Wondering what is the cheapest way to visit Tibet? Here’s a roundup of ways you can reduce the cost of your travel to Tibet.
Over the years, Tibet has slowly made its place amongst the greatest and most visited tourism destinations in the world. Vast greeneries juxtaposed with snow-clad regions complemented by clear blue skies make it one of the most attractive tourism spots in the world.
The huge trans-Himalayan mountain ranges surrounding the region provide a vast scope of adventurous hiking or trekking experiences. There are number of trekking routes available in Tibet, which not only show the raw beauty of nature, but also provide what will be some of your best life experiences.
The monasteries present in Tibet along with the authentic Tibetan delicacies exude the originality of Tibetan culture and traditions. Overall, it can be said that Tibet is a mind-boggling package that should be visited at least once in a lifetime.
The cheapest way to visit Tibet
The various ways to plan the cheapest Tibet tour are as follows:
Take the Tibet train to Tibet
Qinghai Tibet railway is one of the must-do experiences if you are traveling to Tibet. The loftiest railway in the world, it is one of tourists’ favorite experiences within Tibet. Thanks to the Tibet train, also known as the Qinghai-Tibet railway, a lot of nearby stations are now connected with Tibet. These areas include Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Xining, X’ian, Chongqing and Guangzhou. There is a chance of expanding the railway line even further in the coming years.
From Beijing to Lhasa, one train is available at 8 PM. It takes about 40 hours to travel to Tibet from Beijing. The cost is around 1144 CNY for soft sleepers, and 720 CNY for hard sleeper berths. The facilities provided in the Tibet train including air-regulation, charging sockets, elaborate dining, and beautiful scenic charm make the journey good value for money.
Similarly, from Chengdu to Lhasa, the train is available at 2:48 PM. The train ride is about 43 hours. Soft sleeper and hard sleeper berths are 1062 and 668 CNY respectively, with all facilities provided.
From Shanghai to Lhasa, the train leaves at 8:10 PM, and it takes about 47 hours to visit Lhasa from Shanghai. The cost of the soft sleepers and the hard sleepers are 1262.5 CNY and 793.5 CNY respectively.
Similarly the costs of the soft sleepers and the hard sleepers from trains leaving from Xi’an, Chongqing and Guangzhou are 969.5 CNY and 611.5 CNY, 1079 CNY and 680 CNY, 1468 CNY and 865 CNY respectively.
The cost of hard sleepers is less compared to soft sleepers primarily because the hard sleeper berths are narrower than the soft sleepers, and they lack facilities such as charging points. However, air and oxygen regulators are found in all berth types throughout the train. Because of the air pressure regulation, one is less likely to suffer from altitude sickness on the Tibet train. Even if one does feel symptoms, the train provides medical facilities.
Regarding food, the Tibet train provides exotic Tibetan foods like stewed Yak and Crassulaceae at a moderate price of 25 CNY and Ginseng Salad at 18 CNY. There are about eight different soup dishes, 32 different main courses, and a variety of beverages found in the train. You will get boxed lunches at 20 CNY and other variety of foods ranging from 20-40 CNY. As for drinks, Tibetan beer only costs around 25 CNY. In the Tibet train, you’ll find an altogether unique experience at a low cost.
Visit Tibet in winter, the tourism off season
Tibet is located on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the highest plateau in the world. Winters are very harsh, with strong gusts of wind and immense snowfall. In winter, half of the areas in Tibet become inaccessible.
The winter in Tibet begins around late October, and continues until February. Due to the extreme cold of Tibet, tourism slumps during winter. If you want to find the cheapest way to visit Tibet, try traveling in winter.
As it is the off-season, most hotels offer reduced price rooms. Vehicles reduce their fares, and even the flights and the trains have reduced fares. However, not every part of Tibet experiences chilly winter. In Lhasa, there is not much snowfall. If you visit Tibet in winter, you can visit all the places, including some mountains. In winter the benefits from the perspective of costs that you will get are:
- Prices of flights and trains are reduced to half the original fare.
- Potala Palace offers half price entrance tickets
- Tourist vehicles reduce their price to 2/3 of their original fare.
- Yamdrok lake, Tashilhunpo Monastery and Gyantse Pelkor Monastery greatly reduce their entry fees.
- Hotels reduce their rates by half.
- Various travel agencies offer certain facilities and discounts during winter.
- Trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp is 30% cheaper in winter.
In winter, Tibet becomes much more pocket friendly than in summer or spring!
Travel with others to share the cost
Travelling with friends or travel partners is another way to reduce the cost of your Tibet tour.
Flight and train fares will remain the same, but you’ll be able to save on vehicle costs. If you can assemble a group of tourists, you can avail a comfortable transport facility at half the price. Travelling in groups also reduces the cost of tour guides. Tour guides take around 250 CNY to 350 CNY per group. So the more members in the group, the less you ultimately have to pay.
As far as accommodations go, sharing your room with others is a great way to reduce costs. Similarly, in the case of meals, the more people in the group, the cheaper the cost.
You can also request the help of tourism organizations with visiting Tibet. They can provide certain rebates for groups, helping you travel Tibet at a lesser cost.
Stay in youth hostels and dine in local Tibetan restaurants
Though youth hostels are not very abundant in Lhasa, there are quite a number of youth hostels in Tibet. These hostels are cost effective, with many facilities provided.
For example, in Dalan Hostel in the Chengguan District of Lhasa, you will find free wifi facilities, free parking, and free internet access. Other lavish facilities including reading room, hot showers, laundry, and fax services are present in this hostel. At 605 CNY, the cost of the hostel is really cheap. Generally, the cost of accommodations in hostels ranges from 600 -700 CNY. If you are traveling in groups, you can share your room, thereby distributing the cost and making things quite cheap. If you explore the hostels found at various tourist destinations in Tibet, you will get to know all their policies.
Regarding dining in Tibet, Lhasa is considered to be more expensive than other parts of Tibet. The standard price of meals in local restaurants ranges from 80-100 CNY. However, if you go in a group, the price will be reduced to 60-80 CNY.
You will find a variety of foods like Nepali, Chinese and Tibetan in Lhasa. If you go to some local restaurants to try them out, it will cost you around 67 CNY, which is quite moderate. However, if you travel to more remote places, prices will fall. Similarly, Chinese foods are cheaper. In the local restaurants, soup costs around 10 CNY, and beef noodles around 5 CNY. A full meal costs around 25 CNY.
Some cheap but high-quality Tibetan restaurants can be found in the Barkhor Street area. There are restaurants that charge around 20 CNY for an entire meal. Similarly, in tea houses, especially in the south western side of Barkhor Street, you can find bowls of noodles for just 4 CNY, and the cheap price doesn’t mean a compromise in quality.
In the Barkhor Street area, you can find authentic Tibetan food at a very low cost, especially in restaurants like Lhasa Kitchen, Makye Ame, and others. You can also snack on chocolates and instant coffee to combat the cold. Do try the Tibetan butter tea as well!
Visit free attractions
Another great way to reduce the cost of Tibet travel is to visit places that do not require any entry fee.
Many monasteries and temples do not require entry fees. You can also visit lavish market areas like Tromsikhang market, Barkhor Street, Lhasa River, Yamdrok Lake, Gawu La Pass, etc. without any entry fees. Strolling in scenic areas is always cost effective.
Do know that most of the famous monasteries and lakes in Tibet do require an entry fee. Look online for detailed descriptions of places you can visit for free, or for a low price.
These are some of the cheapest ways you can visit Tibet.