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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.
Fasts & Figures

Area: 460,000 square miles
Capital: Lhasa
Languages: Mandarian is the official language; various Tibetan dialects are also spoken.
Location: Tibet, as part of China, is bordered by Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Burma.
Geography: Tibet rests on the Tibetan plateau, the highest region in the world. With an average elevation of 16,000 feet, it is often referred to as the “rooftop of the world.” Mountain peaks prevent moisture from reaching the plateau, so it tends to have a dry climate. However, some of the region’s major rivers have their source here: the Yangtze and Yellow rivers flow east into China, the Ganges runs south to India, and the Mekong flows southeast to Vietnam.
Population: 2,840,000
Ethnic Groups: Tibetan 93%, Han Chinese 6.1%, Hui, Monpa, and all others less than 1%
Religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Bon (shamanistic spirit worship), and Muslim
Time zone: Tibet is on Beijing Time, twelve hours ahead of U.S. EST. When it is 6am in New York, it is 6pm in Lhasa.
Please note: Due to the reluctance of the Chinese government to release statistics on Tibet these figures may not be accurate or may be incomplete. Furthermore, China’s time zone is regulated so that the entire country is officially on Beijing time.
Interesting Facts

  • The common people don't bury or cremate their dead. They leave them out for the birds, the vultures.
  • A custom when someone dies is to paint a white ladder on a mountainside for their spirit to rise to the heavens.
  • Tibetan people are most often named after a famous Buddha or high lama.
  • In the monasteries the monks hold debate sessions where they discuss their ideas on the various teachings of Buddha. If a monk slaps his other hand in a violent motion using his whole body this means he disagrees and has his own idea to say. When young children under ten or non Buddhists visit the temples, because they are not knowledgeable, they receive a special blessing of a mark of black ghee across their noses.
  • On traditional Tibetan houses and buildings the windows are framed by a thick black paint which is said to help retain the heat for the house.
  • The women wear these lovely stripy woven aprons over their long black skirts and braid coloured threads into their hair plaits.
  • The traditional offering fruit is the peach.
  • Symbols include the 'infinity' geometric design to represent a joining together of peace and harmony. The wheel of life with its six human phases, heaven gods to hell. The yinyang for protection and the reversed swastika as a sign of the Buddhist religion.
  • Even though Tibet is also known as the “Land of Snow”, it only snows once or twice a year.
  • The highest airport in the world is in Tibet.
  • Did you know that in Tibet there is actually a practice called ‘polyandry’ where many men, usually brothers, marry a single woman, this takes place so that only one set of children will inherit the land.
  • In Tibet, finding dog shit on your doorstep is a lucky sign. Business will be good that day.