No, you cannot have 100% independent tour in Tibet; instead, you will have either a private tour or a group tour including a guide, driver and etc. Even before 2008, independent tour in Tibet is rare, and after 2008, the restriction has been reinforced by adding many checking-points on the way, particularly if you travel outside of Lhasa or visit some sensitive areas. There are always someone checking your permit, and you must have a tour guide to help you go through those formalities.
Your tour guide is neither your 24 hours guardian nor nanny, so long as you do not visit scenic spots without him or her, you can hang out any where you like. Just tell your guide you want to spend today alone and he or she will be waiting for you somewhere else at your disposal or even stay home. But you must follow the rules not visiting scenic spots alone. If you were caught by the policemen, not only you but also your guide, your travel agent would be in great trouble. So, please travel responsibly while you want to have a free day in Tibet.
There are several kinds of travel permits in Tibet tourism. To make it simple, you only need a TTB (Tibet Tourism Bureau) permit if you just want to have a few days in Lhasa city or somewhere near Lhasa. However, if you travel outside of Lhasa to some areas like Mt. Everest, Tsedang, Nyingchi, you still need PSB permit and ATP permit, your agent will take care of them all if you book tour with them.
Generally not, because this will make the cost high if international delivery is used. As a common practice, you will get your permit after your arrival in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai or Chengdu where you enter Tibet by train or air. Your travel agent will deliver the permit to the hotel that you book in a specific city; you must provide your agent with the name, address and phone number of this hotel.
Yes, it is possible to extend if you only intend to overstay one or two days in Lhasa not somewhere else. And you must tell your plan to your agent in advance, and they know how to help for you. It will make extension more difficult if you tell them at the very end of your tour.
No, public bus is not allowed for non-Chinese tourist in Tibet. And even no public bus driver would like to let you get on board; they will be fined if been caught. Private vehicle rental in Tibet is expensive as most time your tour agent has to use a land cruiser for you due to the poor road condition; while in Lhasa, you can choose not to use a private vehicle as Lhasa city is really small, from Potala to Johkang Temple, it only costs 15 minute by walking. And if you want to travel to a certain monastery that is located on the outskirt of the city, a taxi costing USD 3 is pretty enough. So if you just some few days tour in Lhasa, you can choose not to rent vehicle in order to save.
It is impossible as explained above. Besides, it is also impossible to have your driver to be your tour guide at the same time even your driver speaks fluent English. This is just the rule of Tibet tourism.
Please note that we never just SELL a permit as this is illegal. We only help you obtain a permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau. The cost for a permit includes both the charge by the government and the service fees by our travel agency. The cost will be calculated into the quote of the whole tour package including tour guide and other items.
Tourism is Tibet is in its infancy and the number of 4 Star hotels is quite limited. The newer hotels have been built away from the city center in order to protect the city history and environment. These hotels have central heating which is used in winter but no cooling is available in summer. We would still warn that the facilities and service standard may not be as you would expect from a hotel with this rating in other parts of the world. Older hotels located in the city have a good location but will not provide the level of comfort of the newer hotels and may not have any central heating. The level of service and facilities may be quite basic. Staff will probably not speak much English. Hotels in small cities and the Everest Base camp are very basic. They will usually have a public bathroom with squat toilet.
One thing you should bury in mind is that hotels in Tibet concerning its facility and service are not what you imagine. Not like hotels in big cities in China and other cities abroad.
Budget guesthouse has a few kinds. One is the twin room with or without the bathroom in it. The other is triple, four-bed rooms, and more beds rooms named dormitory which all have no private bathroom in them. Former one can be easily found in Lhasa and Shigatse, while later one is often the choice in remote area in Tibet.
Comfortable hotels on our website refer to middle class hotels, or standard hotels regarding to its location, or price, or comprehensive service ability. They are usually three star hotels, or comparatively good 2 star hotels.
The best available hotels are the 4 star hotels. 4 star hotels can only be reached in Lhasa. The best available hotels in the region out of Lhasa are generally 3 star hotels, and in some places hotels with no star, but comparatively of good condition.
Often, in a room, there are two beds which we call twin-sharing room. Some hotels have queen bed room and some even have triple room. But the number of queen bed room and triple is very limited. Twin-sharing room with two beds inside is commonly used in Tibet.
Some hotel rooms, not all, in Lhasa have access to internet, so you should inquiry your travel advisor for accurate information before making decision. But some hotel has business center where you can use internet service.
Due to basic condition in Tibet, sometimes with the poor pressure, the water flow may small and water sometime is not hot but just warm. In remote area, the condition can be even worse.
In Lhasa, you can choose Chinese food, western food, Nepali food and Tibetan food as well. But in remote towns and areas, choice is limited, Chinese food or Sichuan cuisine is the best choice.