What’s the best way to pack?

If you’re planning a trip to Tibet, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with all the essentials. Whether you’re embarking on a day trip or a multi-day tour, here are some of the items you’ll want to pack for your Tibet adventure.

Travel Gear

It is very important to pack lightly.  No matter how long your trip is or where you are planning to go, it is always essential to pack with minimal amounts of clothes and other supplies.  One medium-large backpack or rolling duffel and a day pack should be enough for a 2-4 week trip. Before getting on the plane, we recommend walking around the block several times with your bags and to see how it feels.
If it feels heavy, then it would be wise to take out any nonessential items. In general, Tibetans dress conservatively and do not reveal much skin.  It is traditional for Tibetan women to wear long skirts but we do not pressure our guests to dress in traditional clothing. For men and women, shorts are inappropriate and instead, jeans or skirts are recommended. In the summer and spring, doing your own laundry is an excellent solution to dirty clothes.  The strong sunlight and dry environment are perfect for allowing clothes to dry quickly.
Here are the essentials:
  • 1 pair of Hiking Boots/Sturdy Sneakers
  • Sleeping Bag and insulation pad
  • Ground cloth or tarp (recommended but not required)
  • Rain Gear (waterproof pants and jacket)
  • Towel
  • 3-5 T-Shirts
  • 1 Lightweight Fleece or Wool Sweater
  • 2 Pairs of Nylon pants
  • 5-7 Pairs of Socks ( polypropylene or wool are recommended)
  • 3-5 Pairs of Underwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal Toiletries (you may want to carry your own toilet paper and some zip-lock bags, as bathrooms may not be readily available.)
  • Personal Medication
  • Camera, Batteries, and Digital Memory Cards
  • Adapter and Surge Protector (see detail below)
  • Light-weight thermal shirts or long underwear ( recommended but not required)

Many of you may be wondering what type of power socket is being used in Tibet.  For Class 1 appliances, a Type 1 3-pin plug and socket are being used.  In Tibet, plugs are rated as 220V 50Hrtz. 

Why is it important to bring these plugs?  For one, this age is also known as the  ‘cloud-computing‘ era, meaning more and more people are bringing their electrical devices overseas to use and enjoy.  Whether it be a mobile phone, palm or PDA device, laptop, or other electrical device, all these use batteries and many need to be recharged.  It is very important to bring along the right pin plugs because most often, the power socket type is not the same type as in your own country. Although these plugs are just a small item, they will save you lots of time upon arrival if the right adaptors are brought.

Not only will you be needing to bring along a power socket adaptor, but it is essential that you also bring a 2-pin adaptor socket to fit nicely into either a wall socket or a shave socket. This type of adaptor and socket is available at your local electrical or travel shop. Please check the socket-type pictures below.

If you can’t get these items in your own country, they are most likely available at the Chinese airport and will save you a lot of time and hassle later on.  According to the travel blog, ‘Travel Feeder’, these items are essential for a smooth trip.
Please note that if you are embarking on an extended trekking trip, you should leave room in your pack for a camp stove, water bottle, down jacket, tent, etc. If you need to borrow or rent any equipment, please let us know beforehand.  Most likely, Explore Tibet can lend you these items for the extent of the trip.
In addition to the essential items listed above, you may also want to bring the following:
  • Personal Music Player
  • Journal
  • Binoculars
  • Wide-Brimmed Hat
  • Swim Suit (for hot springs!)
  • Bandanas
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Sunscreen- SPF 30+
  • Money Belt or Fanny Pack
  • Snacks (Cliff/Luna bars, trail mix, jerky and dried fruit are good options)
  • Other Personal Items that may make you feel comfortable

We also recommend that you view this Packing video: Watch this easy and efficient packing video.

Recommended reading list

Traveling in Tibet will probably be a totally different experience for many folks so it is also recommended that our clients take a look at some of the books listed below.  With its natural beauty, rich culture, and flavorful food, Tibet is a very special place that can sometimes be misunderstood if travelers are uninformed.  We suggest our clients become educated about different topics so that it’s not such a big “culture shock.”  Reading these books will only enrich your travel experience by informing you about Tibet’s background and history.  Although these books are excellent reference points to start with, we also suggest that you do your own personal research searching relevant topics on the Internet, looking through Tibet-related books in your local library, or talking to local Tibetans in your area to get first-hand stories and tips.

Books on Lhasa and the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region):

Books on the Kham and Amdo regions:

  •  Footprints Tibet Handbook by Gyurme Dorje  
  •  Lonely Planet China (See Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu Provinces)
  •  Bradt Guide Tibet by Michael Buckley

Books on Tibetan Buddhism and other topics:

  •  Photographic Guide to Birds of the Himalayas by Bikram Grewal
  •  Essential Tibetan Buddhism by Robert Thurman
  •  Tibet, An Inner Journey by Matthieu Richard
  •  Tibet, An Enduring Civilization by Francoise Pommaret
  •  Tibetan Book of the Dead by Graham Coleman/Gyurme Dorje
  •  My Tibet by Galen Rowell
  •  It’s Easier Than You Think, The Buddhist Way To Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein
  •  Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism by John Powers
  •  Buddhism, A Very Short Introduction by Damien Keown
  •  Learning Practical Tibetan by Andrew Bloomfield and Yanki Tshering
  •  Lonely Planet Tibetan Phrasebook by Sandup Tsering