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Must I Join an Organized Tour of Tibet?

Last Update: March 20, 2020

Travel to Tibet for international tourists requires all tourists to book their tours through a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) registered Tibetan travel agency. However, this does not mean that you cannot travel to the places you want to go to in Tibet. While you do need to be on a tour, you can choose the type of tour you want, as well as when and where to go. Booking the tours is relatively simple to do, and makes travel to Tibet easier and less problematic. And being on a pre-arranged tour does have several advantages over independent travel.

Travelling to Tibet Should Go Through Organized Tour

Independent travel in Tibet is not allowed

Once, travel to Tibet was unrestricted, and all you needed was the permit to enter Tibet to travel wherever you liked. However, due to many concerns about safety of tourists and protection of the environment, this option was removed. In 2008 it became necessary to travel on an organized and pre-arranged tour to Tibet, and independent travel was prohibited once again. This meant that all travelers should be on organized tours to Tibet with registered travel agencies.

Our professional guide will greet youOur guide is greeting our clients at the border of Nepal and Tibet.

There are some misleading information about being able to travel independently in Tibet, and occasionally someone does try it, and gets caught. Overall, most people have accepted the fact that they cannot travel in Tibet without a pre-arranged tour, and soon become aware of the distinct advantages that the pre-booked tour has over independent travel in Tibet.

Tibet Travel Permit to Obtain Through Travel Agency

Traveling to Tibet requires all tourists from outside China to have a Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) before they travel. The permit is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) in Lhasa, and can only be applied for by travel agencies registered with the TTB for Tibetan tours. There is a defined process for applying for the TTP, and it requires a scanned color copy of your current valid passport. It also requires that you have already booked your tour of Tibet with a travel agency, as part of the application requirements is the completed itinerary.

Our travel agency can help you with Tibet Travel PermitOur travel agency can help you with Tibet Travel Permit.

Getting the permit nowadays could not be simpler. Once you have decided on which tour you want to take, and have completed the tour booking, we will use a scanned copy of your passport and Chinese Entry Visa to make the application for the Tibet Travel Permit on your behalf. Once the application has been made, the approval process normally takes around 8-10 days, but can take longer in the busiest periods for Tibetan tourism. Once we receive the permit, we will forward it to your hotel in mainland China ready for your trip to Tibet. You will need the permit as well to board the train or flight to Lhasa.

Arranging a Tibet Tour on Your Own May Be Difficult

Ever arranged a tour of another country? Doing it properly is not an easy task, and there are many hurdles to jump over in order to completely arrange a tour with guides and transport inside the country. First, make sure you passport is still valid, then arrange and apply for the visa. Work out your own itinerary, and book your transport between sites and the hotels for each night of the tour. Then arrange for a reputable and trustworthy guide to travel with you for the entire tour, and arrange all your food, entrance tickets, and other requirements all from another country.

In Tibet, this is not a problem, as you do not have to organize anything except your visa. And even then, you only handle the visa application if you are entering Tibet from mainland China. Tourists entering from Nepal have the visa application done for them. Once you decide where you are going, we will help you organize your entire itinerary, or explain the itinerary of your chosen Small Group Tour. Once we confirm your itinerary, you simply book the tour and make the payment, and let us do the rest. All you really need to do then is book your flights and turn up. We can even help with booking your train or flight tickets to Lhasa from both Kathmandu and mainland China. This is the main advantage of pre-arranged tours in Tibet, as opposed to arranging independent travel.

Choose Different Ways of Organized Tibet Tour

There are many different options for organized tours in Tibet, and you have plenty of choices for your dream lifetime tour of the plateau. Choose from group tours or private tours, customized trips designed to your own specifications (within certain boundaries), and multiple-country trips that can include China and/or Nepal as well.

Option 1: Join in a Small Group Tour to Visit Tibet

One of the more popular options for travel in Tibet these days is to join in a tour with other travelers to Tibet. Known as Small group Tours, these ideal tours are designed with the customer in mind, and range from short four-day trips to Lhasa to long, extended tours of the whole plateau for more than two weeks. Small Group Tours allow anyone to join a tour that has a defined itinerary and pre-set departure date. You simply choose the tour you want from our wide range of available Small Group Tours and select which date of departure suits you best. Then simply book it with us, and you are all set for an amazing Tibetan adventure.

You can choose our Tibet small group tourYou can choose our Tibet small group tour.

We are the first and largest tour operator in Lhasa that offers Small Group Tours, and have more than a dozen classic itineraries to choose from, including the amazing 8 Days Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Small Group Tour, and the outstanding 13 Days Kailash & Kathmandu Adventure, to name just a few.

Option 2: Customize Your Own Private Tour

If you are not into the idea of traveling with other people, you can always arrange a private tour with us. Our expert advisors can help you decide which of our amazing private tours to choose from, or you can tell us what your requirements are, and we will help you with designing the itinerary you desire.

Customize your tibet owm private tourOur Tibet travel agency can customize your owm private tour.

For all our private tours, you can choose from the given itinerary for our pre-defined tours, such as the 4-day private tour of Lhasa, our outstanding 8-day private tour of Ganden to Samye trek. We have a huge number of private pre-designed tours to choose from.

The alternative to our pre-designed tours is to choose your own destinations in Tibet, telling us where you want to go and using our professional travel experts to help you design the perfect itinerary to suit your needs. While there are certain areas that it is not possible to travel to, these are few, and hold little interest for most travelers. When you design your own custom tour of Tibet, you can choose where to go and what to see and we will help you with organizing the route, as well as booking your hotels, arranging all the transport needs and guides, and everything else.

Contact a Local Travel Agency for Your Tibet Tour

There are literally hundreds of travel agencies on the internet that will offer to arrange your trip for you, including hundreds that are located outside China, in a variety of other countries. Which to choose can be a confusing time. As a general rule of thumb, unless the travel agency is actually in Tibet, then they are most likely to be using a third party tour operator for the actual tour itself. Many of the agencies outside China do not have their own companies handling the tours inside Tibet, and only a real Tibetan company such as Tibet Vista can provide this.

There are many advantages to using a local Tibetan travel agency for your tour of Tibet. The main advantage is often the cost. While our tours all have set prices (except customized tours), booking a tour from an external travel agency means you will also pay their commission on top of the price of the tour. You will also find that they are not available 24/7 for the duration of your tour if you need anything to be sorted while you are traveling. With local travel agencies like us, you can normally contact the office or your personal consultant at any time.

Local travel agencies also have the most important advantage of all – local knowledge. Nothing can match local knowledge of the places you are visiting, and both our travel consultants and tour guides are all experts in local knowledge, as they are all locals themselves. So for the best tour options for Tibet, go local, and come talk to us.

Conclusion

While you can travel to many countries without organized tours, the requirements for Tibet state that a pre-arranged tour is necessary for you to get into Tibet and enjoy this beautiful plateau land of Mountains, lakes, and monasteries. There are few places in the world that compare to the stunning beauty of this outstanding landscape, and the tours protect the local environment and make it possible to maintain the fragile ecosystem, while still giving tourists the best possible tours of the Roof of the World.

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