Best time to visit Tibet
The best time to visit Tibet is from April to November and for treks and Mt. Kailash tour from April to the end of October.
Despite the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau, the daytime temperatures are actually quite mild. Between April and November the average temperature ranges form 15-25 degrees Celsius and the skies are generally clear and blue. From July to August though there can be the odd shower during the day. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius. During the day a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings.
Clothing and Equipment
Clothing should be simple and consist of layers which can be added or removed as the temperature varies during the day. A warm windbreaker and stout comfortable shoes are especially recommended. Formal attire such as a necktie or dress is never needed - trousers and sweaters are the style. Lhasa now has many pharmacies selling Tibetan, Chinese and some westerns medicines but, it is advisable to bring your own comprehensive first-aid kit, sunglasses with good ultra-violet protection, sun block and lip cream and a flashlight is important because many interesting sights are poorly lit.
Hotels and accommodation
There are good hotels now in Lhasa. There are three star level hotels in Shigatse and Gyantse. The hotel facilities along Nepal Tibet highway, especially in Kerung but in Shegar it is basic . The facilities and services on the Tibetan highways are still not up to the mark.. So, do not expect much in terms of quality of the hotels.
Tibet bound travelers need to take lots of liquid and avoid exertion at altitude. We further advise them not to strain much. Diamox can be helpful if irregular breathing is encountered while trying to sleep. Sleeping pills must be avoided. The overland journey will be on the high passes only for a brief period; en route sleeping elevations vary between 3,650 and 4,300 m. Those travelers who suffer from heart ailments or other medical problems could be adversely affected by exposure to high altitude conditions in Tibet. So, they need to consult their physician before embarking on the Tibet overland journey.
In Lhasa there are some popular restaurants that provide Tibetan, Chinese and even Western food to the travelers. These restaurants also serve Tibetan tea (salted butter tea), sweet milk tea, hot boiling black tea, Tibetan barley beer, soft drinks, canned beer and imported wine, whisky and local beverage. Very basic food will be served at Kerung. Guesthouse or hotel on the way will provide you basic accommodation.
Foreign currencies Exchange & ATMs facilities
The circulated currency in Tibet is RMB. Foreign currency can be exchanged in the bank of China in Lhasa, other cities and hotel at the exchange rate quoted on the foreign exchange marker on the day. But only the main offices of Bank of China accept traveler's check & cash in advance. You can exchange money into RMB according to the exchange rate of that day with your valid passport. If you want to visit remote areas in Tibet, you are advised to have enough RMB with you. However, you can have some US$ with you, too.
Regarding the ATMs facilities, you won’t have any problems finding an ATM in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse, although you probably won’t be able to find in remote areas or the smaller towns. However, this situation is changing, and ATMs are gradually spreading out across the land. It is recommended to keep some cash US dollars in your pocket.
What to wear
- Spring (March-May): Cold, dry and windy. A jacket and woolen sweaters are necessary.
- Summer (June-August): Cold but hot at noon. Shirts, pants or skirts will be fine.
- Autumn (September-November): Cold, dry. Jackets and sweaters are necessary.
- Winter (December-February): Frigid and very dry. Warm pullover, down jacket, woolen sweaters, scarves and gloves are necessary
Tibet is not a particularly good place for shopping. Most of the things which hawkers sell in Lhasa are made in Nepal including thangkas & prayer wheels. Sometimes it is possible to buy real Tibetan carpets in places like Xigatse, Gyangtse and Lhasa.
Film is best bought in Kathmandu although print film is available in Tibet. Photography is allowed in most places except security areas. The monasteries usually charge for photographs, often quite a lot. Rates will be given by the guide. Video cameras are allowed in China. All valuables must be declared at customs including cameras and video cameras. Do not lose the customs declaration form which is needed at the time of leaving China.
Art objects and antiques in Tibet fall under special restrictions forbidding their export. Anything made before 1959 is considered an antique. Rugs may be bought and exported, so may the small religious objects that are sold in open markets, providing only one or two are taken as souvenirs. Customs officials have been known to confiscate jewellery or other objects if they consider that a tourist has purchased 'too much'.
Altitude & Health Tips
Travelling in Tibet is an adventure involving high altitude and could be strenuous. While most visitors have only minor effects from the altitude, we advise specially the guests with known heart or lungs or blood diseases to consult their doctor before travelling. Mild headache, fever, loss of appetite or stomach disorder can take place in a process of acclimatization. Our advice for better acclimatization is to drink 4 liter of water minimum a day, do not exhaust yourself so much, breathe deep and take rest more than usual.
International mail is reliable and quite fast if sent by airmail. IDD phone and fax services are available in upmarket hotels.
Standard time zone UTC/GMT +8 hours
In the winter it's even an extra hour.