The Tibet tourism office in Shanghai is encouraging
people to delay trips to Lhasa until September and October when the
busy summer season ends. They're also advising people to book group
tours as prices are cheaper and schedules better.
"You cannot get into the Potala Palace if you're more than one hour
late," said Liu Bihong, spokeswoman for the Tibet Tourism Bureau
Shanghai Office. She returned from Lhasa last week.
Her office recently canceled a Tibetan-style wedding show that
would have recommended spots in Tibet for honeymooners. "We felt
the timing wasn't good at the moment," Liu said. "The event is
Since the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway on July 1 tourists from
across the country have swarmed to the remote region. Earlier media
reports said Tibet had 301,000 tourists in the first 20 days of
July, which is a 50-percent increase year-on-year.
But getting there is only the first step. According to returnees
from Tibet, the Potala Palace, normally an essential part of
people's itineraries in Lhasa, has tightened personal identity and
"It took us three hours to get into the palace but it turned out
the wait wasn't worthwhile," said Shanghai tourist Lu Qiang. "In
Lhasa I felt as though the clock was ticking all the time. On
several occasions the guards in the palace were telling our guide
to speed up." The Potala Palace allows up to 2,300 tourists to
"But elsewhere in Tibet it wasn't so crowded," Lu added and
conceded that generally the trip has been wonderful.
To ensure entry to the Potala Palace tourists need to pick up an
entry permit 24 hours prior to their visit. Permits are available
at the palace's ticket booth provided you have valid
identification. When visiting the palace you simply exchange the
permit for a ticket. Admission costs 100 yuan (US$12.5) per
Lhasa's 10,000 hotel rooms are rarely vacant, Liu Bihong said.
She emphasized that reservations were necessary.
(Shanghai Daily August 14, 2006)