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Tibet Travel FAQs -- Before Travel to Tibet

1. General Information

Question: When is the best time to go to Tibet?

Answer: It is recommended that one visits the region around May to July, and September to October. Lhasa, Tsetang and Shigatse are suitable for sightseeing tours all-year round. The harsh climate makes it unsuitable to visit the Everest Base Camp area from October to April. During winter, roads might be blocked by heavy snow in east Tibet and Ngari. While in August, heavy rainfall makes visit in those areas very difficult.

Question: What should I bring when visiting Tibet?

Answer: Besides the detailed information given on what to pack, we suggest you bring some fresh fruit for your consumption as upon arrival, you might lose your appetite and this might be the only food you would like to eat.

Question: Can you tell me how frequent are your tours in Tibet?

Answer: You may start anytime at your convenience if you choose our private tours as long as the flight schedule matches your plan. Please contact us if you want to join our group tours.

Question: What is the best way to visit Tibet? Join a pre-packaged tour or do-it-yourself?

Answer: Independent travel is prohibited in that region. You have to join an organized group or have a private tour arranged by a tour agency.

Question: What currencies can be used in Tibet? Can I use credit card and ATM cards?

Answer: Besides Chinese Yuan, only US dollars can be accepted. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China.

2. Enter Tibet from Other Countries

Question: Can I fly into Lhasa from Kathmandu?

Answer: Yes, you can. However, the flight flying between Kathmandu and Lhasa is not available daily. Also, you need to consider the following information before you opt to fly from Kathmandu.

You need to secure a Travel Confirmation Letter and a Tibet Travel Permit from a reliable Chinese tour agency that arranges Tibet tours.

You need a reliable agency in Kathmandu who will apply for a China Visa for you.

The Consular Section of Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu is only open for visa application in the morning of every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, except holidays. You are advised to arrive 3 days before your departure to Tibet.

If you have been issued a China Visa prior to your arrival in Kathmandu, the visa will be cancelled and will be replaced with a visa granted by the Consular Section of the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. This will be a paper-visa instead of a visa attached to a page on your passport.

NOTE: if the people in your group will leave China separately, it will be a better option to apply for an individual visa rather than a group visa.

Further Reading:
 China Embassies Abroad
 Foreign Embassies and Consulates in China

Question: How do I get to Lhasa from Bangkok or other international cities?

Answer: At present there is no flight operating between foreign cities and Lhasa other than Kathmandu. People can not go to Lhasa from Bangkok. They will need to go to a certain city in mainland China, like Chengdu, Beijing and Guangzhou or go to Kathmandu to take a flight to Lhasa.

3. Safety and Mountain Sickness

Question: Is it safe to travel in winter time, especially from Tibet to Kathmandu (my port of exit)?

Answer: The Chinese-Nepal Highway is often blocked by heavy snow during winter. Therefore, it is not safe to go along this route.

Question: Is it advisable for me to bring a sleeping bag because the sheets/blankets in the hotels may not be clean?

Answer: In 3- or 4-star hotels in cities and towns like Lhasa, Tsetang, Shigatse and Gyangtse, you do not need to worry about sanitation. Though, it is a fact that the visit to Tibet is a bit hard. But if you are going to remote areas like the Everest, it is best to bring a sleeping bag to ensure that you have a nice sleep en route.

Question: Are the streets in Tibet safe?

Answer: Generally, it is quiet safe. Almost all Tibetans are devout Buddhists who believe good deeds will accumulate merit in their next lives; crimes are rare. But visitors need pay attention to dogs that are free to move everywhere.

Question: What medicines should I bring?

Answer: We suggest that you take some pain-killer pills with you and enough medicine for colds, diarrhea, nausea and fever. Some nasal ointment and throat-moistening pills will greatly be of help for those who are sensitive to chilly or freezing weather conditions. Please consult your doctor prior to your journey.

Question: I have a cold, but my visit to Lhasa starts tomorrow. Can I join it as scheduled?

Answer: We suggest that you postpone your visit and not take such a risk. People with respiratory problems will have great difficulties to recover from cold. The chilly weather might cause pulmonary edema or even death. People who are suffering from colds, heart/cardiac illnesses, severe respiratory problems, hypertension, liver or kidney problems, anemia and other serious health problems are advised not to visit Tibetan plateaus. Visitors suffering from such illness might have a hard time to adapt to the environment which might cause the worsening of their illness.

Question: What could I do to avoid mountain sickness?

Answer: Some visitors will get mountain sickness when on the Tibetan plateau. We have some tips for you:

 Before you go

Seek advice from people who have similar experiences. The most important thing is that you should never be nervous or worried about your trip. Regard the visit to Tibet like a visit to any other cities. You should always be optimistic.

If you have respiratory problems, we advise you to postpone your visit till you are fully recovered.

A thorough physical examination is necessary. If you have problems like anemia or hypertension, or suffer from heart problems and other illness of lungs, liver or kidney, you should not go there.

You need to bring enough water or drinks and fruits. Snacks with high caloric content, like chocolate, will come in handy.

Question: Since we are traveling with kids (around 2-3 years old)and we have been hearing a lot about the high altitude adjustment problems for visitors to Lhasa, do you think we would have any difficulty?

Answer: Age has nothing to do with the occurrence of mountain sickness. Anxiety is the common cause of mountain sickness.You may click the link to have more information on avoiding mountain sickness. Always remember that if you have any problems or feel uncomfortable, you need to tell the guide about this immediately.

More FAQs:
Tibet Travel Permit
When Traveling in Tibet

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