Tibet initially launched the first round of favorable policies to promote the winter tourism in the winter of 2017 to 2018. Since then, the whole Tibet Autonomous Region has been carrying out an array of preferential policies aimed at reducing the travel expenditures to attract travelers from home and abroad. This winter (2019-2020) will be the third round. And a positive change has been added this year. Before the winter travel period indicated the time from November 1 to March 1 of the next year, which is four months long. Now the cheap travel time has been extended by one month, and the duration of 2019-2020 winter travel is October 15 to March 15.
Potala Palace in winter
Same as the previous two years, the beneficial policy still covers the entrance fees for tourist spots, the tour package price for a contracted service by tour operators, travel transport cost, hotel rates, airfares, group tour special offers, and more.
About Entrance Fees: All scenic spots with national 3A level or above are completely free to visit. Plus, it’ll also be much easier to make reservations for visiting these attractions. Those with levels lower than 3A or non-state-owned scenic spots charge only half of the low-season price. (Note: This does not apply to the monasteries or temples.)
Accommodation: Room rates are 50% or less than 50% of the high-season price.
Tour Vehicles: Fees required for renting a tour vehicle should not excess 50% of the high-season price.
Flights: Airlines offer an array of deals, with an average of 50% discount. Direct flight from Chengdu to Lhasa in winter can be as low as 400 RMB.
Be a witness to the authentic Tibet
Winter of Tibet is the time for the hard-working rural residents to go on their pilgrimage journey. For most of them, the two main destinations are the holy city Lhasa and the holy mountain Mount Kailash (Gang Rinpoche, in Tibetan). After the spring ploughing and sowing, summer maintenance, autumn harvest, now comes the winter break. Instead of just resting leisurely at home, some of them would travel with their families or neighbors to fulfill their dream of a lifetime as a pilgrim. They are from not only Tibet, but also the Tibetan-inhabited areas in Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan.
Yamdrok Lake in winter
As the holy mountain Mount Kailash will be too frigid to visit in most time of the winter, Lhasa is teeming with most of the pilgrims on their worship journey. Winter is probably the only time when the Tibetan people outnumber the national and international tourists. The warm daytime of the plateau winter enables pleasant weather for city tours. Even without packed itinerary, you have the great chance to feel and soak in the religious atmosphere and the authentic lifestyle of the people on this land.
2020 Tibetan New Year
Tibetan people still celebrate their own traditional new year according to the Tibetan lunar calendar, which normally falls in January or February. The 2020 Tibetan New Year will be celebrated on February 24, 2020, while the 2020 Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year) will be celebrated on January 25.
Perfect timing for quieter environment and birdwatching
The winter travel preferential policy starts to be valid one week after the seven-day holiday of Chinese National Day (October 1 to 7), when the largest domestic vacationers have withdrawn out of Tibet. Therefore, if you travel to Tibet after October 15, you can not only benefit from the great deals of entrance fees, accommodation, and other travel expenses, but also have more soothing serenity. Every October, the birds dwelling in the North Tibet would fly to Lhasa to spend winter at the river basin areas. With higher visuality and more promising clear days in winter, travel to Tibet during this five-month is also ideal for birders or bird photographers.
Birdwatching in Tibet
Recommended Destinations to Visit in Winter
With frigid temperatures in some remote regions of Tibet in winter, some attractions are not suitable (or risky) to visit in spite that the cost will be much less by enjoying free admissions and cheaper vehicle rental, etc.
The iconic Mount Everest, the holy Mount Kailash, the sacred Lake Namtso, will not be our recommended destinations given the frequent heavy snowfalls and ill road conditions.
What we do recommend includes the culture trip in Lhasa and winter hideaway in Nyingchi. Other towns with time-honored historical sites such as Tsedang, Gyantse are still ideal considering that they are also within easy reach from Lhasa.