Why People Visit Tibet: A Guide to the Roof of the World

Journeying to Tibet is a realization of a long-held aspiration for numerous individuals. Often, Tibet-related phrases like Mount Everest, the Himalayas, Tibetan Buddhism, the world’s rooftop, the Third Pole, and more are heard by many. Touring across the globe is a goal that many people yearn to achieve. People embark on travels for various reasons, including gaining knowledge about diverse lifestyles, visiting breathtaking places, establishing new friendships, and breaking free from their comfort zones.

Tibet’s Unique Appeal

Tibet’s distinctive topography has resulted in abundant tourism prospects. The world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, stands at 8,850 meters, and the planet’s biggest canyon, Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, descends to a total depth of 5,382 meters.

Tibet is often referred to as the “Roof of the World” due to its exceptionally high elevation. The region spans from the highest peak on the planet, which is 8,848 meters above sea level, to the bottom of a valley that is 900 meters above sea level. This unique topography offers travellers a diverse range of experiences.

Outdoor Adventure Opportunities: Personal Encounters and Personal Motivations

This stunning country boasts numerous lakes, as well as the origins and courses of several of Asia’s famous rivers. It is a haven for travellers who enjoy outdoor adventure tourism, such as biking, hiking, climbing, rafting, and more. The rugged terrain and pristine landscapes make it an ideal destination for adrenaline enthusiasts.

As someone who has ventured into Tibet multiple times, it’s clear that every traveller has their own motivations. Take, for example, a young woman who pens her adventures in Tibet in a video. Her prose-like reflections on solo travel in Tibet reveal her deep connection to the region. She finds sustenance for her soul in the warm embrace of Tibetan friends, the melting glacier waters, and the winding mountain roads.

For others, the appeal lies in the challenge and the pursuit of freedom. A 17-year-old boy embarks on a daring journey riding a shared bicycle from Chengdu to Lhasa and beyond. His determination is unwavering as he confronts adversity head-on, without the comforts of an RV or four-wheel drive vehicle.

At the other end of the spectrum, a 56-year-old man pushes a makeshift cart from south to north on National Highway 109. With his faithful canine companions and minimal supplies, he takes on an epic journey lasting over 500 days. His motivation? Simple curiosity and the love of adventure.

These tales of self-testing and self-transcending tourists reveal that, in Tibet, the landscapes and challenges are merely a canvas on which their true nature is revealed.

Immersion in Tibetan Culture: The Call of the Curious Traveler

A trip to Tibet is not just about the bright sunshine, fresh air, crystal-clear sky, vast grasslands, and snow-capped mountains. It also offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in Tibetan Buddhism and a plethora of folk customs, including traditional costumes, weddings, funerals, snacks, dinners, folk arts, and ancient folk songs and dances.

In Tibet, adventure beckons from every corner. The desire to break free from daily routines and immerse oneself in uncharted territories is a universal human yearning. Tibet provides an ideal backdrop for such explorations, offering unparalleled natural beauty, challenges, and unique encounters with both the land and its people.

Travel in Tibet is an experience like no other, a journey where the road itself is the destination. From the tallest peaks to the deepest canyons, the allure of Tibet is boundless, attracting travellers from all walks of life and motivations. So, if you’ve ever wondered why Tibet holds such a magnetic appeal, the answer is simple: it’s the irresistible call of the curious traveller, the allure of uncharted territory, and the indomitable spirit of adventure.

barkhor street
Barkhor street

The Curiosity That Beckons

Tibet is a destination that appeals to those with a yearning for discovery. It is a land where curiosity knows no bounds. As a Famous Chinese actor aptly put it, the essence of being a smart traveller lies in “travelling the fewest roads and seeing the most differences.” This relentless curiosity propels travellers to seek out the extraordinary, and Tibet undoubtedly delivers.

Here, you’ll find the tallest snow-capped mountains, magnificent glaciers, world-class mountain ranges, and pristine rivers. The roads, carved at dizzying heights, offer unrivalled vistas. The canyons are the deepest on the planet, and the unique Lamaist temples, coloured in red, white, and black, seem to touch the heavens. The very landscape of Tibet is nothing short of exhilarating.

Cultural Exploration: The Appeal of Self-Driving

Tourists can participate in various traditional festivals and experience the most unique and vibrant aspects of Tibetan culture in Lhasa, Chamdo, Tsetang, and Shigaze. The rich traditions and festivities are a captivating aspect of a journey to Tibet. Self-driving in Tibet offers a personalized and free-spirited travel experience. The road is a canvas upon which your journey unfolds, with the car’s cabin acting as a mobile viewing platform. You can stop wherever you wish and continue when ready, without the constraints of fixed schedules.

Even the challenging roads become attractions in their own right. The 108 turns from Dingri County to Mount Everest, the 72 turns on the Nujiang River along the southern Sichuan-Tibet line, and the infamous “Bingchacha” on National Highway 219, are all sections that add a unique dimension to the adventure.

Tradition Meets Adventure

Traditionally, well-trodden tourist destinations have often left visitors desiring more. The ubiquitous footprints of previous explorers can diminish the allure of familiar sites. Tibet, on the other hand, retains its freshness, thanks to its remote location, vast expanse, and challenging terrain.

While infrastructure has improved significantly, venturing into the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is not without its risks. Self-driving enthusiasts encounter geological and weather-related hazards like landslides, avalanches, and ice and snow-covered roads. These perils, however, only add to the allure of the journey. As Wang Anshi once noted, true wonders often lie in danger and distance. Overcoming these challenges is part of the adventure.

The pleasure of self-driving in Tibet comes not just from the stunning landscapes but from the sense of achievement that accompanies navigating these treacherous routes. Finding a snowdrop in full bloom at an altitude exceeding 5,000 meters, for instance, is a feat that brings immeasurable joy.

tibetan market
Tibetan market

Souvenirs and Handicrafts

Furthermore, there is no shortage of souvenirs and handicrafts for shopping, including sculptures that are always in stock. Travelers often find themselves drawn to the exquisite craftsmanship of Tibetan artisans.

Permits and Legal Considerations

It is necessary for travellers to comprehend the particular rules and regulations governing permits and other legal matters while touring Tibet. Currently, Tibet is well-linked to major cities in mainland China by air and rail networks. Understanding the legal requirements is essential for a hassle-free visit.

In conclusion, Tibet offers a remarkable blend of natural beauty, adventure, cultural immersion, and a unique way of life. From the towering peaks of the Himalayas to the serene lakes and vibrant traditions, Tibet has much to offer to all types of travellers.


1. Do I need a permit to visit Tibet?

Yes, travellers to Tibet require special permits, and it’s essential to understand the regulations before planning your trip.

2. What is the best time to visit Tibet?

The best time to visit Tibet is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is pleasant and stable.

3. Can I engage in adventure activities in Tibet?

Absolutely! Tibet offers a wide range of adventure activities, from trekking and biking to rafting and climbing.

4. What are some must-visit places in Tibet?

Lhasa, Mount Everest, and the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon are among the must-visit places in Tibet.

5. Are there cultural festivals in Tibet that travellers can participate in?

Yes, Tibet hosts numerous cultural festivals throughout the year, providing a unique opportunity for travellers to immerse themselves in local traditions and celebrations.

Top Ten Tips for Traveling in Tibet

To embark on a journey to Tibet, it is essential to possess Tibet Travel Permits along with a Chinese Visa. The permits are specifically tailored to the destinations that the tourists intend to explore, and hence, the requirements may differ accordingly.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the sole railway connecting Tibet to other Chinese cities. It spans a distance of 2,000 kilometres, commencing from Xining to Lhasa, Shigatse and Nyingchi.

Foreign tourists visiting China need to restrict their travel time. Therefore, opting for air travel to Tibet is a perfect alternative as it is more convenient and time-efficient than other modes of transportation.

The road network in Tibet Autonomous Region has expanded to cover a distance of 22400 kilometers. However, on average, there are only 1.8 kilometers of highways for every hundred square kilometers of land area.

Tibetan cuisine comprises a variety of food and drinks. Meat and dairy products are the primary components, and vegetables are not abundant, resulting in a highly specialized cuisine.

Here are some commonly asked inquiries regarding flights, trains, permits, and travel in Tibet. We have curated them especially for your convenience. In case you still have any queries, feel free to ask.

Tibet’s weather is unique because of the high altitude of the Tibet plateau, which averages more than 4,000m above sea level. It is slightly severe with sparse air and strong UV radiation.

Hotels in Tibet vary from luxurious five-star establishments to simple guest houses run by locals. While larger cities such as Lhasa offer a wider selection of accommodations, remote areas have limited options with only basic amenities available.

The Tibetan Cartography (in English & Mandarin), is an extensive assortment of maps, which we have thoughtfully selected. They will aid in your thorough exploration of the enigmatic terrain in the Tibetan vicinity.