Tibet is a unique travel destination from many perspectives. For starters, it is a place located just below the roof of the world that features a rich cultural heritage and landscapes crowned by high mountain peaks soaring skywards. Another uniqueness about Tibet is that independent traveling isn’t an option here. Because of the special status of this autonomous region of China, travelers need to obtain a visa and a permit to make the visit possible. Furthermore, only holiday-makers that organize a private tour or join an existing group tour can hope to acquire the permits necessary for a Tibet tour. And this is where a Tibet travel agency steps in to prepare everything you need for traveling this corner of China abounding with natural and cultural marvels.
What can a Tibet Travel Agency do for Your Tibet Tour?
To be able to explore Tibet, travelers need to secure the China Visa and Tibet Travel Permit. While obtaining the former is up to you, Tibet travel agencies are there to assist you with acquiring the latter. Note that issuing the Tibet Travel Permit isn’t possible without obtaining the China Visa first. Another thing you need to know is that you cannot apply for the Tibet Entry Permit, whose issuing is in the jurisdiction of the Tibet Tourism Bureau, on your own. Instead, you need to apply via a chosen Tibet travel agency to secure the permit.
When you get the China Visa, the second step is to contact a Tibet agency to make a visit to the autonomous region of Tibet possible. The Chinese law explicitly forbids independent travels here, which means that you need a guide of a licensed agency to accompany you at all times. Hence, you need to be part of either a private or guided tour to acquire the permit. Applying and securing the travel document on the traveler’s behalf isn’t the sole responsibility of a local agency in Tibet. Agencies create Tibet tours that match the interests and needs of individual and group vacationers. They also help them book suitable hotels, arrange flight or train tickets and ensure a safe and pleasant experience. After all, Tibet is famous for Buddhist relics, places of worship and colorful festivals, which you should enjoy from the perspective of the local for the best experience.
Once you arrange the tour with the travel agency in Tibet, you need to scan your passport and send it to the chosen agency along with the China Visa. Issuing the Tibet Travel Permit is free of charge, and the procedure usually takes between four days and two weeks. Note that the law bans exporting the Tibet Entry Permit from the country. Hence, it is the agency’s responsibility to send you the document once you arrive in China. It is essential for you to have the Tibet Travel Permit when boarding a train or plane to Tibet. Otherwise, you won’t be able to board.
When applying for the China Visa, you don’t need to state your intention to visit Tibet as well. Some travelers who mentioned Tibet as part of their plans used to have concerns that prolonged issuing the visa. Some embassies and consulates required the official invitation from the Tibet Tourism Bureau, which the agency can secure for you. However, it is only a development you can do without while preparing for a Tibet tour.
How to Find a Reliable Tibet Travel Agency?
Because of the special status of the autonomous region of Tibet, traveling here is much different from traveling in other parts of the world. That is the reason why you need to choose a travel agency with great care. Before you start the booking procedure, have in mind related costs. If the approximate price an agency proposes is low compared to others, it is the first sign that something might be wrong. Since traveling Tibet usually incurs a substantial amount of money, you need to be very careful whenever the price some agency offers significantly differs from the rest of the market.
To find the right Tibet travel agency, you should search for reviews of their past clients. There are many travel agencies on the market offering the organization of the tour of Tibet, and not all of them are expert. Therefore, visit TripAdvisor and other similar websites where travelers share their experiences. Pay close attention to the overall rating of the agency and recent reviews. Since you entrust the local travel agency in Tibet to handle your application for the permit, make sure that its reputation is flawless. If the Tibet Travel Permit, for example, isn’t filled correctly, you won’t be able to board a plane or train in China to travel to Tibet.
The third criterion you need to consider in hiring an agency is its history. It is always wiser to choose a travel agency that has been around for some time. This improves the chances that the agency has satisfactory business ethics whose employees are efficient, friendly and always at hand, which is of high importance in Tibet.
Finally, the set of services the local travel agency offers for a Tibet tour may be another lead. If it has a selection of services (hiking, camping and biking among others) among which you can choose, the related agency certainly deserves your consideration.
Other Tips for Finding a Tibet Travel Agency to Run Your Tibet Tour?
Aside from the Tibet Travel Permit, you may need further authorization for making a tour of Tibet in certain circumstances. Indian citizens intending to go for pilgrimage to Mount Kailash or Manasorvar Lake, for instance, need to obtain the permission from the Pilgrim Center or Foreign Affair Office. To acquire necessary permits, the pilgrims need to apply through an Indian or Nepali agency partnered with these organizations. Note that the Indians who have the US passport in possession don’t need to go through this procedure. If you have one, you can arrange the Tibet tour covering Mount Kailash through a travel agency in Tibet.
As for Chinese travelers with Hong Kong and Macau passports, they don’t need to apply for the Tibet Entry Permit. Holiday-makers from these countries only need to provide the Home Return Permit, also known as the Mainland Travel Permit, and the valid passport. The residents of these autonomous regions can apply for the Home Return Permit via the Entry Administration of the Ministry of Public Security or Bureau of Exit.
However, the same analogy doesn’t apply for Chinese people residing in Taiwan. The Taiwanese wishing to visit Tibet need to secure the Mainland Travel Permit, also known as Taiwan Compatriot Permit, before applying for the travel permit via a Tibetan travel agency. The people of Taiwan can apply for the Mainland Travel Permit via the Ministry of Public Security.
Other travelers that need to go through different procedures to acquire the permit for traveling Tibet are journalists, foreign officials and diplomats. If you belong to one of these categories, apply through official channels via Tibet Foreign Affair Office.
Tibet tour and Tibet Travel Agencies recap
Visiting Tibet is likely to be the highlight of your travels. To ensure the best possible experience, pay close attention when choosing the Tibet travel agency you will entrust organizing the trip. You will find many of them online offering tours of Tibet, so allocate enough time to pick the right one.
The good organization of a Tibet trip usually requires a substantial investment, so be wary if someone proposes a low price to you. While a higher cost of the tour usually indicates the reputation of the travel agency, look beyond the price nevertheless. The quality of your trip to Tibet may easily depend on the set of services the agency has on offer.