Christmas, to the westerners, has become more than a religious festival but also a big time for families to reunite and welcome the new year. Spending Christmas in Tibet, the place home to Tibetan Buddhism may sound atypical but also creative. Well, since Tibetan people are not only kind, but also open-minded. So, if you feel like going to Tibet in December, go for it. And if you have one or two months in Tibet, you will even get to participate the traditional Tibetan New Year after enjoying your very own way of celebrating Christmas. Let's just have a look at what Tibet can offer the visitors traveling in Christmas.
Tibetan pilgrims doing prostration ritual on Barkhor Street
Firstly, you can save a great amount of budget, because of the Preferential Policy for winter travel in Tibet. This policy allows travelers to enjoy free admission to state-owned attractions of 3A level or above, which only excludes the monasteries and temples. Taking the Potala Palace as an example, in winter, it will be free for visits, as well as easier to make a booking for the tickets without queuing for hours. In peak months, visiting the Potala Palace, requires the reservation one day prior to your visit, and you need to wait in lines early in the morning to get the real tickets with the reservation coupon. The hotels of 3 Star level or above, charge no more than 50% of the room rates in peak months. And the airfare and train ticket which account for big portions of travel expenditure are also at good price in Christmas time. This winter, the preferential policy is valid from October 15, 2019 to March 15, 2020.
Secondly, spending Christmas in Tibet promises you plenty of quiet time for your own. It's a great time either for solo traveler or family. Without the hustle and bustle from overcrowding tourists, you get to have more space in an attraction, admiring the scenic spots at your own pace. You also don't need to worry about occupying a seat for too long to feel sorry for the tea house owner. Ordering cups and cups of sweet tea, enjoying a simple meal of yum Tibetan noodles, chatting with the young travelers who tend to be excellent in English or just taking in the real life of Tibetan people relaxing in their rewarded winter rest from the hard work done in the previous seasons. You can ramble slowly among the souvenir shops to choose among the wide variety of local specialties for your loved ones back home.
Thirdly, Christmas is an ideal time to spot the happy winter birds in Tibet. The daytime in Tibet is rather warm in comparison with Beijing in Christmas. The cold problem lies in the mornings and evenings. Therefore, wandering in the daytime for bird watching is weatherly pleasant too. The birds dwelling in the North Tibet migrate to the Lhasa River region from late October, inclusive of Lhasa city and suburb, and counties in the vicinity. Black-necked crane, the last discovered crane species, was also the crane species living in the highest area on record. Bar-headed goose, multiple kinds of wild duck, are spotted in the Norbulingka Park, Zongjiao Lukang Park, and the wetlands along the river bank.
Jokhang Temple in Lhasa
For those who've never been to Tibet, the so-called Snowy Land/the Roof of World, may all give Tibet an impression that this is a land suffering frigidity. Well this is sort of true in the depth of winter, but the intolerable cold exists in the early morning and night time. In the daytime, the average temperature can stay above freezing and average high hovers around 10 degrees Celsius. Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, is reputed as the City of Sunlight, which implies that the day is bright and warm, bathed in sufficient sunshine, making the felt temperature higher than the actual air temperature.
Christmas time is not suitable for visiting several Tibet's high-elevation attractions, inclusive of the Mount Everest, the Namtso Lake, and the holy mountain Mount Kailash in Ngari region. These attractions are situated at 5,200 meters, 4,718 meters, and 3,900 to 5,620 meters, above sea level respectively. With the altitude increasing by 1,000 meters, the temperature drops by 6 degrees Celsius. Therefore, these iconic scenic spots are quite colder than towns like Lhasa, Shigatse, or Nyingchi, where the altitudes are much lower.
Weather data of Christmas in Tibet
Temperature: The average temperature in Lhasa in December ranges from -9 to 7.7 degree Celsius.
Rainfall: There is almost no precipitation in December in Tibet.
Wind: December in among the windy months (November to March/April)
Humidity: In December, the average humidity level is only 19% in Lhasa. Since the comfortable humidity is supposed to be around 50% to 60%, it feels very dry traveling in Christmas time to Tibet. Skincare for keeping your exposed skin moist and drinking ample water to keep the body hydrated are both very important.
Christmas is loved not only by Western countries who have this tradition, but also welcome by more and more countries globally. It's not hard to anticipate the rapidly increasing popularity of Christmas. Just think of the scenes in films and shows about Christmas. Indoors, Christmas tree glows with shining baubles, stars, bells, and snowflakes; Timber burning in the mantle makes the rooms warm, cozy and relaxing; Overflowing scent of dessert being cooked in the oven suffuses the room, mixed with abundant flavors from beautiful dishes already on the table. Outdoors, Streets are decorated with heart-melting yellow lights; Churches and antique buildings hold light shows that create a dreamy land for kids; Christmas outfits, accessories, coming in typical red and green and patterns of reindeer, dominate the busy modern world. The merry sound of Christmas songs resonates in the air, Jingle bell, Jingle bell, Jingle all the way… People walking outside hand in hand, or people snuggling in the sofas waiting for the family visitors, are all at their happiest. Though every day of life is a treasure and bliss, how wonderful Christmas is！This amazing combination of light, color, sound, food, smiles, hugs, affection, emotions, and kindness between strangers, is just what a jolly festival should be!
If you want to have a great Christmas, the simple rule is to looking for the brightest place, the yummiest food and drink, the best music and dancing venue, and find a creative way to dress up (e.g. You can shop the bold colored Tibetan clothes to make your Christmas outfit).
Tea Houses/ Restaurant: Celebrate with yum food and drink by having the typical sweet tea, the snack Tibetan noodle, a decent Tibetan meal, a spicy treat of Sichuan Hot Pot, or the nostalgic Western dinner resembling the food in Christian countries.
Barkhor Street: This is where you can take in the atmosphere of pious pilgrims doing their prayer and prostration at the Jokhang Temple, and where you can shop the beautiful souvenirs such as Tibetan textile products from shawl, robes, jewelries, postcards, books, and so more. The friendly crowd of people in Christmas time is comprised of mostly the local citizens and pilgrims other than tourists. Their at-home relaxed gestures are sort of like people coming back to their hometown on their Christmas vacation.
All in all, our point is if you want to spend your Christmas in Tibet, there are so many this land can provide you. And if you would like some specific practical information on Tibet tour packages, the weather, ways of transport, hotel booking, train tickets into Tibet, etc., we're here to prompt you our insider tips and guides.