What You Need to Know
This page provides important information to help you plan and prepare for your journey. Please contact us with any questions.
Traveling in Tibet
At the best of times travel in Tibet can be awe-inspiring and will push your perception of the world as you currently know it. Much of rural Tibet is still very rough and wild- and for many, this is the greatest attraction of Tibet. However, we are here to ensure that you have the most comfortable trip possible. Infrastructure has become much more efficient and convenient here in the last few years. Roads are greatly improved and new hotels have been built (some with heating!) but traveling in Tibet still involves a number of special considerations. The standard of service in Tibet cannot be compared to western standards. Food is different and you will have to adjust your expectations. Below are some of the factors that you should bear in mind before, and during, your time in Tibet.
Getting to Tibet
There are two standard entry points into Tibet: one from Nepal and another from mainland China. We can arrange for transit from either place, by flight or over land, but we cannot book international flights. You must make your own international flight arrangements. However, we can look after all logistics once you arrive in either Nepal or China. From China, we can arrange for transfers through Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Kunming, and a number of other cities. We can also arrange sightseeing in some major Chinese cities.
Because of its high altitude, largely remote destinations and semi-arid weather, Tibet presents a unique set of health concerns. You don’t need to worry about malaria or odd strains of para-typhoid here, but you should certainly consider the sun and altitude. We recommend that you visit your doctor or health-care provider well in advance of your departure date to get up to date health information. Our trips our designed so you do not overexert yourself in the first few days, and our guides are experienced and aware of the dangers of altitude sickness. There is preventative and symptomatic medication to help with the minor symptoms of altitude sickness (headaches, nausea) and we recommend that you bring some. We also strongly suggest that you bring sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen – Tibet is not the place to work on your tan.
Being physically prepared for your trip is essential. We recommend you begin a regular exercise program well in advance of your trip, especially if you live at a low elevation. Include some day hikes in your regimen, working up to the maximum suggested number of hours for your intended trek. Wear the gear that you plan to take on your trip, so you know you will be comfortable in it. In particular, break in any new equipment (boots and pack, for example) before you go. Even if you don’t plan to go on extended treks, regular exercise will help protect you from altitude sickness.
If you are planning to take more challenging treks, you should have a high level of physical fitness. You should be engaged in regular aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling, running, or hiking while carrying a load on your back. Stamina is key, both physical and mental. Remember that altitude is a significant factor and a slow but steady pace is the best way to endure in the mountains.
Travel agencies that are registered with the Tibet Tourism Bureau should have basic business liability insurance. However, it would be wise to obtain your own travel insurance from your home country that may cover trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical evacuation, and medical expenses, etc. In case of a medical emergency in remote places of Tibet, you will most likely be taken to the nearest medical facilities or airport by a car (or Yak Lift!), where you can catch the next flight to a more equipped hospital in Mainland China. If your travel insurance company is not able to send you a rescue helicopter, you’ll want to make sure that you can at least receive reimbursement for all your expenses.
Chinese Visa & Tibet Travel Permits
The visa to enter China can be obtained from a Chinese consulate that has jurisdiction of your residential area. All individuals entering China must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months for a single or double entry visa and at least nine months for a multiple entry visa. There are two ways to apply for your visa: (1) you, a family member, or a friend can go directly to the consulate or (2) you may use a visa service agency.
Tibet Travel Permits (TTP) are required for all travelers wishing to visit open tourist areas of Tibet (TAR) and you will need to show the original document to pass through airports, train or bus stations. Once you have your Chinese visa, you will need to send a copy of your passport and visa to us as we coordinate your trip. We will apply for this permit through the Tibet Tourism Bureau. If you are traveling to Tibetan areas outside of TAR, you will not need Tibet Permit.