Getting to see Mount Everest (Qomolangma, in Tibetan) with your own eyes is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience worthy of any travel bucket list. In this post, I share a recap of our journey from Beijing to Everest Base Camp Tibet along with Tibet travel tips. Watch the journey to Everest video below or keep reading.
Below are some of the topics covered in this post.
- Qinghai-Tibet Railway
- Altitude/Mountain Sickness in Tibet
- Travel Gear for Tibet
- Tibet Travel Permit & China Visa
- RV Travel in Tibet
- How to Access Google in Tibet
Journey to Everest Base Camp Tibet
Our journey started in Beijing where we took three trains to Lhasa. From Lhasa we took a tour with a Tibetan travel guide to Everest Base Camp on the Tibet side. The base camp we visited is the tourist base camp, which is a few kilometers away from the hiker base camp. Our tour was in early September, which ended up being an ideal time of year to visit Tibet. The temperature was in the high 60s/low 70s with plenty of sunshine. I only recall one partly cloudy day during our time in Tibet.
The two most popular ways to get to Tibet is by airplane or train. We opted to take the Qinghai-Tibet railway from Xining to Lhasa. This video will give you an idea of what it’s like to ride the world’s highest railway. The scenery was incredible and worth enduring a long train ride without fresh air.
Here are a few tips if you decide to take the train to Tibet:
- Bring your own toilet paper (western and squat toilets on the train)
- Hot water is available on the train
- Bring a thermos to make instant coffee/tea
- Dining car serves hot meals. Our favorite dish was sautéed fresh organic vegetables
Altitude Sickness or Mountain Sickness in Tibet
To reduce symptoms of altitude sickness in Tibet, give your body time to acclimate to the altitude change. In our experience, research and from speaking to tour guides in Tibet, the best way to reduce or avoid mountain sickness is by getting enough rest, avoiding alcohol, drinking plenty of water and not overeating.
We spent three nights in Lhasa (11k+ feet), one night in Shigatse (12k+ feet), and one night in Tingri (14k+ feet) before going to Everest Base Camp Tibet (17k feet).
Oxygen bottles are available for purchase in Tibet. Every hotel we stayed had oxygen bottles for purchase, 25-30 yuan per bottle. It is not recommended to use oxygen for mild symptoms of altitude sickness.
There are also pills for mountain sickness. We brought a bottle of Altitude RX Oxyboost and took it according to the instructions. It’s hard to say for certain if the pills worked to reduce the symptoms of being at high altitude. Would our symptoms have been worse if we didn’t take it?
Mild symptoms of mountain sickness include shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches, which we both had. In our experience, eating fruits, rice and other high-carbohydrate foods helped alleviate the headaches. When Joe’s headaches became severe and unbearable, the oxygen did help alleviate the pain.
Tibet Travel Gear – Sun Protection
Having the right gear to protect from the UV rays is essential when going to Tibet. Bring a pair of polarized sunglasses, wide brim sun hat (Joe’s Tilley Airflo, my OR Sombrero.), clothes with sun protection and a quality sunscreen. We also recommend a good travel water filter. Bottled water is readily available, but we prefer to make our own purified water and cut down on plastic bottles.
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Activities While You’re in Tibet
In addition to breathtaking views of the Himalayas and going to Everest Base Camp Tibet, below is a list of other activities we enjoyed.
- Potala Palace
- Jokhang temple
- Barkhor Street
- Yamdrok Lake
- Korola Glacier
- Namtso Lake (we didn’t make it here, but it’s highly recommended)
Most of these activities can be found on tourist itineraries for travel in Tibet.
Travel Permits & Visa
For our trip to Everest Base Camp Tibet, we needed three travel documents in addition to our U.S. passports:
- 1) China visa – since Tibet is a province in China, a visa is required for foreigners. We applied for this visa on our own as it was not included with the tour we booked.
- 2) Tibet Travel Permit – this important document lists every destination we plan to visit during our time in Tibet. The tour operator applied for this permit on our behalf.
- 3) Alien’s Travel Permit – this travel document is issued for restricted areas such as Everest Base Camp. The tour operator applied for this permit on our behalf.
Depending on where you want to go in Tibet, a military permit may also be required. Explore Tibet wrote an in-depth post on the types of permits for Tibet.
RVing in Tibet
I did find a couple who managed to rent an RV and travel around Yunnan and Tibet. Seeing the photo of their RV camped with Mount Everest in the background definitely inspired me to look into it more. Although we didn’t end up RVing around Tibet, it’s an option.
Learn more about John and Harriet’s adventure RVing in China.
How to Access Google in Tibet
Since we work while traveling, being able to access websites like Google, YouTube, and Facebook is essential. We purchased ExpressVPN and set it up on our laptops and iPhones before we left on our trip. Besides gaining access to thousands of websites blocked in China, the VPN service also provides a secure connection when connecting to public wifi networks. The connection was slow at times, but we never had an issues accessing the websites we needed.
Facts about Mount Everest
Mount Everest or Qomolangma isn’t the tallest mountain in the World. However, it does have the highest summit above sea level. When measured from base to summit, Mauna Kea in Hawaii is the tallest in the world.
The mountain was already called Qomolangma by the Tibetans and Nepalse before the British decided to name it after surveyor George Everest in 1856.
The mountain continues to grow each year at a rate of approximately 4 millimeters.
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