When we decided to travel to Tibet we realised that we had to go through a travel agency. Not knowing where to start we looked over a lot of reviews on the internet. We wanted a Tibetan agency and “The Road To Tibet” stood out. If you want the short version – We are very glad that we did. Contact was regular, an itinerary was planned in consultation, everything that was promised was delivered and much, much more. Our Tibetan guide and driver were a delight to be with, the accommodation was wonderful and Woeser was incredibly helpful, making changes as we needed to, once we were there. Our accommodation was upgraded because of the major street works going on and we were not asked to pay the difference although we would have been more than willing.
For more detail, here are some things we would have liked to have known before we left. Firstly, the old town of Lhasa is currently a mess, every pavement is being dug up for gas pipes to be installed. Many of the old buildings are covered with scaffolding and it took a few days to get used to falling bricks and plaster. Our original hotel was right in the midst of all the devastation and we felt really disappointed. Woeser immediately agreed to move us to a differenthotel which was better located. The House of Shambala was a gorgeous traditional Tibetan property with a great atmosphere and very friendly staff – we would highly recommend it. We got a glimpse of the beauty of the old town through seeing the streetscapes of the new town and architecture minus the building works.
Secondly, we found the altitude sickness to be more problematic than we expected. We arrived in Lhasa feeling lousy and for the first three days struggled periodically with lethargy and headaches and occasional nausea. Allow plenty of time in Tibet because you may not feel up to much for the first few days. The people from Road to Tibet rearranged our schedule to make allowances for this & made sure we had plenty of water to avoid dehydration. And even though we didn’t feel great, we still enjoyed the sights we saw in the first few days– we would highly recommend that you spend a week or more to allow for the slower start.
We loved the visits out of Lhasa to Drak Yerpa Cave, Ganden Monastery, Yimdrok-Tso Lake and Drigung Til Monastery but were disappointed with the Tidrum nunnery and were so glad that we weren’t staying there. It was another building site and looked quite uninviting. Fortunately nearby Shambala Serai which had its own hot springs was a very pleasant place to stay. The mountain scenery, the walks up to monasteries built into cliffs, the vivid colours in the temples and prayer flags fluttering in the breeze were sights to behold.
For some reason, we had expected to find the food to be limiting. We couldn’t have been more wrong. There was a wide range of cuisine, including Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian, Chinese and Western. The quality was excellent and prices were very low. The vegetarian dishes were especially tasty.
Finally, our guide Tsewang and driver Denba helped to make our visit really special. They were kind, understanding, welcoming and shared their Tibet with us. All in all, despite the few difficulties, it was a trip of a lifetime.