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Treasures of Tibet in winter

By Yao Minji  (Shanghai Daily)

10:38, November 22, 2011

The golden autumn in Nyingtri Prefecture.

The Tibet Autonomous Region shows a very different and less touristy face in winter when it's less commercial, rare wildlife migrates and some mountains can be seen clearly for the only time in the year. Yao Minji reports.

Most travelers visit the Tibet Autonomous Region in western China in summer from July through September, which is considered the best and most comfortable season on the Tibetan Plateau. The weather is nice, the air/area contains more oxygen, the mountains are greener than in other season. And some of the big Tibetan celebrations such as the Shoton Festival (Buddhism, horsemanship and yak racing) and the Horse Racing Festival are also in summer.

But the biggest festival, the Tibetan New Year, based on a luni-solar calendar, is in the winter and this year it falls on March 5.

Experienced backpackers and adventurers prefer to explore the highland in winter. It is only then that Tibet closes its show for tourists and takes off the brightly colored and decorated ethnic costumes and masks, revealing its true face - natural and authentic, without commercialization and sophistication.

It gets cold in winter, but not too cold to travel yet in many areas. In Lhasa, the average daytime temperature is 10-15 degrees Celsius, and the coldest it gets is around minus 5 degrees in early morning and late night.

Tibetans, whether nomads or farmers, don't have much to do in the freezing weather, and often return home to prepare for the Tibetan New Year or go on pilgrimage. Travelers get to see the authentic daily life and folk customs of Tibetans.

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