What to Pack for Travel in China, Tibet and Mongolia
Travel to China, Tibet and Mongolia acquaints you with exotic, unfamiliar and exciting lands. In this part of the world, you’ll find everything from expansive deserts to subtropical jungles, and from remote high-altitude plateaus to frenetic megacities. But when you’re embarking on an adventure into the unknown, how do you know what to pack?
You might not find all the familiar comforts of home when traveling in this region, but that’s no reason to fret. We’ve compiled a list of essentials that are invaluable for any trip, whether you’re trekking through the Gobi Desert or traversing the crowded maze of Beijing streets.
- Raincoat. Weather can be unpredictable during the summer, and Tibet especially can be rainy during July and August.
- Windbreaker. For windy (and we do mean windy!) days on the Mongolian steppe.
- Long sleeved shirts. Even summer evenings can cool off quite rapidly, especially in desert regions like the Gobi.
- A few light tee shirts for the really hot days. But, expect that you’ll need to cover your arms when entering temples or religious sites. Layers are your friends!
- Lightweight pants. Shorts are not a common sight. Again, conservative clothing and layers are best.
- A hat. To protect your face and neck from the sun.
- Sunglasses. The glare from sunlight can be especially bright, whether it’s bouncing off desert dunes or mega-skyscrapers.
- Sunscreen. Although you’ll find it in convenience stores throughout China, many places carry brands that contain “whitening agents” – compounds that essentially bleach your skin. (Milky white complexion is very in vogue.) Same goes for lotions, creams, even deodorants.
- Wet wipes and facial cleansing pads. For when you have little to no access to reliable running water. Also, great for cleaning yourself off after a hike over dusty trails.
- Lip balm and moisturizing lotion. Tibet, Mongolia and Western China can be especially dry and rough on your skin.
- Dramamine! For lurching 4X4 drives through the Mongolian outback, or for rock-n-roll camel rides.
- Compatible GSM cell phone. You may find name-brand electronics at stores throughout China, but oftentimes, they’re cheap knockoffs.
- Adapter Plugs. Electricity in China, Tibet and Mongolia is 220 volts at 50 Hertz. China and Tibet use the same socket configuration, but Mongolia’s is different. A universal adapter can be used for all three countries. Alternately, you can buy a selection of international adapters for use wherever you travel.
- Flashlight with extra batteries. For when you need to get up during the night while staying at a ger.
- An e-reader loaded with books for long drives or sleepless nights.
- Cash. Credit cards may be an option at some hotels and stores in Mongolia, but expect a surcharge. China and Tibet are still cash economies.
- A few good paperback books. In case you don’t have an e-reader.
- Ear plugs. Public transportation in major cities can be especially loud.
- Pepto Bismol. Street food is delicious, but not always kind to your insides.
- Phrasebook. In China, for instance, many local restaurants don’t list menu items in English. Have a phrasebook (or cheat sheet) handy to help you navigate your way through the confusion.
- Small Group Tours:
- China’s Silk Road & Tibet: Route of Monks & Merchants
- Siberia & Mongolia: Spirits & Nomads
- Other small group tours to China, Tibet and Mongolia
- Rail Journey by Private Train:
- The Trans-Siberian Mongolian Route with Naadam Festival: Westbound
- Other rail journeys by private train to China, Tibet and Mongolia
- Private Independent Journey
(Top photo: Camels crossing the Taklamakan Desert in China. Photo credit: Christine Z. Anderson)
PUBLISHED: April 9, 2015