This is a hypothetical scenario, I am not planning on doing this but I'm curious about it since I haven't been able to find information about it on any website.

In order to travel to the TIA you need to be accompanied by a tour guide throughout your visit (unless you are a Chinese or Hong Kong citizen). Suppose I book a tour guide for 5 days, but on the 4th day I leave him and start travelling on my own for 2 months (or however long I want).

  • Is there anything stopping me from doing this (I know some tourist attractions wouldn't let me in without the guide but I'm interested in travelling in rural areas (outside major cities)).
  • Since this is probably not allowed, what are the penalties for doing it? Specifically, would I risk going to jail or being fined a large amount of money or would they just kick me out and ban me from entering TIA/the whole of China again?
  • Would I be asked where my guide is when boarding a train or bus? (Although this would not prevent me from travelling by motorbike, bicycle or running if I have good endurance, right?)

Note that I wouldn't be staying in hotels which would ask require me t have a guide when checking in, but instead would sleep on a sleeping bag in the middle of nowhere.

  • 1
    This might very well get you into a Chinese prison which is really NOT an experience you want to have. It's the Guide's job to control what you can see and do in Tibet if they are loosing you they will immediately alert the authorities to track you down.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 19:51
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    What’s your ethnicity? If you are not of Chinese descent speaking fluently any if the local dialects, you’ll be like a bright fluorescent traffic cone in the middle of a pebble beach. The basis of communist regimes is a network of neighbourhood cells which report anything out of the ordinary. Expect trouble quite quickly.
    – jcaron
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 20:38
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    @Run27.35 Your assumption that you would know that someone has reported you (and hence know to move on) is amusingly naive.
    – Peter M
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 21:40
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    Would be a heck of a friend willing to help you deceive the government. And you wouldn't be a very good friend to ask him.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 3:12
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    I’m voting to close this question because it is hypothetical, and therefore off-topic. Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 16:05

2 Answers 2


Sorry, you are either a troll or dangerously naïve. In case it's the latter "DO NOT DO ATTEMPT DO THIS"

The guide WILL report you the second you go missing otherwise they will be in deep trouble themselves. Everyone you interact with WILL report you and the authorities WILL go after you. If you are lucky, they'll just kick you out of the country, but it's more likely they will detain you.

I wouldn't mind that if it's just for a couple years. Free food, shelter and not having to do my job back at home.

No, you really WILL mind! Unless sleeping on a concrete floor with crammed in with 30 other prisoners and assembling Christmas lights at full speed all day at is your idea of fun.

I wouldn't do any work in jail. What are they gonna do, kick me out?

Oh yes, you will be doing work. They will not kick you out, they will just beat the crap out of you until you comply. How does being chained to the floor and getting flogged sound?


  • I clearly said at the beginning of the question I would not be doing this, it's just out of curiosity due to the somewhat uncommon rule they have and the vastness of unpopulated areas there.
    – Run27.35
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 16:01
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    If it's purely hypothetical, then it's off-topic. I vote to close. Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 16:05

From personal experience visiting Tibet in 2018: it's impossible to travel without a guide. Since your guide is personally responsible for you, they will immediately notify the police if you sneak off. There are police checkpoints not just at major attractions, but at all public transport stations, at city perimeters, outside monasteries, etc. Hotels require permits for check in and will refuse entry (and probably call the cops) without one.

If you want to explore rural Tibet freely, I'd recommend visiting ethnically Tibetan areas outside the TAR: Which linguistically Tibetan areas of China are outside the official Tibet borders with the very strict permits/rules?

  • I know that there are Tibetan areas outside TAR and that hotels would require me to have a guide, but that's not what I'm asking for. When the guide alerts the police after I sneak off, would the police really use resurces and effort to search for me in the desert?
    – Run27.35
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 0:28
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    @Run27.35 Yes? The amount of police in Tibet is ridiculous, they would probably be happy to have something to do. Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 0:46
  • @Run27.35 you most certainly won’t be able to stay alone and undetected in the desert for long. At one point or another you’ll get back to a place where you will be immediately spotted and reported.
    – jcaron
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 14:50

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