You may think that a trip to Tibet is just like any other trekking and nature destination but there are a few things specific to high altitude as well as the type of landscapes and weather conditions that make it an extra important element to consider when packing for trekking in Tibet.
This packing list includes essential items that you should take on your Tibet vacation, particularly if you plan to visit Everest Base Camp. They are all important and you should make sure you have included them in your suitcase before leaving.
Clothes to Pack for Trekking in Tibet
Even in summer, the altitude and dry weather will mean colder nights. In May, temperatures are well below zero at Everest Base Camp and you cannot underestimate the wind chill factor. If there was ever a time to buy thermal underwear, this is it.
- Thermal socks and underwear. Check here for mens and womens.
- A thick hat. I would go as far as to suggest one of the Russian or Siberian fluffy hats that cover your ears and forehead
- Heavy duty gloves
- A windproof, waterproof (especially if you travel during the summer Monsoon months) packable down jacket.
- Trekking boots not so much for trekking (unless you are indeed planning to), but to keep warm. We like to use Merrell Moab Ventilators.
- A scarf to protect the throat and nose from the dryness and cold
Items of a personal nature to bring to Tibet
- Sunglasses with high UV ray protection, the sun is extra strong at such high altitudes.
- Sunscreen. The sun rays are extremely strong high up so bring a high factor sunscreen and keep reapplying it despite the cold. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because it is cold the sun is weaker.
- Lip balm is key in the hyper dry weather. Tibet is effectively a high altitude desert so the weather is incredibly dry.
- Rich face moisturizer to keep the skin from the dryness. We use Cerave.
- Shampoo and conditioner are key as most hotels will not provide them and the weather conditions will make conditioner extra necessary on your dry hair.
- Hand moisturizer.
- Lots of tissues and wet wipes to wash after toilets, eating, to blow your nose when you sneeze, something which is a side effect of altitude. The drop toilets in Tibet don’t have water or toilet paper (they don’t even have doors or partitions between the floor holes) so you have to bring your own.
- Make sure to bring hand sanitizer to kill all germs.
- Parfum to put under your nose when using the public toilet, something that is unavoidable in the long road trips.
- Non-pressurised shaving cream. Buying it at home at lower altitudes and bringing it up increases the risk of it exploding on you and it is likely going to be confiscated at the airport or on the train to Lhasa. Don’t bring anything in pressurized cans
- Snacks for the long road journeys. Nuts will travel best and keep fresh and crunchy thanks to the dryness.
- Water, one should drink even more water at high altitudes because your body evaporates it faster. In the dryness of the desert landscapes, you will need even more. Plan to drink a minimum of three liters a day. Buy large bottles in the cities or lunch stops to ensure you are hydrated.
- Cash. Cards are not accepted outside of Lhasa and even if you are on an all inclusive tour you will need cash to buy water and to pay for photographs at temples and monasteries, more than you would think. Check here for our tips on accessing cash abroad.
Medication to bring to Tibet
Altitude is the name of the game in Tibet and will set the tone for the entire trip. The country is at an average of 4,000m above sea levels and effective oxygen levels at such altitude are 40% lower than sea level. You have to be well prepared before and during the trip for things to go wrong.
- Eye drops to counter the extreme dryness.
- Nose spray to keep moisturized and reduce bleeding.
- Painkillers especially for a headache, something that will be unavoidable at high altitudes, especially at Base Camp.
- Antihistamines if you are prone to allergies as the dryness may cause a breakout.
- Diarrhea and constipation tablets. The former is in case you react poorly to the food and water but the latter is key for altitude sickness.
- Tablets to prevent car sickness. If you are prone to it, I would suggest you are aware that the journey through Tibet goes through several very high passes made of snaking 360-degree turn roads.
- Altitude sickness medication which needs to be started prior to the trip. I would suggest consulting with your doctor about your Tibet vacation. Most people take Diamox.
Electronics and other accessories to pack
- A camera that can work in colder temperatures. For example, phones will stop working when the temperatures go below zero so you won’t be able to take photos with them. We travel with a Canon 80D which is weather proof.
- All the charging cables for all your electronics as finding a spare one in Lhasa or outside is practically impossible.
- Tibet uses the Chinese Type I adaptor and I would recommend picking up one before you get there. Although European two-pin round plugs are also widely available, so a universal adaptor is another good item to travel with.
About the Author: Mar Pages is the blogger behind Once in a Lifetime Journey. She has spent time trekking in Tibet, while we have not, so we brought her in to share her expertise with you! You can follow her adventures on Facebook and Instagram.
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