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General Information - Tibet

Location

Tibet Autonomous Region lies in the southwest of China. It is bordered to the southeast by Yunnan Province, to the south and west by these countries: Burma, India, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal. The region covers an area of around 1.22 million km2, which accounts for 12.8% of the total of China and the geography of Tibet consists of high mountains, lakes and rivers lying between central, east and south Asia. Tibet is often called “the roof of the world” with its tablelands averaging over 4900 meters above sea level.

Climate

In deciding when to travel to Tibet, one should look at both temperatures and rainfall. The most pleasant temperatures occur between May and October. After October, temperatures become too cold for pleasant travel. Rainfall, on the other hand, occurs mostly between the months of June and September, with July and August having the most rain.

Population

The population of Tibet is somewhere around 2.5 million people, the size of a medium city, while the geographic area is huge Lhasa, the capitol and largest city, has slightly over 150,000 residents. Most of the country is scarcely populated. Outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, there are another 2.5 million Tibetans living in the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu. There are also an estimated 120,000 Tibetans outside the area, mainly in India with significant colonies in the USA, Canada, and Europe.

Money, Currency and Foreign Exchange

Tibet uses the Chinese Renminbi (RMB), or Yuan and obtaining money through ATMs in Lhasa is now possible. There are ATMs in the central Bank of China branch and in a bank not far from the tourist centre in the Tibetan quarters. US dollars is the better foreign currency to exchange outside of banks (ie when travelling outside Lhasa) it is advisable to have small denominations (twenties or lower) to change in local hotels

Visas

To enter Tibet you must have a Chinese visa. Visas can be obtained by contacting the embassy in your home country or may be arranged through your tour operator. While 30-day visas are generally quite easy to obtain, visas for longer periods may be difficult to arrange.

Insurance

Tibet is a remote location, although there is a good altitude sickness hospital in Lhasa if you become seriously injured or very sick there or elsewhere in Tibet, you may need to be evacuated by air. Medical evacuation is horrendously expensive so make sure your policy covers evacuation

Health & Safety

Tibet is the highest country in the world. Therefore, it is important to take precautions when you arrive in Lhasa and on the rest of the trip. Tell your guide if you do not feel well. Walk with moderation for the first day or two. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids. You may lose your appetite, but force yourself to eat as much as you can. You may experience a headache that should go away in a day or two. All symptoms should disappear within a couple days. If they get worse quickly, or do not go away, notify your guide. If necessary, you can receive treatment in Lhasa  but this is rarely needed. If you require a particular medication take double your normal supply, as it may not be available in Tibet. Take along part of the packaging showing the generic name rather than the brand to make getting replacements easier and to avoid problems, it’s a good idea to have a legible prescription or letter from your doctor to show that you legally use the medication. Dental care is limited so ensure that you have a dental check up prior to your trip.

Time

Time is Tibet is 8 hours ahead of GMT and 2 hours ahead of Australian Eastern Standard Time