Plugs, phones & digital Tibet
See below for a few tips on what to take to China as the country rapidly embraces the digital age.
Phones & Internet Connections
Generally speaking there is good Internet, Wi- Fi and mobile phone coverage in Tibet’s main towns and cities, but please note that in more remote areas signals will be much weaker and you may struggle to get connected. Increasingly hotels will offer Wi-Fi access in the lobby, and sometimes your room. Larger hotels may make a charge for this, but many smaller hotels include Wi-Fi access in their rates.
If you plan to make occasional use of your mobile phone whilst abroad you should receive a text on arrival, from your phone provider, outlining the costs to make and receive calls and text messages. The cost of making and receiving calls can be quite expensive, but text messages are normally free to receive and cost around £0.50 to send. If you can’t use your mobile network whilst in Tibet you will still be able to make calls when you are in a Wi-Fi zone (e.g. hotel lobby or room) by using applications like Viber, Skype and WeChat etc.
Unless you have a suitable tariff, avoid using your phone provider to use the Internet as data roaming charges can be very expensive. If using a local Internet connection on your mobile / tablet ensure the settings are Wi-Fi enabled.
China’s internet is heavily controlled, and you may find that some websites and applications you use at home are not accessible in Tibet. The list of blocked websites changes regularly so if there are any specific websites you will need to access during your trip, it would be worth trying to check if they are accessible in China, or looking into getting the use of a VPN during your trip.
Electricity sockets in China are two pin, either flat or round, and so you will need an adapter. If you are travelling with multiple devices then you may wish to take a second adapter to facilitate overnight charging.
Tablets & other devices
If you are taking an iPad, or other sort of tablet, then you will be able to download a range of applications that offer assistance with speaking Chinese or Tibetan, or provide country guides or maps. If you choose not to take your mobile or tablet most hotels will have access to a PC, or a business centre, for online communication. Failing that internet cafes can be found in larger towns and cities, and rates for Internet access range from US$0.5-2 per hour.
There are excellent photographic opportunities in Tibet so remember to pack your camera. For ease, we recommend taking a memory card for your digital camera that is big enough to store all of the photos and videos that you are likely to take on your whole trip. If you do need to purchase a new memory card while you are away, or want to transfer photos and videos that you have already taken onto a flash drive or a CD, then there are cyber cafes and photography stores where this can be done in the larger towns and cities, but not necessarily in the more remote parts of the country.
Photographic film, and videotape, are very hard to find as digital cameras have become the norm so if you do wish to use a film camera then we recommend taking enough of the appropriate film with you to last for the full length of your holiday.
Please note that taking photographs is prohibited in sensitive areas, such as check points and military areas. Many monasteries and temples charge extra if you would like to take pictures, and finally, always ask permission before taking a photograph of an individual.