In this post, we will give you a selection of the most beloved Tibet tours, broken down by region. To learn more about group tours that suit your needs, or to customize your personal journey, ask us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned travel agent here.
Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR)
For Tibetan people, the term “Tibet” refers to all of the lands on the vast Tibetan Plateau. The piece that the Chinese government calls the Tibetan Autonomous Region (T.A.R.) is about half of the Tibetan Plateau. (The Chinese also refer to the T.A.R. as “Tibet” and “Xizang.”) This is the region that the Chinese government most tightly restricts, and for which you need a permit to enter. It includes Lhasa, Mount Everest, Mt. Kailash, and most of the most famous and iconically Tibetan sights and experiences. To visit Tibet – that is, the Tibetan Autonomous Region – you must have a Tibet travel permit, a guide, and be on a “tour.” Keep in mind that your Tibet tour can be just you with a guide and driver on a private tour, or two or three friends or family traveling together.
Kham/Amdo: No Permit Required
The Eastern half of the Tibetan Plateau is historically, ethnically and culturally Tibetan, but is not part of the “T.A.R.” and is therefor far less restricted or controlled. You don’t need a special permit to travel here, though some specific areas are off-limits or sometimes closed for political reasons. Although the non-T.A.R. areas of Kham and Amdo allow individual, backpacker-syle travel, we do not recommend it unless you speak Chinese and/or the local Tibetan dialects, and possibly not even then. These areas are not set up for western tourists the way that Nepal or India are — we generally recommend that you hire a guide and driver to travel in them.