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Tibet Travel FAQ

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1. When is the best time to visit Tibet?

Lhasa, Tsetang and Shigatse are suitable for sightseeing tours all-year round. April-June and September-November are generally the best and most popular months. The rainy seasons are generally July and August. The travel peak season is from May to October. Normal cultural tours in Tibet are also available in the rainy season. The harsh climate makes it unsuitable to visit the Everest Base Camp area from October to April. During winter, roads might be blocked by heavy snow in east Tibet and Ngari.

2. How is the climate in tibet ?

The climate in highland Tibet belongs to the typical downy special climate. Undoubtedly, Tibet is one of the harshest places for human existence. Generally, it is cool in summer, and excruciatingly cold in winter. But climates are much different in different areas in Tibet and temperatures vary greatly within a single day.
Climate in southeastern Tibet (e.g. Nyingchi) is gentle and temperate with the average temperature of eight degrees; in western Tibet (e.g. Nakqu), the average temperature is below zero degree; While in Lhasa and the central part of Tibet, the climate is normal and nice for traveling. Solar radiation is extremely strong in Tibet. The sunlight in Lhasa is so intense that the city is called Sunlight City. The thin Tibetan air can neither radiate nor absorb heat, resulting in temperature extremes during both day and night. However it is not impossible to visit the holy snow land.
Most annual rainfall comes in the rainy season which begins from May to September, when the precipitation covers 90 percent of the whole year. Usually it rains at night in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo area. The precipitations gradually decrease from 5000 millimeters in the lower part of southeast to just 50 in the northwest.
Shannan: On the southern bank of the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River, Shannan has a temperate climate.
Nyingchi: The average temperature is 8.9°C with the highest being 26.7°C and the lowest -11.9"C, based on the data of the year 2000.
Ngari: The average yearly temperature is 0.1°C. The average temperature of the coldest month is -12.1°C with the lowest temperature being -33.9°C. The average temperature of the hottest month is 13.6°C. The content of oxygen is comparably lower.
Qamdo: Qamdo has a highland continental climate. The weather in northwestern and northern parts is frigid and dry and that in southeast is temperate and moist. Also it has long sunlight and strong radiation. The temperature in the daytime and night demonstrates a big gap. There are more night rains in summer but more winds in spring and winter. The yearly rainfall is 400-600 mm and the sunlight totals 2,319-2,776 hours a year.

Must for Adapting to Highland Climate
1. Doing everything slowly and taking a good rest.
2. Drinking much more water.
3. Stabilizing the temperature of your body and not to catch cold.
4. Bringing some pain-killers which don't cause a heavy sleep.
5. Not take any smoke or wine.

3. Tibet Railway Informations.
Take a train to TibetTake a train to TibetTake a train to Tibet
China has rewritten the world's history of railway construction with its completion of the world's highest railway, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, on the roof of the world.
The section of the railway between Golmud and Lhasa was inaugurated on 1 July 2006 by President Hu Jintao. Speaking at the flagging-off ceremony in front of the Golmud railway station, Hu said, “The project is not only a magnificent feat in China's history of railway construction, but is also a great miracle of the world’s railroad history.”
Beijing to Lhasa train ticketInvolves a total investment of 26.2 billion yuan (US$3.16 billion), Qinghai-Tibet railway extends 1956 kilometers from Xining to Lhasa. About 960 kilometers of the line is more that 4000 meters above sea level and the highest point is 5072 meters, at least 200 meters higher than the Peruvian railway in Andes, which was formerly the world’s most elevated track. Testing of the line and equipment started on May 1, 2006. The railway was commissioned on July 1, 2006. The first three trains to run on the railway are trains from Beijing to Lhasa, Chengdu (Chongqing) to Lhasa and Xining-Lhasa.
The line includes the Tanggula Pass, at 5072 m above sea level the world’s highest rail track.
The 1338 m Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel n the world, at 4905 m above sea level. The 3345 m Yangbajing tunnel is the longest tunnel on the line. It is 4264 m above sea level, 80 km north-west of Lhasa.
Tibet Train MapKunlun Mountain Tunnel, running 1686 meters, is the world’s longest plateau tunnel built on frozen earth.
In the Golmud to Lhasa of the line, 45 stations are open. Among them, Tanggula Railway Station, 5068 meters above sea level, is the highest railway station in the world.
The maximum train speed is designed to reach 100 kilometers per hour in the frozen earth areas and 120 kilometers per hour on non-frozen earth.
Take a train to Tibet on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to taste a total different experience.

Environmental Protection
Tibet Train SurroundingTo protect the pure natural environment along the track, the Chinese government states that it spent more than US$95 million reducing the environmental damage of this railway. Bridges are built above the lakes instead of following the shoreline. The number of railway stations is greatly restricted to decrease the effect to the environment and effective sewage treatment measures having been adopted in both stations and trains to Tibet. For the trains, a special rubbish compressor has also been installed in each car to avoid litter being strewn along the railway. The trains are also equipped with special toilets for disabled. Furthermore, special sewage collection devices have been installed. All the waste is disposed of at the terminus. Cooling pipes have been used to ensure the ground remains frozen.

Tibet Train Condition
ToiletTrains running on the Qinghai-Tibet railway were specially equipped for highland traveling. They have been well facilitated to combat the harsh highland weather condition. There are two systems employed to supply enough oxygen throughout the train in case some passengers are lack of oxygen. Firstly, oxygen dispersed into the carriages ensures the oxygen requirement of passengers. Secondly, oxygen masks conveniently located beside each seat are also available should anoxia appear. There are professional doctors served on the trains and expert medical treatment is offered both day and night.
Hard sleeperThe trains have also been equipped with the latest advanced garbage and sewage management and disposal facilities. To avoid the threat of the terrible thunder near the Tanggula Pass with an altitude of over 5,000 meters (16,404 feet), the first-class equipments avoiding the thunder's destroy to the train have been installed. All railway cars are equipped with double-layer glass which is covered with anti-ultraviolet radiation film. All the Chinese words that appear on the electronic screen in each railway car are translated into Tibetan and English. The spacious bunks, TV entertainment, and Tibetan style cabins offer passengers all the comforts they would find in their own homes. In addition, a bar and cafeteria provide a place where passengers can relax.
Dining carAll staffs on the trains running on the highland track are qualified in the following aspects:
1. Having some basic knowledge on altitude sickness. In case any passengers on the train suffer illness they can offer help.
2. Can speak some English. Simple communication in English is ok.
3. Be younger than 36 years old.

4. Can I visit Tibet independently or should I join a group?

Independent travel is prohibited in Tibet. Foreign travelers must be on an organized tour, either a private tour or a group tour to visit Tibet. However, journalists and people who could be involved in political issues may be refused a permit.

5. Which documents are needed by foreign travelers traveling to Tibet?

For Tibet tours, foreign travelers must have not only a standard Chinese visa but also a Tibet permit which must be issued in Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Beijing, Xian or Xining. This means that a standard Chinese visa is not enough for touring Tibet, and individual travel for foreigners is not permitted within Tibet. In some special places, travelers must have a military permit as well.

6. Can you arrange a Tibet permit for us before the tour begins?

Yes. For travelers who book Tibet tours with E-China Tour.com, we will arrange the Tibet Travel Permit at no cost. This travel permit is checked and issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau and is usually issued two weeks prior to your entry to Tibet.

7. Do I need to supply a photo when applying for a Tibet Travel Permit? If yes, in what size?

Your photo is not necessary when applying for a travel permit. However, the following information and documents must be provided prior to your applications for a permit.
1. Full name (as it appears on your passport)
2. Nationality
3. Age
4. Sex
5. Occupation
6. Passport number
7. Photocopies of your passport and visa

8. Can I travel in Tibet with my child?

Tibet may not be an ideal destination for young children, as the climate and generally harsher conditions there may be unsuitable for them. In addition, the sights and attractions are not those which children generally like to visit, and facilities will be quite primitive.

9. What currencies can be used in Tibet? Can I use credit card and ATM cards?

Besides Chinese Yuan, only US dollars can be accepted. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China.

10. What medicines should I bring?

Medicine is a must for travelers to Tibet. We suggest that you take some pain-relieving pills with you and enough medicine for colds, diarrhea, nausea and fever, such as cold and flu tablets, throat lozenges, nasal decongestant, Aspirin, Multivitamins. These can be affected by chilly or freezing weather conditions. Please consult your doctor prior to your travel to Tibet.

11. What could I do to avoid mountain sickness?

Most visitors are affected by the high altitude as Tibet is over 3000 meters above sea level and many areas are above 5000 meters. While you are in Tibet, there are several suggestions for you to avoid mountain sickness.
• Rest immediately after your arrival. You should not do anything strenuous on the first day. Brisk walking and running are not advised. We suggest that you do not smoke or drink alcohol. Do not eat too much for dinner.
• It quite often happens that people feel short of breath. If it is not serious, please do not rely on oxygen equipment all the time. That way you can acclimatize yourself to the high altitude as soon as possible.
• Do not take showers or baths too frequently especially on your first night in Tibet. This will help you avoid catching severe colds.
• If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you need to tell your guide about this. Your guide is able to send you to the best hospital available in the area.
• Drink plenty of water while traveling in Tibet.
• In addition to the normal medications for traveling it is advisable to bring high altitude medication. Ask your doctor for advice.

12. What should I bring for the Tibet plateau weather and high elevation?

Tibet's high altitude and the atmosphere allow the sun's solar radiation to strike the earth with unusual intensity. Sunscreen of high sun protection factor, quality sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are good means of protection. Calamine lotion is good for mild sun-burn. Those with fair complexions should bring reflective sunscreen with them. In addition to the normal medications for traveling, like Aspirin and Ibuprofen etc, you should bring some high altitude medication. Ask your doctor for advice.

13. Should I tip?

Tipping is not customary in China. However as the tourism develops, tour guides, drivers, and the hotel staff do expect tips. If the service is satisfactory, a few dollars to the guide and the driver will be appreciated. However, in restaurants and on taxis, tips are not necessary.

14. What are the do's and don'ts when visiting religious sites in Tibet?

All Tibetans are practising Buddhists, and respect for their beliefs is very important. Here are some tips to help you. Your guide in Tibet will give you more information:
1) You need to walk clockwise within or outside of religious facilities, like temples, monasteries, pagodas, and mani stones.
2) You are not allowed to touch Buddhist statues, sutras or take pictures of them inside temples or monasteries. Smoking is strictly prohibited.
3) Prayer wheels cannot be rotated anticlockwise.
4) You cannot step on the threshold of any tent, house, temple or monastery.
5) Do not touch anyone's head.
6) Eating horse, dog or donkey meat is strictly prohibited.

15. Is it easy to purchase a train ticket to Lhasa?

The popularity of train travel to Tibet has resulted in a huge demand for train tickets among visitors. It's very difficult for individual travelers to get a ticket on their own. Reliable travel agencies cannot guarantee successful booking. E-China Tour recommends you fly into Tibet and return by a train.

16. What are the hotels like in Tibet?

Tourism in Tibet is in its infancy and the number of 5 star hotels is quite limited. The newer hotels have been built away from the city center to protect the city's history and environment. These hotels have central heating which is used in winter but no cooling is available in summer. We would still warn that the facilities and service standard may not be as you would expect from a hotel with this rating in other parts of the world. Older hotels located in the city have a good location but will not provide the level of comfort of the newer hotels and may not have any central heating. The level of service and facilities may be quite basic. Staff will probably not speak much English. Hotels in small towns and the Everest Base camp are very basic. They will usually have a shared bathroom with squat toilet.

17. Could you give me some advice on clothing when traveling in Tibet?

Generally speaking, casual attire is recommended. Temperature differs dramatically between daytime and night. Taking Lhasa as an example, it could have a temperature during daytime of around 10-25 degrees centigrade, but at night, the temperature may plummet to 0 degrees centigrade or lower. So warm clothing is a must to ensure a comfortable tour. Wearing several layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed is the wise choice since temperatures may vary greatly within a single day. Women should avoid skirts or dresses. Comfortable, sturdy sneakers, walking shoes, or hiking boots are also recommended. Good quality sunscreen or sun block, sunglasses and lip balm are essential to protect you from sunburn that can occur easily at these high elevations.

18. Could you please give me some information on train travel conditions?

Trains running on the Qinghai-Tibet railway are specially equipped for highland traveling. They have been well facilitated to combat the harsh highland weather condition. There are two systems employed to supply enough oxygen throughout the train in case some passengers experience the effects of lack of oxygen. Firstly, oxygen dispersed into the carriages ensures the oxygen is always available to passengers. Secondly, oxygen masks conveniently located beside each seat are also available should signs of anoxia appear. There are professional doctors served on the trains and expert medical treatment is offered both day and night.

19. Can the staff on the train speak any English?

Staff on trains running on the Qinghai-Tibet railway can all speak some English. Simple communication is adequate.

20. Where does the train will depart from in Beijing? How long is the train journey from Beijing to Lhasa?

The train departs from the Beijing West Railway Station and the journey takes about 48 hours.

21. I have heard that there are nine scenery viewing platforms along the way. What are they and how long does the train stay at each platform?

Between Golmud and Lhasa, 45 stations are open and every station has unique scenery. To provide travelers better opportunity to enjoy the stunningly beautiful scenery on the way, scenery viewing platforms have been set up at nine stations. These are: Yuzhu Peak Station, Chumaer River, Tuotuo River, Buqiangge, Tanggula Mountain, Lake Namtso, Nagqu, Damshung and Yambajan. The train will stop for around 15 minutes at each station.

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