Want to visit Tibet, but you are tight on your budget? Fret not, planning your trip on a budget will allow you to enjoy the adventure and experiences as much as a traveler who spends big bucks. You will notice that when on a budget you will not only enjoy life like a local in Tibet but learn a lot of ways of coping with different scenarios.
Travelling on a low budget in Tibet can be done even though there are various expenses. These include the travel regulations of only being able to visit in Tibet with an organized tour and a hired guide, vehicle, and a driver. Therefore this guide will help you plan your budget in the cheapest way possible and will even allow you some extra bucks to buy some great looking souvenirs.
Taking Train to Tibet Instead of Flights
You don’t need to fly into Tibet; you can always choose the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. What’s interesting is the trains from mainland China to Lhasa is the highest railway in the world where you will be travelling at exciting high altitudes of as high as 5,000 meters. There is a centralized oxygen supply which is specially built to combat altitude sickness. There are trains from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou to Lhasa every day, and the trains to Lhasa from Chengdu, Chongqing, and Guangzhou are every alternative day.
A further cost-cutting method is by choosing the hard sleeper instead of the soft which is around 65% the cost of a soft sleeper or airline ticket. You will share the hard sleeper with 5 others which allow you to communicate with locals and enjoy their ever smiling faces and bright personalities. In the flight, you get an aerial view of the mountains of Tibet, but you will miss out on the scenes of the Tibet Plateau, Qarhan Salt Lake, and the Yuzha Peak to name a few that the train passes which will keep you mesmerized with stunning scenery. Do keep in mind to keep a copy of your Chinese Visa, and the Tibet Travel Permit to show authorities while on the train.
Joining a Group Tour Rather than a Private Tour
Since tours are a compulsory need for your trip to Tibet, avoid taking the private tours. Instead be part of a group tour with people from around the world with the same passions as you. A group tour to Tibet will save you almost half the money you spend on the private tour. A private tour charges around ¥200 – ¥250, or $30 – $35 per day and travel is as per kilometer. This can be cut in almost half when on a group tour with people of the same number as you. It is not as much as how many people are in the group, but how experienced the guide is. An experienced guide would take you to the most exciting locations with an outlook of Tibetan culture in a more traditional way, just the way it is supposed to be!
Choosing Cheaper Guesthouse and Hostel
When in Tibet, it makes sense to spend little money on a hotel stay. You will be in your hotel room only the during the night times in the hotel for sleep and rest, as most of the day you will be roaming the wondrous locations of Tibet. The cheap guest houses and hostels cost around $ 8- $10 USD while cleaner rooms with breakfast included range from $15- $25. It is best to have a look at the hotel’s details, images and reviews on the internet before jumping to staying at specific hotels after viewing pictures which may be deceiving. However overall review is that budget hotels are managed in a very organized manner in Tibet.
Visiting Tibet in Low Season
Tibet has its seasons, and the costs depend on the time of year it is. The good news is that Tibet is cheap during the cold season of winter. This is from November to March, and there are great discounts at this time. From hotels, to tour packages to even travelling on the train you will be saving plenty of money.
You might be wondering; winter means shivering throughout the night and not being able to enjoy your trip during the day in Lhasa. You are misinformed; Tibet’s temperature during winter is above 10 degrees which makes it even warmer than the Northern parts of Chinese and sometimes warmer than Beijing.
Tibet is best enjoyed in the cold climates since it is of an altitude very high. The peace and quietness of lesser tourists during winter makes it all the more exotic. An add-on during winter are the cultural festivals such as Losar Festival which is the Tibetan New Year during the months of either February or March. You will be invited to a local Tibetan family where you will experience the delicious food which mostly comprises of sweet dishes, fruits, and vegetables.
Preparing Food by Yourself
When travelling around Tibet, you would want to eat the local food the way it is prepared. It becomes difficult to say no when the aromas of the local food keep activating your taste buds. However, when on a budget, it becomes challenging to enjoy the local cuisine every time, and so cooking your own meals will not only save you money but be a healthier option too.
The daily cost per day per person for food is around $20, which is quite expensive in Tibet compared to other Chinese cities. However, this can fall to $10 when arranging and cooking simple food from items bought from the local shops. You can use the budget hotels kitchen in preparing your meals and then carry the food while hitchhiking in the mountaintops.
Do not always settle for simple food as it can be tedious and at times tiring to prepare your own meals. Sometimes it is best to enjoy food in the local restaurants.
Book Tibet Tour with Us in Advance
Booking Tibet tour with us at Tibet Vista months before the date of travelling to Tibet will help you get the best cost-saving package. Booking 3 to 6 months in advance would be the ideal time, to ensure the best locations and hotels are planned for with the best prices.
Advance bookings will ensure the Tibet Travel Permit which takes about 20 to 30 days is sorted before starting the trip to Tibet. Places like the famous Potala Palace and travelling on the train from China to Tibet are booked safely due to the high demand for tourists flocking to Tibet.
Tibet Vista will ensure a complete and organized tourist package at very affordable prices which are ideal for the budget travelers. Overall a budget tour to Tibet can cost around $800 per person for ten days excluding flight tickets to China. The earlier the Tibet tour is planned, the cheaper it will be and the more you can gain from your trip to Tibet.
Remember you don’t need much in your wallet to enjoy a relaxing and cultural trip to the roof of the world, called Tibet. The high plateau and high mountains will make you feel like you are in heaven at unimaginably low costs.