The currency in Tibet, like the rest of the China, is the Chinese Yuan of which approximately 14 ½ would make a pound or 8 would make a U.S. dollar at time of writing. If you are travelling with either of the above currencies you’ll find the country very affordable, a good meal available in most restaurants for under 30 Yuan, or a beer for 5 to 10. What is relatively expensive compared to the rest of Tibet is long distance transport and accommodation.
If you find yourself in Tibet and running short of funds, there’s very little you can arrange on the spot that’s going to give you an income. Your best bet is to head to ‘mainland’ China and find yourself a teaching gig, or even cash in hand bar work in a traveller friendly hub like Yangshuo.
If you have your heart set on working in Tibet, and you have the foresight to look into it whilst still in your home country there are a couple of possibilities. Most people working in the country tend to be teachers. They are fully qualified and work at one of the state schools or universities.
The Chinese keep a tight rein on who does what in Tibet, and even if you turn up willing to volunteer in a Tibetan school for free, you wouldn’t be allowed to stick around for very long for fear of upsetting the authorities. If foreigners volunteer, the Chinese government lose face, because it implies that they’re not doing all they can to aid and educate the Tibetan people. And we wouldn’t want anyone thinking that now would we?.
Tour operators are travelling to Tibet more and more, and every tour needs a tour leader. This can be a great way to see the country and earn some money. Companies like Explore, Journey -Indochina, and Exodus all operate trips to Tibet. Although bear in mind this is not the kind of work you can just chat your way into while you’re abroad and requires application through the proper channels in your home country.
For more detailed information check out the Road Junky Guide to Being a Tour Leader.