Tibet Guide & Travel Advice
A trip to Tibet is more of an adventurous and spiritual for those who believe Tibet as a Power Place. Due to its high altitude, those travelers with a history of heart, lung or anemic problems should consult their doctor before considering a visit.
It’s most important that visitors should understand that Tibet was only opened to tourism since the mid eighties and you should be ready for a bit of adventure regarding hotel accommodation and other services especially en-route.
Taking photographs is prohibited in sensitive areas like in Check Posts/Army Areas. There is an extra charge if you wish to take photographs inside Monasteries. Sometimes, monasteries charge extra for each different section of the same monastery. If you want to take a photograph of an individual please ask him or her first.
2. Overland Transport
We use Land Cruiser (New Model), van, mini bus, coaster and deluxe coaches as necessary. All vehicles are air-conditioned. Driver usually does not speak English but they are very experienced and friendly.
3. Flight: Air China and Sichuan air are the only airlines that fly between Kathmandu and Lhasa. This is the only airline in the world that flies over the Mt. Everest. Make sure your take a left hand seat while flying to Lhasa and vice versa to view the majestic Himalayas including Everest and other highest mountain on Earth.
4. Toilet En-Route
Cleanliness and hygiene is an issue in Tibet specially during traveling. Toilet en-route Zhangmu to Lhasa during drive is a problem for ladies. You will require going to toilet often due to required consumption of water. During long drive it is best to use an open air toilet rather than using common toilet. Guide will stop the vehicle in suitable non inhabited area. We also suggest to use clean toilet wherever is possible while stopping for a meal or tea break during long drive.
Tibetan and Chinese are highly spoken in Tibet Autonomous region. In remote areas more majority speaks Tibetan Language. There are different Tibetan dialogues used.
All BATE Guide speaks good English and the star hotel staff speaks English. But, staff of guest houses or small hotels speaks only local language. It`s always handy to take phrase book.
Traditional meal of Tibetan is Tsampa (roasted Barley flour) and butter tea. There are not so many choices of restaurant in small towns. However, there are many Tibetan, Chinese and continental restaurants in big cities such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Tsedang. Mostly you get yak meat, sheep meat sometime pork.
7. Exchange Rate, ATM and Credit Card
The exchange rate of – approx. US$1 = Yuan 6. Banks in Tibet/China are closed on Saturday and Sunday. Regarding the budget for your tour, it is entirely up to you how much you want to spend with shopping etc. However, we advise you to carry at least US$150 per person for a week. Major currencies such as US Dollar, Euro, UK sterling can be exchanged at the Bank of China branches in Kerong / Zhangmu, Shigatse and Lhasa. There are ATM Machines in Lhasa and Shigatse. Big stores, restaurants and hotels accept major credit cards.
8. Communication from Tibet
Nowadays there are WiFi facilities in most of the hotels and restaurants in major cities and you can make international calls from most of the hotels.
220 volt. We advise you to carry universal multi plug.
10. Passport Size Photographs
It is always good to carry some passport size photographs in case it is needed.
11. Acclimatization & Altitude Sickness:
Due to the very high altitude – over 12,000 ft, acclimatization is very important. You may be likely to experience some of the minor symptoms and discomfort of altitude sickness (headaches, mild nauseas, loss of appetite) until your body adjusts to the elevation. This can take from a few hours to a couple of days depending on the individual. Do not exert yourself and drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids. It is very important to drink at least 4-5 liters of liquids daily to avoid any altitude sickness. This is probably the best remedy for AMS.
Do not forget – the common effects of altitude such as:
- You may feel breathlessness on exertion; some headache is treatable by aspirin.
- May be some difficulty sleeping and a little loss of appetite.
- You might also wake up suddenly at night trying to catch your breath. Do not panic! Your metabolism has simply slowed down.
- You may also experience an exaggerated thumping headache, which will not go away, breathless even at rest, extreme nausea.
- The lack of oxygen in the system will first affect either the brain (HACE – Height Altitude Cerebral Edema) causing loss of physical and mental coordination OR the lungs (HAPE – Height Altitude Pulmonary Edema), coughing up persistent sputum or both.
- Do not drink any alcohol specially. It seriously impairs the ability to acclimatize, and confuses the symptoms of AMS.
12. The following medication has been found to be helpful
Diamox the common name for Acetazolamide originally developed as a diuretic, but pragmatically found to aid acclimatization available in Kathmandu pharmacies. Some people feel it is ‘cheating’, but as trekking at altitude is not a competition and you are here to enjoy it to altitude, not just mask the symptoms. It will make you pee more as intended, and possibly give you a tingly feeling in your fingers, but is understood to have no more serious side effects. Taking it is entirely down to personal choice, but if you do decide to use it as a preventative we have found that a half a 250 mg tablet works just as well as a whole one and minimizes the side effects. There is an herbal medicine for acclimatization easily available in Lhasa called Plato.
13. Oxygen Cylinder
We provide reserve oxygen cylinder in our private tours.
The length of time of drive everyday may vary from 3 hours to 8 hours including lunch, tea break depending upon the condition of the road. You will notice continuous construction of road in many places.
There are speed limits rules in major roads and highway and it is very strictly monitored. There are many check points en-route specially while driving outside Lhasa.
15. Political Situation:
The political situation in Tibet is highly sensitive. You would be well advised not to discuss, take or talk anything of political with the local people that may aggravate the situation. Confine yourself to the interests of the tour.
All BATE Guides are Tibetan and they are fully registered with Guide license. Without License it is strictly illegal to guide and can be heavily fined. Role of Guide is considered the most important factor to ensure quality services. Tourism is still considered new to Tibet compare to many Asian countries, so Guide in Tibet do not get enough exposure, Tibetan Guides have limited English and you may not expect a fluent explanation about culture and religion or any other academic topics. However, Guide will try to do best to their capacity. Your frequent questioning will encourage him/her.