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Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

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singapore
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Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

We are planning a trip to Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Shangri-la. But due to flight schedules, it actually makes more sense for us to fly direct to Shangri-la on arrival in Kunming and then make our way down to Lijiang, Dali and back to Kunming. However, I am concerned that this may not give us time to acclimatise to the altitude. Is this a major concern and should we just work our way north, instead of travelling south?

Also my husband has mild asthma - is he suited for this travel (we will check with the doctor as well but would like to hear other travellers' experience.

We do not intend to do any strenous activity, just normal sightseeing visits and photo taking. Thanks for advice.

Christchurch, New...
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1. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

The altitude at Shangri-La is not that great. You will find it tiring to climb up the many steps to the monastery and should drink plenty of water.

Miami Beach, Florida
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2. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

Your personal physicians are the best sources of exact information. They know your medical history, age, lung condition and exercise routine.

I am 65, take walks of 10K a few times a week and have had no altitude problems in China that a simple aspirin (for the headache) could not cure.

Remember an airplane is pressurized to an altitude of 10,000 feet, or about 2 miles high, about 3 km high. ShangriLa is the same altitude, so expect the normal feet swelling, dull headache and so forth. If your lungs already are impaired, then only the medical doctor can offer a knowledgeable opinion.

I did feel a noticeable effect upon landing at the Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong Airport in Sichuan Province with an altitude of 3,500 meters. On Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at Lijiang, the cable cars take you up the Yulong Mountain to a height of over 4,000 meters. Oxygen bottles (for rent) are needed there by almost everyone.

Boston...
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3. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

FYI, my friends and I are planning a very similar route next week (i.e. it makes more sense in terms of timing to arrive in Kunming, then to Shangrila, before heading to Lijiang and back to Kunming).

Our situation may be a little different as we're all mid 20's with no respiratory issues. However, if you'd like I definitely plan on posting a report upon our return and can let you know how that goes.

We're also planning to take 1 week in advance the medicine that is said to help with altitude sickness (don't know the English name, but I'm sure your pharmacy may have it). Other than that, I guess we just have to be careful not to do too much strenuous activity.

singapore
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4. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

Thanks and look forward to seeing your report. Yes, we are in our late 40s/early 50s and generally in good health apart from my husband's asthma. We will definitely also contact with our doctors prior to the trip. I was also wondering if the time of year has any bearing on altitude sickness - we are planning late May visit, ie. close to summer. Is it better than a winter or cold weather visit, in terms of altitude sickness?

Hong Kong, China
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5. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

From my research, the single most important factor to altitude sickness is rate of ascent. Level of fitness, age, time of year, etc, have no bearing on whether you will be susceptible or not. We felt the effects of the altitude in Kunming (under 2000m - headaches and breathlessness) but we were fine in lijiang. We used oxygen at JDSM, more as preventive than feeling the effects. We were fine but our 9 y.o. was sick (running around having snowball fights and tubing at 4500m was probably the reason). Our 10 y.o. was also fine. So, I would consult your doctor but I would also try and change your itinerary to work your way up from Kunming rather than the other way around.

singapore
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6. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

Thanks for the sound advice. With this consideration, it would actually be better to take the road trip from Dali to Lijiang, than to fly in from Kunming?

Hong Kong, China
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7. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

Altitude-wise, there's not much difference between Kunming, Dali and Lijiang in altitude - about 1900m, 2200m and 2500m respectively. Depending on what you read, altitude sickness shouldn't begin to affect people until 2400m but no-one's the same. Wherever you start, you'll probably need to fly into Kunming from where you can catch a flight to either Dali or Lijiang. I would suggest you fly to Dali and drive from there. There is a lot to see and do along the way.

As well talking to your doctor, I would ensure that you read up on recognising the symptoms of altitude sickness - there is lots of info on the web.

australia
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8. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

Hi

Ideally it would better to do the trip starting from Kunming and you should consider doing that.

It would ensure that you would have a much more enjoyable trip.

I believe Zhongdian is around 3300 metres so to be dropped into that altitude without any building up to it you will certainly feel it.

We did the route all the way to Deqin a few years ago and stopped at a pass close on 4300 metres. It was a breeze and brilliant.

Remember you are coming from a very low 'sea level' country ,( I assume) and you should never underestimate the effects of altitude sickness.

Cheers

singapore
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9. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

Thank you all. I will go Kunming first. Now planning:

Day 1 - Arrive evening and overnight in Kunming

Day 2 - Kunming and then fly out to Lijiang in the afternoon

Day 3 - Dali (either as day trip or overnight)

Day 4 - Lijiang

Day 5 - JDSM/Impressions/Lijiang

Day 6 - Hire car to Zhongdian (stop at TLG)

Day 7 - Zhongdian and take night flight back to Kunming

Day 8 - Stone Forest/Kunming. Depart in the the evening flt

Is this doable? Not sure whether I should just do Dali as a day trip (then no need to check into another hotel) or should I overnight in Dali before returning to Lijiang? Thanks in advance for any advice.

Miami Beach, Florida
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10. Re: Itinerary - Concerns About Altitude Sickness

Of course this is all doable, but I would not spend your time in Kunming. While some may like the city and the Stone Forest, you must compare that with the alternatives of Lijiang and Zhongdian. Kunming is another nondescript Chinese city. Northern Yunnan is magnificent in scenery, clean air and ambiance.

I would head to Lijiang first thing on Day 2 and not bother with the stopover on Day 7. Just connect in Kunming and go on to your destination. You are wasting to what amounts to over a day and a half which could be put to much better use in Lijiang and/or Zhongdian. All your stops, unpacking, repacking and heading back to the airport takes time, money and energy.

I hate it when I get to a wonderful place (such as northern Yunnan) and wonder, "Why am I here for only one or two nights?"

Edited: 15 April 2011, 12:33