Can most Tibetans speak English?

The official languages in Tibet are both Tibetan and Mandarin, while many Tibetans living near the Tibet-Nepal border also speak Nepali and Hindi.

Bilingual education (Tibetan and Mandarin) has been practiced in Tibet since recent years, but there are many people in Tibet who can not speak Mandarin, especially the elderly and people living in some remote areas. Tibetan is the language that most used in local people’s daily life whereas Mandarin has become the language of commerce in connection with inland China. But English communication is less popular and is rarely used among Tibetan people. 

Tibetan People
Tibetan People

However, Tibet’s booming tourism industry has strengthened its ties with the outside world. Now Tibet has attached great importance to the status of English in education. 

And don’t worry about your trip in Tibet. Tibet receives tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. It is no problem for the receptionist to communicate with foreign guests at the hotels accepting bookings from foreign tourists. Almost all the restaurants where foreigners often go for meals or coffee also hire waiters or waitress who could speak some English to help you with your requirements and orders. For some shops and stores, even if the shopkeeper can't speak English, they know the numbers in English, so it does not affect the basic communication and price negotiation. 

Tibetan Monks
Tibetan Monks

Of course, you would have an excellent English speaking Tibetan tour guide to introduce you the history, local conditions and customs in detail, while could also provide necessary assistance and advice at any time so that you can enjoy a good holiday in Tibet.

We know that traveling to a foreign country or region, being able to communicate with the local people unimpeded and smoothly will undoubtedly add much color to this trip, and travel to Tibet is no exception. But the truth is very few people in Tibet can speak English, it’s a long shot to randomly find a local people who could chat with you in English. We believe that over time and with the promotion of English education, the situation will improve.

You may be interested in the following popular Tibet tours:

1. 4 Days Holy City Lhasa Tour
2. 7 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu Tour
3. 8 Days Lhasa & Everest Base Camp Tour

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