Improved Roads Increase Tibet tourism in First Quarter

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According to China Economic Net, private car tourism to Tibet has increased 27.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012. From January to March about 18,600 private cars drove from mainland China to the plateau. The improved road conditions to and within Tibet are increasing opportunities for tourists. Explore Tibet, a Lhasa-based travel agency with a focus on Responsible Tourism offers some tips for planning driving tours.

According to China Economic Net, private car tourism to Tibet has increased 27.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012. From January to March about 18,600 private cars drove from mainland China to the plateau. The improved road conditions to and within Tibet are increasing opportunities for tourists. Explore Tibet, a Lhasa-based Tibet travel agency with a focus on Responsible Tourism offers some tips for planning driving tours.

  •     For foreign travelers entering Tibet, many overland roads have been closed for political reasons. Most foreigners are required to visit Tibet by train or plane, and they must carry a Tibet Travel permit obtained through a Tibet travel agency. These travel rules sometimes change, and a Tibetan travel agent is the best source for up-to-date information on restrictions.
  •     Western Sichuan, Qinghai and Yunnan require no special permit and have fewer travel restrictions for foreigners. Driving tours can be arranged through these ethnically Tibetan regions, with more freedom for travelers to explore and discover.
  •     When restrictions lift, driving tours can be arranged from the major cities in the neighboring provinces and from Kathmandu, Nepal. These high-altitude, rugged and incredibly scenic routes are considered among the world’s best road trips. Although maintained, mudslides and harsh weather can make these roads impassable in winter and during rainy periods. Traffic usually picks up starting in February.
  •     Inside the Tibet Autonomous Region, most Tibet tour agencies offer four-wheel drive sports utility vehicles for travel outside of Lhasa. Plan ahead of time for delays and vehicle malfunctions, including negotiating fees with the driver for extra days due to unforeseen circumstances.

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Sonam Jamphel