Tibet Trip Price: the Total Cost of a Tibet Trip
Brilliant! You’ve finally decided to travel to Tibet.
At this point, you probably have a lot of questions about Tibet. How do I get there? Can I go on my own? Is it safe?
Yet one of the big questions which most people ask concerns the price. Is it going to be expensive to visit Tibet? Will I be able to afford it? How can I make a budget for it? Well, Tibet isn’t the cheapest of places to visit, but it can be affordable if you want it to be.
Since the Tibet trip cost varies greatly, to help you figure out how much you’re going to be paying, we need to take four aspects into consideration, i.e. different Tibet travel seasons , the cost for traveling to Tibet, Tibet tour package cost (either group tour or a private tour) and other personal expenses in Tibet.
Let’s have a look at the breakdown of Tibet travel cost in detail.
Tibet Trip Cost in Different Tibet Travel Seasons
Just like traveling elsewhere, the Tibet trip cost, to a large extent, is defined by varied Tibet travel seasons. The high season of Tibet travel lasts from April to Oct, which sees the much higher cost than the tour in the offseason that begins from End of Oct. to early Feb. (Check for the best time to visit Tibet here.)
Interestingly, though Mid-June to early Sept. is the monsoon season in Tibet, it overlaps the summer break in China. With a large influx of both Chinese and global travelers in the summer, these particular time actually marks the most expensive months for Tibet travel.
Take the classic 8-day Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Group Tour, with 3-star hotels (2020) for example:
Jun.26 to Aug.25 is from 1060 USD
Aug.26 to Oct.15 is from 1000 USD
Apr.1 to Jun.25 is from 940 USD
Oct.16 to Nov.15 is from 940 USD
Nov. 16 to Mar.31 is from 817 USD
Your final cost for Tibet tour depends on the tour quotation offered by our travel consultants who will have a detailed discussion with you and learn more of your needs and later offer you an accurate quotation, by taking everything into consideration.
In reality, the actual tour cost can be even higher if you find there is a need to upgrade your hotel or include other personal expenses like dining or shopping, etc. You may choose an appropriate travel month at your convenience. Besides, if you travel with your friends or relatives, a customized private tour runs even much higher than a join-in small group tour. However, what you get is the full control of your day-to-day itinerary, the greater flexibility of hotel choice and more personal care and tour suggestions from your Tibetan guide.
Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Tour: the most popular itinerary of our Tibet Vista
If you are a student or travel with a limited budget, the winter season, which is also the offseason of Tibet tour, is the best bargain you can get. Not only will you enjoy a lower price for the flight and Tibet train, you may also have discounted hotel and attraction fee, far less crowded attraction, and more intense Buddhist atmosphere, etc.
As a tradition, Tibet tour will be unavailable to international tourists from around mid-Feb to then entire March. And international tourists can only visit Tibet via a guided tour with a licensed Tibet travel agency.
Cost for Entering into Tibet
To successfully land in Lhasa, you need to set aside parts of your tour budget for getting necessary travel documents to enter Tibet and to pay for the flight or Tibet train to Lhasa. Your choices of Tibet entry cities and means of transportation will largely decide your tour cost and completely different experiences.
Tibet Travel Permit Cost
Tibet Travel Permit (also known as Tibet Permit or Tibet Visa) is the prerequisite for Tibet visit. Only when you get Tibet Permit can you be allowed to board the flight or Tibet train to Tibet. The processing of Tibet Permit takes around 8-9 days after we received your travel documents(photo image of your passport and of Chinese visa). To get Tibet Permit, much labor cost is involved. However, for our clients, we offer 100% guarantee and free service for Tibet Permit application.
Tibet Travel Permit is the necessary document to enter Tibet
All you need to do is book your Tibet tour with at least 20 days before your departure to Tibet and email your Chinese Visa image, your passport information page and your photos to your travel consultants. The processing of Tibet Permit will take around 8-9 days, and later we will have it delivered by express from Lhasa to your hotel in mainland China.
Since Tibet Permit only allows you to visit Lhasa and parts of its surroundings, if you want to explore Everest Base Camp, or Mt.Kailash, etc, additional permits like Alien’s Travel Permit, and Military Permit, etc. will always be checked accordingly. However, you don’t have to worry about getting them. Your Tibetan guide will properly take care of the relevant travel documents needed on the way from Lhasa to Shigatse.
In addition to travel documents, you need to figure out your cost for entering Tibet from different Tibet entry cities and for the means of transportation.
Kathmandu to Tibet Tour Cost
If you’re entering from Nepal, apart from Tibet Travel Permit, you’re expected to have China Group Visa, which can only be applied for inside Kathmandu. You’ll have to hand over your original passport to our staff in Kathmandu during visa processing, and wait for at least 3 days. Normally it takes 4 working days, but you can spend more for an urgent processing that takes 3 full days.
Here are some of cost for China Group Visa (2020) to tourists with different nationalities (single entry):
US Citizens: 162 $ (ordinary); 189 $ (urgent)
Canadian Citizens: 92 $ (ordinary); 119 $ (urgent)
Romanian Citizens: 92 $ (ordinary); 120 $ (urgent)
Nepali Citizens: 45 $ (ordinary); 72 $ (urgent)
For other country citizens’ quotations, please ask for your travel consultants or check the China Group Visa from Nepal; And a service fee of 20 $/person is involved. Our staff will later deliver your group visa to your hotel.
Kathmandu to Lhasa by Flight
Flying from Kathmandu to Lhasa (1h30min) is one of the most popular ways to reach Tibet. Currently, there is one flight per day jointly run by Sichuan Air and Air China.
By Air China from Kathmandu to Lhasa
The cost of one-way flight climbs from at around 283 USD in April to reaches its peak in Oct at around 603 USD. While from Nov to March, the price for Kathmandu-Lhasa flight offers chances for you to get an affordable air travel, with ticket price staying from 263 USD to at approximately 233 USD. All the flight prices are with airport tax included.
However, since from mid-Feb to March, Tibet tour is not available to international tourists, for the cheap flight, you’d better book your flight ticket from Nov to early Feb.
Kathmandu to Lhasa by Overland Tour
Compared with the non-stop flight from Kathmandu, traveling overland takes more time and is much more expensive, since the cost for hotel, tour vehicle and attraction fee and dining, etc. are involved.
Take our 8-day Kathmandu to Lhasa Small Group Tour, with 3-star hotels (2020), for example. Normally, you need to prepare at least 1017 USD for the overland tour. The cost includes the transfer service all the way from Kathmandu to Lhasa;3 star hotels in Shigatse city and Lhasa and guest house in small town; Tibet permit and other travel documents except for China Group Visa; English-Speaking guide, travel insurance, etc. for more details, please feel free to for consult our travel consultants.
Regardless of higher cost, the stunning trans-Himalayan journey, covering over 1300km via EBC, will unpack literally all the highlights of alpine scenery and Buddhist culture for you.
Due to the steep rise of altitude from Kathmandu (1400m), you will make several stops on both side of Gyirong border, the current Sino-Nepal border, as well as the old Tingri to avoid acute mountain sickness before reaching EBC (5200m). If you travel with your young kids or the elderly, we suggest you flying from Kathmandu to Lhasa and travel back to Kathmandu. In this way, you will have better acclimatization to Tibetan Plateau.
The Cost for Traveling from Mainland Chinese Cities to Tibet
Instead of entering Tibet from Kathmandu, traveling from mainland China to Lhasa offers more alternatives for travelers with different pockets and interests. To plan your tour cost, basically, you need to figure out two things: one is from which city you leave for Lhasa; the other is whether to travel by flight or Tibet train.
Enter Tibet from Major Mainland Chinese Cities
Top Tibet-entry cities from mainland China include Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and Chengdu, Xining, Xi’an and Chongqing, Kunming. Geographically, Chengdu, and Xining, Kunming are the closest cities to Lhasa and generally cost you less money as to daily expenses such as dining, accommodation and transportation than mega-metropolitan cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airpot
However, inland cities like Xining and Kunming have a much fewer international flight to mainland China than that of Chengdu. So, Chengdu can be used as a great jumping point to reach Lhasa, next to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, given the daily cost.
Enter Tibet by Flight or Tibet Train
Well, though traveling by flight brings you the superb convenience, it’s the Tibet train that allows you to enjoy the cost-effectiveness, stunning window view and gradual acclimatization to the high altitude of soaring Tibetan Plateau.
On average, the flight ticket to Tibet from major provincial cities of China is much more costly than the soft sleeper ticket of Tibet train. Take traveling from Beijing to Lhasa for example, the non-stop flight (one way) in late Dec,2018 is at least around 3230 CNY (or 486USD) without tax included, whereas the softer train ticket only costs about 1144 CNY (or 166USD) and there is no tax needed for the train journey.
If you decide to travel from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou to Lhasa, a great suggestion to save your budget is to use highly developed railway system in China, in many cases a fine combination of high-speed rail and Tibet train service. You can easily take high-speed train from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to major tourist cities like Xi’an, Chengdu and later take Tibet train to Lhasa. It will save you lots of money compared with the flight.
Sometimes, for the departure from Chengdu to Lhasa, there won’t be a huge price difference between flight and Tibet train. In this case, it’s up to you to decide whether to choose the better window view or shorter travel duration.
If you prefer to travel by flight and enjoy the low cost, some of the budget airlines in China can be an alternative, such as Spring Airlines, 9 Air and China United Airlines, and Ruili Airlines, etc. All you need to do is check their official websites online to see if their flight schedule matches with your travel date.
As to the specific flight cost, please refer to the current price list of different airlines and flight routes in the airport. Or feel free to contact our travel consultants to secure your flight or Tibet train ticket.
Cost for the Travel by Road from Mainland to Lhasa
Of all the means of transportation to Lhasa from mainland China, travelling by road, either by self-driving with your own vehicle or hiring a vehicle, is undoubtedly the most expensive choice.
Though it’s hard to calculate the exact money you need, to prepare a road trip from mainland China to Tibet, you need to prepare at least 17,000 USD, based on our experience. For the exact tour price, please feel free to consult our travel consultant about the latest quotation for the overland journey.
Currently, apart from Kathmandu to Lhasa road, only Qinghai-Tibet Highway and Xinjiang-Tibet Highway are only available for international tourists to travel to Tibet. Roughly at least 7-15 days are needed to finish the road trip and much of cost will be spent on fuel, hotel, dining, entrance fee and tour guide service and other supplies provided.
Tibet Tour Package Cost in Tibet Breakdown
Probably, to your great surprise, the actual tour cost in Tibet is around twice as expensive than other mainland Chinese cities, largely due to the extreme altitude of Tibetan Plateau and inhospitable environment and pricey transportation fee, etc.
Since all the international tourists can only visit Tibet via a guided tour with a travel agency, either a join-in small group tour or a private tour, your actual spending for travel in Tibet can be quite different. In practice, a small group tour is more budget-friendly than a customized tour such as cycling or trekking, as travelers can share the cost with other global travelers in the same group.
And no matter which travel mode you choose, your tour budget will be used to cover hotel, dining, and tour vehicle, entrance fee, guide service/tips and other outdoor activities and personal expenses.
Cost for Hotel in Tibet
Staying in Tibet can be a mix of different experiences. Depending on how much you’re willing to pay, your lifestyle here is going to quite different. Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, offers you the widest choice for accommodation and appeals to different pockets.
For those looking to get by on a budget, expect it to cost 15 – 32 USD for a 3-star hotel or much less for setting down in a room of a guest house without an attached bathroom. That’s for each night you’re staying in somewhere like Lhasa.
If you prefer to stay in a 4-star hotel around Barhkor Street, the major tourist region in downtown Lhasa, you need to pay up to 60 USD for staying in hotels like Lhasa Gang-gyan Hotel during the high season. It can be more expensive, but depending on your expectations and how much you need certain amenities, might be the best choice for most travelers.
Top 5 Star Hotel in Lhasa - The St. Regis Lhasa Resort
Finally, if you want to go all out, then a top of the line hotel room in Lhasa will set you back from $203 – 218 USD for staying in high-end resorts like St.Regis, Four Points by Sheraton, and Shangri-La or Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise. You will feel pampered with superb accommodation facilities, and attentive service. However, you might not be as immersed in the Tibetan culture as you otherwise would at a mid-range venue.
As you leave Lhasa to explore the massive untouched regions of Tibet, esp. to EBC and western Tibet like Mt.Kailash. The accommodation facilities tend to be a lot more humble and basic and you may have fewer choices for hotels. It’s common for you to spend around 22 USD in the guesthouse of Rongbuk Monastery and no private restroom, no breakfast, no showering facilities can be found in such remote areas. So, please play down your expectation since you are on an adventure tour.
Cost for Dining in Tibet ($5 – 20 US per day)
Due to the harsh environment in Tibet, the general cost for food and drink is not cheap. If you’re looking for the cheapest food and drink, then expect to pay $2 – 5 US for a basic Tibetan restaurant meal, like Tibetan noodle soup, Tibetan momo, dried yak meat, and beverage such as sweet tea, butter tea and refreshing Lhasa beer, etc. These will keep you going and you may enjoy some local snacks. Very cheap meals will help to keep your budget down though. Have a look around where you’re staying and see if you can find something you like the look of.
Higher priced dining will cost you around 6-10 USD at a more high-class establishment. In Lhasa, you may enjoy a wide spectrum of Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian, Western and Chinese cuisines. As you hit the road for the day to day tour beyond Lhasa, some local Tibetan food and Chinese dishes like egg fried rice, Tibetan soup noodles, rice with yak meat, various veg food, etc. Wherever you decide to eat, make sure to try the local Tibetan food, it’s definitely worth it.
Cost for Tour Vehicle in Tibet
In addition to hotel and dining, a large slice of your tour budget will be spent on the transfer service from one attraction to another. As a common practice, the cost will be charged by per km in the daily tour. Normally, your travel agent will give you an accurate quotation for the tour vehicle, based on your travel season, tour vehicle you need (such as 5-seat Toyota Land Cruiser, 9-seat Hyundai and 20-seat Toyota Coaster, etc.), and distance of travel, number of travelers.
Interestingly, since most of the star attractions beyond Lhasa lie far away from each other, Tibet tour often involves a long drive on a daily basis. So, if you only visit Lhasa and its surrounding, the cost of a tour vehicle could be less expensive. Instead, if you prefer to visit EBC(around 1340km away from Lhasa) or Mt.Kailash (around 3730km away from Lhasa), the total cost would be phenomenal, particularly in high season from April to Oct. In this case, to budget-minded travelers, joining a small group tour can be an alternative for an affordable tour. For the exact cost and latest quotation, please consult your travel consultant.
Cost for Entrance Fee in Tibet
Whether you book a group tour or a private tour, the cost of entrance fee will be included. And the entrance fee is fluctuated by different travel seasons. Take the classic 8-day Lhasa to EBC tour for example, on average the entrance fee costs around 10 USD, plus 120RMB/pax for eco-bus fare which is the new policy implemented from June 25th 2019. Here are some of entrance fees from Lhasa to EBC:
Potala Palace 200 CNY(29USD)
Jokhang Temple 50CNY (7.3USD)/85CNY (12.3USD)
Sera Monastery 50CNY(7.3USD)
Drepung Monastery 30CNY (4.4USD) /60CNY (8.7USD)
Yamdrok Lake 60CNY (8.7USD)
Karola Glacier 25CNY (3.6USD) /50CNY(7.3USD)
Palcho Monastery 60CNY(8.7USD)
Tashilhunpo Monastery 100CNY (15USD)
Rongbuk Monastery 30CNY (4.4USD)
Everest Base Camp 90CNY (13.1USD) /180CNY (26.1USD)
Cost for Guide Service and Tipping
From the basic English-speaking Tibetan guides in a group tour to the versatile travel gurus who can cook tasty local cuisines while taking travelers for cycling or trekking in a customized tour, the guide service fee varies, according to different tour groups and tourist numbers. You can discuss thoroughly with your travel consultants and choose the personalized guide service you need for a particular activity in Tibet.
Though you are not obliged to tip the guide in Tibet, to reward the outstanding service of dedicated Tibetan guides, normally tourists do tip their guide and driver at the end of the tour. How much money you may tip completely depend on you. it can't go too wrong if you tip the guide who is responsible for a solo traveler in a private tour with 20-30USD. And the amount of tipping can be brought down if there are more travelers in a tour group. For some special activities or private tours that involve strenuous efforts and extra care, more tips are also believed to be reasonable.
Cost for Other Tour Activities like Trekking and Cycling
Unlike the ordinary guided tour in Tibet, enjoying the popular outdoor activities like trekking and cycling in Tibet requires a lot more preparation and professional team support. Consequently, the cost is much higher than the ordinary tour. Meanwhile, the actual cost also is heavily influenced by the number of travelers, travel seasons and market price, etc.
Take the classic 12-day trek from Old Tingri to EBC for example, for 2-3 trekkers doing the EBC trek at any given time between July to Oct (high season), the cost is above 2,379 USD while travelling in shoulder season from May to June, the price will go down to 2,067 USD. With more people travelling together, the cost can be more tourist-friendly. For 4-5 pax traveling in high season, the cost for each person brings down to 1,626 USD, whereas in should season, the cost can be as cheap as 1,446 USD. However, all the accurate tour quotation, you still need to consult your travel consultants for a specific travel date and your personal preferences as to hotel, dining, porter and yak caravan, etc.
As to cycling in Tibet, 4+2 traveling travel mode is widely used. You can enjoy the scenic ride, followed by a backup truck loaded with Tibetan guide, chef, medical and logistic supply, camping facilities, etc. All of these professional supports will make it easier for your journey and ensure your travel safety, esp. when you reach your physical limit during the tough ride on Tibetan Plateau. As a result, it will add up to a higher cost for a cycling tour.
For example, if you enjoy the epic ride from Lhasa to Kathmandu that takes around 22 days, for an individual, you need to at least prepare 3000 USD to cover the relevant cost mentioned above. Of course, if you have a bunch of friends, the cost for each person can be cheaper. Again, for a more accurate price, please feel free to contact our Tibetan guide.
Other Personal Expenses in Tibet
Apart from those major expenditure for Tibet travel, you may also prepare 120 to 220 USD to cover the extra personal expenses, such as souvenir, medicine, dining in some remote areas, and rental and porter service, and other unexpected costs for clothes, and upgrading for the hotel, etc. It all depends on your initial travel itinerary. It’s advisable for you to set aside a certain amount of money to cover the unexpected personal expenses.
a. Travelling to Tibet during its high season from June to mid-Oct is a bit more expensive than other months; for budget-minded travelers, mid-Nov to early Feb is a great choice since it’s the offseason of Tibet travel. While the April to early June and Late Oct to early Nov are the shoulder season for Tibet travel with moderate tour price.
b. We offer free service for Tibet Travel Permit application. If you enter Tibet from Kathmandu, China Group Visa is also needed (check the different price for different citizens)
c. Flying from Kathmandu to Lhasa is the cheapest way to reach Tibet. While traveling overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa via Gyirong border or other mainland Chinese cities tends to cost a lot more. However, the overall tour experiences definitely outweigh the direct flight.
d. For the travel cost in Tibet, choosing the join-in small group tour makes your travel much more affordable for travelers with limited budget. While the private tour, though costing much more, gives you full control of your day-to-day itinerary and extra care from Tibetan guide.
e. Lhasa has a variety of hotels to suit every pocket, ranging from 30 USD to over 200USD high-end luxury resort. Whereas, the accommodation facilities in remote areas such as EBC, Mt.Kailash are very humble and basic.
f. Dining in Tibet costs from $5 – 20 US per day. You have more choices for different cuisines in Lhasa city than anywhere else.
g. Cost for the tour vehicle is calculated per km. The longer you travel, the more expensive cost it will be. Since many of the attractions beyond Lhasa are far away from each other, the long drive is inevitable as long as travel outside Lhasa city.
h. On average, the entrance fees in Tibet are around 10 USD. There won’t be a huge change as to most of the attractions.
i. No mandatory tipping policy is imposed on travelers. However, to reward the hard work of Tibetan guide, many travelers will tip the guide and drivers at the close of the tour. If you are in trekking or cycling tour, the tipping tends to be more than an ordinary guided tour.
j. Trekking and cycling in Tibet involve much more professional support. The tour price is also much pricy than a normal group tour. However, travelling in groups can bring down the overall tour cost.
k. You’d better set aside 120-220USD to shoulder the expected expenditure such as, as souvenirs, medicine, dining in some remote areas, and rental and porter service, and other unexpected costs for clothes, and upgrading for the hotel, etc.