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Altitudes of Tibet's Major Cities and Attractions

Altitudes of Tibet's Major Cities and Attractions

Written by Carol WangUpdated Aug. 29, 2023

Tibet has an average altitude of roughly 4,380 meters(14,370 feet) above sea level. The lowest elevation city in Tibet is Nyingchi in its southeast, at around 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level, while its highest area is Ngari in west Tibet, with an average elevation of 4,500 meters (14,763feet).

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Tibet AltitudeTibet Altitude
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What is High Altitude?

Air at higher altitudes is colder, less dense, and less rich in oxygen molecules. Every 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) ascended leads to an average temperature drop of about 6°C (11°F) and 10% oxygen density.

The higher the altitude, the more difficult it is to breathe sufficient oxygen. We can categorize high altitudes as follows.

High Altitude: 2,700–3,500 m (8,900–11,500ft)

Generally speaking, 50–75% of people have some minor health issues when they reach 2,700 meters (8,858 ft) above sea level. Symptoms of this altitude sickness typically begin 6–48 hours after reaching high altitude areas.

Very High Altitude: 3,500–5,500 m (11,500–8,000ft)

All humans experience reduced function in these altitudes, though acclimatization is possible by most given enough time. Severe altitude sickness is a risk and precautions should be taken.

Extremely High Altitude: Over 5,500 m (18,000 ft)

No humans live continuously at these elevations, where the lack of oxygen is not possible to acclimate to fully. Generally, only extremely fit mountaineers ascend to these altitudes.

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Altitudes of Major Tibet Cities and Towns

Altitude of city/town
City/Town Elevation City/Town Elevation
Lhasa 3,650 m Nagri 4,500 m
11,975 ft 14,764 ft
Gyantse 4,000 m Burang  3,700 m
13,123 ft 12,139 ft
Shigatse 3,800 m Nyingchi 3,100 m
12,467 ft 10,171 ft
Tsetang 3,580 m Chamdo 3,200 m
11,745 ft 10,500 ft
Dingri 4,300 m Pome 2,750 m
14,108 ft 9,022 ft
Zhangmu Port 2,800 m Amdo 4,800 m
9,186 ft 15,748 ft
Nagqu 4,500 m    
14,764 ft  
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Altitude of Major Tibet Attractions

Altitude of attraction
Attraction Elevation Attraction Elevation
Potala Palace 3,750 m Ranwu Lake 3,800 m
12,300 ft 12,467 ft
Lake Yamdrok 4,500 m Samye Monastery 3,556 m
14,764 ft 11,667 ft
Tashilunpo Monastery 4,800 m Yumbulagang Palace 3,700 m
15,748 ft 12,139 ft
Rongbuk Monastery 5,100 m Lake Namtso 4,700 m
16,732 ft 15,420 ft
Mt. Everest Base Camp 5,200 m Mount Kailash 6,638 m
17,060 ft 21,778 ft
Sakya Monastery 4,300 m Lake Manasarovar 4,556 m
14,108 ft 14,947 ft
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Is Tibet Dangerous Due to Its High Altitudes?

The answer is that it is to some, especially without precautions.

Altitude sickness is characterized by hypoxia (lack of oxygen), a condition that causes headaches, tiredness, nausea, difficulty breathing, and in extreme cases, if not treated, death.

When people are exposed to high altitude for several days or weeks, their bodies begin acclimation to the low-oxygen environment.

Rongbuk MonasteryHighest Temple in the World-Rongbuk Monastery

Although altitude sickness will usually occur when you first arrive at a high altitude in Tibet, the symptoms will gradually disappear after 3 to 7 days of acclimatization.

Therefore, we usually suggest our customers spend 3 days in Lhasa city to travel around and adapt to the high altitude before traveling to higher places.

Don't be scared of altitude sickness. Most people are ok with adequate preparation and wise responses.

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How to Prevent Altitude Sickness in Tibet?

1. Physical Examination

If you have any reason to doubt your fitness, you should have a physical examination before you enter Tibet. People with serious heart disease should not go to Tibet, and people with lighter heart/lung troubles, etc. must follow their doctor's advice.

2. Make Good Preparations

Take regular exercise and try to keep healthy and avoid catching a cold before entering Tibet. Even slight illness can make altitude sickness much worse.

Please don't forget to prepare medicine to alleviate altitude sickness symptoms, such as Ibuprofen for headaches, Dexamethasone for breathing problems, or Acetazolamide (e.g. Diamox) for a range of symptoms.

3. Acclimate Gradually

Stay for one or two days in lower altitude places in Tibet, such as Lhasa, to help your body adapt to the altitude.

4. Ask for Your Guide's Help

Do forget to ask your guide's help! If your medicine runs out during your trip, your tour guide can usually help you get some more.

If you feel uncomfortable, your tour guide can take you to nearby medical services. Our vehicles usually carry oxygen cylinders.

>>See more on How to Deal with Altitude Sickness

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Hassle-Free Tour with China Highlights

China Highlights can help arrange your Tibet tour, Tibet permits, and group visa from Nepal. You need to provide your passport to apply for a group visa, and Tibet permits, at least 15 days before departure.

We could also create your own individual journey. Contact our experienced travel consultants.

Also, we are confident that we can customize a tour for you to include a true Tibetan flavor, even if you can't get to Tibet for some reason (for example the current pandemic restrictions).

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