Tibet gears up for off-season tourism in winter
Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region is entering its off-season tourism period, which usually starts from November to next year's April. The region's tourism development department launched a series of supportive policies for winter tourism on Tuesday.
The policies include free visits to the Potala Palace and other national 3A-level tourist attractions and above in the region. There are also upwards of 50 percent discounts for airlines and three-star hotels and above in the region. The policies will continue for five months till 15 March, 2020, according to the department.
Travelling to Tibet can sound extremely complicated at first, but after you've arrived, everything is worth it.
Lhasa: Place of the gods
Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region. The grandeur of the city's historic architecture, the isolated monasteries and magnificent mountains, make it well worth a couple of days to explore.
Although it may sound a bit cliché, but one's trip is never complete without seeing the Potala Palace when visiting Tibet.
The Potala Palace
The massive 13-storey, 1,000 plus room complex is built on Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa, some 3,700 meters above sea level. It is one of the most sacred destinations on earth which originally built as a gesture of love, commissioned by Tibetan King Songtsen Gambo for his marriage to princess Wencheng during the Tang Dynasty. Today, it functions as little more than a national museum.
Still, the Potala Palace remains an iconic part of the region, even on earth, and a destination for Buddhists around the world. Many have travelled thousands of miles by foot just to pay their respects.
The spiritual heart of Tibet and a revered place of Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage, few places in the world would present such grand tangible evidence other than the Jokhang Temple.
From morning through night, pilgrims prostrate at the entrance with full-body praying, the most devout would spend hours in front of the temple. It is a timeless ritual and feast for the senses. Visitors like me can soak up the sacred imagery, spin prayer wheels, make offerings, light yak butter candles, listen to monks chant, and breathe the air thick within incense.
One of the best places to view modern-day Lhasa and its diversity of culture is in the bustling Barkhor(Bakuo Jie)，a section of the old city. Here, the Barkhor Market(Bakudjie Shichang)has all manner of goods from turquoise jewellery to meditation beads, colourful traditional Tibetan clothes and yak wool sweaters. Here you can watch groups of monks draped in their maroon and saffron robes mingling with Tibetans from remote areas wearing long boots, sporting daggers and large turquoise necklaces.
The temperature during the off-peak season:
During the off-peak season, the average temperature is 8-10 degrees Celsius below freezing in the evening and about 15 degrees during the day. The sunsets around 8 o'clock and the temperature plummets after.
Tibet's precipitation levels in winter account for only 10-20 percent of the whole year, which means the air is extremely dry. Lakes at high altitudes will freeze from October to April and some scenic spots will be closed because of heavy snow. But visitors to cites like Lhasa, Shigatse would not be too affected by the weather.