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Visiting in March 2014

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Los Angeles...
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Visiting in March 2014

I was planning on visiting Tibet in March of 2014 but was told that I won't be able to travel the central Tibet (TAR) in March; other regions like Amdo and Kham will be opened though. March is the only time I can travel to Tibet (for about 7 days) and I am torn if I should visit some other time when TAR is opened.

Would someone please let me know if I would be missing out a lot if I skip TAR?

Shanghai, China
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1. Re: Visiting in March 2014

"For the 5th year in a row, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) will be closed to foreign travelers during the month of March. The closure will actually begin around February 20th and most likely will last until the end of March or the beginning of April. Though China usually claims that these closures are due to “bad weather”, in reality the region is closed because March is the anniversary of several important protests and uprisings. Huge protests and uprisings occurred across Tibet in 1959, 1987, 1989 and most recently in 2008. March is also the anniversary of the Dalai Lama fleeing to India, where he has lived in exile since 1959. Since March is a sensitive time, the government closes it to foreign travelers just in case any protests do happen. If everything remains calm in the TAR, the area should reopen around the first of April." www.thelandofsnows.com/tibet-closed-march/

So extremely likely that this will also happen in 2014.

Edited: 31 October 2013, 16:22
Los Angeles...
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2. Re: Visiting in March 2014

It was already confirmed that TAR will be closed in March. I would like to know if I would be missing out a lot if I only visit Amdo or Kham and skip TAR.

Kirkland, Washington
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3. Re: Visiting in March 2014

Cecilia,

I've traveled both in central and eastern Tibet. You'll miss seeing the Potala and the Jokhang--certainly worth seeing. What you won't miss is the heavy police presence in Lhasa.

If you want to see Tibetan monasteries, temples and art, work you could fly to Xining and arrange travel to Kumbum & Shachong monasteries and the town of Rebkong--a major center for Tibetan artists & lots of monasteries & temples. For more on Tibetan travel see thelandofsnows.com/amdo/…

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Visiting in March 2014

Thank you very much for your reply. I'm most interested in seeing the old monasteries and the natural beauty of Tibet. How many days would you recommend traveling to Kumbum and Shachong?

Kirkland, Washington
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5. Re: Visiting in March 2014

Cecilia,

Both Kumbum, Shachong, Gunlong Monasteries can be done as day trips from Xining, as can a trip out to Kokonor lake (aka Qinghai Lake).

There are long distances buses from Xining to Rebkong aka Tongren (4 hours) and Xiahe, the site of Labrang monastery (7hours). I had a just week to travel so I hired a driver from Tibetan Connections since their agency was located in the same building as the Lete Youth hostel, where i stayed in Xining. I visited Shachong on the way to Rebkong and from Rebkong went onto Xiahe.

If you're traveling during March 5-16, you may have the chance to see the Monlam festival including display of huge thangkas, religious Cham dancing, etc.

There was no difficulty for foreigners to travel independently in Amdo this summer but last fall there were Tibetan self-immolations and protests in both Rebkong and Xiahe and both sites were closed to foreigners in March 2013. If you work with Tibetan agencies in Xining, e.g. Tibetan Connections or Snow Lion, they can suggest other Tibetan monasteries & scenic spots in open areas if those two places are closed.

Edited: 03 November 2013, 15:45
Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Visiting in March 2014

I truly appreciate you taking time to write your replies. This is extremely helpful.

How did you deal with the altitute sickness in about a week? I live in Los Angeles, a very flat place. I can function normal at 12k feet. The highest I've been to was 15k feet in Nepal.

Kirkland, Washington
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7. Re: Visiting in March 2014

I'm from the lowlands of Seattle. If you're OK at 12K, you should be fine since the altitude ranges from 7K in Xining to 10K in Xiahe and most people don't have major problems with altitudes below 10K. Even with just seven to ten days' worth of traveling & hiking in Bhutan, Tibet, western Mongolia & Nepal I've never had a problem with altitude sickness. I've always brought ibuprofen for headaches but never had to use it. One of my companions did use Diamox when we were in central Tibet this summer, though the rest of us were fine without it. Climbing 3 flights of stairs with a backpack did make me short of breath but that was temporary.

Los Angeles...
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8. Re: Visiting in March 2014

Thank you for letting me know. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

Beijing, China
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for Guilin, Xi'an, Tibet
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9. Re: Visiting in March 2014

Moment, i just want to remind that people also might not be able to go wherever they want of region Amdo and Kham during this month. You need to reconfirm everything you have confirmed earlier with your tour operator some days before starting. Even though, the deeper you go the much you are expected to prepare for unexpected local closure since March is a uncertain time for the whole Tibetan culture region and nobody could guarantee no unexpected things would happen although we don't like to see this.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Visiting in March 2014

I will be in Tibet for about 3 weeks - any MUST DO's would be appreciated. I enjoy the "off-the-beaten-track" sort of stuff. I will definitely hit the tourist attractions, but if there was anything you came across that you don't find in a book, please share. I also see you went to Western Mongolia. We are contemplating going into Mongolia. Would you suggest it's worth doing?

Thank you for all your good information.