Here’s a look at the cost for the various aspects of the tour and entrance into Tibet.
Visa: $114 Chinese visa (for Americans), $28 for Tibet permit
Note: You will need to have both visas if to you plan to explore China after Tibet.
Tour: Range of $300-$350
Note: We met people who paid around $350 and others paid just below $300. We paid $320. This seems to be the going range for the eight-day tour. These prices are negotiable, despite what any tour operator tells you.
Outbound Travel: $150-$200 for train ticket, $300-$400 for flight
Note: You have to have proof of onward travel to get your visa, which means you’ll have to purchase an outbound flight or train ticket prior to entering Tibet. Whether it’s a train or flight you purchase, you will pay top dollar. Popular destinations coming from Tibet by train are Xian (37 hours), Chendu (42 hours) and Beijing (48 hours). Though your research may tell you train and airfare from Lhasa are half the price noted above, you will be paying double when coming from Kathmandu. These prices are not negotiable.
Private Tours: $945 for two peole
Note: This in addition to the price of the visa and outbound travel costs noted above. As this was out of our budget, we didn’t get into the details, but understand this price is negotiable and goes down if you have four people to share it with.
So was it worth it? In our eyes, absolutely. We had a lot of gripes and grumbles leading up to the trip. We hated the idea of being part of a tour group and loathed the idea of traveling around in a bus. We were bitter at the high costs and the fact that our money was going directly to feeding the machine that is destroying Tibet.
But the fact was we were desperate to experience Tibet. Although it wasn’t the ideal way to do it, it was the only way at this moment in time.
Would we recommend it? That depends on how strong your desire is to see Tibet and your tolerance level for group tours.