TIBET : A BASIC TRAVEL INFO Print

 

Area                                                1.23 million squre k.m                                             

Comparing to the size of U.S.              Slightly larger than Alaska and Texas combined

Borders with                                      India, Bhutan, Nepal & Myanmar

Population                                         3.5 million

Time Zone                                         GMT + 8:00 (Based on Beijing Time)

Religions                                           Tibetan Buddhism

Capital                                              Lhasa

Language                                          Tibetan, Chinese

Passport & Visa Formalities

Travelers must hold valid passport for Tibet, China. 

If you are traveling to Tibet through mainland China, you need to obtain Chinese visa from Chinese Embassy or your nearest Chinese Consulate in U.S., and we Third Eye Travel will help you in getting the Tibet Travel Permit which allows you to travel to Tibet.  The visa has to be valid for the whole period you will be in Tibet, China. You will get the Tibet Travel Permit before you take a flight or train to Tibet in one of the cities in China. If you are arranging the accommodation on your own in China, you must provide us the address and phone number, so we can send you the Tibet Travel Permit, which you need at the time of check in for the flight/train to Tibet.

If you need a help in applying for the visa, Click Visa Agent.

If you are traveling to Tibet through Nepal, you must obtain the visa through a travel agent in Kathmandu. We will  help you in getting it in Kathmandu, if you have booked a tour  with us. This visa remains valid also in other places in Chins. So, you must provide total duration of your trip including mainland China, if you are arranging China trip by yourself. 

Weather & Clothing

April to October is the best time to visit Tibet.  Although southern Tibet is pleasant during May through October, most rainfall also comes during this season between June and September.  However, during this season, the scenery is at its best. Hence, it is the preferred time to visit Lhasa, Shigatse, and Nyingchi. From November through May, strong winds are common occurrences.

Below is a list of recommended clothing and equipment that clients should plan on bringing with them to Tibet. This is an indicative list and personal choices and preferences will obviously dictate the quantity of each item that you can carry along.

Cotton Shirts 2 — 4
Woolen Shirt 2
Shorts 1 pair
Trousers 2 pairs
Woolen Trousers 2 pairs
Sweater light and Heavy I each
Hat (Stetsons are best)
Sun Glasses
Warm socks 4 — 5 pairs
Day Pack
Thermal Underwear (Nov — Apr.)
Down Jacket ( Nov-Apr)
Wind and Water proof jacket and trousers
Sneaker or tennis shoe
Sandals or slippers (flip-flops)
Flash Light (with batteries)

Health & Immunization

You should consult with their physicians about potential medical hazards involved in travel to Tibet.

Meningitis vaccine is recommended for all trekkers, travelers to Tibet and visi¬tors to remote areas. This is a single injection that is effective and long lasting.Gamma Globulin is recommended for trekkers and travelers to Tibet as a protection against hepatitis.Water Borne Diseases All visitors to Tibet are strictly to be advised not to drink tap water and unwashed vegetables and fruit in raw form. Untreated water, uncooked vegetables and fruits can cause hepatitis and gastrointestinal diseases. Food at local restaurants should be consumed cautiously and only when you have no doubts about its purity. You must carry your own water bottle and iodine tablets if you are travelling to remote areas.

The Centers for Disease Control provides an International Traveler’s Hotline offering recorded messages or faxes on current health risks. Call 877 394 8747 or visit cdc.gov/china  for suggested immunizations and food/ water precautions For other health-related inquiries, call 404 639 3534 (8 a.m. 4:30 pm EST).

Acute Mountain Sickness

AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)  is common at the high altitude due the less availability of the oxygen. AMS consists of headache plus other symptoms in different degree, such as nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, or tiredness. These symptoms may occur at the altitude of 8000 ft or above. 

Most people will experience one or more AMS symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet. The symptoms will usually gradually decrease in severity during acclimatization. Mild AMS usually will not interfere with mild activity.However AMS can be very serious, with the most serious symptoms being High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), which can be fatal. Symptoms of HAPE include weakness, shortness of breath, even at rest, impending suffocation at night, and a persistent productive cough with white, watery, or frothy fluid. Symptoms of HPCE may include headache, ataxia, weakness, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, coma and loss of memory. Both approach and strike at night and can be fatal! Immediate descent is the surest treatment.

Before visiting Tibet, get as fit and healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically. Do not get nervous about the high altitude.  Visitors having record of heart, lung, other organ problems or anemia should consult their doctor before making the decision to visit Tibet.AMS can be lessened or avoided with proper acclimatization, which will also ease and reduce AMS symptoms. A gradual ascent will allow your body to acclimatize to higher altitudes and the decreased oxygen supply. Go no higher 300 - 400 hundred meters (984 - 1,312 feet) daily and have a rest after each 1,000 meter (3280 feet) ascent. Medication also helps to prevent AMS. Ask your doctor, before you leave for Tibet. Mild AMS symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication does not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to safe altitude!

The following precautions may help to prevent or lessen the effects of AMS:

1. Since fluid loss usually accompanies the acclimatization process, drink plenty of fluids (3 - 4 liters daily at least) and eat carbohydrate food to keep the body properly hydrated;

2. Do not over exert. On take part in light activity immediate after your arrival;

3. Don't smoke, drink alcohol or take other depressants such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These will depress the respiratory drive and limit oxygen intake. Always keep in mind the following rules which will ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip to Tibet:

4. Any sickness at high altitude is AMS until proven otherwise; • Never go higher with symptoms of AMS;

5. It is significant that you report any symptoms of AMS immediately to the guide.

Customs & Declarations

All baggage is subject to search upon arrival at Lhasa airport or at border crossings. The criminal laws prevalent in Tibet are the same as those in China. Traf­ficking in illegal substances like narcotics and psychotropic substances carries heavy sentences, including the death penalty.


Reasonable amounts of duty free items are allowed including liquor, ciga­rettes and perfumes and you can legally bring in or take out only 6000 yuan in Chinese currency. there are no such restrictions on foreign currency except that you should declare any cash amount  exceeding usd 5000(or its equivalent in other currencies).it is illegal to import any printed material, film, types and other detrimental to china’s politics, economy, culture and ethics. this is a particularly sensitive subject in Tibet which could cause a problem.

Money, Credit Cards & ATM

The currency in use in Tibet is the Chinese Renminbi Yuan, which can be exchanged either at the hotels or banks against most major foreign currencies.

The credit cards are accepted in major hotels, restaurants and department stores in big cities. ATMs are available in big cities only like Lhasa and Xigatse. Carrying some U.S. cash comes always handy.

Culture & Etiquette

The Tibetans have a very deep seated respect of their religion and are de­vout people, on the whole. While entering Monasteries one should take off one’s shoes and any circumambulating should be done clock-wise keeping the monument or altar to your right.

In Tibetan homes, one should usu­ally enter without shoes. If one is invited into the kitchen it is customary to remove shoes before entering and wait to be asked to sit down. The position on the right of the fire is usually reserved for the head of the family.

The Government does not appreci­ate visitors taking part in political discus­sions or debates. It is best to keep your opinions to yourself even if your comment is solicited. Concepts of Freedom of Ex­pression and Human Rights differ from those which you are used to at home.

Miscellaneous

When you arrive at the airport or border

When you arrive in Lhasa or mainland China, someone from our local supplier will meet you at the airport who will be displaying your name. You will be then transferred to your to hotel.  In case,  because of earlier or delayed flight, if you do not  see anybody to pick you up, then give a call to the local tour operator listed on the “Local Operator’s Contact Detail” which is in the information package you have received from us before you left U.S.

Telephone, Email, Wifi

You can make a direct call from Lhasa U.S. through a telephone line. It is also possible to call international from various other places in Tibet. Telecom in Tibet has developed significantly. There are several cyber cafes in and around Lhasa for emailing.Some of the hotels, restaurants have Wifi free of charge. 

If you have roaming service in your phone, it may work in Tibet and other parts of China. You may also buy a local sim card and use with your cell phone, if it's GSM unlocked set.

Shopping

There are now quite a few Chinese run Supermarkets in Lhasa. The quality of the goods, however, may leave much to be desired for. However, the area around the Jokhang has large number of shops and hawkers selling traditional Tibetan product and curios. Tibetan hand knotted carpets and rugs can be bought at the factory.

If you are thinking of purchasing any products, which you cannot carry with you, then think twice before you purchase it. The salesman or guide may tell you that they would pay the shipping charges to your address.  However, besides the shipping charge, you must understand that there are other charges involved at your end, which they may not be aware of, such as destination charges, custom clearance fees, warehouse fees and other fees. By the time, the product reaches your home; the chance is high that you will also receive a bill for all the other charges, which might be higher than the cost of product itself. So, unless you are very sure about these charges, shipping anything home is not suggested. 

Electricity

The electricity in Lhasa is 220 volts at 50 cycles.

Eating Out

Lhasa does have quite a few restaurants. However, most of them cater to the local population and the Chinese living in Lhasa. There are some places around the old city, by the Jokhang which serve western style food and which are frequented mostly by tourists. Ask your local guide about these restaurants.

Some of these Chinese Restaurant are quite good and serve authentic Chinese food. However, Language can be a bit of a problem therefore the assistance of local guide should be sought if such a visit is contemplated.

Tipping

The same rules apply about tipping as elsewhere. Roughly 10% of bills at restaurants.

Your driver and guide also expect a tip at the end of the tour.  Expected tipping between 2-5 people is $ 10 per day to Tour Guide and $ 8 to driver, in the group of 5-10 people is $ 15 per day to guide and $ 12 to driver, in the group above 10 people is $ 20 per day to the guide  and $ 18 per day to driver. The tips can be more or less depending on the services you get from them and number of people in the group.