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High Altitude Illness

High Altitude Illness is one of the biggest challenges in traveling in Tibet. However, if you are properly informed and prepared, high altitude should not be an obstacle to safe and comfortable trip in Tibet.

Definition of High Altitude

- High Altitude: 1500 - 3500 m (5000 - 11500 ft)

- Very High Altitude: 3500 - 5500 m (11500 - 18000 ft)

- Extreme Altitude: above 5500 m

When acclimatization lags significantly behind ascent, various symptoms occur. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) represents the body's intolerance of the hypoxic (low oxygen) environment at high elevations.

Symptoms of AMS?

- Hyperventilation (fast breathing)

- Shortness of breath during exertion

- Increased urination

- Altered breathing patterns at night

- Frequent nighttime awakening

- Strange dreams

Altitudes of different regions of Tibet

Place Altitude Place Altitude
Lhasa 3658 m (12001 ft) Nyingchi 3000 m (9843 ft)
Nagqu 4507 m (14787 ft) Tsedang 3500 m (11483 ft)
Qamdo 3205 m (10515 ft) Shigatse 3836 m (12585 ft)
Damshung 4200 m (13780 ft) Gyangtse 4040 m (13255 ft)
Pome 2750 m (9022 ft) Tingri 4300 m (14108 ft)
Amdo 4800 m (15748 ft) Zayui 2325 m (7628 ft)

Tips to avoid AMS

- Do exercise to improve your fitness before coming to Tibet.

- Try to avoid catching a cold.

- Make sure to get a good sleep the night before flying to Lhasa.

- Do not try any strenuous activities during your first day in Tibet.

- When arriving in the airport in Lhasa, walk slowly, take deep breath. Take time to acclimatize.

- Ascend to higher altitudes gradually. DO NOT ASCEND ANY HIGHER if you begin feeling ill.

- Prepare AMS medication, in accordance with a doctor's advice.