We would encourage you to travel to Tibet. There is no better way to understand the issues facing the Tibetan people in their homeland. It is needless to say what a beautiful place Tibet is in spite of its highly repressive political environment.
Travellers to Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) must be in a tour group and will need travel permits, a tour guide and a private vehicle with a driver. Your local travel agency in Australia will arrange the travel permit and the other requirements through a travel agency in TAR. This regulation has been in place for more than 30 years. If you can, make sure the local travel agency in TAR is Tibetan-owned.
Areas in the Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo, now incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan and covering more than half of the Tibetan plateau, have no travel regulations although they do close periodically when protests break out.
Read our section on politics to understand the demarcation of the Tibetan areas.
Note that from mid-2012, the Chinese government has introduced a new travel regulation in TAR. Five people of the name nationality need to apply for the travel permit together. Some agencies may require a minimum of six.
Since the protests across the Tibetan plateau in 2008, the Chinese government has closed TAR during sensitive political anniversaries every year and when any large protest takes place. The most sensitive period is around March, which has the anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day (10 March) and the anniversary of 2008 uprising (14 March).
In 2012, TAR and parts of Amdo and Kham, where most of the Tibetan self-immolations have taken place, are closed.