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Tibet Travel Checklist

Domestic flights of China allow only 20 kilograms in checked-in baggage and a piece of carry-on luggage on the plane. You would like to make a light backpack of your valuable belongings like a camera, wallet, passports, etc. while other stuff like clothing, equipment will go in the checked-in baggage. If you are trekking, you are recommended to use a heavy-duty duffel bag. The bag should be comfortable and sturdy as there will frequent loading and unloading, and there is a chance that your luggage is dragged, thrown around, and stuffed.

Prepare for exposure in cold and harsh weather

The high altitudes of the Tibetan plateau make for climatic extremes. The day time temperature looks pretty beautiful with warm sunshine, but the temperatures at night can drop to freezing point or below. The sunlight has intense ultra-violet rays, and it is very windy, particularly in the high passes. The air is arid. Jul and Aug receive much of the rain of the year. So, if you are traveling during these months, you will have to carry rain gear as well. It is best to be prepared for COLD weather, even though much of the time, it will be quite comfortable. Because the sun is quite intense at high altitude, a hat, UV protection sunglasses, and sunblock (at least SPF 15) is essential. 

Clothing

If you are traveling in winter or spring or late autumn, of course, you will need warm clothes but don't stuff your baggage with thick down jackets from your country, as the baggage allowance is very much limited.

It is best to pack as few things as possible and bring what you need. Down jackets, Sleeping bags, etc. are available in Lhasa, but quality, size, and style are unpredictable. Pants should be loose and comfortable, and please make sure they should be without patches. Both men and women are encouraged to dress with legs and shoulders covered. While Tibetans, in general, do not mind if you wear western clothing, or if women wear pants, it is essential that your clothing be neat and clean.

Because the temperature/weather can change quickly and often, the 'layering' system is excellent for travel in Tibet. It is better to have several smaller layers that you can add and remove when necessary than to have one enormous heavy jacket.

Women: Skirts are comfortable to wear, even while trekking. (They are also useful for roadside pit-stops.) Shorts are culturally inappropriate, although you can wear pants.

Men: Clothing should be neat. Blue jeans should not be ragged, faded, or patched. Shorts are culturally inappropriate in most situations.

Shoes: It is essential to have a reliable, comfortable pair of boots. Lightweight boots are fine, but Tibet can be wet, and we will do extensive walking, so make sure your shoes fit well and are suitable for cold and puddles. You should also have a pair of comfortable and sturdy sandals.

Some trekking supplies (down and fleece jackets, boots, bags, etc.) are available in Lhasa, but it is better if you prepare everything before departing since supplies are unpredictable.

Medical supplies

Take an adequate amount of any prescription medication you regularly use, including inhalers for asthma. Most over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and anti-diarrhea pills, are available in Lhasa but are more difficult to obtain outside of urban areas. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to bring enough cleaning solution for the term, since this is hard to find and expensive. Please refer to the Health Guidelines (which is issued by your country’s health authorities). Bring Diamox pills, which are believed to prevent altitude sickness.

Water

Water purification equipment, such as hand pump filters, is not necessary, as bottled mineral water and thermoses of boiled water are available everywhere throughout Tibet. Water purification tablets can be useful during excursions.

Electrical current

The electrical current in Tibet is 220v, AC 50 Hz. There are numerous different plug types used in Tibet, so it might be easier to purchase an adapter once you get there.

PACKING CHECKLIST

Clothing

  • Two pairs of neat, loose pants
  • One pair of sweat pants or fleece pants (optional)
  • One long, full skirt for women (optional)
  • Two long-sleeve shirts
  • 2-3 T-shirts
  • One wool sweater or fleece
  • One week's supply of socks ("Smartwool" or "Thorlos" are both excellent)
  • Underwear (1 week's supply)
  • One pair of shorts, for the possible hot springs
  • Bandanna or scarf
  • Boots can be lightweight but should be sturdy and comfortable
  • Rain jacket (rain pants optional)
  • Warm jacket (fleece or down)
  • Long underwear (1 set, not cotton)
  • Vest (optional)
  • Sandals
  • Hat(s)-it's a good idea to bring one warm hat and another for the sun

Other Important Items

    • Travel duffel bag or internal frame backpack. It doesn't need to be high-tech but should be very sturdy. Best without too many outside pockets
    • Day pack
    • Sleeping bag (good to 20 Fahrenheit, down recommended but not necessary), and COMFORTABLE sleeping pad
    • An adequate supply of any prescription medication
    • Camera and film
    • Good UV protection sunglasses (this is very important against strong high altitude sun)
    • Pepto-Bismol tablets
    • Combination padlock (for storing your belongings)
    • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts and plenty of cleaning solution, if used
    • Flashlight and batteries (for our many monastery visits and camping)
    • Luggage locks
    • Small travel alarm clock
    • Soap/toothbrush/toothpaste
    • Sunblock (at least SPF 15)
    • Spiral notebook (small and medium sizes recommended)
    • Study journal and pens
    • Tampons and/or sanitary napkins
    • Towel
    • Water bottle (at least one liter, and be sure to check for leaks)
    • Water purification tablets

Optional Items

    • Ace bandage
    • Acidophilus tablets (yogurt culture) are good non-chemical treatments for stomach problems
    • Small first-aid kit (band-aids, ibuprofen, decongestants, tape, etc.)
    • Brush/comb
    • Dental floss
    • Iron supplements (for women)
    • Moleskin-type blister protection
    • Novels (bring a few and trade with classmates)
    • Swiss Army knife or multi-tool knife
    • Tape recorder and batteries (can be invaluable for fieldwork, recording interviews, music, street sounds, etc.)
    • Umbrella
    • Vitamin supplements (available in Lhasa but of lower quality and dosage than those found in the US )
    • Plastic bags in varying sizes ('zip-lock' bags are useful for storage in dusty/wet environments, plastic garbage bags are useful to protect the sleeping bag, etc. from wet weather)
    • Supply of "happy food" (favorite chocolate, trail-mix, candy etc.-good after a long day trip)
    • Sleeping tents, mess-tent, kitchen equipment, and other "group" camping equipment are provided on camping trips.