How to avoid altitude sickness after landing in high places?

landing in Leh

When I wanted to return to India a year later, I have planned my trip that straight after flight from Europe to Delhi I connected to a next flight to Leh. Leh is at an altitude of 3524 meters. This altitude already causes altitude sickness. Big difference between altitude of the airport of departure and altitude of the airport of arrival can be dangerous. When I got altitude sickness one year ago in Leh after 40 hour journey, I had the feeling that I’m dying. I didn’t want to get it again so I had to do everything what is necessary for the prevention.

The following tips on how to avoid altitude sickness after landing in high places are not related only to city of Leh but also to all places of high altitudes in the world that have an airport. When you follow these tips, you can really avoid unpleasant experiences that will cut you off for a few days from normal life.

If you feel bad ask for oxygen mask

leh airport

All the time as I was waiting at the airport in Delhi, tired and sleepy, I thought of how I will deal with oxygen difference after leaving the airplane in Leh. When we took off, I began talking with the man who sat next to me and has already done this flight from Delhi to Leh. He assured me that if I will feel really bad, I should go to the emergency room at the airport, and ask for oxygen mask. This mask usually helps people who feel sick after landing.

Oxygen masks are standard at the airports at higher altitude. Think of it. If you really feel bad, go for health care professionals who can give it to you and help you.

Leave the airport as soon as possible

leh airport

When door of the airplane opened and I got off, I was surprised that I did not feel anything unusual. I knew, however, that I couldn’t exhaust my body so I tried to pass through the whole process at the airport very quickly. I noticed that many people didn’t recognize this principle and stay at the airport to admire the landscapes, made the photos etc.

Do not be fooled by the feeling that you feel good. It’s really deceptive. Try to quickly complete the entire process at the airport . Although the countryside around you is beautiful, don’t keep wasting your time by unnecessarily taking photos. For doing this you’ll have plenty of time when you will acclimate your body.

Take a taxi to your hotel

leh airport

Even though I knew what prices taxi drivers ask at the airports throughout the world and how long it takes to negotiate a price with them, I was reconciled that this time I will not negotiate with them. After leaving the airport, I took the very first taxi that wasn’t extremely expensive and without any negotiation I paid him.

To avoid high altitude sickness you have to reduce movement on minimum. So taking a taxi from the airport rather than using a public transport. In this case it is very important, because sometimes using a public transportation can be very exhausting.  Although public transport is usually much cheaper, use taxi even for several times higher price. You cannot buy health and life for money.

Book accomodation before you arrive to your destination

rab yang guest house

I have not often booked accommodation before I come to the destination, because I prefer choosing hotel directly on the spot during my travels. Because I was already in Leh one year ago, I wrote to the guest house of my “second family” in advance that I will come again. In the case I didn’t know them, I would certainly booked hotel in advance, so I wouldn’t look for accommodation in a time when my body needs to get used to the altitude.

If you prefer a choice of accommodation on the spot, don’t do that in this case. Book accommodation in advance and tell your taxi driver to take you there directly. If you don’t like your new accommodation stay there for one, two nights and don’t force your body by searching for a new accommodation.

Sleep a lot in your room

rab yang guest house

My two flights and waiting in Delhi were very difficult. I was very tired from not only travelling, but also from a change of altitude. When I came to the guest house I slept for almost two days. I just moved to the toilet and into the nearest restaurant, where I took the food and ate it at home. And this decision what I did was the best I could do. On the third day I felt better, my body began to be stronger and I went slowly for a walk through Leh.

Don’t be fooled if you have feeling that you are OK and when you think your body can handle the transition smoothly. It may be misleading information. You have to rest a lot because otherwise altitude sickness can develop from hour to hour. Sleep a lot and limit movement of your body to a minimum for at least two days.

Drink a lot of water and no alcohol


Before I came to the guest house I bought a lot of bottles with water so I eliminated movement during the next two days. I tried to drink a lot of water and tea. Owner of my guest house often bring me herbal tea to my room. I didn’t drink any alcohol, which can be sometimes fatal in high places. My friend got altitude sickness last year, but due to the fact that the day after the arrival drank a lot of alcohol. If he didn’t do that, he would probably avoid this disease.

Lack of fluids is sometimes crucial in the development of altitude sickness. Drink as much water as possible. Very good are also herbal teas that relax the body in an acclimation process. Avoid alcohol not only during acclimatization process, but all the time during your stay at heights. Drinking alcohol can be fatal in this case.

Start doing physical activity gradually


On the third day I went for a short walk around the town, but my body still felt limited. During faster movement I felt headache for a while and my head was spinning. I was still breathing poorly. That’s why I spent that day only short walking. The next day I went for a long trip out of town and I felt good.

When you feel strong enough  to do some activities, never exceed your limits. Listen to your body. When you start feeling tired or any other symptoms immediately return to the room. If you let your body enough time for acclimatization first days, then you will start gaining energy day by day faster and faster.

Because I applied these principles, I avoided getting altitude sickness after arrival in Leh. My acclimatization process was successfully completed and I began to enjoy the beauty of Ladakh. Symptoms of altitude sickness can be seen in this article. Be really careful because altitude sickness can be fatal.


List of the world’s highest commercial airports, situated at a minimum altitude of 3,000 m (9,843 ft) above mean sea level.

Airport nameCountryCityElevation (m)Elevation (ft)
Daocheng Yading AirportChinaDaocheng4,41114,472
Qamdo Bamda AirportChinaQamdo4,33414,219
Kangding AirportChinaKangding4,28014,042
Ngari Gunsa AirportChinaShiquanhe 4,27414,022
El Alto International AirportBoliviaEl Alto4,06113,323
Uyuni AirportBoliviaUyuni3,95412,972
Captain Nicolas Rojas AirportBoliviaPotosí3,93612,913
Yushu Batang AirportChinaYushu City3,89012,762
Inca Manco Cápac International AirportPeruJuliaca3,82612,552
Shigatse Peace AirportChinaXigazê3,78212,408
Juan Mendoza AirportBoliviaOruro3,70212,146
Lhasa Gonggar AirportChinaLhasa3,57011,713
Hongyuan AirportChinaHongyuan 3,53511,598
Jiuzhai Huanglong AirportChina Songpan 3,44811,312
Andahuaylas AirportPeru Andahuaylas3,44411,299
Alejandro Velasco Astete International AirportPeruCusco3,31010,860
Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe AirportIndiaLeh3,25610,682


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