary Tibetan it amounts to a means of accumulating merit or good luck. The lay practitioner might go on pilgrimage in the hope of winning a better rebirth, cure an illness, end spate of bad luck or simply because of a vow to take a pilgrimage if a bodhisattva granted a wish. In Tibet there are countless sacred destinations, ranging from lakes and mountains to monasteries and caves that once served as meditation retreats for important yogin. Specific pilgrimages are often proscribed for specific ills; certain mountains for example expiate certain sins. A circumambulation of Mt. Kailash offers the possibility of liberation within three lifetimes, while a circuit of Lake Manasarovar can result in spontaneous Buddhahood.
Tibetan New Year (February or March)
It is the greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times when the peach tree was in blossom, it was considered as the starting of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD., the first day of the first month became fixed as the New Year. On the New Year's day, families unite "auspicious dipper" is offered and the auspicious words "tashi delek" are greeted.
Butter Oil Lantern Festival (February or March)
It's held on the 15th of the first lunar month. Huge yak-butter sculptures are placed around Lhasa's Barkhor circuit. Saga Dawa Festival (May or June)
It is the holiest in Tibet, there memorable occasions coincide on this day, Buddha's birth and Buddha's enlightenment. Almost every person within Lhasa join in circumambulations round the city and spend their late afternoon on picnic at "Dzongyab Lukhang" park at the foot of Potala Palace.
Gyantse Horse Race & Archery (May or June)
Horse race and archery are generally popular in Tibet, andGyantse enjoys prestige of being the earliest in history by starting in 1408. Contests in early times included horse race, archery, and shooting on gallop followed by a few days' entertainment or picnicking. Presently, ball games, track and field events, folk songs and dances, barter trade are in addition to the above.
Changtang Chachen Horse Race Festival (August)
There are many horse racing festivals in Tibet, the one in Nagqu of Northern Tibet is the greatest. August is the golden season on Northern Tibet's vast grassland. Herdsmen, on their horsebacks, in colorful dresses, carrying tents and local products, pour into Nagqu. Soon they form a city of tents. Various exciting programs are held, such as horse racing, yak racing, archery, horsemanship and commodity fair.
Shoton Festival (August)
It is one of the major festivals in Tibet, also known as the Tibetan Opera Festival. The founder of the Gelugpa (Yellow Sect of Buddhism), Tsongkhapa set the rule that Buddhists can cultivate themselves only indoor in summer, to avoid killing other creatures carelessly. Because creatures are most active in summer. This rule must be carried out till the seventh lunar month. Then Buddhists go outdoor, accept yoghurt served by local people, and have fun. Since the middle of 17th century, the Fifth Dalai Lama added opera performance to this festival. Famous Tibetan opera troupes perform in Norbulingka (Dalai Lama's summer palace).
Bathing Festival (September)
It is believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky, the water in the river becomes purest and cures diseases. During its appearance for one week, usually the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth lunar months, all the people in Tibet go into the river to wash away the grime of the previous year.
Kungpo Traditional Festival (November or December)
Long ago, when Tibet was in danger of large scale invasion, the Kongpo people sent out an army to defend their homeland.It was in September and the soldiers worried that they might miss the New Year,highland barley wine and other good things.So people had the Tibetan New Year on 1st October ahead of time.To memorize those brave soldiers Kongpo people present three sacrifices and stay up at night from then on. And now it has become the Kongpo Festibal for entertainment like Kongpo dancing, horse race, archery and shooting.
Harvest Festival (September)
The farmers in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shangnan to celebrating their bumer harvest in this time. During that time, people enjoy with horse racing games, costum fashion show, songs and dance Archery and picnic etc.
|Tibetan New Year||Mar 3rd||Feb 21st|
|The Monlam Festival||Mar 11th - Mar 19th||Feb 28th - Mar 7th|
|Butter Oil Lantern Festival||Mar 18th||Mar 6th|
|Saga Dawa Festival||Jun 14th||Jun 3rd|
|Horse Racing Festival, Gyantse||Jun||Jun|
|Chubacexi Festival||Jul 2nd||Jul 21st|
|Yalong Cultural Festival||Jul 25th||Jul 25th|
|Shoton Festival||Aug 27th - Sep 3rd||Aug 15th - Aug 22nd|
|Qiangtang Kyanggen Horse Racing Festival||Aug 10th - Aug 16th||Aug 10th - Aug 16th|
Foods in Tibet differ in pastoral areas and agricultural areas. The staple food include roasted highland barley flour, wheat flour, meat, or red food, and milk, or white food. The principle in summer is the white food, while that in winter is the red food. Local flavors in the pastoral areas are mutton sausage, and dried beef.
The flavor of the Tibetan food is fresh, light andtender. Salt, onion, and garlic are the main ingredients. There are many restaurants in Lhasa, Shigatse, and Zetang, All restaurants of various classes are decorated and furnished in the traditional Tibetan style. Diners can enjoy delicious Tibetan dishes while admiring paintings and murals symbolizing happiness and good luck in the restaurants.High on the menu are such flavors as sausages, barley wine, butter oil tea, beef and mutton eaten with the hands, yak tongue, steamed buns, zanba made from highland barley, pastries, sweet tea, butter tea, dried beef, and xiapuqing, or minced mutton and beef.