Traveling to Tibet has always been considered to be an expensive vacation, though there are ways now to reduce that cost. But whether you travel on a private trip or join a group tour, the same costs of the various aspects of the trip are still there. If you are wondering how much each part of the trip costs, and how the overall cost is split between the relevant aspects of a Tibet tour, here is a general breakdown of an average tour of Tibet.
Transportation Will Cost the Most on Tibet Tour
Yes, as with almost any trip you will take, transport is the most expensive part of the tour. Transportation includes your flights to China or Nepal, your transport by train or flight to Lhasa, your tour vehicle while you are traveling in Tibet, etc. All of these together make up for the single largest cost of the trip.
Getting to Tibet via Train or Flight
You can travel to Tibet from mainland China by train or flight, or by flight from Nepal. None of these options are especially cheap, though some are much more expensive than others. Flights are generally the most expensive option for travelers to Tibet, costing hundreds of dollars, with actual costs depending on where in China you are flying to Lhasa from. The further away, the more costly the flights to Tibet are. In general, you can expect to pay from 130 dollars to more than 500 dollars for your one-way flight, and you will need to book a round trip.
The train is one of the most important ways to get into Tibet.
Tibet trains are generally cheaper than flights when it comes to traveling to Tibet. With seven gateway cities across China that have departures direct to Lhasa Railway Station, you have a choice of where to depart from. In order of distance, highest to lowest, the gateway cities include Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lanzhou, and Xining. The further away from Lhasa, the more costly the train tickets, and you have an option of choosing either first-class or second-class tickets, namely soft sleeper or hard sleeper tickets. Second-class are obviously cheaper, ranging from as little as 74 US dollars to as much as 130 US dollars per person, one way.
Tour Vehicle in Tibet
For international tourists, only private vehicle is available for you to travel between cities and major attraction sites in Tibet. Fees on tour vehicle in Tibet will not be cheap, considering the unique geography there. And the further or remoter area you go, the more costly you will pay. Thus your tour vehicle in Tibet is a major part of the overall cost of your tour, and is included in the price that you pay to your travel agency for the trip.
A regular bus one will use during a booked tour in Tibet.
All of our tour vehicles are good-quality new vehicles that are well-maintained and range from 7-seater Buick minivans and 9-seater Hyundai MPVs to 11-seat Ford Transit vans and 17-23 seater buses for larger groups. We also use Mahindra 4x4 vehicles for our transfer services from Kathmandu to the Gyirong Port border entry point.
The size of the vehicle generally depends on the number of people in your party, and we leave a couple of seats empty in each vehicle size for your comfort and convenience. We also ensure that your tour vehicle is checked daily for the main general maintenance of tires, oil, fuel, water, etc., to make sure you trip is without any problems.
Other Important Parts of Your Tibet Tour Cost
Aside from transport, the other parts of the cost of the trip included and not included in your tour cost can be easily broken down into the various aspects.
Tibet Travel Permits
Permits are always obtained as part of the overall cost of the tour to Tibet, and while they may have minimal costs for outlay, they are possibly the most important aspect of the trip. Without your permits and passes, you cannot get to the plateau, let alone travel around it.
Permits and passes for Tibet include the Tibet Travel Permit, for travel into Tibet and around Lhasa; the Alien’s Travel Permit, for travel to the unopened areas of Tibet; the Military Travel Permit and Foreign Affair Permit, for travel to military restricted areas of the region, etc. All the permits are obtained as part of the overall cost of your booked tour package, and require no additional payment.
Accommodation and Hotel
The cost of hotels and other accommodations in Tibet can vary greatly, depending on the type of accommodation you prefer. The choice of hotel is entirely up to you, and you can choose to stay in a luxurious five-star hotel in Lhasa or a small local guesthouse. The accommodation you decide on is included in the overall quoted price of the tour, which your tour consultant will discuss with you, and you can easily match the hotel to meet your budget.
Tourists can choose the hotel type of different levels in Lhasa, Tibet.
Hotels in Tibet are generally somewhat more expensive than elsewhere in China, due to the altitude and remoteness of the region, and prices can vary depending on the season. Outside the major cities, you will find that most accommodation are guesthouses, with limited facilities. However, you can usually find a decent cheap guesthouse for as little as 15-30 dollars per night, if you are working on a budget.
Food and Dining
Dining in Tibet is a unique experience that you will not find anywhere else in the world. The delicious foods and delightful treats of the plateau are not found anywhere else in China. For those on a tour of Tibet, your dining experience is one that is unique in every way, but can be a little more expensive than you might expect.
Dining in Tibet could be a little expensive than one thought but the food iteself is worth tasting.
Most of the food on the plateau that is not grown easily here is transported in from neighboring provinces and even from over the border from Nepal. This makes the food more expensive than you will find in most mainland Chinese cities, and certain things like some green vegetables can make the cost almost twice as much. And the further away from Lhasa you go, the more costly the food becomes.
In Lhasa, you can get by for dining on around 10 dollars a day, and you have a lot of good restaurants to choose from that serve both local and international cuisines. However, head out of the city, and food becomes more expensive due to the distance it has to be transported. On average, you can expect to pay around 15 dollars per day for food outside the major cities.
Attraction Entrance Fees
Entrance fees to the major tourist attractions in Tibet range from as little as a donation of what you want to give to as much as 100-200 yuan per person. The cost generally depends on the popularity and fame of the destination and attraction. Entrance fees are generally charged to help maintain the upkeep of the site you are visiting, to make sure that it can remain open and a viable tourist attraction for other travelers.
Many attractions in Tibet like EBC have entrance fees to charge.
On average, you can expect to pay several hundred yuan for a trip to Lhasa in entrance fees, but this is not charged to you as an additional cost. The cost of the entrance fees for places like the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple are included in the quoted overall price of the trip with your travel agency, and are arranged by your guide and travel agency in advance so you do not have to queue for tickets.
Guide Service and Tipping
Your guide for the tour depends on the tour company you use. Drivers are the same, in general, and have their own vehicles that they are maintaining themselves to give tourists the most comfortable trip across the plateau possible. Both guide and driver put all their efforts into making your trip as pleasant and enjoyable as possible, and often go out of their way to ensure good customer satisfaction.
While tipping is not a requirement in Tibet, if you feel that your guide and driver have done everything possible for you and you are happy with their service, a tip would always be gratefully received.
The amount you give is entirely up to you, and if you are happy with their services and think they deserve the tip, then feel free to offer what you feel they were worth. Based on past averages, the average tip for a driver is around 75-125 yuan per day, while the average guide tip is around 100-500 per day.
For all of our guides and drivers, we also give a good reward as a bonus for good service when a client leaves a good Service Quality Evaluation of more than 100 words for their guide and driver.
Additional Activity Fees
Additional activities in Tibet that are outside your normal tour agenda are normally charged as an extra cost for the traveler, over and above the overall cost of the trip. For example, bicycle hire for riding around the plateau or the cost of an unscheduled trek are added as extras for travelers, and you will be appraised of the actual cost before the event happens. So if you want to try cycling around Lhasa, or decide to take a trek around Ganden Monastery, you will be quoted how much extra this will cost.
Join in Our Small Group Tour to Save the Cost
One way of saving money on the cost of the trip to Tibet is to join one of our amazing Small Group Tours. These are pre-arranged tours that have set departure dates that you can join along with other solo travelers that want to spend time in Tibet. We have a wide range of Small Group Tours, including the 4-day Lhasa tour, the 7/8-day EBC tours, and many more.
Joining a Small Group Tour means that some of the most expensive aspects of the tour are reduced, as they are shared between all the other members of the party. Aspects of the overall cost that are shared includes the shuttle services, admission fees, cost of tour guide and driver, cost of the vehicles and fuel, and even the single occupancy supplement in hotels.
Travel in Tibet is an amazing experience. And while it can be expensive, it need not cost the earth. You can choose to reduce the costs of certain parts of the tour by making simple choices on how you travel and on what tours, and can work out the best way to make your budget stretch further or what to spend extra on at your choice. So if you are ready for booking that lifetime trip to Tibet, come and talk to our friendly and professional tour consultants now.