[photopress:Lhasa.jpg,full,alignright]Before the rail line connecting Qinghai province in the northwest of China to Lhasa — a 29 hour train journey — it was not an easy tourist destination. Indeed, it is still not. The train runs at the highest altitudes in the world and the thin air makes it a trip to be avoided by anyone with breathing problems. The building of the 1,142-kilometer stretch from Golmud in Qinghai Province to Lhasa took just five years.
Surrounded by the world’s highest ranges the Himalayas, the Karakoram range, the Kunlun Mountains and the Hengduan range, the Tibetan plateau is, apart from the rail line, isolated from the world. The isolation made it mysterious and the development of a singular and religion-based culture made it exotic.
Can Lhasa cope with the new tourism? As capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region, it has long been the center of politics, economy, culture and religion in Tibet. And the hotels reflect that.
Probably the most luxurious hotel in Lhasa is the appropriately named Lhasa hotel. This was a Holiday Inn and was renovated in 1999. Ther hotel has three five and six storey buildings with 450 rooms and suites. Some of the rooms have piped oxygen.
Most of the other hotels are three or four star. Interesting is the Tibet Hotel built in traditional Tibetan style, under the administration of Tibet Tourism Bureau. The hotel is constructed in granite and echoes the shape of the Potala Palace, one of the main tourist attractions of Lhasa.
Source:China Daily and research
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