Tibet: Beijing to Delhi

24 Days from $5,825

START: Beijing

FINISH: Delhi

AGES: 15 - 99

THEME: Explorer

Overviewicon readmoreicon minus

Description

China’s charisma, Tibet’s treasures, Nepal’s nature and India’s enigma – all of this awaits on a 24-day adventure from Beijing to Delhi. Experience one of the world’s greatest train journeys, get to know the highland haven of Lhasa and discover the world’s highest monastery in the foothills of Qomolangma. Look for Bengal tigers in the jungle during two safari excursions in Bardia National Park, explore the palatial hallways and gardens of Lucknow’s Mughal- and colonial-era buildings, and watch a fire ceremony along a clear and blue stretch of the holy Ganges River. This adventure avoids the tourist crowds in favour of slices of authentic daily life, and this life is one definitely worth experiencing.

Start: Beijing

Finish: Delhi

Ages: 15 - 99

Theme: Explorer

Accommodation: Hotel (17 nights), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (3 nights), Permanent Tented Camp/Guesthouse (1 night), Jungle Lodge (2 nights)

Destination: Delhi

Highlights

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Sit back and relax on one of the world’s greatest train journeys – a marathon 45-hour journey to the literal Roof of the World, passing by incredibly mountainous and remote terrain, and the occasional grazing yak!
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Get to know Lhasa, from the incredible atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple – the most sacred in the Tibetan Buddhist world – to a traditional momo making class, you’ll get a real taste for this place.
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Climb phenomenal mountain passes, twist up thrilling peaks, and take in incredible views of skies and lakes on your overland journey, standing in the shadow of the mightiest of them all – Mt Everest – and visiting the world’s highest monastery on your way!
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Look for Bengal tigers and other wildlife on two safari excursions in Bardia National Park, where recent Nepalese efforts have resulted in tiger populations doubling since 2009.
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Watch the nightly Ganga Aarti ceremony unfold along the Ganges River in Rishikesh, gathering with the local community to watch this captivating ritual involving fire and music.

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : Beijing

Touch down in China’s capital, Beijing, ready for a high-altitude adventure! Your trip begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your group leader and travel companions. After this important meeting, why not get together with your group for an optional dinner, perhaps finding one of the best Beijing duck restaurants in the city. Your group leader will definitely know of some delicious places eat this specialty.

icon check Day 2 : Great Wall – Train to the Roof of the World

What’s the most quintessential image of China? That’s right, the great Great Wall. Today, you’ll take an early morning drive (approximately 2 hours) to visit to one of the most well-preserved areas of the Wall – the Mutianyu section. An incredible piece of engineering, the wall stretches 6000 kilometres westwards from the mountain ridges north of Beijing. It's a 30-minute climb up some steep steps to the wall itself so pack some good walking shoes, but it’s well worth the effort. If you’re feeling like resting your legs, there’s also the option to get the chair lift up too, at your own expense. Travel back to the city and in the late afternoon, transfer to Beijing West Railway Station – one of the biggest and busiest in the world – to board your mighty train journey to Lhasa (approximately 45 hours). Be aware that, on the odd occasion, there may be interruptions to this schedule – see the ‘Special Information’ section of your first day in Beijing for more details.

icon check Day 3 : Train to the Roof of the World

Today, all you can do is sit back, relax and take in the mountainous ridges and remote terrain along the highest railway in the world. The journey takes you through the major cities of Xi'an, Lanzhou and Xining, and across the wide open highlands of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with a speckling of grazing yaks, sheep and glistening pristine lake. On this second night, you’ll climb in altitude and your breath will likely be taken away by the changing landscapes outside the windows – snow-dusted black cliffs and mountain peaks illuminated by the moonlight.

icon check Day 4 : Lhasa (3656m)

Say goodbye to your local train pals and your 'home' for the last two nights after lunch time, and be greeted by Lhasa's crisp mountain air. The colourful and historic holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley, and for hundreds of years it was a mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world. Lhasa remains an intriguing city with deeply fascinating cultures, sights and stories. Check in to your hotel later this afternoon and begin to get acclimatised with both the city and the altitude.

icon check Day 5 : Lhasa (3656m)

Begin exploring Lhasa with an easy morning walk in the nearby area, before joining a momo making class for lunch – a type of Tibetan-style dumpling. In the afternoon, take a visit to the Sera Monastery and witness the residing monks taking part in heated debates in the courtyards.

icon check Day 6 : Lhasa (3656m)

In the morning, visit the Potala Palace, the incredible former home of the Dalai Lama that’s perched 130 metres above the city. The palace is divided into two parts, the White Palace (secular and used as offices and the like) and the Red Palace (home to chapels, shrines, and tombs of Dalai Lamas). Although you must stick with your guide while exploring Potala Palace, this in no way lessens the impact of seeing what is truly a wonder of the architectural world. Afterwards, visit Jokhang Temple – considered the spiritual heart and most sacred temple of Tibet. It always attracts steady waves of pilgrims. Spend some time exploring this large World-Heritage listed site and learn a thing or two about its history. According to legend, the temple was built on top of a lake after many failed attempts to build monasteries in other nearby locations. Feast your eyes on golden Buddha which stands in the centre. If you still feel energetic enough, perhaps join the pilgrims walk around the Barkhor Street or around the Potala palace (in a clockwise direction) – both of which are considered sacred Koras by the Tibetan Buddhists.

icon check Day 7 : Gyantse (4025m)

Today’s a day you’d want to call shotgun on a window seat, as you’ll be tackling a seriously scenic 8-hour drive. Heading towards Gyantse, cross over stunning mountain passes as you twist through dramatic valleys and peaks. Pass by the shimmering Yamdrok Lake, climb the Khama La Pass, pass sheep herder villages scattered along the banks, and marvel at the soaring Noijin Kangsang – the peak of the Lhagoi Kangri Mountain Range. You’ll stop by the roadside town of Nangartse for lunch, before driving the Karo La pass, and then descending down to your destination for tonight, Gyantse. This small rural town is perfect to just wander around and watch contemporary Tibetan life play out in front of you – where pilgrims mix with pop music, cows stroll past cowboys on motorbikes and monks go about their daily business.

icon check Day 8 : Shigatse (3890m)

This morning, take some time to check out the unique Gyantse Kumbum – an impressive layered stupa on the grounds of the Pelkor Monastery. Each floor of this six-level structure can be visited, and as you wind up the floors past several tiny chapels, the air fills more and more with incense and the passageways get narrower on each step towards enlightenment. Later today, there’s a chance to experience a simple lunch at a family’s home, which is a a great opportunity for you to listen to some personal stories of living in Tibet, and all the while enjoying warm hospitality. After lunch, head towards Tibet’s second-largest city, Shigatse, taking about 2 hours. Translating to ‘all fortune and happiness gathered here’, Shigatse is a busy, mountain-clasped city that’s rapidly modernising. With some free time this afternoon, maybe head to the local bazaar and check out the local wares that this town has to offer.

icon check Day 9 : Shigatse (3890m)

This morning, take a visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery. Your group leader will take you on a tour through parts of the monastery – each building with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery. Be sure to 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 (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels on a 1-hour walk around the perimeter of the monastery while taking in its splendid, atmospheric views.

icon check Day 10 : Sakya (4310m)

Continue on your journey west to the town of Sakya (approximately 3-4 hours). This region of Tibet is known for its grey (kya) earth (sa), and so, provides the town’s name! Its monastery, the principal monastery of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, was built in 1073, and was originally in two sections, The Northern and Southern Monastery on either side of the Zhongqu River, until the Northern structure was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. The Southern Monastery is built in a medieval 'Mongolian' style, and rather than being whitewashed, the secular buildings are painted red white and grey in honour of the three Buddhist Tulkas (notable lamas). Today, you’ll have time to explore inside its high walls, stopping to admire some of its hundreds of shrines, temples and monastic residences. Afterwards, you might like to check out what’s left of the Northern Monastery complex, and even walk a little further to the town’s Nunnery high on a hill overlooking Sakya. Your leader will let you in on correct etiquette and rules when visiting these sacred sites, but as a rule of thumb, take your time and explore in a clockwise direction.

icon check Day 11 : Everest National Park (5200m)

An exhilarating drive (approximately 5–6 hours) brings you to Everest National Park. The road is winding but the you'll be greeted with great views of world's greatest snow-capped mountains standing together like giants. Leave your big luggage on the private bus and take an overnight bag with you on a shuttle to Rongbuk Monastery – this world's highest monastery. 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 known in Tibetan. Today, around 50 monks and nuns remain in this relatively modern Tibetan monastery (in the early 1900s, some 500 lived here). Then get settled where you'll stay tonight – a camp ground made of the yak hair tents set up by Tibetans to accommodate travellers who come for a night close to Everest. Depending how you feel, you can either relax at the tent site or walk to the Everest Base Camp Monument Stone that's about 500 metres away. The monument is the closest you can get to the Base Camp on the Chinese/Tibetan side, but simply standing in front of Everest will leave you speechless – ask your leader why it's such a sacred mountain to Tibetans. For the more energetic, your leader can take you for a hike to the upper Rongbuk Monastery and visit some caves where the monks meditated in the ancient times.

icon check Day 12 : Kyirong (2800m)

Take a moment to take one last look at Everest close up before a long drive ahead. You’ll head to the Tibet–Nepal border today, stopping at the closest town of Kyirong. It’ll be roughly a 10-hour drive today, but this long effort will be worth it with the changing scenery around you – from the barren highlands of Tibet to the deep Alpine Valley. Put your feet up tonight, and enjoy a dinner with your Tibetan leader who will say goodbye to you tomorrow.

icon check Day 13 : Thankot

This morning, cross the border from Tibet into Nepal. Keep in mind today that your Tibetan group leader and driver will bid you farewell at the border, and you’ll need to pass through immigration and customs unaccompanied. Once you’ve crossed the border, your Nepal group leader will be waiting on the other side! The border crossing can be long and dull depending on the queues and volume of people, so it is best to be patient. After the formalities are all over, head on a 5-hour drive to the charming town of Thankot. At your resort, take the afternoon and evening to chill out and enjoy the sweeping views of the Kathmandu valley, perhaps with a drink in hand.

icon check Day 14 : Kathmandu

Stretch out with an easy 2-hour hike to the sacred Indradaha – a perfect place to witness panoramic views over the valley towards the lesser-known but no less striking peaks of Langtang, Ganesh and Manaslu. On your way, there’s also a chance you’ll see spotted deer and monkeys in the surrounding lush forest. Later on, make your way into Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, for the afternoon. Take some free time to explore the old town and feel the hustle and bustle of the big city. At night, why not get your group together for an optional final dinner to celebrate how far you’ve come travelling on your overland adventure.

icon check Day 15 : Kathmandu

With a free day to explore at your own pace, you might like to get under the city’s skin quickly with an Urban Adventure like Cook in Kathmandu – a traditional cooking class full of fun and flavour. If you’d prefer to explore on your own, perhaps head out into the narrow streets – home to holy men, monks, bicycles, and sacred cows – and buy souvenirs or chill out with cool drink. Just remember you’ll have tour the city’s primary sights tomorrow with your leader. This afternoon, your adventure will continue with a welcome meeting, usually at 6 pm. Here, you’ll meet new travellers joining you for the next stage of your trip.

icon check Day 16 : Kathmandu

Hit the streets on a walking tour with your leader. Visit the remarkable temple complex of Pashupatinath, the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. The complex sits on the Bagmati River and it’s possible that while you are here you will encounter local people cremating their loved ones. This can be confronting for some travellers, but it’s undeniably a moving experience and your leader will be on hand to illuminate the practise for you. You will also see the Boddhanath Stupa, a massive stupa (one of the largest in the world) decorated with streams of prayer flags. Explore Swayambhunath (AKA the Monkey Temple), another temple complex that is filled with monkeys considered holy by Buddhist devotees.

icon check Day 17 : Bardia National Park

Take a morning flight to Nepalgunj. If the weather is playing nicely, this is a great chance to check out the Himalayas from a unique vantage point. From Nepalgunj make the 1-hour drive to Bardia National Park. Settle into your riverside lodge and relax until this evening’s safari excursion. Once night falls (when the wildlife is most active) head out on a safari in search of rhinos, deer, monkeys, a wide array of bird life and (drumroll please) Bengal tigers. The World Wildlife Foundation recently announced that Nepal has almost doubled its population of wild tigers since 2010, making this the perfect time to try and spot them among the subtropical forest and grasslands.

icon check Day 18 : Bardia National Park

Rise and shine for another safari, this time in the morning light. Look for elephants and gharial crocodiles on the shore of the river and let your guide point out the incredible array of birdlife and other creatures. After your safari, spend the rest of your day exploring or relaxing at your lodge. Bardia has become an example of how sustainable tourism can benefit both the environment and the people that live there.

icon check Day 19 : Lucknow

Depart Bardia National Park and drive 1 hour to the Nepal—India border. Cross the border and continue to the delightfully named Lucknow (6 hours). On arrival set out with your leader on an orientation tour and get your first glimpses of its parks, mosques, palaces and other monuments – completed in a mixture of architectural styles. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to explore at your own pace. Lucknow is more than just it’s Mughal and colonial-era buildings. Perhaps head out tonight to try some of the famous rich Awadhi food the city is famous for.

icon check Day 20 : Lucknow - Overnight Train

Head to the Bara Imambara, a religious complex for Twelver Shia Muslims that embodies the opulent design of the Moghul era. Spend some time exploring the vast halls, gardens and rooms of the complex. Continue to Sheroes Hangout, a social enterprise café operated by an inspiring female team of acid attack survivors. Sample some included tea and snacks and learn a little more about their stories and perseverance, plus the work they do through the cafe. Then choose whether to join an optional excursion to the Chota Imambara, another Shia Muslim complex with elaborate buildings and intricate design (though less grand than the one visited this morning). In the evening, board an overnight train to Rishikesh, a journey which will take about 13 hours.

icon check Day 21 : Rishikesh

Arrive in Rishikesh in the morning and set out on an orientation walk with your leader. Hugging the snaking Ganges River, Rishikesh is a Hindu pilgrimage town known as the 'Yoga Capital of the World'. With colourful ashrams and temples lining the river, Rishikesh is also a very picturesque place to wander, even if you’re not seeking enlightenment. In the evening, head to the riverside to watch the nightly Ganga Aarti fire ritual unfold. Temple bells will begin to ring to signify the beginning of the captivating ceremony, which is both a form of worship and a chance for community congregation.

icon check Day 22 : Rishikesh

Pay a visit to the faded but mural-lined walls of Chaurasi Kutia, the ashram made internationally famous (long with Rishikesh by association) when the Beatles visited in the 1960s. Explore the crumbling beauty of the former ashram, now covered in graffiti related to the band and counterculture. Then choose whether to hit the waters of the Ganges on an optional whitewater rafting excursion. Unlike elsewhere in India, in Rishikesh the waters of the holy river are clear, clean and safe to swim in. Spend the afternoon and evening doing whatever you please in the city that wears its spirit on its sleeve.

icon check Day 23 : Delhi

Spend a day doing whatever you feel like in Rishikesh. It’s an awesome place to look for souvenirs or take a sitar lesson. If the vibe of the town has got you craving something a little more (inner) peaceful, perhaps choose from one of the many, many yoga or meditation classes on offer. Ask your leader if you want help sorting the fakes from the true devotees. In the evening, board your train to Delhi (approximately 5 hours).

icon check Day 24 : Delhi

Your adventure through India comes to an end today and you are free to depart at any time after checking out. If you plan to stay on in Delhi (a good choice), then a good way to get started exploring the city is by booking an Urban Adventure. With everything from walking tours that follow the footsteps of Gandhi to a cooking lesson in the home of a local, Urban Adventures is perfect for getting under the skin of a city that be intimidating to foreigners.

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Meals

2 Breakfasts, 2 Dinners
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Transport

Overnight Sleeper Train, Private Vehicle, Public Bus, 4x4 Safari Vehicle/Jeep, Plane, Train
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Accommodation

Hotel (17 nights), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (3 nights), Permanent Tented Camp/Guesthouse (1 night), Jungle Lodge (2 nights)
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Included Activities

  • Rishikesh - Chaurasi Kutia 'The Beatles Ashram'

Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining Point

Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆酒店

81, Meishi Street 地址:北京市西城区煤市街81号

Xicheng district

Beijing

CHINA

Phone: +86 1052171900

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

Hotel Pooja Palace

15A/11 W.E.A. Puja Park

Karol Bagh

Delhi

110005

INDIA

Phone: +91 9810014574

icon readmoreicon minusPhysical preparation

You will be expected to carry your own luggage, including moving about busy public transport hubs, up stairs and escalators and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances, you are expected to be able to walk and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable. In some locations it may be possible to hire porters at extra expense paid locally. Please ask your trip leader for help to arrange this if possible but be prepared to manage your own luggage.

Much of your journey will be at high altitude (ie. above 3000m) so it's important that you are aware of the risks and affects of travelling in this region. Please ensure you familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms of AMS before you travel, and seek advice from your doctor on any health concerns that may be affected by travel at altitude. As we are travelling in remote areas with very limited or basic medical facilities, it's important that all travellers are in excellent health before joining this trip. 

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

1. In order for us to apply for your Tibet entry permit and purchase your train ticket to Lhasa you must provide a scanned, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport and Chinese visa to your booking agent no later than 35 days prior to the start date of your trip. You will also need to advise us of your current profession at the same time. When applying for Chinese visa it is imperative not to mention travel to Tibet. You must first apply for your Chinese visa as instructed and Intrepid will then apply for the Tibet permit on your behalf.

2. A valid Indian visa is required prior to travel. This trip arrives into India overland from Nepal and e-visas are not valid at land borders.

3. A single supplement is available on this trip and is applicable for all nights with the exception the overnight trains and the stay at the Mt. Everest National Park.

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.

4. This trip has an increased deposit due to non refundable train tickets from Beijing to Lhasa.

5. You must bring an emergency fund of 500 USD in cash with you on this trip, which you may need to use in case when foreign groups are denied of purchasing Beijing to Lhasa train tickets due to government decision.

6. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes (above 3000 meters/ 9800 feet), a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.

7. Please note while traveling through China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.

8. It's a criminal offence for anyone to carry images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag - doing so may lead to confiscation of the items, detention, arrest or imprisonment by Chinese authorities.

3. Please note that due to train arrival times there may not be any free time in Delhi at the end of this tour. We advise booking additional accommodation to extend your stay.

icon readmoreicon minusGroup 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.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

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 trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight 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 or relax and take it easy. 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:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-field

CHINA China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safety concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, electronic devices, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark. There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint. Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. A common scam when paying a taxi fare with a RMB100 note occurs when the taxi driver swaps the note for a fake note, and returns the fake note to the passenger, refusing to accept it for payment as it’s counterfeit. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so. Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.

TIBET 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 uprisings in Tibet. Travellers to all Tibetan areas should monitor government travel advice and other media for information about travel to Tibet. Ongoing political and ethnic tensions can lead to unrest and violent protests 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, 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.

STRIKES: Demonstrations and protests are common in Nepal, with strikes regularly occurring that may result in curfews or roadblocks being enforced at short notice. At these times, businesses may close and vehicles may not be allowed on the roads. You should avoid any demonstrations or political gatherings and follow local advice, including that of your leader in the event of any disruptions. PETTY THEFT & CRIME: Pickpocketing and other petty theft is common, especially in places where tourists or foreigners frequent. Take care when walking around at night. Avoid walking on your own and don’t carry large sums of cash. Keep valuables in a hotel safe if possible. Bars and restaurants now close at midnight as part of a government crackdown on illegal activities. Foreigners remaining in bars and clubs after hours have been detained by the police. Police have increased their presence in Thamel and Durbar Marg, popular tourist districts in Kathmandu, in an effort to reduce crime in these areas. You should seek out police if you have been robbed or affected by any crime. ALTITUDE: Altitude sickness is a risk, including on the Annapurna, Langtang and Everest Base Camp treks. Please make sure you familiarise yourself with signs and symptoms before you depart and monitor your own health during your trek. INSURANCE: Make sure your insurance covers you for your intended activities, including travel and trekking above 3000m if this is included on your itinerary, mountain rescue services and helicopter evacuation costs. FESTIVALS: Travelling in Nepal during Holi Festival (1-2 March 2018, 20-21 March 2019, 9-10 March 2020), can at times be dangerous due to revellers consuming intoxicating substances. The day is often associated with physical violence and danger. Your leader will advise you and your group on what places to avoid on this day and it may even be necessary for us to alter your itinerary for the day to avoid putting you or your group leader in high risk situation. Travelling during the Hindu festival Diwali (7 November 2018, 27 October 2019, 14 November 2020) can also be dangerous. During this time there are many displays of fireworks in the streets. It can be very noisy for several days and there is also a lot of pollution caused by the fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid any dangerous areas to avoid putting the group at risk. INTERNAL FLIGHTS: There have been a number of air accidents in Nepal. We only use airlines that have passed strict safety audits for included internal flights in Nepal, including Buddha Air, Yeti Air & Tara Air.

WOMEN'S SAFETY: Women should exercise caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. While the risk of an incident occurring on your trip is very low, below are some things you can do for your safety and peace of mind when travelling: - Respect local dress codes and customs, perhaps dressing more conservatively than you do at home - Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, unlit city streets and village lanes when alone at any time of day - Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night - If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports. Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. Some cities (including Delhi and Chennai) have special taxi services for women with women drivers - If you’re being collected at the airport by a driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. -When leaving your compartment on overnight trains (ie. going to the bathroom), ask a male travel companion to accompany you where possible For further information and advice, visit: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/women-safety-india https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/india-solo-female-traveller-story/ www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-british-nationals-overseas/supporting-pages/advice-for-women-travellers www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/women.html PERSONAL BELONGINGS: 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. FREE TIME: 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. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. FESTIVALS: Travelling in India and Nepal during Holi can at times be unsafe - drinking and drug use is more widespread during this holiday. Your leader/guide will advise your group on what places to avoid on this day. It may be necessary to alter your itinerary for the day. Diwali (a lunar festival generally held from mid October to mid November every year) is celebrated by local people letting off fireworks in the street. It can be very noisy for several days with extra pollution caused by fireworks. As there are no restrictions on buying fireworks in India there are often injuries caused by people exploding them inappropriately. During this festival your leader/guide may be required to alter your itinerary to avoid large crowds gathering and using fireworks. PERSONAL SAFETY: 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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. SCAMS: Scams involving ATM and credit cards, train tickets, taxis, temple donations and tourist guides operate throughout India. If you are the victim of a scam, report it immediately to the nearest police station. Even though they may not be able to get your money or goods back, they can issue you with an official loss report for insurance purposes.

icon readmoreicon minusCommunications

Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites. It’s important to let your family and friends know that you might not be able to stay in touch over your usual methods, be it – social media or email. The Chinese Government control and restrict certain websites. Here are some of the most popular websites around the world that are blocked in China: Google, Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, WordPress. It may be possible to still access some of these websites using a VPN. If you wish to stay in touch with your friends and family through the above blocked sites, we suggest you research using a VPN on your device prior to travel.

WIFI:

Hotels in Kathmandu generally have excellent WiFi connections. Most hotels offer free WiFi in public areas, with some also offering in room WIFI, sometimes for an additional fee. While trekking WiFi may be available in tea houses and lodges for a small cost. The higher you go the more the use of WiFi and internet will cost, and likely the slower the speed. Your tour leader will be able to offer some advice on communications in remote areas of the country. Please note that most teahouses do not have electrical outlets in rooms to charge devices but are shared in the main dining area, for an additional fee. Past travellers have found portable solar chargers to be very useful.

WIFI

Generally WiFi is available in most parts of India and at most of the accommodation we use. It's usually free in public areas of hotels but some properties will charge for in room use. Please ask your tour leader or the specific hotel reception upon check in. Many restaurants and cafes (especially in tourist areas) offer customers free WiFi. Ask for the password when ordering.

Internet cafes are widespread in India and connections are usually reasonably fast, except in more remote areas.

MOBILE

You can purchase a SIM at the airport (or at kiosks everywhere) for use while travelling in India. Airtel or vodaphone are a good bet. SIMs are relatively cheap. You will need to usually provide 2 passport sized photos and a copy of your passport will be made.

MAIL

Posting airmail letters to anywhere overseas costs ₹25/15. International airmail postcards cost around ₹12. For postcards, stick the stamps on before writing, as the post office can give you as many as four stamps per card. The post office is always a fun adventure in India!

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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.

As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.

Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

CHINA VISA:

Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. Tibet is is a province of mainland China and so you will require a Chinese visa for this trip. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for your trip valid for 30 days.

INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:

For our Tibet trips you will be provided with documentation for your visa application that will NOT match your true itinerary. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit. Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected, so you must instead use the general China itinerary that we provide to you.

Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:

Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.

606 InterChina Commercial Building

33 Dengshikou Street

Dongcheng District

Beijing 100006

+86 10 6406 8022

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:

* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.

* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.

* Photocopy of your passport

* Passport size photo (up to 4 may be required)

* Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TIBET PERMIT & TICKET BOOKINGS:

The following must be sent at the time of booking or no later than 35 days prior to travel:

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

* Clear, colour scanned copy of your Chinese visa

* Your current profession. Some professions including diplomats, journalists, military or police personnel will be denied permission to enter Tibet.

If we do not receive these documents from you in time you will not be able to travel to Tibet.

WARNING – TRAVEL TO TIBET:

Due to the political sensitivities and increased security in this region it is important to understand that unexpected difficulties in obtaining Tibet permits may arise, and are out of our control. Regularly and without any official announcements by the government authorities permitting travel, the region of Tibet can be closed to visitors, or travel permits denied without warning. It is impossible to predict if or when such issues may be encountered again in the future.

In the event of an individual or group permit being denied, or last minute closures of the Tibetan Autonomous Region to foreign travellers, we will endeavour to provide an alternative itinerary within China.

NEPAL:

All foreign nationals (except Indian passport holders) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad, land borders (including borders with India & Tibet) and on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport.

Getting a visa at the airport or land borders can sometimes take time due to long queues. There have been instances when travellers are asked to show proof of exit from the country, ie flight tickets. You may also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars (subject to change, cash only). Other currencies are also accepted although rates may differ. The following costs were correct at time of writing:

- Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$30

- Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$50

- Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$125

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the website www.timeanddate.com to be very useful.

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.

INDIA:

- Please note that travellers entering India overland from Nepal are required to apply for a visa in advance their home country. Visas will not be issued on the Nepal/Indian border. The E-Tourist Visa DOES NOT apply to travellers entering India overland. Please check your trip notes if you are crossing a border between India and Nepal.

- Please be aware of strict conditions regarding application and travel (check under ELIGIBILITY section).

- Indian visas are difficult and time consuming to obtain in Nepal.

Tourist visas are available in Single and Multiple Entry. Be sure to check the date you require a visa from and the length of time you will need to cover, especially if you change countries during your trip.

For your visa application you need to include the following information under the local contact section towards the end of the application. :

PEAK India

25/3 East Patel Nagar

New Delhi 110008

Phone: +91 11 4500 6400

Please note that this information can change at any time. Please always refer to https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/index.html

This is the official visa online site. There have been reports of other non-official websites that travellers should be aware of.

BORDER CROSSINGS:

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international / administrative border crossings for this trip:

Day 5 - Exit Nepal at Nepalgunj and enter India at Jamunaha

To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website to be very useful: www.timeanddate.com

BORDER CROSSINGS:

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international / administrative border crossings for this trip:

Day 19 - Exit Nepal at Nepalgunj and enter India at Jamunaha

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

Sit back and relax on one of the world’s greatest train journeys – a marathon 45-hour journey to the literal Roof of the World, passing by incredibly mountainous and remote terrain, and the occasional grazing yak!

Get to know Lhasa, from the incredible atmosphere of the pilgrim-filled Jokhang Temple – the most sacred in the Tibetan Buddhist world – to a traditional momo making class, you’ll get a real taste for this place.

Climb phenomenal mountain passes, twist up thrilling peaks, and take in incredible views of skies and lakes on your overland journey, standing in the shadow of the mightiest of them all – Mt Everest – and visiting the world’s highest monastery on your way!

Look for Bengal tigers and other wildlife on two safari excursions in Bardia National Park, where recent Nepalese efforts have resulted in tiger populations doubling since 2009.

Watch the nightly Ganga Aarti ceremony unfold along the Ganges River in Rishikesh, gathering with the local community to watch this captivating ritual involving fire and music.

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. While we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

There have been recent cases where the Chinese Railway Bureau has not permitted foreign groups to travel from Beijing to Lhasa by train without any prior notice or specific reason. Please ensure you have access to your contingency fund of USD 500 in cash should your group be affected and needs to fly from Beijing to Lhasa. Please see ‘Special Information’ section of Day 1 itinerary notes for more details.

This trip visits places that are over 3000 metres above sea level, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. We recommend not partaking in any strenuous activity until you have time to gauge your reaction to the high altitude at each location, as some people experience mild symptoms of attitude sickness such as dizziness, shortness of breath and sleeplessness. See the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.

There are two long night train journeys on this trip; however, it is through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The train to the ‘Roof of the World’ travels at high altitude, including the Tanggula Pass (5072 m) and Fenghuahan tunnel (4095 m). Altogether, over 80% of the section between Golmud to Lhasa is at elevations of over 4000 metres.

You must have an Indian visa in your passport prior to starting this trip. This trip crosses the Nepal—India border on Day 19. Indian E-visas are not valid for entering the country at land borders.

Travelling across India wouldn’t be complete without a journey on a sleeper train. With padded bunks and vendors selling chai and samosas, they’re a quintessential Indian experience and perfect for catching up on sleep and getting more daylight hours to explore each destination.

Long distance and overnight trains in India are often delayed and occasionally cancelled due to heavy fog between December and February. Some patience and preparation (like a nice long podcast you downloaded earlier) will go a long way if this occurs.

Nepal and north India can get surprisingly cold in winter and (unsurprisingly) hot in summer. Please make sure you check seasonal weather guides, pick a travel time that suits your comfort level and pack accordingly.

As important cultural and historical sites, there are visits to many monasteries and temples on this itinerary. Some travellers find that they can get 'temple-d out' quickly as there's just so much information to take in. Be sure to stop and rest when you have the chance and to take up opportunities to do varied activities when available.

There are some nights in more basic accommodation on this trip (including some nights in simple multishare rooms) and at some of the hotels hot water may not be available. Patience and flexibility will go a long way to ensuring you have a good experience when travelling here!

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

All 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 before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. 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:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/altitude-sickness

BIRD FLU:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in China.

There is a very low risk to travellers. For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/en/

AIR POLLUTION IN CHINA:

Air pollution is a recognized issue for travelers in China, particularly in Beijing where the geographical location of the city exacerbates its effects. We provide travellers with certified PM (particulate matter) face masks as an option to be worn as protection during times of high levels of pollution. On days where the Air Quality Index (AQI) is above 101, some activities may be altered for the health and safety of our travellers and leaders. The US Embassy in Beijing provides a hourly updated AQI reading and explanation of the levels here: http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/aqirecent3.html

The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions.

You can check the pollution index levels for many cities in China on the following website: http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/

AIR POLLUTION:

Air quality in Nepal can be poor, especially in winter. Some towns, including Kathmandu, experience very high levels of seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution. Seek medical advice if you're concerned about the effects of air pollution.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:

Travellers to altitudes higher than 2,500m are at risk of altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS). This can be life threatening and affect anyone, even people who are very physically fit. There is a higher risk for those who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing. If your tour travels to high altitude, see your doctor for advice specific to you and your situation before you depart. 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

- Blocked nose

- Dry cough

- Mild headache

If you are feeling nauseous, dizzy or experience other symptoms, please be sure to let your group leader know immediately so that we can monitor your condition.

Please be aware that should your group leader deem it unsafe for you to continue trekking at any time, they will arrange for you to descend to a lower attitude.

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: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/altitude-sickness

On some days this trip may ascend faster than commonly published recommended ascent rates at altitude. However, based upon an assessment by our external safety and medical advisors, and in conjunction with our own risk assessments we consider that the ascent rate is acceptable due to the additional safety measures that are in place for our customers. If you have concerns about this, please speak to your booking representative.

All our leaders in the Himalayas are trained in the use of a PAC bag (Portable Altitude Chamber) and this is carried on all trips which go above 4,200m. The PAC bag is used in an emergency only to treat altitude sickness in the mountains. A First Aid kit is carried with the group and all our leaders are First Aid trained. Please ensure that your travel insurance policy does cover you up to the maximum altitude on this trip, and includes helicopter evacuation. Please take proof of this with you on the trip, as you will need to show it to the leader.

MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES:

Malaria is a risk in some areas of Nepal including Chitwan National Park. Dengue fever and Japanese

encephalitis also occur, including on occasion in Kathmandu. Protect yourself against insect bites by wearing adequate protection, including repellent.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND TREATMENT:

Medical facilities in Nepal are very limited, particularly outside Kathmandu. In Kathmandu, treatment at international-standard clinics is expensive and up-front payment for services is generally required. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment, including evacuation by helicopter.

MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES:

Malaria is a risk in many parts of India, including major cities. Cases of dengue fever are reported, especially in the period after the monsoon. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya fever and filariasis) also occur. Take preventative measures such as as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. Consult a medical professional regarding prophylaxis against malaria. For more information, see the World Health Organisation's fact sheets: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/vector_ecology/mosquito-borne-diseases/en/

ZIKA VIRUS:

India is classified as an ongoing transmission zone for Zika, with confirmed cases in Tamil Nadu and Jaipur.  Basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to Zika transmission areas, especially pregnant women.

OTHER INFECTIOUS DISEASES:

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including meningitis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, diphtheria and rabies) are common in India. Tap water is not safe to drink. Home-made or unlabelled alcohol can be poisonous. Seek medical attention if you suspect food poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.

AIR POLLUTION:

During winter months (October-February), air pollution levels in parts of India can spike to hazardous levels. Severe pollution can increase the risk of respiratory problems. Those with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly heart and lung conditions, may be especially affected. Your leader can assist you to obtain a face mask if required.

INFLUENZA

Cases of influenza A(H1N1) are widespread in India during winter with a number of recent cases in Rajasthan. Discuss influenza vaccination requirements with your doctor or a travel health professional before departing and maintain good hygiene practices by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing, and washing your hands regularly. For more information, see the World Health Organisation's fact sheets: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/influenza-(seasonal)

icon readmoreicon minusFood and dietary requirements

FOOD IN CHINA:

What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/

VEGETARIANS & VEGANS:

Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat free options on menus including vegetable, tofu and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/

DIETARY NEEDS:

Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel.

ALLERGIES:

For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling.

TIBETAN FOOD

Common foods in Tibet include Chinese & Nepalese dishes, local noodles, dumplings (momo), yak butter or local milk tea and even yak burgers. While Lhasa has many cafes and restaurants to choose from, once outside of the capital there will be fewer or no options of where to have our meals. Your leader will choose places to eat that have been well rated by past travellers. Vegan and vegetarian choices are possible to cater for, although choice may be limited. The high altitude can affect how food tastes, so don't be surprised if you end up adding far more chili to your dishes than you would at home!

FOOD IN NEPAL:

In Kathmandu and Pokhara there are plenty of restaurants and cafes for all tastes and budgets. For a glimpse at what traditional Nepali cuisine entails, check out our guide here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/guide-to-nepali-cuisine/

Nepal caters very well towards vegetarians and vegans with almost all restaurants having a veg section of the menu. Your tour leader will be able to direct you towards restaurants that are known to have better hygiene, especially in tourist areas where they are travelling with our groups regularly.

FOOD IN INDIA:

Food is a way of life in India. You can snack for a bargain or dine in the finest Indian restaurants. Generally you can eat very cheaply in India. There is a huge choice of restaurants and street stalls serving traditional and local Indian food. In bigger restaurants in areas frequented by more tourists there is a choice between Indian, Chinese and Western style food. Here's some ideas of what to try: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/best-food-in-india/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/foodies-guide-south-india/

Please note that service in restaurants (especially with a group) can be quite slow so patience is a must.

India caters very well towards vegetarians and vegans with almost all restaurants having a veg and pure veg section of the menu. If in doubt please check with your tour leader. See our guide to eating vegan in India here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/india-vegan-food-guide/

Your tour leader will be able to direct you towards restaurants that are known to have better hygiene, especially in tourist areas where they are travelling with our groups regularly. For some more advice on avoiding "Delhi belly", see our article here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/how-to-avoid-delhi-belly-in-india/

icon readmoreicon minusMoney matters

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).

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).

CHINA

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 and look for ATMs with your card logo. You may find that your card does not work in certain ATMs, so we recommend purchasing some CNY in your home country so you have some cash for your first day.

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. 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.

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 of our 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.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may 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.

NEPAL:

The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali rupee (NPR). Its symbol is often displayed as Rs. USD are also widely accepted in Nepal. ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Bhaktapur. Make sure you carry sufficient cash to cover your needs when travelling outside of these cities. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Namche, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur. Credit cards are not widely accepted.

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.

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.

Before departing on a trek, make sure you have enough Nepalese currency to purchase meals and drinks, in the smaller denominations where possible, as there are no ATMs and larger notes (such as 1000R) can be difficult to change.

The official currency of India is the Indian Rupee (INR). It's symbol is ₹. The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via ATMs, which are readily available in most towns. Look for Bank of India or ICICI ATMs. Our experience has shown they are the most reliable ATMs to use for withdrawals. Cash shortages at ATMs can be a problem in rural areas. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, so please bring clean bills, and small denominations are most useful. The use of credit cards can be restricted, mainly to major hotels, shops and higher end establishments.

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

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 of our 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.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may 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.

COMMISSION:

The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops, services or activities is ingrained in the culture of the Indian tourism industry.

In an effort to best control and monitor shopping and activities with an aim for the best experience possible, Intrepid has established a system of carefully selected shopping experiences and activities based on positive feedbacks from our previous travellers. On occasion these will be as part of included walking tours or outside of included activities in free time. Please note that if you feel that you do not wish to join in on these shopping experiences we assure you there is no obligation and if you indicate your desire to not partake your group leader will help to facilitate a suitable alternative during this time.

While Intrepid endeavours to ensure that these suppliers and services maintain reasonable levels of quality, please note recommended suppliers are chosen based on past travellers feedback and experiences and Intrepid cannot explicitly guarantee the quality of the product. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of you our traveller is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

Optional tipping kitty for this trip: 2000 INR per person

TIPPING

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.

Your Tour Leader:

You may consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$3-US$5 per person (in local currency), 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

Commissions:

The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, we have established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. We aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

Optional Tipping Kitty:

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 tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can 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. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat 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, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles. If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day. Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip. Essential: - Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites. - Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential. - Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, fight tickets and trip notes. Photo copies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary. - small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice. - Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt - Sun protection like hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Recommended: - Refillable water bottle (1.5 litre capacity suggested): 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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug - Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and small towel - Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) - Torch or flash light esp. for stay at local guesthouses or home stays Optional: - Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low. - Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. - Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers. - A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives. Other things to consider: - Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing - Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash

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.

MAIN LUGGAGE What you need to bring will vary according to when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances including up and down stairs and in busy train stations. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Small, wheeled suitcases that can also easily be picked up and carried are the best for travel in this part of the world, although if you prefer, a back pack is also fine. If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. DAY PACK A day pack for carrying essentials when exploring destinations as well as for short overnight stays will be useful. On overnight trains packing this with the essentials you need to access during the trip will also be very useful. Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip. ESSENTIALS: - Lightweight clothing. A mixture of lightweight clothing and warm layers. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Maybe bring a change of smart clothes for dinner in bigger cities. Clothing that covers arms and pants/skirts that go past the knee for entry into local temples. - Closed-in shoes (to protect from cuts/scratches/insect bites on city and countryside walks) - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses RECOMMENDED: - India and Nepal can get very cold (ie. below zero!) during winter (Dec to Feb). Many hotels in India do not have central heating. a good quality down jacket and layers are recommended at this time of year. - Personal medical kit, we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent. - Water bottle. At least 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Camera with spare batteries. Our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras most days but we recommend you take a spare battery for your camera. - A small chain and padlock for overnight trains is handy to keep your luggage safe and secure. OPTIONAL: - Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, during the winter months of Dec - Feb - Sleep sheet. - Ear plugs/eye mask - A good book, a journal and music player - Binoculars for spotting wildlife OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO TAKE - reusable shopping bag for buying supplies for long journeys - slippers or flip flops - torch/flashlight - travel wipes - small towel - head scarf for women (for when entering temples or mosques) OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER - check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing - laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash VALUABLES: Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy/scan all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. MORE! If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:

Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.

Here are the major holiday periods in China:

Chinese New Year: Feb 4-10 2019, Jan 24-30 2020

Qingming Festival: Apr 5-7 2019, Apr 4-6 2020

May Day: May 1 2019, May 1-3 2020

Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 7-9 2019, Jun 25-27 2020

Mid Autumn Day: Sep 13-15 2019, falls within National Day holidays 2020

National Day: Oct 1-7 2019, Oct 1-8 2020

SEASONAL INFORMATION:

Nepal's climate varies greatly depending on the season:

JUN - SEP: the monsoon rains (mostly at night) bring landslides in regional areas. Cloud cover often obscures mountain views with rain, mud and leeches deterring most trekkers at this time of year. Treks running in September can be hot and very humid at lower altitudes. See what it's like to trek during monsoon here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/nepal-during-monsoon-season/

MAR - APR: Spring brings warm weather and spectacular rhododendron blooms. A popular time to visit and one of the peak times to trek.

OCT - NOV: Clear skies and warm days make autumn the peak season.

DEC - FEB: Winter brings cold temperatures and snow to the mountains. Good trekking, but remember to rug up.

INDIA SEASONS:

As a general rule have a look online to check the weather in India just before you are about to travel. This gives you a clearer understanding of what to pack. Here are some general ideas of seasons in India:

December to March:

Pleasant weather – warm days, cool nights.

December and January bring chilly nights in the north.

Fog can delay trains travelling across the north of the country

Temperatures climb steadily from February.

April to June:

April is already hot; May and June are really hot and dry.

From June, the monsoon sweeps from south to north, bringing high temperatures and humidity

Cooler in the hills and mountains across the country

July to November:

Monsoon continues until November.

The southeast coast and southern Kerala see heavy rain from October to early December.

MONSOON:

Travel in rural areas during the monsoon season can be hazardous. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days. It is not unusual for trains to be delayed or cancelled resulting in itinerary changes or for activities in towns near to rivers and lakes (ie Varanasi) to need to be changed during this time of year. During the monsoon, excessive rainfall can see the river Ganges rise to unsafe levels. This may cause the suspension of all water related activities by local government. At this time of year walking along the Ghats can also be dangerous. Your tour leader will be able to advise you locally on any changes.

WINTER:

Winter in India can be colder than you might expect and as this is not peak travel season hotels in some regions may not have adequate heating. In these months you may like to bring thermals for sleeping.

icon readmoreicon minusA couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

icon readmoreicon minusFeedback

Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

icon readmoreicon minusEmergency contact

GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP

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 contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, transfer or accommodation issues, you can reach our local India Intrepid office on their 24 hour number:

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +861064067328

Intrepid emergency contact: +91 9999 005 019

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible travel

Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.

Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:

While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/elephants-welfare

LOCAL CUSTOMS:

It's always a good idea to learn something about local customs before you travel, and visiting China is no exception. Your leader will be on hand to guide you through cultural differences during your trip, but here are some tips to get you started: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-etiquette-guide/

LOCAL DRESS:

As with everywhere we travel, we strongly recommend wearing modest clothing in China (ie. covering shoulders and wearing shorts or skirts to the knee) both for your own comfort, and to respect that standards may be more conservative than in your home country, especially outside of major cities.

NEPAL

Dress codes are quite relaxed in tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara, but much more conservative in other parts of the country. Remove shoes before entering certain temples and holy places and be aware that non-Hindus may not be permitted at some religious sites. Dress modestly, take care not to offend and ask your leader if you are unsure if something is appropriate.

LOCAL CUSTOMS

It's always a good idea to learn something about local language and customs before you travel, and visiting India is no exception. Your leader will be on hand to guide you through cultural differences and teach you some basic language. Here are some Hindi phrases to take with you on your trip: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/how-to-sound-like-a-local-in-india/

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation notes

CHINA

HOTEL ROOMS:

Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue.

SMOKING ROOMS:

Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

WIFI:

WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.

HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:

We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles. While we aim to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. Those travellers opting for a Soft Sleeper Upgrade (where available) may need to board the train from a separate waiting area and be in another carriage from the rest of the group. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.

TIBET

Please note, the standard of accommodation in Tibet varies considerably and can be basic at times, especially out of Lhasa. Hot water and power supply can be sporadic, and the facilities can be old due to the lack of development in the region as well. At the tent 'city' (our stay at the EBC section of the trip), we will be staying in a seasonal tented camp. The tents are spacious, well-equipped 8 person sized, which come with dormitory style single beds, solid flooring and a central heating stove. There are no showers here and the toilet facilities are a little primitive but the view of the north face of Everest should make up for the lack of creature comforts!

ACCOMMODATION:

Some of the accommodation along the way is basic or simple, staying in local guesthouses and homestays. Some may have shared bathroom faciluties with cold water only. We use a mixture of air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms. Some areas of India experience daily load shedding. This is where the power may be turned off at certain times of the day and usually occurs for a few hours in early afternoon. Most hotel properties have a restaurant or cafe serving local meals. Many restaurants and hotels do not serve alcohol for religious reasons or due to local laws. 

SHOWERS:

Showers at some hotels only have hot water at peak times (usually morning and evening). Outside of these times you may need to speak to reception to obtain hot water.

ROOM ISSUES:

If you have any issues with your room, please speak to the hotel and your tour leader right away rather than your travel agent so that the problem can be addressed without delay.

SLEEPER TRAINS IN INDIA:

Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned (fan-cooled at times), a great way to travel long distances and still get maximum time in each place. Depending on the route, we travel 2AC or 3AC class as not all classes are available on all routes. Due to the complexity of the ticket purchasing system and high demand for tickets, we are unable to offer upgrades to other classes.

Second Class or 2 Tier AC (2AC) carriages have 4 berths in the compartment section and 2 berths in the aisle bay and individual reading lights. Third Class or 3 Tier AC (3AC) has 6 berths in the compartment and 2 in the aisle bay. Both have curtains for privacy. There are no sinks or charging points in these classes. During the day, bunks are folded away and serve as seats. Toilet facilities are located at either end of the carriage. There is usually an Indian style squat toilet at one end and a western style toilet at the other. You will need your own toilet paper or tissues and cleanliness will depend on the number of people using them. 

Beds are padded bunks, with sheets, pillow and blanket provided. Some people prefer to bring and use their own sleeping sheet. Your luggage travels with you on the train, so packing light will make your journey more comfortable.

Many trains have a dining carriage or a food/snack cart that is brought through the carriages. There are also plenty of vendors selling tea, coffee, water and snacks during the journey, although the hygiene may not be up to standards you are used to at home.

Please note you may be sharing with other members of your group or locals on a mixed gender basis. Tickets are booked on a real name basis using your passport details. We book for all members of the group at the same time, but unfortunately this is no guarantee that we will be accommodated all together on the train. Your leader will do their best to swap with other travellers to allow people who booked together to travel together, but please be aware that this is not always possible. We may at times ask male travellers to swap with solo female travellers for safety considerations.

icon readmoreicon minusTravel 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.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

icon readmoreicon minusYour fellow travellers

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 Essential Trip Information. 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.

icon readmoreicon minusItinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES:

Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:

A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, 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 may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation

Hotel (17 nights),Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (3 nights),Permanent Tented Camp/Guesthouse (1 night),Jungle Lodge (2 nights)

Kenya Safari!

Win a Classic African Adventure Tour to Kenya Overland Safari. Every NOVICA product purchased through the end of the year qualifies as an entry. Let the journey begin!
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