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Travel to the Roof of the World

So long off-limits and shrouded in mystery, Tibet is now attracting inquisitive travellers looking to experience the rich culture, traditional ways of life and magnificent landscapes of the high plateau. The holy monasteries and vacated palaces of Lhasa and Shigatse leave a profound impression, holding the keys to the past and offering a window on modern day life. Venture further afield to find turquoise lakes, dramatic mountain passes adorned with prayer flags and a flourishing river, along which herds of yaks graze and locals gather for afternoon picnics. Keep going south and you’ll reach the fabled Everest Base Camp and glorious views of the world’s highest peak.

The Holy City of Lhasa

Lhasa is the cultural, religious and historical centre of Tibet and, despite decades of Chinese rule, we still find Tibetan culture and Buddhism thriving in the beautiful old town. In the Barkhor, monks and devout pilgrims in traditional dress spin prayer wheels, or prostrate themselves on the floor as they circle the sacred street and enter the Jokhang Temple, the region’s spiritual centre. You don’t have to wander far from here to soon be drinking sweet tea with the locals in a bustling teahouse, shopping for local handicrafts or sampling the rich Tibetan cuisine in a cozy family-kitchen restaurant.

In Lhasa we also find the poignant former palace residences of the Dalai Lama, where you can relive his daily routine and feel the ghosts of the past in deeply thought-provoking visits. Head to the 15th century Sera Monastery to see the resident monks take to the courtyard for their famous debating sessions and find scenic hills in which to hike through small forests to a remote nunnery.

Everest Base Camp

For intrepid travellers, venturing out of the capital to Everest Base Camp is a wonderful way to fully appreciate the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Tibet. The landscape on the way is characterised by sacred turquoise lakes, snow-capped mountain passes and rural yak herding communities, whilst the small cities of Shigatse and Gyantse offer timeless monasteries, among Tibet's most important.

The highlight of the journey is the magical moment that you get your first glimpse of Mount Everest as the early morning sun illuminates the world’s highest peak. To have the best chance of seeing Everest, you should stay close by - either in the simple Rongbuk monastery guesthouse, offering a small number of private rooms, or alternatively the spacious communal tents. Both sit at just under 5,000 metres above sea level and are a short shuttle bus ride from Base Camp. In the winter you can stay at a lower altitude in a small town and drive to Base Camp and back, with clear views all but guaranteed all day.

Overnight train to Lhasa

A great way to reach Lhasa is by taking the scenic overnight train to the Tibetan capital. The journey starts at Xining, 2,275 metres above sea level, and passes the majestic Qinghai Lake soon after. It continues across the remote plains of the region, before you settle into your soft sleeper berth and awake to the glorious mountain landscapes of northern Tibet. The 22 hour journey ends in Lhasa at midday, now at 3,656 metres. The train is not luxurious, but is a comfortable way to see remote parts of the high plateau, build anticipation and slowly adjust to the altitude.

Hiking in Tibet

A number of hiking routes allow you to immerse yourself in the raw beauty and nomadic culture of Tibet. A half-day option is the circular hike from Sera Monastery in Lhasa through forested hills to a remote nunnery and sky burial site. The most popular 4-5 day treks are the 50 mile pilgrimage route between Ganden and Samye monasteries and the 42 mile trek from Tingri to Everest Base Camp. On these you will be accompanied by porters, yaks and your experienced guide and all food will be prepared for you. Accommodation is a mix of camping and small guesthouses. These treks are rather demanding and at high altitude, so a good level of fitness and hiking experience is vital.

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Lhasa

Lhasa is the cultural, religious and historical centre of Tibet, one of the world's most fascinating regions.

House of Shambhala

A charming Tibetan-run courtyard hotel situated in the heart of the old town, with wonderful views from the rooftop.

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Tibet's mountain landscape is dotted with turquoise lakes, remote communities and magnificent monasteries.

Everest Base Camp

In the magnificent Himalaya mountain range of the border with Nepal, Mount Everest stands tallest in a land of giants.

Rongbuk Monastery Guest House

A remote guest house opposite the historic monastery, with views of Mount Everest and basic facilities.

Everest Tents

Cozy communal tents with stunning views of Mount Everest and a short ride to Base Camp.

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One of Tibet's most historically significant monasteries and home to magnificent stupa-tombs and Buddhist statues.

Palcho Monastery & Kumbum

Follow the path to enlightenment of the rare Gyantse Kumbum and enjoy fine views over the Dzong hilltop fortress.

Sakya Monastery

Fortress-like Sakya is known as the "Great Wall of Tibet" and boasts an important collection of cultural relics.

Yamdrok Lake

Hidden in the Tibetan mountains, the sacred Yamdrok Lake is a stunning sight and a deeply sacred place for Tibetans.

Karola Glacier

En-route to Everest we find this magnificent white glacier, framed by colourful prayer flags and high mountains.

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Considering going to Tibet? Find out how you can visit, the best places of interest and when to go to Tibet.