Last week, Pazu Kong, one of our favorite local hosts on our round the world tour, answered the top Tibet travel questions regarding the best places and time to go. Today, we will review the logistics of getting to Tibet, and share with you a sample travel itinerary.
Disclaimer: We did not receive any compensation, discounts, or benefits for highlighting Pazu Kong, owner of the Spinn Cafe and Tours in Lhasa, Tibet, nor will we receive commissions for this post in the future. This is purely a post to help you travel to Tibet as well.
Tibet Travel Regulation and Sample Itinerary
OnTheGroundTravel: One of the most mind-boggling thing about traveling to Tibet is the constantly changing entry regulations. What are the requirements now? (Note: ALWAYS check the requirements prior to planning your trip, and prior to entry into Tibet)
Pazu: The situation right now is complicated and probably changing very fast. So let’s make a quick summary.
- March 2009: no permit is issued.
- March 2010: some permits are issued.
- March 2011: no permit is issued.
- March 2012: no permit is issued.
The permit is usually resumed on 5 April every year. But, this year, the Tourism Bureau implemented a new rule that a group must have at least five people of the same nationality during May and June (probably July as well). So if you come as two people right now, you cannot get the permit. This is out of the ordinary and we hope the situation will get better in the next few weeks.
OnTheGroundTravel: Once in Tibet, are there any regulations that travelers need to be aware of?
Pazu: Always listen to your tour guide for advice. To the extent possible, we always hope to give travelers more freedom. I can assureyou that the tour guides are not monitoring you, and they are not the same as the tour guides in North Korea. However, the tour guides would not be very happy if the travelers broke any rules that seem offensive to the government. You should be aware that both the tour guides and the tour agencies will be held responsible for any offense made by the travelers. For example, if the travelers were found walking around the Barkhor wearing t-shirts with political messages, the tour guide and agency would be suspended.
OnTheGroundTravel: If someone can only stay in Tibet for a short period of time, what are the must-see sights?
Pazu: If one only has five days, I think it would be nice to spend most of the time in Lhasa, then one day as a day trip to the nearby lakes, e.g. Namtso Lake or Yamdrok Lake. If one has six days, then adding a day trip to Ganden Monastery would be a great idea as well.
OnTheGroundTravel: For folks who want to visit Tibet and the Everest Base Camp, what’s the best route to get there? When should they visit, and how many days would they need?
Pazu: A trip to the Everest should take at least 8 days, but better be 10 days, including the time for acclimatization in Lhasa, this is extremely important.
A sample Everest tour is as follows:
- Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa, pickup service, with tour guide
- Day 2: Lhasa for acclimatization, relax (suggested sights: Norbulingka Summer Palace and Sera Monastery), with tour guide
- Day 3: Lhasa (suggested sights: Potala Palace, Barkhor Circuit and Jokhang Monastery, Tsamkhung Nunnery and its teahouse), with tour guide
- Day 4: Landcruiser trip: Lhasa – Yamdrok Lake – Gyantse (suggested sights: Pelkhor Choeden), with tour guide
- Day 5: Landcruiser trip: Gyantse (visit Gyantse Fort) – Shigatse – Sakya Monastery, with tour guide
- Day 6: Landcruiser trip: Sakya – Everest Base Camp, with tour guide
- Day 7: Landcruiser trip: Everest Base Camp – Shigatse (suggested sight: Tashilunpo Monastery), with tour guide
- Day 8: Landcruiser trip: Shigatse – Namtso Lake, with tour guide
- Day 9: Landcruiser trip: Namtso Lake – Yangpachen Hotspring – Lhasa, with tour guide
- Day 10: Lhasa, leaving Tibet by train or plane, with tour guide to send you to the airport or train station
Most people would actually be okay if they spend at least three nights in Lhasa before going to the Everest, but do not attempt to go on the second or third day. It’s not a good idea to be too “ambitious.” And as I mentioned before, there is actually quite a lot to see in Lhasa.
OnTheGroundTravel: Perfect. Thank you, Pazu, for all your insights on traveling in Tibet.
Are you planning a visit to Tibet? Want to learn more about our adventure there? Then stay tuned for our destination review on Tibet in July. Comment and let us know if you have any other questions.
Or… if you have been there already, we want to know how it went!
About Pazu Kong: Pazu is the owner of the Spinn Cafe and Tours, located in Lhasa, Tibet. His company has been organizing tours in Tibet since 2008. The best way to reach Pazu is via the email address located here: http://cafespinn.com/en/aboutus/index.html
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