Ride on the Roof of the World – FAQs on TIBET
Can I stop in Singapore either at the beginning or end of the tour?
There is no problem stopping in Singapore either at the beginning or end of the tour. However, all arrangements must be in place before leaving your country of origin. Please mail us if you want us to recommend a hotel.
What are the compartments and facilities like on the Himalayan Express?
There are two types of compartments that can be booked on the train. The first is 4-berth, which we endeavour to provide. Typically these are 2 lower bunks and 2 upper bunks. If 4-berth compartments are not available for all our groups, we would provide 6-berth compartments. In this case there would be only 4 people occupying the cabin. In the 4-berth carriages there are 2 toilets; one Chinese-style and the other Western. In the 6-berth carriages both toilets are Chinese-style.
Why are meals not included on the trains and how much do they cost?
We don't include the meals on the train because we feel it is too strictly controlled and, as you are not exercising, you don't need so much food. Meals on the train are wholesome and cheap (around US $5-8) and delicious. It should also be noted that the total travelling time from Beijing to Lhasa is 47 hours and from Xian, 36 hours.
Can I stop longer in Kathmandu?
This is no problem at all, but it would also need to be arranged before leaving your country of origin. Get in contact with us directly to make your arrangements.
Is personal security a problem in China, Tibet or Nepal?
Generally, there are no security problems in these areas; however, sensible precautions should be taken at all times when leaving home on long distance holidays.
If I travel alone, do I have to pay the single supplement?
If travelling on your own we will team you up with another passenger of the same sex and similar age in the hotels. If we cannot do this, we will upgrade you at our expense if you book in advance.
What is the standard of accommodation?
The general standard of accommodation ranges between 2.5 to 5-stars. We basically use the best accommodations available, particularly in the remote areas of the Himalaya.
What is the standard of food on the tour and why do you include all meals (apart from when on train)?
We are very careful about health on our tours, particularly in remote areas such as these. We always enjoy meals that are local and where we know the hygiene standards are of a high standard. At ‘Annapurna Travel & Tours’, we are highly sensitive about this part of your holidays. Just don’t worry.
Can we do a tour in Tibet on bikes via Nepal? What motor bikes are used on this tour?
Yes, it’s absolutely viable to do a tour to Tibet on motorbikes. We use Royal Enfield 500cc Bullets, which are still manufactured in India. Fuel and maintenance are of course included. Some of the best Enfields from India are available in Nepal.
Do we have to carry our bags on the bikes?
We have a full support vehicle (Toyota Coaster) and all luggages will be transported in this 4 wheel drive vehicle. Also on board will be an experienced mechanic, riders who require a rest or are unwell, non-riders and pillion riders who require 'extra comfort' for the day.
Do we have to take our own gear such as helmets?
We will supply helmets for riders who prefer not to bring their own; however it is recommended that riders provide their own helmets. This is a personal item and we are all comfortable with our own helmets. It should be remembered that helmets can be brought onboard a plane as hand luggage. As far as clothing is concerned, this is again a personal item and it is obligatory that riders bring their own motorcycle clothing.
Can people who do not ride bikes come on the tour?
Yes. We do accept a limited number of non-riders who will travel in the support vehicle.
How much experience on a motorcycle do I need? Do I need a motor bike license?
This is a challenging ride even for the most experienced motorcyclists. Therefore, we require proven riding experience of five years or more. A Motorcycle and International Drivers License is also compulsory.
I have heard stories of difficult roads in Tibet. What are they really like?
With the advent of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, China has sought to improve all infrastructures in Tibet. Building the Friendship Highway has been a priority and conditions have improved greatly. The section of the road between Lhasa and Tingri (Everest Hotel) has been completed, while the section from Tingri to the Tibet/Nepal border at Zhangmu is scheduled for completion by early 2010. The road between Everest Hotel and Base Camp (109 km), while not sealed (and never will be, for environmental reasons) has been well graded since the 2008 Olympics.
Do we have to ride as a group all the time?
Riding a motor cycle across 'the roof of the world' is a very personal experience. Therefore, to ride alone is very much a part of this journey. Of course, our support vehicle will always be at the rear and there will be people to 'mark' the route where required. Before we enter a major city, such as Kathmandu, we will assemble on the outskirts and ride in together. To ride as a group is generally always a very good option.
Is insurance required?
Insurance is compulsory and you can easily arrange this before leaving your country of origin. This is the wisest & safest thing you can do before you venture out into unexplored territory far from home. Annapurna Travels encourages this to the hilt.
What kind of weather can we expect? Will it rain a lot?
Temperatures will range from 28C during the day, reaching a low of 10C during the evenings and early mornings. It is unlikely there will be any rain as the journey will finish a few weeks before the monsoon. In fact, with the use of high-powered binoculars it will be possible to see climbing teams attempting to summit Everest!
I am worried about altitude. Should I be?
Annapurna Travels & Tours is very experienced in dealing with the effects of altitude, having led ventures to the Himalaya for the past two decades. We believe that going to altitudes of over 3,000 metres is all about preparation. Our train ride to Lhasa is an ideal way to acclimatise and oxygen will always be available in hotels and in our support vehicle. In addition, our tour leaders carry pulse oximeters, allowing them to monitor individual altitude adjustment.
Do I need visas? I have heard that the Tibetan permits are difficult to obtain?
China and Nepalese visas are required. ATT obtains these on your behalf and the cost is included in the tour price. We also obtain the Tibetan permit and over the years we have built an excellent relationship with the Chinese and Tibetan authorities, making this a simple process.
Are credit cards acceptable?
Credit cards and ATM machines are available in China and Nepal and some parts of Tibet. However, we don’t accept American Express cards because the office has closed down here.
Do you recommend travellers cheques?
It is often difficult and time-consuming to get travellers cheques changed. We therefore do not recommend bringing them as your principal source of funds.
Are there Internet facilities en-route?
Most of the hotels we use have Internet facilities. There are also many Internet cafes in the near vicinity of the hotels offering cheaper access.
Do mobile telephones work?
Optus mobiles work in all places while Telstra mobiles work in all places except for Nepal. You will need to ensure you have global roaming. Contact your server for further details.
How much should we tip the guides?
Tipping is a trend that has been in existence for centuries in this part of the world; initiated by none other than our British friends when they ruled some parts of Asia for so many years; & its still in practice till this day. If you think your crew have done a real good job, pass the hat around & give them an extra reward, they’d sure appreciate it. If you feel they didn’t deserve to be tipped, then just ignore it. There is no real problem here. The choice is entirely yours.
Do I need to get a Chinese visa from my county and is it possible to just make a TTB permit and go on our own?
You don’t need to get a Chinese visa from your country, and Tibet visas are different from Chinese visas which are a paper visa for groups only; and while applying for a Chinese visa in Katmandu, the Chinese Embassy will cancel your visa if obtained from your home country. However, if you are coming from Mainland China to Lhasa we can use the Chinese visa which you have used to enter into china. But if you have student visa or working permit or residency visa you must have documents from your office or from you college to apply for a TTB permit.
I want to stay a few more days in Lhasa after my tour on my own, is it possible?
It is not possible to overstay in Lhasa after your tour unless you have bought an extra package tour.
I want to go to mainland china after my Tibet tour, is it possible?
Yes, it is possible after your Tibet tour to proceed onwards to China but you have to show us that you have either bought your Plane ticket or if you haven’t, you will have to buy your train / Plane ticket with us.
If I got to mainland china, what visa do I use, is the Tibet visa valid for China?
Yes, you can enter into China with the same Tibet paper visa but it will only be for certain days. Your Tibet visa will be for a total of only 15-20 days and once you get into China with that visa you can extend it for up to one month from the Immigration office in mainland China.