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  • What you need to know when you plan on visiting Tibet pt.2

    Post by : expatree

This week, we wrap up on what else you need to know when you plan on visiting Tibet!

Food and Drinks

The traditional Tibetan diet is mostly limited to barley, meat (mutton or yak) and dairy products, with very few spices or vegetables, although brutally hot chili sauce is often served on the side. Even good Tibetan food is very monotonous with most Tibetan restaurants serving nothing other than thukpa (noodle soup) and tea. Unfortunately there is not a single genuine high standard Tibetan restaurant in Tibet. One would have to go to neighbouring provinces such as Sichuan for such type of restaurant. All Tibetan restaurants in Lhasa featured in guidebooks and frequented by non-Chinese tourists are westernized ones serving a few Tibetan dishes along with pizzas, spaghetti, pancakes, etc.


Traditional plates:

Momos - dumplings filled with meat or vegetables, steamed or fried

Tingmo - bland, nearly tasteless steamed bread

Thukpa - a hearty noodle soup with veggies or meat

Thenthuk - thukpa with handmade noodles

Yak butter tea - salty tea churned with butter, a Tibetan staple and a rather acquired taste for most Westerners 


Tibetan butter tea (pöcha) is a must try, and chang or Tibetan beer made of barley, has a lighter flavor than a western-type, bottled beer, since they do not use bitter hops. It is often home-brewed and with just as strong a taste and strength of variants as the typical industrial beer.


We highly recommend tourists and visitors to bring snack and drinking water for security and assurance reasons. 


Other suggestions to make your trip smoother. 

- A money belt to pack cash, cellphone, passport, tissues and other personal items

- Camera with extra batteries .

- Tibet Maps and other useful Tibet guiding tools

- Flashlight, lighter, pocket knife, sewing kit

- Rucksack / Backpack, sun protector, towel and toiletries

- It would be symbolic and a lovely gesture to bring with you small gifts such as some small stationeries such as pencils, notebooks for the Tibetan children.


Special marks:


1. Please protect the environment and conduct a low-carbon travel. Take away the waste you make, and don't pick any plants in the forest. Take care of your own valuables such as wallet, ID cards, digital products etc.


2. Safety first. Please listen and follow the instructions given to you by your tour guide as they are there to guarantee your trip runs as smoothly as possible. Collective actions and no individual activities. Take care of each other during the travel.


3. Every participator is regarded as a person with full capacity for civil conduct, the travel agency will confirm the validity of every participator's name, ID, and telephone number. In case of any accidents, the travel agency will inform the insurance company to deal with the respective incident


4. Tibetans have various religions and customs that protect their way of life. Therefore, please pay attention to the do's and don'ts while traveling. Always be respectful towards their religions, and avoid discussing political matters concerned with ethnic minorities due to the topic´s sensitivity.


5. The accommodation and transportation are not as developed as those of mainland China. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful Tibetan scenery and nature.


6. No photos of Potala Palace or any other temples or monasteries are permitted. The visiting time of Potala Palace is restricted as well. Your guide will inform you the exact time one day in advance. Remember to follow your guide´s instructions.


What is Acute Mountain Sickness?

Acute Mountain Sickness is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers or traveler who climb too fast. It usually occurs when people rapidly reach a high altitude (typically above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters). Due to the decreasing availability of oxygen, it is very common for this to occur at high altitudes. Since most places in Tibet are higher than 3000 meters, most people will experience one or more AMS symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet, including headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. But the symptoms will usually gradually decrease in severity through acclimatisation.


How to avoid AMS?

Plan your route to manage altitude sickness; the main thing is to give your body enough time to acclimatise before increasing altitude. Be prepared to adjust your plans, descend or spend a few extra days acclimatising if it proves necessary. Keep in mind that you will be at quite high altitudes and the sun is going to be very strong. Bring and use sunscreen protection. Is recommended to those who just arrived at the plateau region: to not walk fast or run, to not do manual labor, don’t overeat in order to reduce the burden on the digestive organs, don’t drink and smoke, but eat vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins, stay warm, don't bath to avoid cold and exhaustion. You can also take some drugs to mitigate altitude sickness, and butter is also good to mitigate altitude sickness.


Best Time to Visit Tibet

We suggest the best time to visit Tibet is from April to October while the golden time is August and September. But if you only stay in Lhasa, you can to there any time of the year. This is also depends on your weather preference. 


Worries about AMS or other possible fitness hazards? Here is how to best prepare your body:

- Keep fit, both physically and psychologically. Don't be too nervous.

- Avoid catching a cold or respiratory problem before entering Tibet.

- Avoid brisk walking or running immediately after you arrive in Tibet. Keep in mind the land´s altitude.

- Drink more water.

- Don't take a shower on your first day.

- Avoid alcohol and don't smoke.


Foreign exchange

The currency in Tibet is still the Chinese Yuan (RMB). Foreign currencies cannot be used directly within Tibet. You can exchange foreign currency and traveler’s check at the Bank of China only with your passports. Banks are closed on Saturday and Sundays in Tibet. There are several up-market hotels in Lhasa that offer currency exchange service, but only available for their respective guest.


Credit Cards

Using your Credit Card in Tibet is not recommended as they are rarely accepted with the exception of the Bank of China and a few hotels in Lhasa. ATM is not a widely available service. Most of the time, you cant even withdraw cash from an ATM from the branches of the Bank of China. You will need to go to the Tibet Branch of the Bank of China (the main office in Lhasa).


Expatree hopes that the two part of this blog on what to expect when visiting Tibet has helped you paint a clearer picture. To best enjoy Tibet, one needs to prepare for its living conditions and unique characteristics. All in all, a must see destination. 

Date:2015-09-03 21:19:52
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