Climate of Tibet:
1. How’s the climate in Tibet? Is it hot in summer? Is it very cold in winter?
Tibet is in a high plateau, and it belongs to typical downy special climate. Climates are quite different in different areas of Tibet. The eastern Tibet which is at a lower elevation is warmer than western Tibet. In some mountain areas, there are four seasons at the same time in different altitude. The weather in a day varies greatly, too. The night is cold while the day is warm. It spans 12-15 degrees centigrade in a single day.
Climate in southeastern Tibet including Nyingchi and Chamdo is balmy with an average temperature of eight degrees centigrade; while in western Tibet (Shigatse and Nagqu) is quite cold with an average temperature below zero degree.
However in the central area of Tibet, the climate of Lhasa and Tsedang is more favorable for traveling. Travelers can visit these two areas all year around, not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter.
2. How is the road condition in rainy season in Tibet? Need I take any rainproof with me?
The rainy season in Tibet is mainly from June to August and it does have a very bad impact on the roads. However, there are many track maintenance workers and local army would also give help to restore the roads. Generally speaking, it only takes a few hours to make the roads feasible again. As for the rainproof, you are suggested to take raincoat, rain-proof trousers and shoes if you want to trek, climb the mountain or ride a bike. If you have group tours organized by some travel agencies, usually you don’t need to take rainproof with you, because Tibet often rains at night and the weather is quite good in the daytime. Besides, the tourist bus is always along with you.
3. What is the best time to travel to Tibet?
Generally speaking, early April is the beginning of travel season, which lasts to mid-June when a large number of Chinese travelers rush to Tibet for summer holiday. Late June to the end of National Holiday is the peak travel season when some important festivals held in Tibet, like Shoton Festival, Gyantse Dawa Festival and Nagqu horse riding Festival. After mid October, Tibet turns to winter and as the visitors reduce greatly, more than half of hotels are closed for the poor reservation.
As for the best time to travel, it depends on your travel requirement.
1. If you want an extremely cheap price, go to Tibet in winter, from December to next March. All the things are quite cheap; even the tourist sites offer 30-50% discount on entrance fee. Hotels are cheap, too. You can enjoy 5 star hotels with less than 100USD including breakfast. Compared with traveling in August, the cost of a winter tour is only 50%-60% of a summer tour. Because of the poor amount of visitors, the Potala Palace allows you to spend even a whole day in it. Besides, the monks are not busy and have spare time to chat with you.
2. If you like trekking, do it at May or September when the monsoon will never bother you and the weather is balmy and pleasant.
3. If you love Mt.Everest and want to see the clear face of it, try to avoid the rainfall season and foggy weather.
4. If you love to visit the grass land in north Tibet, do the tour in July when the flowers bloom in vast grassland and groups of yak and sheep, Tibetan nomad tents spread all over the grassland.
5. Those who want to drive to Tibet through Sichuan-Tibet highway should avoid the rainy season. There will be mudslides, cave-ins and mire on certain sections of the road, blocking the passage of vehicles.
About high altitude sickness
1. What is high altitude sickness? What’s the symptom of high altitude sickness?
High altitude sickness may occur at high altitudes (over 2700m) due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. It usually occurs following a rapid ascent and can usually be prevented by ascending slowly. Symptoms often manifest themselves six to ten hours after ascent and generally subside in one to two days, but they occasionally develop into the more serious conditions. Common symptoms of high altitude sickness include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance.
2. How to avoid or relieve high altitude sickness?
Keep a good mood, don’t be too excited or be too worried about high altitude sickness. Before visiting Tibet, get as healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically.
Take care of yourself and avoid catching cold before going to Tibet, and not to take shower at the first two days after you are in Lhasa to avoid being cold, or you will easily suffer from altitude sickness under weak physical condition.
Do not drink any alcohol on the first two days when you are in Tibet. Drink plenty of water and eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy.
Do not run, jump or do some taxing jobs at the first two days. Being peaceful and having a good rest are important.
Once you have the symptoms of altitude sickness, take some medicine (it is said that it’s helpful to have some butter tea if you can adapt to the flavor of it) and don’t go higher. Medication and oxygen also help to prevent altitude sickness. Mild altitude sickness symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication and oxygen do not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to a safe altitude!
Oxygen can help you relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness, but do not use it too often in Lhasa while your symptoms of altitude sickness are not serious. If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you should go to the nearest hospital available in the area.
In addition to the normal medications for traveling it is advisable to bring high altitude medication. Seek suggestions from your doctor.
Tell your tour guide quickly if you don’t feel well and follow the guide’s advice.
3. What should I do if I have high altitude sickness after arriving in Tibet?
There are hospitals in many large cities in Tibet. You may adapt to mild high altitude sickness by yourself slowly and you may go to hospital if it is serious. After you have already had high altitude sickness, you should rest well, do not move too much, keep eating, drink some water with black sugar or take some medicine. If the high altitude sickness is pretty severe, you should go to hospital, or descend to some lower places, or leave Lhasa immediately. High altitude sickness shall disappear after you descend to certain altitude and it has no sequel symptoms.
4. Is high altitude sickness more serious if going to Tibet by plane than by train?
Exactly, but both means have their advantages and disadvantages. You are more likely to have high altitude sickness because you don’t have enough time to adapt to the plateau environment gradually if you go by plane. The altitude change is directly from several hundreds meters to more than 3000 meters. While, if you go to Tibet by train, you can adapt your body to the high plateau environment slowly and gradually. Then, you may relieve or avoid high altitude sickness.
5. People with what kind of diseases can not go to Tibet? Do I need physical practice before travelling to Tibet?
People with the following diseases can not travel to Tibet:
People with all kinds of organic heart diseases, severe arrhythmia or resting heart rate over 100per minute, high blood pressure II or above, all kinds of blood diseases and cranial vascular diseases.
People with chronic respiratory system diseases, medium degree of obstructive pulmonary diseases or above, such as bronchus expansion, emphysema and so on.
People with diabetes mellitus which is not controlled properly, hysteria, epilepsia and schizophrenia.
People with bad cold, upper respiratory tract infections, and body temperature above 38F or below 38F while the whole body and the respiratory system have obvious symptoms, are not recommended to travel to Tibet until they’re OK.
People who were diagnosed to have high altitude pulmonary edema, high altitude cerebral edema, high altitude hypertension with obvious increase of blood pressure, high altitude heart diseases and high altitude polycythemia.
High risk pregnant women.
If you are not sure about your body condition, you may have a physical examination. But you are not supposed to do more exercise before going to Tibet, for exercising will give more burdens to your heart and you’ll need more oxygen, which may easily cause high altitude sickness.
6. Why can not people with cold go to Tibet? What should I do if I catch a cold in Tibet?
Your immune system shall be weak if you catch a cold and you may suffer high altitude sickness easily because of it. Besides, severe cold may easily turn to some more serious high altitude diseases, especially pulmonary edema, which is very dangerous. So you are not supposed to travel to Tibet before you get rid of a cold.
While, if you catch a cold in Tibet, things might not be so serious, because your body has already, to some extent, adapt to the plateau environment and you can go to a doctor and take some medicine
Permits & certificates
1. Are there any limitations or restrictions imposed on foreigners to travel to Tibet? How about overseas Chinese, Taiwan Compatriots and Hong Kong and Macao compatriots? How to handle it and how long does it take?
There are some special requirements for foreign travelers to Tibet. Firstly, foreign tourists to Tibet must be organized by travel agencies, with confirmed routes. Secondly, a Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau is indispensable. The Tibet Travel Permit must be obtained before they head to Tibet. What’s more, foreigners are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet by their own, even with the travel permit. They must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide. Tibet travel permit is also required from overseas Chinese and Taiwan Compatriots, while Hong Kong and Macao compatriots can travel to Tibet like other Chinese citizen with valid Home Return Permit. Foreigners, overseas Chinese and Taiwan compatriots can apply for Tibet travel permit from Tibet tourism bureau or certain qualified travel agencies with valid passport (copies), visa (copies) and job certificate. Usually, it can be obtained in one week and 2 to 3 days if you are in urgent need.
2. What is Tibet Entry Permit? How to get a Tibet Entry Permit and what documents are required to get it?
Tibet Entry Permit, also known as Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) Permit or Tibet Visa, is the basic document for foreign travellers to enter into Tibet. No foreign visitor can visit Tibet without holding the Tibet Entry Permit in their hands. Foreign tourists are required to show both their Chinese Visa and Tibet Entry Permit when they change for the boarding passes of flying to Tibet or board trains to Tibet.
Tibet Entry Permit is officially issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau, in purpose of restricting the numbers of foreign visitors. With this permit, foreigner tourists can travel in Lhasa region including Lhasa city, Yamdrok Lake, Ganden, Tsurphu, Namtso, Drigung Til and Reting.
Tibet Entry Permit is not available for independent travelers. Foreign travellers have to travel in tour group and ask legitimate travel agency to apply Tibet tour for you.
You can get Tibet entry permit (TTB permit) by sending certain qualified travel agency the first page of your valid passport and a copy of your Chinese visa by fax or by email, and state clearly your occupations (Foreign journalists and diplomats are not allowed to go to Tibet as a tourist). If you are Taiwan Compatriots, send us the copies of your MTP-Mainland Travel Permits or called Taiwan Compatriot Entry Permit/travel document (commonly known as “Tai Bao Zheng”), and tell us your occupations.
If you are the citizens of Hong Kong and Macau SAR, China Re-entry Permit for Hong Kong & Macau Compatriots is enough to travel in Tibet. You are not required to apply for the Tibet Permit.
Pay attention: If you are planning to travel to places officially closed to foreigners in Tibet, an Alien’s Travel Permit is required.
3. What is Alien’s Travel Permit?
Except Tibet Entry Permit, an Alien’s Travel Permit is required if you are planning to travel to places officially closed to foreigners in Tibet, such as Mt. Everest, Rongbuk Monastery, Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasorovar. Alien’s Travel Permit is not needed for places in Lhasa region, towns of Shigatse and Tsetang, or nonstop travel on Friendship Highway.
Alliens’ Travel Permit is required to visit ‘unopened’ areas. Which is issued by the police (Public Security Bureau, “PSB”). Usually you can apply for it once you arrive at Lhasa. For tour groups, our guide will ask you for the passport and TTB permit and submit it to the Foreign Affairs Section of PSB for the Travel Permit. It normally takes several hours and the cost is 50 CNY/person. If you are an individual traveler, you need to join local tours to ‘unopen’ areas, and the local travel agencies will arrange the PSB for you as well. Pay attention, there is no travel agency can provide ‘PSB permit-only’ service.
Notice: If you want to do a Tibet overland tour from Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai or Xinjiang province to Tibet, you must got the PSB permit before your tour starts.
4. Which parts of Tibet are listed as the closed areas?
At present, you have to apply for a Travel Permit if you are planning to visit the following places:Tsedang: Samye Monastery, Tomb of Tibetan King, Trundruk Monastery, YumbulakhangShigatse: Sakya Monastery, Mt. Everest, Rongbuk MonasteryGyangtse: Pelkor Chode Monastery & Kubum StupaNgari Region: Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Tsaparang, Years, etc. Nyingchi Region: Basum-tso, Pomi, Rawo-tso, etc.Chamdo Region: Chamdo, Riwoche, Tengchen, etc.
5. Are there any other certificates and permits may be required in Tibet?
Except Tibet Entry Permit, Alien’s Travel Permit, there are Military Permit, Foreign-affairs permit and other permits which may be required when traveling in Tibet.
Sensitive border are as such as Mt Kailash and eastern Tibet also require a military permit and a foreign-affairs permit. For Tholing and Tsaparang in western Tibet you will also need a permit from the local Cultural Antiquities Department. All these will be arranged by our travel agency one month before you enter Tibet. The Military Permit is issued by troop while the Foreign-affair’s permit is issued by Foreign affairs office in Lhasa. It normally takes 10-15 working days to get them all.
6. How to deal with the visa from Tibet to Nepal? Can I apply for Nepal visa in Lhasa? Is it fast? Shall I be denied?
Nepal has two embassies in China: one is in Beijing and the other is in Lhasa. It is easier and more convenient to handle the Nepal visa in Lhasa as long as you conform to the certain procedures. And there are seldom any cases of denial. But the visa officers don’t work at regular time, so you are recommended to stay several more days in Lhasa to apply for Nepal visa and it is more secured if you handle the visa first after you arrive in Lhasa. The general consulate of Nepal is in Lhasa, near the Norbulinka Park. Normally you can get the visa in the afternoon of the next working day if you submit the application and necessary documents in the morning of the first day. The time to submit document is from 10am to 12am, Monday to Friday. So, you need plan a couple of days in Lhasa to wait the visa. The time to get visa is usually at 4pm, once you get the visa, you can fly to Kathmandu or set out to Zhangmu border by cars or by bus.
To apply for Nepal visa in Lhasa, you need prepare the original passport, 2 passport size copies and complete a form. Your passport must be valid at least for the next 6 months. There are three kinds of visas according to period you plan to stay in Neal, the 15 days, 30 days and the 3 months. If you are going to stay more than 15 days in Nepal, it is better to get the visa in Lhasa, as the border office issued 15 days visa only and it is relatively expensive to extend the visa in Kathmandu or Gorkaha.
You can also get Nepal visa at the border. Not far away from the Friendship Bridge, you can get the arrival visa of 15 days stay at the border office with 25 USD. You need prepare a passport size photo and complete a form as well.
What to Pack:
1. What drugs to take when traveling to Tibet?
In the first few days after arrival in Tibet, you may experience some degree of altitude reaction. Colds, insomnia and digestive disorders are common. Take an adequate supply of any prescription medication you use regularly, including medicine for cold, headache, stomachache, and insect bite, diarrhea and so on, like the Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Antibiotics, throat lozenges, nasal decongestant and vitamins etc. Most over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and anti-diarrheal pills, are available in Lhasa, but are more difficult to obtain outside of urban areas. It is advisable to take anti-altitude sickness drugs to cope with oxygen deficiency. Bring diamox pills which are believed to be able to prevent the altitude sickness effectively. Please consult your doctor prior to your travel to Tibet.
2. What food to take when travelling to Tibet?You may take some chocolate, dried beef, hot pickled mustard tuber, biscuit and other food and snacks you like. You’d better take food with high calorie. You may also take some gum with you, which may help relieve the symptom of syrigmus and headache. When traveling to remote areas of Tibet it is a good idea to pack some food, snacks, and drinking water. It is not always easy to find food or drinkable water in these areas. Water purification equipment, such as hand pump filters, is not necessary, as bottled mineral water and thermoses of boiled water are available everywhere throughout Tibet. Water purification tablets can be useful during trekking. It is a good idea to take a good quality multivitamin to supplement your diet since a supply of vegetables and fruits may not be readily available.
3. The necessary commodities you should take when traveling to Tibet Necessities: sunglasses, hat, sun cream, skin cream, lipstick, long sleeve clothes, sweaters, Passport, visa, money, credit card, camera, film, batteries, toiletries, cosmetics, knife, watch, day bag-pack, big travel bags (soft luggage), water bottle, journal, reading book, writing materials, binoculars, family pictures and snack foods.
4. What kind of clothes and shoes should be taken when traveling to Tibet?
The temperatures change greatly on the altiplano. In the north part of Tibet, people wear thick coats all year round (including July and August which are the hottest months in most of the areas in China). The highest temperature is 4-5 degrees centigrade in northern Tibet. It also snows in July and August.
The temperature difference in a single day is big. In Lhasa, the temperature in July arrives at 30 degrees centigrade at daytime, but falls to 10 degrees centigrade at night. Sometimes it will snow or sleet at night, so you’d better take some down garments (those with hats will better), woolen sweaters, warm gloves, warm and wind-proof shoes and socks. Wearing several layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed is the wise choice since temperatures may vary greatly within a single day.
Most hotels in Tibet have no central heating. The air-conditioners in single rooms do not work well in the cold night. In winter, from November to next March, of course you need bring down jackets, warm sweaters, gloves, warm pants, woolen hats. It is very cold in the morning and evening. In summer, wearing a T-shirt in day time but the Jacket is necessary at hotel in the morning and evening.
During the peak tourism season, April, May, September and October, you need to prepare T-shirts, overcoats and jeans, warm sweaters. Besides, frequent rainfall in this season makes waterproof clothing and raingear absolute necessities.
Even in summer, a down coat is necessary for those who are traveling beyond Lhasa and Shigatse into more remote areas such as the Everest Camp. A windbreaker plus a sweater will work nicely for strolling around Lhasa in summer.
Other essentials to pack include four or five pairs of cotton or woolen underwear, four or five pairs of woolen socks, long sleeve cotton or lightweight wool shirts and T-shirts. Women should avoid skirts or dresses.
Also, whenever you visit Tibet, if your plan includes overnight at Everest Base Camp or Namtso Lake, or a several days outdoor trek in mountain area, to keep warm is very important. The winter clothes are a must. However, you do not need to worry too much about clothing, you can buy any kind of clothes you need in Lhasa and clothes is quite cheap.
It is very important to have a strong comfortable pair of boots, especially your travel covers remote area and you have to walk for a long distance. For example, if your travel reaches Everest Base Camp, you need to cover 8 km from Rongpuk Monastery to EBC and back. Lightweight boots are fine, but Tibet can be wet and we will do extensive walking, so make sure your shoes fit well and are suitable for cold and puddles. You should also have a pair of comfortable and tough sandals.
5. What certificates and documents should I take with me when I travel to Tibet?
Of course you should take your passport, China visa and Tibet travel permit with you. Or you won’t be allowed not even to get on the plane or the train.
There are overall four documents required for foreign tourists who want to travel freely in Tibet:
Chinese Visa – you can apply for in Chinese Embassy in your country;
Tibet Entry Permit – It is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau and is a must for foreigners entering Tibet;
Travel Permit: It is required when you are planning to travel to the closed areas in Tibet, and you can obtain it after you arrive in Tibet
Military Permit – you have to obtain if you are planning to travel to some military sensitive areas.