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The Most Complete Guide to Traveling Tibet with Kids

Editor Date: June,22 2017

Traveling to the mysterious land of Tibet, riding the Qingzang Railway across the roof of the world, and discovering the limitless wonders on the Tibetan Plateau is an adventure of a lifetime for anyone. But for kids, it must be the most amazing trip in the world. Through the eyes of a child, the world is full of wonder, so what more the wonders that abound in the land of snows!

Tour Everest Base Camp with kidsTour Everest Base Camp with young kids

Traveling with your kids is not only an adventure, but there are many more things to be aware of during the trip. As a parent, you have to be more aware of the needs of the kids, and much more aware of what they are eating, where they will be staying, and what they need to wear. And an important thing to consider is the age of the child you plan on taking.

A Swiss family visited Everest Base Camp with Tibet Vista

>> Check classic Tibet family tours here and choose the one suiting you best.

High Altitudes

According to experts, taking kids under the age of 4 should be avoided. Young children under five may have trouble explaining what they are feeling if they start to feel the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). This problem communicating may mean that AMS symptoms could be mistaken for simpler issues such as jet lag, eating unfamiliar food, or even flu. Delaying the treatment of the symptoms of AMS in children due to mistaken diagnosis can be dangerous for the child. The lungs, brains, and hearts of young children are still in the stages of development, and there is an increased risk of AMS in children under five.

The two kids under five are fit very well to the high altitude of Tibet.

The altitude of the region is of the highest concern, and even though over-4s might be able to communicate what they are feeling better, the ideal age for a child to travel in high altitude areas is 7-8 years old. There are some important tips to remember when traveling with children:

· Before traveling to Tibet, have your child checked by your local doctor, and ensure you have a supply of medication should the child show symptoms of AMS.

· Kids tend to get bored easily, and are always on the move. Try not to let them run around or jump too violently, as this increases the burden on their bodies, and could increase the risks of AMS.

· Do not let them shower for the first few days in the colder, high altitude of Tibet, as they may catch colds more easily, making them more susceptible to AMS.

· Avoid tours that have long days of trekking as kids are not strong enough to handle high altitude treks and more strenuous travel.

Food Safety

Food can often be a problem when traveling with kids. Even without the strange food on offer in Tibet, kids can be picky with what they want to eat. Kids may not like the traditional Tibetan foods such as tsampa, yak butter tea, yak meat, and mutton unless they are the adventurous type. And even then, the taste might not be to their liking. Tibetan food can be a little on the bland side for most tastes.

Barkhor Street in TibetEnjoy ice cream at the Barkhor Street in Lhasa

However, there is a wide mix of foods available in the major cities in Tibet, with Chinese, Nepali, and western food being freely available. Nepalese lentils and rice, Chinese noodles and other dishes, Indian tandoor dishes, and even pancakes, American-style breakfasts, and pizza can be found in places such as Lhasa, so there is plenty to choose from for your children. Eating facilities are normally clean, although in more remote regions they can be very basic.

Jokhang Monastery in TibetJokhang Monastery, the religious center in Tibet

Also in the more remote regions, Tibetan dishes may be the only thing available, so it may be a good idea to carry some pot noodles, packet foods, and dried food and soups with you. Boiling water is available everywhere, and it is useful to have a reserve menu for the kids if they decide they do not like the local menu. It is also a good idea to carry some high-energy foods for them to snack on, as they use up their energy quicker than adults anyway, and in the high altitude, will get tired much quicker. Nuts, dried fruits, granola bars, biscuits, and chocolate snacks are ideal for this.

Jokhang Temple in TibetKeldor is teaching the kids how to take great photos from the roof of Jokhang Temple.

If you do decide to travel to Tibet with small kids (under 4), then it is best to stay in the area around Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Lhasa is the urban center of the region, and has better medical assistance available if your child needs it than in the more remote areas. Moreover, it is the safest place to stay with very small children, where you can keep an eye on them at all times. Even with slightly older children, it is a good idea to keep them with you at all times, and not allow them to wander off out of your sight.

>> Join in our classic Lhasa tours to explore the ancient city on the roof of the world

Tibet Hotels and Accommodations

In Lhasa and other larger cities in Tibet, the accommodations are more than suitable for travelers with children. In Lhasa there are some very good hotels, such as the Sheraton, St. Regis, and many other domestic hotels that are at least 3-star by the international guide. If you want to all stay in the same room, many hotels will provide an extra bed for a small fee, if they do not have family rooms available. However, a lot of hotels, even those with the best reputations, have rooms that are a little on the small side, so the extra bed may not be viable. Adjoining rooms are often available in those situations, and they are normally connected by a door. Alternatively, you can all sleep in one double bed if there is enough room.

Luxury St. Regis Lhasa ResortSpacious twin roon in St. Regis Lhasa Resort

In the more remote areas you may find that the hotels and hostels have very small rooms with only single beds, so a whole family sharing is not possible. Try to arrange adjoining rooms, so that you can stay close by your children when they are sleeping. In tented accommodation, such as Rongbuk and EBC, tents that are big enough for the family can be arranged quite easily.

>> Click here to see all hotels for foreign travelers in Lhasa City
>> Click here to see all hotels for foreign travelers in Shigatse Prefecture

Best Time to Travel Tibet

When to travel to Tibet with kids is an important factor, and there are several things to consider when choosing the time of year to go. If you want to spend your time in and around Lhasa, then you are free to travel all year round, although the best times to visit Tibet are between April and October. For travel outside Lhasa, it is best to avoid the colder months, as kids tend to catch colds more easily in the higher altitude.

>> Refer to Tibet tour calendar to make a wonderful trip to Tibet in 2020&2021

Gawula Mountain PassHanging prayer flags at the Gawula Mountain Pass(5210m) on a sunny afternoon

If your travel schedule is flexible enough, the shoulder seasons are the best times to visit with kids, either spring or fall. These off-season months, from early April to Mid June, and again from mid October to late November, are best for traveling with kids, as there are less tourists visiting the region, and the weather is generally clear, allowing for better views of the mountains and landscapes. Temperatures are warm, without getting too hot or cold during the day, though nights can get rather chilly.

>> Read more about Tibetan climate and weather in each month

the landmark of Everest Base CampMade it to Tibet Everest Base Camp in June, 2017

For many traveling with kids, summer is the only time they can travel, as this is the holiday season and kids are out of school. Summer in Tibet is the rainy season, or monsoon, and these months can be cloudy and wet, often hiding many of the great sights of the region, and kids will end up cooped up indoors or in the transport most of the time. Summer, particularly August, brings huge numbers of visitors to Tibet, and tens of thousands of Chinese travelers arrive in Lhasa every day. If the summer is your only option then it is best to travel in late June or July, to avoid the crowds in the peak season from late July through September.

What to Pack for Kids, and Other Tips

Another of the major concerns when traveling with kids is what to pack for them. Let them pack their own clothes and it will be all shorts and t-shirts, as they tend to think that is normal “holiday gear”, especially if the usual family vacation is at the beach. It is essential to bring both thick and thin clothes, to keep the kids warm enough in the colder parts of the year, and at night. Even in the warmer months, the nights can get rather chilly, so they will need warm clothes to wear to sleep. Several thin layers of clothes are best for staying warm in cold temperatures, with a thicker layer on the outside.

Visit Everest Base Camp with childrenIt’s necessary to prepare down coat for visiting Everest Base Camp.

Tibet is a sunny place most of the year, but the thinner atmosphere means the sun’s rays are much stronger, and can be more harmful to a child’s delicate skin. Apply plenty of sun block, and do not let them wear shorts and short-sleeved tops. Sunglasses are also a good idea, as their eyes may get harmed by the bright sunlight. Comfortable, light shoes for traveling in vehicles are good, and kids love to run and climb so a pair of strong, durable shoes or boots for walking and climbing is best.

Tibetan family and kidsMaking friends with Tibetan local family and kids

A first aid kit is a must when traveling with kids. Band-aids and dressings for small scrapes and cuts, plus alcohol and hydrogen peroxide for cleaning the wounds. Try to get some recommended medicines for stomach ache, diarrhea, nausea, insect bites, and headaches from your own doctor or pharmacy before you leave. Medication is scarce in many parts of Tibet, and it may be needed if your child gets ill. Medications to prevent and treat high altitude sickness, such as Diamox, should only be used for children on the recommendation of your family doctor. For more advice on preventing and treating altitude sickness in children, please consult your own doctor before you leave.

View of the HimalayasEnjoy the magnificant view of the Himalayas at Gawula Pass

When traveling in Tibet, the time spent driving between towns can be very long. For many children, they will get easily bored being stuck in the van for long periods of time. Make sure you have toys and games to entertain them on the long drives, and if they easily get travel sick, motion sickness bags may be necessary. Sucking boiled sweets can help with motion sickness, or your doctor can prescribe motion sickness medication before you leave.

Visiting Tashilhunpo Monastery in ShigatseVisiting Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet

When visiting the temples and monasteries in Tibet, please remember not to let kids run around and yell inside. Monasteries and temples are holy places for the Buddhist Tibetan people, and should be treated respectfully. Mani stones and prayer flags may also be a temptation for kids to play with, so please remind them to look only.

>> Join in our Tibet Monastery tours to know Tibetan Buddhism and culture better

A great idea for kids when visiting Tibet is to try and find a local Tibetan school that you can visit. Your kids can see the difference between their own school and the local schools, and will get a chance to meet and play with kids their own age.

So if you’re ready to a Lifetime Tour to Tibet, our dedicated and professional teams are expecting you in Tibet! Please feel free to reach us, sharing your great ideas. We would like to offer the most useful Tibet tour advice, For Free!

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