Tibet, China - Stein Travel
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Tibet

This is the land of majestic mountains, exotic culture and gentle people. Tibet, 'the roof of the world', lay largely undiscovered by the rest of the world until the beginning of the 20th century, but has since fascinated travellers seeking the unspoilt and more remote corners of the globe.

China invaded and annexed Tibet in 1950, since when the country has officially been known as the Tibet Autonomous Region. Travelling through Tibet is no longer allowed unless visitors are part of a package tour, and must remain with the tour for the duration of their stay. In recent years there has been a massive influx of Han-Chinese immigrants to Tibet, and Chinese-Tibetan relations can be strained, though most visitors find locals friendly and hospitable.

This vast territory in the southwest of China consists of a massive plateau surrounded by towering mountain ranges. The Himalayas ring it in the south, the Karakoram Range is to the west, the Kunlun to the north, and smaller ranges fringe the east forming a barrier between Tibet and China's internal provinces. Most of Tibet is several thousand feet above sea level, meaning that the air is thin. The region is a major draw for mountaineers, containing some of the world's highest mountain peaks, capped by Mount Everest at 29,029 feet (8,848m), in the middle section of the Himalayas in Tibet's Tingri Country.

Tibet is scenically rich with snow-covered peaks, glaciated high passes, aquamarine lakes, primeval forests and almost continual bright-blue skies. Despite its altitude and thick snow covering the mountains, Tibet actually has snowfalls only a few times a year with plenty of sunshine the rest of the time. Tibet's major cities and towns are congregated mainly in the southern part of the region. Here, in the agricultural sector, are the capital Lhasa and the other major city of Shigatse, which offer the region's most important tourist attractions, including the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama, and The Rongbuk Monastery, which is the highest in the world and has fantastic views of Mount Everest.

Information & Facts

Climate

Tibet has a dry, cold climate; it is particularly cold in the mountains and plateaus, which are also swept by strong winds all year round. In summer the daily temperature fluctuates greatly between day and night. At midday it may be 80°F (27°C), but after sunset the mercury plummets abruptly to as low as 32ºF (3°C). Best time of year in Tibet is between April and November, when the weather is mild. July and August are the wettest months, particularly in the central area around Lhasa, but average annual precipitation is very low.

Language

The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.

Money

The currency used in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). The Yuan is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments, but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce outside the main cities.

Time

Local time is GMT +8.

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