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Tour Essentials

Pre-tour Must-Know

Tibet, the land we live in, charming and splendid as it is, though please read the following must-know pre-tour knowledge carefully, because based on Budget Tibet Tour's years of tour operation experience, we believe any kind of Tibet trip, regardless of its arduousness and duration, is worthy of full preparation. Moreover, sharing those considerately chosen pre-tour knowledge with your be-loved or friends who will travel with you will be a nice opportunity to show your deep affection or sincere friendship to him or her.

1. Low Pressure & Oxygen Shortage

The atmospheric pressure decreases as the altitude increases, the same with the oxygen quantity in the air. While the available amount of oxygen to sustain mental and physical alertness decreases above 3,000 meters ,the oxygen quantity in Lhasa (Alt. 3650m) is only 62% of that in Beijing, the number decreases to 49% at the Mt. Everest Base Camp (Alt. 5200m).

Consequently, the symptoms of headache, lightheadedness, short breath, insomnia, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and lassitude may occur individually while you arrive in Tibet. However, there are still a large number of people who are not subject to the high altitude.

Countermeasures:

  • Maintaining a good attitude is very important to you, most of time, the AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is triggered by the fear of the high altitude, and a positive attitude helps reducing the chance of the AMS.
  • Do not carry out visiting activity on the arrival day, take more time to rest and acclimatize. Avoid exercises, such as climbing or running.
  • Prepare some AMS pills according to your doctor's suggestion. Diamonx has been proved useful in preventing the happening of the AMS. Note that Diamonx is not an immediate fix for AMS; it speeds up part of the acclimatization process which in turn helps to relieve symptoms. The only best way shall be descending to lower altitude if symptom is serious.

2. Coldness & Dryness

The temperature decreases as the altitude goes up. The lack of air and thin cloud layer in Tibet makes the temperature difference during the day and night time obvious. Therefore, it is very important to keep warm, avoid hypothermia or catching cold.

Countermeasures:

  • Even in summer time, you should put at least one layered cloth in your backpack in case you need it in night. And in winter time, it is important to bring one down coat if you travel to the EBC.
  • Do not take a shower upon your arrival day even you feel uncomfortable, because showering will put you at great risk of catching cold which is very bad for your acclimatization and stay in Tibet. If you need a shower seriously, do it the on the second or third day according to your acclimatization situation.
  • We suggest you bring a hat; it is your head that impacting the body temperature mostly. You practically need it at some high passes or lake when the wind is strong.

The moisture in the air decreases as well as altitude increases, temperature in Tibet is very dry though it is the origin place of many rivers. Plus, the strong wind there makes the evaporation faster, particularly when you have deep breath or strong exercise. The lack of air moisture and the fast evaporation makes your body dry, particularly your respiratory tract. As a result, you are more easily susceptible to pharyngitis, hacking cough, nose-bleed and cracks to your lips or limbs.

Countermeasures:

  • Every day, you should at least drink a bottle of mineral water to retain sufficient fluid inside your body. If you have tours like trekking, you have to drink a lot.
  • Do bring a lipstick with you or you will have lip cracks soon after your arrival.

3. Long sunshine duration & Strong solar radiation

Due to the thin air and cloud layers, the solar radiation in Tibet may be the strongest in the world. The strong solar radiation and ultraviolet radiation will cause damages to skin, like sunburns, edema, pigmentation and wrinkle increases. The strong ultraviolet radiation will bring about acute injuries to your eyes too if you do not wear a UV protection sunglasses, such injuries includes acute inflammation of the cornea, cataract and snow-blindness.

Countermeasures:

Bring a sun hat, UV protection sunglasses, muffler as well as sun cream. Do not underestimate those small things; they will be of great use then.

Others:

The shortage of oxygen often slows the peristalsis of the stomach and the intestine; reduce the secretion of saliva, gall; consequently, this will bring about loss of appetite and indigestion.

Countermeasures:

  • Do not eat too much food per meal. Have more vegetable and fruits that are rich in vitamins.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquillizers, sleeping pills and opiates. These further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of symptoms.

Altitude Sickness

AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is very common at high altitude. At over 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) 75% of people will have mild symptoms. The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. The symptoms usually start 12 to 24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity around the third day.

The symptoms of Mild AMS include:
Headache
Nausea & Dizziness
Loss of appetite
Fatigue
Shortness of breath
Disturbed sleep
Malaise

Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within two to four days as the body acclimatizes. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate.

Tips to avoid AMS:

  • Maintaining a good attitude is very important to you, most of time, the AMS is triggered by the fear of the high altitude, and a positive attitude helps reducing the chance of the AMS.
  • Do not carry out visiting activity on the arrival day, take more time to rest and acclimatize. Exercises, such as climbing or running, do not do either.
  • Drink more water and eat fruits rich of vitamin, keep warm and do not take shower until you fully acclimatized in case of catching cold which is, actually, the biggest thread to your safety.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquillizers, sleeping pills and opiates. These further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of symptoms.
  • Remember: Acclimatization is inhibited by overexertion, dehydration, and alcohol.
  • Prepare some AMS pills according to your doctor's suggestion.
  • Do exercises to keep you fit before coming to Tibet

Who can't go?

  • Something relating to Tuberculosis, pneumonia, serious tracheitis, bronchitis
  • Serious heart attack, high blood pressure
  • Have already got a serious cold

What to pack

Necessary Documents

  • Do bring your valid passport, Chinese visa as well as maybe some of your certificate photos and other important documents or materials needed for your travel. You will get your Tibet Travel Permit from us while you arrive in China.
  • Make a card with your personal information on, including your full names, nationality, home phone and address, in case you are ever in trouble.
  • Bring your printed itinerary. A guidebook is also helpful for you to know more about your destinations and will save time when traveling.

Sunburn

It is very easy to get sunburn in Tibet. Sunburn can be more than just uncomfortable. Among the undesirable effects are premature skin ageing and possible skin cancer in later years. Sunscreen (UV lotion) with a high sun protection factor (SPF>30), good quality sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are good means of protection. Those with fair complexions should bring reflective sunscreen (containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide) with them. Apply the sunscreen to your nose and lips and note how many hours it works.

Medicines

Following is a list of items you should consider including in your medical kit - consult your pharmacist for brands available in your country.

  • Diamonx, you need it in case AMS happens
  • Insect repellent, sunscreen, lip balm and eye drops.
  • Calamine lotion, sting relief spray or aloe vera-to ease irritation from sunburn and insect bites or stings.
  • Antifungal cream or powder - for fungal skin infections and thrush.
  • Cold and Flu tablets, throat lozenges and nasal decongestant.

Clothes

The clothes you will bring differ seasonally, and also depend on where you will visit very much. For warm weather you'll want lightweight cotton garments - loose-fitting but modest, and covering enough to ward off sun and bugs. Shorts and a swimsuit are worth bringing (especially for rafting). A lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho is advisable at any time of year. For cooler seasons, try to dress in layers: a T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweater or fleece jacket and shell will set you up for almost any weather. Trainers or any sort of durable, lightweight footwear will be adequate for most conditions in West China, even on a trek, though higher up you'll need something sturdier. You'll also need a backup pair of shoes in case those get wet.

People who want to travel in Tibet should know the temperature during daytime is around 10-25°C in Lhasa, but the night temperature might be below 0°C and when visit the lake or mountain, down-jacket is needed. Try to dress in black or other heavy color clothes since the road out of Lhasa may be very dusty and dirty. The following are some we are suggested to bring for your tour in Tibet:

  • Jacket A fiber-pile jacket is ideal for evening.
  • Sweater Sweater with a high neck for better warmth.
  • Shirts A long-sleeve shirt made of wool, flannel, or chamois, or a track-suit top. A long-sleeve stay-preen cotton shirt for warmer temperatures. Bring two or three T-shirts as well.
  • Pants For men, one pair of loose-fitting wool pants, wool knickers, or fiber-pile pants, and one pair of light-weight cotton pants. Women should wear a midcult dress or skirt, though pants and knee-length knickers with socks are also acceptable. Shorts are not appropriate at any time in Tibet for men or women.
  • Binoculars Good for observing birds, wildlife, and distant scenery.
  • Money pouch or belt These are much safer than a wallet for keeping your passport, money, and valuable papers.
  • Pictures from home Personal photographs of your children, pet, city, house, and so on are a great way to communicate with local people.
  • Snack foods Nuts, chocolate bars, granola bars, dried fruit, hard candies, beef jerky, and flavored drink mixes are much-appreciated trail treats.

Dos & Don'ts

When you travel in Tibet, you'd better keep the following local customs and etiquette in mind so that you would not to offend the locals and have a pleasant journey.

  • Unless you are invited as a guest to a tent or house, you are to remember not to step on the threshold of the door. When calling someone, you will add "La" behind his or her name to show respect. When you are asked by the host to take a seat, you should sit cross-legged and don't stretch your legs with your feet pointing to the other. If someone gives you gifts, you should receive with both hands. When presenting gifts to someone, you'll bend your waist and lift up the gifts in both hands over your head to show respect. When you are offering tea, wine and cigarettes to someone, you are to offer them with both hands and don't let your finger into the cup.
  • When the host proposes a toast, the guest should use the tip of his ring finger to dip a little to sprinkle in the air, mid-air and to the ground for three times as a sign of offer to heaven, earth and ancestors. After that, you should take a sip of wine, the host will refill it, you take another sip and your host will refill it the second time. A succession of this action will be repeated for three times till you are asked to bottom up the whole glass.
  • Tibetans don't eat horse, dog and donkey, in some areas not even fish. We should respect their tradition.
  • Don't clap your hand or spit behind Tibetans, for these behaviors will be considered extremely impolite.
  • Drawing out tongues and both palms cupping together are signs of respect.
  • When paying a visit to a temple or a monastery don't smoke inside or touch the images and the religious equipments and don't take pictures inside a temple or monastery. Remember to walk around a temple in clockwise with the exception of Bon monasteries.

  • At encounters of wayside stupas, temples, Mani stone piles etc, you must walk around them in clockwise with the exception of the Bon followers who go anti-clockwise.
  • Vultures are considered holy birds in Tibetan people's hearts so don't drive them away and hurt them. If you see certain yaks or sheep with red, green or yellow ribbons, don't disturb them.
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7 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu Tour via Everest Base Camp