Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Have your luggage receipt handy in Kathmandu as customs check this against your bag tag before you leave the airport.
On the flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa we were advised not to lose our boarding pass until we actually arrived as flights sometimes divert to an alternative airport in China if the landing is aborted due to high winds. We circled the airport at Gonggar several times before landing but that could be normal practice.
Be prepared for all of your bags to be searched on arrival and departure from Tibet in Zhangmu. When we left they were particularly interested in our ‘reading material’ so it's a good idea to have books and maps handy.
In transit at Delhi airport security, if you do not use the correct gender queue you could find yourself briefly separated from your hand luggage and run the risk of leaving something behind as we did. All hand luggage is stamped as checked at the same time and security will not allow you to leave without that stamp on your bag label.
The cost of taking photographs in the monasteries and temples gets progressively more expensive as the journey continues.
Beware of pickpockets. In the monasteries and among the pilgrims in Tibet there is a tendency to become complacent and in awe of their honesty. Offerings of money are left in many locations and frequently seen just lying around on the floor. This honesty does not apply to everywhere in Tibet as I discovered to my cost when my purse was stolen in a supermarket in Shigatse. In hindsight I should have been paying more attention – while one young lady caused a distraction her accomplice was up to no good. Luckily my purse contained only some of my spending money. I know it seems obvious but spread your cash and secure your cards, passport and phone.
Free Wifi in the hotel in Lhasa was excellent but elsewhere not so good. Virgin email worked fine but some other providers and many websites are blocked.
Take plenty of antibacterial wipes, gel and loo paper. Tibet takes squat toilets to a new level.
We had a kitty for our drinking water supplies throughout the trip and Prem kept this fully stocked to ensure we maintained our fluid intake.
The air quality in Nepal is particularly bad. You may want to take something to cover your nose and mouth. The air is dry in Tibet and you barely sweat at altitude so you don’t have to worry about missing the odd shower or two. Lip balm, hand cream and moisturiser are essential. All are available in Tibet but unless you can read Chinese it’s not easy to decipher the contents.
Chitwan National Park extension was a great way to relax at the end of our tour despite the 5 hour drive along quite scary hairpin roads to get there and back. You don’t have to stick to the scheduled itinerary and can forfeit for other options or just add to them if you have time for an extra charge. I was initially a bit nervous about the dugout canoe option after reading some reviews on the web. In the end I actually elected to go twice as it was so calm and peaceful. There was aircon in the lodge and mosquito mesh on the windows and doors.