Tibet General Information

 Weather

Tibet has similar seasons to China, though with lower temperatures due to the higher altitudes. Winters (November to March) are cold (the average temperature in January is -2°C) but there isn’t all that much snow. Summers (May to September) have warm days with strong sunshine and cool nights. At higher elevations (ie above 4000m) even summer days can be chilly. During spring and autumn you need to be prepared for four seasons in one day, including the possibility of snowfall. There are some regional variations; northern and western Tibet are generally higher and colder. The monsoon affects parts of Tibet (particularly eastern Tibet) from mid-July to the end of September (July and August bring half of Tibet’s annual rainfall).

 Geography

Bordered by Nepal on the South, Bhutan to east and India to east west, today the Autonomous Region of Tibet measures 2,600 km (1,625 miles) from east to west and 1,300 km (812 miles) north to south for a total area of 1,221,700 square km (471,900 square miles). The average elevation is 5,000 m (16,500 ft).

 Climate

Tibet is cold in winter, cool in summer and generally dry, receiving only 45 cm. (18 inches) of rain or snow annually. Temperatures can differ greatly within a day, however, passing 29 C (85 F) in desert areas in summer, and plunging below 4 C (40 F) at night. The higher you go the colder it gets, of course, sunlight is extremely intense. Winds in winter are ferocious. Rainfall in Southern Tibet occurs intermittently between June and September, bringing moisture to barley fields and greenery to the valleys.

 Customs

Customs procedures for China are generally smooth and quick. On arrival you must complete a baggage declaration form on which you should declare personal valuables such as watches, cameras, radios, calculators, jewellery, foreign currency and traveler’s cheques, etc. Make sure you retain this form because you will have to present it together with your valuables at customs again on your departure. Export of antiques over 120 years old will need special permission and customs may confiscate other antique items if they think they're from a dubious Source.

 TIME:

08 hours ahead of GMT. Note Tibet is linked to Beijing time so when you cross the border to Nepal the time change is considerable. Nepal is 5 hours and 45 minutes ahead of GMT.

 Currency

RENMINBI, the People's money used by millions of Chinese every day, circulates in notes of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 Yuan; 1,2 and 5 Jiao; 1,2 and 5 fen. There are also coins for 5 fen. With the Chinese Currency, Renmibi, one Yuan is divided into 10 Jiao; Jiao into 10 Fen.

 Business hours

Most shops are open between 0900 hrs and 1230 hrs; and then again from 1430 hrs until 1730 hrs. Many shops close on Sundays. Government offices are usually closed on Saturday afternoon land a day Sunday.

 Clothing and accessories

April to October light clothing’s are required. The recommended items are: Sleeping bag, shirts, comfortable walking shoes, Long John Trousers and shirts, sweater, jackets, dust mask, socks, sun hat, sun glasses, sun tan lotion, utility knife, water bottle/thermos (liter) flashlight. Water purification tabs, medicine for headaches, fewer, colds stomach disorders etc. Toilet papers and tissue papers.

 Airport

Lhasa Gongar Airport is 96 kms away from Lhasa.

 Airport tax

The airport departure tax at present is approx. US$12 per person

 Trasnportation

Transportation will be either in a Land cruiser or Mini-Van depending on the size of the group.

 Food and drinks

Tibet has only a handful of towns, and Tibetan cuisine is not exactly the most varied in the world. It is handy to carry, anything that can be brewed with hot water. Instant coffee, drinking chocolate, tea bags, soup cubes, drink powder and powdered milk. other food items worth considering are instant noodles, vegemite, nuts and' raisins, chocolate, dry foods and biscuits.

 Altitude and health

No special inoculations are required but because of Tibet's high altitude travelers with a pre-existing problem of heart, lungs or anemia should consult a doctor before even thinking about a visit. Most other travelers, once they are acclimatized, rarely suffer more than mild discomfort from the altitude.
Over exertion seems to contribute to mountain sickness and dehydration may be a predis-posing factor. Sensible precautions should include: Stick to a schedule of mild activity and rest for the first two days. Drink plenty of fluids. two to five liters a day are recommended to maintain a clear, copious urine. Don't smoke, if you are a chronic smoker, keep it to a minimum.
Avoid sedatives such as sleeping medicine or tranquillizers. They tend to depress respiration and limit oxygen intake.Diamox (acetazolamide), a mild diuretic which stimulates oxygen intake, is used by doctors for climbers making sudden ascents. This is prescription drug. One 250 mg. tablet taken on the plane from Chengdu or Kathmandu and another at bedtime the first night in Lhasa' may help to forestall discomfort for people known to be susceptible to mountain sickness. Consult a doctor.
It is not unusual to wake up at night at high altitudes gasping for breath. Don't panic! This complaint, known as "Periodic Breathing", is normally quite harmless, caused by a change in the control of breathing within the brain while you sleep. Normal breathing can be quickly re-established by relaxation, rhythmic deep-breathing, and the understanding that there is nothing to worry about.