Is It Easy to Get Altitude Sickness While Visiting Lhasa
Travelling to Tibet can be a transcending and exhilarating experience. Tibet is also known as the ‘roof of the world’ because of the high altitude presence and remote location. This high, remote, windy, mountain clad, snow peaked region is filled with rolling grasslands, dotted with ancient villages, and sprinkled with beautiful lakes all around.
Lhasa city is the most popular tourist destination in Tibet and always the first stop for all Tibet tours. The high altitude of Lhasa and remote location have not slowed down the tourism over the years. Yes, tourists are prone to altitude sickness but there are preventive measures and medicines to make it less severe and help with the symptoms. As altitude sickness has been a worry for many tourists, hopefully this article will help in clearing some of the inhibitions.
How High is Lhasa?
Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, is located at an elevation of 3,600m. In fact, most of Tibet lies above the altitude of 3,000m. Some of the cities that are higher than Lhasa in this world are: La Rinconada, Peru is located at an elevation of 5,100m; El Alto, Bolivia is located at an altitude of 4,150m; Potosi, Bolivia is at an altitude of 4,090m; Tuiwa, Tibet is at an altitude of 5,070m; Rongbuk Monastery, Tibet is at an altitude of 4,980m, Yashiping, Qinghai is at an altitude of 4,720m; Wenquan, Qinghai is at an altitude 4,870m, Shigatse is at an altitude of 3,860m.
As you can see, there are many cities at a higher altitude than Lhasa all over the world. In fact, Lhasa is not even the highest city in China and Tibet. People have been living in these high altitude areas for a very long time and they were able to do so because human body has the ability to adapt to its environment.
Is it Easy to Get Altitude Sickness While Visiting Lhasa?
Altitude sickness is something that will be experienced by anyone irrespective of age, health condition, fitness level, gender, etc. Almost all travelers experience altitude sickness while visiting Lhasa. But, the degree of severity varies from traveler to traveler. Some may experience only slight symptoms while others may have extended symptoms. Altitude sickness occurs mostly because of the sudden ascendance to a higher altitude.
Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms are headache, loss of appetite, general weakness, tiredness, and shortness of breath. People who are experiencing severe altitude sickness are likely to see swelling, spasms, and shocks. But, worry not all these can be treated with proper medication. There are certain people who are advised against going to Tibet. Those with severe heart problems, respiratory problems, diabetes, severe cold, hypertension etc. are totally advised to not go to Tibet. It is highly recommended that travelers with such conditions get thorough examination and green signal from a doctor before the trip.
How to Avoid Altitude Sickness in Lhasa
There are no sure ways to avoid altitude sickness, but there are steps that you can take to reduce the severity of the symptoms. Here are some steps and advice to follow:
1) Ascend slowly. One of the main reasons why tourist experience headache and loss of appetite as soon as they arrive at Lhasa is because of the quick ascends from a city in China to a high altitude place while coming by flight. The best alternative for flight is coming by train. The Qinghai- Tibet railway is also famous for the amazing views it provides on the way. When you take a train to Tibet you ascend much slower than traveling by flight and your body has more time to acclimatize. The trains have all facilities like TV, bathrooms, wash basins, charging points, canteen etc. there are also centralized oxygen supply systems and individual oxygen outlets, so you don’t have worry about the air pressure as you go higher.
2) Prepare before starting the ascent. Go to your doctor get all the required medication for altitude sickness and the symptoms. Meditate and try to improve your lung capacity, exercise with activities such as running, swimming, cycling, etc. one month prior to the trip. Avoid drinking alcohol before the trip and eat plenty of fruits. Be careful not catch a cold because it only gets harder with a cold.
3) Be careful after arriving in Lhasa. Don’t engage in any physically demanding activities as soon as you arrive in Lhasa. Concentrate on getting acclimatized for the first couple of days. Don’t drink alcohol and take foods that are high on calories like chocolates. Don’t take a shower for the first couple of days so that you don’t catch a cold. Eat food only from clean places and lots of drink butter tea.
4) Buy your medication in advance. Carry your medication with you everywhere and buy small oxygen tanks in case of emergencies. They can be easily found in medical shops and even in some hotels. If you feel that your symptoms are becoming severe and feeling increasingly uncomfortable, inform your guide immediately and they will take you to a good hospital.
Many people still travel to Lhasa and go to even higher altitude places in Tibet. With proper preparation enjoy Lhasa without any hassles and health scares. You can contact us for detailed information about how to avoid altitude sickness while you are visiting different parts of Tibet.