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I'm Chinese and have visited Tibet

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Asia > China > Lhasa > Useful Info
Submitted on Dec 26, 2018 Useful Info

How to deal with altitude sickness in Lhasa

  • Lhasa is 3656 meters (11995 feet) above sea level. This elevation is high enough to give most people (3 in 4 people) altitude sickness. When I visited Lhasa I got very sick and so did most people in my group
  • The symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, nausea, lack of energy, short breath, not feeling hungry, and getting tired very easily. Fever and vomiting also happened to some people in my group
  • It's caused by the lack of oxygen in high altitudes, combined with physical activities (which consume oxygen in your body). It has nothing to do with fitness level. Olympians are no more or less susceptible to altitude sickness than couch potatoes
  • The only sure way to avoid altitude sickness is acclimatization, letting your body slowly adjust to the environment
  • Here are some tips:
  • Take the train instead of plane to Lhasa: flying to Lhasa means your body goes suddenly from a high oxygen environment to a low oxygen environment. Taking the train is more gradual. There is a 40-hour train from Beijing to Lhasa that costs ¥720, or about $100 .
  • Spending a 1-2 days in Xining first before going to Lhasa: Xining is the capital of Qinghai province, which was part of the historical Tibet. Xining is about 2800 meters above sea level, and spending a few days here will help with the acclimatization process. Xining is a stop on the Beijing-Lhasa railway, so it's perfect for a stopover
  • Take it easy the first 2-3 days in Lhasa: do not exert yourself, certainly not to the point of sweating. Do things slow and avoid climbing stairs and other physical tasks. I would recommend taking the entire first day off and just relax in your hotel if you can
  • Eat and drink water: a lot of people won't feel hungry at all, this is one of the major symptoms of altitude sickness. Don't let your body trick you. Even though you may feel full, you're not and it's important to eat enough food and drink enough water. (We were force feeding one of our friends in Lhasa because she went a full day without eating and wanted to skip dinner)
  • Bring some painkiller: some ibuprofen (Advil) will help a lot with the headaches. Nothing ruins your day like a pounding head while trying to tour this amazing city
  • Check with a travel doctor: there are a lot of specialized medicine for altitude sickness, especially for people with certain conditions. Check with a doctor before you go to Lhasa and let them know of your travel plans. They may prescribe some other medicine for you to take