I know that finding a good tour company to book your Tibet trip is a bit of a leap of faith and can be quite tricky, but we have had a very pleasant experience with Budget Tibet Tours and would highly recommend their services.
My parents, my sister, and I traveled to Tibet in late April 2015, booking an 8-day private tour from Lhasa-Shigatse-EBC. We found prices at Budget Tibet Tours to be among the lowest we could find online and of course we were a little wary about what this would imply in terms of service. Well, nothing really.
From the moment we first sent out an inquiry, Nancy, one of the firm's travel advisors was extremely helpful and responsive. Questions about modifications to the itinerary and train schedule were answered promptly and in a very clear way. Nancy arranged soft sleeper tickets for us on the train from Xining-Lhasa and sent these to us (or at least the pickup nr. at the train station) well in advance. Throughout the process she kept us updated on the progress of our visa application.
Another aspect of Budget Tibet Tours that we very much appreciated is their expectation management. Before starting the trip they made sure we understood the role of our guide and that the quality of hotels could be lower than we are normally used to. As it turned out, our guide was wonderful and the hotels were basic but clean, but it was nice to be made aware of possible annoyances prior to departure.
Our local Tibetan guide, Kunga, greeted us at the train station with a big smile and white scarves. He stayed by our side during the trip and was available at all times, night or day. His English was great and he was able to tell us a lot about the different sites we visited and about Tibetan culture. He was flexible and attentive to our needs. We couldn't have wished for a better guide.
When were initially supposed to spend one night in a tent at EBC. However, on the way there it turned out there was too much snow on the road to make it to EBC. Kunga and our amazing driver Pubu went to great lengths to ensure we would still make it to EBC and after eventually having to return to Old Tingri to spend the night there they got up early the next day to take us to EBC. This meant that our driver had to drive another six hours (!) on a bumpy dirt road just so we could visit EBC. He didn't seem to mind and was more concerned with making sure we would make it to EBC. We were at EBC when the earthquake hit but were continuously updated by our guide and we never felt unsafe.
Our vehicle was safe, clean, and spacious and Kunga and Pubu provided us with bottles of water to stay hydrated at these altitudes. Kunga kept track of our altitude sickness and provided medication when one of us wasn't feeling very well. Overall we were really impressed with the effort that was put in making this trip an unforgettable experience for us. The company is inexpensive, flexible, communication is great, and the staff simply wonderful. We would highly recommend booking a trip through Budget Tibet Tours. We know we are next year when we are planning to trek Mt. Kailash.
Hopefully this review will help people planning a trip to Tibet. It is one of the most beautiful countries we've ever visited and we can't wait to go back.