Can You Really Trust Your “Tibetan” Travel Agent?

Your “Tibetan” Travel Agent may not be Tibetan!

Travelers to Tibet are increasingly aware of the need to support the Tibetan economy and culture by hiring a Tibetan travel agent and local Tibetan guides.

Unfortunately, there has been very little information online to help you find dependable agencies truly owned and run by Tibetans.

Tibetan Travel Agent: Camping at Namtso Lake on a Guided Trip
Camping at Namtso Lake on a Guided Trip

If you Google “tibet travel” or something similar, you will get a whole bunch of Chinese-owned companies trying hard to look Tibetan. We understand that in Lhasa it is common even for Chinese guides to pretend they are Tibetan, or “half” Tibetan.

The online Tibet travel discussion forums are full of requests for reliable companies, but these requests very rarely receive a clear answer. All too often, the people who answer are travel companies pretending to be unbiased travelers! Many are not, but it becomes hard to know who to trust.

From your home country, while you are planning your trip, it’s almost impossible to sift the real thing from the fakes, and there are a lot of fakes out there.

The simplest way to find a high-quality agent is to ask us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned travel agent to plan a great trip for you that also supports the local Tibetan economy and culture.

We have researched this issue for a long time, both to help you find trustworthy Tibetan travel companies, and also to help support the honest, hard-working Tibetan-owned travel agencies.

A NOTE ABOUT COSTS: Travel in Tibet is quite expensive, no matter which agent you use, and we work only with very reliable, well-respected agents, which means that we don’t really offer budget travel.

SOLO TRAVELERS: Our agents can help form groups on a limited number of fixed-departure trips in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and to a lesser extent, in Kham and Amdo. (For Eastern Tibet travel, they can only help form groups in the higher seasons, not in the late fall/winter/early spring.)

DISCLAIMER:  YoWangdu makes every effort to find you superb, trustworthy travel agents, but we can’t and don’t guarantee the services provided by these agents. We are not part of any agreements or contracts you may make with the travel agents and we have no responsibility for any loss or damage of any nature that may result due to your agreements with the agencies, or for any aspect of your trip to Tibet.

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Updated on February 9, 2020. First published on May 26, 2012.

Your Tibet travel guides, Lobsang and Yolanda

Most people who want to go to Tibet don't know how to get there or who to trust for help. We’re Lobsang Wangdu and Yolanda O’Bannon, and we help make Tibet travel more simple, safe and ethical so you can feel peace of mind about your trip.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Michel Laramée says

    Hello friends,

    I am very grateful that you are taking the time to send me all those informations and recipe from your culture.

    You know, i would like so much to go to Tibet. For me, your country had been a huge inspiration, it’s probably because of this that i began, some years ago, to meditate. And this is the best gift anyone should expect in his life. Yes , i would like to go, but i’m afraid i won’t be able to keep my emotions in a “silent way” in front of those chinese people. That’s why i won’t be able to go to Tibet. I have very big difficulties with what they did, and do, to your country. Sorry for my limited capacities of acceptation, one day maybe…

    Take care of yourself my friend, many of my meditations are going to the coming of real Peace for your people and your country, we have to keep a positive attitude, even if it’s not evident sometimes.

    Thank you again for everything!

    Michel Laramée
    Huntingdon, Québec, Canada

  2. Kristi says

    Thank you so much for your write-up. Very useful. We are planning to travel to Tibet in the next couple of weeks, nd knowing how important it is to use Tibetan-owned agencies in the TAR, your info was invaluable. I’ve already contacted a few of them, and will probably contact another few for travel on Amdo. Blessings to you and your loved ones.

    • yowangdu says

      You are so welcome, Kristi! We would love to hear about your trip, and your experience with your travel agency once you’re done. Please consider writing a guest post if that interests you at all!

  3. Tenzing says

    Dear Sir, Tashi Delek and Thank you for the useful information you have. I am looking for coming losar date 2014? Can you please reconfirm me the date March 2nd? I need to send this to my friends and family.

    I will appreciate for your prompt reply.

    Thanks and regards

    Tenzing

  4. Jonathan says

    Dear Lobzang,

    this is a clean and great website, thanks for the useful info! Just thought I’d mention another Tibetan-owned and operated agency. It’s relatively new, only some 2 or three years old, and is called Tibet Mandala Tours (based in Xining). You might wanna check that out and consider incorporating it into your list. I once did a home-stay with them in Hor village in Rebgong, and that was a great experience. (They also organize monastery tours, treks and so on, but I didn’t do any of those).

    All the best, and keep up the good work!
    Jonathan

  5. Kim Korber says

    RoadToTibet Tour Company and Woeser made my trip to Lhasa and surrounding areas the trip of a lifetime.
    I have no idea how I had the good fortune to find Woeser and his tour company RoadToTibet, but I did and had the most amazing trip. Our guide was knowledgeable, had a great command of the English language, and was always watching out for my emotional and physical well-being. Our driver was equally as fantastic with the same loving qualities. The truth is from the moment Woeser and I started emailing I could tell this company was totally concerned with our happiness and so proud of their corner of the globe.
    I had no idea the hoops you had to go thru for the government to tour Lhasa and the surrounding areas. Woeser kindly and efficiently walked us thru the process to be able to fly there with no glitches. RoadToTibet is what you search for when you go to a foreign land. The company is solely a Tibetan organization directly employing local people and services.

  6. Kong Chai says

    Yes, your advice are notably right. I did a Tibet tour with Songtsan Tavel based in Lhasa, They are very honest, friendly and reliable. I just have become to love Tibet and its people. Please put the Name of Songtsan Travel as recommended agency as I am really satisfied with the service and the way the provide.
    Best regards

  7. Jim says

    I want to firstly thank you for your very fair minded website and helpful information. I have spent days searching for links to genuine Tibetan guides and tours as I start to plan my Tibet trip. This is the first site offering travel help that I trust. Ever since I laid eyes on my own teacher almost twenty years ago I have wanted to visit the place where he spent his childhood and where all of his teachers lived, practiced and taught. So my trip will be a very personal one.

    May all who plan to do tours in Tibet find your website first!!

  8. sat kartar says

    Hi, I`m currently volunteering for tibetan organisation KEchara in KL malaysia. I fly to australia aug 26th to visit friend and return sept 9th. I`m thinking of flying to Katmandu around that time instead of going back to Uk & then hop into Tibet for a trip/tour in september. I need to do research but I did think that the tourism outfitters might be chinese & would much prefer to use Tibetan company. I`ll prob be looking at travelling there sept 18th onwards depending how long i spend in katmandu. I`m fortunate that i work in arts dept of kechara and the guys there are Nepalese & from katmandu. One who dosent speak english is returning back to his family at end of this month for a while & has said to phone him….very sweet guys here and buddhist too!!
    thanks,
    Sat

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