How to Plan Your Accommodation for Tibet and Nepal Tour? Hotels in Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyirong, EBC, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini
If you are planning a trip to Tibet and Nepal, then accommodation is normally high on the list of important requirements. The type of accommodation available in these Himalayan regions can range from high-end hotels to the simplest lodge or guesthouse, depending on where you are and what is available.
Brief Overview of Accommodations in Tibet
Accommodation in Tibet varies depending on where you are in the region, and you have a choice of the top Chinese and international hotels when staying in Lhasa or Shigatse to the simple yak-tent guesthouses that you will find in the outlying areas of the region, such as Everest Base Camp (EBC) and near Mount Kailash. In between, you have the smaller local hotels, with their typical Tibetan charm and décor, guesthouses and lodges that have both individual rooms and dormitories or bunk rooms sleeping multiple people, and the lower end of the lodges and guesthouses that are simple Tibetan houses converted into lodges to accommodate foreign tourists.
When to travel often depends on the time of year and climate you prefer, and your accommodation can also depend on the season in Tibet. In the summer, all the accommodation can book out pretty fast, so it is best to book hotel early. You may also find that accommodation is more expensive in this peak season for Tibetan tourism, and may need to adjust your accommodation requirements according to the higher cost.
In the shoulder seasons, some accommodation can be cheaper, and give you more choice as there are fewer people in the region. And in winter, there is often the greatest choice of accommodation available, as very few people take trip to Tibet in winter, leaving many of the hotels and guesthouses practically empty and offering discounts on their summer prices for tourists in the winter months. However, the downside to this is that some accommodation may be closed for the winter, especially in the more remote regions, where tourists hardly ever travel in the coldest months of the year.
Hotels in Lhasa
Lhasa is not just the capital of Tibet and the spiritual center of Tibetan Buddhism. It is also the most popular tourist destination in the region, and has a wide variety of hotels and guest houses to choose from. For the budget traveler, there are local guesthouses that provide good quality accommodation at a very reasonable price, while for the luxury-style traveler, five-star hotels can be found across the city.
InterContinental Lhasa Paradise Hotel
At the higher end of the market, Lhasa has some of the best international hotel chains in the world in the city. There are also some excellent four and five-star options with local hotels. For the best location, near the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple, you can look at the Manasarovar Hotel in Yangcheng Square, close to both attractions. And for views, there is none better than the InterContinental Lhasa Paradise Hotel which is situated in downtown Lhasa on the banks of the stunning Lhasa River.
Two and three-star economy hotels can also be found in Lhasa, such as the Tibet Villa Hotel, with its traditional Tibetan styling and authentic local atmosphere. The Dhood Gu Hotel and the Gorkha Hotel are also budget-friendly, with authentic Tibetan design and styling, and a real local flavor to the interiors for a reasonable price. For that historic experience, you could try the Lingtsang Boutique Hotel, which was the former residence of a saint in Tibetan Buddhism.
Guesthouses are also popular in Tibet with tourists, as they offer cheap accommodation with all the modern facilities of a normal hotel, often renovated from old Tibetan houses into small locally run guesthouses. There are even two international Youth Hostels in the city, namely Phuntsok Kasang International Youth Hostel and Dong Cuo International Youth Hostel which offer cheap dormitory accommodation right beside the area of the Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street, and a short distance from the Potala Palace.
Hotels or Guesthouses in Shigatse
As Tibet’s second city, Shigatse has a range of great hotels to choose from, from three and four-star hotels to local guesthouses. While there may be no luxury hotels available, there is an excellent choice of four-star hotels, many of which are located close to the city’s biggest tourist attraction, the Tashilhunpo Monastery. The Jiumu Yamei Hotel is a four-star hotel with a distinct Tibetan flavor, yet with all the amenities and service you would expect from a five-star establishment.
The Shigatse Hotel, named after the city, is one of the best in economy hotels in the city, and lies close to the monastery, so travel to the attraction is minimal. With unique architecture and elegant interior décor, it makes for a great budget stay in the city.
Similarly, for that authentic Tibetan look to a hotel, the Manasarovar Hotel combines the ancient culture and architecture of Tibet with modern civilized facilities. Set in the midst of the tourist center of the city, it is surrounded by convenient places to dine, shop, and go sightseeing, without too much walking involved. And it is just a 20-minute walk to the Tashilhunpo Monastery.
Guesthouse and Yak Tent at EBC
In order to protect the delicate environment of the Everest Base Camp, hotels and guesthouses are not permitted to build permanent structures on the site. This leaves you with just two choices of accommodation when traveling to EBC for an overnight stay.
Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse
Rongbuk Monastery guesthouse is one of the most popular places to stay at EBC, and has rooms for travelers to the region. Majority of the rooms are dormitories, with at least 3-4 beds per room, although it can be hard to get a bed in the peak season, unless booked in advance. Facilities are very basic, and there are no showers available, though they do have hot water to wash in. The main benefit of staying at the monastery guesthouse is the unbeatable view of Mount Everest at sunrise and sunset, when the first and last rays of the sun hit the side of the mountain.
The tent hostels at EBC are normally only available from April to November, and are taken down in winter due to the bad weather in the area. Each of the tent hostels has around 10 beds, all in one room, and in the peak period they often sleep more than ten people. Heating is from stoves that burn yak dung, and there is limited hot water. Toilets are in smaller tents outside, and are usually just a pit in the ground. Overall, facilities are less than basic, and it is more like a survival camp than a tourist hotspot. But it is worth it for the amazing views of Everest when you wake in the morning and stumble out to visit the pit.
Hotels and Guesthouses in Gyirong
As the last decent town before hitting the Nepal border, Gyirong has a good selection of hotels and guesthouses available for tourists from both directions across the border. Only 25 kilometers from the border crossing checkpoint of Gyirong Port, this small town is clean and tidy, with additional options for food and lodging, and even boasts a bank. And while it may not be Lhasa, there are good accommodations up to three stars.
The hotels in the town, such as the Mount Everest Backyard Garden Business Hotel, the Shigatse Gyirong Shengyuan Hotel, and the Gyirong Shengtai Hotel, all have modern facilities, comfortable beds, and hot running water, so you get to shower after the trip to EBC.
Despite being the last town before the border, Gyirong has only one hostel, the Gyirong Hand & Hand International hostel, which lies across the road from the bank. While the facilities may not be up to the standards of the three-star hotels in the town, they are more than adequate, and include free Wi-Fi in the lobby and guest rooms. Rooms have two, four, orsix beds, and you will be expected to share if you book into the four and six bed rooms.
Brief Overview of Accommodations in Nepal
Accommodation in Nepal is very wide ranging, from the luxury hotels to the small local lodges, as well as resorts, apartments, and rented rooms in local houses. Catering to just about any budget, you are almost guaranteed to find something to suit your style or pocket in this country of cheap holidays.
In the major towns and cities you can find some of the higher end of the market hotels, from three-star right up to five-star luxury hotels, which can provide you with all of your required facilities, including good internet access via Wi-Fi and the best in local and international cuisine. The mid-range market provides travelers with economy hotels and hostels, as well as some good economy apartments for those traveling as a family and self-catering.
At the lower end of the market, there are the many budget hostels, guest houses, and bed & breakfast motels that provide the cheapest accommodation in Nepal, sometimes in dormitories or shared rooms. Facilities are far above basic, and have plenty of good clean rooms and beds available.
In the guesthouses, you can find better facilities than the hostels, at a slightly higher price, while in the hostels and motels, you still get good facilities, and often have a local information service available for tourists to the areas. “Guesthouse” in Nepal refers to just about everything from the nice, clean hostels in the cities to the basic “shed with a bed” that you find all along the trekking trails around the country.
Hotels in Nepal are open all year round, and are busiest and most expensive in the peak seasons of late September to mid-November and late February to late March. At other times, the prices can drop a little due to fewer tourists. It pays to travel in the off season to get the best deals for accommodation, but be aware that most accommodation prices displayed or quoted do not include the two taxes that are applied, government and service taxes.
Hotels in Kathmandu
Kathmandu has a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses that can cater to many budgets and style requirements. And while the higher end of the market does provide excellent quality accommodation, it is set far from the reality of the exotic Nepali capital city, and feels very like any other western hotel.
You can stay in a luxury hotel in Kathmandu
The mid-range guesthouses and hotels provide a better local experience, with authentic Nepali design and décor, and are an increasingly popular option for travelers to the city. Facilities are good, and hot running water is provided, as well as heating in cold weather, TV, and phone.
The budget market in Kathmandu is actually the most popular, with many backpackers heading for the trekking trails of the Himalayas. It is also the most competitive, with hundreds of small hostels offering rooms and beds, making the competition fierce and reducing the prices. Most places have hot water, flush toilets, and clean sheets with foam mattresses, and can provide decent food on site.
Hotels and Teahouse Guesthouse for EBC Trek
If you are taking the trek to EBC in Nepal, then you will likely end up staying in a lodge or teahouse along the route. There are some hotels along the way to EBC, such as the Everest View Hotel in Namche Bazaar, which is a delightful four-star hotel with all the modern facilities that you could wish for. However, for the most part, the trail caters to trekkers with teahouses and small lodges that are designed to accommodate as many people as possible in their small floor areas.
Everest View Hotel in Namche Bazaar
Some of the teahouses are more comfortable than others, especially in the lower altitudes of the tail, and have concrete floors and some type of shower, though often only cold water. Squat toilets are the general rule in the places along the trail, and are often quite smelly, and always a good distance from the actual guesthouse.
You do need to bring your own sleeping bag and liner, as linen is rarely provided, and blankets are a little smelly after lots of people have used them. Most of the teahouses and lodges provide basic meals, which get more basic as you get higher due to the cost of transporting the ingredients along the trail by yak and porter.
Hotels in Pokhara
Pokhara is one of the favored destinations of foreign tourists to Nepal, and as such has a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses for tourists. From the five-star Hotel Pokhara Grande to the small hostels in Lakeside, there is something to cater for every budget, although prices are a little cheaper than those in Kathmandu.
Hotel Pokhara Grande
As the starting point for many of the Annapurna Range treks, there is an abundance of budget accommodation in the city and surrounding area, catering to the backpacker market and providing the basic amenities, which in Pokhara means at least hot water and Wi-Fi.
Hotels for Visiting Chitwan and Lumbini
For those traveling to the Chitwan National Park, there are several places to stay, many of which are located in Sauraha. Most of the accommodation is in the mid-range to high-range style of resorts and park hotels, which cater to those taking safaris through the jungles of the park. All modern facilities can be found in the various types of accommodation, and budget hostels are few and far between, with the only options for budget accommodation being on the trekking trails through the park.
Lumbini Garden Lodge
In Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, which lies in southern Nepal near the Indian border, there are a number of places to stay, ranging from luxury hotels to budget hostels. High-end hotels are fewer than the mid-range hotels and hostels, while there are a fair number of budget hostels, all within a ten-minute walk of the famous Ashokan Pillar, which marks the actual site of the Buddha’s birth. At this low elevation, with sub-tropical heat and wet monsoons, even the budget hostels have mosquito netting on the windows, and the Lumbini Garden Lodge in the main bazaar just 10 minutes from the Maya Devi Temple is the best of the low-cost hostels in Lumbini.
At Tibet Vista, we have more than a decade of experience in recommending hotels and guesthouses in both Tibet and Nepal, and offer not just the information you need to help you decide what type of accommodation you are looking for in each area, but can also help you to make the bookings for the hotel types you require.