Traveling to Tibet is one of the world’s greatest adventures. It is a land of ancient Buddhist monasteries and stunning Himalayan mountains similar to the ones we climbed during our Annapurna trek in Nepal.
Tibet was an isolated place for hundreds of years, completely cut off to foreign visitors until 1985 when China and Nepal reached agreement to allow foreigners to travel to Tibet.
Today, the Tibet Autonomous Region has one of the strictest tourist controls in the world, second only to that of its neighbour, Bhutan. These are our 4 practical tips for tourists travelling to Tibet for their first time.
The first thing you need to do is get in touch with a reputable tour operator because this is the most efficient and safest way to travel to Tibet. Without using a tour operator, your trip is not possible – independent travel in the region is only allowed for Chinese passport holders.
There are literally hundreds of tour operators that run Tibet Tours, from both China and Nepal. Most of these are generic travel agents who then pass you off to a local third party to run the actual tour. While travel agents are a useful intermediary in trips around most of the world, for Tibet, they are more often than not more trouble then they are worth. For example, bad travel agents will base your tour on a strict itinerary that has been handed to them by the tour operators they use, and are less flexible than local operators.