A Short Travel Guide For Families Interested in Tibet Travel

Shrouded in mysterious religion and lofty mountain ranges, Tibet, with an average elevation of above 4000m, has long been an ultimate destination for adventure and sightseeing in China.

Due to its extreme altitude and harsh natural environment, Tibet is normally not taken as an ideal place for a family tour. In reality, is that so? The answer is definitely not.

Tibet Travel - Family Tour

Family tour in Lhasa, Tibet

During the high-season of Tibet travel (from early April to Oct.), plenty of families with varied age groups and nationalities can be found travelling with their loved ones on the street of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

They are keen to enjoy the epic mountain vista, explore the exotic culture and profound Tibetan Buddhism in holy Tibet.

To have a full preparation of Tibet tour for a family, the following guide merits your attention.

Before Tibet Travel With Kids

a. Having a Healthy Body is Essential

Owing to the high altitude in Tibet, the oxygen content is much lower than regions with low altitude.

It’s highly advisable to keep doing aerobic exercises with your family members. Simple workout like jogging, swimming and trekking, and cycling, etc. are good ways to prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the extra demand of your body on the plateau like Tibet.

b. Best Age for the Children and the Elderly for Tibet

Though there is no specific age limit for both children and the elderly to travel to Tibet. As a common practice, a safer age for the children is at least above 7 years old.

Toddlers are too risky to be brought to the plateau since they can’t describe their discomfort if they suffer from altitude sickness. Meanwhile, their respiratory system is so vulnerable to dramatic temperature on the plateau as well.

Tibet Travel trekking in gangen monastery

Trekking in Ganden Monastery, Lhasa

For the elderly, as long as they do not have cardiovascular diseases, asthma, and other respiratory and mental diseases, they are perfectly fine to travel to Tibet. If the traveler is above 65 years old, it’s advisable to consult the doctor before travelling to Tibet. To both the young and the old, having a general medical check-up is also necessary. If they catch a cold, the tour shall be postponed until fully recovery.

c. Pack Necessary Stuff

Make sure you have all the necessary thing for your Tibet Tour. A down jacket, thermal tops, pullover, long trousers, thermal bottoms, underwear (4), trekking shoes or sport shoes, sunglasses and sunscreen, lip balm, necessary medicines ( for altitude sickness, cold relief, and diarrhea at the consult of doctor) and toiletries, camera, etc.

Tibet Travel - tibet tour

General packing list for Tibet tour

Insider Tips: Do pay due attention to the drastic temperature between day and night in Tibet as well as the strong solar radiation.

d. Have a Workable Itinerary

Given the limited stamina of the children and elderly in a family, an easy and educational tour within and around the Lhasa is preferred. If you have more time, you can travel from Lhasa to Nyingchi, a region with lowest altitude in Tibet and known for its pristine forest and “Swiss-Alps” scenery.

Where to Go for a Family in Tibet

Lhasa, political and spiritual heart of Tibet, is suitable for people of all ages to explore. There are a number of places that are worth a visit for a family tour.

Climb Potala Palace to Enjoy the Panorama of Lhasa City

Undoubtedly, as you travel from Lhasa Gonggar airport to the downtown of Lhasa, the first man-made wonder that comes to your sight at a great distance would be the magnificent Potala Palace built on the Red Hill.

Potala Palace, which is the most iconic building in Tibet, used to be the winter palace of generations of Dalai Lamas.

Tibet Travel - Potala palace

International tourists are visiting Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Your family can visit the meeting room and prayer rooms and tombs of Dalai Lamas in both Red and White Palaces of this towering Buddhist Sites. The legendary stories of Dalai Lamas and priceless Thangka, murals and other treasure, etc. could be fairly informative and educational to kids. As you reach the top of Red Palace, you will be rewarded with the stunning panoramic view of Lhasa city.

Insider Tips: upon your arrival in Lhasa, never rush to visit any attractions. Do give your body time to get acclimatized to high altitude. Meanwhile, do not take shower for the first couple of days to avoid catching a cold; and avoid strenuous activities like jumping and running for they will add extra burden to your body. Visiting Potala Palace is often arranged the day after your arrival in Lhasa.

Join Tibetan Pilgrims’ Inner Kora inside Jokhang Temple

Though Potala Palace is the symbol of Tibet, to Tibetans the holiest place in Lhasa is actually the Jokhang Temple. The reason is largely that it houses 12-year-old statue of Shakyamuni. You can learn more history of Tibetan Buddhism and legendary stories of Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, etc.

In addition, you can enjoy the brilliant view of old Lhasa city on the rooftop of Jokhang Temple. Watching devoted Tibetan pilgrims lining up to add butter oil to the lamps inside the Jokhang Temple would be an unforgettable experience.

Tibet Travel - Jokhang palace

Jokhang Temple, the spiritual heart of Lhasa

Insider Tips: Packed with fervent Tibetan pilgrims and global tourists in Jokhang Temple with faint light, do take care of your children and not get lost. Respect the religion and customs in holy religious sites.

Explore the Bustling Bazaar along Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street, located outside Jokhang Temple, is the most lively business street in Lhasa. You will be amazed at how religious and secular life can coexist so harmoniously in this place. In front of Jokhang Temple, you can see devoted Tibetan pilgrims prostrating themselves towards Jokhang Temple.

While others are circling this holy site while chanting Buddhist mantra and spinning hand-held prayer wheels. Others are burning pine trees as a distinct offering to Buddha and other gods.

Tibet Travel - Tibetan pilgrims

Follow the Tibetan pilgrims’ kora along Barkhor Street

You may also explore the Thangka painting workshops and find many exquisite handiworks and intriguing souvenirs on Barkhor Street. If you get tried, why not have a couple of sweet tea and enjoy local snacks in plenty of tea houses around where you will taste the essence of Tibetan folk culture.

Insider Tips: Due to the proximity to Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street is the center of activities in Lhasa, a must-visit to experience the holiness of Tibetan Buddhism and folk Tibetan culture in Lhasa. Besides, never miss the chance to enjoy local snacks in countless tea houses.

Enjoy the Monk Debate in Sera Monastery

As one of the “Great Three” Gelugpa monasteries in Lhasa, Sera Monastery now is mostly known as its Monk Debate in the afternoon.

Monk debate is definitely the most vivid display of religious study of Tibetan monks. By clapping their hands, rolling Buddhist prayer beads, shouting and yelling, even dancing, etc. two monks debate on the Buddhist doctrines and philosophical issues, a pretty dramatic academic debate for Tibetan monks.

In addition, you can also enjoy the spectacular sand Mandala, a sand painting of the universe in Buddhism realm.

Tibet Travel - Sera monastery

Enjoy the boisterous monk debate in Sera Monastery

Insider Tips: The monk debate starts at 15:00 and ends at 17:00 from Monday to Saturday.

Have Picnic inside Norbulingka

Norbulingka serves as the summer palace for the generations of Dalai Lamas. The enchanting garden is adorned with lush trees and vibrant flowers. It is one of the best places for family tour, esp, to picnic there.

Tibet Travel

Insider Tips: During many traditional festivals like Tibetan New Year and Shoton Festival, etc. Tibetan drama and opera will be staged inside Norbulingka.

Cycling around Lhasa River

Built on alluvial plains, Lhasa is surrounded by a picturesque Lhasa River. Cycling with your family along the Lhasa River, which is also known as the “Mother River of Lhasa”, you can closely enjoy the beauty of Lhasa valley and wildlife in the river. Once you get tired, you can simply spread your carpet and have picnic under the big trees beside the river.

Tibet Travel Lahsa River

Take a glimpse of Lhasa River at the suburb of Lhasa city

Insider Tips: Form Oct to March next year, a large number of black-necked crane will fly to Lhasa River and spend the winter there. It’s the best time to witness such wildlife.

To sum up, the unparalleled plateau scenery, mysterious religion and exotic culture make Tibet a unique place for family tour. With good preparation and proper itinerary, all the family members will have once-in-a-lifetime experience there.

About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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