One of the common misconceptions of traveling to Tibet, for those that have not yet been here, is the fact that hotel accommodation is highly overpriced and very poorly equipped. In fact, this is not true, as the hotel accommodation in Tibet varied from the small tent guesthouses in the remote areas to the five-star luxurious hotels that can be found in Lhasa. In all of Tibet’s major cities, there is a wide range of hotels, from the height of luxury in five-star accommodation to small family-owned guesthouses that have traditional Tibetan facilities. And in the cities, all of the hotels and guesthouses have modern facilities and all the amenities that you can expect in hotels anywhere else in the world.
Why People Think Hotels in Tibet are Expensive and Poorly-Equipped?
There is a simple reason that most people assume the hotels are costly and of low quality in Tibet – because they have never come here to find out for themselves. It has to be said that the hotels in Tibet are not of the same standards of the rest of China, with some few exceptions, and what is three-star in Tibet is likely to be unrated elsewhere in the world. If you are traveling to Tibet and expect to find the three-star hotels that you can find in western first-world countries, then you are going to be disappointed. With this information freely available all over the internet, it has led many to assume that hotels in Tibet are low-quality and very expensive for what you get.
The other assumption comes from people telling of their experiences in the more remote areas of Tibet, such as at Everest Base Camp and in the remote areas of Ngari and Nagqu. Here, guesthouses often only offer basic services, without running water and with only hot water for drinks and food, and no showers available. Often, they are without heating too, and you can even find Tibetan guesthouses made of yak-hair tents. When people hear this, they naturally assume that the whole of Tibet is like this, and that you are paying high prices for low-level accommodation.
How are the Hotels in Tibet?
Contrary to what many people may believe of the hotel accommodation in Tibet, there are a wider range of hotels now than there ever used to be. The development of the tourism industry in Tibet has led to the increase in decent hotels in the major cities and the improvement of the guesthouses and hotels in the more remote areas of the plateau. Now, you can even have an electric blanket in remote guesthouses and indoor toilets in remote monasteries. And Tibet has also seen an influx of the major hotel chains opening good hotels in the larger cities in Tibet, including Lhasa and Shigatse.
Luxury Hotels in Tibet
If you thought luxury hotels were not an option in Tibet, then you thought wrong. Lhasa has a number of luxury five-star hotels now, including such famous names as the Four Points Sheraton, the St Regis Resort, and the Intercontinental. You also have some of the more local five-star options, such as the Lhasa Brahmaputra Grand Hotel and the Lhasa Manasarovar Hotel, both of which are classed as luxury hotels in the Tibetan capital.
St Regis Resort is a five-star hotel in Lhasa.
Mid-Range Hotels in Tibet
While five-star hotels may not be available outside Lhasa, there are a wide number of four and three star hotels that you can find, both in Lhasa and outside in the other towns and cities. In the capital, this includes such hotels as the Shangri-La Lhasa hotel, the Lhasa Yak Hotel, and the popular Gang Gyan Hotel, plus the Shangbala, the Jinbo Grand, and the New Mandala hotels.
You can also find good four and three star hotels outside the capital, such as the Tsedang Hotel and the Yarlung River Hotel which you can find in Tsedang in Lhoka Prefecture. In Shigatse, you have a wider range of 3-4 star hotels, from the Shigatse Yak Hotel and the Shigatse Manasarovar Hotel to the Shigatse Yangtze Hotel, the Zanglong Grand Hotel, and the Jiumu Yamei Hotel, plus many more.
Shigatse Yak Hotel is a mid-range hotel in Tibet.
You can also find good mid-range three-star hotels in Nyingchi, including the Nyingchi Shangbala Hotel, and in Chamdo, you have the Chamdo Hotel.
Budget Hotels in Tibet
Budget hotels are the most prolific for Tibetan accommodation, and while they are cheaper than the mid-range hotels, often the facilities can be almost as good. Budget hotels are normally cheaper because of the lower ratings, and in Lhasa, you can find a huge number of these, from the Yabshi Phunkhang Heritage Hotels and the House of Shambhala to the Lhasa Kyichu Hotel and the Lingtsang Boutique Hotel.
House of Shambhala is a budget hotel in Tibet.
Budget hotels are the most prolific for Tibet accommodation. Budget hotels are normally cheaper because of the lower ratings. while they are cheaper than the mid-range hotels, often the facilities can be almost as good. in Lhasa, you can find a huge number of these, from the Yabshi Phunkhang Heritage Hotels and the House of Shambhala to the Lhasa Kyichu Hotel and the Lingtsang Boutique Hotel.
Outside Lhasa, budget hotels are more prevalent than mid-range hotels, and throughout the region, you can find hundreds of these basic hotels for cheaper stays on the plateau. And while they may be cheaper, they do not skimp on quality as much as people think. Rooms are clean and comfortable, with comfortable beds and bedding, and many actually have modern amenities such as en-suite bathrooms and showers, running water, Wi-Fi, TV, restaurants occasionally, and some even have dancing halls.
For example, the Heng Yuan Guesthouse in Shiquanhe in Ngari has no star rating, but has a restaurant with a selection of foods and a teahouse/sports bar with a widescreen TV. Many even have some heating these days, such as the un-rated Himalaya Kailash Hotel at Darchen in Ngari.
Tent Hotels in Tibet
Tent guesthouses are a real experience for anyone traveling to places such as Everest Base Camp (EBC). While they can be found in other places as well, they are most renowned at EBC, and have become part of the whole Everest Experience for many travelers. It has to be said that these are the most basic of guesthouse accommodation in Tibet, but they are well worth a little hardship for the experience alone.
Experience tent hotels in EBC.
The roadside tents are set up by the locals, and provide basic beds for tourists as a means of income for the local families. The tents are very basic, with wooden beds around the inside walls of the tent and a large stove in the middle. The stove keeps the tent a little warmer than outside, and there is no running water anywhere. However, you can get hot water from the hosts, so you can drink coffee, and all Tibetans have tea brewing permanently in these tents. There are no clean quilts, just old blankets, so bring a sleeping bag. But this is the real Tibetan nomadic experience, sleeping in yak-hair tents at high altitudes far from civilization.
How to Book Hotels in Tibet
If you are planning on booking your own hotel, then you should take several things into consideration before booking. The first thing you need to do is research. Choose the hotels you are planning on booking carefully, and do your research on TripAdvisor to get the best independent reviews of the hotels. You need to also focus on the facilities available, how far it is from the major sites of interest, the cost and value-for-money, and much more.
You can make the booking yourself, which can be done direct if they have websites (which many do not) or through international tourist websites such as Booking.com and Agoda. However, these also charge added fees, and your cost will be higher.
Another alternative is to book directly with the hotel by phone, as all of the hotels in Tibet (except the ones in the most remote areas) have landline or mobile phone numbers you can call. And you can make your own booking direct with the hotel, but this is not always easy, especially in the peak season, you may find it almost impossible.
The best way to book a hotel for a tour of Tibet is to allow your travel agency to do it for you. If you have preferences, we can take those into account, or we can even book specific hotels you want to stay in, and all without added fees. With our decades of experience in tourism in Tibet, we have a great deal of first-hand information about the hotels in the region, and can make recommendations based on your requirements. And we can even get you hotel rooms at lower prices, thanks to our long-standing relationships with many hotels in Tibet. So for booking, we can do it more easily than any other way, as part of the overall excellent services we provide for our clients.
Hotels in Tibet are not what many people think, and while this high-altitude region was once a haven for over-priced and under-developed accommodation, it has now changed a great deal. Hotels are priced according to their rating and standards, with clearly defined prices for patrons and travelers. Five-star hotels for those with more specific requirements can be found in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and many of the other cities and towns have four and three star hotels that are well worth staying in. It is only in the more remote areas, such as Mount Kailash, Mount Everest, etc., that you will find the accommodation to be very basic, and even in some of the monastery guesthouses, you now have power, heating, and running water. No longer expensive and poorly-equipped; accommodation in Tibet is better than you think.