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Free Days in Tibet & Tibet Permit without Tour
Written on 18th October 2017

Many travelers are not very clear of the local regulations in Tibet, here TCT will tell you more about the facts and regulations of Tibet travel.

1) Can i just buy Tibet permit from you and then travel Tibet on our own? 

Government's regulation----Tibet permit can only be issued for those visitors who have already booked the tour with local agents. Only Chinese and HK citizens can travel Tibet without Tibet permit, but they still need other permits if going to Everest or certain places outside of Lhasa. You can NOT just buy Tibet permit from the Tibet agent without tour booking, otherwise the agent will be seriously punished or might be bankrupted. Tibet is very different from China other places of the world. 

2) Do i still need to pay for a guide during my free days in Tibet? 

Government's regulation----Even during free days in Tibet, a guide is also need to be arranged. Even though visitors do not wish the guide to show up or accompany them in their free days, but the agents still have to arrange it in case of anything unexpected---For example: some groups might have spies or terrorists inside, some visitors always try to visit some monasteries without guide, some try talk to the monks for sensitive topics, or some try to escape from the group and stay with the monks to learn Buddhism, etc. All these behaviors are NOT allowed in Tibet. 

Some agents ignore this regulation as they think most of travelers will just walk around for shopping only and will not be doing anything against government's rules, but if anything really happened, it will be really big trouble to the agent. The government will also question the guide, if the agent did not pay to arrange a guide on free days, then no guide dares to stand out to carry the responsibility, because the guide might lose his/her job forever.. But if the agent did arrange and pay for the guide in free days, it will be less responsibility to the agent. That is why a guide needs to be arrange even during free days. 

There is a case in this June that----One Indian traveler got lost on the scheduled airport drop-off day, the policemen found him one day later and got to know that Indian traveler went up to a mountain top for meditation, and he said the god told him to stay and meditate.  Even this case is not the agent's fault, but the agent was still seriously punished by government.  So please do remember----NEVER try to visit any monastery/temple/park without guide's accompany, the consequence could be serious.

3) Can i get to airport/train station on my own without guide?

Same reason as stated above, it is not allowed to take taxi or airport bus on your own to airport/train station, it has to be accompanied by the guide. For our Tibet group tours, there will a 3 free airport/train station transfers at different timming, but if you want to get to airport/train station at different timing, you will need to pay for a private guided transfer at price around RMB400=USD63/per time to airport, and RMB30=USD47/per time to train station.