Tibet used to be independent but has been an autonomous region of China since 1950. Travel here is not exactly straightforward and you will need a permit but it is worth the bureaucracy if you want to visit Everest Base Camp or you just want to explore the capital Lhasa.
Trekking in Tibet without a guide is impossible and as such you will have to go as part of a tour who will usually also sort out your permit for Tibet which needs to list the exact days you plan to arrive and leave. If you want a more ‘exclusive’ experience then you can hire a guide for two people which means that you will have more flexibility and can set your own pace and itinerary, but it will be much more expensive than joining a group of, say, 15 other trekkers. Whatever you choose, be aware that visiting Tibet on a budget is difficult.
The capital of Tibet, Lhasa makes a great stop and is full of gorgeous temples, ancient palaces, and other sights like local markets that make it a highlight of a trip to China. One of the good things about Lhasa is that you won’t need a guide here, and so you are free to wander around at your own pace and decide where you want to go and what you want to see. Some things not to miss include the ornate Potala Palace as well as the charming Barkhor District, but there are also a range of smaller local temples and monasteries that are well worth stopping in as you move around the city.
Before you go it’s best to understand that a trip to Tibet is going to eat into any budget, and you will also have to deal with getting a permit to enter as well as hiring a guide if you want to go trekking. That said, if you only want to visit Lhasa then you can still see some of the best sights in Tibet and this is one of the most interesting cities in all of China, with a huge range of stunning attractions that are completely different to anything you will see elsewhere.