Tibet Unplugged Trip Notes

Tibet Unplugged

Last Modified: 04 Aug 2016
Tibet Unplugged
Trip code: CFRE
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 30 Oct 2016
Join an adventure across the top of the world. From the serene former home of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa to the ancient narrow laneways of Kathmandu, traverse the world's highest mountain range and delve into the heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Mingle with locals, rub shoulders with pilgrims and take in spectacular scenery - this is most definitely Tibet unplugged. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2016 As a result of the Nepal earthquake that occurred in April 2015, the Kathmandu-Tibet highway near Lamosanghu remains closed. Unfortunately word from our local suppliers and authorities is that this road will remain closed for the majority of the 2016 season. This means that no overland travel between these two countries is possible in 2016. All CFRE trips will be re-routed to fly between Lhasa to Kathmandu resulting in an increase in cost. Trip Notes have been updated to reflect the new itinerary. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017: From 1st January 2017 this trip will change due to the China/Nepal border remaining closed for the foreseeable future. In order to be able to plan consistent itineraries for 2017 we will continue the 2016 changes and fly from Lhasa to Kathmandu instead of travelling overland. We have also removed the one night in Lhatse and replaced with one night back in Shigatse due to passenger feedback. For 2017 this trip will be called "Tibet Uncovered" and the trip code will be CBSN. More details will be published in coming months, with the new itinerary outlined below: 1 Kathmandu 2 Kathmandu 3 Lhasa (Flight) 4 Lhasa 5 Lhasa 6 Lhasa 7 Lhasa 8 Gyantse 9 Shigatse 10 Sakya 11 Everest Base Camp 12 Shigatse 13 Lhasa 14 Kathmandu (Flight) 15 Departure Day
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinishing point instructions
ThemesAccommodation NotesEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionVisas
Why we love itMealsWhat to take
MapMoney mattersHealth
ItineraryGroup leaderTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyA couple of rules
Physical ratingJoining pointResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Important notesJoining point instructionsFeedback
Group sizeFinish point
Your fellow travellersFinish point description
Is this trip right for you?
- This itinerary is operated at a leisurely pace. It's a combination of free time and time spent with the group –perfect for travellers who like a bit of flexibility.
- There are some quite long days of travel, which can be tiring. On the other hand, the scenery is absolutely amazing, so sit back, relax and soak it up.
- Steeped in myth, spirituality and of course remote mountainous terrain, Tibet is a great place to visit if you're an independent, open-minded traveller.
- Note that in recent years there have been some restrictions on certain nationalities being able to travel on specific departures. Tibet has also been known to be closed down to foreign tourism without warning.
Why we love it
- Flanked by the majestic Himalayan Mountains, Kathmandu is nothing short of a legendary destination. Its bustling alleyways are filled with monks, incense, goats and sacred cows; its temples steeped in symbolism
- In Lhasa, discover the dazzling former home of the Dalai Lama and the enchanting atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple, the holiest in the Tibetan Buddhist world
- Each leg of a Tibetan road trip seems more incredible than the last. Climb stunning passes, drive along the sides of misty mountains, and take in jaw-dropping views of skies and lakes of perfect blue
- Accompany devoted pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a clockwise walk around the perimeter of the vast Tashilhunpo Monastery
- An overnight stay at Everest Base Camp, in the midst of the world's tallest peaks, is truly an experience to remember

Day 1 Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Those who have pre-booked an arrival transfer can meet their driver outside the airport terminal, a few metres from the exit door – look out for the Intrepid signboard. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception for the location of this meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details, next of kin information and permit application details (including a passport-size photo) at this meeting. Please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Afterwards, your evening is free, but your trip leader will usually organise an (optional) evening meal at one of Kathmandu's fine Nepali restaurants. Alternatively you can enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Notes: Remember not to obtain a Chinese visa in advance, as you will enter on a group visa when entering Tibet from Nepal. Any other valid Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled if you do obtain one. Please see the 'Visa' section of these trip notes for more information.

This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information.
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 2 Kathmandu
Today is a free day for you to explore this alluring city. Check out the Newari architecture at Durbar Square, the vast plaza opposite the old Royal Palaces. Perhaps visit the ancient Swayambhunath Stupa (known to tourists as Monkey Temple) – Kathmandu's most important Buddhist shrine. You might also like to join the pilgrims at Bodhnath Stupa, the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It's the centre of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. Visiting Pashupatinath is also highly recommended – it's a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan (a village 3 km north-west of Kathmandu) dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals).
Optional Activities
  • Kathmandu - Pashupatinath Temple - NPR1000
  • Kathmandu - Bodhnath Stupa - NPR250
  • Kathmandu - Durbar Square - NPR1000
  • Kathmandu - Swayambhunath Temple - NPR200
    Guesthouse (1 nt)
    Day 3 Lhasa
    Fly to Tibet's capital, Lhasa (approximately 2 hours) (3,940 m). Colourful and historic, the holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley. Unknown to the outside world for years, even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reached the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. Nowadays it welcomes tourists, but remains an enchanting city, steeped in culture and mythology. In Lhasa you will stay at a basic but centrally located hotel with twin-share accommodation decorated in traditional Tibetan style.

    Notes: Due to Chinese government regulations, all foreign tour groups in Tibet must be accompanied by an official licensed Tibetan guide. Altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation may be felt while travelling in Tibet, particularly when arriving in Lhasa. So we've allowed five days here to allow for appropriate acclimatisation.
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 4 Lhasa
    Today is a free day to explore Lhasa. Perhaps shuffle along with the throngs of pilgrims around the Barkhor pilgrim circuit, stopping to shop for souvenirs at some of the many market stalls. Explore Lhasa's quaint backstreet craft workshops, bakeries, tea shops and tiny alleyways as you wander the Old Town. Discover Jokhang Temple, which is often regarded as the spiritual heart of Tibet. It's also one of the region's most active religious sites.
    Included Activities
    • Lhasa - Potala Palace
      Optional Activities
      • Lhasa - Jokhang Temple - CNY85
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Day 5 Lhasa
        Today you will tour the incredible Potala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lama. Although we're not free to explore the palace on our own and must stick to a strict schedule of viewing the exhibits and buildings with our guide, this in no way lessens the impact of seeing what is truly a wonder of the architectural world. Note this is the most popular attraction in Lhasa, especially among Chinese tour groups. It can become very crowded, and tickets last for only a limited period.
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Day 6 Lhasa
        With further free time, perhaps visit the Sera Monastery where the monks hold dramatic daily debating sessions. Or deepen your perspective of Lhasa's holy sites with a trip to Ganden or Drepung Monasteries. Alternatively, the Norbulingka (Summer Palace of Dalai Lamas) is well worth a visit. As the majority of the cultural and historical sites in Tibet are temples and monasteries, it's best to choose carefully which activities you do in your free time, and pace yourself as much as possible in order to enjoy the sites you visit with the group. While Tibetan Buddhism is certainly a intriguing part of the region's culture, some travellers find that they get 'templed out' quickly, as there's so much information to take in. Take your time, ask your local guide about what interests you most, and if you would rather have time on your own instead of joining the group to explore a monastery or temple, simply let your leader know.
        Optional Activities
        • Lhasa - Sera Monastery - CNY50
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 7 Lhasa
          Enjoy another free day to further explore Lhasa or perhaps relax and get ready for the next part of your journey.
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 8 Gyantse
          Continue to Gyantse (approximately 8 hours) (3,980 m). This small town southwest of Lhasa retains a feel of 'old' Tibet. The drive is long but rewarding, with spectacular views and plenty of photo opportunities. If we do stop at Karo La (4,960 m) there will be a tourism charge of CNY 40 per person. Gyantse (3,950 m) is a small agricultural town that's famous for its wool carpets. It has a very traditional feel to it, and indeed everyday Tibetan rural life continues here much as it has done for centuries. There are a number of interesting buildings around town, including the Pelkhor Chode Temple complex, a unique structure built in 1414 comprising five stories, each one representing a different stage on the path to enlightenment. The backstreets of Gyantse are a great place to see contemporary Tibetan life, with pilgrims, pop music, cows, 'cowboys' on motorbikes, kids and monks mingling in a lively mixture of cultures. There are also many interesting religious sites to visit.
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 9 Sakya
          Continue to Sakya (approximately 6 hours) (4,280m). Sakya's monastery and town buildings are quite unique. The monastery is built in medieval 'Mongolian' style. Rather than being whitewashed, the secular buildings are painted in red and white stripes. Perhaps explore inside the monastery in your free time this afternoon. At first the halls may seem similar to other monasteries you have visited, but after spending some time here you'll see that Sakya has a subtle, ancient beauty unlike any other. You might also like to climb the hill through the Tibetan Village to see what's left of the original monastery complex. Make sure you pick your way through the ruins and remaining buildings in a clockwise direction, as this is a kora route (prayer circuit). You can also hike a little further afield to the nunnery, which sits high on the hill and overlooks the town. For dinner tonight, perhaps try some spicy food at one of the little restaurants run by Sichuanese immigrants. You will stay the night in a basic guesthouse (note that hot water is usually unavailable here).
          Optional Activities
          • Sakya - Sakya Monastery - CNY50
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 10 Everest National Park
            An exhilarating drive (approximately 5–6 hours) brings you to Everest National Park. Stretch your legs, rest your lungs, set up camp and get settled in. Enjoy some lunch before taking the gentle 4-kilometre round-trip hike up to Everest Base Camp (approximately 2 hours). Follow the prayer flags up the slope, crossing your fingers for a clear and sunny sky. Visiting Rongphu Monastery is also possible, depending on the wishes of the group. This is the highest monastery in the world. On a clear day you might even get a photo of the monastery's chorten against the backdrop of mighty Everest, or Qomolangma, as it is called in Tibetan. Today, around 50 monks and nuns remain in this relatively modern Tibetan monastery (in the early 1900s, some 500 lived here). You will be greeted warmly by the monks and nuns here, and it's often possible to join them for their evening prayers.

            Notes: In summer months, the group will stay at Rongphu in the tent city that is set up along the road to Everest Base Camp. Accommodation here is in nomad-style tents. Tents sleep up to seven people with basic mattresses and bedding provided, but we recommend using a sleep sheet and preparing some warm clothes, as it can get quite cool in the evenings. There are basic pit toilets nearby. For heating there is a yak dung stove in the central open area of each tent. At such close proximity to the tallest mountains in the world, the surroundings more than make up for the basic sleeping conditions.

            In colder months, when the tent city is not operational, the accommodation will be a monastery guesthouse, or lodgings in a nearby town. Rooms here are quad-share with very simple, shared facilities.

            Also note that Everest Base Camp can close without any prior notice because of political issues and/or bad weather. Prior notice will be given where possible. When it's closed, passengers will stay in Old Tingri, where a beautiful view of Everest is still possible on a clear day.
            Included Activities
            • Everest NP - Base Camp visit
              Optional Activities
              • Everest NP - Rongphu Monastery - CNY25
                Guesthouse/Tent City (1 nt)
                Day 11 Everest National Park
                Today you will depart Everest Base Camp and drive to Lhatse (approximately 4.5 hours). Lhatse is a small, modern town with only a few thousand residents. Enjoy some free time here this afternoon. Depending on our Tibet permits, it might be possible to visit Phuntsoling Monastery, which is located at the bottom of a large sand dune.
                Guesthouse (1 nt)
                Day 12 Shigatse
                After exploring Lhatse, continue to Shigatse (approximately 4 hours) (3,840 m). This is Tibet's second-largest city. You'll have the option of visiting Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the few monasteries in Tibet to have come away virtually unscathed from the Cultural Revolution. With its expansive territory inside thick stone walls, it's almost like a town in itself. You will explore the area with a local guide, but if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the myriad monastic buildings – each with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery – you can ask for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world's largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks prepare for ceremonies. In the evening, perhaps join the pilgrims on their kora, spinning prayer wheels as you walk around the perimeter of the monastery and take in the lovely views and atmosphere (approximately 1 hour). Back in the city, if your stay coincides with market day, perhaps browse Shigatse bazaar – it has everything from yak butter and yak wool to prayer wheels and rosaries. You might also be able to visit the carpet factory where traditional hand-woven rugs are made.
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Day 13 Lhasa
                Journey back to Lhasa (approximately 6–7 hours). Though it's a long day of driving, the scenery along the way is spectacular, so sit back, relax and enjoy it. There will be stops for lunch and to take photographs of the mountains.
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Day 14 Kathmandu
                Head back to the airport to board your flight to Kathmandu (approximately 1.5 hours). Your journey comes to an end where it all began, back in Kathmandu. You'll check back into your hotel, then head out for a final (optional) group dinner. Boasting a delicious array of international and local cuisine, Kathmandu is lovely place to dine, especially after your adventure across the 'Roof of the World'.
                Guesthouse (1 nt)
                Day 15 Kathmandu
                Your trip comes to an end. There are no activities planned, and you are free to depart the hotel at any time before 12 noon. If you are departing later, luggage storage can be arranged at the hotel.
                Optional Activities
                • Kathmandu - Rickshaw Night Explorer Urban Adventure - USD68
                • Kathmandu - Kathmandu Living Urban Adventure - USD80
                • Kathmandu - Kathmandu by Bike Urban Adventure - USD89
                • Kathmandu - In Focus: Cook in Kathmandu Urban Adventure - USD93
                • Kathmandu - In Focus: Handmade Kathmandu - USD93
                • Kathmandu - Path to a Hidden Monastery Urban Adventure - USD83
                • Kathmandu - Exploring Patan & Bhaktapur Urban Adventure - USD141
                • Kathmandu - Spiritual Nepal Urban Adventure - USD80
                  Itinerary disclaimer
                  ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                  OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                  Physical rating

                  Included activities
                  Lhasa - Potala Palace
                  Everest NP - Base Camp visit
                  Important notes
                  1. In order for us to apply for your Tibet entry permit and purchase your flight to Lhasa, you must provide a scanned colour copy of the personal details page of your passport to your booking agent no later than 30 days prior to the start date of your trip.
                  2. Please be aware that in recent years there have been times when restrictions on nationalities being able to travel on specific departures have been implemented or Tibet has been closed to foreign tourists without warning.
                  3. Do not apply for a Chinese visa in advance. We travel to China on a group visa and any existing visa in your passport will be cancelled.
                  4. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.
                  5. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                  6. Travellers who have visited and/or stayed more than 2 weeks in the following countries are currently being refused their Chinese group visa, which is applied for in Kathmandu: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Syria. If you have visited these countries and wish to visit Tibet, then we recommend that you book our CBST or CBSC trips instead, where your will obtain your individual tourist visa prior to travel.

                  Group size
                  Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
                  Your fellow travellers
                  GROUP TRAVEL
                  As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                  SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                  Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                  Guesthouse (12 nights), Basic Hotel (1 night), Permanent Tented Camp (1 night)
                  The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                  TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
                  Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

                  CHECK-IN TIME
                  Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                  If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
                  Meals introduction
                  While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
                  No meals included
                  Money matters
                  The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali Rupee (NPR).

                  ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur.

                  The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.

                  While travellers' cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. If you choose to bring travellers' cheques, make sure they are a major brand and major currency.

                  Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.

                  The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).

                  ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Look for ATMs with your card logo.

                  Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

                  Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

                  SPENDING MONEY
                  When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                  TIPPING IN CHINA:
                  If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

                  In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

                  The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                  - Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.
                  - Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.
                  - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.
                  - Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                  Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

                  At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

                  DEPARTURE TAX
                  All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                  Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

                  EMERGENCY FUNDS
                  Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                  Group leader
                  All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                  Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                  Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                  We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                  Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                  For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:


                  Altitude sickness has the potential to affect all trekkers from 2500m and higher. We ascend slowly and give our bodies plenty of time to adjust to the smaller quantities of oxygen in the air. However it is important to be aware of the normal altitude symptoms that you may encounter BUT NOT worry about:
                  - Periods of sleeplessness
                  - Occasional loss of appetite
                  - Vivid, wild dreams at around 2500-3800m in altitude
                  - Unexpected momentary shortness of breath, day and night
                  - Periodic breathing that wakes you occasionally
                  - Your nose becomes bunged up
                  - Dry cough develops
                  - Mild headache

                  If you are feeling nauseous and dizzy be sure to let your group leader know so that we can monitor your condition.

                  Your leader will conduct a brief safety discussion before our trekking activity.

                  The Chinese authorities sometimes suspend issuing Tibet Entry Permits to foreign nationals, and may also restrict travel to Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in neighbouring Provinces by those who have already obtained a permit. These restrictions can happen at any time, but in particular during sensitive periods or major religious festivals - especially around February and March, coinciding with the Tibetan new year festival and the anniversary of certain uprisings in Tibet. Travellers to all Tibet areas should check with tour operators or travel agents and monitor this travel advice and other media for information about travel to Tibet.

                  Ongoing political and ethnic tensions can lead to unrest and violent protest in Tibet. While foreigners are not normally targeted during unrest, you should be alert to the possibility of being caught up in any unexpected demonstrations or outbreaks of violence. Security measures are tight around any large public gathering and unauthorised gatherings may be dispersed by force. There have been a large number of self-immolations since 2011, including in Tibetan areas outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region itself. The Chinese authorities tend to react quickly to these incidents and will increase the security presence in the area. Avoid becoming involved in any protests or calls for Tibetan independence. Don’t film or photograph any such activities.

                  FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                  Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                  Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                  Pay attention on all roads, even small streets and alleyways. Vehicles find their ways into impossibly small passages leaving no room for both you and the traffic. Traffic can be very noisy and horns are used to signal turning, overtaking and to announce going through intersections.

                  SEAT BELTS:
                  Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                  While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
                  Joining point
                  Kathmandu Guest House
                  Chaksibari Marga
                  Phone: +977 14700632
                  Joining point description
                  The first ever hotel in Thamel, and used to be a 'Rana' mansion. It is located right in the centre of Kathmandu and boasts a famous garden, courtyard restaurant and 24hr security including CCTV. Please note, as the name suggests, this is a guest house with over 100 rooms, rather than a hotel and the rooms are generally small and basic.
                  Please note that post 2015 earthquake the old wing of the Kathmandu guesthouse has been demolished and building has commenced on a new section of the hotel. While there is building work continuing, we do not foresee it diminishing from your stay.
                  Joining point instructions
                  Please refer to your itinerary for the joining hotel name and address. If you have not pre-booked an arrival transfer you will find taxis available on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport

                  There are two pre-paid taxi booths inside the terminal, one on each side as you exit the baggage claim area. They have fixed rates of NPR600 to anywhere in the Thamel area from 6am-8pm and NPR800 from 8pm-6am. Otherwise you will need to bargain hard from the taxi rank outside of the airport - aim for NPR500. The drive into Thamel takes 30 to 40mins depending on the traffic.

                  Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option. Inquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs outside. Look for our representative holding a sign with your name on it. If you have any trouble locating your transfer rep, or if your flight is going to be delayed, please call the following numbers:

                  +977 980 112 3617

                  Normal check in time at the hotel is after 12:00.
                  Finish point
                  Kathmandu Guest House
                  Chaksibari Marga
                  Phone: +977 14700632
                  Finish point description
                  The first ever hotel in Thamel, and used to be a 'Rana' mansion. It is located right in the centre of Kathmandu and boasts a famous garden, courtyard restaurant and 24hr security including CCTV. Please note, as the name suggests, this is a guest house with over 100 rooms, rather than a hotel and the rooms are generally small and basic.
                  Please note that post 2015 earthquake the old wing of the Kathmandu guesthouse has been demolished and building has commenced on a new section of the hotel. While there is building work continuing, we do not foresee it diminishing from your stay.
                  Finishing point instructions
                  A taxi to the airport will cost about NPR600 from 6am-8pm and NRP800 from 8pm-6am. Hotel reception or your leader can help you organise a taxi.

                  Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-booked transfer service - enquire at the time of booking.

                  Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
                  Emergency contact
                  While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                  We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                  You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                  For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

                  In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

                  Intrepid's Local Beijing Office: +861064067328
                  Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                  Most nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival from land borders or at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, or in advance from a Nepalese Consulate. If getting the visa at the airport be prepared for long queues. There have been instances when passengers were asked to show return flight tickets. You will also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars cash only: multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25, multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40, multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100.

                  ***Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and two photos are required.

                  CHINA - NEPAL to TIBET
                  Australia: Yes - on arrival
                  Belgium: Yes - on arrival
                  Canada: Yes - on arrival
                  Germany: Yes - on arrival
                  Ireland: Yes - on arrival
                  Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
                  New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
                  South Africa: Yes - on arrival
                  Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
                  United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
                  USA: Yes - on arrival

                  GROUP VISA:
                  Tibet is a province of China and all travellers require a Chinese visa. Current regulations require that all foreign visitors entering Tibet from Nepal do so on a Group Visa. Your tour leader will arrange for a Single Entry Group Visa in Kathmandu on Day 1 of your tour. Please do NOT obtain a Chinese visa before you travel. Any existing Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled upon application for the Group Visa. The cost of the Group Visa is approx US$115 per person (US citizens US$200) to be paid in cash to your group leader.

                  RETURNING TO CHINA:
                  If you are planning to continue your travels in China after your tour (ie. flying from Kathmandu to Beijing) you will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa at the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. Please check with the embassy for any specific application requirements. At time of writing the embassy is open for visa applications on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and may be able to provide same day service.

                  Tibet permits are arranged with the help of our local partners. If you are travelling on an itinerary that visits Tibet you will need to email the following document to us as soon as possible after booking and no later than 30 days before departure:

                  * Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport

                  Please make sure that this copy is of the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well. This may also cause significant delays in obtaining your Tibet permit so please plan ahead. If we do not receive these documents from you in time, your name and passport details will not be listed on the group permit and you will not be able to board the flight to travel to Lhasa with the group.

                  WARNING – TRAVEL TO TIBET
                  Please be aware that this is a politically sensitive area of China which has in the past been closed to foreign travellers without warning. A change in the political situation can also lead to unforeseen delays in issuing visas and permits. We aim to keep our travellers as up to date as possible with any changes, however these are often made without any official announcement by authorities and as such are out of our control.

                  TIBET PERMIT:
                  All nationalities require a permit to enter Tibet. Intrepid will arrange for a permit allowing your entry into Tibet however, Intrepid requires you to provide a clear scanned colour copy of the front page of your passport (photo page) at the time of booking in order to do this. This should be in JPEG format and Intrepid must receive this at least 60 days prior to travel. Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on.. If you have to renew your passport please bring your old passport with you as well.

                  Due to the political sensitivity of this region it is important to understand that there are sometimes unexpected difficulties in obtaining Tibetan permits which are out of Intrepid's control. Three times during 2011 and 2012, and without official announcement by the government authorities controlling permit issue, the region of Tibet has been closed to visitors, or permits denied. It is impossible to predict when or if these sudden changes will occur again in the future. Of course Intrepid and our local ground teams will do everything we can to obtain permits or warn our travellers if they will be affected by last minute closures.
                  What to take
                  What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                  Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

                  Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:


                  Local authorities will react negatively if you are found carrying letters or packages from Tibetan nationals to be posted in other countries. Do not carry images of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan flags, literature or books on Tibet during your travels in this region as they may be confiscated or you may be detained.

                  A hot water bottle and thermal clothes can be very useful for cold nights in Tibet and when heating is not adequate.

                  Bedding is always provided, but some travellers have found that a sleeping bag hired in Kathmandu useful for getting a good nights sleep.

                  Bring good quality walking shoes as there are many steps in monasteries and some uneven terrain.

                  Due to the altitude weather can change very quickly. A windproof jacket is essential as are warm layers of clothes that can easily be added or removed as needed.

                  It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

                  LUGGAGE STORAGE
                  Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.

                  CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
                  The mountainous areas we visit on this trip can be very cold. Bring a warm jumper/jacket, thermals, warm hat and gloves - no matter what time of the year, as we travel at altitudes above 5,000 m.

                  WATER BOTTLE
                  Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
                  All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                  You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

                  ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
                  Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

                  Before your trip:
                  Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

                  During your trip.
                  While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.

                  Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:


                  BIRD FLU:
                  There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:

                  • Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
                  • Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
                  • Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
                  • Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
                  • Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
                  • Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing

                  For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/index.html
                  Travel insurance
                  Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                  When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                  If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                  A couple of rules
                  Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                  Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                  Responsible Travel
                  We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.


                  LOCAL DRESS:
                  When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.

                  The Intrepid Foundation
                  Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                  The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:


                  Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Nepal include:

                  just-one targets disadvantaged children living in dangerous and vulnerable situations on the streets and provides them with training and educational opportunities that bring greater economic security to themselves and their families. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will assist them in developing their current facilities to include an activity centre and library at their rehab home, and help them build capacity to reach an even greater number of disadvantaged children.

                  *Seven Women works to economically and socially empower marginalised women in Nepal through literacy programs, skills training and income generation.

                  *The Himalayan Rescue Association Nepal (HRA) provides much needed medical and emergency evacuation assistance and treats many cases of severe mountain sickness.

                  For more information on our projects in Nepal, or to make a donation, visit: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=nepal

                  Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Tibet include:

                  * Braille without Borders was Tibet's first blind rehabilitation and training centre. With four major project areas, it aims to implement a blind preparatory school, produce educational materials, facilitate social reintegration programs and conduct vocational training to enable the integration and acceptance of the blind in Tibetan society.

                  After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.