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Traveling with a private vs group tour in Tibet

Travelers holding Wonders of Tibet banner

When you are planning your tour to Tibet, you have 2 main options: visiting with a private or group tour. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these options? Let’s decide if you should visit Tibet with a private or group tour.

RULES OF TRAVELING IN TIBET FOR FOREIGNERS

First of all, let’s cover the main rules of traveling in Tibet for all foreign visitors. There are a few main regulations that you should know.

  • All foreign travelers have to receive Tibet travel permit outlining their travel dates and itinerary in advance from a local travel agency.
  • There is no minimum size requirement for a group. A group can consist of 1 person or can be much larger.
  • You can only travel with a local licensed guide. Yes, you can walk in Lhasa by yourself, explore the Old Town, go shopping, and visit restaurants or local teahouses. On most of the tours, you will have some free time in the evening for activities that you enjoy the most.
    But visiting most of the important sites in Lhasa requires reservations and a tour guide. That’s why we always include a tour guide for the days that you spend in Lhasa.
  • You will be traveling in a special tourist vehicle. It is not possible to rent a car or use public transportation (except for taking a taxi in the cities only or a local bus in Lhasa). So, if you want to take a taxi to or from your hotel to some area in Lhasa, that is fine. But traveling anywhere outside of Lhasa is only possible on a special tourist car.
    Traveling with a tourist car has advantages for travelers as well. These cars go through regular checks to maintain the highest standards of safety for travelers and they have special insurance policies for travelers.

In short, you can travel in Tibet by yourself or with a group of people but you will always be accompanied by a local guide and travel in a tourist car. 

Now, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of private and group tours.

WHY CHOOSE PRIVATE TOURS

Private tours are a great way to explore Tibet. You can follow your itinerary, travel by yourself or with your friends or family, and have all guide’s attention.
In addition, there is no minimum group size requirement for travel groups in Tibet. There is a common misconception that you have to travel with a group. This is not true. You can travel by yourself as long as you follow the rules. That means, that even for 1 person, we will have to arrange a tour guide and a tourist car with a driver. 

ADVANTAGES OF PRIVATE TOURS

  • Private tours can be offered for a group of any size: from 1 person to as many as you wish
  • There are a lot more choices of places that you can visit with private tours
  • You can start your tour on any convenient day (planned in advance as we still need to apply for your permit and include your travel dates and itinerary on this application)
  • You can create your own itinerary or choose from a wide variety of suggested options
  • Private tours are ideal if you want to travel with your friends or family only
  • When traveling in Tibet, you are more flexible in how much time you spend at each stop
  • You have more hotel options for your tour
  • Private tours are a perfect choice if the group speaks languages other than English and is traveling with a group leader who can translate everything
  • For large groups private tour prices are the same or even lower than group tour prices

DISADVANTAGES OF PRIVATE TOURS

  • The main disadvantage of private tours is the higher price compared to group tours for small group sizes
  • Unlike traveling with a group tour where you can meet new people, with a private tour you only travel with your guide and driver.

MOST POPULAR PRIVATE TOURS

WHY JOIN GROUP TOUR

Joining one of the group tours is a very popular way of traveling in Tibet and for a good reason. Our guides have years of experience leading the groups and we perfected all itineraries to match the interests of the majority of visitors. All group tours are designed to visit the most important sites at a comfortable pace, giving enough time to acclimatize to high altitude.

ADVANTAGES OF GROUP TOURS

  • Group tours are versatile, offering different options of various durations
  • Special group tours depart during important festivals
  • Group tours visit the most popular and interesting places in Tibet, so you won’t need to worry about missing out on anything important
  • Joining a group tour allows you to meet new people and often make new friends from around the world – we’ve seen it many times!
  • Group tours are more budget-friendly for smaller groups of travelers

DISADVANTAGES OF GROUP TOURS

  • Group tours depart on certain dates and you need to align your travel dates to join one of these tours
  • Group tours have fixed itineraries and you cannot customize them
  • We have to make the tours interesting to everyone. On days when we stop in different places, we have to limit the time spent at each stop to ensure that everyone can visit all planned destinations.

MOST POPULAR GROUP TOURS

COMBINING PRIVATE AND GROUP TOURS TO REAP THE BENEFITS OF BOTH

Why not combine group and private tours to reap the benefits of both? Very often travelers like group tour itineraries and just want to add a few extra places to visit. Sometimes, our visitors want to arrive earlier to spend more time in Lhasa and better acclimatize to high altitude. It is all possible when you add extra days to your group tour and visit more places before or after your tour ends. 

There are many options for short tours in Lhasa or starting in Lhasa. Some of the most popular destinations for private tours are:

FINAL DECISION

Should you choose a private or group tour?

Choose one of the group tours if you are traveling as a small group (1-5 people), planning to visit popular places, or want to travel with a budget-friendly tour.

Choose a private tour if you are traveling with a larger group, want to travel with your friends or family only, interested in visiting places that are not included in group tours, or prefer to have more flexibility.   

Add a day or more of the private tour to your group tour if you like the group tour itinerary and prefer to travel on a budget, but want to add visits to some places that are not included in a group tour. 

why choose us?

  • Affordable group tour rates and regular departures
  • Always local Tibetan guides and authentic experience
  • Excellent reviews from our clients
  • Absolutely no forced shopping
  • Support local Tibetan businesses
It was really an amazing experience to travel with Wonders of Tibet. Their team is very professional, helpful and considerate! The itinerary is very well designed, communication is very smooth the whole time, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit Tibet!

Becky, review from TripAdvisor

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