Is It Convenient to Take a Hot Shower in Tibet?
Traveling in Tibet is one of the most amazing experiences you can have. However, with the high altitude and unique climate of the plateau, not to mention the remoteness of the region, there are some home comforts that you take for granted that you may have to sacrifice for a tour of Tibet. The main one is always going to be taking a hot shower or bath.
Accommodation facilities vary greatly across the plateau, with only the major cities such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Tsedang, Gyantse, and Nyingchi having the better facilities you are looking for. While you may find that the hotels or guesthouses in cities with extreme altitude have no hot running water, in many other places across the plateau, hot water for bathing is a luxury that is rare to find.
Bathroom Facilities and Where Can You Enjoy Hot Shower in Tibet
The bathroom facilities in the different parts of Tibet vary greatly, from state-of-the-art bathrooms in the five-star hotels of Lhasa to a bowl of cold stream water in the most remote regions. Not every place you will stay in has all the bathroom facilities you might want. As a general rule, the further away you get from the major cities, the poorer the facilities usually get. Many factors contribute to this, from the poor accommodation facilities in the remote regions of Tibet to the water shortages that can be found in some areas of the plateau. One example of the differences in bathroom facilities is the tour from Lhasa to the Everest Base Camp.
Have Hot Shower in Lhasa
When you arrive in Lhasa, most people like to stay in a comfortable hotel for the first few days, while they acclimatize to the high altitudes of the plateau. Lhasa has a good number of hotels that can provide hot running water for showers and baths, and for all travelers staying in hotels of three-star and above can expect to have almost all the facilities they would have at home. Many hotels have en-suite bathrooms with either a shower or bath, or even both.
Bathroom facilities and king-size bed in Gang Gyan Lhasa Hotel
Guesthouses and smaller hotels in Lhasa may have bathroom facilities, but rarely have showers, and even the water can be cold, so getting a hot bath may not be possible in some of the smaller local guesthouses in Lhasa.
Enjoy Hot Shower in Shigatse
While Shigatse does not have the number of four and five-star hotels that can be found in Lhasa, there are a good number of decent hotels that have en-suite bathrooms with baths or showers, including the Manasarovar Hotel, the Shigatse Hotel, and the Gesar Hotel, to name a few. Showers are the main feature in most of the hotels in Shigatse, rather than baths.
Bathroom facilties of Tashi Choten Hotel in Shigatse
There are fewer guesthouses in Shigatse, which means that the majority of the tourists in the city will need to use the major hotels. However, as you travel out from the city itself, the guesthouses are the main types of accommodation, and almost none have hot running water in the establishments. Some of the guesthouses have basic bathrooms, or shared bathrooms, but those that have running water only have cold water for washing.
Is It Possible to Enjoy Hot Shower at EBC
If you are traveling to the Rongbuk Monastery and Everest Base Camp (EBC), then you should expect to not be able to shower while you are there, Facilities at both the EBC tent guesthouses and the monastery guesthouse are very basic, with few facilities for washing other than a bowl of cold water. Showers and baths do not exist in these remote locations, due to the location itself. A shortage of water at the higher altitudes is also a concern, and most water for washing comes from the local streams or sunk deep wells.
Warm and cozy Tibetan yak tent tourists stay at EBC in Tibet
If you are not one of the people that can be comfortable with no shower or washing in cold water from a bowl, then one useful tip would be to bring a large supply of wet wipes for hygiene purposes. These can help you to feel refreshed and you can wash off your whole body with wipes before getting dressed, so that you feel a little less grubby while out in the more remote areas of Tibet.
Enjoy Hot Shower in Gyirong Before Exiting Tibet to Nepal
For those traveling across Tibet to exit into Nepal for a further adventure in the mountains, then you will normally stop in Gyirong Town, before transferring to the border the following morning. It is best to cross the border early, as there may not be transport to Nepal if you are there too late in the day.
Gyirong Town has a surprisingly good number of hotels for such a small town, but as the main entry and exit point to Tibet from Nepal, this small community has risen to become a major tourist destination. All of the hotels and guesthouses in Gyirong Town have modern facilities, which include hot running water for showers or baths. Check the classic Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour via Gyriong border.
The main hotels in the town include the Gyirong Shengtai Hotel, the Shigatse Gyirong Shengyuan Hotel, the Shigatse Silver Star Hotel, and the Mount Everest Backyard Garden Business Hotel, all of which are good three-star hotels. Even the local hostel, the Gyirong Hand & Hand International Hostel, has much better facilities than you would expect for a backpacker-type hostel, and has hot running water for baths and showers.
Can I Take Shower the First Day in Lhasa?
While you may feel like you want a shower to refresh yourself when you get to Lhasa, especially if you have just had a long train journey, it is actually not advisable to do so, especially if you are going to be wandering around outside a lot or the hotel does not have adequate heating. If you take a shower in the colder climate, even if it is a hot shower, you may find that you are more susceptible to catching a cold, which can happen easily for those first entering Tibet.
One of the main concerns when first arriving in Lhasa is altitude sickness. Taking a shower on the first days puts you in a catch-22 situation. If you take a shower when you already have altitude sickness, your body’s ability to fight off the potential to catch a cold is lowered, making you more susceptible. And for those that do not have altitude sickness yet, there is still a high chance that getting too cold from showering in the higher altitude will cause a cold, which will also help to increase the chance of altitude sickness.
There are instances when it would be okay to shower in the first few days, but you would really need to be in one of the best hotels in Lhasa that has full central heating throughout the entire hotel, to keep you from getting cold. And even then, it is still advisable to not wash your hair, unless you can blow it dry with a hot-air hair drier. Otherwise, it is best to wait until you have fully acclimatized to the higher altitude before taking a nice refreshing shower.
One thing to remember when in Tibet is that the weather is mostly cold, and the arid climate and lower temperatures will rarely ever leave you feeling hot and sweaty, even for those out on a trekking tour.
What to Do When Shower Facilities Are Not Available Nearby in Tibet
If there are not facilities for showering or bathing in the remote areas, then you do have some options to stay clean and free from the daily grime and dust of the plateau. For those that are a little more adventurous, there are plenty of springs and streams in Tibet, as well as hot springs. If you have the opportunity to go to one of the many hot springs, then you will be able to wash properly both before and after taking a dip in the rejuvenating hot waters of the spring.
Treating yourself with healing hot spring in Tibet
There are also streams that you can use for water to wash in if you are trekking and camping, and you just need to make sure that you do not throw any soapy water back into the stream itself. You can also use wet wipes for washing when you are out in the more remote areas of Tibet. These damp wipes are hygienic and useful, and can keep you clean and feeling refreshed when you are not able to get to a shower. They are also useful for a little refreshing wipe when you feel tired and grubby during the day.
All in all, taking a shower in Tibet is really limited to the major cities, such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse, etc. Few of the guesthouses will have facilities for showering or bathing, and only the main hotels will have hot running water in most areas of the plateau. Hot springs are a great way to get a nice relaxing hot soak, and can be found in many places around the region. Just remember to avoid showering for the first day or two until you acclimatize.