Health care

Overview

Medical care is inadequate and almost entirely absent in rural areas outside of Lhasa. Taking out travel health insurance with reliable travel insurance is strongly recommended. The nearest medical facilities are in Chengdu and Katmandu. Traditional Tibetan healing methods can be used in Lhasa.

Food and drink

Water should generally either be boiled or otherwise sterilized or bought packaged before it is used for drinking, brushing teeth and making ice cubes. Bottled water is available almost everywhere and is inexpensive. When buying packaged water, you should make sure that the original packaging has not been opened. Caution should be exercised when consuming food at small food stalls or roadside restaurants due to possible poor hygiene. Vegetables should be boiled and fruits should be peeled.

Other risks

In Tibet, altitude sickness in particular is a risk factor. Symptoms range from shortness of breath and headaches to incoordination and vomiting. Altitude sickness occurs at altitudes above about 3000 m (that is, almost everywhere in Tibet). It is extremely important to plan several days in Lhasa for acclimatization. When traveling outside of Lhasa, the elevation gain per day should not exceed 500m (ascent). As elsewhere in China, hepatitis B is endemic in Tibet. Avian flu is sporadic and has resulted in a small number of human deaths. Rabies occurs and is a risk when traveling (especially backpacking) through rural areas.

Money

Currency

1 Renminbi Yuan (CNY; symbol ¥) = 10 Jiao/Mao. Banknotes come in denominations of ¥100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of ¥1 and ¥0.5 and 1 Jiao/Mao. ¥100 counterfeit bills are common. The yuan is often referred to colloquially as “Kuai”.

Credit cards

Travelers who want to pay with their bank customer card abroad and withdraw money should find out from their bank about the possibility of using their card before starting their journey. Visa, Diners Club, MasterCard, American Express and other cards are accepted in luxury hotels in Lhasa, but are rarely used as a means of payment.

ATMs

ATMs, found in many cities, are most reliable in Lhasa and Shigatse. In Lhasa, you can also withdraw cash with credit cards.

Traveler’s checks

Chinese banks pay a slightly higher rate for traveler’s checks than for cash, but they also charge a small commission (about 0.75%). Euros and US dollars are the easiest to exchange. Exchanging traveler’s checks outside of Lhasa and Shigatse is difficult, so bring a combination of traveller’s cheques, cash and credit/debit cards.

Bank opening hours

Mon-Fri 09.00-13.00 and 15.30-18.00; Sat and Sun 10am-4pm in Lhasa.

Foreign exchange regulations

The import and export of the national currency is only permitted up to 20,000 yen. The import of foreign currencies is unlimited and must be declared from an equivalent value of US$ 5,000. The export of foreign currencies is permitted up to the amount declared, minus the exchange amounts.

Currencies

Code Symbol Exchange rates (no guarantee)
CNY ¥ 1 EUR = 7.28 ¥
1 CHF = 8.61 ¥
1 USD = 6.95 ¥