We have been fortunate to live in and travel quite a lot across Asia for the last 3+ years, and I can say without hesitation that our experience in Tibet with Sonam and Tibet Native Travel Services is at the top of the list!!
In fact, the quality of TNTS service is the BEST we have experienced of any tour / travel service provider anywhere period - whether in "developed" US/EU countries or emerging markets.
Tibet Native's service is world-class in my mind for 4 main reasons:
1) Authentic / Genuine experience. The TNTS team is local Tibetans with decades of experience. They will ensure your experience is as authentic as possible, and you will learn a lot about Tibet's history and transition through the local people....fascinating, thought-provoking, and heartfelt.
2) Unparalleled Professionalism - from the same-day responses to my myriad of emailed questions in the pre-planning process to the regular interaction throughout our journey (at each stop Sonam would call me to check in and see how things were going), to the quality of the tour guide, driver, accommodations. They will never take you to cheesy tourist trap stores, etc. where you feel pressured to buy something......in fact, multiple times my wife had to literally ask them to stop at places so she could shop for items like authentic thanka or Tibetan rugs.
3) Flexibility and One-Stop Service for all of our needs - we wanted to take a few days before arriving in Lhasa to acclimate (highly recommended), so we decided to first fly into Xian
(terra cotta soldiers) for a couple of days, then to Xining (to acclimate at 2200m), then take the 24 hr train ride to Lhasa (really fun with our young kids who imagined being on the Harry Potter train while seeing beautiful landscapes and animals from the comfort of our sleeper). Sonam created the itinerary to match our needs, and was a single point of contact for everything, even though he had to work with multiple service providers in Xian
This was very important for us as working professionals for TNTS to coordinate everything through 1 person and still provide great pricing and fantastic value for our money.
4) Catered to small children - we had a lot of angst about bringing our 5 and 7 year old daughters to Tibet. However, throughout the planning process and during our trip, everyone from TNTS was fantastic to ensure we had the best experience possible, that our children were always comfortable, and the itinerary allowed us to explore a lot while pacing ourselves accordingly. Working with TNTS felt like being with family members who truly care about you and your well-being.
I'll finish by saying, despite being fortunate to visit many countries over the last several years, this is the first review I have ever written in TripAdvisor. I feel compelled to do so because of the overwhelmingly positive and warm experience we had with Sonam and the TNTS team.
Looking forward to hopefully a chance to visit other parts of Tibet (Eastern area is supposed to be beautiful) with TNTS in near future!