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China Travel FAQ - Travel in Tibet

  1. Is independent tour allowed in Tibet?
2. What is the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness? What shall I do to avoid or ease the AMS?
3. What kind of document shall I need to apply for if I want to travel to Tibet?
4. How to get the Alien's Travel Permit?
5. Can you tell us something about the folk customs and taboos of the Tibetan people? What should keep on my mind when dealing with the local people?
6. What should I do with Tibetan beggars?
7. How about the eating in Tibet? Am I accustomed to the Tibetan food?
8. What kind of medicine I should pack for the trip in Tibet?
9. Are there other things I should be careful to keep fit in Tibet?
10. How about the Hospitals in Tibet?
11. How about the lodging in Tibet?
12. How about the money in Tibet?
13. Is it safe to walk on the street in Lhasa at night?
14. How about the shopping in Tibet?
15. Can you give us the information of the transportation to Tibet?
16. How about the transportation in Lhasa?
17. Is it easy to communicate with my family in Tibet?
18. Can you give any information about trekking in Tibet?
19. What kind of gear should I bring for trekking Tibet?
20. What are other things I may need in my trekking?
21. How about the weather in Tibet?
22. What shall I need to pack for the trip in Tibet?
1. Is independent tour allowed in Tibet?

Independent tour is prohibited in Tibet. You should take part in an organized group or have the local travel operator to arrange for you.

2. What is the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness? What shall I do to avoid or ease the AMS?

Tibet is regarded as the roof of the world. It is over 3000 meters above sea level with lots of its area above 5000 meters. Almost every visitor is affected by AMS, which is common at high altitudes due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. But most visitors will get used to the high altitude by taking a rest of around one to a couple of days. So don’t be too nervous and think Tibet is a terrible place. If you can take following suggestions, your tour in Tibet will be smooth and pleasant.

Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness:

Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) usually develop during the first 24 hours at altitude but may be delayed up to three weeks. Mild symptoms include headache, lethargy, dizziness, difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Many people will experience one or more AMS symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet. The symptoms will usually decrease in severity gradually during the acclimatization. Mild AMS is usual and will not interfere with mild activity.

AMS may become more severe without warning and can be fatal. Severe symptoms include breathlessness, a dry, irritative cough (which may progress to the production of pink, frothy sputum), severe headache, lack of coordination and balance, confusion, irrational behavior, vomiting, drowsiness and unconsciousness. There is no hard-and-fast rule as to what is too high: AMS has been fatal at 3000m, although 3500m to 4500m is the usual range. Immediate descent is the surest treatment.

Basic suggestions to avoid or ease the AMS:

- People with serious heart diseases NOT go there. People with light heart troubles, high or low blood pressure and lungs problems follow doctor's suggestion.

- Try to keep healthy and not to catch a cold before entering Tibet.

- do not over exert and maintain light activity right upon arrival.

­- Better not take a bath on the first day arriving in Tibet.

- Drink much water to avoid or ease the mountain disease, as the mountain air is dry and cold and moisture is lost as you breathe.

- Eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy.

- Avoid alcohol as it may increase the risk of dehydration, staying away from smoking and sleeping pill and tranquilizers, which will depress the respiratory drive and oxygen intake.

- Walk slowly and have deep breath at every step. Not run or walk fast to show that you are very healthy and assume nothing will happen to you.

- It is also very important to have a good rest at night. We advise you not to go out in the evening, especially on the day of arrival.

- If you feel severe headache you can have some medicine. Local medicine is very effective to relive the mountain disease. You can find the medicine in the shop inside the hotel. It is better if you have the medicine on the day before you enter the Tibet. If you just feel at little headache, it is normal. After a few hours the symptom will disappear.

- Take a jacket with you when you go out because it hot at day but a little bit cold at night. Also wear a hat to avoid too much shined. The sunscreen, sunglasses or dark glasses and lip creams are advised to protect your eyes and skin, for Tibet's high altitude and the atmosphere allow the sun's solar radiation to strike the earth with unusual intensity.

- There is a clinic in the hotel. You can call the doctor to come to room and give some treatment if necessary. There is also oxygen supply machine in your room. If you find difficult to breathe, you can buy a card from the front desk, insert the card into the machine, put the tube to your nose and then breathe the oxygen generated from the machine.

- The most important thing is whenever you feel very uncomfortable please contact local guide, national guide or hotel immediately.

Further suggestions:

- It is always wise to sleep at a lower altitude than the greatest height reached during the day. Care should be taken not to increase the sleeping altitude by more than 300m per day.

- Ascend slowly - have frequent rest days, spending two to three nights at each rise of 1000m. If you reach a high altitude by trekking, acclimatization takes place gradually and you are less likely to be affected than if you fly directly to a higher altitude.

- Treat mild symptoms by resting at the same altitude until recovery, usually a day or two. If symptoms persist or become worse, however, immediate descent is necessary; even 500m can help. Drug treatments should never be used to avoid descent or to enable further ascent.

3. What kind of document shall I need to apply for if I want to travel to Tibet?

There are two documents required for foreign tourists who want to travel in Tibet. One is the Chinese Visa, which you can apply for in Chinese Embassy in your place. Another is the Alien's Travel Permit issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau. Non-Chinese passport holders (including those of Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and other countries) must have an Alien's Travel Permit. Journalists and people that could be involved in political matters will be revoked.
For applying for the permit, you are required to provide the copies of your visa and passports (the page with the photo) and other information such as your occupation. It usually costs around 200 Rmb. Tibet Permit can be issued two weeks prior to your entry Tibet.

4. How to get the Alien's Travel Permit?

If you join in the group organized by the travel agency in china, the agency can be your representative to apply for the Permit. But do contact them in advance and give them enough time for paper work. Tibet Permit can be issued two weeks prior to your entry Tibet.


5. Can you tell us something about the folk customs and taboos of the Tibetan people? What should keep on my mind when dealing with the local people?


Tibetan people are very kind and friendly. But it is still better to know some local customs and taboos before touring in Tibet.

(1) Presenting the hada (a strip of raw silk or linen) is a common practice among Tibetan people expressing best wishes on many occasions, such as wedding ceremonies, festivals, visiting elders and superiors, and entertaining guests. When you are met by local guide in the airport upon arrival, he or she normally will present Hada to you. When you visit the local family, the host will also present hada to express their sincere welcome. To show your thankfulness, when receiving a hada, it is proper to accept it with both hands and raise it over your head to put on your shoulders.

(2) When visiting a local family, a guest will be offered highland barley wine by the host, into which he should dip his fourth finger and then flick, three times altogether. The three drops of wine are meant for worshipping heaven, earth and Tibetan ancestors. It is only then that the guest should take a sip, and have his cup refilled three times. On the host refilling his cup a third time, the guest should empty it, otherwise, the host will be insulted, and considering the guest impolite or arrogant. While seated (sitting upright on the floor with legs crossed), the host will present the guest with butter tea. The guest should wait for the host to hand over the tea and not help himself/herself to it. When receiving a gift, the guest should accept with both hands. When presenting a gift, he/she should bow and hold the gift high above the head. When offering wine or tea, the guest should hold the bowl with both hands, and his fingers should not touch its rim.

(3) Tibetans never eat donkey, horse or dog meat. In some places, people eat neither fish nor birds. So be careful not to eat the meat of above animals in front of them, otherwise, they will feel insulted. Tibetan Buddhism also even forbids the hunting and killing of wildlife.

(4) When coming across monasteries, piles of Mani stones, pagodas and other religious structures, people should walk around them clockwise. They should not step across ritual utensils and firs basins, nor should they turn prayer wheels in the wrong direction. Better follow these rules when visiting these places to show your respect to their religion.

Photographing in monasteries is generally allowed, however photographing inside the chapels is forbidden or is charged, usually extremely high to prevent photography. However, Drepung Monastery allows inside photography and charges no fees.

(5) Finally, one should never touch a Tibetan on the head.

(6) It is not polite to photo the local people without getting their permission. If you want to take pictures, ask first to show respect.
6. What should I do with Tibetan beggars?
  Religious beggars are an accepted part of society in Tibet. Giving money or food to a pilgrim is considered an act of merit. Donations of 1 Yuan (Chinese currency) are appropriate. Please note: those younger ones who may have a monkey on a chain are professional beggars, it is not necessary for you to offer anything.
7. How about the eating in Tibet? Am I accustomed to the Tibetan food?

The representative traditional Tibetan food includes roast mutton and beef, buttered tea, dairy products and liquor made of highland barley. Vegetables are available but the choice will be limited due to the short agricultural season in the high altitude.

If you want to taste Tibetan flavored dishes, you can choose the most commonly seen Tibetan restaurants. Many foreigners like the food with typical local flavor. If you are not accustomed to the Tibetan food, you can go to the restaurants featuring the Sichuan Style which are gaining more and more popular. In recent years with the increasing number of tourist from all over the world, restaurants serving western food have mushroomed. "Yak Cafe" in Lhasa Hotel provides a typical western-style meal as well as photos of foreign film stars hung on the wall. As there are many choices, so do not worry about the eating in Tibet.

In addition, as vegetables are not sufficient in Tibet, thus it is wise to take some vitamins while traveling around to be as the supplement of your diet. In the meantime, try to eat more fresh fruit and drink plenty of mineral water at any time and anywhere. To guarantee your nice appetite, it is advisable for you to carry a rucksack full of dried fruits and other non-perishable raw stuff.


8. What kind of medicine I should pack for the trip in Tibet?
  Prepare your first aid kit before getting to Tibet. In addition to the normal bandages, salves, etc. one should fortify the kit with medicine for diarrhea, giardiasis, hepatitis and other diseases tourists may encounter on the plateau. Medicine for respiratory tract infections, such as colds, influenza and bronchitis which may further diminish oxygen intake also shall be included as these diseases may result in serious consequences on the Tibet plateau. Following medicines will be very useful during your travel: cold and flu tablets, throat lozenges, nasal decongestant, Aspirin. Multivitamins are also recommended. Some medicine which you forget to bring with you can also be obtained from hotels or pharmacies on the street in Tibet.
9. Are there other things I should be careful to keep fit in Tibet?
  As you will be exposed to climate extremes and the sharp temperature differences between day and night, so take precaution not to catch cold, which could possibly be fatal in Tibet. The strong sunshine may injure your skin and eyes, so bring your sunscreen and sunglasses. Also, use creams to keep the skin of the face and hands moisturized as the air at this elevation is very dry and the wind will dry your skin rapidly.
Since boiling temperature is somewhat lower in Tibet, it is better to boil water for longer period of time.
Packs of wild dogs roaming around monasteries and villages are a feature of Tibet and also a potential threat. Get a rabies vaccination in advance and stay away from them. For details of the vaccination, consult your doctor.
Visitors to remote areas may see wild animals, such as wild yaks, Tibetan antelopes and such. Keep your distance from them for safety.
10. How about the Hospitals in Tibet?
  Most hotels in Lhasa and other cities have clinics which will give you basic treatment when necessary. Major towns in Tibet have hospitals with basic facilities. Western pharmaceutical treatment, Tibetan herbal remedies and Chinese herbal remedies are also accessible. The medical and sanitary conditions of most hospitals are not as satisfactory as those in developed areas. However, in an emergency, they can still give basic medical treatments and be of great value in saving a life when necessary. Better hospital service and facilities can only be accessed in Chengdu and other major cities. Following is information of some hospitals in Tibet.

(1) TAR People's Hospital, Lingkhor Bei Lu northeast of Potala, the biggest and best in Lhasa, 24 hours open.Tel 6322200 (emergency department), 6322177
(2) Emergency Treatment Center, on the junction of Lingkhor Bei Lu and Duosinge Bei Lu, next to TAR People's Hospital, has English speaking doctors and their service can be reached by emergency call 120.
(3) Tibetan Traditional Hospital (Mentsikhang), on Yuthok Lu and opposite the Barkhor Square, also has English speaking doctors and the staff is kind.
Tel 6324211 (emergency department), 6323244
(4) People's Hospital Lhasa, located in east of the junction where Beijing Dong Lu meets Lingkhor Dong Lu. Tel 6323811 (emergency department)
(5) TAR Hospital of Tibetan Medicine, north end of Niangre Nan Lu
(6) Military Hospital Dental Clinic, on Beijing Xi Lu and near Holiday Inn
(7) Shigatse Hospital, about 500 m (1,650 feet) north of Shigatse Hotel, on Jiefang Dong Lu.
11. How about the lodging in Tibet?
  To cater for the need of increasing influx of tourists from all over the world, Tibet has already opened 12 star-rated hotels in Lhasa, Xigaze, Gyangtse, Zhangmu, Tingri, Tsetang, NyinChi, and Nakchu. Lhasa has two 4-star hotels (Lhasa hotel and Tibet Hotel) and several 3-star hotels, but no 5-star hotel available. These hotels have cozily designed rooms and are furnished with all facilities necessary, like business center, restaurants, recreational center, credit-handling and foreign exchange conversion center and so on. They also provide such service as the hot water 24 hours a day, laundry service, IDD telephone services, room service, etc. So the stay in Tibet especially in Lhasa will be as comfortable as in other parts of china. But please keep in mind that as Tibet is still not a well developed area, facilities and services of hotels are not so perfect and need to be improved.
12. How about the money in Tibet?
  As in the rest of China, Renminbi (Rmb) is the legal currency in Tibet. Only Bank of China offers foreign exchange services and facilities in Tibet except some hotels (Lhasa Hotel, viz former Holiday Inn, and Tibet Hotel). The bank of China has a main office (0891-6835078) and several sub-branches in Lhasa, which all cash travelers' checks while only the main office offer cash advances on major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club and Amex). Its main office is located on Lingkhor Bei Lu 28, north of the Yak Statue and its opening hours are 9:30 am -1pm and 3:30 - 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Another convenient sub-branch lies on Beijing Dong Lu, between Kirey Hotel and Banak Shol Hotel. Its opening hours are 9:30am-6:00pm, Monday to Friday, and 11am-3pm, Saturday to Sunday. The Bank of China Shigatse office, near Shigatse Hotel, can provide travelers' checks exchange service also. Cash advances on credit cards are not available here. Zhangmu has two sub-branches also however you may have to change your extra Rmb in its black markets before your exit.
13. Is it safe to walk on the street in Lhasa at night?
  Generally, it is quiet safe in Tibet. Since most Tibetans are devout Buddhists, who believe good deeds will accumulate merit in their next lives, crimes are rare. But we still advise you to be cautious about the pickpockets and not to go out for walking late in the evening. Also you need pay attention to dogs!
14. How about the shopping in Tibet?

Barkhor is the best shopping market in Lhasa. Tourist can find lots of odd and fascinating stuff, for religious and secular uses. Small shops and stalls on the street sell a variety of items like prayers flags, Buddha figures, conch-shell trumpets, rosaries, amulets, fur hats, horse bells, bridles, copper teapots, wooden bowl, inlaid knives and jewelry inlaid with turquoise and other gems. However, attention shall be paid to the quality of the jewelry since many items are coarse. Exotic Tibetan opera masks and costumes are interesting items to buy. Bright and beautiful homespun Tibetan rugs and Tibetan khaddar are also popular souvenirs. Tourists can easily find things which are of individuality and appeal to them. The most interesting thing to shop in Barkhor is that you can bargain with local people and may buy nice things in a lower price. Just cut the price by 50 percent! Shopping along the street accompanied by hundreds of pilgrims prostrating will be a thrilling experience. Tibet carpet and tent can be bought at Lhasa Carpet Factory and Lhasa Tent and Banner Factory respectively.

Department stores, mostly on Yuthok Lu and for everyday requirement, are becoming usual in Lhasa. Lhasa Department Store (General Department Store), on the west end of Yuthok Lu, is the largest and famous one in Lhasa. It sells handicrafts as well as practical items, such as cotton clothing, mugs, canned food, towels and toothpaste and other stuff tourist may need to buy before they move to other remote towns. Supermarkets can also be found in Lhasa.

There are three Xinhua book stores in Lhasa, one on Yuthok Lu, another on east Barkhor and the other on Beijing Zhong Lu, west of Tibet Hotel. They sell maps of Lhasa, Tibetan primers, Tibetan-Chinese dictionaries, and Chinese and Tibetan books. A bookshop carrying Tibetan literature is on north Barkhor.


15. Can you give us the information of the transportation to Tibet?


In the past, pack animals were the main transportation in the region. Now highways and airlines are connecting it with other regions of China.

1. Plane

Planes are the fastest means to move onto the Roof of the World. Gonggar airport which is 100km away from Lhasa city connects Lhasa with Chengdu, Xian, Beijing, Chongqing, and even Kathmandu and Hongkong. There is no air route within Tibet at present. Traveling by air into Tibet will surely bring visitors unique and thrilling experience. Just imagine that you are above the world highest snow and cloud clad peaks! However, since planes travel fast and there is little time for acclimatization.

By air, there are several routes are available now: Beijing-Lhasa, Shanghai-Lhasa, Chengdu-Lhasa, Xi'an-Lhasa, Xi'ning-Lhasa, Guangzhou-Lhasa, Chongqing-Lhasa, Kathmandu-Lhasa.

The Chengdu-Lhasa route has two or three flights a day, more than any other route. So it is most popular among tourists.

2. Highway
There are five highways stretching into Tibet. But traveling by bus takes much longer time, and can be very tough.

The asphalt Qinghai-Tibet Highway
This highway goes from Qinghai's Xining to Lhasa via Golmud and provides convenient travel. Along the way, travelers can see Qinghai Lake (China's largest saltwater lake), the snowcapped Kunlun Mountains, the Tuotuo River (upper reaches of the Yangtze River), the pass of the Tanggula Mountains, the northern Tibet prairie, and the hot springs of Yangbajain. For this route, travelers should first take a train to Xining, provincial capital of Qinghai, and then change for train to Golmud, where there are long-distance buses to Lhasa every day. The bus ride takes 30 hours. The bus fare ranges from 150 to 210 yuan for a hard seat or a sleeper.

The Sichuan-Tibet Highway
The highway from Chengdu to Lhasa varies greatly in altitude. A traveler may experience four seasons within one day. It may snow heavily on the mountain. But be warm at its foot. For the most part, the highway is rugged and winding. During the rainy season, the mountainside often caves in, sending down mudslides that block the road. Therefore, when taking this route, extra time should be allowed. Scenic spots along the way include Mount Erlang, Luding Bridge, Kangding, the Jingsha River, Rawu Lake, Tangmai (known as the "black spot for mudslides"), and Nyingchi where on can experience four seasons in a day. The bus fare for this route is 525 yuan.

Yunnan-Tibet Highway
If traveling along the Yunnan-Tibet Highway, one can see Mount Cang, Erhai Lake (Dali), the ancient city of Naxi (Lijiang), Shangrial (Zhongdian), and the Hengduan Mountains. In ancient times, merchants also traveled along this route.

Xinjiang-Tibet Highway
The Highway from Yecheng to Lhasa has the highest altitude of all five routes. As this route is uninhabited, it is for the best part devoid of gas stations, communications, or conveniences, and the journey takes at least two weeks. However, scenery along the way is fantastic. Having no human habitation it is a veritable paradise for wildlife, where one can marvel at the sight of herds of wild Tibetan donkeys and Mongolian gazelles galloping and springing along the foot of mountains. Along the way is the Karakorum Mountains, the remains of the ancient Guge Kingdom, the sacred kangrinboqe Mountain, the sacred Mapam Yumco Lake, and the Sagya Monastery, which is the origin of the Variegated Sect.

Kathmandu-Lhasa Highway
This highway features splendid natural scenery and historical sites. Entering China at the port of Zhamu and going across the Friendship Bridge, one arrives at Tibet's Nyalam County. After passing through Tingri, travelers may see the magnificent Himalayas. Further on, they arrive at Xigaze, Tibet's second largest city, where they may visit the Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery. From Xigaze, they can go further on to Gyangze and then eastward to Lhasa, or westward to Ngari via Yamzhog Yumco, one of the three sacred lakes in Tibet.

3. Train
The construction of railway into Tibet has finished. Now tourists can take train from Qinghai to Tibet.

16. How about the transportation in Lhasa?

In Lhasa minibuses are the main transportation, charging 2 RMB per person. It is easy to hire a taxi which is painted verdurous and silver. The fare is 10 RMB no matter where the destination is within the city. Pedicabs are unique vehicles to look around the highest city in the world. Bikes can be easily hired at Lhasa at most hotels. There are buses from Lhasa's Gonggar Airport to the city proper. The bus fare is 35 Yuan.

17. Is it easy to communicate with my family in Tibet?

Yes, with the economic development of Tibet, communication conditions are greatly improved now. Like other cities in china, star –rated hotels in Lhasa provide IDD call, fax, internet access and photocopy service. Phone calls can also be made in public telephone booth with IC cards or in Telecommunication Centers. There are two Telecommunication Centers in Lhasa, one opposite Yin Qiao Hotel and the other on the west end of Beijing Dong Lu. International mail service is available at the post offices next to Telecommunication Centers. Mobile phone services cover a vast area, which provide tourist a convenient communication.

18. Can you give any information about trekking in Tibet?

In general, travel to Tibet represents the sightseeing tours but even the land is situated in average of above 13000 feet, this inaccessible land have lots of possibilities of trekking routes for the adventure seeker. Whether it is a pilgrimage trek or a mountain expedition, Tibet offers trekking trips from short one day to month long as per ones requirement. But the treks are not feasible in the wintertime as the temperature goes very low (-30 to -40) and also the days are much shorter.

If you have interests in trekking in Tibet, just let us know, we can also arrange a trek to meet your specific needs.

19. What kind of gear should I bring for trekking Tibet?

As to the equipment for trekking, your tour operator will do the big work for you, like the tent, cooking equipment, food, car, truck and pack animals etc. Even these facilities will be arranged by the company, you still need at least 2-3 months to prepare for your personal packing. When planning your clothing needs for a trek, think in terms of layers. Layers of clothing will keep you warm, but can be removed to gradually prevent overheating. During spring and autumn the night temperature in the mountains often dip below freezing, making warm gear essential. In the summer the days can be hot, requiring light cotton clothing. Adequate wet-weather gear is also a priority during the summer. Remember that the mountainous regions of Tibet can receive snow any month of the year, and always be prepared for cold weather if you will be trekking at elevations much above 4880m. Make sure that the clothing you will wear most often can be washed in cold water and dries quickly.

20. What are other things I may need in my trekking?

Many of the following items are optional. Don't try to bring everything with you, otherwise you would need a herd of yaks to carry it. If you are on commercial trek, the weight limit for personal duffel bags is usually 15kg.

Pocket knife: Swiss -army style is best.

Sewing kit: One small kit. A leather sewing awl is ideal for big repairs.

Duct tape: One small roll for repairs.

Compass: For use with trail description and orientation with maps.

Altimeters: Measures altitude as a function of the barometric pressure.

Gaiters: Good for winter treks or wet trails conditions during monsoon.

Insulated booties: Down or fiber-filled, for the colder months.

Umbrella: The lightweight collapsible kind for rain and hot sunshine.

Waterproof ground sheet or poncho: Handy for laying out gear on wet ground.

Cooking pots: Necessary only if you are trekking as an individual.

Utensils: Supplied on commercial treks. Have your own pair of chopsticks if you plan to eat in local restaurants.

Drinking cup: For the butter tea that will be served if you visit a monastery or Tibetan home. Carry it in your daypack.

Nylon cord: 15-20 feet for clothesline.

Toilet paper: Stock up before the trek starts. Always burn it after using.

Butane cigarette lighter: Superior to matches when burning used toilet paper in windy conditions.

Toiletries: Use a stuff sack to hold your toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap dish, dental floss, skin moisturizer, and perhaps a mirror.

Towel: Two small, thin towels are preferable to one thick towel.

Fish light: A headlamp is ideal for camping AA and D batteries are the most common in Tibet and China, but of poor quality. Bring extra alkaline from hoe.

Plastic bags: A few of each size, from sandwich style to strong trash bags.

Sunglasses: Necessary for Tibet's bright, high altitude sunlight. Darker glacier-type glasses with side hoods are necessary in the mountains and after fresh snowfalls.

Sun creams and lip balm: Sun block with a 15SPF rating or higher is recommended. Lip balms prevent burning and chapping.
21. How about the weather in Tibet?

In fact, the Tibetan climate is not as harsh as many people imagine it to be. It is suitable for travel to Tibet from April to the beginning of November, and the best time is August and September. But if you only stay in Lhasa, you can go there anytime of the year.

Sun radiation is extremely strong in Tibet. The sunlight in Lhasa is so intense that the city is called Sunlight City. The thin air can neither block off nor retain heat so that the temperature extremes can be met in daytime and the same night respectively in Tibet.

Most annual rainfall comes in the rainy season that starts from June to September. Usually it rains at night in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo area. The rainfall may block roads and make travel difficult. Those who travel in their own car or on foot should avoid the rainy season.

Here is some more specific information in different areas:

Lhasa - Shigatse - Lhatse - Tingri - Nyalan: Along the Friendship highway is basically in good conditions year around. But from December to February, the thawed road could make some trouble. Try to avoid August - landslide could happen in the rainy season.

Mt. Everest Area: Early May and early October are the best time to visit Mt. Everest. Due to the clear weather, you have great chance to see Mt. Everest's true face (if you are lucky). From December to February, you'd better not to go to this area because it is too cold - except you are real Great Adventure People.

Ali (Mt.Kailash): Even without climate restrictions, this area is already inhospitable. Big rain and snow could make the journey worse. However, for those determined tourists, the appropriate time is May, June, July, September and October.

Eastern Tibet: Don't go to this area in July or August (the rainy season) because the rain could ruin the road, and make terrible landslides. In winter, the road could be frozen.

Northern Tibet: With the average altitude of 4,500m, this area offers very limited time for tourists. Summer (July to August) is the prime time to enjoy the great plain in northern Tibet.


22. What shall I need to pack for the trip in Tibet?


1. Clothing:
What type of clothing you bring depends on which part of Tibet you go. But remember casual attire is the style. Warm clothing is a must to ensure a smooth tour since you are supposed to meet unexpected bad weather as well as temperature extremes in Tibet. Layered clothing which can be easily added or removed is the choice since temperature may vary greatly within a single day. Down coat is necessary for those who would like to go beyond Lhasa and Shigatse to remote areas, the Everest Camp for example. A windbreaker plus a sweater can be just okay if you just walk around Lhasa in summer. During the peak tourism season, frequent rainfall makes waterproof clothing and raincoat a preference. Other recommended clothing includes four or five pairs of cotton or woolen underwear, four or five pairs of woolen socks, long sleeve shirts and T-shirts. Women shall avoid skirts. Comfortable and stout sneaker is also recommended. Bring your mitten or glove and hat also.

2. Daily necessities
A big backpack is not a good choice if you have no intension to trek to remote areas. A belt bag or alike shall be brought for the safety of important certificates and travel documents. Pack maps, money, toilet items, tissues, plastic bags, shaver, flashlight, battery, sewing kit, lighter, knife as well as your camera and films. Better bring a lock with you since some rooms in hotels in remote areas do not have a lock. Candles may be useful in hotels in remote areas. Don't forget to bring some pencils, candies and other little presents for local children and people so you can have a close contact with local people. Tibet's high altitude and the atmosphere allow the sun's solar radiation to strike the earth with unusual intensity. It is very easy to get sun-burnt there. Sunscreen of high sun protection factor, quality sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are good means of protection. Calamine lotion and lip balm is good for mild sun-burnt. Those with fair complexions should bring reflective sunscreen with them. Apply the sunscreen to your nose and lips as well.

3. Food and drink
Bring some food, snacks and water with you in case that you can not find something to eat and drink in remote areas. Take some vitamins also to supplement your diet since supply of vegetables and fruits are not sufficient. First aid kit including aspirin, antibiotics and AMS medication is a good idea.
It's really a lot! You may find many of them in Lhasa however.