Tibet Autonomous Region, or the Land of Snow, has gradually grown to become one of the most significant tourist attractions in the world. The place charms the tourists with its enigmatic culture and history, mesmeric scenic beauty and the exotic feel. Tibet, however, has a major negative point and that is its harsh winter. Being located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the highest plateau of the world, it totally experiences a plateau climate. The winter time in Tibet is very harsh and unbearable. Incessant snowfall is often accompanied by bitter cold and harsh winds. Thus many tourists consider winter time to be inappropriate for visiting Tibet. Many routes also become inaccessible due to snow coverage. However, this is not always true. Winter is not so harsh in Tibet, and it’s a good time for cheapest Tibet tour. In this article, we are going to give you a detailed view of winter tourism in Tibet and the beauty of the trip, although apparently, it might sound impossible.
Big Discounts for Budget Travelers
As winter time is not the conventional or peak tourism time in Tibet, every aspect related to tourism cuts down the price and provides a great deal of discount. To draw tourists and make certain minimum profits in this season, the flights, hotels, the various entry fees and even the tourism packages are reduced to the half of their original cost. Also, there are many outsiders’ conjectures that this time of the year is not suitable for engaging in trekking and scaling of the high mountains owing to the cold. However, if proper care is taken, this is the best time for indulging in all the lavish trekking and hiking at a cost much lesser than the original one.
A big discount is given for the fares of trains and flights. The total cost of the journey gets reduced to a great extent as 50% rebates are given both in the flight and train tickets. Thus whether you take a train or flight; you can enjoy it to the fullest without any worry about the cost. Also, the tickets for both the flights and the trains are available at a quicker rate so that you do not have to book tickets about two to three months earlier.
Places having entry fee like Potala Palace also provide major rebates during this time. Potala Palace gives a discount of 50% on their entry fee.
The hotels in Tibet also due to lack of customers, become generous enough to provide a discount of 50% and thereby reducing the price to half the original amount in winter. Also due to lack of crowd, during winter time, you are likely to get a better service from them.
The several tourist vehicles also become considerate enough to reduce their price by two-thirds of the original amount.
Other places that demand entry fees like Tashilhunpo monastery, Yamdrok Lake, Namtso Lake, Gyantse Pelkor reduce their entry fees by a certain great value.
The various trek journeys, especially the greatest of the all like the Kailash trek and Mount Everest Base Camp trek also become completed in a lesser amount. The total savings of each of these treks, if done in winter is about 30% which is indeed great. Also, the conjecture of inaccessibility is not always right, and the treks can be completed quite easily. Thus you will get the whole essence of the trek at a much lesser cost during the winter time.
Stunning Alpine Scenery
It is a common notion that winter in Tibet will only gift you with snow-covered roads and foggy weather. However, this notion is not altogether true. Indeed some places in Tibet remain snow and mist covered, but not all of them are inaccessible. The winter in Tibet generally vows for a very clear weather, particularly in cities like Lhasa. Even Lhasa in winter time remains warmer than Beijing. Also during winter, owing to the clear sky, the weather exudes a sparkling glow that makes the stance for photography excellent. It is said that November to March is the ideal winter time to enjoy Tibet in winter.
Though the mornings may remain mist-covered, with time, the place becomes shiny, and the atmosphere becomes clear. Photography is highly facilitated during this time of the year. The blazing sunshine along with the clear sky will enhance the quality of the photography more. Therefore, if you want to get a perfect view of the Potala Palace or the Jokhang temple, this is the ideal time to take it. Not only in Lhasa but also in Nagqu, the alpine scenery can be perfectly beheld during this time of the year. You will observe the green meadows, contrasted with the clear blue sky and fleecy clouds. Though the important lakes like Namtso or Yamdrok Lake, might remain frozen during this time of the year, this is nonetheless the special time for many visiting birds to Tibet. For example, you will get to see the rare birds like bar-headed geese and the black-necked crane at many riversides of Tibet like Lhalu wetland, Yarlung Zangbo River, and others.
Thus, the winter season becomes all the more luring to the tourists and the photographers not only because of the rich alpine scenery but also for these herds of migratory birds stranded against the blue lake waters. Also during winter, tourists are lucky enough to witness the New Year celebration in Lhasa that is grand and gala. Thus photography gets new and variable topics during the winter time in Tibet.
Most intense religious atmosphere in Lhasa
During the time of winter, when tourist attraction remains lesser compared to the other seasons of the year, the tourists can soak in the complete essence of the Tibetan culture. Being a lesser number of tourist crowding in the important tourism spots, the grandeur is less and the authenticity is more.
This is best witnessed in places like Lhasa, Tibet’s capital city. In Lhasa, during the winters, when the crowd of the tourists remains thin, you will get a better chance to stroll around the Barkhor Street carefully and watch the proceedings in the Jokhang temple properly. Even during the winter, the priests and the monks follow their strict rituals of doing their morning prayers and offering their reverence to the rising sun.
You can watch all these proceedings carefully without being perturbed by the crowd and the enthusiastic tourists. During this time also, the natural religious proceedings of Tibet goes on without any further showcase for tourist attractions. The overall place of Lhasa remains embedded in the true religious culture. Thus whether in Barkhor Street or Jokhang temple or even in Canggu Nunnery and Ramoche temple, the essence of the Tibetan religion can be found.
If you go on an early visit to these temples, you will see the monks seriously remembering their holy leader and chanting mantras. Sometimes these meditation sessions are accompanied by the rotation of the prayer wheels-a unique item of Tibet. Also, the koras that are performed in the Barkhor Street can be observed without any tourist crowding during the winter. Thus to get the proper religious essence of the place, it is better to visit Tibet in winter.
Grand Tibetan Festivals
As has already been said, Tibet in winter witnesses many types of festivals. One of the most gala festivals in Tibet during this time of the year is the New Year, celebrated with much awe and happiness. Another very renowned festival in Tibet during the winter time is the Losar festival. The Losar festival particularly provides scopes for the cultural exploration of the tourist.
This festival had found its advent with the advent of the Tibetan Buddhism. Also, it is known as the Tibetan New Year festival. This festival mainly marks the celebration by burning incense sticks by the Bon religion. The festival usually continues for 15 days. The first three days mark the significant aspects of the festival. During this time, the Tibetans drink a beverage called ‘Changkol.’ This beverage is mainly drunk during the first day of the festival. The second day of the festival is known by a particular name known as ‘Gyalpo Losar’ whose English translations means King’s Losar.
During this festival, the Tibetans practice the tradition of Vajrakilaya or the orthographies. The fifteen-day festival then stretches with dance and other such recreational performances. The traditional Gumpa Dance is performed during this festival. Even though the Buddhist New year is marked by the traditional Indian and Chinese New Year that falls near the Tibetan New Year, the practice of Losar is entirely authentic of Tibet and influence of no other place can be seen. This is mainly because the original Losar festival occurred during the winter solstice that matched with the Chinese New Year and so the New Year in china falls near about Tibetan New Year. However, particularly these two have no relation.
Thus these are just a glimpse of why Tibet should also be visited during winter. There are much more reasons to tour Tibet in winter, and it is for sure that Tibet in winter will unleash new experiences and charms for you also, despite all the negative views about it.