If you have a great opportunity to go for a Tibet tour, you may be confused how to go when you face a so unfamiliar country. You may get different answers from different travel sites or guides books according to their preference. Generally speaking, here below are some things you need know before you go for Tibet and choose a travel agency.
1 Get a China visa
In order to go for a trip to Tibet, you have to enter in China, that means you need a China visa (unless you have lived in China for years). Luckily, it is not too much difficult to get a tourist visa. When you apply for a China visa, it kindly recommended that you do not mention anything about Tibet, even if you just want to go for a trip to Tibet. As you see, the political situation is very difficult (yes, this is a euphemism), VISA officials may begin to question your real goal to Tibet (you are an activist or a journalist?). so it’s a bright choice to keep it simple and avoid talking too much.
2 Get a Tibet Entry Permit Documents
Beside your China visa, a TTB permit (Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit or Tibet Entry Permit) is a very useful document to enter in Tibet. Sometimes China government decided to close Tibet to foreign tourists, so you might want to check whether the border to Tibet is open before you book a flight. In fact, travel agency who organize Tibet travel will also take care of the TTB and the cost of TTB permit will be included in the price of your tour.
It’s worth to note that you can’t even take a plane or train to Tibet without the TTB permit.
If you want to rent a car to go there on your own, I suggest you reevaluate your choice. Maybe you don’t know that there are military checkpoints everywhere in Tibet and the surrounding areas, it’s likely that you will be found without a TTB permit and be kicked out of China.
3 Some sweet tips for choosing a travel agency
So yes, it’s your only option to have a TTB by a travel agency. If you live in China, you can pick up a local travel agency. Otherwise, you may search for a travel agency which can focus on Tibet tourism in Google. Obviously, it’s much cheaper than booking with a more foreigner-friendly agency.
There are some sweet tips for you to choose a travel agency which focuses on Tibet tourism.
* You may need note that Tibetan is open to foreign visitors on the days you are planning to travel there. It’s not likely that authorities have decided to close the border without any notice.
* You’d better ensure that the agent you choose will be able to obtain TTB permit for you. In general, the travel agency you booked will apply for TTB from Tibet Travel Bureau around 20 days (shortest 12 days) before a tour starts and usually get it for you after 7-8 Working days.
* Read reviews of previous customers on the organization’s website (all decent institutions will provide some comments). Providing in-depth reviews of customer names and photos is better than anonymous short reviews, such as “this trip is wonderful” is more difficult to fake. It’s just a little common sense.
* Make sure that you are dealing with a serious agency.
You can set up some serious questions to see if they can answer well. For example, you can ask the travel agent if you can go for a trip to Tibetan without a TTB or a tour guide. If the agent answers “yes, of course” then you’d better escape. He is lying to you as his only goal is to ensure that a new customer. As I have written, you can’t travel alone in Tibet without a TTB or a tour guide.