Hiring a vehicle, driver and guide through a local Tibetan agency is currently the only way to get around the majority of destinations in Tibet. Tourist vehicles used to be almost all 4WD Toyota Land Cruisers, but the improvement of paved roads across Tibet, even to Everest Base Camp and western Tibet, means that eight-seater minivans are now the most common form of vehicle hire.
In 2016 the Tibet government centralised vehicle hire into just a couple of large transportation companies and made it illegal for other drivers or vehicle owners to work with tourists.
Cost are relatively high. Your tour agency will quote you a price based on the number of kilometres in your itinerary, and you can figure on around US$150 to US$200 per day for vehicle hire, driver and petrol. This can be shared by up to six passengers.
You'll need to agree with the agencies on the details of vehicle hire, from the cost of extra days to who pays vehicle entry fees to places like Everest Base Camp.
A couple of agencies such as Himalayan Offroad in Kathmandu offer all-inclusive motorbike tours of Tibet. A 12-day motorbike ride from Kathmandu to Lhasa and back, via Everest Base Camp, riding Honda 250cc dirt bikes or Enfield Bullets, costs around US$3000 per person in a group of five, including bikes, petrol, accommodation, support vehicle and permits. Bring your own jackets, trousers and gloves. They also run a 14-day trip to Mt Kailash costing around US$560 more per person.