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Travel to Tibet Information

Virtually all of the Tibetan autonomous region, much of Qinghai and Xinjiang, and parts of Sichuan, Yunnan, and Gansu are above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) in altitude. Some main roads in Tibet, Qinghai, and Xinjiang go above 17,000 feet (5,200 meters), where available oxygen is only half of that at sea level.

Conditions in Tibet are primitive, and travel there can be particularly arduous. Medical facilities are practically nonexistent. Many otherwise healthy visitors to the high altitude areas may suffer severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, or dry cough. These symptoms usually disappear after a few days of acclimatization.

However, if symptoms persist, sufferers should descend to a lower altitude, or seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Visitors with respiratory or cardiac problems should avoid such high altitudes. Consult a physician before making the trip.

Tibet Entry/Exit Requirements

Permits are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally open to foreigners. Travel arrangements to Tibet can be made from outside of China, but once in China, travelers wishing to visit Tibet must join a group, which can be arranged by almost any Chinese travel agency. The travel agency will arrange for the necessary permits and collect any fees.

The Chinese Government requires foreigners (including U.S. citizens) wishing to visit Tibet to apply in advance for approval from the Tourist Administration of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

More information is available from the Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese consulates in the United States, or while in China, from the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate General. (The U.S. Embassy and consulates addresses are listed at the end of this pamphlet.) Recently, some Americans with long-term Chinese visas have experienced difficulty obtaining permits to visit Tibet.

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