Prior to April 20, 2010, the majority of Tibet overland tours were conducted in four-wheel drive vehicles with four passengers to a car plus a guide. Now that paving the Friendship Highway (the road from Nepal to Lhasa) is complete, the Chinese government is trying to shovel in as many tourists as they can and have since implemented buses as the sole means of transportation.
Traveling by bus was a huge drawback for us because it meant we’d be herded around like cattle with more than 30 other tourists. We didn’t have another option so a bus it was.
The buses, to my surprise, were brand-spanking new and nice. They were clean, well-kept and even had air conditioning. They were a bit tight, however. Leg-room was scarce and room for the luggage limited. This meant scrambling each morning to get a good spot on the bus for you and your bags was commonplace.
Expect lots of driving. For the first three days you are on the road for up to eight hours. The scenery is magnificent, which helps the time go by fast, but be prepared to see it from the window of a bus.
If you’re willing to fork over big money for a private tour, you will travel in a four-wheel drive vehicle. See cost breakdown for more details.