The official language of China is Mandarin, but most Tibetans speak Tibetan. Most Chinese immigrants (and taxi drivers) speak neither Tibetan nor English. English is generally not very widely spoken.

Duty free shopping


(a) Travelers staying in the country for up to 6 months can bring the following items into China duty-free: 400 cigarettes; 2 bottles of alcoholic beverages (up to 0.75 l); perfume for personal use; Up to 50g of gold or silver. (b) Travelers staying in the country for more than 6 months are allowed to import the following items duty-free: 600 cigarettes; 4 bottles of alcoholic beverages (up to 0.75 l); Perfume for personal use. Up to 50g of gold or silver.

Import Restrictions

Guns and ammunition Imitation guns Pornography (some photos in Western magazines may be classified as pornographic), radios, pre-recorded tapes and videos, political and religious pamphlets (A limited amount of religious material is permitted for personal use.). Any printed matter that violates “Public Order and Morality of China” is prohibited. This includes pictures of the Dalai Lama, political or other writings by the Dalai Lama or the government-in-exile in Dharamsala, and even travel guides that make even the slightest allusion to Tibetan independence. Upon entry, all valuables (cameras, watches, jewellery, antiques, etc.) ) are declared. A copy of this declaration must be presented upon departure. When purchasing jewelry, jade items, art objects, paintings, calligraphy and antiques, the receipt must be kept in order to obtain an export certificate upon departure. The items mentioned may not be exported without this certificate. In general, customs clearance in China is easier today than it was in the past. The items mentioned may not be exported without this certificate. In general, customs clearance in China is easier today than it was in the past. The items mentioned may not be exported without this certificate. In general, customs clearance in China is easier today than it was in the past.

Contact addresses

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
Metternichgasse 4
+43 (1) 714 31 49. Consular department of the Embassy
Brückenstraße 10
+49 (30) 27 58 85 72.

Public service: Mon-Fri 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., telephone information: Tue and Thu 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

China Tibet Fremdenverkehrsamt, Lhasa
Norbu Lingka Road 3
(891) 683 43 15 Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
Kalcheggweg 10
+41 (31) 352 73 33.

Mon-Fri 08.30-12.00 and 14.30-17.30.

Consular department of the Embassy
Neulinggasse 29/1/11
+43 (1) 710 36 48.

Office hours: Mon, Wed, Fri 08.30-11.00 and Mon, Wed 14.00-16.00.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

Generalkonsulate in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/M., Hamburg, München.

Branch of the embassy in Bonn.

Märkisches Ufer 54
+49 (30) 27 58 80.

Mon-Fri 08.30-12.30 and 13.30-17.00.

Consular section of the Embassy
Lombachweg 23
+41 (31) 351 45 93.

Mon-Fri 09.00-12.00.


Business etiquette

Wear a suit when visiting a business. Scheduling appointments is common, and value is placed on punctuality. Business cards should have the Chinese translation on the back. They are presented with both hands. If you get a business card, you look at it; a short comment is also possible and customary. It’s impolite to pocket a business card without giving it the attention it deserves, and a cardinal mistake to put it in your back pocket. Business lunches usually last several hours and foreign visitors are often expected to toast a few times. It is an advantage if you can tolerate cigarette smoke.

Opening hours

Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-6 p.m., including a one-hour lunch break.


US$6.5 billion (2009).

main exports

Farm animals, Traditional medicines, Sodium tetraborate and other minerals, Wood, Carpets.

main imports

Processed Foods, Building Materials, Electronic Equipment, Mechanical Equipment, Motorized Vehicles.



In Lhasa and several other cities, relatively cheap long-distance international calls can be made from public payphones. The cheapest way to make phone calls is via Skype on the Internet, but not all Internet cafés are equipped with the necessary software. Another option is traditional phone cards, which are available in denominations of ¥20, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥200 at most kiosks.

Cell phone

Mobile phone reception in Tibet is good and you can even make calls from Mount Everest’s base station. Roaming contracts exist with most of the major international mobile phone providers. Alternatively, you can buy a prepaid GSM SIM card from China Mobile, which allows you to use your cell phone like a Tibetan cell phone (with a Tibetan number). You need your passport to register. Mobile phone credit can be bought on cards.


Internet cafes can be found in most cities, and inexpensive wireless Internet access is increasingly available in Lhasa’s hotels and cafes. Sometimes you have to show your passport to use the internet. The government routinely blocks access to websites owned by the Tibetan government in exile, human rights groups and some international news organizations such as the BBC. Bloggers’ comments published on the Internet are strictly monitored.


The media of China and Tibet are strictly controlled at the state and provincial levels. Access to the international news agencies is restricted and the replay of their reports as well as the use of satellite receivers is severely limited. Shortwave radio signals are disrupted, websites are blocked. The only English-language newspapers and magazines available in Lhasa belong to the Chinese propaganda section.

Tibet, China Shopping

Tibet, China Shopping, Embassy and Communication
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