Tibet is a popular destination for travel in Asia, and offer some of the most interesting and exciting locations in the world. From the massive heights of Mount Everest Base Camp and the delights of the Potala Palace to the stunning Karola Glacier and the shimmering beauty of the holy Lake Yamdrok, there is more to see and do than you can cover in just one trip. Taking a Tibet Tour with your kids would be the most memorable moments of your life.
Why parents should take kids on a Tibet tour
Many people think that places like Tibet, with its high altitude, arise not suitable for traveling with kids. They could not be more wrong, as there are plenty of things for kids to see and do, and children above 5-6 years old are actually less likely to be affected by altitude sickness than their parents if properly acclimatized. While young children under 5 can be more prone to altitude sickness due to their bodies still developing, older kids are more resilient and adaptable than adults. With the proper acclimatization procedures along the way and taking enough time to make sure they are well acclimatized to the increased altitude and thinner air, kids can have a wonderful time on the heights of the plateau.
Traveling with kids is an exciting and enjoyable adventure. Children see all things in the world as new and exciting, and love getting into the thick of things and exploring almost everywhere. One thing to consider, however, is the journey you are going to take. Kids can often get bored on long drives, so if your child is not comfortable traveling across the immensity of the Tibetan plateau, then a trip across Tibet is not going to be good for them. Sometimes it just needs them to be a little older, so they are better equipped to cope with the long travel.
The unique culture and people of Tibet is a unique experience for kids, and experiencing that at a younger age can open their eyes to the differences of people from around the world. On average, children from age 8 and above tend to have more interest in the culture and history of Tibet, although it really depends on the individual child as to how much they can take in. Children over 8-10 years old can really enjoy the experience of Tibet, and the stunning landscapes and unique culture.
Top things to do for kids and family
There are literally hundreds of things to see and do in the region, and while Tibet may not be the most family oriented place to visit, there are many things that a family can do together. Lhasa is filled with amazing sights and features, such as the Lalu Wetlands, the largest urban wetlands in the world and home to some of the rarest birds and wildfowl on the planet. From the Ruddy Shelduck to the Black-Necked Crane, these birds migrate to the wetlands inside the Lhasa city limits every year, and it is a great place to take the kids to explore the different varieties of bird life.
Not every child will enjoy wandering around inside a dusty monastery, and for those that get bored easily, a visit to the Sera Monastery in Lhasa is likely to spark their interest more. Every afternoon, the monks in the monastery hold animated debates on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, and the scene is one of loud debate and emphatic hand gestures interrupted by noisy clapping. The debates are very articulated and verbose, and the extravagant hand gestures and movements emphasize the monks’ tone and arguments. For adults, it is a joy to watch, and for kids, you may find them copying the gestures and movements of the monks as they engage in the debates in their own way.
Amazing sights along the road from Lhasa to western Tibet await the family as they travel, such as the amazing sight of Lake Yamdrok, as you crest the pass over Gyatso-La, and the stunning view of the Gyantse Kumbum, a huge stupa that stands 34 meters tall. But no sight can dwarf the amazement of seeing the mighty Mount Everest up close, the world’s most famous mountain that kids all learn about in school, and to have visited and been able to show their friends the photos is something that, to a child, is priceless.
One of the most important decisions when taking kids to Tibet is the time of year to travel. Many parents tend to travel during the school holidays in western countries, which is the peak season in Tibet. The peak period normally runs from June to September and is the busiest time of year for travel in the Himalayas. The summer months bring the warmest temperatures and highest oxygen levels and are the best time to travel with kids, although it can be a little daunting with the huge crowds of people at the attractions. August is a particularly busy month in Tibet as thousands of Chinese tourists take their holidays and travel to Tibet to visit the region and explore the monasteries and temples.
The shoulder seasons are also a great time to travel to Tibet. Summer is also the monsoon season, although the high-altitude areas see very little rain, but there is more chance of cloud cover in the summer, restricting the views of the mountains and scenery. From Late April to early June and from late September to early November, the crowds of tourists are fewer, and the skies are much clearer, as this is the dry season for Tibet.
Whether traveling as an individual or as a family, the one thing you can be sure of need is a good, reputable tour operator, such as Explore Tibet, to organize your tour to Tibet. Foreign travelers are not permitted to travel unaccompanied within the Tibet Autonomous Region, and all travel must be with an organized tour from a registered tour operator. Explore Tibet’s expert advisers organize the tour according to your requirements, and will make all the arrangements for accommodations, travel within the region, and permits required for travel.
The first thing you will need, after your passports, are the Chinese Entry Visas to get into China, as there are only two ways to get into Tibet: from China or from Nepal. Once you have the visas, we will make the arrangements to apply for your Tibet Tourism Bureau permit, also known as the Tibet Travel Permit, which is needed to get into the region and travel around once there. If you are traveling from Nepal, we will make the application for your Group Tourist Visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, and apply for the Tibet Travel Permit as well.
Once you are in Lhasa, there are other permits that you need to have in order to travel around the region outside of the capital city. The first of these is the Alien’s Travel Permit, which allows for travel outside Lhasa to the opened areas of Tibet. This is normally applied for by your tour guide once you are in Lhasa, and is ready to be collected by the time you have completed the Lhasa part of the tour.
For certain areas of Tibet that are considered to be “military sensitive” areas, you will need the Military Area Entry Permit, also known as the Military Permit. The permit is required for travel to certain “unopened” areas of Tibet, such as Nagqu, Nyingchi, and Ngari regions, for travel to places like Mount Everest and Mount Kailash. This is obtained by your guide in either Lhasa or Shigatse and is quick and easy to process.
More recently, there is another permit that is required when traveling to Everest and the border regions of Tibet and Nepal. The Border Permit is required for visiting the areas around the Tibet and Nepal border, such as Mt. Everest, Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Lake Basum, etc, and should be applied for by the tour operator before you enter Tibet. It is also needed for people traveling overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu and vice versa.
As with all things on your Tibet tour, Explore Tibet will make all the applications for you once you have decided on your itinerary and made your booking. It should be noted that none of these permits can be applied for individually, and all require you to have a confirmed itinerary and booked tour before the applications.