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Our trip style

Tibetan Expeditions operates tours, escorted by an experienced English-speaking local guide, to many areas of the Tibetan Plateau, Bhutan & China.

Many of our itineraries operate in remote areas - particularly in Tibet. Whilst infrastructure, especially in Tibet, is improving daily outside the main towns of Central Tibet - Lhasa, Shigatse - it is not up to Western standards.

Tours, especially to western Tibet are, by nature, not conventional holidays; conditions are harsher, events less predictable, facilities less developed and the lifestyles very different to those you are familiar with. The standards of accommodation and communications are often not up to Western levels.

Remember, as with all travel, however good organization is, we are at the mercy of the unexpected, and while most of the time things go smoothly, this cannot be guaranteed. The unpredictable, however often leads to unexpected encounters and the best experiences.

In China the infrastructure for tourism is far more developed - hotels are of higher standard, trains and flights generally operate to schedule, communications are easier and restaurant and food variety much greater.

Booking with Us

Booking is easy - to confirm we will need a deposit payable either via Paypal or by bank transfer plus scanned copies of the photo page of your passport(s).

Then balance may either be paid via bank transfer prior to travel, or, for Tibet trips, in cash on arrival in Lhasa by prior arrangement. We offer this as many people are not happy sending large amounts of money to such a remote and little known destination as Tibet and are nervous about permits. Others are not comfortable carrying large amounts of cash. So whichever option is best for you. We cannot accept credit cards in Lhasa.

Full details on visa and permit collection procedures will be explained as we help you plan your trip as these can vary depending on your exact trip itinerary & arrival arrangements.

For Bhutan your visa is included in the tour cost. Your details are registered with Druk Air and your visa physically issued on arrival at Paro airport.

Local guides & leaders

In Tibet all guides are licensed by the Tibetan Tourist Bureau.
Our guides are directly employed by us (not freelance). We have trained them and know them well. They are experienced and knowledgeable and speak good English.

Tours in Bhutan are accompanied by a Bhutanese guide licensed by the Bhutan Tourism Authority.
In China, experienced, licensed local guides will meet you in each town/city and accompany you for all sightseeing and included meals/activities.

You may opt to be accompanied by a Chinese tour leader throughout your trip.

Your leader or guide's role is to facilitate the smooth, safe running of your trip, solve problems that may occur and organize back-up plans should the need arise. They will provide you with an appreciation and understanding of the Himalayan world. If you have any concerns or problems on the trip, this is the person to speak to.

Accommodations

Tibet: In main towns and cities accommodation is of a good standard - clean, comfortable twin share rooms, clean shared/private facilities and hot showers. Up to 5 star in Lhasa, 4 star in Shigatse &Tsetang - to 3 star in Gyantse, Sakya, Samye & Shegar. There are simpler hotels with private bathrooms in Saga, Darchen & Tsada.
Guest houses with twin room, but shared toilet and no showers facilities are also an option in smaller towns.

Whilst new facilities are constantly appearing,plumbing, hot water and electricity can be erratic in smaller towns.In remote areas, particularly on the Kailash kora, it may be 3-4 people to a room (we try to give couples their own room where possible, but please keep an open mind about sharing). In some places single/twin occupancy of a room is possible by paying for the unused beds in a room.

Bhutan: Hotel accommodation throughout Bhutan is generally of a good tourist standard - clean, comfortable twin share rooms, clean shared/private facilities and hot showers. In some remote areas showers and private toilets are unavailable.

China: Hotel accommodation is cities is available to all standards. Even in small towns & villages accommodations throughout China are generally of a good tourist standard - clean, comfortable twin share rooms, clean shared/private facilities and hot showers
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Transport

In Tibet all tourist transport is by private vehicle - car, van, minibus, bus depending on itinerary and group size. Roads in most areas are paved - including to Kailash, Guge & EBC. 4WD is no longer necessary and, as most 4WD vehicles were de-licensed for tourism in 2015, an unnecessary additional expense on most routes.

Our drivers are extremely experienced, both as drivers and mechanics, and know the road conditions. They speak varying amounts of English, but all will be delighted to point out the best photo spots etc. Make the effort to get to know them and you will have a lot of fun.

In Bhutan all transport is by private vehicle - car or mini bus/van depending on your group size.

In China we use a mix of public (train / boat) and private (car / mini van / bus) transport according to your preferences and what best suits your itinerary.

Food

Discovering the local food is without question one of the highlights of travel. In Tibet we include only a few especially selected meals, chosen to introduce you to the culinary highlights and specialties of the region.

In Lhasa there are restaurants of every description and budget. There are also a good variety of options in main towns (eg. Shigatse, Gyantse). Outside the main towns food is often fairly basic, but there are decent Chinese restaurants everywhere. Most travelers find Tibetan food less than exciting, but it can be quite a pleasant surprise if you choose the right places - your guides will make recommendations.

All meals are included in Bhutan - generally of a pseudo-western style.
In China there are restaurants of every style and budget and food options will be closer to those you expect, both Chinese & western in style.

Culture Shock & the Physical Reality

In Tibet (particularly western Tibet) the remote type of travel that you experience can be physically demanding and the effect that this will have on you, both physically and mentally should not be underestimated - the rewards however are incredible.

Some driving days are long, 7+ hours. Breakdowns can occur. You are expected to help load/unload your own bags from vehicles and to/from your room. In some areas the terrain is very mountainous and you may be affected by altitude.
Whilst communications and infrastructure are constantly improving you are still venturing into a world very, very different to that which you know.
If you are travelling in a group opportunities to 'get away' from the group may be limited; patience, tolerance and humor will be required by all.

Whilst travel in the central regions of Tibet may be harsher than you are accustomed, it is nowhere near as taxing - comforts such as better standards of accommodation, reliable electricity, hot showers and international communications are more readily available.

In Tibet Internet facilities are available in all major towns and mobile phones work virtually everywhere. Generally mobile phones with international roaming will work in Tibet, although US phones must be triband.

Whilst vastly different depending on the region visited, China can be overwhelming due to its vast population, but here as in Tibet, I have never paused on a street corner without someone stopping to offer directions or assistance.
In China Internet and phone communications are readily available everywhere.

In Bhutan internet facilities and IDD phones are available in most towns.

Tibetan Expeditions - Journeys on the Roof of the World
info@tibetanexpeditions.com