Destinations || Journeys|| Hotels Resorts & Palaces|| MICE|| Holiday Ideas|| Chauffeur Services



Tibet: the Land of Snow, the roof of the world. It’s very name is Sanskrit for “heaven.” For centuries, Tibet’s mystery has captured the imagination of authors, artists, and adventurers with its spellbinding grandeur, striking landscapes, and the unwavering devotion of its people.

Entering Tibet you feel as though you've entered an entirely different world. The traditional Tibetan culture, though heavily diluted recently by government-sponsored migrations of Han and Hui Chinese, remains strong.

For many travelers, Tibet is the ultimate destination. Inaccessible for years, the Himalayan Kingdom is today open to visitors. Gyantse's Kumbum is a world treasure, adorned with 15th century Newari murals. Shigatse is the seat of the Panchen Lama, it draws pilgrims from all over the country. Tsedong, just outside Lhasa, makes an ideal introduction to the country and its monastic traditions. Lhasa is the pilgrims' and travelers' final destination, with bustling markets, sacred temples, and ornate palaces. The massive monastic cities of Sera and Drepung, outside of Lhasa, are open and are being rebuilt after the destruction of the Cultural Revolution and years of neglect.

On PCTI Tibet tours, you will see skies filled with multi-colored prayer flags fluttering against the backdrop of the world’s highest snow-capped peaks. The sacred peaks of Mt. Kailash, which are circumambulated by pilgrims to cleanse the sins of a lifetime, are also the source of four of the world’s major rivers, including the Ganges and Mekong. Your Tibet travel experience will forever change you.

Travel Documents

Tibet Entry Permit
Considering the special ethnic traditions, the cultural relics, the environmental protection and the transportation capacity of Tibet, Chinese Government regulates that non-Chinese citizens, including foreign tourists, Taiwan tourists and overseas Chinese must have a Tibet Travel Permit as well as a valid passport and a visa (Travellers from countries having visa exemption agreement with Hong Kong do not need a visa) to visit Tibet. A visa can be obtained from the local Chinese consulate in your country. However, the foreign journalists and diplomats are not allowed to go to Tibet as a tourist.

Who has to carry a Tibet Travel Permit?

  1. The Taiwan tourists, who do not have the valid identity card of China
  2. Non-Chinese passport holders
  3. The overseas Chinese, who do not have Chinese passport

Note : The Hong Kong and Macau citizens who hold SAR passport, Home-Visiting Certificate or Permit to Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macau do not need a Tibet Travel Permit.

Since the government encourages group tours to Tibet, the permit is issued only to tour groups travelling with a tour operator. The Tibet Travel Permit is issued for free by China Tibet Tourism Bureau. Your travel agency will represent you to facilitate the application process.

For those overseas tourists want to travel to Tibet as an individual, the administrative offices of Tibet Tourism Bureau in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu (in Sichuan) and Golmud (in Qinghai) will answer for the related affairs.

Tibet Tourism Bureau

Tel : 0086-891-6835472/ 6834315
E-mail :
Address : No.3 Norbulingka Road, Lhasa, Tibet

 Information on the administrative offices of Tibet Tourism Bureau:

1. Chengdu Office    
  Tel : 028-8555171
  Address : No.3 Wuhou Hengjie, Chengdu
2. Xian Office    
  Address : Qomolangma Hotel, No.333 Youyi Dong Lu, Xian
3. Shanghai Office    
  Tel : 021-62578447, 021-62572413 
  Address : 1/F, No.350 Wuning Lu, Putuo District, Shanghai
4. Beijing Office    
  Tel : 010-64060954
  Address : No.149 Gulou (Drum Tower) Xi Da Jie, Xicheng District, Beijing
5. Golmud Office    
  Tel : 0979-8483286, 0979-8483532     
  Address : No.11 Yanqiao Zhong Lu, Golmud
6. Zhongdian Office    
  Tel : 0887-8229028, 0887-8227892
  Address : Room 2206, Xiangbala Hotel, Shangri-La, Yunnan

What to Pack
Deciding what to pack is not always easy, but do try to remember this principle: Pack the minimum!

The type of clothing you bring depends on which parts of Tibet you are travelling to. Casual attire is recommended. Warm clothing is a must to ensure a comfortable tour. You can count on experiencing the sudden onset of foul weather as well as temperature extremes while in Tibet. Wearing several layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed is the wise choice since temperatures may vary greatly within a single day. A down coat is necessary for those who are travelling beyond Lhasa and Shigatse into more remote areas such as the Everest Camp. A windbreaker plus a sweater will work nicely for strolling around Lhasa in summer. During the peak tourism season, frequent rainfall makes waterproof clothing and raingear absolute necessities. Other essentials to pack include four or five pairs of cotton or woolen underwear, four or five pairs of woolen socks, long sleeve cotton or lightweight wool shirts and T-shirts. Women should avoid skirts or dresses. Comfortable, sturdy sneakers, walking shoes, or hiking boots are also recommended. Don't forget to bring along a warm hat as well as one or two pairs of warm mittens or gloves.

A large backpack is not a good choice unless you intend to trek to remote areas. A belt bag or alike should be brought along to keep important certificates and travel documents safely with you at all times. Miscellaneous items you may wish to bring along include maps of the areas that you plan on visiting; sufficient amount of money since ATMs are few in the more remote areas, all necessary toilet items including small packages of tissues and either a battery operated shaver or razor, plastic bags, a flashlight, extra batteries, sewing kit, lighter and a pocket knife. Don't forget your camera and plenty of film. Good quality sunscreen or sun block, sunglasses and lip balm are essential to protect you from sunburn that can occur easily at these high elevations.

When travelling to remote areas of Tibet it is a good idea to pack some food, snacks, and drinking water. It is not always easy to find food or drinkable water in these areas. Bring a sturdy padlock with you since some of the rooms in the hostels located in the more remote areas do not come equipped with locks on the doors. Candles may also be useful in these hostels.

It is a good idea to take a good quality multivitamin to supplement your diet since a supply of vegetables and fruits may not be readily available. A first aid kit including aspirin, antibiotics and AMS medication is highly recommended.

There is really a lot to remember but if you forget something many of these items are available in Lhasa.

Tibet Transportation
Transportation condition in Tibet has changed greatly since the liberation in 1951 when pack animals were the main mode of transportation in the region. Now highways and airlines are connecting it to other regions of China.

Planes are by far the fastest means to move to the Roof of the World. There are two airports in Tibet while Gonggar airport connects Lhasa, hence Tibet, with Chengdu, Xian, Beijing, Chongqing, and even Kathmandu and Hong Kong. There is no air route within Tibet at present. Travelling by air into Tibet will surely brings visitors unique and thrilling experience. Just imagine that you are above the world highest snow and cloud clad peaks! However, since planes travel fast and there is little time for acclimatization.

There are five highways stretching into Tibet. Sichuan-Tibet Highway is the longest, 2413 kilometres (1496 miles) long, built in 1950 and opened for traffic in 1954. The roads ply the uneven terrain over 14 mountains which average 4000-5000 meters (13120-16400 feet) high, and over a dozen of famous rivers such as Lantsang River (Mekong). The climate along the road presents beautiful scenery ranging from spring to winter. However, the road condition is not good.

Qinghai-Tibet Highway starts from Golmud of Qinghai, the only road providing bus service among the five highways and the main road to travel Tibet. 1160 kilometres (720 miles) long and averaging 4000 meters (13120 feet) high, along Kunlun Mountains and vast grassland, which amaze people living in modern civilization, the bituminous road is the best road leading to Tibet.

Xinjiang-Tibet Highway starts from Yecheng in Xinjiang. It runs 1455 kilometres (902 miles), winding its way among fives mountains soaring more than 5000 meters (16400 feet) high above the sea level. A spectacular view of Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar overwhelm travellers while travelling along the road.

Yunnan-Tibet Highway spans 800 kilometres (492 miles) to reach Markham, a less beaten track by travellers.

Chinese-Nepalese Highway is another main road travelled often. It stretches 900 kilometres (558 miles) from Kathmandu to reach Shigatse and Lhasa.

Among the five highways, only Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Chinese-Nepalese Highway are open to foreigners at present. Inside Tibet, there are now regular buses shuttling between major towns.

The conditions of minor roads are only passable by jeeps. In Lhasa minibuses are the main transportation, charging 2 RMB per person. It is easy to hire a taxi which is painted verdurous and silver. The fare is 10 RMB no matter where the destination is within the city. Pedicabs are unique vehicles to look around the highest city in the world. Bikes can be easily hired at Lhasa at most hostels.

Tibet Railway has already been open to traffic since July 1, 2006. Now travellers can make convenient access to Tibet by train.

Tibet Accommodation
In most cities of Tibet, there are hotels and guest houses for lodging, but the service may be inferior to those of the inner land of China. In Lhasa, lodging ranges from guest houses to four star hotels. In Shigatse, Gyangtse, Tsedang and Nyingchi, the highest standard is three stars. In Tingri, Zhangmu and Nakchu, the highest are two stars while in other smaller or remote areas, accommodation is mainly in guest houses.

Tibet is a not only a holy land for professional photographers, but also is a magical and beautiful place for common tourists to press their shutter all the time. Below are some tips on photography in Tibet for common travellers to follow:

  1. The best time for photography in Tibet is September and October.
  2. Bring as many films and memory cards (more than you expect) as possible before you enter Tibet.
  3. Avoiding your camera overexposure to the sun is perhaps the most important thing. Keep your photographic apparatus away from the unclean environment especially in the dusty and windy weather.
  4. Bring more emergency battery to avoid the decrease of battery life due to the lower temperature on plateau.
  5. If you require high quality photos, do bring the tripod and flashing light, especially when you taking pictures of the natural scene.
  6. Do not forget to bring dust cover, lens hood, lens tissue, a brush, detergent, repair outfits and so on.
  7. Your photographic apparatus should be as light as possible, or it is inconvenient for you to afford the burden on the plateau.
  8. Due to the strong ultraviolet rays, an ultraviolet filter should be installed before your camera lens, which can make the distant view much clearer.
  9. You should be polite when taking photos of the Tibetan or lamas. Do ask for their permission before you start.
  10. Respect the persons who you will take a shot at and try not to disturb them. Give some gifts to them as the repay with thanks.
  11. No photos in the temple especially during the sacrificed cult or its image. In some Buddha palaces, you'll be asked to pay before taking photos.
  12. According to the local customs in some areas of Tibet, people think that it is inauspicious to be photographed. Try not to insist on taking pictures of them, or you will lash them into a fury.

Mountain Sickness in Tibet
An altitude over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) is usually defined as high altitude. Since most places in Tibet autonomous Region are higher than this level, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), also called Altitude Sickness is the biggest health risk to tourists in Tibet. AMS is common at high altitudes due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. Most people will experience differing degrees of symptoms at high elevation. The occurrence of AMS is dependent on the altitude, the ascent rate and individual physical condition. Symptoms of AMS include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. Most people will experience one or more AMS symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet. The symptoms will usually gradually decrease in severity during acclimatization. Mild AMS usually will not interfere with mild activity.

However AMS can be very serious, with the most serious symptoms being High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), which can be fatal. Symptoms of HAPE include weakness, shortness of breath, even at rest, impending suffocation at night, and a persistent productive cough with white, watery, or frothy fluid. Symptoms of HPCE may include headache, ataxia, weakness, hallucinations, psychotic behaviour, coma and loss of memory. Both approach and strike at night and can be fatal! Immediate descent is the surest treatment.

Before visiting Tibet, get as fit and healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically. Visitors having record of heart, lung, other organ problems or anaemia should consult their doctor before making the decision to visit Tibet.

AMS can be lessened or avoided with proper acclimatization, which will also ease and reduce AMS symptoms. A gradual ascent will allow your body to acclimatize to higher altitudes and the decreased oxygen supply. Go no higher 300 - 400 hundred meters (984 - 1,312 feet) daily and have a rest after each 1,000 meter (3280 feet) ascent. Medication also helps to prevent AMS. Mild AMS symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication does not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to safe altitude!

The following precautions may help to prevent or lessen the effects of AMS:
Since fluid loss usually accompanies the acclimatization process, drink plenty of fluids (3 - 4 litres daily at least) and eat carbohydrate food to keep the body properly hydrated, Do not over exert and only partake in light activity immediate after your arrival, Don't smoke, drink alcohol or take other depressants such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These will depress the respiratory drive and limit oxygen intake.

Always keep in mind the following rules which will ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip to Tibet:
Any sickness at high altitude is AMS until proven otherwise, Never go higher with symptoms of AMS, It is significant that you report any symptoms of AMS immediately to other group members in the trip.

Etiquette & Taboo

Proper Etiquette
Presenting Hada (or Khatag) is traditional practice of respect and hospitality in Tibet, and will be appreciated by your host. If you are presenting a Hada to a statue or a high lama, raise the Hada above your shoulder and bow. When you receive a Hada, it is proper to accept with both your hands.

Always add a "La" after one's name to show your respect, for example Tashi La. Address a high lama with "Rinpoche" and a common lama with Geshe La, even though he might not be a Geshe.

There are some common rules to remember if you plan to visit a monastery. Always walk clockwise around the religious shrines, stupas, Mani stones and prayer wheels. However, if you visit a Bon monastery, then walk counter clockwise! Although the monks remove their shoes upon entering a chamber, it is acceptable to enter a chamber without removing your shoes. Coming inside during the chanting session is permissible. Sit or stand in the rear, with no loud and irreverent conversation! Also, it is considered proper etiquette to offer some money or butter fuel while visiting a monastery.

The following are considered taboo:

  • Smoking, consuming alcohol or making unnecessary noise in a monastery.
  • Touching, walking over or sitting on any religious texts, objects or prayer flags in a monastery.
  • Causing anything to be killed in a monastery.
  • Intrusive photography of a monastery especially when people are performing religious ceremonies. Always ask for permission.
  • Harming vultures, or yaks and sheep wearing red, yellow or green cloth.
  • Stepping on the threshold when entering a Tibetan house.
  • Spitting before somebody.
  • Placing trash in the fire.
  • Public displays of affection.
  • Wearing shorts.

Other Health Concerns

Prepare your first aid kit before arriving in Tibet. In addition to the normal bandages, salves, etc. one should include medicine for diarrhea, giardiasis, hepatitis and other diseases tourists may encounter on the plateau. Medicine for respiratory tract infections, such as colds, influenza and bronchitis which may further diminish oxygen intake should also be included to prevent those diseases since they may result in serious consequences on the Tibetan plateau. Tourists should get vaccinations to ensure good health and an enjoyable tour. Consult your physician to find out the appropriate vaccinations before travelling to Tibet. Medicine can be obtained from pharmacies, most of them on Yuthok Lu in Lhasa.

You will be exposed to climate as well as altitude extremes in Tibet. The temperature variation between day and night is huge, so be careful not to catch cold, which, because of Mountain Sickness, could possibly be fatal in Tibet. The sun is much stronger at this elevation because there is little atmosphere to filter its rays. Therefore, it may injure your skin and eyes, so you'd better bring your sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Also, sunburn can easily occur even though you do not feel it at first. Use face and hand lotions to keep your skin moisturized, as the air at this elevation is very dry so the wind will rapidly dry your skin out.

Since the boiling point of water is somewhat lower in Tibet, it is better to boil water for a longer period of time. Drinking water should be purified with iodine or other purification tablets before consumption to prevent intestinal complaints.

Packs of wild dogs roaming around monasteries and villages are common in Tibet and also a potential threat. Get a rabies vaccination (human diploid cell vaccine or purified chick embryo culture vaccine) in advance and stay away from them. For details about the vaccination, consult your doctor.

Visitors to remote areas may see wild animals, such as wild yaks, Tibetan antelopes and such. For safety's sake keep your distance.

Tibet Weather

Undoubtedly, Tibet is one of the harshest places for human existence. Tibet weather is cool in summer, but excruciatingly cold in winter. In Lhasa, the relatively humane city in Tibet, although the temperature may exceed 29 degrees C (84 degrees F) in summer, it can also plummet to minus 16 degrees C (3 degrees F) in winter! Solar radiation is extremely strong in Tibet. The sunlight in Lhasa is so intense that the city is called Sunlight City. The thin Tibetan air can neither radiate nor absorb heat, resulting in temperature extremes during both day and night. However it is not impossible to visit the holy snow land. The period from April to October is the best time to visit Tibet, avoiding the coldest months from December to February.

In northern Tibet, the climate is not favourable with the average temperature is subzero and winter lasts from October through May or June. July and August are the best time to visit the area, enjoying warm temperatures, intense sunshine, beautiful scenery, and festive events.

In eastern Tibet, May, June and September are the height of the tourism season. In winter, roads are all blocked by heavy snow. Landslides are frequent occurrences, making travel difficult.

Although southern Tibet is balmy during May through October, most rainfall also comes during this season between June and September. Heavy rains during the nights block roads and make travel difficult. However, during this season, the scenery is at its best and there are also great festive events held. Hence, it is the preferred time to visit Lhasa, Shigatse, and Nyingchi. From November through May, strong winds are common occurrences.


As in the rest of China, Renminbi (RMB) is the legal currency in Tibet. Only the Bank of China offers foreign exchange services and facilities in Tibet and certain up market hotels (Lhasa Hotel, the former Holiday Inn, and Tibet Hotel). The Bank of China has a main office ( 0891-6835078) and several sub-branches in Lhasa, which all cash travellers’ cheques while only the main office offers cash advances on major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and Amex). Its main office is located on Lingkhor Bei Lu 28, north of the Yak Statue and its hours of operation are 9:30 am -1pm and 3:30 - 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Another convenient sub-branch lies on Beijing Dong Lu, between the Kirey Hotel and the Banak Shol Hotel. Its hours of operation are 9:30am-6:00pm, Monday to Friday, and 11am-3pm, Saturday and Sunday. The Bank of China Shigatse office, near the Shigatse Hotel, can provide travellers’ cheques exchange services also. Cash advances on credit cards are not available here. Zhangmu has two sub-branches also. Due to a lack of conversion outlets, visitors may have to change their extra RMB on the black market before their exit.


Be sure to buy whatever practical items you need in Lhasa, before you leave for more remote towns. There are department stores, mostly on Yuthok Lu that will supply your everyday needs. Lhasa Department Store, a general department store, is located on the west end of Yuthok Lu. It is the largest and best known department store in Lhasa. It sells such practical items as cotton clothing, mugs, canned food, towels, and toothpaste, plus local handicrafts. There are also supermarkets in Lhasa.

Barkhor is a more traditional Tibetan shopping market. It is a market where shopkeepers with small shops and stalls on the street sell many unusual and fascinating items, for both religious and secular uses. Shopkeepers sell items such as prayer flags, Buddha figures, conch-shell trumpets, rosaries, amulets, fur hats, horse bells, bridles, copper teapots, wooden bowls, inlaid knives, and jewellery inlaid with turquoise and other gems.

Tourists should carefully examine jewellery for quality. While much jewellery of excellent quality is available, some is coarsely done and is of poor quality. Tourists can easily find items that are uniquely Tibetan and that will appeal to them. Exotic Tibetan opera masks and costumes are interesting items. Brightly coloured, beautifully homespun Tibetan rugs and khaddar are also popular souvenirs. Tibetan carpet can be bought at the Lhasa Carpet Factory. Tibetan tents can be bought at the Lhasa Tent and Banner Factory.

As in traditional markets throughout much of the world, you can bargain with the local people and buy nice things at lower prices. Just cut their asking prices by 50 percent! Not everyone in Barkhor will be shopping. You may be accompanied by hundreds of prostrating pilgrims. This is a thrilling experience that will certainly remind you that you are in Lhasa.

There are three Xinhua bookstores in Lhasa. One is on Yuthok Lu. Another is on east Barkhor. The third is on Beijing Zhong Lu, west of Tibet Hotel. They sell maps of Lhasa, Tibetan primers, Tibetan-Chinese dictionaries, and Tibetan and Chinese books. There is also a bookshop that carries Tibetan literature on north Barkhor.


Major towns in Tibet Autonomous Region have hospitals with basic facilities. Western pharmaceutical treatment, Tibetan herbal remedies and Chinese herbal remedies are also accessible. The medical and sanitary conditions of most hospitals are not as satisfactory as those in developed areas. However, in an emergency, they can still give basic medical treatments and be of great value in saving a life when necessary.

TAR People's Hospital, Lingkhor Bei Lu northeast of Potala, the biggest and best in Lhasa, 24 hours open. Tel : 6322200 (emergency department), 6322177

Emergency Treatment Centre, on the junction of Lingkhor Bei Lu and Duosinge Bei Lu, next to TAR People's Hospital, has English speaking doctors and their service can be reached by emergency call 120.

Tibetan Traditional Hospital (Mentsikhang), on Yuthok Lu and opposite the Barkhor Square, also has English speaking doctors and the staff is kind.
Tel : 6324211 (emergency department), 6323244

People's Hospital Lhasa, east of the junction where Beijing Dong Lu meets Lingkhor Dong Lu.
Tel : 6323811 (emergency department)

TAR Hospital of Tibetan Medicine, north end of Niangre Nan Lu
Military Hospital Dental Clinic, on Beijing Xi Lu and near Holiday Inn
Shigatse Hospital is about 500 m (1,650 feet) north of Shigatse Hotel, on Jiefang Dong Lu.

Better hospital service and facilities can only be accessed in Chengdu and other major cities.

Might it not be advisable to mention that your hotel staff can often direct you to hospitals and doctors who are.

Tibetan Language

Tibetan is the language chiefly used in Tibet. Linguists hold different opinions on its origin, but most believe that it was created according to Sanskrit in the early 7 th century under the rule of Songtsen Gampo, a king of Tibet who married a princess of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and introduced Buddhism into Tibet. In China, the number of papers and documents recorded in Tibetan is only second to that of those written in Chinese. These documents contribute enormously to the record of Tibetan history and the spread of Tibetan culture.

Tibetan falls into the Tibetan-Berman group of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family. As a language with alphabetic writing, it consists of 30 consonants and 4 vowels. Like many other languages, it has a large vocabulary and a well-formed system of word classes, senses, grammar, sentence structures, and tones. Nevertheless, with centuries of development, spoken Tibetan is not totally consistent with written Tibetan.

 Tibetan is a language abundant in dialects. Some of these dialects are similar, but some are so different that a Tibetan speaker may be confused when speaking with a Tibetan from another region. To reduce the difficulty in communication, some scholars are calling for the standardization of Tibetan. They are making efforts toward this purpose and have gained a series of achievements.

 As in all languages, Tibetan never stops developing. It assimilates new words continuously and adds new expressions from other languages, becoming more and more vivid and expressive. Now it is not only used by 90% of Tibetans, but is also adopted by many other ethnic groups. Today there are newspapers, magazines and even websites in Tibetan. In recent years, scientists have also developed a kind of typing software to input Tibetan into the computer. This helps greatly with the spread of the language.


Communication conditions are greatly improved in Tibet now and it makes communication much easier than before. A number of hotels provide IDD call and fax service as well as there are photocopy facilities in Lhasa.  Phone calls can be made from public telephone booths with IC cards or in Telecommunication Centres. There are two Telecommunication Centres in Lhasa, one opposite the Yin Qiao Hotel and the other at the west end of Beijing Dong Lu. Both are next to a post office. IP card service connecting most China cities and many countries is also available in Lhasa. Paging service covers the whole region now. Mobile phone services are also available in Lhasa and other major towns. Pagers and mobile phones with roaming function also provide tourists with a convenient alternative form of communication. International mail service is available at the post offices next to the Telecommunication Centres. Internet is another alternative which is accessible to travellers. There are dozens of internet cafes in Lhasa. The internet service in the Makye Ame Restaurant and the Barkhor cafe are examples. In Chamdo, Ngari and Yadong there are also a number of other internet cafes but they are less reliable.

More Internet accesses
Huiren Internet Cafe: Around the Barkhor, the largest internet cafe in Lhasa with unique furnishings, pictures and art works hung on walls for sale.
Jisu Internet Cafe: 76 Beijing Zhong Lu, Lhasa, Tel: (0891)6832001     
Shiye Internet Cafe: 230 Beijing Zhong Lu, Lhasa, Tel: (0891)6830672     
Qiubite Internter Cafe: Z310 Changqing Jie, Chamdo, Tel: 13908956573

Food & Drink

Traditional Tibetan food consist mainly barley, meat and dairy products. Vegetables are scarce in the high altitude. Tsampa is the staple food of Tibetan people, which is consumed daily. It is actually barley flour made from parched barley, unhusked and ground into fine flour. Put some flour with salted butter tea in a bowl, rotate the bowl with the left hand and mix the food with your fingers of your right hand, roll it into small lumps, then squeeze it into your mouth with your fingers. Other ingredients may also be added to add flavour. Tibetan people eat Tsampa at every meal and bring it as instant food in travel. The salted butter tea is an indispensable Tsampa pal. Boiled tea is poured into a long cylindrical churn along with salt and yak butter. Vigorous churning makes the ingredients well blended and ready to serve. Tibetan people drink it throughout the whole day. Yak butter is very important food for Tibetan people and it is separated from yak milk by hard churning. After butter is separated from milk, the residue becomes sour and can be made into milk curd which is a nice thirst quenchable and can be made into milk curd pastry with barley flour.

Yoghurt is important daily dairy for Tibetan people. The creamy milk produced by yak cow is superb. Tibetan nomads in the eastern Tibet manufacture their yoghurt in a special process. The milk is boiled first, after removed from stove, some old yogurt is added in. Yogurt will form in a few hours. Yogurt has been a Tibetan food for more than 1,000 years.

Dried beef and mutton stripe is also popular food in Tibet. In the winter, beef and mutton are cut into long stripes and hung in shaded place to be air-dried. The dried meat is crisp and tastes good and can be eaten raw since the chilliness in the winter has killed bacteria during the process.

Big joints of beef and mutton boiled with salt, ginger and spices are also popular food among Tibetans. They take the meat in hands and cut them with their knives. The guests will be treated with breasts and spareribs. If you are treated with a tail of white sheep, it means that you are deemed as their guest of honour.

Blood sausage, meat sausage, flour sausage and liver sausage are also favoured by many Tibetans. Other food stuffs include Momo (Tibetan dumplings), Thenthuk (Tibetan noodles) and yak tongue.

Now in Tibet towns, Lhasa for example, Tibetan food is supplemented by Chinese food, mostly Sichuan food. Vegetables and fish become available in market. However, Tibetan people seldom eat fish due to their religion and custom. Restaurants serving Tibetan food, Chinese food and even western food mushroom in the streets to accommodate tourists. Lhasa Hotel (former Holiday Inn)'s restaurant provides Chinese food, Indian food, Nepalese food and western food. Kailash, Tashi, Snowlands, Dunya (former Crazy Yak) and Makye Ame are popular among travellers also in Lhasa. Veggies may still have little choice in short seasons however.
Tibetans like drinking tea. Besides salted butter tea, sweet milk tea is another popular alternative. Hot boiling black tea filtered is decanted into a churn, and then fresh milk and sugar are added. Vigorous churning turns out a light reddish white drink. There are many teashops in Lhasa serving the sweet milk tea. Tibetan barley beer, called Chang in Tibetan is popular among all Tibetans. The beer is mild, slightly sweet and sour and contains little alcohol. The beverage is worth trying. Soft drinks and beer are also available in Lhasa.