Our guest writer Stephanie Lee is back with more tips about Tibet.
Tibet or popularly known as the land of snow, is a beautiful place that attracts tourists from all over the world due to the immense variety of beauty and entertainment it provides. From the large snow-covered mountains and mountainous paths to the green meadows and the vast stretches of blue lakes and clear blue sky, Tibet has every bit of natural beauty to offer. However, due to extreme altitude and unique topography, travelling to Tibet is not cheap. In this article, we are going to discuss how to plan the cheapest Tibet tour with a moderate budget that will ensure more comfort and less extravagance.
Visit Tibet in Winter
Being located on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, Tibet experiences typical plateau weather with harsh winters. The winters in Tibet are chilly accompanied by strong blows of winds. Immense snowfall occurs with the temperature falling even below zero degrees centigrade in night time. As a result, winter time in Tibet sees no hike in tourism. Tibet remains more or less free from tourist visits during winter partially owing to the heavy snowfall, freezing wind.
There is also a conjecture that many places become inaccessible due to snowfall. However, Tibet can be visited even during winter time. It is convenient to visit Tibet in winter because of the fact that the train and flight prices lower down, hotels provide immense rebate and the myth of inaccessibility is not true always.
Many places in Tibet are better enjoyable in winter time like Lhasa that experiences almost no snowfall. The prices of trains and flights and hotels become half the original amount in winter. Vehicles reduce their price by two thirds and the entrance fee to Potala Palace also becomes half. Even there are many tourism agencies that offer special discounts during winter. Also it is best to incorporate a Mount Everest base camp tour during this time of the year as the visibility in winter is the best in Tibet and there are tourism promotion activities for EBC tour. Other places like Gyantse Pelkor, Yamdrok Lake and Tashilhunpo Monastery also offer discounts in their entry fee during winter time. Thus making a trip in winter will help you save a lot more money than making a trip to Tibet in other seasons of the year.
Take Tibet Train to Lhasa
Tibet train can be said to be one of the wonders of Tibet owing to its remarkable means of creation. Not only does the Tibet train ensure total comfort and convenient journey but in expense also it is much lesser than the flights or the roadways.
In Tibet train, especially in the soft sleeper coaches, you will get televisions, charging points and much more comfort and privacy apart from extra security. Throughout the train, air pressure and oxygen level is well maintained. Also in the train, proper medical facilities are there to ensure the comfort of the customers and their well-being. The soft sleeper coaches may cost a bit higher than the hard sleepers and the hard seats. In hard sleepers and hard seats, these facilities are lacking and it tends to get more crowded without much privacy. But still it contains the basic medical, air pressure and other such facilities. However the essence of the Tibet train is no less in hard sleepers and hard seats. There are 6 bunks in the hard sleepers and the width might be lesser, however still you can have a comfortable journey.
The cost for the hard sleepers from any stations is minimum 100CNY less whereas in some cases it even exceeds 150CNY. For example when we board the soft sleeper coaches from Beijing, the cost is around 1144 CNY whereas the hard sleeper coaches is around 720 CNY which is altogether 424 CNY less. That is going to be a huge savings. Thus if you board hard sleeper coaches, you will still be able to witness the mesmeric view with a lot of savings.
Another way of saving money in the Tibet train is by carrying your own food or buying food from the stations. Though Tibet train offers a great variety of food, the cost of the food is quite a bit higher than the cost of the food in the stations. Therefore you also have the option of not eating food from the dining cart of the train. Thus, by taking your own food or buying it from the stations, you will get to save some money.
Book Rooms in Youth Hostels or Guest Houses in Lhasa
Choosing the youth hostels or the guesthouses instead of the luxurious hotels is also a very good option when you are trying to make your Tibet tour at a lower cost. In Tibet there are many guest houses to choose. In average, the price for guesthouse one night is about 100 CNY, which includes one bed and public bathroom. You will share the whole room with 4-8 people, which can cut down more the cost of Tibet tour. Thus, by accommodating in hostels or guesthouses, you will be able to cut down the cost of Tibet tour.
For more tips on how to book the perfect place to stay, read our Accommodation Guide (click here).
Dine in Restaurants where local Tibetans Go
Dining in local restaurants of Tibet, instead of some high fashioned expensive restaurants, is a wise thing to do. It not only saves money but also gives you the authentic essence of the Tibetan delicacies. You can rely on the quantity and especially in the foods of the local restaurants at Barkhor Street; you can rely on the quality also.
The meals will cost around 80 to 100 CNY. If you are in a group, it will lessen to 60-80 CNY. In the local restaurants, you will not only get Tibetan foods but also Chinese and other varieties. The beef noodles might cost around 5CNY whereas the soup around 10CNY. Even some restaurants are there that will take 20CNY for the whole meal. Thus, overall, the local restaurants are considered to be cheaper than the high fashioned luxurious restaurants.
Visit Attractions without Tickets
Most of the major attractions of Tibet like the Potala Palace, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Namtso Lake and other such monasteries and lakes require some high entrance fees. Thus all you can do is to avoid the places requiring entrance fees and instead try out attractions without ticket.
You can visit the countryside of Lhasa or Shigatse to indulge in the charm of the authentic Tibetan atmosphere. Or you can visit Yamdrok lake and behold the beautiful Lhasa lake. Also strolling in the streets of Barkhor-which is said to be the mini Tibet, does not require any additional fee. You can also visit other market places like Tromsikhang market and Canggu nunnery which do not require any entrance fee. Also you might steal a panoramic view of the major attractions. There are many local monasteries in Tibet that do not require any tickets. You might as well visit them.
Don’t forget to buy your Travel Insurance!
Buy Souvenirs from Local vendors
As is prevalent in the majority of the countries, cost of the special souvenirs in the attraction sites are higher than the cost of the same things in the local market. This is mainly because of the fact that tourists are attracted to the souvenirs from the attractions and seldom have they visited the market place. Thus, the price of the souvenirs is already adjusted to the higher level. Therefore, when you want to save the cost of your Tibet tour, do positively explore the local markets and buy souvenirs and anything from there.
They will give you the items at the original cost. There will be no unnecessary hike in the price. Also in the attractions, the quality of some products might be questionable. In the local markets, the quality will be authentic. Thus buying souvenirs from local markets will not only help you save money but it will also ensure you with authentic quality.
Join Small Group Tour
Joining a Tibet group tour also helps in reducing the expense of the whole tourism journey. When you get involved in a group tour, each and every cost of the journey, except the personal expenses, gets divided, thereby helping you to save a large amount of money. For example, when you travel in a group, while boarding the train or the tourism vehicles, the price gets divided equally amongst you. Thus while a vehicle for a single person, boarded to tour Lhasa, might cost around 100 USD, when you are travelling in a group, it will cost around 40USD at the most. Also, when you are booking hotels or guesthouses, the cost will get divided. Thus by joining small group tour you can effectively cut down the cost by sharing it with other tour members. Also touring Tibet in group will gift you with some of the best memories to cherish and make friends with tourists from around the world.
For more travel tips and a list of all the platforms, services and brands we use and recommend, check out our Travel Planning page.