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Tibet, the roof of the world. One of the most scenically stunning places on this planet. With a culture and history as rich as a cup of sweet Yak butter tea, its good to know what to see and where to go so you get the most out of your trip. Here are Global Village Tours definitive Do's and Dont's. Our Secrets of Tibet Tour departs in July and we're offering 5% discount to those that book before April 1st! See here for more.
A Prayer path, also known as a kora – is a walking path that surrounds almost all sacred sites, monasteries and temples. These are peaceful places to meditate and take in the sites of the sacred structure and the often breathtaking landscape surrounding it. Also a great place to interact with the local pilgrims, monks and villagers, many of whom pray daily for the peace and return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Take note that Tibetan Buddhists walk in a clockwise direction – if you want to avoid incoming traffic!
Why? Because you cant. Independent travel to Tibet is completely forbidden. Dont even ask! In order to gain access to Tibet you must contact a travel agency (like, say Global Village Tours...) at least a month before you plan on going. Everyone going to Tibet must have a Tibet Travel Permit. Not to be mistaken for a visa, this is a 2 page form showing your name, age, passport details and itinerary while in the country. You cannot obtain this from a Chinese embassy – it will need to be taken care of by your tour company and is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau.
Indigenous to Tibet, Yaks have been mistaken for wooly mammoths by the more unseasoned of tourists. You will encounter many of these huge lumbering animals traversing the steep slopes of the Tibetan countryside and villages. They also produce milk – which the Tibetans use to make cheese, yoghurt, butter, tea and even candle wax. In recent years yaks milk has been found to be a brilliant source of healthy fats, it is rich and nutrient dense making it an important staple of the local diet. Sweet Yak tea is the hot drink of choice for most guests in a Tibetan home, you wont find Starbucks in these parts...
Just dont. No matter how good it smells! Burping and eating loudly are fine however.
Tibetans are a deeply polite, family orientated race of people and they have immense respect for elders. You will not hear the word nursing home in Tibet, rather you will find much of the younger generation eager to learn from the vast life experience of the elders. If you're lucky you might be invited to sit by the fire and revel in a few tales. If an elder or lama (Buddhist teacher) enters or leaves the room you should stand up, and always try to answer very clearly and politely.
Tibet isnt nicknamed 'the roof of the world' for nothing... be prepared for some of the most incredible landscapes that our planet has to offer. Not to mention the blinding array of colors and bustling activity that comes with Tibetan culture. You are one of a rare few tourists that get to visit this stunning part of the world so try to take in as much of it as your brain, and an SD card can hold.