Tibet Tour – What It’s Like to Take a Guided Tour to Tibet and Everest Base Camp

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Getting to see Mount Everest (Qomolangma, in Tibetan) with your own eyes is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience worthy of any travel bucket list.

We hired a Chinese tour company to arrange this Tibet Trip. They booked all the railway tickets, hotels, local guide and driver for the tour. Most importantly, they handled all the documents needed for Americans to travel in Tibet.

In this post, I will share the details of our 8 Day Tibet Tour from Beijing to Everest Base Camp.

To get started, watch the Tibet Travel Video below.


Tibet Tour from Beijing to Everest Base Camp


Table of Contents


Qinghai-Tibet Railway

The two main ways to get to Tibet is by airplane or train. We opted to take the Qinghai-Tibet railway from Xining to Lhasa. The scenery was incredible and worth enduring a long train ride without fresh air.

This video will give you an idea of what it’s like to ride the world’s highest railway.

You can fly to Xining to catch the Qinghai-Tibet Railway or take the high speed trains like we did.

This is a breakdown of the trains we took from Beijing to Lhasa:

  • Train 1: Beijing to Lanzhou high speed train
  • Train 2: Lanzhou to Xining high speed train
  • Train 3: Xining to Lhasa Qinghai-Tibet Railway

Tips for the train ride to Lhasa, Tibet:

  • Have your Tibet travel permit handy when boarding the train
  • Bring your own toilet paper (western and squat toilets on the train)
  • Hot water is available on the train to make beverages and noodles
  • Bring a thermos to make instant coffee/tea
  • Hot meals are served in the dining car including sautéed fresh organic vegetables

8 Day Tibet Tour Itinerary

This is an outline of the 8 Day Guided Tour of Tibet.

  • 3 nights in Lhasa
  • 1 night in Shigatse
  • 2 nights in Tingri
  • 1 night in Lhasa

The local guide met us at the train station in Lhasa. He spoke english well enough for us to get a basic understanding of the culture and history of the places we visited.

September is one of then best times visit Tibet. Our Tibet tour was in early September with temperature in the high 60s/low 70s with plenty of sunshine. I only recall one partly cloudy day during the Tibet trip.

Places and Attractions Visited include:

  • Potala Palace
  • Jokhang Temple
  • Barkhor Street
  • Manak Dam Lake
  • Palcho Monastery
  • Yamdrok Lake
  • Tashi Lhunpo Monastery
  • Sunrise View of the Himalayas at Gyatsola Pass
  • Everest Base Camp for Tourists
  • Rongbu Monastery

Read up on the varies places, attractions you will be visiting in Tibet. Depending on your guide and how fluent they are in your native language, details may get lost in translation.

Altitude Sickness or Mountain Sickness in Tibet

The average elevation of Tibet is 16,000 feet. To reduce symptoms of altitude sickness in Tibet, give your body time to acclimate to the altitude change. We stayed in Lhasa (~11,800 ft) for three nights to rest and get acclimated.

In our experience, research and from speaking to tour guides in Tibet, the best way to reduce or avoid mountain sickness is by getting enough rest, avoiding alcohol, drinking plenty of water and not overeating.

Oxygen bottles are available for purchase in Tibet. Every hotel we stayed had oxygen bottles for purchase, 25-30 yuan per bottle. It is not recommended to use oxygen for mild symptoms of altitude sickness.

There are also pills for mountain sickness. We brought a bottle of Altitude RX Oxyboost and took it according to the instructions. It’s hard to say for certain if the pills worked to reduce the symptoms of being at high altitude. Would our symptoms have been worse if we didn’t take it?

Mild symptoms of mountain sickness include shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches, which we experienced.

We found eating fruits, rice and other high-carbohydrate foods helped alleviate the headaches. When Joe’s headaches became severe and unbearable, the oxygen did help alleviate the pain.

Tibet Travel Gear – Sun Protection

The sun is quite strong in Tibet. Having the right gear to protect from the UV rays is essential.

A pair of polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes.

A wide brim sun hat to protect your face. Joe wore his Tilley Airflo and I wore my OR Sombrero.

Clothes with sun protection. We both have shirts and pants with built in sun protection.

We also recommend a good travel water filter. While bottled water is readily available, we prefer to make our own purified water and cut down on plastic bottles.

Travel Permits & Visa

For our Tibet trip, we needed three travel documents in addition to our U.S. passports:

  • 1) China visa – since Tibet is a province in China, a visa is required for foreigners. We applied for this visa on our own as it was not included with the tour we booked.
  • 2) Tibet Travel Permit – this important document lists every destination we plan to visit during our time in Tibet. The tour operator applied for this permit on our behalf.
  • 3) Alien’s Travel Permit – this travel document is issued for restricted areas such as Everest Base Camp. The tour operator applied for this permit on our behalf.

Depending on where you want to go in Tibet, a military permit may also be required. Explore Tibet wrote an in-depth post on the types of permits for Tibet.

RVing in Tibet

I did find a couple who managed to rent an RV and travel around Yunnan and Tibet. Seeing the photo of their RV camped with Mount Everest in the background definitely inspired me to look into it more. Although we didn’t end up RVing around Tibet, it’s an option.

Learn more about John and Harriet’s adventure RVing in China.

How to Access Google in Tibet

We purchased ExpressVPN and set it up on our laptops and iPhones before we left on our trip.

This gave us access to Google, YouTube, Facebook and thousands of other websites blocked in China.

The VPN service also provides a secure connection when connecting to public wifi networks. The connection was slow at times, but we never had an issues accessing the websites we needed.

Use our link to Get 3 Month Free

Facts About Mount Everest

Mount Everest isn’t the tallest mountain in the World. However, it does have the highest summit above sea level. When measured from base to summit, Mauna Kea in Hawaii is the tallest in the world.

The mountain was already called Qomolangma by the Tibetans and Nepalse before the British decided to name it after surveyor George Everest in 1856.

The mountain continues to grow each year at a rate of approximately 4 millimeters.

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20 thoughts on “Tibet Tour – What It’s Like to Take a Guided Tour to Tibet and Everest Base Camp”

  1. It’s a great read about your Tibet travel experiences to Mt. Everest. I am a Hindu follower and would like to recommend the Mt. Kailash tour in Tibet. It’s will be a great trip for you!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Could you tell us where the name and town where the HOT POT restaurant was located (after you left Lhasa)? Also what hotels did you stay at along the way (after leaving Lhasa until you arrived at EBC).

    Reply
  3. Just a few questions did you bought train tickets online? And how about money, did you paid everywhere in cash? Thanks for the tip about VPN, I am already using Surfshark, it should be working fine there.

    Reply
  4. Nice video and liked it . Me and my husband also planing to visit Tibet. Can you please tell me the month you traveled Tibet.
    Thanks and Regards.
    SALMA

    Reply
  5. Hi Kait and Joe,
    I am a 58 year old female solo traveler. I am planning to go to Tibet via Beijing. I would love to take the train as you did but I can’t find the website to buy the ticket. I only found regular tickets but I don’t think it includes the bullet train. Please advice or post link. I very much enjoy watching your videos.

    Reply
    • Hey Elizabeth – you need to go through a tour operator and have them purchase the tickets and secure the necessary permits for you to get into Tibet. You cannot travel to Tibet without being part of a tour. Depending on your budget they have private and group tours.

      Reply
  6. Great videos. I really enjoyed watching it. What I would like to know is the cost of the trip broken down to the costs of each train ride and permits.

    Thanks!!!

    Reply
  7. Hi guys! great blog and video series, really enjoyed watching your adventure on the train. Im thinking of doing a similar journey in January/Feburary and i was interested to know which tour operator you went with. Thanks in advance.
    – Ren

    Reply
      • Great Videos on your trip to Tibet. We are committed to Class B RVing and have the countdown clock is on. 4 years 9 months. Call me if you make it to the Conch Republic this year, beers and dinner on us.

        John, Nadia, Laura and Ella Hall

        Reply
  8. I really enjoyed the videos. One question I had was which tour operator did you use and what was the cost breakdown for your whole trip? One of my co-workers has done the hike to Everest base camp (which I don’t think I could handle) but once I saw that there was an easier way to get there it peaked my interest. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Vaughn,

      We wouldn’t recommend the tour company we took and would suggest researching and reading reviews. Also, make sure that your guide speaks the language you prefer. Tours vary widely in price depending on how many days it is, the level of hotel and group size. There are private tours available and cost considerably more.

      The base camp on the Nepal side can only be hiked to (or helicopter if you have the funds), but the you can drive to the base camp on the China/Tibet side.

      Reply
  9. Hi Kait and Joe–love your videos and I am inspired by your minimalist lifestyle. I hope to someday be able to travel in a van/rv as you both do. You are a great couple! I recently watched the train ride to Tibet and it looks so amazing! I do have a question I hope you can answer–you have great travel gear, I am wondering about Kaits travel leggings that she wore on the train? They look comfy and flattering–wondering where I can find them! Thanks, I will continue to follow your channel and looking forward to the cookbook!

    Reply

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