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Our trip style

Shigatse Travels operates tours, escorted by an experienced English-speaking local guide, to many areas of the Tibetan Plateau & China.
Many of our itineraries operate in remote areas - particularly in Tibet. These are by nature 'expeditions' not conventional holidays; conditions are harsher, events less predictable, infrastructure less developed and the lifestyles very different to those you are familiar with. The standards of accommodation and communications are often not up to Western levels.

However good our organization is, we are at the mercy of the unexpected, and while most of the time things go smoothly, this cannot be guaranteed. Remember in many areas - particularly in western Tibet infrastructure is poor compared to western standards, although improving daily.
If you are not prepared for this you should not travel here. The unpredictable, however often leads to unexpected encounters and the best experiences.

Local guides & leaders

In Tibet all guides are licensed by the Tibetan Tourist Bureau.
Our guides are directly employed by us (not freelance). We have trained them and know them well. They are experienced and knowledgeable and speak good English.

Your guide's role is to facilitate the smooth, safe running of your trip, solve problems that may occur and organize back-up plans should the need arise. They will provide you with an appreciation and understanding of the Himalayan world. If you have any concerns or problems on the trip, this is the person to speak to.

Accommodations

In main towns and cities accommodation is of a good standard - clean, comfortable twin share rooms, clean shared/private facilities and hot showers. Up to 5 star in Lhasa, 4 star in Shigatse &Tsetang - to 3 star in Gyantse, Sakya, Samye & Shegar. There are simpler hotels with private bathrooms in Saga, Darchen & Tsada.
Guest houses with twin room, but shared toilet and no showers facilities are also an option in smaller towns.

Whilst new facilities are constantly appearing,plumbing, hot water and electricity can be erratic in smaller towns.In remote areas, particularly on the Kailash kora, it may be 3-4 people to a room (we try to give couples their own room where possible, but please keep an open mind about sharing). In some places single/twin occupancy of a room is possible by paying for the unused beds in a room.

Transport

In Tibet all tourist transport is by private vehicle - car, van, minibus, bus depending on itinerary and group size. Roads in most areas are paved - including to Kailash, Guge & EBC. 4WD is no longer necessary and, as most 4WD vehicles were de-licensed for tourism in 2015, an unnecessary additional expense on most routes.

Our drivers are extremely experienced, both as drivers and mechanics, and know the road conditions. They speak varying amounts of English, but all will be delighted to point out the best photo spots etc. Make the effort to get to know them and you will have a lot of fun.

Food

Discovering the local food is without question one of the highlights of travel. In Tibet we include only a few especially selected meals, chosen to introduce you to the culinary highlights and specialties of the region.

In Lhasa there are restaurants of every description and budget. There are also a good variety of options in main towns (eg. Shigatse, Gyantse). Outside the main towns food is often fairly basic, but there are decent Chinese restaurants everywhere. Most travelers find Tibetan food less than exciting, but it can be quite a surprise if you choose the right places - your guides will make recommendations.

Culture Shock & the Physical Reality

In Tibet (particularly western Tibet) the remote type of travel that you experience can be physically demanding and the effect that this will have on you, both physically and mentally should not be underestimated.
Some driving days are long, 7+ hours. Breakdowns can occur. You are expected to help load/unload your own bags from vehicles and to/from your room. In some areas the terrain is very mountainous and you may be affected by altitude.
Whilst communications and infrastructure are constantly improving you are still venturing into a world very, very different to that you know.
Opportunities to 'get away' from the group may be limited; patience, tolerance and humor will be required by all. This can and does take its toll on people and should not be underestimated - the rewards however are incredible.

Whilst travel in the central regions of Tibet may be harsher than you are accustomed, it is nowhere near as taxing - comforts such as better standards of accommodation, reliable electricity, hot showers and international communications are more readily available. Namtso is the notable exception in Central Tibet - accommodation is very simple guest house with rooms and toilets of dubious cleanliness.

In Tibet Internet facilities are available in all major towns and mobile phones work virtually everywhere. Generally mobile phones with international roaming will work in Tibet, although US phones must be triband.