When asked where the best place to do trekking is in Asia, the first country that pops up in our mind probably is Nepal, the universally-recognized trekking paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. However, to hardcore trekkers who long for epic mountain vista and more challenging trekking routes with strong Buddhist aura, Tibet, situated right next to Nepal, is the ultimate destination for you.
What to Prepare for Tibet Trekking
- For international tourists, the first prerequisite for you to travel to Tibet is to get Tibet Visa (also known as Tibet Travel Permit). You may depend on a reliable travel agency to help you get that.
- Having a healthy body is essential to your Tibet tour. The extreme altitude and thin air on Qing-Tibet Plateau (with an average altitude of above 4000m) pose a challenge to your fitness and extra demand on your stamina.
Insider Tips: After your arrival in Lhasa (3658m), the capital of Tibet, never rush to do trekking or climb lofty mountains in other regions until you stay a couple of days in Lhasa and get well acclimatized to high altitude. Besides, always follow a gradual ascent.
Trekking Gears for Tibet Tour
The huge temperature change between day and night, thin air and strong and chilly wind and powerful UV light, etc. are the characteristics of Tibet weather. It’s advisable to have the following items in your packing list.
Clothes in General (from top to bottom)
Woolen hat, down jacket, heavy and light blouses/ pullover, waterproof and wind proof jacket, breathable and thermal underwear (4), jeans and trekking trousers, knee-length cotton walking shorts, woolen gloves, thin cotton socks and trekking or hiking boots.
Other Stuff for Trekking
Sleeping bags, Sun hat, sun glasses, sun screen, lip balm, water bottle, trekking poles, torch, toiletries, Camera and spare batteries, snacks and instant coffee or tea, lighter, first aid kit (including medicine for attitude sickness, diarrhea, cold, fever, etc.), umbrella, plastic bags
Unlike the well-established infrastructure for trekking in Nepal, trekking in Tibet needs a more detailed preparation ahead, such as logistics, trekking routes, cooking, etc. However, the world-class alpine scenery with few human presence and profound Tibetan Buddhism give you rare chance to have intimate dialogue with nature and spirituality. Check the following top 2 best treks in Tibet.
a. Kailash Kora
Tibet is purely a Buddhist kingdom that is never short of sacred mountains and lakes and legends.
For years, there has been a time-honored tradition for Tibetans to circle around holy religious sites as a unique way to worship powerful and ubiquitous Tibetan deities. Amid the numerous holy mountains, Mt. Kailash has an irreplaceable and supreme place for it is taken as the spiritual center of the universe in Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, Bon Religion and Jainism.
To global tourists, esp. Indians, to be able to experience the spiritual walk around holy Mt. Kailash has been their lifetime dream. It is believed that circling around the holy mountain once can wash away all sin in your entire life.
Distance: 52km trekking
Duration: 3 Days
Best Time for the Trek: April, May, June, mid-September, early October
Permits: Tibet Permit, Alien’s Travel Permit & Military Permit
Start: Darchen (4675m)
End: Darchen (4675m)
Highest Point: Drolma La Pass (5630m)
Accommodation: Camping or local guesthouses
Food: Local simple restaurants
Not only does 3-day Mt. Kailash trek bring you the ultimate divine experience but also the tough challenge to your body and soul due to the extreme altitude. Therefore, get fully prepared for it.
- Keep your regular exercise like jogging or swimming, etc. far before your preparation for the trek. A good physical preparation is vital to such strenuous trek.
- Do bring altitude medicine just in case.
- During the trek, find your own pace, no hurry and avoid abrupt ascent.
- Bring your high-calorie snacks, instant coffee or tea, because there are not as many teahouses as in Nepal, the arduous trek drains you easily and quickly, the readily-available food and drink can provide the instant supply of nutrition and carbs.
- Do drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- To many westerners, the toilet facilities are just like a catastrophe, mostly communal pit toilet.
- Do apply sunscreen over your exposed skin and wear sun hot and sunglasses to shield yourself from intense UV light.
- Do hire a porter and yak to carry your supply and always travel in groups.
- Prepare enough spare batteries for your phone and camera.
- Sleeping bags are absolutely needed for the sheet and beds in the guesthouse are filthy.
b. Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp Trek
Since the majestic Himalayas runs through Nepal and Tibet, trekking to Everest Base Camps to gaze at the world’s highest mountain, i.e. Mt. Everest (8844.43m) on both Nepali and Tibet’s side has been the hottest trekking routes in these two destinations.
Unlike the mountain scenery on Nepal’s side, trek to EBC in Tibet features even grander mountain vista. You will be able to enjoy the entire panorama of the top 5 highest mountains along Himalayan Range, esp. Mt. Everest and world’s highest Buddhist Monastery, i.e. Rongbuk Monastery (5154m). If you fail to do the trek, you can take eco-van to reach EBC.
Distance: 70km trekking
Duration: 4-5 Days
Best Time for the Trek: Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov.
Permits: Tibet Entry Permit & Alien’s Travel Permit
Start: Tingri (4390m)
End: EBC (5200m)
Highest Point: EBC (5200m)
Difficulty: Medium to Strenuous
Accommodation: Camping, Guesthouse
Food: local tiny restaurant or self-sufficient
Travelling to EBC is the closest place for most tourists to enjoy the imposing Mt. Everest, the following tips merit your attention.
- Top 3 best places to enjoy the Mt. Everest vista would be at Gawu La Pass (5198m) where you can enjoy top 5 highest mountains of Himalayas; Rongbuk Monastery(5154m), the best place to photograph Mt. Everest at mid-distance; Everest Base Camp(5200m) for the close-up shot of the summit of Mt. Everest and stunning starring night. The best timing would be at sunrise and sunset.
- Unlike the well-developed teahouses along the route to EBC in Nepal, the accommodation facility from Old Tingri to EBC is extremely basic. Guesthouse in Rongbuk Monastery is poorly-equipped and it’s quite cold at night. But you can use electric blanket.
- The toilet is quite disgusting, mostly pit ones due to the lack of fresh water in such remote place. Do prepare enough toiletries, esp. toilet paper.
- Trekking pole is needed for the senior trekkers.
- Bring your sleeping bag you will need them while you stay in yak tent at EBC; the tent accommodates 8 people and inside is a stove and yak dung is the fuel. So the smell inside the tent might be a little weird.
- Bring antibiotics or other medicines for altitude sickness, cold and diarrhea.
- No shower is available at EBC and Rongbuk Monastery.
- Bring some snacks like chocolate bar or bread to satisfy your hunger.
- Do bring your wool hat and wear enough clothes for the night at EBC is bitterly cold. And the biting wind is so strong.
- Prepare enough spare batteries and put them in your sleeping bag at night to save the batteries
Admittedly, it is the jaw-dropping Himalayan mountain vista, intense Tibetan Buddhist ambience and exotic culture that truly set treks in Tibet apart from other destinations. Though, ill-equipped as to infrastructure for trekking, the unspoiled natural wonders will never let you down.