Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a visa to visit Tibet?
Yes, all visitors to Tibet must apply for a visa with the Chinese government, and if visiting the Tibet Autonomous Region you will also need Tibet Travel Permits, which we will process for you. We will send you guidelines for applying for your Chinese visa along with an invitation letter which is required with your application. Please note, travellers to Kham and Amdo in Eastern Tibet do not require a Tibet Travel Permit, as they do not enter the Tibet Autonomous region.
What will the weather be like?
This depends on the departure date of your trip and the altitude that you travel to. Tibet is generally cold due to high altitudes but the temperatures vary depending on the time of year. May, June and September can have day time temperatures up to 20 degrees, but still be close to freezing at night above 3,000 metres. April and October will have daytime temperatures around 15 degrees and drop below zero at night over 3,000 metres. You should pack according to the season and have at least some thermals, a warm fleece and preferably a down jacket for evenings and mornings. Information on what to pack will be in your Travel and Cultural Information pack that you receive after booking. Weather conditions can change rapidly on the Tibetan plateau, due to the mountain environment, but the atmosphere is generally dry.
What kind of bags should I bring?
We suggest bringing a soft travel bag, backpack (50-60 litres) or a suitcase (but in this case you would need a soft type bag as well for the trek). You also need a small day pack and a light bag to leave items that you are not taking on the trek.
Do I carry my own bag on the trek?
No, you only carry a small day pack with personal items such as camera, water bottle, toilet paper etc. Our porters carry your main bag which will arrive at your daily destination.
Who will be guiding my trek?
All our treks have experienced English speaking guides who will look after you during the trek.
How hard will the trek be?
Anyone with a reasonable amount of fitness should be able to complete our treks. Trekking can be hard but we encourage you to walk at your own pace. Our treks are well planned to allow for acclimatization as you ascend, but you can expect to move slower as the altitude increases.
How far will we walk each day?
In general we walk five to eight hours per day. It’s not a matter of distance but the number of hours we walk. As we get higher we are restricted in the distance we can walk so that we don’t exceed an altitude gain of approximately 500 metres per day.
Do I need trekking boots?
These are great but should be worn in. If you don’t have boots, good trainers or walking sandals are fine for shorter treks. Check with us if you are unsure.
Where do we sleep on trek?
Depending on the particular trek you take, you may be staying in monastery guest houses or in camping tents.
Do I need a sleeping bag?
You will need a sleeping bag for your trek. Please ensure that your sleeping bag is a four-season grade, due to the sometimes freezing temperatures at night.
Will I suffer from altitude problems on the trek?
Many people entering Tibet experience some degree of altitude problems. The effects can be severe for some, but for most they are more of a minor discomfort experienced on the first few days. Symptoms include breathlessness (especially when walking), headache and difficulty sleeping. If you experience a persistent headache, nausea or loss of coordination or disorientation, tell your guide and seek immediate medical help and then descend to a lower altitude (sometimes 300m lower is sufficient).
Altitude is thoroughly taken into consideration when planning our Tibet journeys. Where possible we acclimatise at lower altitudes before going higher. However, this is not possible when flying into Lhasa for a short trip. We strongly recommend that all clients drink plenty of fluids, eat foods rich in garlic and ginger, avoid alcohol, and rest in order to combat any altitude problems that may be experienced. All our vehicles carry oxygen as a precautionary measure. There are also a number of natural and pharmaceutical medicines that reduce the symptoms of altitude. These include Diamox, rhodiola, homeopathic coca, ginkgo and garlic capsules which can be purchased in advance of your trip.
Will there be hot water for showering?
Once you leave the comfort of the city/town, there will be no hot showers during your trek in Tibet.
Do I need a water filter?
Water filters are great and if you have one, bring it. Boiled water is available at most monastery guesthouses, or your guide can prepare some in the camp.
Will I get lost?
If you follow the advice of your tour guide and stay with your group you won’t get lost!
What standard of accommodation can I expect?
Your Tibet journey will take you to some remote places, where we ensure you experience the best that the host culture has to offer. Some of these places do not offer four-star hotels, but Beyond The Clouds takes responsibility for your comfort and the cleanliness of all our hand picked accommodation. In venturing to these hard-to-reach places you will be exposed to some of the warmest hospitality on earth.
Will there be somewhere safe to store my valuables?
We advise you to carry your valuables with you, as there is no safe to deposit them in while you are trekking.
Will I be able to recharge my phone/batteries?
In the towns before and after your trek, yes you will be able to recharge your batteries, please remember to bring an adaptor. On the trek, monastery guesthouses may have electricity but this can be unreliable. Tibetan and Chinese outlets usually have both 120V and 220V sockets, for both round and flat plugs.
Can I do laundry on the trip?
Laundry facilities are available in towns before and after your trek. However, remember that it may be cold and you are travelling most days so there may be insufficient time to dry your laundry. Please bring plenty of changes of clothes, particularly socks and underwear.
What standard of toilets can I expect?
In towns and cities, many places have good clean – even western style – toilets these days. However, squat toilets are the most common in China and Tibet, and can be quite primitive on your trek. Be prepared with your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and a scarf can be useful to cover your nose.
Do you cater for vegetarian and other special diets?
Yes, we can cater for a vegetarian diet whilst in Tibet. Please advise us of your dietary requirements so that we can arrange this in advance.
What vaccinations do you recommend?
Beyond The Clouds recommend consulting a travel doctor (worth shopping around and check the prices) for vaccinations. Usually they will recommend shots for hepatitis, typhoid, diphtheria/tetanus, polio booster and meningitis. You may also be offered a series of rabies injections as there is rabies present in the Himalayan region. Please discuss this with your travel doctor. We strongly recommend staying away from all animals during the trip. Please note: It is your personal decision as to which vaccinations to take, and we cannot take responsibility for this.
What do I do if I need medical care?
Tibet has limited medical facilities available. There are basic medical facilities in most towns, including traditional Tibetan and Chinese medicines. Please inform your guide if you need any assistance.
Is there anything I should avoid doing in Tibet?
Do not wear revealing clothing in villages or in monasteries and avoid touching animals. Don’t walk anti-clockwise around temples, monasteries or other sacred places. Do not discuss politics or openly talk about the Dalai Lama. It is really important that you don’t put your guide at risk by doing anything political that could endanger him or her. We will send you more information about cultural do’s and don’t’s before your trip commences.
Can I take photographs anywhere?
Most Tibetan people are very friendly and open to having their picture taken but do respect them by asking permission.
Can I bring gifts for the local children?
As a rule, Beyond The Clouds discourages hand outs. Handing out things such as sweets, pens and money only creates a culture of begging and bad teeth. As an alternative, you may wish to donate to our charity First Steps Himalaya.
What is the local currency?
The Chinese Yuan is the local currency.
How much spending money should I bring?
As all your accommodation and meals is included on these tours you only need to bring spending money for tipping, souvenirs, alcoholic drinks, snacks and any extras such as handicrafts. We would recommend bringing a minimum of US$300. It is a good idea to obtain some Chinese Yuan prior to the trip.
Can I use my credit cards? Are there any ATMs?
Very few places in Tibetan areas take international credit cards. It is very much a cash-based society, so it would be good to have some cash on you throughout the trip for any personal expenses. ATMs that accept international cards are only available in the larger cities of Chengdu, Kangding, Shangri-La, Lhasa, and Shigatse. We suggest getting some Chinese Yuan in advance or at the start of your trip.
How much is recommended for tipping?
Tips are not expected at any restaurants in China, nor at most hotels. Four- and five-star hotels are an exception to this, but tips are certainly not expected at smaller hotels. At the end of your tour, a tip for good service to your tour guide and driver is welcome, though not expected. If you consider your guide’s service to be exceptional, a US$30 per day tip is very generous. If you are happy with the guide’s service, USD $20 per day is still a good tip. As for the driver, a US$10 per day tip is more than enough.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.