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5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

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5 days 4 nights at Lhasa


I am finalizing my itinerary for my trip to Tibet next month (everything is so last minute). I will be traveling with my parents (55 and 62 years olds) and my husband (we both are in early 30s). Please let me know if this doesn't look too ambitious. My dad is really into Buddhism and thus I want to cover as many grounds as possible.

We'll be flying from Chengdu. This is what I sent to the local travel agent and I'm awaiting for the final quote.

Day 1: Airport Transfer - rest in hotel

Day 2: Free day - no service (Potala Palace, Barkhor Street, and Jokhang Temple)

Day 3: Day Excursion to Lake Namtso via YangPaChen Hotspring.

Day 4: Drive to Drak Yerpa Cave, Drepung Monastery morning, and Sera Monastery afternoon

Day 5: Hotel transfer to airport.

I have made reservation of House of Shambala and thus, we think we can do day 2 ourselves instead of guided tour? So far, The quote we got is over USD 300 - 350/person excluding meals, flights, and accomodations and entrance fees. This will include tibet permit, airport transfer and guided tour on day 3 and day 4. I'm not sure if this is reasonable quote?

Do you think we can do Day 4 ourselves as well? I heard taxi is quite available (My husband speaks fluent mandarin as well).

Greatly appreciate your inputs. Thank you.

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1. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

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Removed on: 31 July 2007, 11:15
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2. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

I visited Lhasa in late May with my son (I am 61, he is 33). He speaks fluent Mandarin. If you have a Chinese speaker with you, I would strongly recommend doing without the guide/driver. We didn't do your destination on Day 3, and we also did not do the Cave, but we did everything else. Taxis were a fine way to go, although we had to wait a little bit for a cab to get back from Drepung down into Lhasa (about 5 minutes).

However, the only tricky thing is getting into the Potala, and here a guide can help you out. They give out a limited number of tickets each day for the next day's tours of the Potala. When we were there (and I understand this changes), the ticket office opened at noon. We just happened to be walking past the place where you line up to get the tickets at about 11:15, so we just waited in line (you can sit down) and read our guidebook until the ticket office opened. We were lucky - and it might be more of a hassle than it's worth if the timing isn't right. If you hire a guide to get through the Potala, they of course come with tickets. However - another wierd thing - if you have a guide with you, you are limited to a one-hour tour of the Potala. If you are on your own, you can spend as much time as you want.

We stayed at the House of Shambala. They can help you sort all of this out, especially if the owner, Lawrence Brahm, is in residence. He is an American who really knows Lhasa.

My only other piece of advice is that we took the train from Beijing to Lhasa so we acclimated to the altitude gradually and easily. If you arrive by plane, you may take a little longer to adjust.

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3. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

Vagabond, you were incredibly lucky to get Potala permits at 11:15 - we had to queue from 7am. At 8am they sent everybody at the back of the queue home and didn't start issuing the permits as you say until 12:00 - a wasted half day. My hostel roommates went at 6am one morning and were turned away so went back at 4 or 5 am the next day. Also the permits are for THE NEXT DAY so unless you use a guide it is impossible to see the Potala on Day 2.

OP - what ARE you getting for your $300? Airport bus is 25 RMB. You do not need a guide for Day 2 or Day 4. Sera Monastery is well served by local buses but would be a cheap taxi ride. Make sure you are there after 3pm for the "debating". There are many tours to Nam Tso sold on the streets of Lhasa & they run daily.

I suggest you take AMS medicine starting a few days before you leave Chengdu. I took Chinese herbal medicine (which I don't believe in) but didn't want to spoil my holiday. We spent 10 days travelling by bus from Xining to Lhasa so had plenty of time to acclimatise but still many of our group suffered headaches.

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4. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

The taxi is very conivent in Lhasa. If you take taxi , it is 10RMB within Lhasa, it is about 15RMB to take taxi to the around of Lhasa.

You can do the tour without guide , maybe you can get more fun

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5. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

Hi All,

Thank you for your responses. I did the confirmation to one of the travel agent ($340 per person for 4 guided days including tibet permit, potala entrance fees, cars & guides, including namtso lake which I heard it's quite a drive - 270KM from Lhasa?). I'm hoping for a good trip and will report back here. Yes, I heard about Potala tickets as well and thus every adamant in getting the tour to include the potala ticket reservation included. We are doing Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, and Shanghai ourselves except for Lhasa.

I have other questions and greatly appreciate your helps on this.

1. My mom (55 y.o), she's slightly anemic though doctor said she's getting much better and should be ok (last year, she went to JiuZhaiGou, near Chengdu, and she didn't experience AMS) .

I recommend her to consult her doctor one more time before our trip and get diamox prescription. If the doctor prescribe her something like diamox, should she take this before we board the plane (we depart from Beijing at 7 AM in the morning and arrive at Lhasa at 11 AM) or when we arrive inLhasa?

2. Where can we buy oxygen pillow? Is airport the best place to buy one just in case my parents need one?

3. I keep hearing that for day 1, we need to do light activities to adjust. I am wondering since we arrive 11 AM in the morning, we can't possibly stay in the hotel all day right? What do you guys usually do to acclimitize with AMS? Surely walking around the hotel area (in my case, we stay at house of shambala) should be ok?

4. My father is really into meditation and I do light yoga. It might be a strecth but is there a good meditation center that we can go? I also noticed that house of shambala has a spa next door. Maybe a massage might be a good way to get rest/acclimitized as well?

5. When is the best day to visit the monastery to see the young tibetan monks debate? I have heard that they close on Sunday, is this true?

Thank you all for your responses.

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6. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

Hi Restless:

Diamox guideline:

To prevent altitude sickness, start taking (Diamox) acetazolamide 1 to 2 days before you start to climb. Continue taking it while you are climbing and for at least 48 hours after you have reached your final altitude. You may need to continue taking this medication while staying at the high altitude to control your symptoms. If you develop severe altitude sickness, it is important that you climb down as quickly as possible. Acetazolamide will not protect you from the serious effects of severe altitude sickness. (See also Precautions.)

I took the train from Guangzhou in June to Lhasa (56 hours), it was exhausting couped up on the train, but gave me time to acclimate.

When I arrived in Lhasha I didnt suffer any altitude sickness, though the guide warned everyone not to exert themselves too much the first day & not to take a hot shower. Of course everyone condition is different, some do get the sickness.

Since you are from the Bay area, if you have been to Lake Tahoe/Reno area & do any kind of hiking (which I did) that would be around 9000 feet. Lhasa is about 12,000 feet. If you did OK in Tahoe mountain area then I would say not to worry.

I've seen people in my group are more hyped by the altitude sickness warning & talked themselves into having one when in fact it is not. My suggestion is go slow first day, drink plenty of fluid.

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7. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa


Confirming what Rptlam said, you take Diamox two days before traveling to Lhasa. In our case we arrived in Kathmandu from Bangkok on a Sunday and began taking Diamox on that morning. My wife and I are in our early 60's. We flew to Lhasa on a Tuesday arriving around 10:00 AM or so. Between immigration, baggage claim and a 11/2 hour trip to Lhasa, we didn't get to the hotel ( Bhramapurna) until early afternoon, which will be your situation. We hung around the hotel for the rest of the day, had an early dinner and went to bed. Other than feeling like having a mild cold, waking up a couple of times during the night, we were fine. The next morning we visited the Potala Palace. I will admit that our rear ends were dragging a bit after climbing the steps, but we recovered OK. The rest of our trip - eventually by land back to Kathmandu we experienced only mild symptoms, and continued to take diamox until we hit Zangmu. It was interesting how all cold - like symptoms vanished from Zangmu onward. I think you'll be OK, but as many posters have said everyone reacts differently and age doesn't appear to be a significant factor.

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8. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

DCVagabond.....would greatly appreciate if you could give me the contacts of the guide in Lhasa who can get us the Potala tickets if we book him as our tour guide for the day. None of the agencies I contacted were willing to get us the tickets even when we are renting their car and guide and driver.

Hope to get this sorted out bu tomorrow as we're leaving teh day after....

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9. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

Thank you all for your responses and clarification about diamox.

Rptlam, yes, I've been to Lake tahoe many times (mostly snowboarding there during winter) and I don't experience any AMS at all. I am a bit concerned about my mom since her HB level are kind of on the low side (because of this trip, she's very motivated to get healthy).

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10. Re: 5 days 4 nights at Lhasa

Hi All,

I want to share our experience from airport, hotel, travel document, and our itinerary in our trip report.

I got a lot of useful feedback in this forum and I hope my experience can help those who have questions. I swapped Lake Namtso to Day 4 instead of 3 since it has higher elevation and 2 people in our group has a mild symptom of AMS. Other than Potala visit being limited to 1 hr only (with understandable restriction), I find the pace is about right.

For people who are interested in Buddhism, I also recommend Drak Yerpa Cave. A lot of local tibetans come to pray here and I don't see as many tourists as Jokhang or Sera. As we visit from temple to temple, we also learned a lot about the famous local lamas who meditate in this place as well.


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