The Tibetan World

The Tibetan plateau is roughly the size of western Europe, with an average elevation of 4,700m (15,400 ft.). Ringed by vast mountain ranges such as the Kunlun range to the north and the Himalayas, the region offers towering scenic splendors as well as some of the richest minority culture within modern China's borders. Lhasa, former seat of the Dalai Lamas, is dominated physically by the vast Potala Palace, and emotionally by the fervor of the pilgrims to the Jokhang Temple. Fewer than half of the world's Tibetans now live in what is called Tibet—much Tibetan territory has now been allocated to neighboring Chinese provinces and particularly in Qlnghai, where the authorities are less watchful and the atmosphere in both monasteries and on the streets more relaxed.

2 Visitor Information

The mainland travel industry is, in general, a quagmire of deception, and provides no truly reliable official sources of information either within China or via its overseas operations. The branches of the China National Tourism Administration in foreign countries are called China National Tourist Offices. Nominally nonprofit, they used to be little more than agents for the state-owned China International Travel Service (CITS), but they now offer links to a variety of operators. Don't expect them to be accurate about even the most basic visa or Customs regulations, or to update their websites, which sometimes give conflicting information and can't even get the names of tour operators right.

Hong Kong and Macau have their own tourism agencies, which are vastly more professional. The Hong Kong Tourism Board is a source of endless quantities of free literature, maps, and helpful advice, and its website is comprehensive, accurate, and up to date. The Macau Government Tourism Office is the same on a smaller scale.

CHINA NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE (www.cnto.org)

In the United States New York office: 350 Fifth Ave., Suite 6413, Empire State Building, New York, NY 10118 (& 212/760-8218/8807/ 4002; fax 212/760-8809; [email protected] gov.cn). California office: 600 W. Broadway, Suite 320, Glendale, CA 91204 (& 818/545-7505; fax 818/ 545-7506; [email protected]). In Canada 480 University Ave., Suite 806, Toronto, ONT M5G 1V2 (& 416/599-6636; fax 416/5996382; www.tourismchina-ca.com).

In the U.K. 4 Glentworth St., London NW1 5PG (& 020/7935-9787;

fax 020/7487-5842; [email protected] gov.cn).

In Australia Level 19, 44 Market St., Sydney, NSW 2000 (& 02/92994057; fax 02/9290-1958; [email protected] cnta.gov.cn).

HONG KONG TOURISM BOARD (www.discoverhong kong.com)

In the United States New York office: 115 E. 54th St., 2nd floor, New York, NY 10022-4512 (& 212/4213382; fax 212/421-8428; [email protected] hktb.com). California office: 10940 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2050, Los Angeles, CA 90024-3915 (& 310/2080233; fax 310/208-2398; [email protected] hktb.com).

In Canada 3rd floor, 9 Temperance St., Toronto, ONT M5H 1Y6 (® 416/366-2389; fax 416/366-1098; [email protected]).

In the U.K. 6 Grafton St., London W1S 4EQ (& 020/7533-7100; fax 020/7533-7111; [email protected]). In Australia Level 4, Hong Kong House, 80 Druitt St., Sydney, NSW 2000 ((& 02/9283-3083; fax 02/ 9283-3383; [email protected]).

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